Joel and Ethan Coen‘s The Ballad of Flat and Scruggs….sorry, The Ballad of Lester Scruggs…sorry, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will play the 56th New York Film Festival (9.28 to 10.14). Which apparently means that after debuting at the Venice Film Festival it won’t play Telluride or Toronto.
The three headliners at this storied Manhattan festival are Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Favourite (opening night), Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma (centerpiece) and Julian Schnabel‘s At Eternity’s Gate (closing night).
Other New York Film Festival selections: Jafar Panahi‘s 3 Faces, Jia Zhangke‘s Ash Is Purest White, Lee Chang-dong‘s Burning, Pawel Pawlikowksi‘s Cold War, Louis Garrel‘s A Faithful Man, Alice Rohrwacher‘s Happy as Lazzaro, Alex Ross Perry‘s Her Smell, Claire Denis‘ High Life, Barry Jenkins‘ If Beale Street Could Talk, Jean-Luc Godard‘s The Image Book, Ulrich Köhler‘s In My Room, Olivier Assayas‘ Non-Fiction, Tamara Jenkins‘ Private Life, Richard Billingham‘s Ray & Liz, Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Shoplifters, Dominga Sotomayor‘s Too Late To Die Young, Christian Petzold‘s Transit and Paul Dano‘s Wildlife.
Universal has been developing a movie based on Cowboy Ninja Viking, the Image Comics comic book, since 2012. The original idea was for Marc Forster to direct and Craig Mazin to write the script. Chris Pratt was cast as the lead in November 2014. In January 2015, or three and a half years ago, John Wick directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski were in early talks to replace Forster. Three years later (i.e., January 2018) Michelle MacLaren replaced Leitch and Stahelski. In June Pratt confirmed that MacLaren and members of the production team were in Berlin testing actors, with filming to commence last month. The plan was to release Cowboy Ninja Viking on 6.28.19. Today it was announced that Universal has taken the project off its schedule and “undated” the movie. Sources have told Variety that the film is “still in active development”, and that “the studio delayed the film rather than rushing it out to make the June 28 deadline.”
Repeating: They don’t want to rush it out after six years of development.
I’m getting the worst kind of perverse Michel Gondry twee vibes from this thing. Gondry + Jim Carrey + Mr. Rogers + black holes of self-loathing = Kidding, a new Showtime comedy series with Carrey, Judy Greer, Frank Langella and Catherine Keener…good God. The life of kiddie-TV star Jeff Pickles (Carrey) “spirals out of control” after an incident of infidelity is discovered by his wife, Jill (Greer). Has Jeff cheated on Jill with a puppet or a live human? I’d much rather jump off the Brooklyn Bridge than watch Kidding. I would watch it in a heartbeat if it wasn’t so Gondry-ized…if Jeff was a cynical, cigar-smoking, poker-playing infidel whose “Mr. Pickles” identity was a total lie…THAT I would watch and cheer and have fun with. Kidding premieres on Sunday, 9.9 at 10 pm.
I was willing to ignore Travis Knight‘s Bumblebee and just, you know, let it make whatever money it’s going to be make. But this possible-Best-Picture, possible-live-action sequel to Iron Giant thing blows that attitude all to hell. Collider‘s Jeff Sneider is sending a coded message to the New Academy Kidz: “You guys decided last year that genre films (Get Out-meets-Stepford Wives, The Creature From The Love Lagoon) are acceptable candidates for the Best Picture Oscar. So feel free, guys…man up and do what you will when it comes to assessing Bumblebee. Perhaps a Best Picture candidate or perhaps not, but only you have the power to decide.
“All hail the New Hollywood Reality and the fact that the New Academy Kidz have reset and restarted the whole game. No more carte blanche approval of traditional, boomer-friendly, Oscar-tailored films in the realm of The Post, The Imitation Game, The King’s Speech and all the rest of that calculated baity crap…you guys are the new kings and the new kingmakers. If you decide to anoint Bumblebee, you’ll get no shit from me about it. I for one respect the New Academy Kidz…I’ve got your six!”
