“One day during the making of Reds editor Dede Allen (who had edited Beatty previously in Bonnie and Clyde) congratulated the auteur on the script (which was co-written by Trevor Griffiths, in his master’s voice). “The dialogue, the cadences, sounds very contemporary, very modern,” Allen said. Beatty drily replied, “Dede, this is not Warren Beatty as John Reed — this is John Reed as Warren Beatty. That’s what being a movie star is.” — from a Cinephilia & Beyond piece by Tim Pelan called “Warren Beatty’s Reds: ‘A Long, Long Movie About a Communist Who Died.’”
Who knows if there will even be serious film historians 50 years hence? The culture might be so degraded by then…I don’t want to think about it. But if they’re still around one or two will probably look back upon our troubled epoch and ask “which 2017 films really conveyed what the world was like back then? Which tried to express what people were hoping for or afraid of? Which tell us the most in terms of cultural self-portraiture or self-reflection?”
I can guarantee you right now that Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! will definitely be among the few films that scholars of 2067 will study when they ponder U.S. culture during the first year of Donald Trump’s administration.
I can also assure you that no one will pay the slightest historical attention to Thor: Ragnarok or Logan or even Blade Runner 2049. These three films have earned serious box-office coin, of course, while mother! topped out at a measly $17,800,004 domestic and $25,850,098 foreign. But they won’t matter when all has been said and done and the deciders have completed their assessments. Art lasts; all diversions melt.
In the same way that the mid ‘1950s were clearly reflected by Kiss Me Deadly, Patterns, No Down Payment and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the currents of the mid to late’60s were mirrored by Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary’s Baby, The President’s Analyst and The Graduate, Aronofsky’s allegorical horror film burrows right into the dirt and muck of the here-and-now.
In my book mother! is either the fourth- or fifth-best film of the year, in part because it’s probably the most courageous. How did Aronofsky get Paramount to finance and release a film that Joe and Jane Popcorn reportedly hated with a passion? Whatever the back-story, the release of mother! is a proud event in the annals of American cinema because it went for something and nailed it, because it reaches right into the nightmares and agitations and self-loathings of a convulsive era and says “do you smell it…do you sense the disease and disruption? Not the chaos that you’re watching on-screen, but the real-deal horrors that are defining the world outside?”
If there are any film critics organizations out there with any balls, they’ll give Aronofsky a special artistic courage award or two next month.
I haven’t heard anything recently about The Ballad of Richard Jewell, a long-gestating Jonah Hill project about the portly security guard who was falsely fingered by the FBI for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, only to be exonerated upon further investigation. (The actual culprit was Eric Rudolph.) Almost exactly a year ago Ezra Edelman (O.J.: Made in America) was announced as the director of the film, in which Hill would portray Jewell. But the project seems (emphasis on that word) to be in some kind of limbo or holding pattern.
In any event I googled Richard Jewell this morning, and here’s what came up:
Hill’s latest role is in Gus Van Sant‘s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Amazon, 2018); he’s also in post-production on Mid ’90s, a coming-of-age drama that he directed and wrote. 11-year-old Sunny Suljic (who costarred with Hill in the Van Sant film) plays the lead; it costars Katherine Waterston and Lucas Hedges.
Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver deserves a salute for creating something that felt semi-original — a violent, fast-driving action musical of sorts. The presumed goal behind Wright’s recent campaign appearances has been to land a Best Original Screenplay nomination. In a fair and thoughtful world, that notion would still be in play. And maybe it still is. But I have a feeling that Kevin Spacey‘s radioactive dust might get in the way. Distractions should never matter, but this one might. I also suspect that if Wright hadn’t decided to inject Baby Driver with insanity serum during the last 15 or 20 minutes he would be in a stronger position now.
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