What kind of dork uses the term “aeroplane“? They’re called airplanes or better yet planes, flights or jets. Aeroplane? It’s actually not a dork thing but a British thing. For whatever reason the English are hung up on this spelling, which sounds like it hails from the World War I era if not earlier.
Here’s an oldie-but-goodie about the worst on-the-job mistake of my life. Nothing to do with politics, but I posted it four days after Barack Obama’s election (11.8.08). The incident happened when I was working for a chain-link fence company in Fairfield, Connecticut, when I was in my early 20s. It’s a good story because I wasn’t just “fired” but kicked to the curb for an error of classic proportions. A lulu.
I worked with two other guys for the company. Every day we loaded big coiled-up bundles of chain-link fence and schlepped them around to this and that job site. We would dig several holes, pour cement into each one and then insert metal poles. We would then return to the job a couple of days later to put up the fence, unspooling it yard by yard and fastening each length to the poles with hard metal coils or “ties.”
It was agony moving the chain-link rolls off the flatbed truck and then lifting them up with sheer brawn every time a section had to be unspooled. Especially in the horrid winter with the cold metal freezing your fingers and the tips of the fences making scratches and cuts on your hands every time you manhandled them. My job attitude was half-hearted at best. It was awful, awful work.
I was the guy who would back the truck up and get it into position before the fence rolls were unloaded in front of the poles.
One time we were putting up a fence near a large dirt lot. The road was a couple of hundred feet away from the location of the poles, and for whatever reason it was decided not to park the company’s flatbed truck right next to the poles but up near the road.
In any event it got to be 4:30 pm one day — time to get the truck and bring it back to where the un-mounted fence sections were lying on the ground. The rear of the truck was facing the far side of the road. The obvious plan was to back it into the road and then whip it leftward and drive across the lot.
I started the truck and checked the two rearview mirrors. The coast seemed clear although there was a bit of a blind spot. My coworkers were collecting tools and whatnot, so it was just me and my wits.
The truck was parked on an incline, however, and there was a lot of mud under the tires and I couldn’t get any traction when I hit the gas. So I tried rocking it back and forth — no luck. I then decided to put a couple of pieces of scrap lumber under the rear tires for traction. I again put it in reverse, hit the gas and finally the truck lurched backwards.
The reason I say “so don’t tell me” all the time is because of this From Here To Eternity scene, and more particularly the way Mickey Shaughnessy says it to Burt Lancaster. Every time I write those four words I am Shaughnessy — I’m channelling his pugnacious attitude.
Right now the likeliest 2017 Best Picture nominees are Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk, Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics, 11.24); Steven Spielberg‘s The Papers (20th Century Fox, 12.22); Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing (Paramount, 12.22); Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Phantom Thread (Focus Features, 12.25) and Hugh Jackman‘s The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 12.25).
That’s six, but there could be two or three more: Guillermo Del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, Dan Gilroy‘s Roman Israel, Esq. and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris‘s Battle of the Sexes.
Denzel Washington as attorney Roman Israel in Dan Gilroy’s film of the same name, due for Columbia Pictures release on 11.3.
That’s my best guesstimate so far. Leaving aside the excellent Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name, the others will most likely register as pretty good if not more so. But the surest way to calculate the odds is not to consider suspected quality as much as the socio-cultural agendas of this or that group that will champion this or that film.
I’ll tell you right now that the lack of a significant contender portraying an African-American milieu (unless you want to consider Roman Israel, Esq., an ethical drama starring Denzel Washington, in this light) or made by an African-American director means things are wide open as we speak.
Dunkirk will have the support of anyone with the ability or willingness to acknowledge grand, ahead-of-the-curve greatness when they see it. It will surely gather special support from 40-plus males and members of below-the-line guilds.
Call Me By Your Name will definitely corral those who are soothed by naturalism and stirred by its lulling emotional bath elements and bucolic travelogue delights. It will occupy a special place for those with the ability to appreciate and revel in an Eric Rohmer-like realm.
The Spielberg drama, which is about how Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Streep) decided to grow a journalistic backbone in the midst of the Pentagon Papers episode of ’71, will obviously have the 40-plus feminist vote and the support of sedate older boomers who automatically kowtow to anything bearing the beardo stamp.
As Battle of The Sexes is another feminist-themed drama set in the early ’70s, it may be highly competitive with The Papers as far as the older-woman or feminist-sympathy vote is concerned. If, that is, it turns out to be exceptional.
The Greatest Showman, a brassy musical about P.T. Barnum, will obviously excite those voters who prefer cheery, sparkly entertainments to solemn, thoughtful dramas or this or that sort.
I’ve only seen 10 or 12 minutes’ worth of Downsizing, but my impression following a viewing of said excerpt during last March’s Cinemacon is that it’s a visionary, Metropolis-like film that will definitely turn heads.
The only ones I really know about about are Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name. I’ve read early drafts of The Papers and Downsizing. Everything else is spitballing.
On Facebook this morning Rod Lurie posted a lamentably familiar Joe Popcorn view about Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk. Lurie basically said that (a) it’s too brilliant not to be nominated for Best Picture but (b) it can’t win because the SAG contingent will find it too Olympian, too studied and not character-driven enough. Pretty much the same complaints could have been levelled at Barry Lyndon, right?
Dunkirk, of course, is much grabbier and more commercial than Lyndon ever had a hope of being, but the sons and daughters of the peons who spoke dismissively of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece are just as vocal today, sad to say.
“Yes, Dunkirk is a masterpiece,” Lurie wrote. “One of the great war films of our time, maybe one of the greats period. It’s an auteur’s work. Celluloid Beethoven. I saw it for a second time last night on IMAX — and the experience was different. Immersive. Ethereal. Especially in the ‘air’ segments where we were so in the sky that I feared running out of oxygen. And yet… and yet…Dunkirk will not win the Best Picture Oscar.
“Nolan likely gets the directing statue, so brazenly original a movie it is, so arduous an exercise it might have been, but it’s not getting the top award.
“Best Picture Oscars go to character-driven films. Pretty much every time they go to movies that are humanly driven and not necessarily creatively driven. Maybe that’s because ‘human’ movies are actor-dependent and actors are the plurality of the Academy.
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