This is the second trailer for The Meg (Warner Bros., 8.10) and they’re still only showing snips and shards of the beast. The trailer cutters are obviously reluctant to show too much. All I’m really getting from this are goofball vibes. Nine years ago the History Channel aired a show on Predator X, the aquatic superbeast that swam the seas and ate everything and everybody some 147 million years ago. 50 feet long, 99,000 pounds, foot-long teeth, four flippers, etc. If someone had made a film about this guy but in the vein of John Sayles‘ Alligator, which is to say adult and knowing but with a slight wink, I’d have been happy.
Bo Burnham‘s Eighth Grade (A24, 7.13) deserves all the praise it’s been getting. It’s one of the most intimate, penetrating, real-deal capturings of the dull terror of being 13 years old and more particularly an eighth-grader…God, what a horrible realm to be stuck in.
I suffered through it like everyone else, anxious and unsettled and sullen as fuck, loathing the unceasing social and scholastic demands, hating the jocks and the hot girls who hung with them after school, having to feign interest in algebra and science and suffer the soul-stifling penalty of homework every night and especially despising my pimply complexion, living in a kind of suburban concentration camp and dying for the release of TV, movies and music…anything to escape the horror and just miserable all around.
Things are obviously different for poor Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher, who played Kevin Costner‘s adolescent daughter Jamie in Niki Caro‘s McFarland, USA) but the same drill applies. On top of which she’s quiet and chubby (the word is actually fat) and acne-scarred, and yet reasonably assertive as far as posting a video diary and attending this and that social gathering, painful and awkward as they prove to be. (Thanks in no small part to a pair of cruel bitches who reject Kayla’s offers of friendship.) And sexually curious and intimidated, of course, but with sufficient amounts of smarts and self-respect that keep her from just going along when sexual invitations are offered. She’s no dummy and no pushover, but God, the misery of her condition.
On top of which Kayla’s single dad, Mark (Josh Hamilton), is caring and gentle and yet astonishingly self-absorbed. Everything he says to her is “will you pay more attention to me?…I worship and love you so much but I wish you would talk to me more…oh Kayla, you’re so very beautiful and special but you won’t let me in…could you possibly change your mind about that?” Asshole! He doesn’t remember despising almost everything about his parents at this age? He doesn’t remember that all you want is to be left alone so you can suffer in your own stew?
When she wants to talk to you, Mark, she will. Just keep paying the mortgage and putting food on the table. The rest will sort itself out.
Before beginning their careers casting directors are required to swear an oath to never hire actors who even vaguely resemble each other when casting parents and children. Moviegoers understand this ridiculous system, of course, and have therefore stopped caring when an actor playing a dad doesn’t even look like he could even be the cousin of the boy or girl he’s playing the parent of. The large-eyed Fisher is moon-faced and sort of Norwegian-looking in a farmer’s daughter sense, and a good 15 or 20 pounds overweight. Hamilton’s face is narrow with smallish, WASPY eyes, and he’s apparently careful about what he eats. Forget family resemblance — these two are from different planets. And yet we’re stuck with them as father and daughter, and having to make it all feed together in our heads.
And yet Fisher is very, very good, which is to say painful to watch. You’re sitting there going “this poor girl…she’s going to have to suffer for another two or three years and perhaps longer, depending on how it goes…she has no choice but to bear the burden.” Your heart goes out but Jesus.
After seven weeks of commercial release, Morgan Neville‘s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the gentle memory-lane doc about Fred Rogers, has earned $19,343,937. It will most likely top $20 million within the next few days or certainly within a week. The money alone almost guarantees a Best Feature Documentary Oscar win next year — a nomination was locked in weeks ago.
Neighbor is currently 14th on the boxofficemojo list of all-time grossing docs (Farenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins way higher at $119 million and $77 million respectively), but it’s the all-time highest grossing biographical doc as well as the top-earning doc over the past five years.
From “Mr. Love Sweater,” posted on 6.17.18: “Do I think that the vibe of kindness and caring that the film radiates…do I think this special warmth, this dandelion pollen from Planet Rogers is what we all could use to de-toxify those awful, noxious Trump vibes? Can the spirit of Mr. Rogers reach out from behind the membrane and heal our country’s divisions?
“Naahh. I think you could feed bowls of kindness and consideration and emotional caresses to Trump voters from now until doomsday and they’d still be clueless fucks. They’re damaged, deluded. Hell, many of them are racist ghouls. Redemption for folks of this sort is generally out of the question. I don’t want to listen to these monsters — I want to defeat them at the Battle of Gettysburg.
“And speaking of Republicans, there’s something a tiny bit bothersome about the fact that Fred Rogers was one of them. I can’t shake this off. A lifelong Republican, I’ve read. Which meant what exactly? That he probably voted for Eisenhower and Nixon, probably believed in “traditional values”, probably approved of the Vietnam War, was probably skeptical of the anti-war left? You tell me.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is selling tickets, I suspect, because the little kids who loved Mr. Rogers 40 or 50 years ago are now in their 50s or 60s and are probably looking to re-experience that tenderness, those feelings, that kindly atmosphere. But I also suspect (this is just a guess) that this film is reaching only 50-plus types. Okay, maybe to their kids or grandkids in some instances. It’s almost certainly not touching under-35 types. It’s an analog memory-lane thing.”
Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson examine the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festival offerings. They tapdance around certain topics (i.e., no mention of the all-but-locked Telluride slate). I have to say that my recent discussion with Jordan Ruimy about the same topics is more candid and revelatory in certain respects.
(1) Thompson thinks Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Favourite may turn out to be a major Best Picture presence — Hollywood Elsewhere says “hold your horses…Lanthimos is a subversive, a dark stylist, a kind of arch surrealist…’Academy friendly’ isn’t in his natural wheelhouse…The Favourite looks like a Peter Greenaway film”; (2) Thompson thinks that for award-season strategists Telluride “has become a little bit like Cannes, which is that they’re afraid to take a movie there that might not be a strong and obvious Oscar contender…[strategists] want that easier, softer landing in Toronto more than they want that [possibly iffy] weekend in Telluride”; (3) Thompson says “it’s noteworthy that they didn’t take A Star Is Born to Telluride,” and Kohn says, “That’s actually a big one“; (4) Damien Chazelle‘s First Man is “intimate and epic at the same time…it’s not Apollo 13 but at the same time a next-level experience of travelling into space and landing on the moon”; (5) Everybody loves Roma — the buzz is great, very autobiographical, inspired by Cuaron’s own youth in Mexico City, 65mm black-and-white Alexa, etc..