I won’t be able to see Ondi Timoner‘s Mapplethorpe (Boston Diva, Interloper) until the big Tribeca Film Festival debut screening on Sunday, 4.22. The unsubtle poster seems to promise a leathery, fetishy biopic of the late, much celebrated photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It’ll serve as a companion piece, one presumes, to Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato‘s Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, a leathery, fetishy documentary that I saw during Sundance ’16. Matt Smith (Doctor Who) plays Mapplethrope; Marianne Rendon (Imposters) plays Patti Smith; John Benjamin Hickey plays Mapplethorpe’s lover, friend and benefactor Sam Wagstaff.
Alexandros Avranas‘s Dark Crimes (Saban, 5.18) is a 2016 Polish-American detective drama film, written by Jeremy Brock and based on David Grann‘s 2008 New Yorker article “True Crime: A Postmodern Murder Mystery”, about convicted murderer Krystian Bala.
Pic stars Jim Carrey, Agata Kulesza, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kati Outinen, Zbigniew Zamachowski and Marton Csokas. Principal photography began on 11.12.15 in Kraków, Poland. Under the title True Crime, it premiered on 10.12.16 at the Warsaw Film Festival, and it’s only just opening now, 18 months later. What does that tell you?
From Neil Young’s Hollywood Reporter review: “Spicy real-life ingredients and a terrific international cast are frustratingly wasted in True Crime, in which Jim Carrey — essaying the most serious role of his mercurial career — makes a reasonable stab at playing an obsessive Polish cop tackling that one inevitable last case before retirement.”
Six months from now, when everyone finally gets a peek at Damian Chazelle‘s First Man (Universal, 10.12), the following words from Norman Mailer‘s “Of A Fire On The Moon” (otherwise known as Taschen’s “Moonfire“) might come in handy:
“One could hold the thought that the real function of the WASP was not to create Protestantism, capitalism, the corporation or a bastion against Communism, but that the WASP had emerged from history in order to take us to the stars. How else to account for that strong, severe, Christian, missionary, hell-raising, hypocritical, ideologically simple, patriotic, stingy, greedy, God-fearing, nature-despoiling, sense-destroying, logic-making, technology-deploying, brave human machine of a WASP? It was a thought with which to begin to look at astronauts.”
There’s a problem with this idea, of course. There are few epithets that carry more sting and derision these days than WASP or “white guy.” Nobody with a brain or developed social-political survival skills wants to celebrate anything fundamentally white. At all. Partly because of Donald Trump and the evil bumblefuck culture that supports him no matter what. We’re in the middle of an era in which progressive urban elites are committed to the ascendancy and empowering of non-WASP tribes, partly for equality and decency’s sake and partly as a means of redressing centuries of horrid oppression of said tribes by WASP authority types and Anglo-Saxon culture in general.
So how will a film that will almost certainly raise a toast to whitey accomplishment…how will it fare among terrified-of-their-own-p.c.-shadow critics, which is to say almost all them except for X-factor types like myself? Somehow or some way, the identity-attuned, diversity-above-all crowd (and you know who I mean) is going to try to find a way to diminish First Man because of this. Because Chazelle’s film will almost certainly be saying something thematically that they don’t want to hear, and certainly not celebrate. Trust me — they’re going to go after this film, however good or bad it turns out to be.
I want to say this carefully but clearly: Judd Apatow‘s The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, the 270-minute doc I finally finished watching a couple of days ago, might be the best thing he’s ever done. Seriously. The most full-of-feeling, the saddest, the wisest, the most melancholy, the most emotionally affecting.
And I say this as a serious admirer of Apatow’s Knocked Up, Funny People, This Is 40 and Trainwreck, not to mention all the good or near-great comedies Apatow has produced (Bridesmaids, Pineapple Express, Get Him To The Greek, Juliet, Naked). Maybe I’m overpraising, but I don’t think so. All I know is that I began to really miss Shandling after it was over, even more than I did when he suddenly died two years ago.
There is nothing more interesting than the story of a man or woman who started out feeling oppressed or miserable, and nothing less interesting than hearing about how he or she ended up feeling happy or content. That was John Lennon‘s life — he was a much more interesting guy between ’60 and ’74 (his anxious, cutting-remark period, including his lost-weekend alcoholic phase during ’73 and ’74) and an almost dull fellow between ’75 (when he became an obedient Yoko Ono house-husband) and his assassination in December ’80.
