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..
(l. to r.) Tatyana Antropova, Scotty Bowers, Matt Tyrnauer following Friday’s 7:30 pm Arclight screening of Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood. A nice soiree at the Chateau Marmont followed, honoring Tyrnauer’s just-released film but more precisely the great, indefatigable Scotty.
So last night I was watching Mission: Impossible — Fallout at Wilton’s Bowtie miniplex — all stretched out, no popcorn, my second viewing, happy. 15 or 20 minutes in the big HALO (high altitude low open) sequence begins — Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill diving through the lightning-bolt clouds and down into Paris. But just as Cruise jumped into the wild gray yonder, a 70something woman to my left got up and slowly shuffled out, presumably for the usual reason.
I’m sorry but this irritated me. The HALO sequence is one of the two big must-sees and this lady misses it after watching the film for 15 minutes? Who needs to hit the head this quickly? Answer: People for whom bladder control isn’t what it used to be, apparently. What a miserable way to live.
A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about 20somethings going for midpoint bathroom breaks because they’ve been chugging soft drinks from 32-ounce containers. But at least they’re staying with the film for the first 30 or 45 minutes. Said it before, can’t hurt to repeat: (1) Always attend to business before a film begins, and (2) if you have to drink something while watching a film, make it water and confine yourself to a few modest sips.
Earlier this month I missed a couple of Los Angeles screenings of Bo Burnham‘s Eighth Grade (A24, 713). So I’ll be paying to see it this evening. Another 7 pm show at another Bowtie plex, this one located in Norwalk on the Post Road. 98% Rotten Tomatoes, 90% Metacritic.
Twice I’ve written about lowballing a waitress because the restaurant refused to turn the loud music down, and both times I was beaten up badly by commenters. And I’m a regular 20% tipper, mind. In these two instances, however, I went well below 20%. I actually went 5% in one situation and didn’t tip at all in the second, and the response from the HE community was that I basically needed to go into my bathroom and hang myself.
The first article, posted on 7.24.10 and called “For The Birds“, was about a horrible experience eating at Sur, a West Hollywood hotspot. The second piece, posted on 6.21.13 and titled “Punishment“, was about a similar experience in a downtown Manhattan place called Vintry.
In both situations there was no question that the restaurant managers had more or less told me to go fuck myself when I pleaded with them to turn the music down, and yet I was the bad guy for declining to tip (or under-tipping) the waiter or waitress who was involved in the back-and-forth.
Just as waiters and waitresses reap the tipping benefits when the food is great and the service exceptional, they also have to bear the brunt when a restaurant makes a customer angry — rules of the game.
I’m mentioning this for perspective’s sake because of a 7.27 eater.com piece called “The No-Tipping Point — Inside the twisted minds of deliberately bad tippers.” The author is Monica Burton, and it’s a great read. I at least had a reason for under-tipping or not tipping at all — the people in Burton’s piece are shitty tippers no matter what.
HE to commenters: If I needed to hang myself for my two offenses, what do Burton’s people need to do? Jump into a pit filled with hungry alligators? Chug a bottle of liquid Drano?
Excerpt: “’I just don’t feel the need to tip that much,’ explains Sam, a 29-year-old woman living in New York City. ‘I spend a lot on food and alcohol and travel because I enjoy those things. I’ll tip a little bit but I don’t feel like I need to tip a lot.’
“Sam knows that she should tip, and shame around not tipping well is one of the reasons she has asked not to be identified by her full name here.
“Her standard tip is around $5, whether the bill is $50 or $100. (This is up from $1 or $2, the amount she’d drop when she first started dining out as a college student in Indiana.) There have been times when she hasn’t left a tip at all — not because service was bad, but just because she didn’t feel like tipping that day.
“Sam knows the amount she chooses to tip isn’t the norm. In fact, one of the reasons she doesn’t think she needs to tip is because she believes everyone else tips enough to make up for it. ‘They’re making $5 off of me and the next person they’ll get like $25, $30, and that’s all going to their pocket, so what’s the difference?’ she says. ‘I’d rather spend that money on other things.’
“Sam says her friends all tell her that she should tip at least 18 percent, but she just doesn’t care that much. ‘I’m not going to be rude and say I don’t care, but I actually really don’t care,’ she says. ‘That’s not my concern. I don’t know you. You chose that profession.'”
Six years ago I was on the phone with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster.” We were talking about Ruben Fleischer‘s then-upcoming Gangster Squad, in which the fabled L.A. gangster was a character. Alas, Tereba kept pronouncing “Cohen” like “Cohn,” as in Harry. Was Mr. Mickey’s name not spelled C-O-H-E-N, and was it not a two-syllable thing? “It’s just the way I talk,” she replied.
Michael Cohen is not a rat, but I like Sarah Rodgers’ illustration. Created for a Michael Daly Daily Beast article called “Michael Cohen Debuts the Art of the Squeal,” it’s superbly done. The eyes are perfect.
Lately I’ve been noticing the occasional CNN or MSNBC commentator pronouncing Michael Cohen‘s last name as “Cohn.” Like “own” with C in front of it. “Why do they do that?,” I said to myself the other day. “It’s hardly a phoenetical challenge to say COE-WUHN, which is how it’s pronounced.” I’ve even heard the occasional dweeby critic refer to the COHN brothers, whose Ballad of Buster Scruggs will debut in Venice a few weeks hence. But instructing your tongue to say COE-WUHN is some kind of phoenetical challenge, apparently, if you speak with a New York borough accent. And so every now and then, a person will say Joel and Ethan CONE, as in ice cream cone or conehead. Or Michael COHN.
I can’t stand it when people do this. Get it straight. Practice in the upstairs bathroom before going to work. I never heard anyone mispronounce the last name of the late legendary songwriter and ladies’ man Leonard Cohen. Why was he spared while Michael Cohen (whom I respect now that he’s dumping on Trump) is getting pelted left and right on the news channels?
Honest admission: An hour ago I referred to the upcoming Coen brothers western as The Ballad of Lester Scruggs. Which is even worse than it initially sounds as the Foggy Mountain Boys were named Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
Hating the puerile Charlie’s Angels brand has been a default passion among persons of breeding and cultivation for over 40 years. The original mid-to-late ’70s ABC TV series…synthetic garbage. The universally reviled McG-directed reboots, Charlie’s Angels (’00) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (’03), delivered instant lobotomies to untold millions. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray as sidekick “Bosley”…please.
Yesterday it was announced that Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska will topline a 2019 reboot. It’ll directed and co-written by Elizabeth Banks (who will also play Bosley). Another female empowerment saga, kick-ass lust objects, presumably to be infused with a partly lesbian vibe, at least as far as Stewart’s character is concerned…right? You can’t release an action flick about a trio of crime-fighting heterosexual honeys in 2019. Banks will have no choice but to get with the program.
In the original series and two McG versions the possessive apostrophe meant that the girls belonged in a sense to John Forsythe‘s “Charlie,” their suave provider, protector and benefactor. The implied message was “we love you, foxy ladies, as you bust the bad guys and stand up for justice, but at the end of the day Uncle Charlie pays the bills, steers the ship and knows what’s best.” So will the Banks’ version use the same unseen, paternalistic Charlie as a provider of guidance and perspective? Or will Charlie be a woman? I can’t imagine the newbie (which will open on 9.27.19) going back to that old McG well.