I haven’t time to review Terrence Malick‘s Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience, which I saw this morning at IMAX headquarters in Playa Vista, but I can at least say two things: (1) It’s certainly an enveloping eyeful — I felt immersed and half-stoned and floating within the thing, and I loved the fact that it’s only 40-odd minutes; and (2) the aspect ratio information on the IMDB — 1.43:1 mixed with 1.90:1 — is wrong. The version I saw this morning on a super-sized screen was for the most part somewhere between a perfect box and 1.33 (closer to the latter). There was a brief portion (starting around the ten-minute mark and lasting less than five minutes) that was shown at 1.43:1. The boxiness is magnificent. I was sitting in the third row, and the monster screen is so tall and full that I had to look up and down to contemplate the upper and lower portions — there’s no taking it all in from a fixed viewpoint. Definitely worth catching if you can see it at a real IMAX theatre. Off to Miss Sloane…
Bruce Beresford‘s Mr. Church, a low-key Eddie Murphy relationship drama, had its big premiere during last April’s Tribeca Film Festival. It kind of went away during the summer, but then it turned up at Pete Hammond’s KCET screening series on 9.13 before opening on 9.16. On 10.21, or three weeks from this Friday, Mr. Church be on Digital HD and On Demand and then on Bluray/DVD on 10.25. Which seems like a reasonable way to go. I’m only mentioning this because I somehow never saw it. Partly because I didn’t care that much (that 16% Rotten Tomatoes score) and partly because I never received a screening invite. Could that have been because of my nearly decade-old “stop Eddie Murphy” campaign regarding his performance in Dreamgirls? Just asking. I don’t have a problem with Murphy. That was then, this is now.
Hollywood Elsewhere needs to drive all the way the fuck down to IMAX headquarters in Playa Vista (roughly a 40-minute drive) for a 9 am screening of Terrence Malick‘s Voyage of Time. Followed by quickie interviews with a couple of Malick producers. Then it’s back to Beverly Hills for a 1 pm screening of John Madden‘s Miss Sloane (EuropaCorp, 12.9), which I’ve been told is quite good.
Denzel Washington‘s Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson‘s play, will be going mano e mano against 20th Century Women, a family film of a different caste, when they both open on Christmas day. All this time I’ve been hearing about Viola Davis‘s performance, but the trailer is all Denzel. Costarring Jovan Apedo, Stephen Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Saniyya Sidney.
I never had the impression that my father liked me a great deal either. He loved his advertising job, I was told, but he was sullen around the house. When I was really young he seemed mostly irked or bored by my presence when he wasn’t barking orders or telling me to mow the lawn or sending me to my room for some infraction. When I got into my teens and started mouthing off he became testy and at times hostile. He often took refuge in reading, TV shows and alcohol.
But he provided the shelter, clothing and food, and he always paid the bills. And then we became friendly when he went into AA.
I was resigned to catching Mike Mills‘ 20th Century Women at the end of next week at the New York Film Festival, which I’ll be attending between 10.7 and 10.15. But now there’s a trailer out and and a local look-see happening this week. The Santa Barbara-based period dramedy (set in 1979) stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann and Billy Crudup. A24 will open it on 12.25.
It’s telling that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has put out a statement praising Lester Holt’s moderating of last night’s Clinton-Trump debate. He obviously did so because Holt wimped. Throughout most of the debate Donald Trump ignored or brushed him aside. Okay, Holt pressed Trump on a couple of points later in the debate, but barely spoke up for the most part. Seemingly afraid of projecting bias against a compulsive liar, Holt over-compensated by letting Trump run roughshod. Variety acknowledged in the Burke story that “some commentators criticized as being at times too passive.”
Summing up: Hillary was the adult, Trump was the bully, Holt was the wimp. She was calm, measured, factual. Trump blathered on, lied, blustered and lied some more. Chris Matthews believes it was A Few Good Men — Trump was Jack Nicholson, Hillary was Tom Cruise. I think by the measure of adult-level facts and seasoned judgment, Hillary out-pointed Trump. Will this matter to Trump voters? Not a bit. Possibly some Gary Johnson voters will be moved somewhat. The main thing is that Hillary stood up and said the right things. She wasn’t knocked off balance, and there were some moments in which she definitely ruled. The loser of the night? Lester Holt.
10:36 pm: Trump: “I saw the polls come in today and I’m either winning or tied.” Hillary: “I hope the people out there understand that this election is really about you. I sure hope that you will get out and vote.” Holt: “Will you accept the will of the people in this election?” Trump: “I will absolutely support her.”
10:30 pm: Hillary: “It is essential that America’s word be good. My answer to the world leaders who are concerned about this, is that our word is good. Donald never tells you what he would do. He has no plans to defeat ISIS. Are we going to lead the world with strength and in accord with our values? I wont to lead a country that our allies can count on.” Trump: “I don’t believe she has the stamina. ” He’s referring to the fainting episode. Holt, your deft and deferential manner is an embarassment.
