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.