If your movie runs more than two hours and 10 minutes you’d better have a damn good reason for that. Obviously many films have sufficiently demonstrated why they need to be that length or longer and that’s fine, but for me two hours and 10 minutes is a line in the sand. Per Cinando, there are four movies playing at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival that may be of concern in this respect. The heavyweight champ in Christi Puiu‘s Sierenevada, a Romanian entry which runs six minutes shy of three hours. Next is Maren Ade‘s Toni Erdmann at 162 minutes. In third place is Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey, which runs two hours and 38 minutes. Park Chan Wook‘s The Handmaid is in fourth place at 141 minutes.
I ride a big fat Yamaha Majesty, which you might as well call a motorcycle. It’s large and fast and makes a nice rumbling sound, and it has leather saddlebags and a mounted snap-shut carrying case on the rear. And I do what I want when I ride around, believe me. I rarely stop for traffic. I just ride between cars (i.e., splitting lanes), and I never, ever pay for parking. When I’m on that beautiful machine Los Angeles doesn’t own me or tell me what to do — I own it.
Anyway when I’m too far back in a left-turn lane waiting for a light, I’ll just move forward and slip in front of the first car waiting to turn. If he/she doesn’t like it, tough.
Two days ago I rumbled in front of a left-turn guy who was sitting in a hefty gray muscle car (Dodge, Camaro, Mustang). As I was idling there the guy inched forward while turning slightly to the right. He squeezed (the word is actually semi-crushed) my left thigh and damn near pushed me over. This asshole was telling me he didn’t like my cruising in front of him, and that I had compromised his feelings of masculinity.
Warren Beatty‘s still-untitled Howard Hughes film, which will be released sometime later this year (November or December) by 20th Century Fox, is being research-screened on the evenings of Monday, 4.18 and Tuesday, 4.19 at the Pasadena Arclight. The interesting part is the Beatty-approved description of the film that’s included in the invite.
A little more than 13 months ago Beatty described the film to N.Y. Times reporter Michael Cieply as “somewhat light-hearted.” The invite for Monday’s showing calls it a “lighthearted romantic dramedy.” Here’s how most of the invite reads, but pay attention to the final paragraph:
“Legendary Academy Award-winning director Warren Beatty, who has been nominated 15 times for acting, writing, directing and producing, has now made a lighthearted romantic dramedy featuring himself, Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, and an ensemble including Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Oliver Platt, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Candice Bergen, Steve Coogan and Taissa Farmiga.
“In 1958, Marla Mabrey (Collins) is a 22 year-old devout Baptist [and] beauty queen from Front Royal, Virginia, and an aspiring actress. She arrives in Hollywood only a few weeks after 22 year-old Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is an ambitious young businessman and devout Methodist. Both of them long for success under their contracts with billionaire movie-maker, famed aviator, and notorious womanizer Howard Hughes (Beatty).
“Their instant attraction to one another is blocked not only by the strict rules laid down by Hughes that prohibit any romantic or sexual interaction between his actresses under contract and the men working for him, but is all the more off-limits because of the strict religious training and beliefs of Marla and Frank.
“These obstacles in the relationship between Marla and Frank are magnified and soon become ridiculous, outrageous and absurd when the emotionally unstable Hughes becomes involved.”
I’ll tell you what this poster tells me. It tells me that the producers and the distributor are thinking along the following lines: “We don’t really know what we have here….we don’t have a strong idea about the film or how to sell it or what the subject matter might mean to you and your girlfriend so we decided to go hazy and opaque and basically convey nothing except for the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the star. That’s it…that’s our entire play. JGL in a T-shirt and glasses. Are you intrigued?” [Poster snapped by Collider‘s Steve Weintraub during Cinemacon.)
Yesterday Vulture‘s Mark Harris posted a piece about how great Melissa McCarthy is, how unique her achievements have been and how Hollywood and media types have been unfairly slagging her for making the same film over and over. The article is well-written and worth reading but here’s the truth: With the exception of her concerned-mom character in St. Vincent and, okay, to some extent her character in Spy, McCarthy has more or less been playing the same gal.
