You’ve seen Chinatown, right? The one about a detective investigating a Southern California rich guy controlling access to water for his own gain, and in so doing making it harder for the little guy? This, boiled down, is the gist of Marina Zenovich‘s Water and Power: A California Heist, which I saw earlier today. It’s smart and well ordered, but there’s no Chinatown pizazz, of course. No J.J. Gittes or Walsh or Hollis Mulwray, much less lines like “Hold it there, kitty cat…hold it!” Or “Hello, Claude…where’d you get the midget?” Or “Hey, Lou…you still puttin’ Chinamen in jail for spittin’ in the laundry?” But it’s good. I’m glad I saw it. Really. There’s just as much water finagling going on today as there was back in the 1930s.
Two weeks old but it matters: “Show me the plan that keeps coverage for the 20 million people who’ve gained coverage, that would bend the cost curve so that the costs of the entire health care system grow less quickly as they have, and that would ensure that nobody gets denied coverage when they need it or has to unfairly pay more than someone else because of their gender or a pre-existing condition. Show me that plan.
“I know a lot of Republicans have put forward different plans. But ‘a lot of plans’ is not a plan. We want to see the plan. You know, the one you’ve been working on for six years.” — Minnesota Senator Al Franken, speaking on or about 1.10.17.
As Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name is largely spoken in English and costars Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, and particularly given what a flat-out masterpiece it is, I don’t see why this sensual Italian-shot drama shouldn’t be a Best Picture contender a year from now. I don’t know how it’ll shake out rules-and-regulation-wise, but this a landmark film that deserves to be heralded as a major Oscar contender.
Here, by the way, are portions from my favorite review thus far, penned by Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson:
Excerpt #1: “A film of such dizzying beauty and rich, genuine feeling…a swirling wonder, a film about coming of age, about the secrets of youth, the magic of summer, the beauty of Italy. As a steady and unrelenting snow descended on Park City, Call Me by Your Name kissed Sundance with light and warmth.”
Excerpt #2: “Guadagnino has created something of such texture, such power that it’s hard to talk about it in less than hyperbolic terms.
Excerpt #3: “Call Me By Your Name is narrative in that it tells the short, bittersweet story of Elio and Oliver, but it is more a terrarium of human experience, a sensory immersion that is remarkably full in its vision. Guadagnino fills every scene with life — people, insects, plants. Each shot is busy with existence, but Guadagnino does not overwhelm.
Except #4: “Working with cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Guadagnino gives Call Me by Your Name the faded vibrancy of an old postcard, of a treasured memory. It’s an exquisitely composed film, blessed by terrific performances and perfectly scored by a selection of classical compositions and a pair of new songs by Sufjan Stevens.
The Sundance Film Festival’s last big arthouse hope — Andrew Dosunmu‘s Where Is Kyra?, a funereal quicksand piece about an unemployed middle-aged woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in a terrible financial jam — screened last night at the Marc, and it’s more or less a bust. (That’s my opinion, at least.) It’s a carefully calibrated, well-acted, oppressive gloomhead flick that feels like it’s happening inside a coffin or crypt. This is Dosunmu’s deliberate strategy, of course, but the end-of-the-road, my-life-is-over vibe is primarily manifested by the inky, mineshaft palette of dp Bradford Young — HE’s least favorite cinematographer by a country mile.
Most of the big buyers will be leaving Park City today, which means that barring some huge, out-of-the-blue surprise, the festival has produced only three significant standouts: (1) Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name (which I totally flipped for two days ago), (2) Michael Showalter and Kumail Nanjiani‘s The Big Sick and (3) Jeremy Gasper‘s Patti Cake$, which I blew off last night in order to see Michael Almereyda‘s Marjorie Prime — another bust. (I’ll catch Patti Cake$ on Friday, 1.27 at the Prospector.)
There are plenty of cool-sounding films yet to screen. I’m especially interested in Marina Zenovich‘s Water & Power: A California Heist, Miguel Arteta‘s Beatriz at Dinner and Brian Knappenberger‘s NOBODY SPEAK: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press, all of which will be press-screened today.
Thank God that the lah-lahs, the corporates and the giggling entourages are leaving today. Now the real film festival can begin. Shorter lines, less intensity, increased cinephile devotion.
With 14 nominations collected, La La Land obviously has the Best Picture Oscar in the bag. Damien Chazelle is all but locked for Best Director, and Emma Stone is all but assured for Best Actress…right?
HE faves: Elle‘s Isabelle Huppert for Best Actress…yes! Nocturnal Animals‘ Michael Shannon among the nominees for Supporting Actor. Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman among Best Foreign Language Feature nominees. Hidden Figures‘ Octavia Spencer among Best Supporting Actress nominees!
Slight but Approved Surprise: Captain Fantastic‘s Viggo Mortensen among Best Actor nominees. Loving‘s Ruth Negga among Best Actress nominees — deserved but not entirely expected as her campaign seemed to be on a low flame throughout Phase One.
Curious Omissions: Arrival‘s Amy Adams blown off for Best Actress nomination. Florence Foster Jenkins‘ Hugh Grant shafted regarding expected Best Supporting Actor nomination; ditto Sully‘s Tom Hanks for Best Actor. What happened to 20th Century Women‘s Annette Bening?
HE Complaint: Hidden Figures‘ Kevin Costner should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor instead of (no offense, due respect) Lion‘s Dev Patel, whose performance struck me as somewhat cloying and dewy-eyed.
Best Picture: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Lion, Moonlight.
Best Actor: Manchester‘s Casey Affleck (locked), Hacksaw Ridge‘s Andrew Garfield, La La Land‘s Ryan Gosling, Captain Fantastic‘s Viggo Mortensen, Fences‘ Denzel Washington.
Best Actress: Elle‘s Isabelle Huppert, Loving‘s Ruth Negga, Jackie‘s Natalie Portman, La La Land‘s Emma Stone (most likely winner), Florence Foster Jenkins‘ Meryl Streep.
Best Supporting Actor: Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali, Hell or High Water‘s Jeff Bridges, Manchester By The Sea‘s Lucas Hedges, Lion‘s Dev Patel, Nocturnal Animals‘ Michael Shannon.
Best Supporting Actress: Fences‘ Viola Davis, Moonlight‘s Naomie Harris, Lion‘s Nicole Kidman, Hidden Figures‘ Octavia Spencer, Manchester‘s Michelle Williams.
Best Director: Arrival‘s Denis Villeneuve, Hacksaw Ridge‘s Mel Gibson (officially off the pariah list), La La Land‘s Damien Chazelle, Manchester‘s Kenneth Lonergan, Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins.