Jesus, dawg…Wu Tang Clan punched through a quarter-century ago. Time flies, s’over before you know it, life is a moving train, etc. The new Straight Outta Compton, except it’s a Hulu miniseries instead of a stand-alone theatrical. So I guess it isn’t the new Straight Outta Compton. Plus it’s “fictionalized“…what?
I was moderately excited by those Tribeca Film Festival reviews of Francis Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now: Final Cut. They appeared after it screened at the Beacon Theatre on 4.28.19. I was especially aroused by opinions that the 4K remastering had to some degree improved and upticked Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography, and generally made it look richer or more vivid or something in that realm.
I saw the 182-minute Final Cut last night at the Playa Vista IMAX facility, and there was no question it was an absolutely first–rate rendering of an acknowledged classic. But it was no upgrade over what I saw in 70mm at the Ziegfeld in August of ‘79. It looked exactly the same as it did back then, which is fine as far as it goes. But the 4K upgrade effect (otherwise known in HE Land as a 4K “bump”) didn’t manifest.
This isn’t any kind of problem, per se, as the film was magnificently shot to begin with. But last night’s presentation wasn’t, to my eyes, an “oh wow” thing. Maybe it’ll pop more when I watch the 4K disc at home. I’ve noticed this syndrome before — 4K HDR renderings can look more robust than a theatrical presentation.
I also have to state that the sound was markedly better — more distinct and impactful — at the Ziegfeld than it was last night. Here are four examples:
(1) During the opening sequence as the opening stanzas of “The End” are heard, I distinctly remember hearing an ultra-crisp rendering of John Densmore’s high-hat as it kept time with the beat of the song. I had listened to “The End” endlessly on headphones, but hearing it inside the Ziegfeld was a “whoa!” because Densmore’s high-hat had never before aurally LEAPT OUT — sitting in my seat at the Ziegfeld I knew I was hearing something new. But it didn’t leap out last night at the IMAX facility;
(2) There was a huge subwoofer rumble — something that came up from the floor and vibrated my ribs all to hell — inside the Ziegfeld when the patrol boat approached the post-battle havoc that had been created by Colonel Kilgore and his Air Cav troops. There was a distinct bassy rumble at the IMAX theatre when this moment arrived, but no super-bass vibration that matched the Ziegfeld effect;
(3) Martin Sheen’s narration was louder at the Ziegfeld — every vowel and syllable cut right into your eardrums. But last night he just sounded normal;
(4) It was quite the thing at the Ziegfeld when Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” suddenly stopped as Coppola cut to the villagers and the Viet Cong, and we could only hear a faint hint of Wagner in the distance — that aural contrast effect was more striking at the Ziegfeld 40 years ago than it was last night.
Overall my impression was “looks and sounds fine but I wasn’t blown away.” But maybe the 4K disc will provide the enhancement I was expecting.
A friend who knows all about projection reminds that impressions of restored films are sometimes “venue dependent.” So it’s possible, I suppose, that the IMAX guys just didn’t present the film as they should have. Who knows?
In a conversation with Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli, Venice Film Festival artistic director Albert Barbera has called Todd Phillips‘ Joker “a really surprising film….[actually] the most surprising film we’ve got this year…this one’s going straight to the Oscars even though it’s gritty, dark, violent. It has amazing ambition and scope.”
Barbera acknowledges that going into Venice competition situation is an unusual thing for a Warner Bros. film, but quotes Phillips as having said “I don’t care if I run the risk of not winning…why shouldn’t I go in competition when I know what we’ve I’ve got on our hands?”
As to Hollywood’s diminished presence this year, Barbera says “there is a strange situation this year with American cinema due to what’s happening in the industry. There’s an earthquake undermining the U.S. film industry as we know it. Disney buying Fox and dismantling it, so that in a while people won’t even remember it existed. Disney has a become such a colossus that it’s even alarming due to its size and its ability to shape the future. Paramount just distributing movies made by other outfits. There is also some uncertainty about Sony and Lionsgate is now on the verge of a sale. [But] fortunately Warner Bros. is holding up.
“The landscape is changing so rapidly that it’s normal for this to impact product [output]. There were definitely less quality [U.S.] titles on offer this year, even though we have no shortage of good movies.”
“All those scenes of characters driving in Los Angeles were gorgeous — I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. And the Manson girls floating in and out gave just enough of an edge to the proceedings. But judging from the audience reaction in my theater, the crowd didn’t fully embrace the film until the Krakatoa of blood at the end, which was the moment when I lost all sense of engagement.” — HE commenter “Gatsby1040” in yesterday’s OUATIH thread (“Tarantino Spoiler Policy“).
