“There’s sadness and tragedy within Slumdog Millionaire — starvation, genocide, child prostitution and overwhelming oppression — but there’s humor, humanity and dignity as well. [Director] Danny Boyle, stepping outside the UK to focus his lens on India, seems to have freed himself here to bring his brilliance as a director to its fullest fruition.
“Slumdog Millionaire is Boyle’s best film to date, which is saying quite a lot; He’s made a joyous, fun, and wonderfully accessible film that should play well in Toronto before moving on to wider release.” — from Kim Voynar‘s Cinematical review, posted this evening at 8:03 pm.
When is Variety‘s Todd McCarthy going to get around to posting his review of the Boyle film (which screened last night, after all) and Paul Schrader’s Adam Resurrected, which screened yesterday afternoon? And where, for that matter, are the reviews of same from L.A. Weekly critic Scott Foundas? Hubba-hubba, guys.
9.1 Update: The Sarah Palin “Babygate” thing is over. It turns out that Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican vice presidential candidate, is five months pregnant. It was certainly legitimate to ask questions given the reportedly curious circumstances of Trig Palin‘s birth last April plus the photos that provided no obvious indication that Sarah Palin was in a late-term pregnancy state prior to delivery. But it’s over now so forget it.
Every time I see a massive, shape-shifting dark gray storm cloud — a really big one, I mean — my mind always recalls those swirling God clouds above Charlton Heston during the red-sea parting in Cecil D. Demille’s The Ten Commandments. What a grotesque hypocrite DeMille was, and yet he had a great eye and the diligence and exactitude to make his films look just so.
This Getty images photo from N.Y. Times was removed before I could copy the photographer’s name.
The counter-current ‘s against Burn After Reading continues in this filing from the Venice Film Festival by Time‘s Richard Corliss: “The viewer’s fun, such as it is, comes from guessing where the movie is headed and why it’s going there. The ultimate question, from this admirer of virtually all the brothers’ work, from the early Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing to their previous Clooney collaborations O, Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty, is a plaintive ‘what the heck kind of film is this?’
“As close to an answer as you’ll get here is that Burn After Reading is an essay in the cocoon of ignorance most of us live in. It pushes the old form of movie comedy — smart people saying clever things — into collision with today’s dominant model of slackers whose utterly unfounded egotism eventually worms its way into an audience’s indulgence. Which is to say that most of the people here seem like bright lights but are actually dim bulbs. They’re not falling-down stupid; they radiate the subtler variety of idiocy that can be mistaken for charm, decency or even brilliance.
But in the end, says Corliss, “the movie’s glacial affectlessness, its remove from all these subpar schemers, left me cold and perplexed.”
Which sexually frank Toronto Film Festival drama seems like the rougher sit — (a) Borderline (d: Lynne Charlebois), about a sexually active Quebec writer (Isabelle Blais) featuring “numerous scenes of full-frontal nudity by both genders, various sexual positions gay and straight, coarse language and wrist slashing” or (b) Cloud 9 (d: Andreas Dresen), which is about geezer infidelity and hot sex? The answer, of course, is the latter.
I don’t want to even begin to imagine 70- or 80-somethings doing it, much less submit to the sight of same during a film. All power to them, of course, and the life-affirming metaphor of “the act.” Sex is life, etc. I just don’t want to let it into my head to the point of visualization. Because I don’t want to see or imagine any acts of unclothed intimacy between any partners who aren’t in some kind of tolerable shape (reasonably well-toned, no Jabba bellies, no milky freckly skin, no ass blemishes, no dirty feet or untrimmed toenails). When grotesques come together and do it they certainly don’t inspect each other’s bods — they turn the lights off and pretend.
And I don’t want to see any guys in whatever kind of shape doing each other either, as long as we’re talking no-nos. Sorry, but this stuff (Salo, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Taxi Zum Klo, Dude, Where’s My Car?) makes me shift in my seat. And I’m allowed to feel and say this without anyone calling me this, that or the other thing.
I know the p.c. things I’m supposed to say. I know how to play the game and blah-blah my way through a discussion of films of this type. But if you can’t man up and say, “Well, this is how I really feel about this,” then what good are you?
Mark Olsen has written an L.A. Times piece listing the Best L.A. Films of the Last 25 Years. Fine, but you know what? The last 25 years (1983 to the present) have been cool, interesting, diverting, etc., but nowhere near as soul-stirring as the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s — the true glory days of L.A. cinema.
And so Olsen’s list leaves off Kiss Me Deadly, The Long Goodbye, Sunset Boulevard, In a Lonely Place, Point Blank, Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice, Play It As It Lays, Bloom in Love, No Down Payment, etc. What is the concept of “L.A. Film” without these? Olsen has done a good comprehensive job of summing up the ’80s, ’90s and 21st Century highlights — I’ll give him that.
“By creating the frame of the last 25 years, the idea was exactly to keep us from just rattling off Chinatown, Long Goodbye, etc.,” Olsen answers. “That list has been done. By sticking to the ‘modern classics’ or whatever you want to call them, we were trying to get at current representations of Los Angeles, what the town is now. The fact that, say, Fast Times or Blade Runner are forced off the list made us dig a little deeper and think a little harder. I, for one, think that’s a good thing.”
