Keith Olbermann‘s latest Resistance piece contains a completely accurate, clear-eyed assessment of the mentality of Donald Trump — the man is a delusional loon. He makes stuff up in his head, insists upon the veracity of his imaginings, and then announces he’s going to have said imaginings fully investigated (i.e., those millions of fraudulent Clinton voters) and therefore proved. Olbermann is not exaggerating — we are truly living in the realm of Fletcher Knebel‘s “The Night of Camp David.”
At the very least this trailer conveys that Roger Michell‘s My Cousin Rachel (Fox Searchlight, 7.14) is going to look great. The dp is Mike Eley, whose only major credit (at least in terms of high critical regard) is having co-shot Kevin McDonald‘s Touching The Void (’03).
IFC Films is seemingly determined to diminish the potential box-office of Olivier Assayas‘s Personal Shopper (3.10). First they decide to open it ten months after a bravura debut at last May’s Cannes Film Festival, and over five months after it played at last September’s Toronto and New York film festivals, thus ensuring that the buzz will be dissipated if not forgotten by opening day. Now they’ve come up with a poster that doesn’t even vaguely suggest in visual terms that Personal Shopper is a ghost story. (Yes, there’s a critic blurb that uses the term but good posters always deliver the message in visceral terms.) A fan poster that I found on a Kristen Stewart site does a far better job of conveying the mood and feel of it.
(l.) IFC Films’ recently posted one-sheet for Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, which will open on 3.10; (r.) a far superior fan poster — one that suggets weird spookery on some level, but at the same doesn’t promise a conventional horror flick.
David Lowery‘s A Ghost Story (A24) lives on the opposite side of the canyon from Olivier Assayas and Kristen Stewart‘s Personal Shopper, a ghost tale which is all kinds of different and original but seriously scary from time to time. It has to be said upfront that Lowery’s film isn’t all that scary. Okay, two or three moments put the chill in but this isn’t the game plan, and that’s what’s so cool about it. Really. Either you get that or you don’t.
Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story.
For this is basically a story about a broken-hearted male ghost (or formerly male) who doesn’t know what to do with himself, and so he mopes around and says to himself “Jesus, I feel kind of fucked…where am I?…what’s happening?…am I gonna stand around watching humans for decades or even centuries? I don’t know what the hell to do.”
In life Mr. Confused was a married musician (Casey Affleck), and now, post-mortem, he’s returned to the home he shared with his wife (Rooney Mara). I guess all ghosts are unsettled spirits who just can’t surrender to the infinite, right? And so they hang out, looking or waiting for God-knows-what.
Affleck’s ghost watches his sad, suffering widow for a while (there’s a great extended scene in which Mara eats almost an entire pie while sitting in the kitchen floor), and then he gets pissed off when he sees that Mara has gone out with some guy, and then he gets even angrier when she leaves and a Latino family moves in.
And then the film moves on in all kinds of trippy (not to mention time-trippy) ways. I love that it’s more of a metaphysical meditation flick than one trying to give you jolts. A Ghost Story even goes into the relatively distant past (the mid 1800s) at one point until it finally circles back to the present and in fact the very beginning, if that’s not too confusing.
Poor Mary Tyler Moore has passed at age 80. Nine people out of ten will fondly recall her 16-year run (with a three-year gap) in two hugely popular TV sitcoms, first as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (’61 through ’66) and then Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (’70 through ’77). She was especially perfect in the latter series, doing that sunny, wholesome and vulnerable thing to full perfection and winning three Lead Actress Emmy awards in the bargain.
But to me Moore will always be Beth Jarrett, the emotionally frigid mom of Timothy Hutton and wife of Donald Sutherland in Robert Redford‘s Ordinary People (’80) — one of the greatest screen villains in history and surely Moore’s finest role. If she had never done anything before or since, her portrayal of Beth the bitch (which resulted in a Best Actress nomination) would entitle her to a place of eternal honor in the annals of American cinema.
But Ordinary People was pretty much Moore’s career peak. She costarred in the not-so-hot Six Weeks (’82) and then Just Between Friends (’86). But then she rebounded as another high-strung bitchy type in David O. Russell‘s Flirting With Disaster (’96). Moore also costarred in Elvis Presley‘s last scripted film, Change of Habit, in which she played a work-clothes-wearing nun who allowed herself to develop romantic stirrings for The King.
La La Land so has this I’m wondering why I’m even saying this in so many words. Many of us are sorry that the 2016 Best Picture race isn’t a bit more competitive. (I wish it was for the sake of HE ad revenue if nothing else.) As much as I’ve been a La La worshipper from the start, in my heart of hearts I’ve always been a Manchester man. Should I keep these finalized charts in the Oscar Balloon box between now and late February, and then run my list of preferred 2017 films after the 2.26 Oscar telecast?
The Sundance Film Festival response to Charlie McDowell‘s The Discovery has been fairly dismal. Speaking as a fan of McDowell’s The One I Love, which played here three years ago, I was sorry to find that The Discovery, a dialogue-driven drama about social reactions to a scientific discovery of an afterlife, is a morose, meandering thing that never lifts off the ground. The general atmosphere of dismissal had to be a heartbreaker for McDowell, but there’s also the fact that Discovery costar Rooney Mara, whom McDowell had been in a relationship with since 2010, dumped him late last year. The apparent reason was Mara falling for Joaquin Phoenix during the Italy-based filming of Garth Davis‘s Mary Magdelene, which began last November. As you might presume, Mara plays Magdalene and Phoenix Jesus Christ. (Phoenix, 42, is not just the oldest but arguably the oldest-looking actor to play J.C. — Max Von Sydow was 34 when he played the Nazarene in George Stevens‘ The Greatest Story Ever Told, which finished principal in August ’63.) Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, Mary Magdelene is a feminist take on the classic tale.
Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ in Garth Davis’s Magdalene.
Within my slushy Sundance realm it’s suddenly become important to catch Cory Finley‘s Thoroughbred, a kind of Diabolique-like drama about a pair of teenage girls, Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), scheming to murder Lily’s dad (Paul Sparks) with the help of a marginal no-account (the late Anton Yelchin). Focus Features picked it up two or three days ago for $5 million. It screens tomorrow afternoon. The publicists don’t have any tickets to pass out (on a Thursday with everyone gone?) but maybe that situation will change. A 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating so far — here’s Boyd van Hoeij‘s 1.21 Hollywood Reporter review.
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