Liz Smith: Leading Men Don’t Bore in “Thor”

The leading men of "Thor:" Chris Hemsworth (left) and Tom Hiddleston


And more from our Liz: Lindsay Lohan throws in the towel as her “last chance” looms … Obama’s British code name … Sarah Silverman and Mamie Gummer soar in “The Good Wife”

“NOBODY IN America, in the modern generation, has read their mythology and legends,” said Kenneth Anger.

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I DON’T know when Mr. Anger remarked upon the dearth of mythology knowledge, but maybe movies like the current smash hit “Thor” might lure a few kids away from video games and comic books.

It’s a hard call, because “Thor” is a mix of Norse mythology and the imaginations of the guys at Marvel comics. Not to mention the overwhelming, sometimes headache-making miracles of CGI and 3-D.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, there is so much happening in “Thor” it’s hard to make sense of it. It looks great, but it also looks like every other “epic’ movie made today. Nothing appears quite real, and you know a good deal of what you’re seeing and what the actors are relating to was invented in the editing room. Personally, I couldn’t stand the 3-G glasses and took them off halfway through. I can’t say I felt I missed anything.

Here’s what I did like — the two hot leads, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, his brother and eventual nemesis. Both young men manage to overcome the overblown fantasy aspects of the movie. They’ll be more appealing as mere mortals in future films. Unless “Thor” becomes a franchise. (Hiddleston will be seen in the new Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris” and Hemsworth has “Red Dawn” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” on the way.)

Anthony Hopkins appears as Odin, Thor and Loki’s father. He is Anthony Hopkins doing Anthony Hopkins. And Natalie Portman looks lovely as Jane, one of the humans who becomes involved with the mythological creatures. (Don’t ask.) Miss Portman won the Oscar for her intense performance in “Black Swan.” However, since then she has been seen in “No Strings Attached” (flop romantic comedy), “Your Highness” (flop medieval parody) and now “Thor,” which is a hit. But her presence herein is negligible. After the birth of her baby this summer Portman needs to take time off and try to navigate her way out of the rocky shoals of the “Oscar curse.”

“Thor” isn’t a bore. But … it’s no “Game of Thrones.”  That someplace-in-the-Middle-Ages fantasy HBO series gets better each week.

* * *

AL PACINO and Joe Pesci have reportedly signed on to co-star with John Travolta in the coming “Gotti Family” movie.

This movie is shaping up impressively and I believe that it is the reason Lindsay Lohan threw in the towel, pled “no contest” to that snafu with a diamond necklace and did not argue her jail sentence (120 days — but sure to be reduced and/or served at home.) She did not argue her 480 hours of community service … or the three-year probation on the theft charges. She will undergo shoplifting counseling and other therapy. Alcohol is still a problem.

For all Lindsay’s issues of entitlement, even she knows this Gotti movie could be her last chance. She still wants what she wanted when she was a beautiful 15-year-old: to be a movie star and a good actress. Perhaps, like her idol Marilyn Monroe, she believes if she can achieve this, she can “complete” herself as a human being as well; that certain emotional problems will be solved.

Alas, at the end, Monroe admitted she’d gotten it wrong — to complete herself as a person should have come first. Only then could she find herself as an actress. But she never lived to test this theory out.

Much better luck to Miss Lohan.

* * *

READING in the British newspapers! The code name selected for President Obama when he makes his first state visit to Great Britain any minute turns out to be “Chalaque.” As this is a Punjabi word used to describe someone who is “cheeky, sharp, crafty and too clever for his own good,” it will now doubtless be changed … In Ireland at the rural village of Moneygall, you can sit in pubs next to lifesized cutouts of the President. He will visit to find his Irish roots later this month. (There was a relative named Holloway who was the great-great-great grandfather to our President. And the Irish are singing, “O’Leary, O’Reilly, O’Hare and O’Hara, there’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama.”)

* * *

AND NOW something entirely different—Meredith and Tom Brokaw are hosting a private screening for the Sundance Film Festival documentary film titled “Buck” on May 17th in New York.

The “hero” of this film, about a true horse-whisperer named Buck Brannarian, will reaffirm New

Yorkers in their love of horses. The director, Cindy Meehl, will also be on hand.

* * *

I LOVED Sarah Silverman in her serious acting debut as the creator of a kind of porn site for those of sexual-like-mindedness on the recent “The Good Wife.” I thought the comedienne and dirty-talker was just right as somebody you both rooted for and detested. She came across with lots of reality.

And not far behind her, actress/daughter of Meryl StreepMamie Gummer – who enacted a perfectly hateful and hypocritical defense attorney.

I can’t wait to see how this murder case comes out!

