To the Beat of the Frum Drum


by James Killough

Well, whaddaya know.  No sooner do I publish a diatribe against Andrew Sullivan urging Tina Brown to cut him loose than she runs out and buys herself not-meshuganuts conservative thinker David Frum, with whom I don’t always agree, but who at least doesn’t outrage me with his whacky, sanctimonious claptrap.

Open letter to Tom: Come home soon. Daddy needs you. Contact details in the right margin xoxo

Well done, Tina.  This is the sort of Other Side opinion you need to balance out Newsweek/The Daily Beast.  I knew you could do it.  Guys like Frum are the best hope we have for a rational, civilized, reasonably intelligent dialogue between left and right.

And while your at it, Tina darling, take down that awful “Ask Andrew Anything” on Beast TV, or at least make Sullivan remove that tatty Photoshoppy polarize YouTube filter, or whatever it is, which he must slap on there because the vain old queen can’t bear how he really looks now (emphasis on bear).

One of Sullivan's glamorous Hollywood moments on Beast TV.

I’m sure I had absolutely nothing to do with Brown’s decision, and she hasn’t cut Sullivan loose.  Yet.  Nevertheless, over morning coffee in the kitchen, I was just imagining myself as the Nikki Finke of the media world, a holy terror punctuating every evil, gloating, cackling blog post with “TOLDJA SO!”… And then I scalded the milk and the fantasy went away.

Finke holds Hollywood hostage with her blog, but is being given a serious run for her money by other online news outlets, notably The Wrap.  Finke is to The Wrap what Sullivan is to PFC: they go after her every misstep with the same gusto she goes after entertainment industry wankers.  It’s a shark-eat-shark world, baby.


I’d never heard the expression “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people” until this week, but that makes so much sense.  The theater and film departments in school were way cooler than the debate team, even though they were smarter and won all the awards at graduation.  It makes sense that all those kids who participated in Mock Senates would go to freeze their asses off in that vast boring mausoleum while we all flocked here to LA to bask in eighty-degree cloudless weather, which is what it has been here this entire first week of January.

At least when he was running for President, before the crushing exigencies of the job accelerated the aging process, an adjective often ascribed to Obama was “handsome.”  Not by Hollywood standards.  Just try casting him or any number of politicians in film or TV roles, and what do you get?  At worst a villain, or at best a comic sidekick.  In Obama’s case, it’s Giancarlo Esposito as the meth king in “Breaking Bad”:


The biggest news this week here at PFC is that my girl Rain Li and I reunited after not having seen each other for over two years.  During the first iteration of Pure Film, when it was just a production company, we lived together in a sort of filmmaking kibbutz in Covent Garden in London with my partner Jonathan Kemp.  Then we had to wind the party up, and we scattered, she to her native Beijing, me to New York and then LA.

The minute Rain walks into anything, the glamour doubles and the budget triples.  It’s just the way she is.  Producers straight and gay get so excited by her enthusiasm and charm they just have to throw more money and work at her.

When I first met her, she was an hour and a half late for the meeting, and of course I was fuming, but when I came away from it I fired the cinematographer I already had and delayed production on my film for two months while we waited for her to finishing shooting Gus van Sant’s Paranoid Park.  She was twenty-three at the time.

A rather obvious headline, but it's from a fashion magazine.

Our reunion was at Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills, after which we both hopped on our bikes and rode down the sidewalks of Rodeo Drive to our respective meetings at United Talent Agency, scattering tourists before us.  Being one of the few people in LA who only rides a bike—I work from home and don’t need a car, unless I’m in production and then it’s on the budget—I’m somewhat self-conscious (but defiant) about cycling around places like Beverly Hills dressed for a meeting.  With Rain at my side whooshing down Wilshire, slapping me five, her iPad bouncing out of the basket on her handlebars, we were suddenly progressive.

Rain is now a director in her own right, finishing the script for her debut feature film.  Our catch-up conversation was over a martini or two at sunset on the roof of Soho House on Sunset Boulevard (yes, the symbolism was rife).  I’m hopeful she’ll spend more time in LA.  From the sound of the buzzing agents at UTA, they are too.


One thing Rain and I loved to do when we were film kibbutzing in London was go for hot pot in Chinatown across the street from where we lived.  We’d dunk meats and seafood and veggies in the boiling spiced soup in the middle of the table and slurp away, trying to outdo each other with how much Sichuan pepper we could stand before our contact lenses floated away with our tears.

There are jokes aplenty about Asians eating dogs (see “101 Ways To Wok The Dog”), but we tend to overlook that they will eat just about anything, in a hot pot or a wok, from owls to snakes to cats.  Details are just emerging of the billionaire Long Liyuan having been poisoned to death with cat hot pot by the director of the local agricultural commission.  There is just a ton of poetry in that grudge.

A joke about Tennessee Williams is in order, if I could just formulate it properly.  A new Beijing Opera about a closeted crippled martial arts warrior who can’t bang his wife called Cat in a Hot Pot Stew?  Maybe I’m forcing it.


Quick film review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was gorgeously shot and directed, but I’m not sure it’s for anyone under fifty-five.  Gary Oldman doesn’t do much other than look like an immobile turtle, although I do believe he quivers his jowl at a certain point during the climax.  But that’s the implacable George Smiley role, always has been, even when Alec Guinness—one of those actors who should never have been allowed to die, and who I hope is being preserved cryogenically—played him.  At least Guinness had the benefit of a Hamburg hat to give him more personality.

