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Arts, Film

Sean Penn and His Controversial Debut Novel

Credit: Greg Williams

For over 35 years, Sean Penn has been a star people across America easily recognize. Be it a result of his five Oscar Nominations and two wins for Mystic River and Milk, his directorial ventures, his ties to actress Robin Wright, or perhaps a scandal, Sean Penn is a man who as truly established himself as a righteous force in Hollywood.  

With the screen being such a prominent part of our understanding of Penn, many did not expect the actor who portrayed stoner Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High a topical and experimental novel.

Credit: Images Dawn

A New Brand of Limelight

Bob Honey Who Just do Stuff is Sean Penn’s debut novel. The 176-page boook revolves around title character, Bob Honey, who partakes in a number of odd jobs from selling septic tanks to Jehovah’s Witnesses to assassinating the elderly. The plot is non-linear, the narrative is loose, and the satirical tone of the book has produced two realms of thought: some see the story-telling techniques as unique and comic, while others feel it is too undisciplined and a mess of incoherent writing.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Penn discusses his ambitious work, as well as the transition from the world of film to the world of fiction. Feeling burnt out with the movie-making industry, Penn enjoys how writing a novel offered him “freedom from collaboration,” as he, “got to where [he] was not enjoying playing well with others as much as [he] used to.”

Credit: News 1130

However, similar to the story itself, the book did not have a traditional conception. Penn wanted to release the book before the election in 2016, but hadn’t realized how time consuming publishing truly is. As a result, he released an incomplete version on Audible.

Some compare the novel’s style to those of Terry Southern and Thomas Pynchon, complex and satirical writers of the 20 century, Penn insists the potential impact other writers may have had on him was never a conscious one.

The influence that a writer can have on you is that you get a sense of how somebody has a freedom with words or something, and makes you want to find freedom with your words… You find a voice like you find a character and it’s not from a movie—it’s from life. It’s not from a book—it’s from life.”

A Complex Novel for a Complex America

It is clear feelings on the book extend from one extreme to the other, but many can agree on one aspect: it is politically charged. “America’s a complex place that’s doing all it can to be without any complexity at all,” Penn says.

Though he vocally disapproves of our current president, when asked about a portion of the story that seems to refer to Donald Trump, Penn insists that “at the end of the day, the book isn’t about leadership in our country. It’s about the culture in our country,” and even if there are some controversial aspects of the story and that people dissect it and point fingers, ultimately, it is fiction.

My business is to be clear that what I leave behind is going to be in sync with what I intended to leave behind.”

To read the full interview, visit rollingstone.com

 

Film

Kathleen Turner: Hollywood, Luck, and Rage

Kathleen Turner is a woman that, nowadays, you may not recognize her name, but you recognize her face, and more likely than not, her raspy voice. Those who grew up in the 80s, however, know her for her many diverse roles in movies such as Body Heat, Peggy Sue Got Married, and The Jewel of the Nile.

Her battle with rheumatoid arthritis and an addiction to alcohol put an unfortunate left turn in her career. But even in the face of difficult circumstances, Kathleen Turner refused to quit her passion. Perhaps her screen-work is not what it once was, but she has had a long and vibrant career in theater over the past many years. In a recent interview with Vulture, Kathleen Turner reflects on her life and work, but not without her iconic “steel and sass” that made her so appealing in the 80s.

The interview begins with a clear example of that non-conventional, yet strangely appealing attitude. The interviewer begins by addressing the differences between Elizabeth Taylor’s depiction of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Kathleen Turner’s interpretation. With no hesitation, Turner claims that she “[doesn’t] think [Taylor] was very skilled,” and that she was “lucky she got to do the play…and show the humor in it…”

Kathleen Turner in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Credit: Mercury News.

It is clear, in just a couple of questions, that Kathleen Turner does not care about appearing too crass or forward. Turner is unapologetically herself—a rare and beautiful attribute for stars in Hollywood, and more impactfully, women in Hollywood.

What else, aside from luck, has driven your career?

Rage.

Where does that anger come from?

Injustice in the world.

How does rage show up in your work?

In my cabaret show I use this passage from Molly Ivins… “Beloveds, these are some bad, ugly, angry times. And I am so freaked out. Hatred has stolen the conversation. The poor are now voting against themselves. But politics is not about left or right. It’s about up and down. The few screwing the many.” She wrote that over ten years ago and it’s no less true today.”

