I don’t “know” anything but here’s how I see it, or am feeling it. Melissa McCarthy‘s Can You Ever Forgive Me? performance is still at the top because of the surprise factor. I wasn’t expecting to be as strongly affected as I was, and I believed every word, every line, every conveyance. Glenn Close‘s silent partner in The Wife is a close second for reasons I’ve recently explained — it’s a great zeitgeist-capturing performance that is also very specific and beautifully measured and released, especially in terms of her character’s anger. Cold War‘s Joanna Kulig is ranked third because she’s simply given one of the slyest and most memorable force-of-personality performances of the year, hands down — the most fascinating, combustible, full-hearted and femme fatale-ish. Viola Davis‘s survivor in Widows is not diminished by being in fourth-place, but as gripping as her tough woman in a tense, high-pressure situation, I can’t see ranking her above McCarthy, Close and Kulig. Lastly I’ve got Lady Gaga, who for my money has delivered the goods in A Star Is Born — I believed her character’s situation, felt her currents, etc.
Christine Blasey Ford‘s testimony has been quite touching. She was clearly terrified but everything about her — that look in her eyes, the glasses, the vibe of anxious sincerity, her quiet, quivering voice, her body language, that lock of blonde hair dangling in front of her face and that moment when she choked up when Sen. Diane Feinstein was describing her ordeal — tells you she’s not lying. Not to mention the other two accusers and that anonymous woman who, according to her mother, allegedly witnessed Kavanaugh being sexually aggressive with a woman during a 1998 social occasion. How is Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court nomination not toast?
“They can’t begin to comprehend what you are” is a line from this trailer for Simon Kunberg‘s Dark Phoenix (20th Century Fox, 2.14.19), the X-Men spin-off movie focusing on Sophie Turner‘s titular character (aka Jean Grey). Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t another way of saying “they can’t begin to comprehend what you are”…wouldn’t another way of saying this be “they have no idea what you are”?
Dark Phoenix costars James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, plus Jessica Chastain, Ato Essandoh and Scott Shepherd.
Last night I read Alex Ross‘s 9.26 New Yorker essay about the long and arduous crusade to assemble and release Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind=. It was comforting to read that someone from a reputable, major-league print publication had finally pointed the finger at the chief culprit behind the endless delays that afflicted this endeavor — Welles’ longtime girlfriend and Other Side of the Wind costar Oja Kodar.
Ross: “When Welles fans discuss the fate of Wind, the name Oja Kodar inevitably surfaces, often in an unflattering light. A Croatian sculptor and actress, she co-wrote the script, had a lead role in the film, and — as the Welles scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum has established — directed three scenes of the film-within-the-film.
“Kodar has been accused of holding up efforts to complete it, whether because of excessive demands or on account of a psychological block against seeing it finished. Yet she has artistic as well as legal authority over the work. In 2015, she made a rare public appearance at a Welles festival in Woodstock, Illinois. (The town was formerly the site of the Todd School for Boys, where Welles’s theatrical career began.) In an interview with Rosenbaum, Kodar made clear her profound attachment to Wind.
“Now in her late seventies, she is a charismatic woman who speaks in a mixture of poetic flights and pungent aphorisms.”
I haven’t seen Ryan Suffern‘s A Final Cut for Orson: 40 years In The Making, which tells the story of the assembling and completion of Welles film. I have no idea if Kodar’s influence upon this effort has been discussed or even alluded to in Suffern’s 38-minute film, but I’ll be interested to see what’s what. Has anyone seen it? Can anyone shed light?
Five weeks ago I declared for the third or fourth time that Glenn Close is definitely going to be Best Actress nominated for The Wife, and she actually may win this time. Repeating: The Wife is a solid double-A quality package — a tidy, well-ordered, somewhat conservative-minded, theatrical-style drama. Some may say it’s a little too stagey, but it’s as good as this sort of thing gets. It satisfies, add up, delivers. Will the New Academy Kidz fall in line? They should. Brilliant acting is brilliant acting.
Right now 20 out of 22 Gold Derby “experts” (myself included) have Close among their five most likely Best Actress contenders. (The two hold-outs are USA Today‘s Brian Truitt and KPCC’s Claudia Puig.) But what’s the feeling within the HE community? The Wife has been playing in theatres since last month so what’s the verdict? Is Close a lock for a Best Actress nomination or not? The fact that she’s been nominated six times previously is a decisive factor or not?
Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, from a 9.26 podcast interview with Close: “Is The Wife, a film about an older, smart, accomplished woman who was wronged by a man, but stood by him, and who eventually comes to realize her own worth and stands up for herself, particularly resonant in the aftermath of the presidential election defeat of Hillary Clinton, not to mention the onset on the #MeToo era?”
Glenn Close: “Yeah. What I love about this movie is that what we ended up creating with a very, very close collaboration of all of us, is a highly-complex, very specific relationship. And I think the more specific you can be, funnily enough, the more it can universally resonate with people — they will bring to it and take away from it whatever it is that they have in their life. But it will be an authentic resonance and an authentic emotion.”
It’s 8:10 am in Connecticut. Psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford will begin her Senate Judiciary Committee testimony less than two hours hence. She’s accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who will also testify today, of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school in the early 1980s. Here’s her opening statement. I don’t see how any reasonable person could determine that she’s not telling the whole painful truth.
