Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven will celebrate its 25th anniversary with special one-off screenings of a 4K restored version on Tuesday, 8.15. I’d like to attend one in Los Angeles at a decent venue, but Fandango isn’t listing a venue as we speak. I wanted to see the 4K version in Cannes last May, but I couldn’t fit it in.
Sometime in late ’18 or certainly by 2019, Amazon Studios’ Lucy and Desi, an Aaron Sorkin-written biopic with Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett playing Lucille Ball, will open in theatres. Obviously an Oscar bait thing for Blanchett and perhaps for the guy they get to play Desi Arnaz.
Married for 20 years (1940 to ’60), Lucy and Desi had a turbulent union from the get-go, largely due to the Cuban-born Arnaz being an incessant tomcatter. (Ball filed for divorce in September 1944 over infidelity, but they patched things up.) Desi’s hound-dogging when into overdrive during the incredibly successful 1950s run of I Love Lucy. She finally divorced him in ’60. Keep in mind that Lucy, born in 1911, was six years older than Desi, and that her sexy blue-eyed redhead years peaked between the early ’30s and early ’40s, and that she liked her highballs and smoked like a chimney. (As a result she developed one of the greatest female booze-and-cigarette voices in Hollywood history.) By the time she made The Facts of Life with Bob Hope, Ball’s hottie days were well behind her. Remember also that back in the prehistoric days a certain strain of Latin male considered rooster behavior to be a birthright if not a point of pride.
If you want to bask in the Lucy-and-Desi thing when things were truly hot, fresh, moist and bloomy, watch Too Many Girls.
Hollywood Elsewhere has never seen a Tommy Wirkola film (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), and the odds are greatly against seeing his latest, What Happened To Monday. In her Locarno Film Festival review, Variety‘s Jessica Kiang has described Wirkola’s film as “a ludicrous, violent, amusingly dumb sci-fi actioner…that casts Noomi Rapace as septuplets battling a dystopian regime.”
To which I replied, “There’s NO SUCH THING as ‘amusingly dumb’ in the context of movie attitude or tone. Certainly not if it’s also ludicrous and violent. There’s hilariously idiotic, of course, but…”
Kiang: “Not sure I get the fine distinction between those near-synonymous phrases, to be honest?”
HE reply: “Hilariously idiotic = stateroom scene in Night at the Opera, Woody Allen bits in What’s Up Tiger Lily, etc. Instances in which the filmmakers are definitely in on the joke. Amusingly dumb = lazy-ass fart fungus toenail dead-brain humor…open question as to whether filmmakers are in on the joke, or whether they’re defaulting to sloth-like sensibilities.”
Last weekend two manly, fully mature critics, Joe Leydon and Stephen Whitty, took Hollywood Elsewhere to task for expressing garden-variety hormonal enthusiasm over what I carefully chose to describe as a “hot lesbo” scene in Margaret Betts‘ Novitiate, or more precisely an erotic third-act scene between two lesbian nuns. Echoing the tedious viewpoint expressed last January by Glenn Kenny, Leydon lamented the adolescent associations with the term and more or less said that seasoned, worldly fellows with gray hair and commendable accomplishments should never go there. Whitty said roughly the same, arguing that “thinking like a man” means “not thinking and feeling like a boy.”
They don’t get it. When a truly erotic scene suddenly happens in the midst of an otherwise “decent but no great shakes” film, the blood warms up and the viewer is suddenly awake, alive and attuned. This is what happened when the Sundance audience saw Novitiate at the Eccles last January, and why everyone was talking about “that scene.” Leydon and Whitty can trot out their “tut-tut” and “harumph” routines all they want, but I was there. And if experiencing hormonal surges by way of a film are a mark of adolescent immaturity, and if denial or suppression of same is a mark of seasoned maturity, I’ll take the former, thanks. And if I choose not to mask said surges with harumphy, tut-tut terminology, that’s what many of us would call “acceptance.” Life is short, allow for the occasional gusto moment, let it in, etc.
Final remark to Leydon, Whitty: I didn’t write and direct the third-act lesbian scene in Novitiate — Margaret Betts did. If you have a problem with this sort of thing, take it up with her. I just sat down and watched it and shared what I shared.
If a non-showbiz marriage ends after eight years, it probably means that the parties gave it their all and embraced the right kind of devotional selflessness for five or six or seven years. Marriages usually work out if the husband accepts that the wife is the absolute boss, and if he begins each and every day on his knees, ready and eager to do her bidding. It really is that simple. When marriages don’t work out, it’s usually because the husband has decided to stand tall, look the wife in the eye and speak bluntly. (Never do that!) Or because of infidelity or, as Val Kilmer once said, “not enough steaks in the freezer.” But if a showbiz marriage dies after eight years….well, they did it right for a long while but their careers got in the way. Which is to say the wife’s career surged while the husband’s ran out of gas (i.e., A Star Is Born). Or the other way around (i.e., Chris Pratt and Ana Faris). Another thing that destroys a showbiz marriage is when a movie they’ve made together is critically savaged and then dies at the box-office (i.e., Brad and Angie’s By The Sea). And it never helps if either party has an alcohol issue (i.e., Brad at the time of his split from Angie).
