If the Robespierre mob had miraculously mobilized its forces a half-century earlier, they could have put a stop to the destined-to-be demonic career of Woody Allen before anything bad could have happened. Life is really all about timing, isn’t it? I’m guessing that Allen’s Dean Martin Show appearance happened during season #1 (9.16.65 thru 5.5.66). Allen turned 30 on 12.1.65.
A major Santa Barbara Film Festival event happens tonight — Christopher Nolan, Greta Gerwig, Guillermo del Toro, Jordan Peele and Paul Thomas Anderson jointly receiving the Outstanding Directors of the Year award. Each will be interviewed separately by Hollywood Reporter awards columnist Scott Feinberg about, respectively, Dunkirk, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Get Out and Phantom Thread. If I had programmed this event Peele would be out and Call Me By Your Name‘s Luca Guadagnino would take his place.
Shot yesterday at J Woeste in Los Olivos.
(l. to r.) Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya, Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling, Call Me By Your Name‘s Timothee Chalamet.
Atlantic critic David Sims posted a rave review of Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project on 10.5.17. He gave special props to Willem Dafoe‘s performance as Bobby, the ocasionally flustered but fair-minded proprietor of Orlando’s Magic Castle motel, in part by saying “it might be the finest role of Dafoe’s storied career.”
A24 marketers promptly made Sims’ quote sound more definitive by removing the “might be,” but they all remove modifiers.
It goes without saying that Dafoe’s lead performance in Martin Scorsese‘s The Last Temptation of Christ (’88) is far and away the finest of his career, not to mention his greatest role. There’s not even a debate about this…c’mon. Sims got carried away (as we all do from time to time) but he shouldn’t have even said “might,” which is the same as saying “possibly” or “arguably.” The “father, can you forgive me?” passage at the very end of Last Temptation blows Baker’s entire film to smithereens, and if Sims doesn’t know this he should.
On 1.31 I posted a qualified capsule rave of Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther (Disney, 2.16). More precisely I raved about the final hour while lamenting that the first 75 minutes are largely lacking in narrative tension and are mostly about set-up, diversion, pageantry and obligatory battle and car-chase action sequences for their own sakes. All through the first hour-plus I was worried. I was asking myself “when is this film going to get it together and start moving purposefully in a direction that we all want it to go in?”
And then it finally does that, and it’s all exuberant, pedal-to-the-metal, forward-motion engagement. But you’ll need to scrutinize the recently-posted Black Panther reviews with a fine tooth comb to find even a hint of acknowledgment that it waits and waits and waits to really rev up the T-bird and put the rubber to the road.
TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde mentions “the film’s occasional pacing lapses” but calls them “forgivable.” Screen International‘s Tim Grierson allows that the story is “a little plodding.” The Playlist‘s Rodrigo Perez says that while certain “expounding preludes are flat and patchy, once Black Panther [finally] gets out of its crouching position and goes on a sprint, it’s an engaging ride that rarely lets up.”
Alluding to the faintly noddy, waiting-for-full-engagement section, Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek asks, “What would this film have been like if its action scenes had been cut cleanly and clearly, instead of chopped into the usual wasteful, visually confusing slice-and-dice mashup?”
See what I mean? They’re afraid to quibble or complain for the most part. They know Black Panther is going to be super-huge and they don’t want to seem as if they don’t get it or are in any way reluctant to celebrate this. Most critics are cowards. Have I been an occasional coward in the past? Yes. Have I ever sidestepped or diluted my real, deep-gut reactions to this or that film? I regrettably have from time to time. But so far I’m the only one to declare plain and straight that Black Panther, good as it ultimately is, doesn’t really get going until after the one-hour mark.
A 15 year-old discussion about Roman Polanski‘s 1977 statutory rape episode has come back to bite Quentin Tarantino in the ass. The chat was between QT, Howard Stern and Robin Quivers, and of course was aired on Stern’s show. In early ’03 Tarantino’s remarks were obviously beyond the pale, but in today’s atmosphere…? Forget it.
Earlier this morning there were YouTube captures of the actual verbal discussion, but Sirius XM has had them removed. Here are portions from a Variety transcript:
Tarantino: “He didn’t rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape. That’s not quite the same thing. He had sex with a minor. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word ‘rape,’ you’re talking about violent, throwing them down; it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. Throwing the word ‘rape’ around is like throwing the word ‘racist’ around. It doesn’t apply to everything that people use it for. He was guilty of having sex with a minor.”
Quivers: [the sex wasn’t consensual.]
QT: “No, that was not the case at all. She wanted to have it and dated the guy.”
Quivers: “She was 13!”
QT: “And by the way, we’re talking about America’s morals, we’re not talking about the morals in Europe and everything.”
Stern: “Wait a minute. If you have sex with a 13-year-old girl and you’re a grown man, you know that that’s wrong.”
QT: “Look, she was down with this. She’s talked about it since, ‘No, he didn’t really do anything to me. It was a technicality for being 13.’”
We all feel good and fortified when lights are flashing and guys like Scott Feinberg are hovering and things are going well, but award-season contenders are obliged to be so relentlessly and buoyantly alpha that they must be going crazy inside. Is there some kind of secret award-season detox-therapy center that contenders can go to, a place where they can drink beer and behave like drunken sailors or at least in a borderline rude way, venting hostility and insulting their peers and/or their least-favorite red-carpet interviewers? I for one get headaches after alpha-vibing for more than an hour.
Greta Gerwig on writing @LadyBirdMovie: "If you stop any woman on the street and say, 'How's your relationship with your mother?' It's never going to be a one sentence response … it's a big, complicated thing." #NomineesNight pic.twitter.com/2aEnLBI8lh
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 6, 2018
Lady Bird is real-deal naturalism, a kind of 400 Blows-level vision of mother-daughter sturm und drang. Unfettered American heartland realism, no bullshit, perfectly performed, edgy but open-hearted, unsullied by magical realism, no script problems to speak of, and beautifully shot with blue-ish, stressed, film-like colors.
Why are you undecided, Academy? Is this or this is not The Year of the Woman? This is your default, your compromise, the movie you’ll proudly stand by five or 20 years hence. A little local movie that is actually “big” in a kind of Delbert Mann Marty sense — a movie that tells the truth, owns its own turf, doesn’t play games.