The best part of Apatow’s doc comes at the very end, when Kevin Nealon delivers an on-stage eulogy: “I think the fact that Garry spelled his first name with two rs…that was a warning he was going to be complicated.
“It was very hard to be Garry. A perfectionist with the highest standards. For years he complained about his house” — a really nice pad above Mandeville Canyon that HE happened to visit a few days ago. “How it was facing the wrong direction, the light wasn’t hitting it right.
“He did hate his house. For years he complained about it. This beautiful amazing home, in this gorgeous park-like setting, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, continued to be Garry’s albatross. [But] that was Garry, that was Garry.”
Website excerpt: “Epic in scope and intimate in detail, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling features conversations with more than 40 of Shandling’s family and friends, including James L. Brooks, Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen, David Coulier, Jon Favreau, Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Conan O’Brien, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman, and four decades’ worth of TV appearances, along with personal journals, private letters and candid home audio and video footage that reveal his brilliant mind and restless soul,” blah blah.
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is much better than it might sound.
I’ve only just asked for screener access to Thom Zimny and Priscilla Presley‘s Elvis Presley: The Searcher (HBO, 4.14). In the interim here are excerpts from Jon Pareles’ N.Y. Times review: “There are no fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Nor is there a television with a bullet hole in its screen. Drugs, an unavoidable topic, are mentioned in sympathetic tones as an overworked performer’s self-medication.
“A two-part, three-hour documentary that begins airing Saturday on HBO, Elvis Presley: The Searcher strives to rescue the Presley story from its tabloid side. Instead, it presents a biography of an artist and musician who was both spectacularly gifted and unconscionably misdirected. Guided by his own ideas and instincts, he transformed 20th-century culture in the 1950s. But afterward, treated by his manager as a commercial workhorse, he spent years making trivial movies and performing as a nostalgia act.
“[The doc] can’t escape the familiarity of its story. But it focuses, with purposeful tunnel vision, on Presley as a musician and performer. The first half lingers in the glory years of the 1950s, reconstructing how the young Elvis absorbed and studied all the music and showmanship he could: country, blues, pop crooners and both black and white gospel, with rousing vintage footage of singers including a sweaty, ferocious Howlin’ Wolf and a gospel workout from the Reverend Archie Dennis Jr.
“It also presents Presley’s relationship to African-American music as one of affinity and appreciation, not exploitation.
Bruce Springsteen: “Elvis’s music pointed to black culture and said, ‘This is filled with the force of life…if you want to be an American, this is something you need to pay attention to.”
“He wiggled his legs, hips and shoulders, too — onstage and then on television — inciting screams among young women and a moral panic in the older generation.
This is special. Seven minutes and 45 seconds of Manhattan in the summer of 1911 — 107 years ago. The mint-condition print, slowed-down speed and added sound makes a huge difference. Posted on 4.7.18 by Guy Jones. Captured by Svenska Biografteatern, a Swedish film company that operated between 1907 and 1919. Imagine if someone were to colorize this footage just so.
From Michael Rechstaffen’s 3.14.18 SXSW review: “Visually atmospheric but tonally all over the place, Hot Summer Nights” — what a banal-ass title! — “has much to appreciate but ultimately possesses the sampler-platter vibe of a director’s demo reel.
“Set on Cape Cod during the particularly scorching summer of 1991, Elijah Bynum‘s drama [zeroes in on vacationing] Daniel (Timothee Chalamet) forming a pot-dealing partnership with bad boy Hunter (Alex Roe). Add to this a steamy relationship with Hunter’s sister McKayla (Maika Monroe). Pic’s initially hyper pace gives way to needlessly protracted takes, often featuring extreme close-ups of characters quietly revealing painful truths.
“Things pick up a bit as destructive Hurricane Bob is gathering strength, but by that point, the all-too-apparent two-hour running time is also weighing heavily without enough plot to fill it.
“Director-writer Bynum admittedly coaxes sensitive performances from his photogenic cast, especially Chalamet, Roe, Monroe and Emory Cohen as a self-styled thug, and makes for a terrific music curator, given the ’60s and ’70s song choices that permeate many of the scenes. In the future, should he manage to add a little more discipline to the mix, his sophomore effort could hold considerable promise.”
