Any number of name-brand, battle-tested directors could have shot this latest Hire short, The Escape. The fact that Neil Blomkamp did means nothing — it’s just another display of hardboiled attitude, killer driving shills and fleet editing. Okay, the last 90 seconds has a nice settle-down vibe. Clive Owen as the Driver, Jon Bernthal as the bearded bad guy, Dakota Fanning as the scared moon-faced blonde in the back seat and Vera Farmiga as her mother. Written by Blomkamp and David Carter. Featuring the BMW 5 Series (G30)
A mild dispute about the rules of tourist photography happened last night in downtown Savannah, or rather in the tourist section around Congress Street. Serves me right for going there. What happened was more or less a repeat of an incident that happened five years ago. Nobody was rude, nobody shouted, it was all cool. But I was once again reminded that while I don’t hate tourists as a rule I really don’t like dealing with them as they always seem to have tedious attitudes. Here’s how it went down in 2011:
“I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski…just don’t expect me to stop and wait while you take a photo. Because I don’t do that, no offense.”
“I raised my camera to take a picture of a couple of Clydesdale horses, and right at that moment a heavyset woman who was about to walk in front of my viewing path went “oh” and stopped and waited. She was being polite, of course, but I’ve said before that waiting for someone to snap a photo is a mark of middle-class cluelessness about photography. A good photographer has to roll with what happens, and sometimes you can get a better shot if somebody or something is half-obscuring what you’re shooting. You never know, and you’re better off not knowing.
“I never stop and wait for a picture to be taken…ever.
It is axiomatic that when a legendary director, actor and Oscar-winner delivers a curiously colorful performance in a spry, interesting film that heads will turn. More specifically it would not be out of the realm if this performance were to be contemplated within the context of the soft, amber glow of a career in its final stage. The Best Actor and Best Supporting field is a little on the weak side so maybe. The situation will clarify after Rules Don’t Apply opens AFI Fest on 11.10.
Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson is reporting that Beatty has “opted” for a Best Actor campaign to support his performance as Howard Hughes. “However,” Thompson adds, “it could also be considered a supporting performance; Hughes’ role in the first half of the movie is smaller than it is in the second.”
I heard this morning from a Los Angeles-based journalist friend who could have attended the Savannah Film Festival but said he’s “no fan of the South.” My reply: “Suit yourself but it’s so beautiful and serene here. Savannah is a living, breathing remnant of a long-gone culture, the refined and genteel South as it once was. Like any 21st Century city or town Savannah accommodates all the tech comforts, but it has a 19th Century soul.
On my rent-a-bike following a Monday night dinner with Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone at Bella’s. As we passed through a Bull Street square we ran into Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg and Off The Rails director Adam Irving. (Photo by Sasha Stone.)
“The feeling of laid-back refinement is everywhere. The all-but-empty side streets (especially at night) remind me of nocturnal strolls in the Dorsoduro district of Venice. Plus the storied Civil War-era architecture (mostly wooden but many large brick homes and buildings), the clop-clop of horses pulling carriages, huge trees draped with hanging moss, the easily discernible aura of ghosts and history, the vast parks and calming, well-landscaped squares and the general Forrest Gump atmosphere of politeness.
“There seem to be few big-city agitations going on and certainly far fewer cars than Los Angeles on a slow day — Savannah at 9 pm is like L.A. at 3:30 am.
“Not to mention all the sublime foodie restaurants, the comforting fragrance of nature (the scent of terra firma and aged lumber and the nearby Savannah River), the shaded streets and oh, the flatness! You can ride a bicycle for miles without the challenge of a single hill or slight incline or even a speed bump.
“And now that earthy aroma has been accentuated by hundreds of brush and leaf piles all over the city, on every residential corner, due to Hurricane Matthew. When I was a kid in New Jersey people used to rake leaves into huge piles in the fall and burn them curbside at dusk. Right now Savannah has that same leaf-pile aroma.
It’s terrific that the guys who assembled this Mad Max: Fury Road comparison reel felt obliged to overlay the word “color” over color footage. Just in case…you know, some viewer might have a different impression. If you want my opinion the color-with-zero-saturation footage looks better — more body, flavor, character — than the black-and-chrome footage. Which means all I have to do is turn down the color on my Fury Road Bluray.
Ever since Mel Gibson played the crazy, half-suicidal Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (which I’m having difficulty accepting as a film that’s nearly 30 years old), I’ve been carrying the idea that Gibson himself is highly eccentric and wound-up. Because I knew Riggs wasn’t just a character on a page but close in spirit and temperament to Gibson himself. It was obvious.
Purer manifestations emerged when he began directing. Braveheart (’95), The Passion of the Christ (’04) and especially Apocalypto (’06) wallowed in beatings, bruisings and gougings of an intense, graphic nature. Because something in Mel just can’t resist going there.
And now, after a ten-year absence from directing, comes Gibson’s latest, Hacksaw Ridge (Summit, 11.4), and it’s nearly as bloody and gorey as the others. This despite a World War II-era story about a real-life pacifist, Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Battle of Okinawa without firing a single bullet.
It’s unusual for critics to break into applause, but that’s what they did at the end of a Hacksaw Ridge screening last week. This reaction is reflected in the film’s 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating. But I have to say that while Hacksaw is vivid and pounding and open-hearted, I don’t get the adoration. It’s basically another half-crazy movie made by a half-crazy helmer — blood and guts, overt “acting”, saucy sentimentality, small-town patriotism, on-the-nose emotions.