— Jason (@jasonosia) August 7, 2017
I’m heading out to play badminton so this will have to be quick. It took me forever to see Geremy Jasper‘s Pattycake$ (Fox Searchlight, 8.18), but when I finally did a couple of weeks ago I was knocked over. Yes, it’s pure formula in the mode of Rocky, Hustle & Flow and 8 Mile. But Danielle McDonald is a revelation, or at the very least a superstar of the Jersey ‘burbs. (Even though she hails from Australia.) When someone like myself, a guy who’s repeatedly complained about the spread of burgeoning obesity in our culture and the increasing influence of fatty corporate foodstuffs…when someone like me does a double somersault for Patticake$ I think it means something. Yes, we’ve seen it before but it’s the singer, not the song. All hail Jasper, McDonald and costars Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, the great Cathy Moriarty, McCaul Lombardi and Patrick Brana.
The below quote is from John Semley’s Globe & Mail pan of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Detroit. I was more in a lamenting frame of mind when I wrote my reaction. Now the hour of reckoning is upon the HE community. It’s been playing since last Thursday night — what’s the verdict?
Marc Webb and Allan Loeb‘s The Only Living Boy in New York (Roadside/Amazon, 8.11) is pretty close to awful, I’m afraid. I despised each and every well-heeled, Manhattan-residing character, but that’s a roundabout way of saying I loathed Loeb’s screenplay, which struck me as grating and precious. Okay, I liked the line about Philadelphia being New York City’s most culturally vibrant neighborhood but that’s about it.
Loeb, remember, wrote the execrable Collateral Beauty, a Will Smith grief-recovery film which was also set in flush NYC environs. That touchy-feely ordeal was enough to condemn Loeb to a five-year sentence on a Southern chain gang, side by side with Paul Newman, George Kennedy and the others. Now he’s earned himself a life term on Devil’s Island with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The man specializes in manipulative emotional goo.
Callum Turner is Thomas, a somewhat whiny, spectacle-wearing, 20something bore who’s attempting a career as a serious writer and who works as a Rizzoli-like book store to make ends meet. [News flash: No New Yorker can make ends meet in Manhattan on a retail-clerk salary. Try Philadelphia, asshole!] Thomas, who bears an extraordinary resemblance to a Northwestern timber wolf, is the son of a mildly imperious book publisher (Pierce Brosnan) and a jittery mom (Cynthia Nixon). Plus he’s in a not-quite-there relationship with Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) who’s pretty and wise but (be honest) chubby and destined for Queen Latifah-like proportions by the time she hits her mid 30s.
Early on a grizzled 60ish alcoholic writer (Jeff Bridges) appears in Thomas’ Lower East Side apartment building and quickly becomes the kid’s avuncular wisdom-dispenser. A scene or two later Thomas and Mimi happen to spot Ethan having a cozy romantic dinner with Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Alarmed but also a tad aroused, Thomas begins stalking Johanna. They immediately start fencing and parrying, and before you know it Thomas is also putting the high, hard one to Johanna. Why is she open to going stereo with Brosnan’s son? It doesn’t seem to make sense but she goes there regardless, and without telling Brosnan, of course, and so it’s dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick for this mama-san.
Until yesterday I’d never even heard of The Fastest Gun Alive (’56), a western programmer with Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain and Broderick Crawford. But thanks to a YouTube clip of Russ Tamblyn‘s bravura dance sequence, I have now. It seems to be from a musical but isn’t. A story about a guy related to a hot-shot gunslinger but lacking the skill himself, The Fastest Gun Alive was apparently a blend of Henry King‘s The Gunfighter (’50) and Don McGuire‘s Johnny Concho (’56). I always knew Tamblyn was a gifted hoofer, but until I saw this clip I didn’t realize he was just as good as Donald O’Connor was in Singin’ In The Rain. (Thanks to a Twitter heads-up from Amber Tamblyn.)
In his 6.18.17 Variety review, Peter Debruge noted that Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman‘s Loving Vincent (BreakThru/Trademark, 9.22) “boasts the distinction of being ‘the world’s first fully painted feature film.’
“That means every one of the nearly 65,000 frames in this near-lunatic labor of love (it took seven years to complete) was rendered by hand with oil paints, following a style intended to mimic that of the master. [It] has precisely the effect you might imagine, pulling audiences into the delirious, hyper-sensual world suggested by van Gogh’s oeuvre.
“As lovely as the animated-painting technique is to behold, the approach involves a kind of rotoscoping (where the frames are painted over live-action footage — a variation on the way Richard Linklater tackled Waking Life). Although this technique isn’t ‘cheating’ per se, it shackles the crew of 120-odd oil painters to what the camera sees, functioning as a kind of high-end PhotoShop filter as the individual artists are tasked with applying a van Gogh-like impasto to the underlying reference footage.
“With any luck, audiences won’t dwell on the particulars of how the effect was achieved, concentrating instead on the content of the story, which brings a poetic sense of tragedy to the last act of van Gogh’s life, and fresh insight into the kind of man he was.
“Loving Vincent may exist as a showcase for its technique, but it’s the sensitivity the film shows toward its subject that ultimately distinguishes this particular oeuvre from the countless bad copies that already litter the world’s flea markets. To the extent that van Gogh’s style permitted him to capture a deeper sense of truth, he makes a noble model for the filmmakers to follow.”
“We’re really moving along…we’re bringing back our jobs…we’re making American great again…ending the war on coal…no more easy welfare for immigrants,” etc. What’s a nice, concise term for beyond toxic, world-class contemptible, nauseating, forehead-slapping, rhetorically suffocating?