I understand that Milton Glaser‘s 1968 “Mickey Mouse in Vietnam” short was made in a very back-pocket, low-tech way, but would it have killed Glaser to add a soundtrack sometime over the last 40-plus years? Compared to this Steamboat Willie is like Avatar. Why does Mickey fall in slow-mo when he gets shot in the head? Was Glaser influenced by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway‘s deaths in Bonnie and Clyde?
James Wan‘s The Conjuring (Warner Bros./New Line, 7.19) “scared me more than any other movie in recent memory. I’ve been grossed out by gore, and jolted by cats jumping out of closets, yes, but this is something else entirely. For full-on fear and dread, the kind that makes you start squirming at the beginning of the scene, because you know someone’s about to open a door they shouldn’t, this movie starts creepy and maintains a hold on your spine for the next 112 minutes.” — from 6.22 Los Angeles Film Festival review by TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde. So how about some NYC screenings?
This morning Meet the Press host David Gregory asked columnist Glenn Greenwald why he shouldn’t be legally prosecuted for having apparently assisted renegade National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gregory: “To the extent that you’ve aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” Greenwald: “[I think it’s] pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.”
I don’t know anything and neither does anyone else, but it’s at least somewhat likely if not more so that the following will end up as big-time award winners/nominees at the end of the year and early 2014. Please forward suggestions about any other potential contenders.
Best Picture: American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, All Is Lost, Saving Mr. Banks, Fruitvale Station, August: Osage County, Monuments Men, Foxcatcher, Before Midnight.
Best Director: David O. Russell, American Hustle; Martin Scorsese, Wolf of Wall Street; Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks; Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station; George Clooney, Monuments Men; Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher; Richard Linklater, Before Midnight.
I’ve contemplated the suggestions for HE’s Best of 2013 At The Six-Month Mark, and I just can’t blow off the top-notch films I saw at the Cannes Film Festival (Inside Llewyn Davis, All Is Lost, The Past, Blue Is The Warmest Color, et. al.). If I were to ignore them because they haven’t been released I’d give HE’s Halftime Award for Best Picture to Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight, but I can’t ignore Cannes — it happened, hundreds saw and wrote about these films, they’re part of the conversation, they’re too accomplished and important, etc.
So here’s the breakdown so far on 2013’s Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress…right? Little thought is given to likely Oscar/Academy recognition given my lack of respect for mainstream Academy attitudes, although any/most of these faves will probably be Oscar-nominated. This is just me talking right now. The Academy bullshit can wait.
Best Halftime Picture Award of 2013: Tie between Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis and J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost. I’m sorry but Davis is one of those less-is-profoundly-more films that not only works and coheres perfectly when you first see it, but also gets better and better the more you think about it weeks down the road. And All Is Lost is just fucking brilliant — easily the most novel and gripping survivalist suspense drama ever made, and particularly striking for the zero-dialogue element. Leagues and light years beyond Life Is Pi.
Other Best Halftime Picture Nominees: 3. The Past, d: Asghar Farhadi (Cannes 2013); 4. Blue Is The Warmest Color, d: Abdellatif Kechiche (Cannes 2013); 5. Before Midnight, d: Richard Linklater; 6. Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale Station (Sundance, Cannes); 7. 20 Feet From Stardom, d: Morgan Neville; 8. Frances Ha, d: Noah Baumbach; 9. Behind The Candelabra, d: Steven Soderbergh; 10. Mud, d: Jeff Nichols, 11. Upstream Color, d: Shane Carruth; 12. Shadow Dancer, d: James Marsh; 13. The Attack, d: Ziad Doueiri.
Best Halftime Director Award of 2013: Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis. Other Best Halftime Director Nominees: J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost, Asghar Farhadi, The Past, Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station; Richard Linklater, Before Midnight.
Best Halftime Actor Award of 2013: Robert Redford, All Is Lost. No other performance so far has come close to conveying as much gravitas, alone-ness, sadness, decency, humanity. And no other performance so far has elicited such flat-out admiration and exhilaration on my part. There’s nothing to do but celebrate Redford’s luck in scoring perhaps the best role of his career and delivering bis best performance since he played…you tell me. Jeremiah Johnson in Jeremiah Johnson, Bob Woodward in All The President’s Men, David Chappelet in Downhill Racer, the goodbye scene in front of the Plaza in The Way We Were, etc.
Best Halftime Actor Nominees besides Redford: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis (there’s often a new guy/outlier nominee among Academy’s Best Actor contenders), Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra (I don’t care if Candelabara debuted on HBO — it opened theatrically in Europe); Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station; Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight. Wells Exception: If Michael Shannon hadn’t played General Zod in Man of Steel his Iceman performance might have some Best Actor traction at this stage, but he has to pay the penalty for being in Steel, which was and is an act of mercenary paycheck-ism.
Best Halftime Actress Award of 2013: Tie between Berenice Bejo in The Past and Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue Is The Warmest Color (although the latter’s unpronounceable, unspellable last name probably puts her behind Bejo at this point). Best 2013 Halftime Actress Nominees besides Bejo & Exarchopoulos: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Andrea Riseborough, Shadow Dancer; Rooney Mara, Ain’t them Bodies Saints.
