Needled and annoyed by Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, N.Y. Times film critic Wesley Morris has delivered a nicely composed takedown essay, one that’s fun to read and re-read and share with your friends.
Being juicy and chewy and quotable, it will, make no mistake, hurt Three Billboards‘ rep among that sector of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that reads the Times and mulls this stuff over and yaddah yaddah.
Morris has called the Fox Searchlight release a “misfire,” “grating,” otherworldly, quirkily pretentious, “a cupcake rolled in glass,” an “off” thing and more or less the new Crash-ola.
Morris also finds the film irritating from a racial pigeonhole perspective. Two black characters (Amanda Warren and Darrell Britt-Gibson) seem “almost Muppet-like,” he says, and Ebbing’s temporary black police chief (Clarke Peters) comes off as Sidney Poitier-ish, he says.
Morris doesn’t mention that he’s a proselytizer for Jordan Peele‘s Get Out, but he is, trust me (“Jordan Peele’s X-Ray Vision“), and he knows that if his piece winds up wounding Three Billboards that part of the Best Picture heat storm will shift over to Get Out along with the already-favored The Shape of Water.
There’s an “illusion” about Three Billboards that’s been “presented by the people running the [award] campaigns,” Morris write, “and [this] in turn…has become the custom for lots of us.
“Three Billboards can’t be just the misfire that it is. The enthusiasm for it has to represent the injustice the movie believes it’s aware of — against young murdered women, their suffering dysfunctional families and black torture victims we never see — but fails to sufficiently poeticize or dramatize what Mr. McDonagh is up to here: a search for grace that carries a whiff of American vandalism.
“Of course, few movies can predict their moment, but Three Billboards might be inadequately built for this one.”
During this morning’s 1.18 interview on CBS This Morning, the 32 year-old repeated her molestation claims against her adoptive father.
One of her statements stuck in my mind: “He often asked me to get into bed with him when he had only his underwear on and sometimes when only I had my underwear on.” Is this all that strange, if true? Don’t all little kids sleep with their parents when they’re five or six or thereabouts with everyone wearing underwear and whatnot? My two boys did all the time. If one of them had been a little girl the vibe would’ve been no different. Seven year olds are seven year olds.
Woody Allen issued the following statement to the show’s producers:
“When this claim was first made more than 25 years ago, it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare. They both did so for many months and independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place. Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup.
“Dylan’s older brother Moses has said that he witnessed their mother doing exactly that — relentlessly coaching Dylan, trying to drum into her that her father was a dangerous sexual predator. It seems to have worked — and, sadly, I’m sure Dylan truly believes what she says.
“But even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn’t make it any more true today than it was in the past. I never molested my daughter — as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago.”
From Moses Farrow on Twitter: “I’m deeply saddened for my sister. As she stated, this has been her reality since childhood. I have broken my silence of the abuse by our mother and my healing began after getting away from her. I can only hope that my sister can do the same to finally heal.
“What breaks my heart the most is while I know that my sister, Dylan, believes what she says, I also know from my own experience, that it simply never happened.
“So many times I saw my mother try to convince her that she was abused — and it has worked. Some day, I hope Dylan can escape from my mother, confront the truth and begin her own healing. #truthislouder”
The first-ever showing of a full-boat version of Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind — presumably rough and ragged but resembling the final cut — screened the night before last (Tuesday, 1.16) at the Ocean Avenue Screening Room in Santa Monica. Restricted invitations, 36 seats. Study the below photo and identify the viewers — Rian Johnson, Peter Bogdanovich, Quentin Tarantino, Larry Karaszewski, Crispin Glover, Danny Huston…who else? Yes, that’s Alexander Payne in the center with the white shirt, and he’s talking to partially obscured screenwriter-director Scott Alexander.
David Hare, S.J. Clarkson and Carey Mulligan‘s Collateral (BBC Two/Netflix) is a just-premiered investigative crime thriller about an investigation into the murder of a pizza delivery guy. Set over the course of four days in present-day London, the drama is about Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie (Mulligan) becoming persuaded that the murder wasn’t some random thoughtless act.
Boilerplate: “Glaspie is caught up in a whirlwind investigation to track down the killer and uncover the darker underbelly behind the attack. Meanwhile, politician David Mars (John Simm) gets caught up in the drama through his turbulent relationship with his troubled and unpredictable ex-wife Karen (Billie Piper), and vicar Jane Oliver (Nicola Walker) is forced to conceal her affair with the only witness to the crime.”
This sounds potentially awesome. I adore smart and layered police procedurals, especially when written by someone as storied as Hare. So where’s the trailer? And when will Netflix air it?
After attending the London premiere, Mulligan was quoted in a Deadline piece as follows: “I just want to play [an] interesting, complicated real person. Interesting, complicated real people in film are really, really rare. I think essentially following great writing, trying to play real people and not play the girlfriend [or] the wife. I’ve done that a lot and it’s not fun, and this is the opportunity to play a fully rounded, flawed interesting person.”
