October 12, 2013

"I don’t see myself as beautiful. I was a kid who was freckle-faced, and they used to call me 'hay head.'"

Said Robert Redford, who also reports that when he was 18, studying art in Italy and France, the women there did not find him attractive.

So — if we can believe that — even the prettiest pretty boy may still fall within the shadow of the old adage "You're only pretty as you feel."

Now, after years of recognition as incredibly good-looking — he's 77 — he says:
"And I guess the nice thing about getting older is that you don’t have that [beauty] quite so much anymore. I never had a problem with my face on screen. I thought it is what it is, and I was turned off by actors and actresses that tried to keep themselves young."
That face is the only face we get to see in his new movie — "All Is Lost" — in which he's (apparently) the only actor.  I've seen the trailer. He's lost at sea. Tom Hanks is also having lonesome, though not that lonesome, trouble at sea in a big movie this fall, and Sandra Bullock is alone in a space suit, bereft even of gravity in a grave situation in "Gravity."

It must say something about us that we're being presented with tales of rugged individualists far adrift from any foundation. Did we ask for that? It's what Hollywood decided, back when this fall's movies were given the go, that we'd need in the Fall of 2013. There's no reason to give much credence to Hollywood's notion of who we are right now. Hollywood thought we were the Lone Ranger and Tonto last summer, and the people said no. Perhaps the Lone Ranger isn't lone enough for our alienated psyches. He had Tonto. Where's my sidekick? the public that shunned "The Lone Ranger" might have thought. How can we identify with his loneliness when he has Johnny Depp?

Robert Redford famously had a sidekick, Paul Newman, in the 2 movies that made him seem to be even more handsome than the already-impossibly-handsome Paul Newman — "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting." And Redford did have another movie in the works with Newman — a movie version of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" (my second-most-listened-to audiobook). Newman died 5 years ago, but now the news is that it will be made with the not-always-completely-cute Nick Nolte. If you know the book, you may agree with me that Nolte seems more like Bryson's "Walk in the Woods" sidekick Stephen Katz than does Paul Newman.

You might think Newman was more like Katz because he was (half) Jewish. ("Newman had no religion as an adult, but described himself as a Jew, saying, 'it's more of a challenge.'") Nolte, on the other hand, is (apparently) a man disconnected from any particular religion. ("'Where’s God?' You’re gonna kill yourself with that. You’ll never be able to answer that.")

But Bryson's Katz — despite the distinctively Jewish name — is not Jewish, as Bryson reveals in his memoir of childhood, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" (my most-listened-to audiobook):
Some years ago when I came to apply a pseudonym to one of my boyhood friends, I chose the name Stephen Katz partly in honor of a Des Moines drugstore called Katz’s, which was something of a local institution in my childhood, and partly because I wanted a short name that was easy to type. Never did it occur to me that the name was Semitic. I never thought of anybody in Des Moines as being Jewish. I don’t believe anyone did. Even when they had names like Wasserstein and Liebowitz, it was always a surprise to learn they were Jewish. Des Moines wasn’t a very ethnic place.

Anyway, Katz wasn’t Jewish. He was Catholic.
You've come to the end of this longish first-post-of-the-day, and maybe you're wondering, What are we supposed to talk about now? The issues are: beauty, aging, loneliness, sidekicks, floating adrift without foundation, the extent to which Hollywood may know who we really are, and Where's God?

49 comments:

Hagar said...

Katz and Wasserstein are German names. Leibowitz is Polish.

Kelly said...

Once long ago someone asked me if was Sandra Bullock. We are the same age, but no one would ask that now. While she remains frozen in time, I have continued to age. Life is so unfair.

betamax3000 said...

Robert Redford, the Pretty Boy of His Day, Would Now Seem Rugged Next to the More Delicate Features of Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. The Next Generation Will Be Even Prettier and More Finely Delicate, Smoother of Features and Identity, Until the Male Action Star of the Future Will Most Closely Resemble a Japanese Schoolgirl in Knee-High Socks. For a Glimpse of This Future Please Refer to:

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2013/06/when-votes-of-26-million-voters-were.html

Add Guns and Fireballs; Keep the Pillow Fights.

Paddy O said...