I suspect that ticket buyers everywhere are reacting to Once Upon A Time in Hollywood as I did in Cannes, experiencing a kind of mild, in-and-out, comme ci comme ca satisfaction but not really feeling the heavy current until the finale. What is everyone else detecting? What did the various rooms feel like as people were leaving the theatre?
Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson is sensing that Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is going to earn more than Sony’s projected weekend figure of $30 million. $34 to $39 million, for sure, but possibly as high as the 40s and even the low 50s.
My sense is that OUATIH will develop legs among the 40-plus set. I think it’ll hang in there and become a slow-and-steady earner. It’s not really a film for compulsively texting Millennials and GenZ.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit is reporting that the film needs to earn $375 million worldwide to break even.
Mendelson: “Sure, it’s not as aggressively crowd-pleasing as Django Unchained or Inglorious Basterds, but I think most people walking into a Tarantino movie in 2019 have some idea of what they are in for. The reviews are as positive as you’d expect, and (no spoilers) word will eventually filter out that the movie doesn’t necessarily do all of the things that you [might] be afraid that a Tarantino movie tangentially about the Manson murders might do. Again, no details, but I will argue that the violence is significantly closer in onscreen content to Pulp Fiction than The Hateful Eight.”
As many of us heard last April, Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is (a) a 4K visual upgrade that’s said to be the best-looking version ever and (b) a 182-minute version that’s shorter than Apocalypse Now Redux by 20 minutes. Two hours from now I’ll be seeing it on a huge IMAX screen. I’ll probably never see this 1979 classic ever again under such optimum conditions. As Peter Ustinov‘s Lentulus Batiatus would say, “I tingle.”
In a perfect world, I would be James Mason and Martin Landau would be the Woke McCarthyites, and the Movie Godz would smile down and approve. But we don’t live in such a realm. In reality I am a blend of Kevin McCarthy‘s character at the ending of Don Siegel‘s Invasion of the Body Snatchers plus Veronica Cartwright‘s character when she comes up to Donald Sutherland at the end of Phil Kaufman’s 1978 version.
Since early summer the word on Amazon’s Seberg (formerly Against All Enemies) has been that Kristen Stewart‘s performance as the tragic Jean Seberg is quite the standout and actually better than the film itself. Stewart’s performance is “extremely understated and internal,” I was told last May. “She never goes too big and plays her cards with acute subtlety.” The film was directed by Benedict Andrews from a screenplay by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse.
The first commercial showings of Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood are happening as we speak. This is the HE forum for early reactions, but please go gently and non-specifically as far as the final act is concerned. I don’t know when it will be fair to start discussing the final 20 to 25 minutes but I would think that an “olly olly in come free” policy could be instituted as of…what, Monday morning? Is it realistic to expect that people will keep their yaps shut any longer than that?
The below paragraph is from A.O. Scott’s N.Y. Times review, titled “We Lost It At The Movies.” I suppose that my beef with OUATIH is analogous to the fact that I’m a much bigger fan of High Noon than Rio Bravo. I’m never been seduced by the laid-back allure of hang-out flicks. I prefer films with real stories — films that convey character and focus upon goals, and are laden with metaphor and teeming with story tension. Tarantino’s latest ends well, but otherwise it doesn’t satisfy the above criteria.
Woody Allen‘s A Rainy Day in New York won’t be playing the 2019 Venice Film Festival because — hello? — it’s opening in Poland two days hence (7.26) via Kino Swiat. Which means, naturally, that Polish (and presumably trade) reviews will be appearing on Thursday.
Subsequent bookings: Lithuania (8.2), Greece (8.22), the Netherlands (8.29), Turkey (8.30), France (9.18), Czech Republic (9.26), Italy (10.3), Spain (10.4) and Mexico (10.25). As we speak not a single cowardly U.S. distributor has arranged to distribute the relationship comedy. If nobody steps up, I can always catch it in Tijuana three months hence.
I loved Ruben Fleischer‘s original Zombieland (especially Bill Murray‘s self-portraying cameo). But it opened ten years ago, man. What does Zombieland: Double Tap (Columbia, 10.18) feel like? Honestly? Like a harmless but toothless generic rehash. You can’t just remake the original with cosmetic changes — you have to introduce a new idea or two. Even if you’re making a sure commercial bet, you have to be bold. And that doesn’t mean throwing in an unexpected twist, which any jerkwad can do.