Is this the weakest Cannes lineup anyone can remember? Kinda feels that way. Telluride’s Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger are having champagne for breakfast. I know titles will be added, of course, but right now, what a letdown. Lame. Weak tea. The Netflix withdrawal was devastating, decimating. If the festival could have at least shown Roma, Norway and The Other Side of the Wind, things would be looking somewhat better this morning.
Right now the only apparent bright lights are Asghar Farhadi‘s Everybody Knows, Pawel Pawlikowski‘s Cold War, David Robert Mitchell‘s Under The Silver Lake (which I’ve heard good but mixed things about), Matteo Garrone‘s Dogman and Spike Lee‘s BlacKkKlansman.
I’m leaving home for three weeks, travelling thousands of miles and laying out roughly $4K to see these five significant films plus whatever the noteworthy surprises may be.
No Luca Guadagnino (Suspiria will play Venice/Toronto), no Laszlo Nemes (Sunset), no Nuri Bilge Ceylan (The Wild Pear Tree), no Brian De Palma (Domino), no Mike Leigh (Peterloo), no Paolo Sorrentino (Loro), no Jennifer Kent (The Nightingale), no Claire Denis (High Life), no Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), no Olivier Assayas (E-Book), no Carlos Reygadas (Where Life is Born), no Paul Greengrass (Norway), no Terrence Malick (Radegund), no Woody Allen (averse to showing A Rainy Day in New York as this would involve press badgering) and no Orson Welles (The Other Side of the Wind). 15 might-have-beens!
What’s the point of re-mentioning the out-of-competition screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story?
No Lars Von Trier for now, but The House That Jack Built, an envelope-pushing serial-killer drama with Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, may be announced as an add-on.
Jafar Panahi‘s Three Faces and Joe Penna‘s Arctic…maybe. Jean-Luc Godard‘s The Image Book and Kore-Eda Hirokazu‘s Shoplifters…meh. Wim Wenders‘ Pope Francis — A Man of His Word (out of competition)…ehh.
Obstinate French exhibitors and that prehistoric French law insisting upon a three-year window between theatrical and streaming are the villains this morning.
From Variety: “The competition program includes just three female filmmakers, prompting Frémaux to reiterate his position that ‘the films that were selected were chosen for their own intrinsic qualities,” not the gender of their directors. Acknowledging the importance of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, (i.e., “The world will never be the same again, and we will question our own practices about the gender parity” in salaries and jury representation), Fremaux stressed that “there will never be a selection with a positive discrimination for women” — i.e., a quota system.
In a 2.15 piece called “This Is Beneath Me,” I wrote the following about Brad Pitt‘s post-divorce adventuring: “Brad’s next serious girlfriend or wife needs to be someone better than Angelina Jolie and way better than Jennifer Aniston, and by that I mean someone classy like Amal Clooney…a lawyer or a diplomat, a brilliant book author or stage director or brain surgeon, someone brilliant and accomplished but without Jolie’s curious history.”
Well, a new Us magazine cover story says Pitt has been romantically involved “since last fall” with 42 year-old Neri Oxman, “a renowned architect and professor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology whom Pitt reportedly sought out after seeing a series of 3-D printed furniture pieces she designed.”
Us reports that Pitt “‘has been spotted going into her apartment building on multiple occasions late at night and emerging the next morning after she leaves to teach,’ the source said.” [HE to readership: That means they’re doing the hunka-chunka.] “He’s also said to have headed abroad with his alleged new squeeze, accompanying her to a conference in South Africa at which she was a featured speaker.”
Previously married to Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, Oxman dumped a “very wealthy man” she’d been dating shortly after meeting Pitt.
More than a couple HE readers pooh-oohed my 2.15 Amal Clooney-type hypothesis. One guy said, “Naah, Brad needs to settle down with some hot 28-to-32 year old actress, knock her up and live in an open marriage so if he wants to fuck around on set, he can. He’s a good ole boy. An Amal Clooney situation makes no sense. He has never given much of a shit about social causes, etc.”
You have to take Runyon Canyon seriously. You have to continue with those screaming thigh muscles…uphill, uphill. You can’t dilly-dally or take too many breathers.