"Until the Male Action Star of the Future Will Most Closely Resemble a Japanese Schoolgirl in Knee-High Socks"

Shia LeBeouf already had his time in the spotlight.

rhhardin said...

James Bond is probably out. The plots have gotten overloaded with trying to be woman-serious, like killing is so awful and its effects on the unfortunate killers.

Get Smart (2008) has a core story of the dismissive feminist and the deadpan male thinker, a sexual difference movie. It has formal gag content, which they promoted; but a couple of storyline problems, the gag writers vs the core writers.

The ending is wrong, from a core point of view.

Take the core point of view pics, which ends short of the film ending.

The last photo is not acted, as I commented late in an old thread about that.

Either way, a sequel isn't possible, as it would not be with Bond if he settled down with a woman, making a sexual difference story hard to follow up.

betamax3000 said...

The Key to Avoid "floating adrift without foundation" is to Travel in Close Packs, such as AKB48:

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-japanese-pop-star-has-shaved-her-head.html

Note that "They portray an image of cuteness known as "kawaii": Kawaii is Where the Notion of Beauty is Headed, Ever Younger, Ever More Featureless. Eventually the Ideal of Beauty will Be Kubrick's Space Baby from "2001: A Space Odyssey."


betamax3000 said...

Re: "The Key to Avoid "floating adrift without foundation" is to Travel in Close Packs, such as AKB48"

This Also Is the Future of Sidekicks: Numerous, featureless and Easily Replaced.

betamax3000 said...

Regarding "aging" and "the extent to which Hollywood may know who we really are" please reference 1976's "Logan's Run" (I May Have Mentioned the Insight of this Movie Before).

We Will All Aspire to Be Japanese Schoolgirls in a Hello Kitty World of the Future, Put Conveniently to Death by Society Before the First Wrinkles Set In.

Amexpat said...

"And I guess the nice thing about getting older is that you don’t have that [beauty] quite so much anymore. I never had a problem with my face on screen. I thought it is what it is, and I was turned off by actors and actresses that tried to keep themselves young."

That's a crock of shit that RR is serving us. He hasn't aged honestly or gracefully (Paul Newman did a better job at that). His hair looks ridiculous for a man his age.

William T. Sherman said...

"Gravity" has been in the works for four and a half years, and both "Captain Phillips" and "All Is Lost" were given the green light in 2011.

And as I see it Newman wasn't Redford's "sidekick" in either of the movies they were in together. RR was definitely the second banana both times, both as an actor and in the characters he played.

rhhardin said...

It's all looks and not stops and listens.

Railroads in decline.

rhhardin said...

Get Smart : I wonder if the guy compartmentalizes easily and jumps around naturally; where the feminist compartmentalizes grimly as if her life depended on it.

betamax3000 said...

Regarding "Where's God?": He is Nude Ascending a Staircase.

elkh1 said...

I found him oily and creepy.

His eye job is awful.

William T. Sherman said...

By the way the previous film from the director who made "All Is Lost" was "Margin Call" -- one of the best films of 2011. I know the ad campaign made it look like one more left-wing attempt to rewrite the history of the 2008 financial meltdown, but it has an unmistakable conservative/free market subtext that I found to be a breath of fresh air.

betamax3000 said...

The Idealization of Beauty in Hollywood Terms Can Be Defined as How Closely an Actress Can Approximate a Japanese Schoolgirl.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1211166/Kirsten-Dunst-plays-Japanese-schoolgirl-blue-wig-mismatched-rainbow-outfit.html

Almost Ali said...

"...was 18, studying art in Italy and France..."

What an incredible line, almost beyond comprehension.

Which also flies in the face of "I [didn't] see myself as beautiful"...

Glen Filthie said...

God isn't dead, Ann - he just got the hell out of here.

I am surprised that you would need to ask.

Ann Althouse said...

"His hair looks ridiculous for a man his age."

He claims it's all natural, and the lovely redhead Maureen Dowd backs him up.

Ann Althouse said...

No one saw a hairdresser...

Ann Althouse said...

Who has seen the hairdresser
Neither you nor I
But when the 77-year-old has yellow hair
The hairdresser has passed by

Ann Althouse said...

