I’m not saying Where’d You Go, Bernadette is without issues, but it’s better than those Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic ratings would indicate. I felt occasional stabs of annoyance, but not that often and they were more like pin pricks. Which is a longish way of saying that it feels good when others feel more or less the same as you do. Again, my 8.14 review (“Better Than Expected“). Bernadette presumably won’t make much this weekend, but that’s another matter. Respect for director Richard Linklater and Annapurna for at least giving it the old college try.
Before I bought my first serious bike (a yellow-jacket BMW), getting around Los Angeles was irksome, tiring, frustrating. I never angrily gestured at anyone and I certainly never road-raged, but once or twice guys tried to road-rage me. (Here’s an incident that happened in March 2013.)
But it wasn’t the psychotics who made driving around so trying. It was the slowboats — those fine folks who don’t signal, don’t nudge their way forward into a left-turn lane at a traffic-light intersection, and who will sometimes block a narrow neighborhood street as they look for street-meter parking.
Those daily feelings of entrapment are a thing of the past now. I drive the car only when forced to (weather, too far to travel, big load). Otherwise I’m a free man in Paris, and it’s glorious. No parking problems ever. Around six or seven dollars to fill the tank. The pokies are no longer an issue. And I always make excellent time.
I don’t have my own private parking spot in the outdoor Farmer’s Market lot, but you might as well call it that because nobody ever parks there. Ditto the Hollywood Arclight lot — a small area that’s too small for cars but more than enough for the Rumble Hog is always unoccupied, and even if a two-wheeled guy were to take it I could find an alternate spot immediately.
In short, as far as Los Angeles traffic is concerned I lead a stress-free life, and I doubt that I could feel more thankful and soothed about this than I already am.
Twice this week I noticed guys getting up and presumably attending to business only a minute or two after a film has started. Who does this? It happened near the beginning of Wednesday evening’s Mindhunter screening at the Hollywood Arclight, and at the start of last Monday’s Blinded By The Light all-media at the Grove. Both times the evacuees didn’t return for a good four or five minutes. This is little dog behavior. Can you imagine a Manhattan theatregoer standing up and side-shuffling towards the aisle two or three minutes after the first-act curtain has gone up? You can take a break at the half-hour or hour mark, although moviegoers with a semblance of self-control rarely do this. I sure as hell don’t, in part because I don’t slurp Diet Coke out of 32-ounce containers.
The iconic and legendary Peter Fonda (or “Peter Fondue,” as Dennis Hopper once called him) passed this morning at age 79. Now Wyatt and Billy are in biker heaven together, cruising on some two-lane blacktop somewhere in New Mexico. No, they’re not actually — death has simply paid them both a visit now, and I’m very sorry. Hugs and condolences to the Fonda family (Jane in particular), Peter’s filmmaking colleagues, friends (in Los Angeles as well as Paradise Valley, Montana) and fans.
Like anyone else Fonda had his up and down periods, his dark or fallow or inactive periods, but during the heyday of the ’60s, man, or more precisely between mid ’65 and the release of Easy Rider on 7.14.69, Peter knew the language…he knew his way around.
By HE calculations Fonda created, participated in or partly authored six culturally important events in his life.
One, when he told John Lennon that “I know what it’s like to be dead” while they were tripping (along with a few others) in a Benedict Canyon hillside home in August ’65. This inspired Lennon to write “She Said She Said.”
Three, when Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson re-ordered the motion picture universe with Easy Rider (’69).
Four, when Fonda directed and starred in The Hired Hand (’71), easily his finest directing effort and arguably the second best film he ever starred in.
Five, his near-perfect performance as Terry Valentine in Steven Soderbergh‘s The Limey (’97).
And sixth, his performance in Victor Nunez‘s Ulee’s Gold, which I saw at Sundance in January ’97.
Fonda was always cool if you had something to say. He was with me, at least, on three or four occasions. The first time we spoke was when I interviewed him about his Split Image role (a cult leader) for the N.Y. Post. (One of the sub-topics was Biker Heaven, a proposed sequel to Easy Rider that would have costarred Fonda and Hopper.) Then at a Toronto Film Festival party for The Limey in September ’97. The last time I saw Fonda was toward the end of a party for Silver Linings Playbook at the Chateau Marmont, six or seven years ago. You’d say whatever came to mind and Fonda would return the volley if you were making any sense.
He loved his aloof dad, Henry Fonda, and in fact told me so when we did that ’82 interview in Manhattan. Peter would look right at you and hold the stare when he said stuff like this. He had kind, trusting eyes and what seemed to me like a fairly large heart.
The night before last I was watching the first three episodes of the second season of David Fincher‘s Mindhunter. Not at home but on a large Hollywood Arclight screen, and it was quite the odd feeling — curious but so pleasurable — to watch a quietly chilling procedural that’s mostly about dialogue, dialogue and dialogue.
But always dry and succinct. Cunning and crafty and joined with a visual palette that tells you that something wicked will eventually this way come. Or is actually happening right now but hard to get the goods on, much less stop.
At first I was saying to myself “God, here I am in a mostly full theatre and we’re all just listening to razor sharp dialogue, and it’s so great to be doing this…to be part of what amounts to an almost surreal viewing experience by today’s standards.” Not just dialogue, of course, but Erik Messerschmidt‘s muted, shadowy cinematography along with some wonderfully fleet cutting by Kirk Baxter. But the talk is just wonderful — taut and crisp and on-point.
But the main element, as with season #1, is an inaudible hum of some kind…something strange and unsettling that you can’t quite put your finger on, but is there in spades every step of the way. It’s “normal” seeming but at the same time spooky. This is a signature Fincher thing, the same quietly throbbing undercurrent that made Zodiac such a deliciously creepy sit.
