“It takes bravery for Kevin Costner and Mike Binder to go up against the strange phenomena of whites who no longer believe in themselves but assume guilt, and of blacks who assume entitlement. Both are typically disingenuous and untrustworthy progressive positions on racial problems, as in Selma. The title of Costner’s film makes a statement; yet, like Michael Jackson’s hit record, it also poses several questions: First about family, then character, then social values, and lastly about race. That may seem like backward priorities, given the way race has recently dominated film culture. But the order of the film’s interests suggests Costner’s integrity regarding showbiz moralizing.” — from Armond White’s 1.30 review of Black or White.
I’ve only seen American Sniper once, as part of an 11.11.14 double-header when Clint Eastwood‘s film was shown with Ava DuVernay‘s Selma. I’m mentioning this because today I spoke to Sniper‘s Oscar and WGA-nominated screenwriter Jason Hall following the Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival writers panel, and he told me that the version I saw was a bit rough and incomplete and that a few slight trims were made for the final version. I resolved then and there to see it again, and soon. I was thinking about doing this anyway. Catch it with an audience of Average Joe ticket-buyers, I mean.
During this morning’s Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival writers panel, held at the Lobero Theatre and moderated by Anne Thompson.
SBIFF writers panel moderator Anne Thompson, Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore, Theory of Everything screenwriter Anthony McCarten.
American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall conferring with ten film students who are visiting SBIFF as part of Student Film Studies Program, launched this year by fest director Roger Durling
That’s me under the SBIFF projection inside Santa Barbara’s Lobero theatre. Pic snapped during this morning’s writer’s panel.
I missed this four-day-old “Michelle Obama treated disrespectfully in Saudi Arabia” story due to being caught up in 18-hour-a-day Sundance madness. Many western women have declined to wear head scarves while visiting that country, but Saudi dignitaries refusing to shake the First Lady’s hand is fairly appalling.
I absolutely agree that video stores, which are all but dead these days, improve a neighborhood’s atmosphere. An organic video store is as beneficial to an urban culture as an opera house, a nursery school, a storied cafe or hardware store. And so Annapurna producer Megan Ellison has therefore done a wonderful thing in helping to save Vidiots, the Pico Blvd. video store that’s been running since the mid ’80s. It was announced yesterday that Ellison has come to the assistance of co-owner Cathy Tauber, who had announced that Vidiots would close in April. That aside, I’ve had an attitude about Vidiots since something that happened in the late ’80s or early ’90s. I had rented a VHS of The Wizard of Oz and then lost the tape. Vidiots had sent me notices but I could’t find it. When it finally turned up weeks later they said I needed to pay them almost $200 in back rental fees. I thought it would be fair to charge me for the cost of the tape itself, which back then was in the neighborhood of $75 bills. (Less?) But no way was I going to pay them $190-something dollars. So we parted company and that was that. I’ve wandered into Vidiots five or six times since, but the vibe always seemed stuck in the ’80s with all those VHS tapes sitting on those highly-stacked shelves. The #1 rule applying to each and every business: “Adapt or die.”
“Boyhood’s alternate title might as well be Patricia Arquette’s Bad Choices. Mason’s life is shaped by her inability to stop herself from falling for abusive drunks, first a professor and then a soldier-turned-corrections officer. Neither man particularly cares for Mason, and Mason doesn’t particularly care for them.” — from a 1.30 essay by freebeacon.com’s Sonny Bunch.
“Boyhood‘s Patricia Arquette delivers a fine performance, although I didn’t care for her character subjecting her kids to not one but two abusive, alcoholic conservative assholes as stepdads. I’m a bigger fan of either Birdman‘s Emma Stone or A Most Violent Year‘s Jessica Chastain in this category. But the none-too-hip consensus gang decided on Arquette a long time ago.” — from 12.1.14 HE piece about the 2014 N.Y. Film Critics Circle winners.
I’m not saying I’ve spoken to anyone about J.C. Chandor‘s departure from Deepwater Horizon. Maybe I’ve just had a chat with myself. But the situation boils down to this: Lionsgate/Summit changed their minds about the kind of movie they wanted, and when they realized Chandor hadn’t changed his mind and was resolutely focused on the film he’d been talking about and planning to make for many months, they pulled the plug and reached out to Peter Berg, who has now lost whatever cred he had accumulated from directing Lone Survivor and is now back to being the hack who made Battleship.
Other Guy: “It was truly just a situation in which a filmmaker and a studio wanted to make two different movies. And you can probably tell from who Lionsgate hired what they wanted. It wasn’t some dramatic firing. Just a huge budget and two visions that weren’t the same.”
Me: “All that work, all those months of preparation…and suddenly there are two different versions? Chandor presumably wasn’t hiding his intentions over the last several months so either Lionsgate/Summit wasn’t paying attention all that time or they changed their minds.”
