As noted in today’s post about the 12th Annual US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot, I asked for clips of honorees Martin Short, Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe, Loving‘s Ruth Negga, Zachary Quinto and Glen Hansard. A montage reel arrived this evening — here it is:
If I had written the copy for this first-ever N.Y. Times ad, which will appear during Sunday’s Oscar telecast, it would read as follows: “The truth is that Donald Trump and his White House henchmen have given every indication since January 20th that they intend to respect only the views and concerns of the 26% of eligible voters who supported Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.
“The truth is that a key part of their agenda has been to declare war on the press, and that a major part of his effort is to push a Trump administration meme that mainstream news reporters and editors are entrenched suppliers of ‘fake news.’
“No news organization is without flaws or perfectly impartial, but over the last 15 or 20 years ‘fake news’ has been almost entirely a manifestation of the alt-right fantasy fringe (Alex Jones, Breitbart News, et. al.). If the Trump team has made one thing clear, it is their wholehearted support of alt-right values and agendas, as the executive branch ascension of former Breitbart honcho Steve Bannon makes clear. In league with this, the Trump White House intends to muffle the press as far as political circumstances and leverage will allow.
“The truth is that the Trump administration has given every indication that they intend to be an authoritarian, alt-rightist, racially repressive, anti-environment, corporate-kowtowing, would-be fascist regime — a team of thugs, dazzling in their belligerency, who will not only seek to undo just about every progressive, socially constructive or fair-minded thing that the Obama administration signed into law or brought about through executive order but ‘make America great again’ — an odious, dog-whistle pledge that smacks of racism, belligerency, arrogance and unbridled corporate favoritism.
“The truth is not hard to find or know. It is right there in front of anyone who wants it — discernible to anyone with an interest in using brain cells and not relying on the usual rural resentments, prejudices and simplistic notions that the wacko right has successfully exploited for too many years.
“But with some of the most odious people to ever orchestrate an executive branch agenda in the history of the United States, people regarded as the worst villains to control the levers of power since the darkest days of the Nixon administration (and let’s remind ourselves again that Richard Nixon was a far better man and Oval office occupant than Donald Trump could ever hope to be)…with such people determined to obscure facts and reimagine reality like never before, the truth is more important than ever.”
I’m sorry but Joseph Cedar‘s Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (Sony Classics, 4.14) doesn’t cut it. A smartly written, dialogue-driven drama about an elderly poseur and would-be financial hustler (well acted by Richard Gere), it intrigues for the first…oh, 40 or 45 minutes but runs out of gas by the one-hour mark, and then you have to sit there for the remaining 57 minutes. It began to irritate me more and more than Norman is never shown at his home or office — he’s constantly on the street or at some party or restaurant, always wearing the same camel’s hair overcoat, hat and bargain-basement scarf. He’s obviously headed for a fall sooner or later, and it’s not much fun to watch him double-talk and stumble around as the inevitable awaits. Thanks but no thanks. The supporting performances are flawless — Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Harris Yulin, Dan Stevens, et. al. Norman is an intelligent, carefully measured film and far from a wipe-out but I felt weaker and weaker as I watched it.
Last night Hollywood Elsewhere attended the 12th Annual US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot. Thanks again to JJ Abrams for the invite. The honorees were Martin Short (I’ve asked for video of his hilarious, bullwhip-sharp remarks), Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe, Loving‘s Ruth Negga, Zachary Quinto and the eternally buoyant Glen Hansard. The attendees included Jon Hamm, the great Sarah Paulson, Cameron Crowe (who introduced Hansard), director-screenwriter Larry Kasdan and Catherine O’Hara.
Oscar Wilde Award honorees at last night’s JJ Abrams/Bad Robot soiree (l. to r.): Martin Short, Caitriona Balfe, Ruth Negga, Zachary Quinto, Glen Hansard w/ host JJ Abrams.