Where's God?

With the hairdresser.

jr565 said...

"Robert Redford, the Pretty Boy of His Day, Would Now Seem Rugged Next to the More Delicate Features of Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. The Next Generation Will Be Even Prettier and More Finely Delicate, Smoother of Features and Identity,"


It really is true. The leading men back in the day looked like men. A lot of the leading men now look like boys

jr565 said...

"I thought it is what it is, and I was turned off by actors and actresses that tried to keep themselves young."

I saw him recently and it looked like he had a face lift or eye lift. So, did he change his mind on cosmetic surgery?

Hagar said...

How do you get to be half Jewish? Which half is kosher?

William said...

Robert Redford is the Sidney Poitier of the gingers. He's the only male with red hair to star in an action movie. I'd like to say that he was a pioneer, but no one followed in his footsteps. Gingers remain typecast as the comic sidekick, like that kid in the Harry Potter movies.

jr565 said...

"Robert Redford, the Pretty Boy of His Day, Would Now Seem Rugged Next to the More Delicate Features of Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. The Next Generation Will Be Even Prettier and More Finely Delicate, Smoother of Features and Identity,"


It really is true. The leading men back in the day looked like men. A lot of the leading men now look like boys

madAsHell said...

Redford's hair??....yeah...I've got one question....dog or cat??

Ann Althouse said...

"How do you get to be half Jewish? Which half is kosher?"

I think it's the mother's half, but that's not what he had.

His mother was a Christian Scientist (from a Catholic lineage).

Hagar said...

"Jewish" refers to Judaism, which is a religion, not an ethnicity.
You can't be "half Jewish" any more than you can be "half Lutheran," or whatever.
You are or you are not, and if you are you must follow the rules, or you are not.

David said...

Katz.

Gatz.

Thief.

David said...

"if we can believe that"

Post needs a bullshit tag.

traditionalguy said...

Robert Redford's looks closely resemble many of my family members. But alas, intelligence and personality count more than looks.

Christy said...

From the pen of the fresh faced Brad Paisley:

These days there's dudes gettin' facials
Manicured, waxed and botoxed
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands
You can't grip a tackle box

Yeah, with all of these men linin' up to get neutered
It's hip now to be feminized
But I don't highlight my hair, I've still got a pair
Yeah honey, I'm still a guy

Oh, my eyebrows ain't plucked, there's a gun in my truck
Oh thank God, I'm still a guy.

William said...

I don't know if Robert Redford has had any surgery, but he certainly has a lot of wrinkles. Surgery has not subverted his image. I saw his recent film with Julie Christie. She's had a lot of work done. Even with professional make up and lighting, she looks like a wax replica of Julie Christie. I was a big fan of Julie Christie. Part of her appeal was that she looked like the kind of woman who wouldn't OD on cosmetic surgery. By having all that much plastic surgery she didn't extend her beauty so much as subvert it.......When you're in your seventies, you should have gained sufficient wisdom to recognize that projecting sex appeal is no longer part of your life's mission.

Ann Althouse said...

""Jewish" refers to Judaism, which is a religion, not an ethnicity.You can't be "half Jewish" any more than you can be "half Lutheran," or whatever. You are or you are not, and if you are you must follow the rules, or you are not."

That's an assertion, based on assumptions that one is talking about the religion and not ethnicity or cultural heritage and that religion is something that is not acquired by birth.

Ann Althouse said...

"You are or you are not, and if you are you must follow the rules, or you are not."

That's a very limiting concept, and I think it's the sort of thing that Protestant Christians say. Where do you come by that authority?

Those who have discriminated against Jews over the century have not based their categorization on feeling a compulsion to follow the rules.

Ann Althouse said...

In my view, anyone who wants to say he's Jewish based on his ancestry is entitled to do that. If religion is a belief, the individual's belief is enough.

Paul Newman said what he chose, and that's perfectly good in my book.

Ann Althouse said...

century (above) should read: centuries

Lydia said...

He's the only male with red hair to star in an action movie.

Redford dyed his hair blond, or at least did blond highlights, in his biggest movies earlier in his career -- like in The Sting.

Gingers remain typecast as the comic sidekick...