Jennifer Aniston‘s people booked her for a 2015 Santa Barbara Film Festival tribute under an assumption that most of us had bought into by last November or thereabouts, which was that she would snag a Best Actress nomination for her deft and skillful performance as a chronic pain sufferer in Cake. Then, to everyone’s total surprise, she got elbowed aside by Two Days and One Night‘s Marion Cotillard. But Aniston did herself proud and perhaps even boosted her profile by projecting good sport vibes. Incidentally: I was late to last night’s Aniston tribute at the Arlington, but I didn’t have my SBIFF press badge plus the women at the door warned me that pretty much every seat was filled, etc. So I walked around with the intention of returning for the after-party, but I made the mistake of returning to my hotel room for a 15-minute nap (having been up since 4 am Santa Barbara time) and wham…woke up with the lights and TV on around 2 am.
Walking around Santa Barbara last night was pleasant enough if you wore a jacket or sweater. 19 year-olds were roaming around in shorts and T-shirts but I know they do that at least partly to irritate people like myself. I’m completely aware of the difference between warm vs. lukewarm vs. agreeably cool vs. chilly so don’t tell me. 95% of the women I’ve known will say it’s “cold” outside unless the temperature is well into the high 70s or 80s. All to say that the local night air definitely turns damp and cool after 9 and certainly after 10 pm, and yet the Santa Barbara Holiday Inn insists on keeping this beautiful Spanish-styled window open to the elements all night long.
Looking northeast out of the third-floor hall window inside the Santa Barbara Holiday Inn.
“I’ve misheard song lyrics all my life, and over time those wrong lyrics have sunk into my system and become frozen in amber, and now I can’t hear the correct lyrics to save my life. Most of the mis-heard lyrics were absorbed when I was a kid or a teenager, for the most part. I know it sounds silly but these idiotic re-wordings have stayed in my head.” — from “Surreal Song Lyrics,” 8.14.11. Latest example: “Layla…got me on mah knees, Layla…billion dollar please, Layla.” Who would want a woman who won’t show love or trust or rock your plimsoul unless you offer her a billion dollars? I find this so offensive that I’ve substituted my own Layla line: “Information, please.” Nonsense, of course, but at least it’s better than handing a billion smackers to a gold-digger.
I woke up at 5:30 am Park City time, and got picked up by the shuttle at 7:15 am. The first leg of my Southwest flight (Salt Lake City to Las Vegas) left at 9:35 am, and the Vegas to Burbank flight left at 10:50 am or thereabouts. Caught a cab to West Hollywood, checked in, rented a car (I don’t like to subject my car to trips) and left for Santa Barbara around 2:30 pm. Stopped in Ventura for a couple of items plus a smoothee. Checked into the Santa Barbara Holiday Inn around 5:15 pm. The purpose, of course, is to cover Roger Durling and Carol Marshall‘s Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival and the all the Oscar promoting lah-lah that happens here each year. Tonight is a tribute to Jennifer Aniston, which I’m a bit late for as we speak. The title of this riff is a line of dialogue from a certain mid ’60s comedy. (In the film the word “there” is used instead of “here.”) Bonus points for anyone who can identify the film and the character who spoke the line.
I’d love to know what the “creative differences” were that led to director J.C. Chandor walking off Lionsgate/Summit’s Deepwater Horizon, which will now be directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Battleship) starting in March. I asked around when I arrived at Burbank airport around noon today, but nobody replied. Fraidy cats. I’m presuming (and I know absolutely nothing) the split was about some aspect of Chandor’s integrity vs. some kind of issue about (a) truthfulness, perhaps related to some kind of threat or pressure from British Petroleum or related parties (who knows?), or (b) some kind of cost-cutting expediency on the part of Lionsgate/Summit. Somebody caved over something and Chandor said, “If that’s your decision I walk.” Something like that.
Director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All Is Lost, Margin Call).
Chandor told me a bit about Deepwater when I ran into him at a N.Y. Film Festival screening of Inherent Vice four months ago. He also talked at some length about it with a Collider guy less than two months ago, describing where things were at and conveying great enthusiasm, etc. Whatever happened, it was something relatively recent, probably post-holidays, and of no small importance.
Not so long ago I would have swooned at the idea of savoring a parade of black-and-white widescreen classics in their original celluloid splendor. Nobody is a bigger fool for this format than myself. Why, then, would I be ducking BAMcinematek‘s “Black & White ’Scope: American Cinema” (2.27 through 3.19), a 21-film series of widescreen monochrome masterpieces, if I was living in New York? Because 15 of the 21 are being shown in 35mm, and we all know what that means — dirt, scratches, pops, possibly too-dark illumination or murky images, occasionally weak sound, reel-change marks, etc. There’s just no romance left in film projection. That was then, this is now. Digital exactitude or nothing.