From Glenn Erickson‘s Cinesavant, posted yesterday: “The scary news is a report from correspondent Simon Wells, about the much-touted Christopher Nolan restoration of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’d like to know if other readers have seen the show, and if their prints were different, or better. Here’s Simon’s note — actually, two notes I’ve shuffled together:
‘Hi Glenn, Just wondering if you happened to see the recent Nolan de-restoration of 2001 in 70mm in recent months?
“I did and was utterly horrified by the general murkiness, blown out white and general sludginess. The colour grade was horrible, the detail pitiful. The scenes inside the space wheel where Floyd talks to Rossiter and the Russians were blown out and looked abysmal. Worse still was the new teal and amber color grade, which I am assuming is how the upcoming 4K release will be presented. I don’t think I have ever seen [this film] look so bad.
‘Getting films you never thought you’d see on Bluray is great, but this kind of vandalism just depresses me no end. I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts. — Simon Wells’
Erickson: “Am I stirring up a non-issue, taking a reader’s evaluation on something I haven’t seen myself? The last time I saw 2001 on a big screen was at the 2012 TCMfest, and the 70mm print looked just fine to me; I’ve never seen a bad print, even in 35mm. I can say that the WB film management and restoration experts are some of the finest in the world, and that their 2003 remastering of Ryan’s Daughter was the most perfect film presentation I’ve ever seen. I’m all for celebrity filmmakers helping promote film restoration, but I’d hardly think that 2001 was being neglected.
“I am curious to get more feedback on the 70mm reissue, which I am told is a different animal than the special IMAX reissue coming up shortly. So if you saw 2001 in ‘Nolanvision’ please let me know!
“Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson”
HE comment: Does Erickson live in a cave without wifi? How could he have missed the furor over Nolan’s teal-and-piss-yellow non-restoration? How could he have bypassed seeing the Nolan version when it played at the Arclight?
Hollywood Elsewhere’s estimation of Spike Lee’s best films, top to bottom, no docs, obviously limited to those I’ve seen:
1. Malcom X (most spiritual, impassioned, best written); 2. Do The Right Thing; 3. The 25th Hour; 4. She’s Gotta Have It; 5. Inside Man; 6. BlackKKlansman; 7. Jungle Fever; 8. He Got Game; 9. Mo’ Better Blues; 10. Clockers; 11. Crooklyn; 12. She Hate Me; 13. Oldboy; 14. Son of Sam; 15. Girl 6; 16. Bamboozled (saw half of it).
Never saw Chi-Raq — should have. Never saw Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall — wanted to.
Hollywood Elsewhere salutes Kris Tapley‘s Variety essay about the new Oscar changes — punchy, blunt, no apologies.
The Highest-Grossing, Best Popcorn Movie Oscar “is the worst of these ham-fisted maneuvers because it’s such a condescending stance toward ‘popular’ cinema to take at a time when the Academy is making as many moves as possible to open the gates to all forms of cinema (i.e., waving in a thousand new members, being aggressively proactive on diversity in the voting ranks, etc.). It’s a stiff backhand to those efforts, in fact, because it outright states that popular films need to be ghettoized.
“It’s particularly troubling in the year of Black Panther, which just three days ago crossed $700 million at the domestic box office. Disney has taken the task of bringing Ryan Coogler’s critically acclaimed Marvel film into the Oscar fold quite seriously this year. A consultancy team was assembled early and that group has been laying the track ever since. Now here comes the Academy, establishing a corner to which voters can banish this and other films like it with a pat on the head and a ‘thanks for playing.'”
HE interjection: The only first-rate portion of Black Panther is during the last hour. Up until that it’s a colorful but unexceptional thing — a popular Marvel-stamped entertainment. It wouldn’t have won the traditional Best Picture Oscar — now it’ll most likely win the Best Popcorn trophy.
Back to Tapley: “Was there some internal panic that the movie might not be recognized otherwise? Is this a move to help carve out a place for it and therefore avoid a potential PR headache? Maybe. But, again, it’s a condescending move and it may have just undercut efforts to push Coogler’s film into competition with all worthy contenders, not just the ones that busted blocks. (And what an irony that would be if indeed Disney/ABC pushed for these changes.)
“Many of the Academy’s decisions these last few years have been met with criticism, both inside and outside the organization. But they have largely been defensible. Re-branding/identifying as a vast international group of film professionals is a good thing. Allowing more of those professionals than ever before to have a voice in the proceedings is a good thing. Drastically altering the demographic makeup of each new ‘class’ of voting members is a good thing.
“This? Bad all around. It’s not dignified to relegate the live televised glory of artisans to commercial breaks. It’s not dignified to quarantine a whole brand of cinema in the hopes that someone will tune into your show because Mamma Mia! is an Oscar nominee. It’s not dignified to transform a program that is meant to celebrate the height of cinema accomplishment into a clumsy variety vehicle for drawing advertising dollars.”
