Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are smooth lips with an evil heart.
– – – – – – – – – – –
A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 26:, 23, 28
Steve Buscemi both directs and stars in this film, which I saw on the same day that I screened Resurrecting the Champ. Although the protagonist in both films is an ambitious reporter with career problems, the ethics of the two are miles apart. Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) wants to cover the important political stories, but instead he sits fuming in an upscale Manhattan restaurant where he is to have supper with his assignment, soap opera and horror film star Katya (Sienna Miller). As he talks with his editor on his cell phone, he complains about the fact that a big political story is about to break in Washington. That, he angrily declares is what he should be covering.
Thus an hour later, when an apologetic Katya finally arrives, he is not about to hide his disdain for her and her career, which he freely admits he is totally unfamiliar with. His attitude is so condescending that she picks up her handbag to end the interview. He persuades her to stay, but the atmosphere is too poisoned for anything to be salvaged, so she walks out. Outside Pierre hails and gets into a cab, but the cabbie, who does recognize Katya, is so intent on watching her walk along the sidewalk that he bangs into the rear of a truck, throwing Pierre forward so harshly that he hits his head on the glass partition. Katya comes over and insists that he come to her apartment where she will staunch the flow of blood. Pierre reluctantly agrees after feeling the blood on his forehead.
The reporter is duly impressed with the open loft that her high salary affords her, and though his disdain for soap operas and fluff movies, with their attendant celebrity lifestyle, is still strong, he mellows somewhat under her ministrations. They drink and talk, their conversation filled with barbs and, eventually, mind games and sexual politics. The climax comes with an agreement, almost forced upon each other, for each to share a secret moment from their past. Katya’s is a heart-rending one, which none of the gossip rags have picked up on. When Pierre leaves he is faced with the temptation of breaking the promise he has made to Katya, his journalist side squaring off against his humane side. What he does reveals the kind of a human being he has become—but when Katya calls down to him from her loft, we wonder who will have the last word in their brief, acerbic relationship, he or Katya?
1) We neither see nor hear Pierre’s editor to whom he is speaking on his cell phone, but from his assignment, what do you think is the editor’s opinion of his reporter’s work? Similar to that of Metz in Resurrecting the Champ?
2) What celebrities can you think of that are more known, and pursued, for their sex lives and other foibles than for their accomplishments in the entertainment arts?
3) What do you think of the career as a celebrity reporter? How has a whole genre of reporting and publishing grown up around celebrities? How is this akin to our desire to peer through key and peepholes to eavesdrop on what others are saying or doing? For another film on this see Woody Allen’s Celebrity, or the classic The Sweet Smell of Success.
4)What do you think of the comment about not believing in relationships—there’s always a winner and a loser? What kind of a view of life must underlie this?
5) Trivia note: This is a remake of an earlier film by Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic extremist angry over one of his films. The filmmaker had intended to remake it in English with the two stars, Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller. The producers had Buscemi direct as well as star in it. The woman who emerges from a limo at the end of the film is Katja Schuurman, who played Katya in the original 2003 Dutch version.