My first thought when I laid eyes upon that canary-yellow tunic worn by Solo‘s Lando Calrissian (i.e., Donald Glover) was that it’s…what, too flowery? Too lemon custard? Too Cliff Gorman from The Boys In the Band? I just don’t hold with dandelion shirts. And if that’s not enough of a dissuader, yellow Lando is way too close to William Shatner‘s yellow-mustard pullover that he wore during the first couple of Star Trek seasons. Even if you like the idea of Lando Calrissian channelling Paul Lynde on The Hollywood Squares, this kind of starship uniform was launched by Shatner and Gene Roddenberry. You can’t cross-pollinate between the Stars Wars and Star Trek universes! It’s just not done.
This photo of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi was taken, I’m guessing, right after the 1931 debuts of James Whale‘s Frankenstein and Tod Browning‘s Dracula, which put both middle-aged men on the map. (Born in 1887, Karloff was 44 when Frankenstein made him a star; Lugosi, born in 1882, was nearly 50 when Dracula premiered.) They were obviously at a formal gathering of some kind, but who wears gray socks with a tuxedo? I’m presuming that Karloff realized as he was dressing earlier that evening that his one lonely pair of black evening socks were being laundered — this in itself tells you his financial ship hadn’t yet come in. Lugosi’s sin is almost as bad — black evening socks that aren’t high enough or held up by leg garters, thereby revealing Lugosi’s bare calf. For men of that era, there were few sartorial failings worse than these.
Not sure when Warner Bros. decided to hold special celebrity screenings of Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born (Warner Bros., 10.5), but I’m guessing sometime in early to mid March. All I know is that three big names — Barbra Streisand, Sean Penn and Robert De Niro — have spoken highly of it.
First it was Streisand (“Oh, I can’t say too much…I haven’t seen too much, but it’s good…it’s very, very good.”). Then Penn (“One of the most beautiful, fantastic, it’s the best, and most importantly commercial film I have seen in so many years”). And now De Niro, speaking during a Tribeca Film Festival discussion with Cooper (“It’s terrific and Bradley is excellent in it…the movie is wonderful…I hope it gets the attention I feel it should when it opens…Bradley learned to sing…he really worked hard and it paid off…you see all the hard work he did, it’s special”).
Hollywood Elsewhere to other celebrities who’ve seen it: We get it. You liked the film and you’re happy that Cooper’s debut effort turned out well — great. But that’ll do for now.
In a 4.9 New Republic piece called “Will Hollywood Ever Make Another Children of Men?,” the answer is a simple “no.” Why? Because the apes have decided that theatres are CG funhouses, and that smarthouse, soul-stirring flicks are for streaming, and never the twain small meet.
The article is actually a chat between Alex Shepard and Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz, author of “The Big Picture.” The book basically explains how it’s all turning to CG shit in theatres, but we’re actually in a golden age if you focus on non-theatrical.
Shepard: “2017 was an outstanding year for movies but it does seem like Oscar-bait movies are working on a smaller scale, for a smaller audience, in part because Hollywood has stopped investing in big budget Oscar-bait movies that aspire to a mass audience. In The Big Picture, you argue that three of my favorite recent movies — Michael Clayton, Captain Phillips and Children of Men — would have a much hard time getting made right now.”
Fritz: “That specialty market will certainly survive. If you live in a big enough city you’ll be able to see the next Ladybird in a few years. But most people won’t. They’ll see it on streaming or whatever. And that will be fine. But Children of Men, that’s a great example. I don’t know what it’s budget was — $80 million maybe. It’s not cheap to make that film. You’re making a film that’s really worth seeing on a big screen.
“But there’s no Children of Men cinematic universe. There’s no franchising. There are no tie-ins. There are no sequel possibilities. That’s a one-off film and that’s the type of thing that won’t get made anymore. It’s also the kind of thing that’s tough to replicate for a streaming service. It’s the kind of movie we’re losing and that’s a bummer.”
Bummer? For those of us who’ve been watching aspirational, high-craft, spiritual-deliverance movies in theatres for the last 30 or 40 years, this is a major cultural tragedy. It’s enough to make you think about getting into opioids, brah.
“Many critics were impressed by Children of Men‘s virtuosity and bravado,” writes Hollywood Reporter/Risky Biz blogger columnist Anne Thompson, “while industry types were seeing a downer film that’s going to lose money.
“The movie is a brilliant exercise in style, but it’s another grim dystopian look at our future — like Blade Runner or Fahrenheit 451 — that simply cost too much money.”
Last night I read some Bluray.com comments along with a review that made me gasp. Actually they made me fall out of my chair. The thread was about Criterion’s curiously re-colored, teal-tinted Midnight Cowboy Bluray (5.29), which I wrote about a couple of days ago.
The Criterion jacket says that the Midnight Cowboy Bluray is a “new 4K digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Adam Holender.”