Whenever I’m thinking of buying something smallish and electronic (phone, laptop, digital camera), I always tend to favor devices that (a) weigh a bit more than the other units and (b) are either black or dark grey. (As I tend to hate silver except for Mac Powerbooks.) I realize it’s illogical, but there’s a little man inside who doesn’t like to pay money for anything that feels too lacking in molecular density. That’s why if were a high-tech manufacturer I would put tiny little weights inside my devices to make them seem more “substantial”…heh-heh.
The poll respondents include USA Today‘s Suzie Woz, Cinematical‘s James Rocchi and Kim Voynar, Movie City News‘ David Poland, Reel Views’ James Berardinelli, Variety and CinemaScope’s Robert Koehler, UC Santa Cruz film prof B. Ruby Rich, Monsters and Critics reviewer and MSN columnist Anne Brodie, Variety‘s Anne Thompson and myself.
Expressing interest in seeing Steven Soderbergh‘s Che epic, Brodie writes that it’ll be “keen to see how Soderbergh glamorizes a brutal mass murderer who became a symbol of peace.”
First, Che Guevara has never been a symbol of peace — he’s always been a symbol of ’60s revolution in all of its glam, up-against-it, colllege-wall-poster glory. Second, Guevara did, of course, oversee the executions of Batista loyalists following the Cuban revolution. However (and I’m not saying this to excuse the Cuban executions but to explain the thinking) you can’t have a pristine lawn unless you pull up the weeds and the dandelions. (Ask Chauncey Gardiner about that.)
On top of which I would imagine any spirited combatant would succumb to a payback attitude after winning a tough war against a vicious opponent. (News bulletin for Brodie: the pro-Batista forces fought in an extremely savage and un-cricket way against the shaggy scruffs led by Guevara and Fidel Castro.)
On top of which all leaders of all victorious revolutions and military campaigns (including George Washington, George Bush, Gen. George S. Patton, Julius Caesar, Pol Pot, Chou en Lai, Mao Zedong, Nikolai Lenin, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan, Omar Bradley, Curtis LeMay, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, etc.) have either directly caused or given orders that led to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of people, and not just among the enemy. War and revolution are not games of tiddly-winks.
Variety‘s Jay Weissberg, filing from the Venice Film Festival, has given the equivalent of a four-star review to Clair Denis‘ 35 Shots of Rum, which will begin to screen 5 days hence at the Toronto Film Festival.
Mati Diop (l.), Alex Descas (r.) in Claire Denis’ 35 Shots of Rum.
“The warmth radiating from 35 Shots of Rum smoother than the finest liquor, reminds viewers how rarely movies capture the easygoing love embodied in a functional family,” Weissberg writes, “with all its support and tenderness. Denis’ latest may appear whisper-thin on the surface, yet it’s marvelously profound, illuminating the love between a father and daughter but also highlighting the difficulty of relinquishing what most people spend a lifetime putting into place.
“This moving work, inexplicably outside Venice’s competition lineup, will need critical support to facilitate arthouse pickup.”
The former Sarah Heath — now Gov. Sarah Palin — doing sports reporting on Channel 2, KTUU-TV in Anchorage, in 1988. Watch this and you won’t hear a word — all you can do is look at her grotesque ’80s hair. Wasn’t this kind of thing passe by this point? Palin is wearing a late ’70s-early ’80s coif…no?
And by the way: yesterday afternoon Daily Kos writer Arc XIS (what’s that name supposed to mean?) posted a longish, circumstantially-supported, far-from-conclusive and yet intriguing piece postulating that Trig Paxson Van Palin, the Down Syndrome baby born to Palin last April, is not her son but her grandson. Just read it, read the linked articles, and tell me it doesn’t sound at least somewhat credible. As a theory, I mean. It’s certainly a head-scratcher.
Those poor people in New Orleans and nearby areas are about to receive their second super-thrashing in three years. And Katrina, remember, was a category 3 hurricane when it hit New Orleans on the morning of 8.29.05, and so is Hurricane Gustav. The latest news is that it may be weakening somewhat, and may perhaps even be down to a level 2 by the time it goes over land. Maybe.
That “mother of all Hurricanes” line from New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin may be an exaggeration, according to a conversation I had a little while ago with neworleans.com movie critic Dave DuBos.
George Bush and Dick Cheney are blowing off their scheduled Monday appearances at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul due to the storm.
An 8.30 Politico report says that McCain and Sarah Palin are expected to confer with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in Jackson, Miss. today, which is supposed to be seen as a gesture of concern for the region. McCain is scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech at the Republican Nat’l Convention next Thursday but he “may” deliver his speech “from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.” Wouldn’t that be seen as an opportunistic pander-bear move?
Barack Obama has been calling local TV stations today, says DuBos, and stating an intention to visit the area after Gustav does its damage. Coming before the storm, Obama is saying, would just get in the way.