Early this afternoon I caught a first-rate, highly recommended Ingmar Bergman doc, A Year In A Life, inside the Salle Bunuel. My plan was to emerge at 3:30 pm and step right into a pink-with-yellow-dot line for the 4 pm Chris Nolan discussion, set for the same venue.
Fuhgedaboudit. The outer lobby was mobbed, wall-to-wall bodies, limited oxygen. Access to the pink-with-yellow-dot line was blocked off, and a security guy told me to head downstairs. I flashed my pass and said, “But I’m here for the Nolan thing, and I’m a pink–with–yellow–dot press guy, which is almost as good as a white pass. Why can’t I just join the other semi-elites and wait in line?”
Sorry but you’re too late, there are too many others waiting, you’re not getting in, etc.
So I went back to the pad to write, read and fold laundry until it was time to line up for my next film, Thunder Road, which was market-screening on rue Meynardier at 8:30. But I got caught up in writing about 2001 and when I arrived at 7:50 pm, I was again told “sorry, you’re too late, line’s too long, you shoulda been here at 7 pm,” etc.
So I’m a free man in Paris tonight. I’m thinking of attending a Cinema de Le Plage screening of Jerzy Skolimowski‘s Le Depart (’67) with Jean–Pierre Leaud. It starts at 9:30 pm, which is when it starts to get dark here.
Midnight update: Le Depart is the worst Skolimowski film I’ve ever seen. Make that the only bad one. It’s a brisk mood comedy of all things. Jean-Pierre Leaud‘s acting could be so grating when he put his mind to it — his performance here is worse than his obnoxious filmmaker boyfriend of Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris, and that’s saying something.
Skolimowsky himself introduced Le Depart. “I made this film when I was very young,” he said, “and apparently it’s still watchable.”
From Cate Blanchett‘s speech on the steps of the Palais: “Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry stays otherwise. As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress. We are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents…all involved in the cinematic arts.”
— Rebecca Lewis (@bexlewis361) May 12, 2018
The unrestored, original-elements Chris Nolan version of 2001: A Space Odyssey screens early tomorrow evening (6:45 pm) at the Salle Debussy. Remember that the trailer for this looked yellowish, teal-tinted and minus the sharpness found on the 2001 Bluray. If Nolan’s version looks yellow-teal on the big screen, bombs away.
Examine the 2007 Bluray version of Dave Bowman‘s face through his red space-helmet visor vs. the far less distinct Nolan version. Anyone who says Nolan’s is preferable needs to be hunted down by men in white coats right now.
Remember what film restoration guru Robert Harris told me on 3.28.18 (“Not So Fast On That 70mm 2001 Mastering”): “The new 70mm print they’ll be showing in Cannes will not look like 2001 did in 1968. It can’t be an authentic recreation of how the film looked 50 years ago for any number of reasons. Color stocks, black levels and grain structure are different now, color temperature of the lamps has changed but can be adapted. They were using carbon arc lamps in ’68 and they aren’t now, and on top of everything else the film stock is different — the stock used for original prints was a stock that arrived back in 1962. And so the images [may] ironically look too clear.
“What they show may be beautiful, but they’re not working from the original camera negative, which has been badly damaged. They’re working from ‘new printing elements’ taken from the original negative, which basically means a fourth-generation print. All original prints were struck from the camera original. They won’t be using the original film stock that the original 2001 was printed on, which was Eastman 5385, a 1962 film stock, that had appropriate film grain to the way the film had been designed. So it’s not off the negative, they don’t have the original film stock, and they’re be making it off a dupe rather than using 4K or 8K files.
Bill Maher: “There are only two kinds of movies — the blockbuster…robots and monsters and superheroes…and movies like this [i.e., First Reformed] that I see in a hotel room.”
Ethan Hawke: “We’re all only as good as our time period…only as good as our community. Take One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. A great film and it was made by a studio, studio put it out in the malls, everyone went to see it, it’s got a sad ending but it got awards but…what, is it an art film? I don’t know if they would make that today.”
Maher: “They wouldn’t, they wouldn’t.”
Hawke: “It’s a strange thing. You more you feed people popcorn, the more they just want popcorn.”