To go by recently posted comparison shots, this is easily Criterion’s biggest Bluray boondoggle** since the Dressed To Kill calamity of 2016, when Criterion went along with Brian DePalma‘s request that the images be narrowed (i.e., horizontally compressed) and the colors tinted yellow-green without much of a black layer. Criterion gradually admitted to error and released a corrected disc.
Natural-looking capture from 2012 MGM Bluray.
Same shot rendered by Criterion’s “teal team.”
Many times I’ve gazed upon the green Atlantic Ocean while basking in the hot-sand warmth of Miami Beach.
In a 4.15 review, Bluray.com’s Dr. Svet Atanasov refuses to even acknowledge the teal-tint issue, which automatically makes you wonder what he’s up to. “The color palette [of Criterion’s Midnight Cowboy Bluray] is a lot more convincing,” he writes. “On the old release [the 2012 MGM Bluray] some of the primaries were not as stable and well saturated as they should have been and now the new 4K restoration makes this painfully obvious.”
What the hell is Atanasov talking about, “not as well saturated”? I own the six-year-old MGM Bluray and it’s totally fine, and it doesn’t have any space-alien tinting.
Please read this thread. It includes a few fair-minded, sensible-sounding remarks, but also comments from some real lunatics.
One of the latter is a guy who calls himself “RCRochester.” In a remarks about contrasting shots (Criterion vs. MGM) of a small-town Texas motel [see above], he claims that “the sky looks blue in both…it’s just that the Criterion cap looks brighter. The movie’s title in the same shot looks bright white, if the image was ‘tealed’ I would expect that to have a bluish tint to it as well.” The man has gone over the waterfall in a barrel — he actually maintains that the sky in the Criterion image is blue when it’s obviously an eerily bright blue-green.
A looney-tune named “The Green Owl” exclaims that “the screenshots look great to my eyes,” and that he’s ordering the Criterion as a result.
A guy named “Markgway” doesn’t like what he sees, but says he might go along regardless. “Unless someone can say for sure that the film was meant to look teal, I’m going to assume something is awry,” he says. “It happens too many times that older films are remastered to a modern grading standard and wind up looking suspiciously different to the way they had before.”
I bought the idea of Robert Redford playing a career thief in Peter Yates‘ The Hot Rock (’72) because he wasn’t really invested in the character, John Dortmunder. Redford was obviously cruising easy as he went through the escapist motions, plus he was only 35 and really good-looking back then.
20 years later, the 55 year-old Redford played a computer hacker in Phil Alden Robinson‘s Sneakers (’92), but his character, Martin Bishop, wasn’t a ne’er-do-well as much as a clever operator looking to play both sides.
In David Lowery‘s upcoming The Old Man and the Gun (Fox Searchlight, 10.5), the 81 year-old Redford plays the real-life Forrest Tucker, a career criminal and prison escape artist. It looks and sounds like good fun. I don’t really believe the elderly Redford as a hardcore bank robber, but the trick of these films is to nudge you into going along despite your reluctance. Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits and Elisabeth Moss costar.
The Old Man and the Gun director David Lowery, Robert Redford during filming.
Let me tell you what exciting would be. Exciting would be an announcement that the three big no-show Netflix titles — Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma, Paul Greengrass‘s Norway and Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind — will screen following a surprise resolution of the Cannes-Netflix dispute.
I’m intrigued by the addition of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree (competition) and Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney (midnight), but not so much by Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built (sans competition), Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (screening on closing night) and Ramin Bahrani‘s Fahrenheit 451 (midnight).
HE’s Jordan Ruimy has heard that Ceylan’s film is “slow as molasses and his most experimental movie,” and that Cannes accepted the film “with reservations.”
No one was a greater Von Trier fan than myself during the period of Breaking the Waves (’96), The Idiots (’98), Dancer in the Dark (’00), Dogville (’03) and The Boss Of It All (’06). But Antichrist, Melancholia and the Nymphomaniac films underwhelmed. I’m sensing shock and brutality from The House That Jack Built, which isn’t a competition film — unusual for Von Trier.
The Gilliam won’t screen until after the awards ceremony on the evening of Saturday, 5.19. My plane back to the States (actually to Dublin) leaves that night at 11:35 pm so I guess not.
Bahrani’s 99 Homes, his Florida real-estate movie with Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, was a predictable slog; ditto At Any Price, the Dennis Quaid-Zac Efron father-son drama. You can see what Fahrenheit 451 is up to at a glance — same 99 Homes dynamic only with Michael B. Jordan in the Garfield role.
McDonald’s Whitney doc may be dismissible unless he’s straight-from-the-shoulder about Whitney Houston‘s drug problems, and especially her self-destructive relationship with Bobby Brown. I’m getting tired of people tippy-toeing around the facts.
A week ago I was invited to participate in a silent theatrical environment thingy called PLAY (242 South Broadway, LA 90012), which is the creation of actress (and Damian Chazelle’s partner-fiance) Olivia Hamilton.
