Yesterday Sasha Stone rode to the rescue and singlehandledly saved the Hollywood Elsewhere redesign, which wasn’t on a good footing earlier this week. She threw together some Armory-based roughs in two or three hours, and right away I knew she was on the right track. I’m feeling enormous relief that a friend whose taste I trust is handling things now. I’ve also asked Chicago-based designer Mark Frenden (the guy who inserted yours truly into an awesome American Friend poster) to contribute whatever ideas he may have.
I decided against seeing Amir Bar Lev‘s Long Strange Trip (theatrical 5.26, Amazon Prime 6.2), his four-hour Grateful Dead doc, at Sundance, but I’ll be catching it on 4.12 at a Los Angeles press screening — 5 pm to 9:30 pm with a half-hour refreshment break.
A Variety review by Owen Gleiberman plus the film’s Wikipedia page state that the running time is 235 minutes, but p.r. releases have reported slightly longer lengths — 238 and 242 minutes. Update: Obscured Pictures’ R.J. Millard, a recent addition to the team, clarifies that “the final running time will be 241 minutes (4 hours, 1 minute).”
The only Grateful Dead album I’ve ever really liked is Live Dead. Recorded at San Fransico’s Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West in early ’69 and released later that year, it was the first live album to use 16-track recording. Village Voice critic Robert Christgau wrote that side two of the double album “contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded” — agreed.
I presumed from the get-go that Long Strange Trip would be an above-average thing because of Bar-Lev‘s esteemed track record — My Kid Could Paint That (’07), The Tillman Story (’10) and Happy Valley (’14).
From Gleiberman’s review: “[Pic] has the sprawl and generosity of a good Dead show, yet there’s nothing indulgent about it — it’s an ardent piece of documentary classicism. I’m one of those people who can’t stand the Grateful Dead…yet I found Long Strange Trip enthralling. For the first time, it made me see, and feel, and understand the slovenly glory of what they were up to, even if my ears still process their music as monotonous roots-rock wallpaper.”
Earlier this month a research-screening veteran conveyed measured enthusiasm about Joseph Kosinski‘s Granite Mountain (Lionsgate, 9.22), a Peter Berg-style firefighting melodrama based on the real-life Yarnell Hill tragedy of 2013 in which 19 elite firefighters (all from nearby Prescott, Arizona) bought the farm. The worst firefighter tragedy since 9/11.
Pic costars Miles Teller, Ben Hardy (who?), Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Andie McDowell and Josh Brolin.
I half-trust this “measured enthusiasm” guy because he loved Call Me By Your Name, which he saw at Sundance at the same Eccles showing I attended, and because we sat down in Las Vegas couple of days ago and talked about the whole realm.
“It’s average Peter Berg fare in most respects, but emotionally it hit harder than your normal fact-based epic,” he opined. Take this with a grain but he claims that Teller delivers his “best work, a mature and nuanced performance.” (MT is portraying Brendan McDonough, the one member of the 20-man Granite Mountain Hotshots who didn’t die in the blaze.)
“Bridges keeps it going with his underbitten West Texas accent from Hell or High Water, and it never gets old. Jennifer C. has some awesome scenes when she yells and cries…pretty heartbreaking.
After plugging Transformers: The Last Knight (Paramount, 6.23) at Cinemacon, Mark Wahlberg paid a visit to the Las Vegas Wahlburgers, which is right next to my Bally’s hotel. I just bought a burger there — pretty good. The burgeoning fast-food chain is co-owned by three Wahlberg brothers — Paul (chef & general honcho), Donnie and Mark. It’s also a reality series on A&E. No Wahlburgers in Los Angeles yet.
It’s not the humans per se who will suffer a final defeat at the finale of War of the Planet of the Apes, but an army of aggressive dicks led by Woody Harrelson‘s Trump-like Colonel. Which of course makes the Ape victory palatable to the likes of you and me. Matt Reeves is a sharp, quality-level filmmaker, and this trilogy finale, obviously, is going to be a strong, well-made film.
Finely shaped and timed as this trailer is, it played a helluva lot better on the huge screen inside the 4000-seat Caesar’s Palace Collisseum than it does right now on my Macbook Air.
By the way: I felt extra-thrilled when a brief clip from John Huston‘s The Maltese Falcon was shown one or two days ago. As great as this 1941 classic looks when I watch the Bluray seems when I watch it on my 65″ 4K screen, seeing it in the big Collisseum screen was a lot better. I’d pay serious money to watch it on a huge super-screen with super-amped sound some day.
Based on three relatively recent novels by R.J. Palacio, it’s about the journey of a young kid with a facial deformity (Jacob Tremblay) as he acclimates to school, and how his parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) and extended family help him along.
This kind of story can be cloying or worse in the wrong hands, but I was sensing from the brief trailer shown today that director Steven Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower) has handled things with restraint and the right kind of emphasis. Maybe.
Three things got my attention. One, it’s obviously going to be an emotionally affecting drama — I could feel the pangs right away. Two, a Lionsgate spokesperson mentioned that Wonder has gotten the highest test scores of any Lionsgate film ever. And three, Wonder‘s original release date, 4.7.17, was changed last February to 11.17, which means Lionsgate knows it has the Oscar nuts.
Who knows how good it’ll turn out to actually be, but I can almost guarantee you that the Academy members who nominated Garth Davis‘s heart-tugging Lion for six Oscars (including Best Picture) are going to give it up for Wonder.
David Michod and Brad Pitt‘s War Machine looks and sounds engaging as shit. The Netflix press release calls it “absurdist” and “pitch-black.” Pitt’s General Glenn McMahon – Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Ben Kingsley as former Afghanistan president Hamid Karazi…perfect! With Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Anthony Michael Hall, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Meg Tilly, Tilda Swinton. “We’re not here to win — we’re here to clean up the mess.” War Machine pops on 5.26.17.
Most Americans are total rubes when it comes to respecting pronunications of foreign last names. A year and a half ago I riffed about the yokel way to pronounce the last name of Melissa “Supergirl” Benoist. Semi-cultivated types pronounce this French-origin name as “Ben-whah” while dogpatch Americans pronounce it “Ben-oh-ist” with Benoist herself pronouncing it “Ben-OYST.”
Now a “new” mispronunication has surfaced — the last name of Marvel Films honcho Kevin Feige. New to me, that is. For the last ten-plus years I’ve been saying “fayge” or “feejzh” (like the first syllable in leisure), but yesterday a Cinemacon moderator pronounced it “Fay-gee.” I jumped in my seat…what?
Feige is a German term for fig, the purple-colored tree fruit. Germans would pronounce this “Fye-guh“, which is easily within the realm of American capability.
But it also resembles the medieval term “liege” (as in “my liege”, which is pronounced like the first syllable of “leisure” and which means “my superior”) as well as the Belgian city of Liege, which is pronounced “Lee-ayge.” So for a while there I was saying “fayge” or “feejzh” — a one-syllable, soft-g pronunication. Because Feige’s last name merely reverses the order of the first two vowels (e-i instead of i-e).
But throw Feige’s name into the American cultural meat-grinder and it becomes fay-gee, or almost the same as Weegee, the New York tabloid photographer. Nobody comes up with more dumbshit-sounding pronunciations than Americans…nobody.