In a just-posted GQ interview written by Zack Baron, Ethan Hawke declares that “a middle-class lifestyle was always enough for me.” He means that he doesn’t need to swagger around like Johnny Depp or Robert De Niro or anyone in the superstar bucks-up realm. “Like, I needed to pay my doctors’ bills and I needed to get my kids to school, but I don’t need three pairs of shoes,” Hawke says. “One pair of shoes is fine. And I don’t need more bedrooms. I don’t need bedrooms for fantasy houseguests, you know, that don’t arrive.”
I relate to Hawke’s proclamation of modest living standards. I grew up comfortably in suburban New Jersey and exurban Connecticut, but I’ve lived on the lean and mean side for decades. I was a Venice home-owner for three years, but otherwise a renter. No muscle car, no lavish wardrobe, no electronic toys, no McMansion, no clubbing, hardly any eating out and zero pricey vacations. Travelling around to film festivals (Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Sundance) and alighting every so often to Rome, Paris, Munich, Prague and Hanoi has been my biggest luxury.
Does anyone believe that Hawke only owns one pair of shoozie-woozies? I don’t. I think he’s speaking metaphorically. I’m betting he’s got at least eight or ten pairs if not more. Plus a cool metal shoe rack. I own about 15 pairs including workout and hiking shoes (plus one pair of canary yellow tennis shoes that I never wear), and I don’t think I’m even close to being a male Imelda Marcos.
Why is Hawke talking to GQ? Because Blaze, which he directed, pops in early September. And because Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed, which contains Hawke’s greatest acting triumph in years, is streeting and streaming, and he obviously wants to be in the forthcoming Best Actor conversation. Hawke deserves to be nominated. It’ll almost certainly happen. But you have to remind people, and you never know these days about the New Academy Kidz.
Robert Redford, who turns 82 on 8.18, first disclosed his intention to retire from acting on 11.10.16, in an interview with his grandson Dylan. Several publications reported this the next day, although Redford’s publicist, Cindy Berger of PMK*BNC, insisted otherwise, claiming that her client “is certainly not retiring because he has several projects coming down the pike.”
Redford’s greatest accomplishment, hands down, was launching the Sundance Film Festival. He really and truly changed…hell, revolutionized the landscape of American independent film. He upgraded, deepened, emboldened and monetized it beyond all measure.
The best film he ever directed was Ordinary People; Quiz Show and The Milagro Beanfield War were a distant second and third. The worst film he ever directed was The Legend of Bagger Vance, a.k.a. “bag of gas.” But acting is what he’s retiring from, and so an assessment of his best films and performances is in order.
Technique-wise and especially in his hot period, Redford was (and still is) one of the most subtle but effective underperformers in Hollywood history. He never overplayed it. Line by line, scene by scene, his choices were dry and succinct and exactly right — he and Steve McQueen were drinking from the same well back then.
Redford’s safe-deposit-box scene in The Hot Rock (i.e., “Afghanistan bananistan”) is absolutely world class. And the way he says “I can’t, Katie…I can’t” during the The Way We Were finale is brilliant. That scene could have been so purple or icky, but he saves it.
Redford’s acting career can be broken down into three phases — warm-up and ascendancy (’60 to ’67), peak star power (’69 to ’80) and the long, slow 34-year decline in quality (’84 to present).
Mark Harris tweeted last night that “not many actors can claim six decades of work almost entirely on their own terms.” But Redford’s power to dictate those terms lasted only during that 12-year, golden-boy superstar era, or between the immediate aftermath of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Brubaker, his last “’70s film.”
Redford’s best peakers, in this order: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (’69), All The President’s Men (’76), Three Days of the Condor (’75), The Candidate (’72), Downhill Racer (’70), The Sting (’73), Jeremiah Johnson (’72), The Hot Rock (’72), The Way We Were (’73), Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (’70), The Electric Horseman (’79) and Brubaker (’80) — a total of 11.
Think of that — over a 12-year period Redford starred in 11 grand-slammers, homers, triples and a couple of ground-rule doubles. That’s pretty amazing.
Mezzo-mezzos & whiffs during peak period: Little Fauss and Big Halsy, The Great Gatsby, The Great Waldo Pepper, A Bridge Too Far (4).