The raging fires consuming God knows how many tens of thousands of acres of Amazon rainforest were deliberately set by ranchers to clear land for cattle-grazing, knowing full well that the the ultra-conservative government of Jair Bolsonaro (aka “Tropical Trump”) would tacitly approve. The Amazon inferno is, of course, pushing climate change to a tipping balance. The Amazon supplies roughly 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. Destruction of just 3% of the Amazon could have a devastating worldwide effect.
I for one would love to see James Mangold‘s Ford v. Fairlane [sic], an Anne Thompson slip of the tongue…the two big players are The Irishman and Marriage Story…the title of The Two Popes alone…nobody really knows how much autonomy Fox Searchlight will have in the distribution realm…A24, significantly, giving an 11.1 release date to Trey Edward Shults‘ Waves, about a high-school wrestler (Luce‘s Kelvin Harrison Jr.) committing a “shocking act”…why is The Aeronauts playing the fall festivals?…the about-to-open Apple pocketbook…these guys actually care about Spider Man split from MCU…HE aside: Joker, trust me, is basically just another origin film…a well-written, appropriately noirish and Death Wish-y, and probably a well-acted one, but an origin story all the same.
Three questions about Mindhunter‘s second season, which I’m in the middle of re-watching: (a) Which of the two seasons have struck you as the more involving, complex, haunting or whatever? And why?; (b) What are your feelings about the two absorbing but less-than-essential subplots (the creepy saga about Bill and Nancy Tench’s beastly son, and Wendy Carr‘s ill-fated love affair with Kay Mason); and (c) Damon Herriman‘s Charles Manson rant, which happens during his interview with Tench and Holden Ford, is so brilliantly written and performed that you can’t help but say to yourself, “Jeez, Quentin Tarantino had this guy on OUATIH and all he did has have him drop by the Polanski/Tate house and wave with a creepy smile?”
“In Mr. Trump, I see the worst and ugliest iteration of views I expressed for the better part of a decade. To be sure, I’ve had my share of controversy. On more than one occasion, I questioned Mr. Obama’s truthfulness about his religion. At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead. There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.
“I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 because I liked him. I voted for him because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Once he was elected, I gave him a fair hearing, and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I soon realized that I couldn’t support him because of the danger he poses to the country, especially the division he sows at every chance, culminating a few weeks ago in his ugly, racist attack on four minority congresswomen.
“The fact is, Mr. Trump is a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base and advance his electoral prospects.”
Walsh is going to take tons of twitter shit from all sides for this, but at least, like “The Mooch”, he’s standing up against the malignancy. And in so doing is saying, in effect, “Okay, I was a bit of an asshole before.”
Why is the sound synch so off?
I didn’t attend the Cannes Film Festival midnight screening of the 4K remaster of Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining. I heard something about it possibly containing that deleted hospital room scene between Shelley Duvall and Barry Nelson (which I saw 39 years ago at the Warner Bros. screening room in Manhattan), but I guess not. It was drawn from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. The mastering was done at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging. The color grading was done by Janet Wilson with supervision from Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali. The 4K disc pops on 10.1. I wouldn’t mind owning it, but the Bluray has always looked fine. I’d like to believe the 4K will deliver a bump, but I don’t think it will.
The Apocalypse Now: Final Cut multi-disc box set arrived today — six discs, two of them in 4K (Final Cut, Redux plus the original 1979 version) and four in Bluray format (all three versions plus George Hickenlooper, Fax Bahr and Eleanor Coppola‘s Hearts of Darkness plus an extras disc).
On my 65-inch Sony 4K HDR Apocalypse Now: Final Cut looks and sounds magnificent — better, if you ask me, than when I caught it on 7.25 at the Playa Vista IMAX facility. I’m very, very happy that I finally have this spiffy new version in my possession. Start to finish it looks delicious, like dessert.
But I have to be honest and admit something else. I wasn’t able to watch Apocalypse Now: Final Cut in 4K. I was forced to watch the Bluray version because the 4K disc wouldn’t play. I tried playing the alternative 4K disc (the one containing the original theatrical cut plus Redux) and that wouldn’t play either. “Cannot play this disc,” the Samsung 4K Bluray player announced. “The disc does not meet the specifications.”
I popped in my 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K disc, and it played without issue. I also played my 4K Revenant disc — not a problem. Then I called Samsung customer support to make sure that the player contains the latest firmware update, which was issued in April 2018. It’s up to date, the guy said. “Is there anything I can possibly do to enable this disc to play?” I asked. No, I was told. But the fault is almost certainly not in your player.
I can’t understand what’s wrong. I’d really like to watch Final Cut in 4K, but I can’t. I’m sorry. I wish this hadn’t happened. But man, the Bluray version looks great.
The hoo-hah premieres include Marriage Story, Ford vs. Ferrari, Uncut Gems, Judy, The Aeronauts, Motherless Brooklyn, The Two Popes, First Cow, Waves, The Kingmaker, Verdict, Lyrebird and Ken Burns’ Country Music.
The Cannes replays are A Hidden Life, Beanpole, Pain and Glory, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Climb and Family Romance LLC.
Not to mention The Report and Varda by Agnes.
The Telluride Film Festival begins on Friday, 8.30. I’ll be flying out on LAX at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, arriving in town sometime around 2 pm, give or take. Maybe sooner.
“Maybe we should all be like Venice — just ignore everything you journalists and the PC media say with regard to gender equality and Netflix and do whatever we want, and then sit back and hear how we are the best festival in the world.” — the honcho of a major, big-deal festival, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter.
