This “signing” scene is one of my favorite moments from Stefano Sollima‘s Sicario: Day of the Soldado. It demonstrates that the film, which is quite violent in some portions, has the character and maturity to downshift when the time is right. Sollima’s narration explains it all.
Two days ago I reported that Warner Home Entertainment’s forthcoming 4K Bluray of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey (streeting on 10.30) will apparently be adopting the yellowish-teal color scheme of Chris Nolan‘s 70mm un-restored “nostalgia” version of this classic 1968 film. The evidence is a WHE trailer for the 4K Bluray that was posted on 6.21.
I’ve been trying to find industry professionals who (a) share my disdain for the Nolan version and (b) might publicly challenge WHE and urge them to not go down this path. My first reach-out was to Leon Vitali, the dedicated keeper of the Kubrick flame who told me two months ago that there’s a distinct difference between the WHE 4K Bluray (i.e., the version that he had been color-timing, I mean) and the Nolan version of the film.
Vitali didn’t begin working for Kubrick until the late ’70s, but he’s presumably familiar with the original 2001 color scheme, having watched and examined many prints and many versions on various formats. Vitali may be making his thoughts known privately, but so far he hasn’t responded to me or to another party who shares my concern.
Today I reached out to Douglas Trumbull, who engineered many of the visual effects for 2001. He would surely have a good memory of how 2001 looked in ’68 and a clear grasp of how it should look today. On top of which Trumbull is a tough guy who’s always spoken his mind.
I’m also in the process of reaching out to Dan Richter, who played “Moonwatcher” in 2001. Dan doesn’t have the technical background, of course, but he was there at the creation and has presumably watched 2001 many times over the decades. My late father knew Dan from AA. I visited him 26 years ago at his home near Pasadena, and then wrote a piece about him for the L.A. Times “Calendar” section. Dan has written two books — “Moonwatcher’s Memoir” (’02) and “The Dream Is Over” (’12)
Somebody with the right kind of history and authority has to man up and say something.
Yesterday morning Deadline‘s Amanda N’Duka reported that Greta Gerwig has written and will direct an adaptation of Louis May Alcott‘s “Little Women“, and that the project will costar Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep (presumably playing the mother or “Marmee” character), British actress Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet.
I immediately recoiled at the thought of yet another period adaptation of this tale of the March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — on their journey to womanhood.
There have been four adaptations so far. A George Cukor-directed version in 1933 with Katharine Hepburn, a 1949 Mervyn LeRoy version with June Allyson, and then a Gillian Armstrong adaptation released in 1994. In April 2017 a Deadline piece reported that Lea Thompson would star in a modern adaptation of the Alcott book. The Thompson film is finished — the trailer says it’ll open on 9.28.
Then I heard this morning that Gerwig’s version will be contemporary and set in Sacramento a la Lady Bird. (A person who allegedly read coverage of Gerwig’s script passed this along.) That changes everything, I thought. Now I’m into it. Then I was told “nope, that’s wrong” — a friend has a May 2018 draft of Gerwig’s script, and says it’s definitely set in in Concord, Massachusetts between 1868 and 1871, right in line with the Alcott novel. The latter is the correct report — Gerwig’s is a period piece.
The sisters in Alcott’s novel are teenagers, and Marmee is in her 40s. Gerwig’s cast runs the 20something gamut — Ronan is 24, Stone is 29, Pugh and Chalamet are 22. Streep is 69 but would need to attempt to look 50ish, I would think. That or write Streep’s Marmee as a woman who came to motherhood very late in life. That would work in a contemporary context, but not so much for a film set 150 years ago.
A 6.28 N.Y. Times article by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman lays out a very close relatonship between President Trump, retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and Kennedy’s adult son, Justin. The Times piece reports that the younger Kennedy was apparently more responsible than any other party for saving the Trump family’s business during a particularly rough period following the ’08 crash.
Quote: “The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role. During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.”
Nobody had much to say when I posted my pan of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as it appeared 16 days before the 6.22 opening. This completely mediocre Universal release has since blown the roof off. It made $17.5 million yesterday in the U.S. alone, on its second weekend of release. Right now the worldwide tally is $826,454,064 ($222,225,335 domestic). It’ll probably crest the billion-dollar mark within the next seven days, and then how much higher? 2015’s Jurassic World wound up with $1.672 billion.
