Variety‘s Justin Chang calls Peter and Michael Spierig‘s Predestination (1.9.15) “an entrancingly strange time-travel saga [that] succeeds in teasing the brain and touching the heart even when its twists and turns keep multiplying well past the point of narrative sustainability. Playfully and portentously examining themes of destiny, mutability and identity through the story of two strangers whose lives turn out to be intricately linked, [pic] offers a skillful and atmospheric adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1960 short story ‘All You Zombies.’ If it’s better in the intimate early stages than in the more grandiose later passages, all in all it’s the sort of boldly illogical head trip that gives preposterousness a good name.”
How much more dynamic can Jurassic World be if all the action takes place on Isla Nublar? It’ll basically be the same crap, which nobody will mind, I suppose. Boilerplate: “22 years after the initial events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a totally commercialized dino theme park, Jurassic World, with a surprisingly slimmed-down Chris Pratt conducting behavioral research on the Velociraptors. But when Jurassic World’s attendance rates begin to decline, a new attraction, created to re-spark visitor interest, gravely backfires.” A NOLA industry guy tells me Jurassic World features an aquatic dinosaur “and a sequence where a la Seaworld they feed a great white shark to the leviathan for the tourists to applaud.” I have a guilty liking for The Lost World, which came out 17 years ago. The full-boat trailer airs on Thanksgiving Day, seeking to arouse a nation slumping on the couch and all pigged out.
For me, the throbbing, bassy sound mix at New York’s Alice Tully Hall killed a good half of the dialogue during the 10.4 screening of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice. Which I mentioned that night and in a morning-after piece the next day. I noted in the second riff that “I was able to understand somewhere between 15% and 20% of Katherine Waterston, Joanna Newsom and Jena Malone‘s dialogue, largely because they all seem to converse in hippie-chick fry.” Well, deliverance has arrived with the Inherent Vice screener, which the UPS guy dropped off an hour ago. I popped it in and watched the first scene (i.e., between Waterston and Joaquin Phoenix) and could hear 95% of the dialogue without the slightest difficulty. I still don’t understand what’s going on and Phoenix still sounds slurry-muttery here and there, but I can hear the words. Finally! Don’t even suggest that the Avery Fisher problems were about my own ears. Some readers tried this after I moaned about the Interstellar sound mix, and look what happened with that one. In all modesty I’m a Zen master of theatrical sound assessments.
The first trailer for J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney, 12.18.15) will screen in theatres nationwide on Friday, 11.28. I’m guessing it won’t simultaneously appear online. This means that I’ll be humping it down to the AMC Century City or Hollywood’s El Capitan and paying full ticket price just to see it. Which is what happened on 11.6.98 when hundreds (including Paul Thomas Anderson) poured into Mann’s Village in Westwood to see the world premiere of the trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I was there. Every Los Angeles film fanatic with blood in his or her veins was there. The movie that nobody stayed to see was Edward Zwick‘s The Siege. The late Tom Sherak, Fox’s top marketing guy at the time, introduced the trailer. I remember how the mostly geek crowd was mocking the Zwick film…”Siege! Siege! Siege!” And then The Phantom Menace opened on 5.19.99, and the whole thing came tumbling down. It doesn’t matter how much money that mostly tedious movie made. It destroyed the Star Wars theology. True believers were shattered, crestfallen.
There’s no excuse for having posted the wrong Best Director and Best Actor Oscar Balloon charts last weekend, but somehow I managed it. Jett sent me the latest on Saturday. I saved the damn things, re-sized them, refined them and posted them…and they were the wrong charts. Fatigue, frenzy, too many balls in the air, hurly-burly, time-outs, replacing my HDMI cable switcher, shopping, briefly disappeared cat, exercise. I don’t know what happened but it’s infuriating. These are the currently correct versions.
Far From The Madding Crowd (Fox Searchlight, 5.1.15) is basically about the dreamy, cultured allure of Carey Mulligan‘s Bathsheba Everdene, and which suitor she’ll finally end up with — the earthy, well-muscled sheep farmer (Matthias Schoenhaerts) who probably climaxes too quickly, the somewhat rakish military man (Tom Sturridge) who’s heavenly in the sack, a giver of quaking orgasms, and the somewhat stuffy rich guy (Michael Sheen) who’s steady and reliable but who probably comes too quickly also. Always choose the dull, dependable guy. My personal blockage, to be perfectly honest, is that in real life Mulligan married a beefy, non-glamorous musician. I understand and respect that she married for trust and comfort, but Marcus Mumford is the guy who got in the way of the Mulligan mystique. It’s obvious that Charlotte Bruus Christensen‘s cinematography — exquisite, sophisticated — obviously knows from light and shadows. Could Bathsheba Everdene be the great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of Katniss Everdeen? I’ll never forgive Dean Martin for changing the original Thomas Hardy title to “away from the maddening crowd” in “Volare.”