Spencer Tracy was a ginger, and he was definitely not a comic sidekick.

Hagar said...

Those who have discriminated against Jews over the century have not based their categorization on feeling a compulsion to follow the rules.

Very true. So, do you wish to defend that?

"Follow the rules" was poor phrasing. I meant to know the tenets of whatever faith one claims to belong to and observe such rules as may apply, or at least give them lip service.

Einstein did not claim to be a "Jew" because, though he believed in God in his own way, he did not buy into any organized religious establishment. However, he did speak of his "fellow tribesmen," which presumably refers to the discrimination and persecution shared by his ancestors, regardless of what their actual beliefs may have been.

Mark Trade said...

It all ends with Ender's Game.

There's one to add to your kindle, Ann.

Ann Althouse said...

"Very true. So, do you wish to defend that?"

I wish to defend my view of the meaning of words which is based on how they are used and my view of the variability of what religion and ethnicity are. A person who is a complete atheist might still say he's Jewish. That obviously happens. And my own sons will say that they are "half Jewish" if and when they want. Who are you to deny them that? But I know there are some Jews who'd attach great meaning to the fact fact the non-Jewish parent is the mother. My ex husband always called himself Jewish and he didn't follow the rules or believe the doctrines. Are you saying he was misusing the word?

Hagar said...

I obviously cannot deny anyone calling themselves whatever they want, but yes, I do think "non-observant Jew" is a contradiction in terms.

And how the term is used? One of the funnier things I have seen was this guy fulminating against the "damned New York Jews like Mario Cuomo," etc., while standing next to his very good friend and neighbor Barry Goldschmidt, as Jewish as he could be short of wearing a yarmulke in public.

There are instances in history of whole peoples converting to Judaism, so they are Jews, but they are not ethnic Hebrews or Israelites. What about them?
Do they have a "right" to return to the "homeland"?
Today the term "Jewish" is also very political and affects others; it is not just about personal religious convictions.

Paddy O said...

I think Jewish has a bit of a distinction. They are, by definition, a people. The children of Abraham. Whether they follow the practices does not seem to be the key issue.

Indeed, the Old Testament is filled with stories of God judging the people based on the non-practice. They were not allowed to worship other gods, to pursue other religions, because they were a people.

We see this throughout history, a defining category that doesn't fit into the other labels we use such as race or religion or ethnicity.

Is there another group like this? I can't think of one. But it's a category that has been duly accepted as such since ancient times.

Clyde said...

I saw Gravity on Saturday afternoon. It was quite an experience, and a film that should be seen in the theater in 3D for full effect. This is not one to wait to see on Netflix! Recommended.

Gary Rosen said...

Hagar clearly does not understand the Cedarford definition of Jew, which is anyone with a vaguely Eastern European sounding name C-fudd wants to rant about.

Gary Rosen said...

Hagar clearly does not understand the Cedarford definition of Jew, which is anyone with a vaguely Eastern European sounding name C-fudd wants to rant about.

Hagar said...

In the early years of the present State of Israel the majority of the immigrants came from the neighboring "Arab" countries.
(See the maps and charts in Martin Gilbert's "Israel - A History.")

Yemen had a very large Jewish population from ancient times, and it is likely that a number of the Yemeni Islamist firebrands, such as Osama bin Laden, etc., carry a substantial proportion of "Jewish" genes. That is just how the world works and always has.

Likewise Spain, and way back the Romans did not distinguish much between Jews, Philistines and Carthaginians - for the Romans they were all just Levantine troublemakers - so many Carthaginians just naturally were absorbed into the Jewish population after the Roman conquest of Spain.

Here in New Mexico there are a number of "crypto-Jews" - people descended from Jews that fled to the Americas to get away from the Spanish Inquisition and then moved on to New Mexico when the Inquisition followed them to Mexico. After centuries of living "under cover," their Jewish traditions transmitted orally and in deep secrecy may have become a bit shaky, but nobody disputes that they are "legitimate" Jews. And of course, there are families who lost the traditions along the way, and so would be Jews without knowing it. Or are they?

There is a Jewish population in China that is also physically indistinguishable from the surrounding people. They too have names that are not recognized as "Jewish names" in New York and vicinity.