And for all this dough and hoopla Fallen World isn’t very good. And that’s not an ironic counterpoint. This is Universal’s fifth Jurassic flick so far, and audiences don’t seem to mind the adherence to mind-numbing formula. Universal has been churning them out like sausage, like the Universal regime of the ’40s and ’50s manufactured those Abbott & Costello “meet the monster” films.
Now that everyone has presumably seen Fallen World, reactions would be appreciated. I’m reposting my 6.6 review (“Dinos Ripped My Flesh“) for something to bounce against.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is another serving of idiot-brand dino sausage. Same software, same template, aimed at popcorn rabble. Did I hate it? No and yes. But we all know what the shot is. Universal continues to push the same dino buttons because millions of easy-lay types have paid good money to see the sequels. The Jurassic franchise is downswirling, and Chris Pratt is devalue-ing himself. No good can come of this except to the benefit of Universal stockholders.
There’s a single, stand-alone moment that gets you — i.e., the sight of a long-necked, cow-like dinosaur moaning in despair, all alone as volcanic lava bombs rain down upon Isla Nublar as the last ship departs. The island is being consumed by the Mount Sibo volcano and this poor sad dinosaur is stuck on the pier, awaiting a fiery death. It’s the only formula-free bit in the whole film.
It’s very dispiriting to see director Juan Antonio Bayona, whose sublime crafting of The Orphanage (’07) made it one of the finest horror films of the 21st Century…it’s very dispiriting to see such a gifted director succumb to by-the-numbers, corporate-format, hack-level filmmaking.
The late George P. Cosmatos, father of Mandy helmer Panos Cosmatos, was a European lowbrow action director. His peak efforts were two mid ’80s Sylvester Stallone hits — Rambo: First Blood Part II (shot for $25 million, earned $300 million worldwide) and Cobra. Cosmatos also directed the generally respected Tombstone (’93).
It was my understanding that Cosmatos was a guy you hired to handle principal photography and nothing more. In early to mid ’85 I worked for publicists Bobby Zarem and Dick Delson**, whose biggest client at the time was Stallone, and so I had a certain perspective on the post-production efforts for Rambo. To the best of my recollection Cosmatos was nowhere around. (Maybe he assembled a cut early on.) Rambo went through five editors — Larry Bock, Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, Gib Jaffe and Frank Jimenez — but as far as I could tell Stallone was calling the shots.
There’s nothing wrong with being a reliable, low-rent journeyman — not everyone can be David Lean. It’s fair to say that Cosmatos commanded a certain respect in this realm over a 25-year period (’71 to ’97), during which time he directed seven films besides the above — Sin (’71), Massacre in Rome (’73), The Cassandra Crossing (’76), Escape to Athena (’79), Of Unknown Origin (’83) Leviathan (’89) and Shadow Conspiracy (’97).
Cosmatos’ first noteworthy industry gig was as an A.D. for director Otto Preminger on Exodus (’60). Three years later he went before the cameras as “acne-faced boy” in Zorba the Greek (’64). Cosmatos collected and sold rare books as a pastime. He passed from lung cancer in ’05.
Cosmatos was politically adept with good industry relationships, but you can tell from the trailer for Sin [after the jump], a low-budget Raquel Welch programmer that Cosmatos wrote and directed, where he was at aesthetically. The video narration track for Cobra also speaks for itself.
** Delson passed last January at age 81.
It was announced Thursday night that Michael Moore‘s Farenheit 11/9, a shut-down-Trump doc, will open in theatres on Friday, 9.21, or roughly three months hence. I don’t know how many screens, but it’ll be distributed by Briarcliff Entertainment, a new company formed by Moore and Tom Ortenberg. A 6.28 Hollywood Reporter story says this won’t be the same Farenheit 11/9 that was announced as a Weinstein Co. release in May 2017. (Whatever that means.) It’ll probably screen at Venice, Telluride and/or Toronto…right?