I was instantly terrified, of course. I didn’t want to be dismissive or impolite, but Hollywood Elsewhere doesn’t pretend or play or dance around or any of that carefree pre-school stuff. Life is duty, focus, nose to the grindstone, devotion, manning up, late hours, etc. I don’t want to revert to being a five-year-old, but I’m not putting anyone down who might enjoy this. It’s just not me. I’m too grumpy, too deep, too Siddhartha. (Or do I mean Steppenwolf?)
But I didn’t have the courage to level with Olivia and just tell her this. I just kept putting it off. And then six or seven hours before showtime last weekend, I couldn’t stand my cowardice any more so I wrote her a “sorry with apologies” note.
HE to Hamilton: “It just hit me that ‘the silent PLAY‘ begins sometime after 10 pm this evening. Please forgive me, but (a) I’m too afraid of attending in general and (b) I can’t attend something that starts this late. I’m sorry for not reading the particulars until just now. I’m a daily columnist and on too strict of an early-morning wake-up schedule. Plus I’m a coward.
“If there’s any way I can help by posting, say, a video piece about ‘the silent PLAY,’ I’d be happy to do that.
“My blood ran cold at the thought of attending this to begin with — socks, silence, play, masks, wigs, etc. But I was going to throw caution to the winds and attend anyway because [Santa Barbara Film Festival director] Roger Durling told me it’s great.” HE Interjection: I’m not exactly “blaming” Durling for getting me into this, but he was definitely the instigator.
“Please forgive me, Olivia. I don’t want to hurt your feelings or not show support as far as I’m emotionally able. Please send me any video clips or essays or anything of that nature, and anything in the way of a first-person review or what-have-you, and I’ll be glad to post it. I really want to help and do what I can short of ‘playing.’ I feel guilty, but I feel even more intimidated and terrified of attending. Not to mention the late hour.
“Love and mercy, Jeffrey Wells, HE”
Criterion’s 4K Bluray of Leo McCarey‘s The Awful Truth pops today. The six-minute nightclub scene (Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy) is far and away the best in the film. There really isn’t another scene that I can remember the dialogue from. “Gone With The Wind,” “New York is okay to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there,” “not Oklahoma City itself?”, etc. Am I thinking about getting the Bluray? I’d pay to stream it in a second, but plunking down $32 bills for a movie that’s smothered with billions of digital mosquitoes?
Some kind of Twitter challenge popped this morning from the Filmstruck gang — define yourself with four films, two reflecting the basic emotional reality of things and two about wishful thinking.
Hollywood Elsewhere’s emotional definers are (1) Billy Wilder‘s The Spirit of St. Louis (’57) because it says that life is about the big challenge and the long haul, and that despite all indications that God is a myth a caring, compassionate entity can nonetheless lend a hand at a crucial moment, and (2) Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory (’57) because it reminds that life is unfair and in fact horrid for the grunts, and when the shit hits the fan it’s better to be Kirk Douglas than Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel or Timothy Carey.
HE’s wishful thinking movies are (3) the first half of David Lean‘s Lawrence of Arabia (’62) because it reminds that intrepid adventurers can manage the near-impossible if determination is truly with them, and (4) Fred Zinneman‘s High Noon, which says that when the chips are down you can’t trust anyone except yourself, and even then you’ll need a certain amount of luck to make it through the gauntlet.
My gut tells me this is a total lock for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nomination for two…no, three reasons: (1) Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister before becoming a children’s TV star, was the personification of everything Donald Trump never was, isn’t today and never will be, so everyone who will want to salute that; (2) The doc was highly praised (RT 95%) during last January’s Sundance Film Festival; and (3) Everyone who loved Neville’s Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom will be favorably disposed.
I’m not exactly the kind of guy who strolls around with a gentle, open-hearted, sunny-faced attitude, but I admire guys who can pull that off. Rogers was also something of a progressive, forward-thinking lefty, which makes me admire his memory all the more. And I’m a longtime admirer of Neville (Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal, Keith Richards: Under the Influence). Missed the Rogers flick during Sundance, but would love to see it soon (i.e., before leaving for Cannes on 4.29). What say, Focus?
R. Lee Ermey, the ex-Marine who became a well-employed actor after playing the loud-mouthed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket, has bought the farm. He was only 74, but he was a right-winger who hated Obama and said some fairly awful things, and as a result had trouble getting hired by liberal Hollywood over the last few years. (Or so I’ve read.) I was about to say “Tough shit, twinkletoes!” but then I thought, “Naah, ease up and back off….don’t do a Bob Clark.”
The Hartman yellathon is Ermey’s masterpiece. (I would actually call it a comic masterpiece.) He was good but only sufficiently so in his other acting roles. He had plenty of work over the 33-year period that followed Full Metal Jacket, or from ’87 until Ermey put his foot in his mouth and skull-fucked himself in 2010.
- Duke Scowls From Above As MGM CEO Gary Barber Ignores Malignant Neglect of 70mm Alamo Elements
This morning I read a 6.9 profile of MGM CEO Gary Barber by Deadline‘s Peter Bart (“A Resurgent MGM Builds...More »