Liz Smith: Redford and Fonda Together Again
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara
Fonda and Redford, Together Again! Also, “Captain Brassbound’s Conversion” … Naked Danes Dancing … Prepare for Bette Midler’s Hulaween.”
“ALL GREAT achievements require time,” said Maya Angelou.
I DON’T know that the new Robert Redford/Jane Fonda movie from Netflix, “Our Souls at Night” is a great achievement. In fact, it’s not, although the fourth pairing of these two icons is something of a treatise on how we acknowledge and accept time — all its vicissitudes and pleasures. It is a tender, sometimes elegiac tale of two people, past mid-life, finding themselves intimately involved after half a lifetime of knowing one another casually. The plot is thin; the great stars work with delicacy and charm to flesh it out.
“Our Souls At Night” (a far too ominous title for what actually happens in the film) premièred in Manhattan Wednesday night, at the Museum of Modern Art. Netflix was joined by Andrew Saffir’s Cinema Society hosting the event. The film started on time, Fonda and Redford were prompt — no excessive lingering for the photographers. (Famous since their early twenties, their lives and concerns exist beyond the camera flash.) Audience reaction was positive.
The “great achievement” of the night — or at least the moment worth waiting for — came late in the evening at the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room, where the after-party happened. (Did somebody involved in this event recall that in “Barefoot in the Park” Fonda and Redford honeymooned at the Plaza, before settling in to a cramped apartment and various misadventures? If so, bravo to your cinema knowledge. If not, cheers to wonderful coincidence.)
The official photos had been taken, Jane and Bob had sat at their banquettes meeting and greeting, chatting with friends, accepting compliments. It was time to go, and they were leaving at the same moment. Their respective PR people, bodyguards, friends and a little dog, too, were alerted. (Jane’s pooch, who accompanies the actress everywhere.)
The pair touched hands, whispered, laughed a little, and prepared to make their way out. Somebody asked to take a photo with their phone. Redford and Fonda agreed, placing their heads together gently.
What struck me was that everybody else surrounding them, outside the circle of protection, was somehow restrained from whipping their phones out — that tiresome mass movement of lifted arms so common everywhere.
Fonda and Redford were posing for this one shot, and around them, fell a kind of reverent hush. It was an appreciation that they were still here — among the last of their kind, real stars. To see them like this, merely mortal, it’s true, but representing more than half a century of commitment to their craft and to their real-life passions of political and humanitarian concern, was a moving thing.
The photo was taken, the pair were gently ushered out, and with them went history — and if not quite the life of the party, its soul. Après Fonda and Redford we were left only with a deluge of chat about deranged world leaders, foreign and domestic, and the sorry state of the magazine world, where editors are apparently falling like autumn leaves.
THIS ‘N THAT:
… “Pirates! Romance! Comedy! Revenge!” That is the eye-catching manner in which the Gingold Theater Group’s Project Shaw is advertising its October 23rd presentation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Captain Brassbound’s Conversion.” (First performed in 1900, starring the fabled Ellen Terry.) Over the past few years, Project Shaw has delivered a remarkably expert and entertaining series of the playwright’s works — often controversial in their time, resonant and relevant even today. This is a one-night only event, happening at Symphony Space (95th and Broadway). Call 212-864-5400 or visit SymphonySpace.org.
… IF you are interested in watching twelve naked Danes dance in loosey-goosey avant garde style, get over to NYU’s Skirball Center in Greenwich Village. Today and tomorrow choreographer Mette Ingvartsen presents something called “7 Pleasures.” Now, I am not much for The Dance, even when everybody is fully clothed. I admire the phenomenal skill and dedication of dancers. But I’ve rarely sat comfortably through an all-dance program. And I won’t see this. I bring it up, I promote it here, simply because Joan Acoella’s review of the production, in the October 1st issue of The New Yorker was so amusing! In fact I am sure, at least from my point of view, that the review was far more pleasurable than the 12 nude dancers. But don’t rely on my resistance. Call 212-998-4941.
… Bette Midler’s Hulaween, which benefits her New York Restoration Project, is just around the corner. Well, October 30th, but we need to prepare our costumes, yes? This year, the great gala is titled “Hulaween In The Garden of Earthly Delights.” It happens at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Judy Gold will be Mistress of Ceremonies. Michael Kors judges the ghoulish finery, and the delicious burlesque queen Dita Von Teese is set to possibly remove a glove. DJ Runna will manage the music. Visit www.nyrp.org
ENDTHOUGHT: Memo to CNN: An argument can be made that you guys have to cover the man in White House 24/7, because he is the President of Twitter. But must we endure an endless series of special programming on him — “Trump and Twitter” … ”Why Trump Won” … and there’s another one upcoming, or perhaps it has blessedly passed. The excruciating ten-person panels analyzing the slightest twitch of his Twitter finger is much more than sufficient coverage. Jeff Zucker — do you not understand that the commander in chief revels in the attention? Or perhaps you do. Which begs the question — why give him so much attention?