With all the Donald Trump animus it doesn’t seem right that Chicago artist Mitch O’Connell couldn’t make a deal with a domestic billboard company to display his They Live art. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that billboard companies pretty much nationwide don’t want to touch anything so political,” reports the Chicagoist‘s Steve Gossett. Later this month O’Connell’s creation will finally be displayed, albeit “along Norte 69, in Naucalpan, just northwest of Mexico City.” Has McConnell ever heard of Robbie Conal? The image should be duplicated by the tens of thousands and wild-posted everywhere, every city and town, sea to shining sea. Someone needs to fund this.
Mike White‘s Brad’s Status is clearly a smart, bone-dry comedy about an insecure, middle-aged dad (Ben Stiller) who’s more than a bit haunted by underachievement and, worse, the blooming success of his son. My first reaction was “this’ll be good, I get this, I wanna see it.” But right after that I thought, “Wait, Stiller’s playing the same kind of anxious 40ish guy he played in Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young (’14). Should he be doing another one of these so soon?” But I’d jump for joy if he’d make Greenberg 2.
Right after the reported encounter with alien craft, Indianapolis air-traffic control asks the pilot if he’d like to report a UFO. Silence. The air-traffic guy asks again if the pilot wants to report. Finally the scratchy reply: “Negative…we don’t want to report.” That’s much, much better than what this trailer passes along (“I wouldn’t know what to report.”) Trailer-cutters are dedicated to removing the intrigue and the shading. They’re always dumbing things down.
I’ve made it clear I’m no fan of Mervyn LeRoy‘s 1950s films, and that certainly includes The FBI Story (’59). James Stewart gives a reasonably engaging performance as FBI agent Chip Hardesty, whose 25-year history with the bureau serves as the basic throughline. If you can excuse or ignore the fact that The FBI Story is essentially a J. Edgar Hoover propaganda film (the closeted FBI director assisted the producers every which way), you could give it a pass. But it’s always struck me as a stodgy, Joe Friday-ish, overly righteous thing with a broomstick up its ass.
And yet I’ve always loved Elmer Bernstein‘s main-title theme. It summons your inner right-winger, and as such is almost as good as Jerry Goldsmith‘s Patton theme (including his entr’acte music). Every so often Bernstein’s scores would surpass the films they were meant to enhance; this was one such occasion.
An announcement popped this morning about principal attractions slated for the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. As usual, Hollywood Elsewhere will be there with bells on following my Telluride attendance. All hail the enticement of Darren Aronfosky‘s mother!, even if it’s not playing Telluride. Why turn down an Aronofsky film, Tom?
Don’t knock the Toronto rock: Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water (following showings at Venice and Telluride), Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour, Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing (which will also have previously played Venice and Telluride), the noteworthy inclusion of Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name after the forehead-slapping turndown by Telluride, George Clooney‘s Suburbicon, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton‘s Battle of the Sexes, Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Venice but no Telluride), Scott Cooper‘s Hostiles, Scott Cooper‘s Hostiles, Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird (also a Telluride firstie), Ruben Ostlund‘s The Square, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s The Current War, Stephen Frears‘ Victoria and Abdul, et. al.
The first thing you have to ask about any TIFF is “how many high-profile titles are grim stories about some form of assaultive or debilitating trauma followed by painful recovery or, failing that, acceptance or closure”? I’m not posting a comprehensive list of these films here and now, but Toronto Agonistes certainly applies: Andy Serkis‘ Breathe, David Gordon Green‘s Stronger, Angelina Jolie‘s First They Killed My Father, Hany Abu-Assad‘s The Mountain Between Us, Paul McGuigan‘s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier‘s Long Time Running, et. al.
Thanks to TIFF’s regional designations after every film (listing them as a North American, Canadian or international premiere), we know almost everything about who’s doing Venice, Telluride and/or Toronto. Jig’s up, cat’s out of the bag.
I doubt that Telluride will be showing Dee Rees‘ Mudbound, which played Sundance last January, but if they do they’ll be granting it an exception that they didn’t grant Call Me By Your Name, which Tom Luddy deep-sixed for having played Sundance and Berlin. But Sebastian Lelio‘s A Fantastic Woman, which played Berlin and other international festivals, is going to Telluride, as indicated by TIFF’s calling it a Canadian premiere, which means the film will have been celebrated as a U.S. and international premiere prior to Toronto.
Going to Telluride: Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour (which TIFF is calling a Canadian premiere), Paul McGuigan‘s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Canadian premiere), Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing, Sebastian Lelio‘s A Fantastic Woman (Canadian premiere), Angelina Jolie‘s First They Killed My Father (Canadian premiere), Chloé Zhao‘s The Rider (Canadian premiere), Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton‘s Battle of the Sexes (calling it an “international premiere” = no Venice or Berlin), Scott Cooper‘s Hostiles (international premiere), Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird (international premiere) and Joachim Trier‘s Thelma.
NOT going to Telluride: Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name (HE response: boooooo!), Robin Campillo‘s BPM (Beats Per Minute), Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! (baahh), Ruben Östlund‘s The Square (boooo!), George Clooney‘s Suburbicon, Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Stephen Frears‘ Victoria and Abdul, Andy Serkis‘s Breathe, Deniz Gamze Ergüven‘s Kings, Hany Abu-Asasad‘s The Mountain Between Us, David Gordon Green‘s Stronger, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s The Current War