Mulligan will presumably be in Park City this weekend to promote Paul Dano‘s Wildlife, in which she costars with Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Camp. The first screening is on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm.
Mark Harris may have been thinking of someone other than Timothee Chalamet, the brilliant 22 year-old actor and Call Me By Your Name costar who revealed an opportunistic streak when he aligned himself with the Woody Allen kangaroo court two days ago, but the shoe fits regardless. Chalamet made a tactical error, at least as far as the Movie Godz are concerned. But he’s also smart and adaptable enough to learn from this and move on.
I’ve always been a “Hal Ashby devotee”, but what does that phrase really mean? That I’ve long had to balance my worship of Ashby’s legendary ’70s films with the awkward, less than fulfilled, in some cases cocaine-flaked failures of his ’80s features.
All hail Harold and Maude, The Last Detail — generally regarded as Ashby’s masterpiece — Shampoo (which Ashby didn’t really direct as much as submit and relinguish to the will of Warren Beatty), Bound for Glory, Coming Home (Ashby’s second-best film) and Being There (which has lost much of its potency since ’79, at least in my own head). And offer a sad shrug to Second-Hand Hearts, Lookin’ to Get Out, Let’s Spend the Night Together (a better-than-decent Rolling Stones concert doc), The Slugger’s Wife and the half-resurgence of 8 Million Ways to Die.
So I’ve long been uncertain about his legacy — who hasn’t been? But six and a half years ago Nick Dawson‘s “Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel” convinced me that with any kind of half-fair perspective, Ashby’s decade of ’70s glory definitely out-classes and outweighs the tragedy of the ’80s and how the derangement of nose candy enveloped and swallowed the poor guy.
Hence my strong interest in Amy Scott‘s Hal, a 90-minute doc about Ashby’s high and low times that will debut at Park City MARC on Monday afternoon, and then screen three more times — Tuesday evening at the Prospector, Thursday morning at the MARC and Friday morning at the Holiday 2.
From Sundance program notes: “As befits a subject whose stretch of work especially in the 1970s included Harold & Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo and Coming Home (he was Oscar-nominated for that one), interviewees include collaborators Jeff Bridges, Jane Fonda and Louis Gossett Jr. as well as Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Lisa Cholodenko, Beau Bridges, Haskell Wexler and Norman Jewison.
At long last, IFC Films is releasing Armando Ianucci‘s much-admired The Death of Stalin (97% Rotten Tomatoes, 88% Metacritic) on March 9th. I missed it in Toronto five months ago, but it’s screening at Park City’s MARC on Saturday, 1.20, at 5:45 pm. I’ll definitely be there, but it’s taken too long to open. It feels weaker that it did six months ago. I love Ianucci’s ability with aggressively rude farce, but something’s off.
I dropped by the brand-new Ray theatre this evening, just to peek around and take video. It appears to be nearly ready for business, but there’s a lot of construction equipment and material lying around so they’ve got a bit more to do. The very first Sundance ’18 movie that will play at the Ray is Carlos López Estrada‘s Blindspotting, which will screen on Friday morning at 9:30 am.
After Travis drops Betsy off at her Grammercy Park brownstone, he pulls back into traffic, half-driving and half thinking about his lingering desire along with his notoriety due to the East Village shoot-out, etc. And then, at the 2:34 mark, Travis is suddenly alarmed. His eyes go hard as he stares into the rearview mirror. Because he can’t see his own reflection, because he’s not there, because he doesn’t exist. He died from his shoot-out wounds, and all that stuff he’s imagining — Iris’s Midwestern parents thanking him for saving their daughter, those news clips about a vigilante cab driver doing the right thing, Betsy gazing at him from the back seat — is a dead man’s dream.
Undaunted by the recent Montecito fire-and-mudslide tragedy, the 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival (1.31 to 2.10) will proceed apace. Never say die, and never forget that exec director Roger “Nick the Greek” Durling is regarded as a Dunninger-like seer in the annual Oscar race. Nobody’s perfect, but his tributes are often accurate predictors.
And yet Roger is hedging his bets in the Best Supporting Actor category by giving The Florida Project‘s Willem Dafoe and Three Billboards‘ Sam Rockwell their own separate tributes — a Cinema Vanguard Award for Dafoe on Thursday, 2.1, and an American Riviera Award for Rockwell on Wednesday, 2.7.
I’m not saying that Durling foresaw that Best Actor contender Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) would seriously hurt his chances of winning by throwing Woody Allen under the bus a couple of days ago, but Durling’s instinct to give Darkest Hour‘s Gary Oldman the festival’s Maltin Modern Master Award on Friday, 2.2 was a smart one.
The Virtuosos Award, being presented on Saturday, 2.3, will go to Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Hong Chau (Downsizing), John Boyega (Detroit), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) and — yes! — Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name).
Lady Bird‘s Saoirse Ronan will receive the Santa Barbara Award on Sunday, 2.4.
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