I’m not calling Hacksaw a bad film, but it seemed a bit much for my tastes.
Year in and year out, Frank Perry‘s Play It As It Lays (’72) maintains its absence as a Bluray, DVD or via high-def streaming. No Amazon, Vudu, Netflix, zip. It aired on the Sundance Channel a few years year and then vanished. Every so often someone will post the film on YouTube, and eventually attorneys for Universal Home Video, which owns the rights the last time I checked, will have it taken down. It appeared again in August 2015 (and in 1.37!) and hasn’t been pulled after 14 months so here’s your chance.
Here, for the fifth or sixth time, is a lengthy assessment of the film, originally posted in ’03 and then re-posted in ’09. I especially admire Tony Perkins‘ performance as B.Z., a gay Hollywood producer with a kind heart and a flip attitude. I’ve long felt it’s the finest of his career, and probably the most reflective of his own manner and personality.
Miles Teller has been staying at the Marshall House since Sunday, and will take bows after tonight’s Savannah Film Festival screening of Bleed For This (Open Road, 11.4), which I saw and favorably reviewed at Telluride. Director-writer Ben Younger along with former world-champion boxer Vinny Paz, whom Teller portrays, will attend also.
I saw Teller a couple of days ago in front of the Marshall House. Shooting shit with fans, posing for selfies, etc. He was wearing shorts and a pair of flaming turquoise-blue cross-training shoes. He no longer has the blonde hair he was wearing last August for his role in Joseph Kosinski‘s Granite Mountain, so I guess that’s done. Yesterday he sat down for a Master Class (i.e., a sit-down discussion) with SCAD students.
This morning I tried to arrange a fast interview wth Teller (we’re both in town, our hotels only six blocks apart), but the word came back that Teller is “too busy.” Too busy posing for selfies, they meant. Or too pissed off about my “don’t be a pervert, man” posts. But that’s okay. He’s a live-wire actor who never bores. He just needs to keep being that.
A few days ago it was reported that Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to the biography ‘Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to produce and star. A little voice is saying DiCaprio should ease up on portraying real-life guys — Jordan Belfort, Frank Abagnale, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes. Plus he’ll never top his Belfort performance — he knows it, we know it.
If a Sam Phillips biopic is going to happen for sure, the best guy to play him would be a time-machine version of Dallas Roberts. Yes, the guy who played Phillips in that one burn-through scene from Walk The Line (’05). I believed 100% in that scene. Roberts was perfect, owned it. He was 34 or 35 back then, is now 46.
Yes, Phillips created the legendary Sun Records label and discovered nascent blues rockers like Howlin’ Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, and in so doing gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll. But his peak period only lasted five years (’51 to ’56). So the movie would be basically saying “this visionary Southern guy lived for 80 years and is a bona fide legend, but mostly because of a bright-burning period that began to draw to a close when Presley began appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, which was eight years before the Beatles arrived.”
Posted on 2.6.09 during my visit to Memphis: “I loved visiting the fabled Sun Studios because it hasn’t been expanded or glitzed up. It looks and feels a lot like what I imagine it used to be back in the ’50s. I bought an Elvis at Sun CD and listened to it twice during the 90-minute drive south to Oxford. ‘Y’heard the news, thayuhs good rockin’ tonight.'”
So is the competition among Best Actor contenders a little weak this year, as a colleague recently suggested? When you get past Casey Affleck‘s performance in Manchester By The Sea (locked) and Denzel Washington‘s in Fences (likely), maybe.
The others comprise a roster of approvable-but-not-greats — Tom Hanks in Sully (sober, believable, sturdy), Ryan Gosling in La La land (skillful and affecting but the film belongs to Emma Stone), Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (a respectable if “actorish” performance), Joel Edgerton in Loving (not up to Ruth Negga‘s level), Dev Patel in Lion (a decent turn but not as good as the little kid who stars in the first third) and Robert De Niro in The Comedian (which no one has seen).
Jonah Hill as former arms dealer Efraim Diveroli in Todd Phillips’ War Dogs.
Remember War Dogs? I know — not serious enough, released in August, a Todd Phillips film, etc. But if you ask me Jonah Hill was a remarkable stand-out as 20something arms dealer and stone-cold sociopath Efraim Diveroli. Not one of those “maybe” or “pretty good” performances, but extra-level. Really.
From my 8.17.16 review: “Hill’s rascally, conniving performance is the big reason to see War Dogs this weekend. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah…back in Superbad territory but with less schtick and colder blood. The highs, lows and demonic detours of a sociopathic, three-card-monte hustler!
“Jonah is in charge of the surge moments. Half the time you’re thinking ‘okay, this is good, moving along but where’s Jonah?’ or, you know, ‘what’s Jonah’s next big bullshit play gonna be’?
Hollywood Elsewhere will be attending the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Cinema Society gathering for Neruda and Jackie director Pablo Larrain on Sunday, 10.30. Both films will be shown at the Riviera theatre (2044 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara) — Neruda (The Orchard, 12.16) at 10am, and Jackie (Fox Searchlight, 12.2) at 2 pm. In between guests will attend a reception at the Riviera Park Reflecting Pool for a luncheon and q & a with Larrain.