This morning I spotted a “Page Six” photo of the recently married Michelle Williams, 38, and musician husband Phil Elverum, 40, the frontman of Mount Eerie. Williams told Vanity Fair they were secretly married last summer. I realize that I’m a neurotic about certain things, but I had four reactions when I considered the photo. One, they look happy. Two, Elverum is only 40 and he’s already half gray with a receding hairline? Three, he’s wearing extra-baggy dad jeans and a flesh-colored, low-thread-count T-shirt. Four (and worst of all), he’s wearing flip-flops? I know — conventional wisdom says I’m the guy with the problem and not Elverum, but I wouldn’t dress this way with a knife at my back.
Posted seven years ago, re-posted because I happened to rewatch it today: Press Play’s final chapter of the Roman Polanski series’s . Cut and commented upon by Matt Zoller Seitz along with Kim Morgan.
Seitz clarification: “This video essay is a collaboration between me and Kim, but the text is a slightly rewritten version of a column Kim originally wrote for her blog Sunset Gun. If you watch to the end you will see that the first credit after the final shot is ‘written and narrated by Kim Morgan,’ followed by my editing credit.”
I’ve long had a problem with singular possessive movie titles, and how the corresponding films almost always result in a certain dissatisfaction. I can think of ten off the top of my head, and only two — Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Miller’s Crossing and Mike Nichols‘ Charlie Wilson’s War — passed muster. The ones that felt problematic or not quite good enough were Meek’s Cutoff, The Private War of Major Benson, Zandy’s Bride, The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Ulzana’s Raid, Murphy’s War, Spencer’s Mountain and Merrill’s Marauders.
The idea, I suppose, is that any such title seems to imply that the main character will be some kind of egoistic, manipulative, obsessive type, and who wants to spend two hours with an asshole?.
In my mostly positive 9.7 Toronto Film Festival review of Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born, I said that Variety‘s Kris Tapley had oversold the situation when he wrote that the Warner Bros. release has “the muscle to win all five major Academy Awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay)…it’s that kind of accomplishment.”
Since then three things have happened. One, A Star Is Born not only failed to win the Toronto Film Festival Grosch People’s Choice Award, but it didn’t even come in second or third. (I was told the other day that it came in fourth.) Two, a critic friend who recently saw it was fine with the first half but not the second, and was dismissive of Lady Gaga‘s performance. (I don’t agree — I think she’semotionally affecting and believable as far as it goes.) And three, a person who attended a recent screening of 50-plus types says that “it played great and they loved it,” but “I’m not sure they Best Picture-loved it…we’ll see.”
In other words, A Star Is Born is playing well, as it ought to. I said in my review that it’s the best of the four versions, and I’ll never back off from that. But it’s not playing super-gangbusters, and therefore it (a) doesn’t have the muscle to win all five major Academy Awards, and (b) is not that kind of accomplishment.
I don’t have a case against the film, but it’s clearly been over-hyped, and the over-hypers, I believe, need to man up and admit to their readers that maybe they should have taken two steps backward and re-thought things a bit before going ape-shit.
Last four paragraphs of my 9.7 review: “So what am I saying? A Star Is Born is a very well-done musical drama, and will wind up being nominated in a few categories, but it’s not (to use a classic Steve Pond term) ‘the one.’ It’s an expertly assembled film for what it is, but keep in mind that it’s basically big-studio schmalz of a very high, very hip and musically pleasing order.
“Kris Tapley wasn’t wrong about a certain kind of Academy member falling for this film, but after everyone sees it they’ll need to step back and take a breath. They’ll need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘Do I really think that a reconstituted high-end romantic tragedy that works all around the track as far as it goes…do I really think this is the absolute cat’s meow?’ Some people will say ‘yes!’ without thinking, but others will think twice.
“Said it before, saying it again: everyone needs to calm the eff down.
“What grade am I giving A Star Is Born? Somewhere between an A-minus and a B-plus. It’s very good but it’s a remake that throbs with wall-to-wall music, for God’s sake. Control yourselves.”
The “third woman” whom attorney Michael Avenatti spoke of a couple of days ago is named Julie Swetnick, and she’s filed a sworn affidavit about Kavanaugh’s behavior at a series of parties (approximately ten) in the Washington, D.C. area between 1981 and ’83. She witnessed the usual (for Kavanaugh and buddy-boy Mark Judge) excessive drinking and aggressive, inappropriate sexual behavior towards women, including alleged instances of gang-rape.
(l.) Julie Swetnick, (r.) Brett Kavanaugh.
Swetnick claims that she saw Kavanaugh, Judge and others “cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or a bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.” Second statement: “I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Key Swetnick statement: “I have reviewed Brett Kavanaugh’s recent claim on Fox News regarding his alleged innocence during high school and lack of sexual activity. This is absolutely false and a lie.”
The key thing isn’t that Kavanaugh drank a lot or allegedly acted like a salivating hound — many of us acted that way at one time or another in high school. The key thing is that Kavanaugh is apparently lying by insisting it’s all bullshit. If his response had been “yeah, I drank too much back then and acted like a jerk, and I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings,” it would be a whole different thing. But Kavanaugh hasn’t been smart enough to adopt that approach. Alan Ladd‘s Philip Raven at the end of This Gun For Hire: “You lie! You lie!”