In the wake of the Clinton Correctional Facility Escape of 2015, I wrote that “the sad but oddly touching saga of Joyce “Tillie” Mitchell is a movie waiting to happen. I’m imagining a serious drama starring Melissa McCarthy in a potentially riveting dramatic performance. Or maybe it’s an HBO movie — I need to think this through.
The saga has since been made into an eight-part Showtime series called Escape at Donnemora, and the hotshot creative guy isn’t Rudin, Elwes or DeLuca but Ben Stiller, who’s executive produced and directed. And Mitchell (“Shaw-skank” in the parlance of the N.Y. Post) isn’t being played by Melissa McCarthy (too bad) but Patricia Arquette. Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano are portraying Richard Matt and David Sweat, the inmates who were able to sexually seduce Mitchell and convince her to help them escape.
AMPAS president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have announced three big changes to the annual Oscar telecast. The biggest change is the addition of a second Best Picture Oscar, to be called Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. This is basically an attempt to appeal to the short-attention-span dumb-asses who have long resented that the Best Picture Oscar is more often than not won by some highbrow film that Joe and Jane Popcorn are either reluctant to see or haven’t seen at all.
In short, Bailey and Hudson have decided to dilute the importance and prestige of the Best Picture Oscar by creating a Best Popcorn-Movie Oscar, which will turn the telecast at the end of the ceremony into the People’s Choice or MTV Movie Awards. This is another attempt to accommodate the Oscar show to the sensibilities of the ADD crowd (mostly Millennials and GenZ-ers) as well as the New Academy Kidz.
Then again there’s a possible upside to this. Last year we shifted into a new era, determined by the NAK taste buds, in which genre films were allowed into the Best Picture arena. Now, with the new Popular Film Oscar, the lead contenders will be genre exercises in the vein of The Shape of Water, Get Out or this year’s Black Panther. Whereas the contenders for the Best Picture Oscar will revert back to films that actually merit the honor.
Call the Popular Film Oscar what it really is — the Popcorn-With-Extra-Butter Oscar for the Film That Knuckle-Draggers Like The Most.
The upside is that Hollywood Elsewhere might get more Phase One advertising from distributors of Popcorn Oscar contenders.
The second change is a decision to hold the Oscar telecast in early February instead of late February or early March, which might mean a slight reduction in Phase Two ad revenue for HE. (But maybe not.) The 2020 Oscars (i.e., the 92nd) will move to Sunday, 2.9.20, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process. The 91st Oscars telecast will still happen Sunday, February 24, 2019.
The third change is a determination to keep the Oscar telecast to a firm three hours. This will mean shortchanging the below-the-line winners (editors, dps, makeup and costumes, short subjects) by handing out their Oscars during commercial breaks, and then airing these winning moments later in the broadcast.
What the Popcorn Oscar will essentially boil down to is box-office grosses.
Perhaps the Pulitzer Prize committee will add a new award for Most Popular Airport Novel? Maybe the Tony Awards can follow suit with a special award for Broadway Musical Revival Most Enjoyed by Rube Tourists?
Alex Ross Perry‘s Listen Up, Phillip was about an angry, insecure writer (Jason Schwartzman) lashing out at almost everyone in his life, his longtime girlfriend Ashley (Elizabeth Moss) in particular. I finally caught up with this bitter black comedy a year or so ago. My six-word review was “wickedly amusing but reeking of toxicity.” It seemed obvious that Perry knows this kind of character like the back of his own hand — an abrasive, obnoxious, self-obsessed dickhead.
Now comes another Perry creation, a self-destructive rocker named Becky Something (Moss again) who’s “struggling with sobriety while trying to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success,” etc.
If there’s something slightly interesting and vaguely alluring about a woman character and you, a director-writer, wanted to describe this quality in an olfactory sense, you could call it Her Scent or Her Vibe or Her Aroma-rama…something like that. But Her Smell obviously indicates she’s giving off some kind of stink. If someone or something “smells”, it’s time for a bath or at least a garden hose.
Costarring Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens. Agyness Deyn, Ashley Benson, Amber Heard, Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen, Lindsay Burdge, et. al.
Elizabeth Moss as Beck Something in Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell.
The Oscar-winning Son of Saul (’15) convinced me that Laszlo Nemes, 41, is a major-league, heavy-cat director. But I have to be honest and admit that the trailer for his new film, Sunset, has left me with an odd feeling.
Set in 1913, Sunset is about Irisz Leiter (Son of Saul costar Juli Jakab) attempting to work at a Budapest hat store that belonged to her late parents. When the new owner blows her off, Irisz resolves to uncover the buried truth, which apparently has something do with the fate of her missing brother. I’ve watched the trailer twice now, and I’m sorry but it’s just not putting the hook in. There’s something a wee bit “off” and oblique about it.
Indiewire‘s Zack Sharf has written that Sunset “looks like a thrilling historical drama about family identity.” Maybe he knows something I don’t.