Among social and political opinions, Turner discusses the injustices she faced even as a household name in Hollywood. Many of her male cohorts, such as Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson, seemed to view Turner as a trophy to be won, an “unspoken assumption that women were property to be claimed,” she says. The presumptuous culture and vapid air led Turner to live her life away from Los Angeles.

Along with her sass and supposed difficulty to work with, Kathleen Turner feels that it is partially there not being a “Kathleen Turner type character” that caused Hollywood to turn away. While creatively, playing such a wide range of characters was exciting and rewarding, Hollywood “never put her work together” and it ultimately was not “good for her financially.”

Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in Jewel of the Nile. Credit: The Ace Black Blog

Despite being one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood, Turner reveals that she never studied acting. Different acting techniques and method acting seem unnecessary to the legend, who says that if the information she needs on the character is not in the script, “it’s not a good enough script.” Even her master class is called “Practical Acting,” where Turner claims “You just shut up and do it.”

At an age where many actors and actresses turn away from the stage lights, Kathleen Turner is still going strong. She describes herself as a tree “where the trunk is strong enough, and the roots are deep enough, that [she] can branch out in any direction.” Branch out, Turner certainly does, and it seems that she will only continue to flourish in the years to come.

To read the full interview, visit vulture.com.

Arts, Film

Hollywood Legend Rob Reiner Looks Back on an Epic Career

Nowadays, when people think of legends of Hollywood, they think of people like J.J. Abrams, Lady Gaga, or maybe even Steven Spielberg. Rob Reiner is not a name that is readily on the tongues of youths listing off their favorite celebrities, but what they don’t realize is without Rob Reiner, many of their favorite classics wouldn’t exist.

One of the Most Notable Filmmakers in History

Perhaps All in the Family doesn’t ring a bell for those looking into Reiner’s work, but movies like The Princess Bride, Miss Congeniality, and When Harry Met Sally… certainly do. These accolades alone are enough to establish Reiner as one of the most iconic men in Hollywood, but his credentials as director and producer also include Stand By Me, Misery, A Few Good Men, and so much more. His work has not only shaped Hollywood, but cinema as well.

Rob Reiner, renowned actor, director, and producer. Credit: Brian Ach/Invision/AP

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Rob Reiner talks about his legacy in the industry and some favorite memories of his film work, but with an abashed and humble attitude that surprises, coming from someone who has been in the limelight for 50 years. It almost seems hard for him to imagine that his films have made such an impact on the world. However, when the interviewer suggests this may be due to the fact that Hollywood doesn’t make films like his anymore, Reiner agrees.

It’s a different time now and studios are making big event pictures and franchises and sometimes an R-rated comedy. So everybody who wants to make movies about people, politics or relationships has to find independent financing, and that’s what I do with Castle Rock Entertainment.”

Reiner expresses that big production companies are wanting more and more to make millions of dollars, but he entered the business “to express [himself] and tell stories, not just churn out a product.”

Learning with Harry and Sally


As a man who has worked on so many unique and exciting projects, Rob Reiner has learned a thing or two about the industry and life itself. One bout of knowledge he recalls is illustrated in the iconic “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally…

While working on the film, a friend of his mentioned the fact that females fake orgasms, and when he asked his collaborator, Nora Ephron, she easily confirmed the fact.

Men don’t know about this, we have to put that in the movie!” Reiner said.

The well-known line, delivered by Reiner’s mother, Estelle Reiner, was a product of the main actor, Billy Crystal.

More than a Film Executive

Rob Reiner has told a number of classic stories the world has grown to cherish, but many of his recent passion projects are in the political spectrum. On top of being one of the most renowned Hollywood executives, Rob Reiner is a celebrity philanthropist. His work includes the founding of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriage in California. As a man strongly against smoking, Reiner campaigned for higher taxes on cigarettes in his state. The money was transferred to prenatal care and childhood programs. His most recent project is in the realm of gun-violence.

With a longstanding career that has stood the test of time, and advocacy that has truly made an impact on society, Rob Reiner has shaped much of the world we know today. From simple things like silly film references, to the political landscape of California, Rob Reiner is a film executive who has truly made a difference.