* * *

VISITORS TO THE Cannes Film Festival find that the fashion house of Chanel has stolen a march on the red carpet movies. Chanel opened a pop-up shop right opposite the Festival’s entrance. This displays Chanel’s latest collection and is a mecca for the well-heeled and for movie stars in general. Chanel also opened up at the luxurious Hotel du Cap in Antibes, where the Chanel Cruise 2011-2012 show was held. This was followed by a Karl Lagerfeld documentary. Fashion has always melded with the movies, never more so than now.

16 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Liz. Lindsay Lohan stole the necklace.  That is not a snafu. That is theft. And not minor theft. Felony theft. The court calling it shoplifiting does not maeke it less a theft. Or less a felony. And I don’t recall her claiming she was a kleptomaniac. So she is a thief. And apparently believes she’s entitled to be a thief. Apparently others do as well.  Seems to be a pattern in Hollywood. This sense of entittlment. I suppose Phil Spector believeds he was entitlted to kill someone.  I suppose others believed he was as well. Quite scary to think about.

    Even Elizabeth Taylor had to wake up and “smell the ocffee.” Although in Hollywood it’s not coffee you smell.

  2. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Baby…yes, Lindsay feels she is “entitlled” to steal.  Perhaps therapy and getting off booze will help.  No contest means–“I did it.”  Because she wants to make this movie–the only decent thing she’s been offered in years–she is willing to give up her angry, entitled attitude and take some punishment.  Or she is willing to pretend she is amending her ways and thinking about consequences.  We shall all see. 

    As for Mr. Spector, I am certain he, like OJ, he has convinced himself he didn’t do it.  Given Lohan’s reckless behavior and relentless tunnel-vision, she’s on the danger list to someday be in their company, crime-wise.  She’s the classic hard dame with a mink coat (stolen) and holding a gun, from all those noir movies.  Actually, she would have been the perfect Veda, in a better remake of “Mildred Pierce.”

    Miss Taylor?   it took her about 53 years to smell that coffee.  And while she came to do very good deeds in a naughty world, and was probably a better friend and parent (to her adult kids) than previously—she never lost her own sense of entitlement.  She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, and she wanted what she wanted right away.    She didn’t steal anything–oh, well.  Eddie and Richard.    But I’m sure when she announced during photo shoots:  “I want that dress…I love that ring…this fur is fabulous” some people did feel like a tiny little revolver was being pointed at their heads.  And they gave her what she wanted, right away.

    Then again—she was Elizabeth Taylor.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I hope I don’t offend anyone but of late I seem to a lot and honestly dont care if I do and what Elizabeth Taylor finally smelled was the sewer she was dragged into by quite a few in her final years. 

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        How would your post be construed as offensive? Since when is someone’s opinion a subject that should be judged? You can agree. Or disagree. But be offended? No. Not in this context. Though, we both know I am quite fond of you and your posts, so in order to provide total clarity, that may have tinted this post.

    • avatar rick gould says:

      I know it’s tantalizing for people to draw comparisons between Elizabeth and Lindsay, but frankly, it’s a pretty pale one.

      Lindsay reminds me more of a young Melanie Griffith, somebody who started off promising and then went off the rails… made a comeback and then went off the rails again… Both lost their bloom of youth from their partying and Lindsay already seems to be gravitating toward bimbo roles like Mel.

      As for E.T., yes, she had more than a bit of Scarlett O’ Hara in her makeup her whole life…but with a far more generous streak…always, even before AIDS. It just happened that sobriety and a cause that touched her soul intersected at the same time…and gave Elizabeth a renewed outlook toward life. And helped save many lives…what timing!

  3. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    I read the Ronnie Spector autobiography and Phil was not only a wife beater…he was insane. I’m not even convinced that this is his first murder. Every day, there was new chaos, violence and drama in his life and it looks as though the older he gets, the worse he becomes. Ronnie had to invent some convoluted plan just to get away from him. She lived within an inch of her life. The children were all abused but she wasn’t very smart (intelligent) so was the victim for years and thought that was all she deserved. Phil stressed her worthlessness every day. Let’s just forget the Lohan necklace story. At best, she made a bad impulsive decision. Stealing hasn’t been part of her history. She could have acted out due to her legal problems being so public. Saying something like, “I’ll show them”. Or maybe just to see if she could get away with it. Not everyone is healthy 100% of the time. Elizabeth was born and raised with a privileged movie star life and didn’t know any better, nor did she judge herself or others. There was coffee to smell for her entire life. It didn’t become public until 1985. She is not the only movie star who wanted the accessories that she was working with but she got a reputation very early on as one who received a ‘gift’ from every producer/director in the movies that she made. Lastly, no matter how small, the next Lindsay Lohan incident will make front page headlines. It can’t be helped. (A movie about a mob family? I’ll pass for not so obvious reasons)

  4. avatar Maggie W says:

    Of course ,Lohan did not argue her jail sentence.  She knows she can lift expensive jewelry and still only log a few jail hours.   While there, she can accost some attendant and get a pass on that, too.  Better yet, she probably will have some home time which she will also interpret as she pleases. 

