Last night Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil pressed me for guesses on the four acting categories. I rolled my eyes, frowned, hemmed & hawed, wilted and finally gave in. Here are the general assessments, and here are the picks of the “experts” (i.e., know-it-alls like myself). Which, in the present context, means “know nothing at all.”
I missed a recent critics screening of Jim Cameron‘s T2 3D. So I paid $21 and change to see it yesterday at the AMC Century City 15. And I didn’t like what I saw. At all. I left after an hour, or just after Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong drive into the desert to hide out and stock up on weapons.
As with Titanic 3D, Cameron has applied his 3D conversion techniques sparingly. You can tell it’s 3D, of course, but the stereoscopic effect never slaps you across the face, and so after a while you forget that it’s there. Before you know it you’re just sitting in a theatre watching plain old T2, which I’ve seen maybe 25 or 30 times because the kids were really into it when it came out on laser disc.
On top of which the illumination isn’t bright enough. The image I saw through my 3D glasses was way too dark. I don’t know what the foot lambert illumination was, but the movie looked like shit, like mud, like shade. During last October’s press junket for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, director Ang Lee said that 3D projection should be shown with 30 foot lamberts of illumination. Most 3D films are projected in commercial cinemas, he said, at much lower levels.
HE to Cameron: Have you driven down to Century City to see what T2 3D looks like? You’ve put in a lot of work to make this 1991 classic look as good as possible, and then AMC management delivers an absurdly low illumination level and basically pisses all over the film. You won’t be pleased.
I felt so irritated and bummed out by the cruddy look of T2 3D that when I got home I immediately popped in my T2 Bluray, just to flush out the murk. It looked and sounded great on my 65″ inch Sony 4K. Clean and crisp and sharp as needles. To hell with 3D conversions. In fact, to hell with 3D.
Hugs and condolences for the friends, fans and colleagues of influential horror film maestro Tobe Hooper, who died yesterday at age 74. There’s no question that Hooper did himself proud with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (’74), a low-budget slasher thriller that I’ve never liked but have always respected. The following Wikipage sentence says it all: “It is credited with originating several elements common in the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons and the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure.”
Hooper made a life out of his facility with horror. He career-ed it to the max. But after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre he never struck the motherlode again, not really.
You can’t give Hooper serious credit for Poltergeist, which was mostly directed by Steven Spielberg. And no, I’m not a fan of Lifeforce. If you want to be cruel about it you could call him a feverish, moderately talented fellow who got lucky only once, and that was it. Hooper was tenacious and industrious and always kept going, and of course he dined out on the original Saw for decades. No harm in that.
L.M. Kit Carson, the renowned screenwriter, producer and journalist whom I proudly called a friend and ally from ’86 until his passing in 2014, was friendly with Hooper. They shared a Texas heritage and worked together on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 (’86), a misbegotten piece-of-shit sequel that Cannon Films produced and which I, a conflicted Cannon employee at the time, wrote the press notes for. Carson introduced me to Hooper as a gifted writer who really understood the satirical tone of Carson’s brilliant Saw 2 script. If only Hooper had absorbed it as fully and translated it to the screen with a similar panache.
Carson wrote a tangy piece about Hooper for the July-August ’86 issue of Film Comment, called “Saw Thru.” Here’s an excerpt that explains the genesis of TTCM:
“Near broke at Christmas ’72, Hooper got tangled in the last-minute-shopper mob at a Montgomery Ward and shoveled into the heavy equipment department. Suddenly he was standing face to face with a big wall display of glinting chainsaws. All sizes. Row above row. An uneasy-making sight mixed with the tinsel, bright Christmas balls, red ribbons. Whu.
“And an abrupt Christmas crackup thought flicker-lit a few of Hooper’s brainy synapses: Quickest damn way out of here tonight is just to yank-start one of those chainsaws and cut a path to the door. It was a joke, but only a half-joke. An image that sold itself a bit too strongly.
“Hooper got the hell out of Montgomery Ward, went home with a chainsaw in his brain, and starred piecing together a movie. ‘In about 30 seconds I saw the movie right in front of me,’ he said.”
Warmer air, extreme weather, super-intense hurricanes and flooding are becoming more and more common. Hell, even routine. It’s all in Al Gore, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk‘s An Inconvenient Sequel, and you know they could easily weave in footage from the current rain deluge in Houston, which is being called one of the worst flooding incidents in U.S. history. Houston is a liberal cosmopolitan city in many respects, but how many climate-change-denying Trump supporters in the greater Houston area are putting two and two together this morning? “Naaah, it’s God’s will…no different than the locust plague that Moses brought upon ancient Egypt.”