I keep flip-flopping on my Best Picture chart. Like everyone else I’m torn between my constantly evolving concepts of what constitutes serious film art vs. well-crafted films that I feel a special kinship or bond with. One minute I’m a Green Book guy, and the next I’m back on Team Roma. I know which films are most likely to be nominated, but I can’t stand behind some of them them with the same fervor that I feel for films that I know deserve extra-special merit badges. I can’t seem to settle on an order that relaxes me; I’m always fiddling around or re-thinking. I guess that’s how it should be.
Yesterday afternoon I watched WHE’s 4K Bluray of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I saw it on a mint-condition 65-inch OLED, and it really is quite wonderful in nearly every respect. Magnificent colors, needle-weave detail, awesome sound, fine beard-stubble, Discovery space-suit fabric contemplation — just about everything looks right.
In my mind and as we speak, the most glorious aspect of the 4K is that there isn’t a single trace of Chris Nolan‘s urine-and-teal color scheme. Thank God that awful nightmare is over. Why WHE marketers chose to announce to the world last summer that the 4K is “built upon” Nolan’s 70mm non-restoration is just…I don’t know what to think but the mind reels. Anyway, five remarks:
One, the background color of the opening MGM logo used to be a bright, medium-toned blue, and the MGM letters used to be pretty close to white. On the 4K Bluray it’s a dark, just-before-nightfall blue and the letters are now yellowish — a whole different beginning than ever seen before.
Two, at least one closeup of aging Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) during the French chateau finale seems needlessly dark. As far as this scene is concerned I still prefer the 2007 1080p Bluray version…sorry.
Three, the absolute blackness of space isn’t quite there. It’s not a huge problem, but it could and should have been darker in this respect.
Four, the space-station lounge scene in which Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) spars with Dr. Andrei Smyslov (Leonard Rossiter) is supposed to end with a fast fade to black and then quickly fade right back into a static establishing shot of Floyd’s shuttle heading for the moon — and the fade-in timing (which could been correctly presented if WHE had wanted to be precise) is wrong. Not a disaster but weird all the same.
And five, I watched portions of the 1080p Bluray version also, and I could definitely spot differences between this and the 4K. The regular Bluray will seem completely fine to one and all, but oh, mama, the 4K version is noticably sharper, cleaner, fuller-toned and more pristine. I’m thinking hard about springing for a 4K player now.
I’ve been waiting for a break in the schedule, and now it’s here. I’ll finally be sitting down this evening with the first four episodes of Ben Stiller, Brett Johnson, Michael Tolkin and Jerry Stahl‘s Escape at Donnemara. Benicio del Toro as Richard Matt, Patricia Arquette as Tilly “Shaw-skank” Mitchell, Paul Dano as David Sweat, Bonnie Hunt as a New York State inspector general and Michael Imperioli (!) as NY governor Andrew Cuomo. The final four episodes will be available to press persons soon, I’m told.
Boilerplate: The 2015 Clinton Correctional Facility escape took place on June 6, 2015, when two inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were discovered missing during a 5:17 a.m. bed check at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility. Matt and Sweat were both in for murder. Roughly three weeks later Matt was shot and killed near Malone, New York. Two days later Sweat was shot and taken into custody. The manhunt and investigation was said to cost about $23 million.
“Love-Starved Wife Frees Two Caged Bids,” posted on 8.18.18, http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2018/08/love-starved-wife-frees-two-caged-birds/
Of all the seemingly odious, apparently guilty-as-sin guys in the #MeToo realm, Harvey Weinstein has long been king of the hill. Or has certainly appeared this way. He’ll always wear this yoke, but recent developments indicate that the legal consequences may not be as stern as expected. Who knows?
I’d read about dicey handling of witnesses and evidence by New York Police Department detective Nicholas DiGaudio — one instance concerning Lucia Evans, and a second about DiGaudio having allegedly encouraged a Weinstein witness “to delete information from her phone before turning it over to the D.A.” There’s also a dispute about a Weinstein accuser,qba! Mimi Haleyi, having allegedly “sought to meet up with him seven months after [an] alleged assault.”