    Snooks is spot on about the entitlement issue.   But why? Come on, the woman is not much of a talent.  She made some decent Disney movies.   Period.  She is no great beauty.  Far from it.   People should realize this is who she is and who she will be twenty years down the road.  She is a semi talented loser who has had far too many passes.   I have never understood why.  Have you ever heard anyone say, ” There’s a new Lohan movie.  Let’s go see it.” 

    There is young and very good talent in Hollywood.  Natalie Portman comes to mind.  Her only serious criticism so far is from the Holier Than Thou crowd who got their undies in a wad when she announced her pregnancy.   Jodie Foster made her name as a 13 year old prostitute and has never been tabloid fodder.  I am intrigued by the reviews of her new movie with Mel Gibson.  Many seem to believe it is his best work. 

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      So Mel Gibson gets a pass? Not in my book. I wrote him off a long time ago. Along with Jodie Foster for believing he deserved a pass. And others. Including Whoopi Goldberg. Take it elsewhere. You abuse people?  You don’t exist as far as I’m concerned. You want to defend someone abusing people? You don’t exist either.  Mel Gibson like the others acts contrite and then turns around and abuses someone else. Either verbally or physically. Enough.

      I was stunned the other day by a woman who has long been a supporter of the main domestic abuse/violence organization in Houston. Talking about how she enjoyed Charlie Sheen. I told her she was either in need of a priest or a psychiatrist. Or both. And walked off. She doesn’t exist either.

      • avatar Maggie W says:

        Calm down, Snooks.   What’s all this about “getting a pass”?  If we all took the moral high road and judged Hollywood stars solely on their off screen behaviors  , half of the movie theaters in this country would close for lack of business.   I’ve watched Two and a Half Men not because I am a Sheen fan but because that show has one of the best supporting casts on TV.  If Foster can produce a great movie plot and with a talented cast, sure.. I want to see it. 

        So, you’ve written off Gibson and everyone who has been nearby and breathed in the same air.  Fine.  Swell.  But it’s hardly worth getting in a snit over. 

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Someone at CBS apparently got into a snit over it as well and told Charlie Sheen to take it elsewhere. Seems amazing but until recently networks maintained the old “morals clauses” which perhaps they sitll do and simply haven’t been enforcing them.  In any case, he was shown the door. And he pulled the “Poor Me” which produced the “Poor Baby” and he became a hero to some. Heroes who are zeroes are not heroes. And Charlie Sheen is a zero. To me anyway. And apparently to someone at CBS.

          Do role models no longer matter to parents? What kind of role model is Charlie Sheen?  Or Mel Gibson? Or Lindsay Lohan?  They’re not role models I would choose for my children. Or myself.

          The courts are now enabling them. Appalling.  But that is the new morality I guess. Which is no morality.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            A good example of how someone can fall into a sewer of addictiion and manage to survive and go on to greater things is Etta James who despite all the “trash talk” tried several times on her own to deal with her heroin addiction. A court finally decided she and her talent were worth something to society. And ordered her to a psychiatric hospital instead of sentencing her to prison. No “Poor Baby” for her. Of course she wasn’t standing there going “Poor Me.” And she’s left a legacy few others have. Certainly more than Beyonce ever will. That song was more than just a song.  It was a song that was associated with someone who broke new ground for other African-Americans. It was her song. Not Beyonce’s.

            Even when she was on heroin she could still sing the blues. And did. And when she became addicted to pain-killers she could still sing the blues. And did. Numerous awards including several Grammys. And always packed the house at the jazz festivals.

            So maybe the courts don’t think the Lindsay Lohans and the Charlie Sheens and the Mel Gibsons and the Whitney Houstons really have much left to offer society. And so they really don’t care. Knowing  they will crawl back into a sewer at some point anyway.  The problem with that approach is some may  get dragged into the sewer with them. Or left to die in a sewer after they get run over by one of them in one of their alcohol and drug induced stupors. Of course even then they will go “poor Me” and the courts will probably still go “Poor Baby.”  Along with all their fans.