Directed by the “visionary” Panos Cosmatos**, Mandy (RLJE, 9.14) allegedly contains an epic Nicolas Cage performance. I say “allegedly” because I ducked this film during the recent Sundance and Cannes festivals. It just didn’t seem important enough to see at the expense of stuff I wanted to see more. But I’ll get there. Allegedly essential. Currently brandishing a 97% RT rating.
“As if its sole goal was to take the heavyweight title of Nicolas Cage’s Craziest Movie Ever, Mandy exhibits what Shakespeare called ‘vaulting ambition’ in producing the nuttiest ways for Cage to get into one phantasmagorical showdown after the next. Cosmatos’ full-out stylization complements it all, the director’s interest in scope and detailed production design leading to costumes, weapons and locations that elicit their own sense of wonder. Mandy shows an actor in his element and a director growing into his own, and we merely bask in this union in all of its cuckoo crazy glory.” — from Nick Allen’s Sundance review, filed on 1.20.18.
** 44 year-old son of the late George Cosmatos),
Earlier today a coding error distorted the design of an all-media invitation to see Dwayne Johnson‘s Skyscraper (Universal, 7.13). These things happen, no biggie. But the image suggested what things might feel or look like if Johnson were to accidentally sample the wrong kind of LSD during the making of this film, which everyone is calling is calling Die Hard meets The Towering Inferno. If this were to happen, director Rawson Marshall Thurber would need to find a calming LSD guru to calm Johnson down, and who better to handle this delicate task than Cary Grant, aka Captain Trips?
(l.) Skyscraper producer-star Dwayne Johnson; (r.) North by Northwest star Cary Grant.
The following happens inside Johnson’s on-set trailer. Subdued lighting. Queen tunes are playing gently out of a Sonos speaker. Knock-knock. Grant enters.
Grant: Hello, Dwayne. I got here as soon as I could. You’re looking wonderful.
Johnson: Oh, hey, Cary. Good to see ya, man. (clears throat) Uhhhmm.
Grant: How are you feeling?
Johnson: I don’t know, man. I really…it’s hard to describe.
Grant: Don’t try — that’s the first thing. Don’t attempt anything. Just settle in.
Johnson: But I have a movie to make, man. I gotta muscle up and do the job.
Grant: Rawson is doing the job. He’s the director. All you have to do is be yourself.
Grant: You’re there, you’ve got it.
Grant: If you want to let it out, do that. And if you don’t, don’t.
Johnson: But this is the biggest bombastic movie I’ve ever made. Everyone will be comparing me to Bruce Willis. I have to deliver. I gotta be better than Bruce, I mean.
“The only other big studio release worth taking seriously so far this year (besides A Quiet Place) is Sicario: Day of the Soldado, a potent and sharply focused sequel that arguably has more to say about the U.S.-Mexican border situation, and does so in a more nuanced way, than the original. Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins may have provided a few hyper-visual sequences that surpass anything on view here, but the sacrifice of Emily Blunt‘s protagonist provides Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin a lot more time to richly develop their characters, a trade-off that proves quite beneficial.
“Not many Italian directors have made a successful leap to Hollywood, but Stefano Sollima looks to have the necessary chops.” — from “Halfway Through 2018, Slim Studio Pickings and Precious Few Indie Gems,” written by senior Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy.
HE is looking to run more “friends of Soldado” quotes throughout the weekend, but with particular attention to non-pro viewpoints (i.e., ticket buyers). HE will be catching it a second time at an Arclight screening today, sometime around 5:30 or 6 pm. I consider it an honor to buy a ticket.
From Mark Ebner’s “Grey Zone’ podcast about Skip Chasey, aka “Master Skip,” an out-and-proud leather man and spiritually grounded leather fellow in the City of the Fallen Angels. A 6.29 Variety report states the following: “According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Duncan Gilbert, 48, died on Nov. 19” — seven months ago — “at Chasey’s home during ‘recreational mummification bondage.’ The agency first learned of the death this week, after it was first reported on journalist Mark Ebner’s podcast, “The Grey Zone.”
According to the coroner’s report, Gilbert was wrapped “head to toe in plastic wrap and gaffer’s tape, with small breathing holes at the nose and mouth.” It happened at a pivate residence on Holly Knoll Drive (north of Franklin) in Los Feliz.
Just passing this along. Hollywood Elsewhere has no comment. I wouldn’t know how.