Weinstein’s attorney Ben Brafman is now claiming that “the entire prosecution has been tainted by police misconduct.”
Brafman is naturally required to be as aggressive as possible in trying to persuade New York authorities to drop the charges, but that’s standard grandstanding. What surprised me (or what I’d somehow been ignorant of) is an inside opinion, passed along today by Variety‘s Gene Maddaus, that the case against Weinstein “has been on the ropes since last month.” There are five remaining counts.
I know nothing, but what a shock to read that the case is apparently as wobbly as Brafman is claiming. Allegedly, I should say.
I haven’t been able to shake this since my second viewing of Bohemian Rhapsody last weekend. It haunts, chases, torments. While showering, reading, brushing my teeth, trying to write, trying to think. It’s bad. By the way: That “ayo” moment in the AIDS clinic (as Freddie is walking out, a guy with a Kaposi’s Sarcoma mark on his forehead offers a greeting) plays stronger the second time.
This is going to sound weird or ridiculous, but a long while ago a friend observed once that some women seem to inflate like puff adders when angry. His girlfriend, he actually meant. When angry or seething she literally seemed to swell up, he said — her lips would tighten, neck would get slightly thicker, eyeballs would bulge. I’ve never noticed a woman become a puff adder, but maybe I have without actually saying to myself “wow, she’s inflating like a balloon.” I’ve never forgotten this description so there’s possibly as reason for that. On a subliminal level, I mean. Let’s broaden things out by including both genders. Has anyone ever noticed anyone — parent, girlfriend, boss, bartender, coworker — inflate like a puff adder when angry?
Like all rewarding, well-crafted dramas, Bjorn Runge‘s The Wife is a giver, not a taker. Set in the mid ’90s, it’s about a successful lifelong partnership, begun in the mid ’50s, in which the aging junior partner — Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), a Saul Bellow-like novelist — gets all the credit while the senior partner — his wife Joan (Glenn Close) — is repeatedly praised for being loyal and supportive.
Joan is a familiar, quintessential character — the discreet, classy, long-under-valued wife and partner of an ostensibly great man. The difference is that she’s fuming.
The story tension in The Wife is about Joan’s poise becoming more and more challenged when she, Joseph and their frustrated, pissed-off son, David (Max Irons) fly to Stockholm to accept the ultimate honor of Joseph’s professional life — the Nobel Prize for literature.
Runge’s film, based on a screenplay by Jane Anderson and based on Meg Woltizer‘s same-titled novel, is actually more of a suspenser than a marital drama. For it’s clear early on that Joan is Mount Vesuvius, and that it’s just a matter of time before Pompeii will be covered in volcanic ash.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that Joseph isn’t as gifted as the world believes, and that the Castleman clan wouldn’t be in Stockholm (or, for that matter, enjoying any kind of flush lifestyle) were it not for Joan’s writing acumen and in fact genius, particularly her skillful reassembling and upgrading of Joseph’s servicable but no-great-shakes prose.
For The Wife to work, you have to throw in with young Joan (Anne Starke) early on, and the likelihood (which she’s had explained to her by an older female author, played by Elizabeth McGovern) that her career as a gifted writer will never come to fruition, given the sexist, male-favoring mindset of the Eisenhower-era publishing industry.
As the film hops back and forth between the ’50s and the ’90s, you come to understand that Joan has accepted a frustrating deal in order to enjoy at least a measure of second-hand recognition and material payoff for her literary gifts. It’s a devil’s bargain that she’s found a way to live with, but when the Nobel people come calling, the veneer begins to fray.
If you ask me Close’s Wife performance is a crown jewel — her finest and hookiest since Fatal Attraction‘s Alex Forrest, which of course happened over three decades ago, and before that the motherly Jenny Fields in The World According to Garp (’82).
She’s been Best Actress-nominated six times (for these two plus her performances in The Big Chill, The Natural, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs) and you’d better believe Close will be nominated for Joan Castleman also.