I’m talking about an angry, immature, neurotic, sociopathic obsessive who acts out her anger or indifference to social norms more and more until the world pushes back at the end of Act Two (or the beginning of Act Three) and says “whoa, girl…you can’t keep doing this, you have to take a look in the mirror and admit your issues,” etc. In response to which a chastened McCarthy takes a look, feels sad, takes a step or two in the right direction and rebounds with a better, stronger game. Like it or not, but this is more or less what her movies are about.
I got into a Twitter dispute this morning with Guy Lodge, who was cheering the Harris piece. My basic point was that McCarthy seems to lack the character and the artistic cojones to up her game in the vein of Woody Allen‘s shift into the big-time when he made Annie Hall (’78).
McCarthy and husband-partner Ben Falcone are operating on a much lower level than Allen. They’re out to make big megaplex dough in the real Hollywood realm of 2016, which translates to the fact that audiences no longer want to see Annie Hall-type flicks in theatres (megaplex comedies today pretty much have to be rude, loud, fecal and assaultive). Plus the team of McCarthy-Falcone seems to lack the necessary integrity to even try to make a good, character-driven movie out of the kind of woman she played in St. Vincent.
This is four years old, but it captures a basic law-of-the-jungle and a universal action dynamic that every living thing on this planet recognizes and bows down to. It’s a kind of real-deal equivalent to that bit in Raiders of the Lost Ark when a cackling Arab is flashing his sword at Harrison Ford‘s Indiana Jones, and then Ford just pulls out his pistol and shoots.
Here are meh-level GoPro capturings of (a) a portion of our scooter journey through the farmlands south of Hue (3.23.16) and (b) a bicycle journey through Hanoi traffic on a Sunday (3.20.16). Unless GoPro footage is really extra-spectacular (skydiving, dropped from a plane, accidentally capturing some disaster, strapped to a seagull’s beak), it’s not much of a turn-on. We’ve become accustomed, jaded. But 10 or certainly 15 years ago this Vietnam footage would have been regarded as half-diverting.
HBO and Rick Famuyiwa‘s Confirmation (i.e., Anita vs. Clarence) pops tonight, and here’s a review by L.A. Times critic Mary McNamara: “If Anita Hill (Kerry Washington) has no political agenda, pretty much everyone else involves does, and Confirmation is admirably ruthless in its presentation of all of them.
“Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) remains steadfast in his denials and, until the moment when he famously lashes out at what he calls a ‘high tech lynching,’ spends much of the film in signature silence, which Pierce deftly uses to suggest a panoply of emotions, from shock and rage to touching bewilderment, without ever quite committing to one reaction or another.
“His team, on the other hand, is quickly focused. Republican Sens. John Danforth (Bill Irwin), Arlen Specter (Malcolm Gets) and Alan Simpson (Peter McRobbie) are first dismissive, then argumentative and finally resort to outright smear tactics.
“The Democrats aren’t much better. Kennedy (Treat Williams) is hamstrung by his own record with women and Biden, who Kinnear portrays in contrasting tones of self-pity and sincere political anguish, is initially reluctant to sully himself or the proceedings with what he fears is personal, possibly vindictive, dirt.
(1) Like Bill Maher and many, many others, I too only choke up during movies. What do 93% of us choke up about? Loss — the joy and nectar of life slowly drying up, going rotten, falling away, becoming mulch; (2) Sarandon’s observation about how Twitter fools will just seize on a portion of something you’ve said and distort it out of context is entirely true — it’s happened to me several times, and my response has been to daydream about punching guys out like John Wayne; (3) She and Maher are 100% correct in saying that Bernie Sanders is offering a “New New Deal” — higher taxes, yes, but look what you get; (4) Sarandon doesn’t want to admit that she’ll eat/accept the Hillary Clinton chicken…”those words can’t come out of my mouth at this time…I’m a vegetarian.”