            I still think the trash needs to be taken to the curb. Including some of the judges.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            Baby, I really can’t continue you to call people with addictions (or even psychological problems) trash. YOU of all people shouldn’t be so judgmental. It just shows ignorance and a lack of human kindness. It not only sounds ridiculous but it is an obsolete view on addiction & mental illness. Etta James, back in the 1930’s, was treated as most addicts were then. In a psychiatric facility as there was no such things as the rehabs that we see today. And if you are drunk in public, expect to spend a night in jail…and to receive the medical intervention that you need to prevent you from dying of withdrawal (which you can withdrawing from alcohol). What you do with it after that is your choice. Etta functioned with opiates just to feel normal. She had long past feeling high. When she was taking opiates and still getting sick, she turned to a combo of opiates and pain killers…just so she would not get sick in the course of the day. Withdrawing from opiates, alone, will make you very sick…but it will not kill you. Since she was a wealthy singer, she may have received more intervention than the average drunk. No one in the field gives ‘up’ on anyone because recovery and relapse is a learning process and until you’ve learned your lesson (unacceptable consequences) then the cycle continues. Hopefully you learn before you die or are sentenced to life in prison. This is just a small encapsulated view of addiction. There are many more components we do not have to go into here. Etta was a victim of the stigma that went along with drug addiction in 1940. Drug addiction was swept under the rug for decades and no one was getting well. And it was Betty Ford and Elizabeth Taylor that helped take it out of the dark. That is an extreme improvement; seeing addiction as a disease, and treating it as such. There are NO bad people (like those celebrities that you mentioned) and no one deserves to crawl back into a sewer. Those with an addiction problem know it before any court tells them that they have…it is called denial, to keep the addiction safe and the addict uses it down to the core. It’s 2011 now, Baby, and your prehistoric views are a joke. YOU are not a joke, just your outdated views. I realize that this is merely your opinion but sometimes we’re so far off base that something must be said.

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I suspect you have Etta James confused with someone else.  Etta James was a child in the 1940s. Her career began in the 1950s. She was committed to a psychiatric hospital in the 1970s. I believe it involved hot checks. She was not a wealthy singer at the time. Not sure if she’s ever been wealthy. Just loved by all her fans. Being committed saved her life.  I suspect you missed that as well. She tried rehab in the late 60s and early 70s. Betty Ford was not the first addiction program. Carol Burnett put one of her daughters into rehab in Houston in the early 70s. A marvelous program called PADAP. Elizabeth Taylor was not the first celebrity to deal with addictions. Qutie a few others already had. Successfully so. Without relapse I might add.

    You seem to think the “Poor Baby” mode of treatment works. Doesn’t seem to have worked so far with anyone in Hollywood.  As for not deserving the sewer, sorry, but they obviously prefer it. As for trash, well, trash is as trash does. I doubt the addictions in the end have anything to do with their being trash. It just brought it to the surface for all to see. Some see it. Others for some reason don’t.  

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      If psychiatric hospitals helped Etta, then her disorder was more than just addiction. It was also mental illness and she was using chemicals to self-medicate. There was a time when addicts went to ‘private resorts’ for their addiction and psychiatric hospitals for their mood disorders. They were both different places that merged when state and federal funding across the board placed both types of disorders into one institution. We call them “Dual Diagnoses Treatment Centers”. Prior ‘rehab’ programs used the 12 steps as their treatment model. That was it. God will save you if you pray. It was believed that only AA would work and treatment centers (at the beginning of the Ford time) focused on that. NOW, these private rehabs (30,000 dollars for 30 days or 8,000 if you have a scholarship) use CBT, RETB, and DBT, behavioral modifications, Interventionists, sober coaches, the 12 methods of family therapy…as well as transitional, half way, and a three quarters living situations… and sober housing (as we have seen on TV). These places do exist and help cognitively (as well as the 12 steps) anywhere from a month to usually a year. We no longer have only AA (though it works for many people). We have Secular Recovery, SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery and a combo of those ideals. Carol Burnettes daughter got sober, but her treatment was never emphasized…and that is the most important part in helping others. I have had to deal with addicts that make Lohan and Sheen look like they are in pre-school. They do not need the harsh confrontational approach in dealing with a bank robbery gone wrong, or a murder. Again, I will not go into ALL of the state and federal treatment programs that we do have today (as opposed to just private) but addiction being labeled for those who belong in a sewer or just trash is a personality assault and does nothing to assist in long term treatment, not to mention self-esteem. No one prefers being in a sewer or being called trash…would you?

  6. avatar Obediah Fults says:

    As a stereographer of more than 43 years, I must cautiously suggest that anyone who gets a “headache” while viewing a modern 3-D movie was going to develop a headache anyway — whether he or she was watching a movie at the time, or not. The improved technology [of circular polarization] has eliminated all of the “ghost imaging”, or “shadowing”, of previous polarization techniques. The left/right images are perceived, by the brain, as naturally as if they were being seen with the naked eyes. The audience no longer has to keep the eyes level in order to see a perfect image. I don’t comprehend what’s to “stand” about wearing the viewing spectacles for the duration of a feature film either. The 21st Century 3-D glasses are a far cry from the slip-sliding cardboard things we used to prop between our eyelashes and regular glasses.

    I think someone was a bit cranky (and probably had a headache) when she went to the movies that day/evening.

    I’m reminded of my grandmother who had an old black and white television well into the 1980s. She claimed that color TV “gave her a headache”.