Excerpts from a 2.22 Vox interview with Mikhail Fishman, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times, an English-language weekly published in Moscow. Fishman, a Russian citizen and an outspoken critic of Putin, has covered Russian politics for more than 15 years. The interview was conducted by Vox‘s Sean Illing:
Fishman: “In their habits, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump they’re radically different. Trump is a posturing performer, full of idiotic narcissism. He appears to be a disorganized fool, to be honest. Putin, on the other hand, is calculating, organized, and he plans everything. He also hides much of his personal life in a way that Trump does not.
“Then there’s also the fact that Putin is so much more experienced than Trump. He has more than 15 years of global political experience. He knows how to do things, how to work the system. He makes plenty of mistakes, but he knows how to think and act. Trump is a total neophyte. He has no experience and doesn’t understand how global politics operates. He displays his ignorance every single day.”
Illing: “What is the perception of Trump in Russia? Is he seen as an ally, a foe, or a stooge?”
Fishman: “The vision of Trump is basically shaped by the Kremlin and their propaganda machine — that’s what they do. During the election campaign, Trump was depicted not as an underdog but as an honest representative of the American people who was being mistreated by the establishment elites and other evil forces in Washington.”
Illing: “The Kremlin knew that to be bullshit, right? This was pure propaganda, not sincere reporting, and it was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.”
Fishman: “Of course. All of it was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton. Putin expected Trump to lose, but the prospect of a Clinton victory terrified him, and he did everything possible to undermine her.”
The 1984 Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters’ Sunday in the Park with George melted me down. And now a new production at the Hudson Theatre, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as George and Annaleigh Ashford as Dot/Mariem has opened to rave reviews.
It will run until 4.23, and if I had the surplus dough I would fly back to New York sometime in mid March to catch it. Experiencing the right kind of emotion and exaltation is all but priceless. You only live once, right? Cheers to Jake for reportedly nailing it — for the passion it took to invest himself 110% and enhance his vocal game, for allegedly matching Patinkin note for note and heartbeat for heartbeat.
From Ben Brantley’s N.Y. Times review: “Mr. Gyllenhaal translates the intensity that has characterized his most memorable screen appearances (including Brokeback Mountain and Nightcrawler) into a searing theatrical presence, in which his eyes are his center of gravity. He embodies one of Seurat’s favorite artistic dictums, ‘concentrate,’ with an unwavering focus that seems to consume and illuminate the dark.
“Mr. Gyllenhaal invests every note he sings with the rapt determination of someone trying to capture and pin down the elusive. Watch Seurat at work, dabbing specks of color on his canvas, and listen to the vigor (and rigor) with which he invests the repetition of those colors’ names.”
Beginning of Brantley’s review: “He is a thorny soul, a man neither happy nor particularly kind, and not someone you’d be likely to befriend. But when the 19th-century French painter Georges Seurat, reincarnated in the solitary flesh by a laser-focused Jake Gyllenhaal, demands that you look at the world as he does, it’s impossible not to fall in love.
Get Out is a “trite get-whitey movie” by way of “a horror comedy for Black History Month,” writes National Review critic Armond White. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Rosemary’s Baby meets Meet the Fockers” meets Trayvon Martin meets Stepin Fetchit and/or Black Sambo.
SCREECHING SPOILER: “What was it, exactly, that the all-media screening audience at the new movie Get Out was cheering for when the black protagonist killed an entire family of white folks one by one?
“26-year-old middle-class black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) travels with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to her family’s idyllic exurban home and discovers a racist cult intent on siphoning black men’s mental and physical energy…Hollywood high-concept goes low and unfulfilled.
“Get Out is an attenuated comedy sketch in which serious concerns are debased. Pushing buttons that alarm blacks yet charm white liberals, [director Jordan] Peele manipulates the Trayvon Martin myth the same way Obama himself did when he pandered by saying, ‘Trayvon Martin could have been my son.’