Most engaged, here-and-now, top-tier film festivals are playing ball with p.c. progressive agendas these days. This means “going Sundance” however and whenever possible, which is to say (a) programming as many reasonably good films as possible that have been directed by women, POCs and gays, or otherwise programming with an eye towards p.c. quotas, (b) selecting as many “instructive” films with diverse subject matter as possible, and (c) not exactly frowning upon films directed by straight white males but being careful to limit their inclusion, depending upon the quality of their relationships with well-positioned progressives in the filmmaking and film-festival community.
It goes without saying that films directed by men with checkered or otherwise troubling pasts (Roman Polanski and Nate Parker being two) need to face the strongest possible scrutiny if not out-and-out prohibition.
Venice Film Festival topper Alberto Barbera
It also goes without saying, and certainly in the wake of an 8.23 Hollywood Reporter article titled “‘Completely Tone Deaf’: How Venice Became the Fuck-You Film Festival” by Scott Roxborough and Tatiana Siegel, that Alberto Barbera‘s Venice Film Festival has mostly been ignoring these rules, certainly in terms of quotas and flagrantly by inviting Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy to screen in competition, and by slating Parker’s American Skin in the (noncompetitive) Sconfini section.
The thrust of Roxborough and Siegel’s article is that industry progressives regard Barbera as an obstinate, convention-defying dinosaur and that in a perfect world he would be cancelled and then banished to Kathmandu for the rest of his life.
The basic impulse of many p.c. types is to silence if not exterminate all agnostics or aetheists in the conversation. Roxborough and Siegel certainly have their ears to the train tracks in this regard.
However, there’s one small consideration that Roxborough and Siegel seem to be ignoring, and that’s the remote possibility that Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy or even Parker’s American Skin might be — am I going to get in trouble for saying this? — good. As in worth seeing and discussing, at the very least. Hell, one or the other might even be very good. Or even, God forbid, excellent. That’s certainly a possibility as far as the Polanski film is concerned. Or even, to be liberal about it, in Parker’s case.
The underlying point of the Roxborough-Siegel piece is that the people they’ve interviewed — Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein, Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network co-president Laura Kaehr, Toni Erdmann producer Janine Jackowiski plus an unnamed female filmmaker — and perhaps even Roxborough and Siegel themselves are not rigorously concerned with matters of cinematic quality.
What concerns them is progressive tokenist statements by way of festival representation, and how inviting Polanski and Parker to Venice represents a slap in the face to #MeToo and #TimesUp. Which it arguably does in a certain sense.
If I were calling the shots I would bend over backwards to include as many worthy films from women, POC or gay directors as possible, within the limits of good taste. But I would insist on not programming any film on the basis of quotas alone.
Excerpt: “In an era when Hollywood has little tolerance for talent swept up in a #MeToo scandal — as when Amazon dropped Woody Allen‘s A Rainy Day in New York amid resurfaced allegations from his daughter Dylan Farrow that he molested her when she was 7 — and even notoriously macho Cannes has made strides with female award winners, Venice stands alone as the last major un-woke film festival.”
HE response to above paragraph: Woody Allen has contended in his lawsuit that Dylan’s accusation is “baseless,” as the facts overwhelmingly indicate. Alas, Amazon execs didn’t care about the facts and history or the holes in Dylan’s account or Moses Farrow’s May 2018 essay or anything else.
Great Jackowiski quote: “You can see how in America, if you don’t play by the rules, you’re out. Here in Europe, there’s still the idea of the ‘genius’ who is allowed to do anything and should be celebrated for it.”
Transpose this quote to the early to late 1950s, and imagine a conservative-minded European producer saying it: “You can see how in America, if you had associations with communism in the 1930s, you’re out. [But] here in Europe, there’s still the idea of the ‘genius’ who is allowed to do anything and should be celebrated for it. Jules Dassin, for example, is allowed to make films in Europe despite his commie-agitator background.”
Jackowiski explains that “she isn’t calling for a ban on films from ‘problematic’ men but says ‘the issues surrounding them should be discussed, and their films should be seen in that context.'” Fair enough.
The Venice Film Festival begins on Wednesday, 8.28 — four days hence. Telluride kicks off two days later.
I’ve never paid the slightest attention to HBO’s Ballers because of the Dwayne Johnson factor. In the realm of feature films the man has seemingly had it written into his contract that anything he stars in has to be shit-level, so I naturally assumed some of this attitude would rub off on Ballers. (Many critics have been underwhelmed.) Now that it’s been announced that Ballers‘ fifth season will be the last, I need to acknowledge for the record that I’ve never watched so much as a trailer for this series, and that I’m fine with that.
On 11.28.16, or two and three quarter years ago, I noted that then-President Elect Trump was “living on his own fake-news planet, and millions of followers have probably bought into this. Campaign-trail bullshit is one thing, but when has a U.S. President-elect ever insisted upon a straight-faced investment in alternative facts?
“This is what tyrants and dictators do — this is Nero time. Tell me how it’s inappropriate to apply the term ‘insane’ to Trump as this stage. I’m serious.
“What’s the difference between Trump and President Mark Hollenbach in Fletcher Knebel‘s “Night of Camp David,” a 1965 thriller about a first-term Senator, Jim MacVeagh, who comes to believe that Hollenbach has mentally gone around the bend and needs to somehow be relieved of his duties? They seem similar to me.”
Here and now: It struck me today that Trump’s recent behavior and statements indicate a state of mind that is way, way beyond the fruitcake ramblings of President Hollenbach, and yet here we are. And poor Justice Ginsburg has been treated for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. I’m feeling a terrible sense of hovering doom.