Today (Saturday, 5.12) is relatively light with only three events (two films and an interview) on the schedule. At 1:30 pm (or 70 minutes from now) is a screening of Bergman — A Year in A Life at the Salle Bunuel. At 4 pm in the same venue Christopher Nolan will talk about this and that, but mostly, I presume, about the original negative, non-restored version of 2001: A Space Odyssey that he’s been promoting. Finally at 8 pm is a screening of Jim Cummings‘ Thunder Road at Les Arcades.
Late last night I saw Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra‘s Birds of Passage, an indigenous drug-dealing film which many Cannes critics have been creaming over. It’s been justly celebrated as a fresh nativist take on the Columbian drug boom of the ’70s and ’80s, using the perspective of the Wayuu culture. I appreciated this distinction, and all of that is fine.
But the dramatic theme is roughly the same we’ve been seeing in drug-dealing movies for decades, which is that (a) dealing will pollute your soul and (b) sooner or later anyone who seeks to profit from big-time drug dealing will wind up dead on the floor. Sooner or later all dealers form gangs and go to war with each other, etc. The principal Wayuu characters start out simple and pure and just looking to better their lives, and by the end they’ve all taken a bullet or several.
The perspective is interesting, but it’s basically the same bouillabaisse.
During the last third you’re saying to yourself, “Okay, everyone’s gonna die, this scourge will consume itself, the black birds of death are circling so let’s just get it over with….kill everyone, it’s late, I’d like to go home and catch some zees.”
I believed at first that the lack of English subtitles on last night’s print (the Spanish-language drama was shown with French subtitles) wouldn’t be a problem — I understood the gist of almost all the scenes. But after a while I began to feel irritated that I was missing out on countless particulars contained in the dialogue. I expect I’ll see it again someday with English subtitles, and then we’ll see what goes.
Principal photography under original directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller began on or about 1.30.17, but it took Solo producer Kathy Kennedy and co-screenwriter and consigliere Lawrence Kasdan four and a half months to decide that they didn’t agree with L&M’s semi-comic approach (they were apparently going for something akin to Guardians of the Galaxy)? At the time of their dismissal Lord and Miller had nearly completed principal photography.
Kennedy wanted Howard to steer the project back to “the spirit of the original trilogy.” Howard began re-shooting in June 2017, and “had to direct almost the entire movie from scratch,” according to an 5.10 Indiewire summary of the WSJ article.
Posted 11 months ago, or on 6.21.17: “Why did producer Kathy Kennedy wait four and a half months to cut Lord and Miller loose? What does it say about Kennedy’s hiring instincts that she chose a couple of guys with whom she so disagreed that ‘she didn’t even like the way they folded their socks,’ according to Brent Lang‘s Variety story?
Qualifier #1: Even from the fanboys, the consensus seems to be that Solo‘s first act is clunky and that it takes a while (what, 30 to 40 minutes?) to find its footing but once Donald Glover arrives and “the Kessel Run heist plot kicks in, it’s a whole lot of fun.” There’s also agreement that it takes a while to settle into Alden Ehrenreich‘s Han Solo (i.e., mini-Han) but that you just have to accept that the young-Harrison-Ford template is out the window and that Ehrenreich is playing Jake Gittes. Qualifier #2: All I’ve said from the get-go is that Ehrenreich is a bad fit for the part, but I’ve projected nothing at all about the film itself. Qualifier #3: I’m concerned that Bradford Young, Hollywood Elsewhere’s second-least favorite cinematographer for his tendency to make everything look slightly murky and covered in pea-soup, is Solo‘s dp.
Tonight’s big film is the highly regarded Birds of Passage, a Directors Fortnight entry showing at 10:30 pm. Directed by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, it’s about “the origins of the illegal drug trade in Colombia in the 1970s” as well as “a family story set within an indigenous community.”
Someone speculated earlier that I might avoid Gaspar Noe‘s Climax. Bullshit — I’ve never sidestepped an opportunity to see a Noe film, ever. Previously titled Psyche, Climax was allegedly “shot in just two weeks, and focuses on an urban dance troupe that embarks on a kind of Dionysian frenzy in an abandoned school.” (Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval has said this information is incorrect.) For years Noe has been promoting the idea of his being some kind of sensual Satanic figure. The effort continues.