Best 2013 Halftime Best Supporting Actor Award of 2013: Bruce Dern, Nebraska. (Wells to Paramount: Dern having won the Best Actor award at Cannes is great advertising, but there’s no way his Nebraska performance will get any traction as a Best Actor contender with the Academy — it’s a supporting performance through and through. Runner-up: Ali Mosaffa, The Past.
Best 2013 Halftime Best Supporting Actress Award of 2013: Pauline Burlet, The Past. Runner-Up: June Squibb, Nebraska. HE Exception: Kristin Scott Thomas is striking and, yes, memorable in Only God Forgives, but the movie is so Godless and Godawful that nobody having anything to do with it can be nominated. There may even be a penalty carrying over into 2014 and 2015. I haven’t finally decided — let me think it over.
A critic friend caught White House Down a couple of days ago, and so I called this morning to see what he thought. “Roland Emmerich is as soulless and bombastic a director as Michael Bay,” he replied, “and this” — Emmerich’s latest — “is no better than Olympus Has Fallen.” Whoa, whoa…what? All the while I’ve been presuming that White House Down would be the slicker, pricier, more upmarket version of a White House-attacked-by-terrorists film, certainly compared to Antoine Fuqua‘s Olympus Has Fallen, a C-grade, Walmart-level piece of shit that opened last March and did about $160 million worldwide.
“But it looks so much better than Olympus Has Fallen,” I argued, not having a shred of first-hand observation to fortify my view. “It has to be at least half-decent or tolerable…right? Olympus was a drag. WHD at least looks and sounds like a tonier product. A slicker Sony Studios-type deal rather than…you know, a film that looks like it was shot in Shreveport.”
Now that a presumably fair-sized percentage of the HE community has seen Marc Forster and Brad Pitt‘s World War Z, reactions can be shared. The projected $60 million-plus weekend haul indicates that the dicey pre-release buzz (troubled, re-written and re-shot, hugely expensive) had no effect on anything. Well, maybe a bit.
“I wasn’t floored but I was definitely okay with [it],” I wrote from Paris on 6.12. “Two or three times I opened my mouth with an ‘oh my effing God…whoa!’ Once or twice I chuckled in amusement. It’s not ‘scary’ as much as a big, epic-sized action-adventure zombie spectacle with some strikingly good, super-fluid CG compositions. It’s basically a globe-sprawling, much more expensive 28 Days Later. A lot of serious exacting work has gone in to making this thing look and feel and sound right. But it’s basically just a good mass-zombie movie that cost a shitload (i.e., $200 million).
According to a 6.20 story by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, Anne Hathaway will produce and star in an open-seas survival drama called The Lifeboat, an adaptation of Charlotte Rogan’s novel of the same name. Hathaway will play a refugee from a sunken luxury liner. She faces murder charges after being picked up because, as Kit writes, she and her husband determine that the lifeboat they’re on “has too many people, meaning [that] some folks have got to go.” This is similar to the plot of Abandon Ship!, a 1957 film in which Tyrone Power played a ship’s captain who made the same call about an over-crowded lifeboat. The Wiki page claims that a voiceover at the end of the film states that the real-life captain “was brought to trial on a charge of murder.”
They’re calling this the first official trailer for Joshua Michael Stern‘s JOBS (Open Road,8.16). It didn’t do all that well with the critics when it played at the tail end of January’s Sundance Film Festival. (I left the day before it screened.) But it’s obviously a necessary thing to see, if no other reason than to reference and compare when Aaron Sorkin‘s Steve Jobs film turns up.
My Paris plane touched down last night at JFK at 7:30 pm. Taxied forever on the tarmac. The passport line took a good 35 to 40 minutes because there weren’t enough passport guys at the desks. At 9:15 pm I was waiting for the slow-as-molasses A train at Howard Beach. I finally arrived at Hanover Square, my area of residence for the next couple of weeks, around 10 pm. The neighborhood, south of Wall Street and a block away from the East River, is a bit on the chilly, corporate side. Not exactly saturated with historical aroma. It could be a corporate high-rise region of Cleveland, Detroit, Hong Kong or Boston’s North End. It had a certain charm back in the days of Martin Scorsese‘s Gangs of New York, but then you had to deal with guys sinking meat cleavers into each other’s heads so it all balances out.
I had problems the instant I walked into this place last night. The interior atmosphere was dark and cave-like and sort of Guido-ish with awful hanging mini-lamps and tacky sound-level screens on the walls behind the bar, like something you’d see in some laughably low-rent recording studio in the early ’80s. And the music was way too loud…thump thump thump thump thump. I understand obnoxious house music at a club but not for a place where people are supposed to effing eat. “Uhm, does the music have to be this loud?,” I asked the waitress when I first sat down. “I mean, this is basically a restaurant, right?” She said she’d ask…nothing. I asked again 15 minutes later. She came back and said, “They said the music is part of the ambience here…sorry but it’s always been like this.” So in retaliation I tipped her 5%. I know it wasn’t her fault but someone had to pay. I hope this place dies. It deserves to.