Wherefore art thou, Sir Alec?

Standing out as always is Tom Hardy, playing the ruffian spy who upsets the apple cart.  Dame Bea said to me after the film, “My God, Hardy’s hung, isn’t he?”  But she was falling for that 70s jeans optical illusion.  Did they stitch codpieces into trousers back then?  I reminded her that Hardy had his junk out most of the way through Bronson and that she’s no doubt seen bigger, being half Latina and all.

I give TTSS a Nice.  In other words, Netflix it.


This is for Eric Baker’s edification in case he hasn’t grasped what a bottom bitch is yet.  When researching the lead pic for this post, I stumbled upon a choice image of Tom Hardy begging for it:

That looks suspiciously like a cubicle at the Hollywood Spa bathhouse. But I wouldn't know...


Hollywood Schizo of the Week goes by default to Harry Burkhart, who kept all of us in Hollywood and Weho awake for four nights in a row by lighting no fewer than 53 fires in car ports in our area.  Luckily, both my roommate Gil Alan and I ride bikes (he’s also a progressive), and we store them in a closed garage of the kind Burkhart didn’t attack.

I did wake up one in the middle of the night at one point during his rampage thinking I was in an early Spielberg film with a helicopter’s beam of light swooping across the garden outside and into my bedroom window intermittently.

Harry Burkhart. Courtroom sketches are just the height of chic.

The addition of Harry’s colorful petty thief mother, Dorothee, into the mix has me imagining talent agents scrambling with journalists outside the courthouse to try to sign this glamorous duo to a reality series, which Tuttle is just itching to blog about before he launches into a review of the fall/winter Paris couture collections.

That Ma Burkhart thinks that Nazis, not her mentally ill son, started the fires reinforces my belief that schizophrenia is genetic.  I’m glad that we live in a society where they will both likely receive adequate treatment.

I just lost sleep with the sirens and the searchlights, but to those who lost property, I hope your insurance premiums were paid up.  To any other schizos thinking of doing the same, please try Beverly Hills.  Thanks.

Comments: 8

  • oldancestor January 7, 20128:48 am

    So what happened to your Buick? You could have offered it up for burning, kind of like one of those drug programs in which they just give the junkies drugs and let them shoot up under controlled circumstances. Or is it rotting in a parking lot somewhere with the plates removed? Damn our wasteful culture.

    You should know that the real reason I associate with you is to get closer to Rain Li. Sounds like I have some pretty stiff competition, though. Tell her I’m willing to write a song about her, if that helps my cause. I hope she likes progressive art punk power pop. I don’t do cheesy ballads.

    And thanks for illustrating the bottom bitch pose. It’s pretty much what I expected.

    • Pure Film Creative January 7, 20128:57 am

      The Buick was a rental from a reality TV director, believe it or not. As much as I enjoyed her rusted irony, she was a guzzler, and I have no need for it in the area I’m living in right now.

      You’d be surprised. Rain is far smarter than I am when it comes to men. She dates the sweet, sexy guy who doesn’t necessarily turn heads. She doesn’t do pretty, ever. Unlike yours truly, but then I’m a guy: I need the babe on my arm because my libido is hardwired to my ego (the libego?). However, I have never known her to date anyone outside our industry, either

      • oldancestor January 7, 201212:38 pm

        Eh, maybe it would be refreshing for her to date someone from the outside. I have a way of growing on people. Plus, I’m good at oral sex. On the other hand, I’m already married, which some women have a problem with, for whatever reason.

        I don’t go for big glamour either. No supermodels or look-at-me narcissists. I like smart, icy women (preferably with straight hair). They tend to be more trustworthy, and I enoy the challenge of uncovering the sweet side.

        • Pure Film Creative January 7, 201212:41 pm

          I think there’s a lot of wisdom in not dating civilians. I don’t know that many normies would understand the lifestyle.

        • Bryan Edmondson January 8, 201212:46 pm

          Eric before you go bragging about being “good at oral sex,” I just want you to know I faked all of those orgasms. Sorry, I would not have said this to you–if you were not stroking your ego, as if you were a “pro” whose blow jobs make people’s toes curl.

          p.s. You are not supposed to literally “blow” on it. It is an expression.
          –The asshole formerly known as the artist Hanson Anderson.

          • oldancestor January 8, 20127:51 pm

            Damn it, Bryan. Not only am I no longer the cool one who knows your real name, “Hanson” is more fun to type.

            Oh well. Good things never last.

  • James Tuttle January 8, 20122:06 pm

    I’m glad got to read the wrap-up of last week before the next week really got started. Thanks for the advice on “Tinker, Tailor.” I was kind of thinking about possibly going to see it in the cinema.
    And you were absolutely spot on about Rain being glamorous, all the more so because she denies it vehemently. And she really does need those velvet pumps with the gold heels.
    Finally, could you direct the pyro-schizos further west, please? I have to park in Beverly Hills five days a week. Thanks!

    • Pure Film Creative January 8, 20128:17 pm

      Yeah, I now: Rain’s “I’m so trashy” assertions sounded more like, “I have no self-awareness.” At least she isn’t calling herself “pikey” any more and making all the Brits gasp with her lack of PC.

      I was thinking about you after I posted the Beverly Hills bit for pyro schizos. So CORRECTION: Schizos, please go to Pacific Palisades. Thanks.

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