An earlier attempt at an HE redesign happened in the late spring of 2012. It was abandoned, but not before an Arizona-based designer who was helping me accidentally erased all the comment threads from that point back to August 2004, or when HE began. Eight years’ worth of comment threads vaporized. Yesterday I asked Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, who’s wrapping up the new redesign as we speak, to try and retrieve them. She reloaded the comments over 20 times, recovering a bit more with each attempt. This morning the task was finally done. I really love some of these threads. Pink Dress Shirts and Loud Latinos in particular. Not to mention Oxford wifigate, Hispanic party elephant and HE vs. Jezebel. Born again.
The solution to Alex Kurtzman‘s The Mummy (Universal, 6.9) hit me this morning. Don’t use Tom Cruise — Cruise can’t be in a monster film as it degrades his brand, and Cruise vs. a female mummy is an oil-and-water cocktail if I’ve ever sipped one. Instead make it a crazy horror comedy in the vein of The Nice Guys. Or more specifically, The Mummy meets Hold That Ghost. Just pair Russell Crowe (who’s in the current version) with Ryan Gosling, and have them scramble and run around in a semi-slapstick, Abbott-and-Costello fashion. I would truly love to see something like this, just as I don’t feel much enthusiasm for The Mummy as presently constituted.
I’ve only seen two of the five significant films opening today — Lu Chuan‘s Born in China (Disney) and Terry George‘s The Promise (Open Road). Neither are “bad” — I certainly respect the effort that went into their assembly. But neither lit a fuse, much less a fire.
I had access to screenings of Ben Wheatley‘s Free Fire (A24) during the 2016 Toronto Film Festival as well as recent screenings here, but I didn’t want to sit through what appeared to be a “mayhem for mayhem’s sake” gun ballet exercise. Rotten Tomato and Metacritic ratings of 68% and 64%, respectively.
From my recent review of Born in China: “The same old Disney stew. Stunningly beautiful, drop-dead photography. Adorable animals (especially the monkeys). Folksy-kindly narration (voiced by John Krasinski) aimed at eight year olds. But with much of the sadness, harshness and occasional brutality of nature sidestepped or flat-out ignored. Because the kiddies have to be shielded from the realities. Raise them in McMansions, give them sedentary lives in front of screens, gently poison them with fast-food diets but never let them see what real life is really like. There’s plenty of time for that later. Keep them in fantasyland for as long as possible.”
I had a respectful “meh” reaction to The Promise when I caught it in Toronto 19 months ago. Apologies to George, whom I know personally, but I can at least clarify that “meh” doesn’t mean his film is a problem. It just didn’t rouse my soul. As others have noted, it’s a decent enough World War I-era drama that blends a romantic triangle with the Armenian genocide. Nicely captured by dp Javier Aguirresarobe. Right away you want Charlotte le Bon to end up with Oscar Isaac, portraying a medical student, rather than burly Christian Bale, as an American journalist.
“Bale isn’t the romantic type,” I said in a 9/16 trailer-reaction piece. “He’s always about his moods and his quirks, especially when he’s put on a little weight. I’m trying to think of an established star who’s more of a ‘doesn’t get the girl’ type. He’s about strangeness, weirdness, pot bellies, beards, temper tantrums, glaring expressions, etc.”