Hillary: “Try testifying for 10, 11 hours…talk to me about stamina.” Trump: “She’s got experience but bad experience.” Hillary: “This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs. One of the worst things he said was call a woman in a beauty contest, he called her ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Ms. Housekeeper.’ And this woman is going to vote in this election.”
10:22 pm: Trump: “I have better judgment than she has. Of course I do. I also have a better temperament. That may be my biggest asset.” Hillary: “Whoo! Okay!” And then she doesn’t mention his blustery, lying bullshit — all the lies he’s been called on, all his intemperate statements, all his goading of his ugly followers at rallies. Hillary: “The worst part is his attitude about nuclear weapons. His cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling. A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his hands anywhere near the nuclear codes.”
Grow some balls, Holt! Properly mannered candy-ass. Trump is occupying this debate, hoarding 65%, 70% of the air time.
So far Woody Allen‘s Amazon series, Crisis in Six Scenes, is flunking with critics. It isn’t being killed (most are saying it comes together during the last two episodes) but no one, it seems, is feeling much excitement. I’m just going to binge-watch this Friday (9.30) and tap out my reaction then. It’s not like the world is waiting with bated breath. Screenings this week include Voyage of Time, Miss Sloane, Girl on the Train, a LACMA showing of Christine, maybe a second look at Denial.
Rod Lurie‘s Killing Reagan doesn’t debut on the National Geographic channel for another 20 days (10.16), but at least now I can settle into it and bang something out when the time is right without any undue pressure.
Flashback: I was startled and concerned by Reagan’s shooting but not, truth be told, wildly distraught. The day it happened (3.30.81) I was working inside the McGraw Hill building (1221 Ave. of the Americas at 49th Street) for an MG division called the Product Information Network. For two or three months I researched and wrote a long, detailed report on the effectiveness of landfill compactors (tractor-like vehicles used in garbage dumps) and what the costs and benefits were to local governments.
George Finnegan, a McGraw-Hill exec whom my father was chummy with, gave me this freelance gig. Before he hired me I was desperate. Soon after I was hired as managing editor of The Film Journal. My economic situation became a little easier to handle after that. From ’78 through ’81 I’d been through three years of hand-to-mouth hell.
If you look at Nate Silver’s latest graph you’ll notice an obvious pattern that began in mid August, which is that Hillary’s support began to wither (except for a brief surge just before her “basket of deplorables” + fainting episode week) and Trump’s began to slowly surge. I don’t know if Trump will land any zingers tonight or whether he’ll bluster his way through and maybe lie himself to death, but I know for damn sure that Hillary HAS to land a few good ones or she’s in serious trouble. At the very least she has to arrest the trend of the last five or six weeks — she has to hold the Maginot line.
Like everyone else I was knocked flat when I saw Joel and Ethan Coen‘s No Country For Old Men on 5.19.07 at the Cannes Film Festival, and I think the venue — the cavernous Grand Lumiere — was part of the reason. The screen is huge, the projection perfect, the sound crisp and clear (if sometimes overly bassy). Plus I was in the company of a few hundred whip-smart journalists who were absorbing every line and scene like world-class connoisseurs. I was on a cloud when it ended.
Welcome to the Fairbanks screening room and stretch out.
Then I saw it again a few months later inside one of the shoebox rooms at Raleigh Studios — the absolute worst way to see a film outside of watching it with a crowd of sandal-wearing, popcorn-munching mooks at that shitty Regal plex just south of Union Square. It was still No Country For Old Men, of course, but it was like listening to Beethoven’s ninth on a tinny, ’60s-era Japanese radio. If you want to severely reduce if not nullify the impact of your movie, by all means screen it for critics inside one of the Raleigh shoeboxes — the 36-seat Douglas Fairbanks or 38-seat Mary Pickford room. (The 161-seat Chaplin theatre is, on the other hand, a generally okay facility.)
I won’t be seeing Terrence Malick‘s 40-minute Voyage of Time (Broad Green, 10.7) until this evening, and I recognize, of course, that it’s a cosmic travelogue of a much higher and more complex order than the legendary “Stargate” sequence in Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey (’68), which ran roughly nine and a half minutes. Obviously Malick’s visual compositions are more varied, naturalistic, sophisticated, etc. But it’s hard not to associate the two when you watch the Voyage trailer. Boiled down, they’re both atmospheric zone-outs.
When 2001 hit nearly 50 years ago, the “Stargate” sequence was a revolutionary groundbreaker — no feature film had ever delivered a sequence that even came close to that kind of nonverbal mindsweep. But by today’s standards, Malick’s doc looks passive and behind the curve. Malick has been working on this thing (“One of my greatest dreams”) for over 40 years, and the trailer makes it feel that way. An enjoyable thing to take the kids to in an IMAX theatre on a Saturday afternoon, but where’s the nerve or the provocation? So far the 90-minute Cate Blanchett-narrated version (i.e., “mother”) has tallied a 65% RT score.
On top of which Kubrick’s sequence delivered a chilly, discomforting feeling. The only unsettling thing about Voyage of Time is Brad Pitt‘s less than exacting diction.