Even the prospect of watching a mid ’60s color film at a 1.37:1 aspect ratio isn’t enough to make me pop for an Arrow Bluray of Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise.
“Damn, is it good to watch a movie that expects the audience to pay attention and that doesn’t pander to the least common denominator.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews. “It may be a mostly pessimistic portrait of its time and place, but it offers hope, if only that movies of its style, scope and smarts can still get made.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. “Gilroy is a master at laying out a twisty plot, and Anderson directs with the kind of verve that enables almost all the twists to hit us with the force of surprise.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.
And so I began my chat with Beirut screenwriter Tony Gilroy with the following: “It’s so lovely to see a good Tony Gilroy-authored film…done right, done in a clear, adult, complex way…you can actually follow the plot..veins of eloquence and feeling…second-act plot pivots, the payoff and the denouement,” blah blah. And then off to the races.
We covered the basics, which is that Gilroy wrote the Beirut script 27 years ago, when he was working for TedField‘s Interscope. Except nobody bit and so it was put away, and then the film finally launched in ’16 or thereabouts with Brad Anderson directing and Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike costarring, and so Gilroy did a rewrite and then Anderson shot it in Tangiers in less that 30 days, and for next to nothing.
Gilroy #1: “It was meant to be a Sydney Pollack movie. Or a film for Peter Weir or Wolfgang Peterson. The Year of Living Dangerously was a model, and that wasn’t an unusual thing for 1991. Nobody bit because it seemed too controversial, a little too stinky. But what seemed a little controversial in the early ’90s, of course, is now established fact. And it put me in a much higher realm…it moved me up in class…the only movie I had made up to that point was an ice-skating movie…it got me into Dolores Claiborne.”
Gilroy #2: “There are three villains in this thing. I’m not kind to the PLO. It’s corrupt and the leadership is over in West Beirut while thousands of refugees are displaced. I’m saying that the Reagan White House was just a ratfuck of mistaken motivations and of blinking greenlights and just a mess. And I’m also really accurate about Israel’s moment of darkness there, where they were just looking for any excuse to invade.”
Gilroy #3: “I still have to grind. I still have to prove it. I tried to get a couple of original movies off the ground, and it didn’t work. It’s tough, man. I’m trying to do original unbranded IP, man. It’s tough, it’s tough.”
I’m told that Woody Allen‘s A Rainy Day in New York will not be announced as a Cannes Film Festival selection tomorrow morning. The reason, I gather, is not because festival honcho Thierry Fremaux didn’t want to show it, and not because Amazon didn’t want to provide a DCP, but because Allen and producer Letty Aronson (i.e., his sister) didn’t want the controversial attention.
Rather than stand up to the naysayers and Rainy Day costar Timothee Chalamet, who announced several weeks ago that he’s donating his salary for working on the film to a #TimesUp organization, Allen and Aronson have apparently opted out.
It may be that A Rainy Day in New York isn’t very good, in which case I would understand Allen’s reluctance to show it in Cannes. But at least a couple of not-all-that-great Allen films have screened in Cannes before (Irrational Man, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger) and so not showing Rainy Day is also, one could infer, about a lack of sterner stuff or certainly an instinct to avoid a turbulent episode.
Ducking and hiding in the midst of a persistent but highly questionable controversy (i.e., the Dylan Farrow allegation that was re-stated in a 12.7.17 L.A. Times op-ed piece, and the Robert Weide defense that was posted on 12.13) is a way of saying “whatever you guys want to believe or not believe is fine with me, but I’m not going to submit to a tabloid circus in Cannes in order to promote my latest film, however good or bad it might be…I just don’t want to get raked over the coals by the Cannes press corps about this whole matter once again so the hell with it…Amazon will probably release it with a minimum of fanfare but I’m moving on to my next film.”
As one insider put it, “Woody himself and his own team might not think that going to Cannes is the best idea at this particular moment.”
A pair of second-hand “insiders” have confided that nothing has been said about A Rainy Day in New York since earlier this year, and that “they’re already talking about working on the next one.” Duck and cover, avoid the heat, choose the path of least resistance, etc.
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This morning I read a 6.9 profile of MGM CEO Gary Barber by Deadline‘s Peter Bart (“A Resurgent MGM Builds...More »