All nine episodes are currently watchable…binge-able, I mean…on Netlix as we speak. The first three were directed by Fincher, episodes #4 and #5 by Andrew Dominik, and #6, #7 #8 and #9 directed by Carl Franklin. The screenwriters vary from episode to episode, but the principals are Courtney Miles (credited with story or teleplay credits on seven out of nine episodes), Josh Donen (story credit on seven) and Liz Hannah (co-teleplay credit on #4, full teleplay on #6).
A Netflix rep just asked me what I thought. “Brilliant, haunting, masterful,” I replied. “Never poking or jolting viewers with conventional thriller or horror moves, but at the same time throbbing with a certain kind of under-the-surface tension.”
All you know for sure is that Fincher and colleagues won’t be resorting to the usual cops-vs.-serial killers razmatazz, and that you’ll believe absolutely everything they show and convey and fill your head with.
I love that Mindhunter #2 has been shot with a 2.2:1 aspect ratio (standard widescreen 70mm a.r., used for 70mm screenings of Apocalypse Now), and that the camera was a Red Xenomorph Dragon, and that it was shot in Dolby Vision 6K.
I love these episode summaries: (a) “The investigation zeroes in on a prime suspect who proves adept at manipulating a volatile situation to his advantage”, (b) “Bill’s devastating family situation spills over during his interview with Holden’s holy-grail subject: Charlie Manson. Wendy’s new romance heats up” and (c) “Hitting a dead end, Holden suggests a bold plan to draw the killer out. Bill’s family faces more scrutiny. Wendy chafes as her job begins to shift.” I eat this shit up.
Things begin almost immediately in the wake of season #1’s final episode, when Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) lost his composure and possibly some of his mind in the too-creepy-for-words presence of serial killer Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton). This feeds into the threat of recurring anxiety attacks plus a new Xanax prescription, which leads into Holden’s Behavioral Science Unit partners, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), quietly worrying about his ability to handle high-stress situations.
We learn early on that BSU boss Robert Shepard (Cotter Smith) is “retiring” under duress, and that his replacement Ted Gunn (Michael Cerveris) understands the methodology and is particularly supportive of Holden, who isn’t exactly a by-the-book type and is occasionally given to following his instincts.
This VoteVets.org testimony piece doesn’t add anything fresh or jarring — it’s just another reminder of how far around the bend Trump has gone. That’s been apparent for some time now, of course. The significant thing here, I suppose, is that these veterans would never strike anyone as typical lefties or typical Trump haters.
Not to sound like a tech plebe but I’m having trouble imagining what kind of visual enhancement or “bump” will be delivered by the latest digital RED camera, called the Komodo Dragon. The Playlist‘s Rodrigo Perez reports that Steven Soderbergh is using RED’s untested 6K Dragon ** to shoot his ôcurrently-lensing film, Let Them All Talk, which costars Meryl Streep and Gemma Chan.
I own the Criterion Bluray of Soderbergh’s two-part, 258-minute Che (’08), which was shot with a then-experimental RED digital camera. And in my uncultured, dumbfuck, outside-the-loop opinion it still looks heavenly. Last January in Park City I saw Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird, which was shot with an iPhone8 coupled with an anamorphic lens, and to my peon eyes it was pure viewing pleasure — clean, vibrant, razor sharp.
So what exactly can be achieved by the RED Komodo Dragon already? 6K, okay, but how much better can it look? (Or, as Jake Gittes said to Noah Cross, “Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat?”) It will all end up, viewing-wise, on 1080p flatscreens in people’s living rooms so…
Let Them All Talk is currently shooting in NYC “before whisking away to a remote location outside the U.S. where no one will be available to do service work on the camera at all,” Perez writes. That’s an allusion to a cruise ship (possibly the Queen Mary 2) crossing the Atlantic or whatever. A scale model of same was posted on 7.26 by “Bitchuation,” who may or may not be Soderbergh.
One likely distributor of Let Them All Talk is Netflix, which streamed High Flying Bird earlier this year and is also distributing Soderbergh’s upcoming, allegedly satiric The Laundromat in the fall.
** “Komodo seems to be RED’s new ‘affordable’ camera. From the teasers we already know it will shoot 6K video, use a Canon RF mount, CFast media, and it will have a headphone jack and a microphone input jack. The body will weigh less than 2 pounds and all the dimensions will be under 4″, which is very compact. There will be no HDMI port. The camera is supposed to work closely with HYDROGEN One phones and it will cost over $5,000 (less for HYDROGEN users).” — excerpt from cinema5d article, posted on 8.9.19.
Rambo: Last Blood pops on 9.20.19.
I won’t say where this was taken, but if you were a hotshot director would you choose a highly visible, heavily trafficked place to sit, think, read and maybe get some writing done? I understand how public cafes and whatnot can get the creative wheels turning, but the trick is to choose a small, out-of-the-way cafe, some modest establishment off the beaten path.
Until last night I was under a vague impression that general regard for Robert Altman‘s Nashville had been sinking, and that other Altman classics — McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Player, California Split, The Long Goodbye, M.A.S.H., Thieves Like Us — had gathered more admirers. The results of Matt Zoller Seitz‘s twitter poll differ with that view. Odd but there it is.
“Withered Nashville,” posted on 12.14.13:
It’s a typical Altmanesque grab-bag of this and that, but it’s mainly a social criticism piece about Middle-American politics, patriotism, pettiness and celebrity. The specific focus is the banal eccentricities and pretensions of the country-music industry, but for the most part the film is snide and misanthropic. Sorry, but I’m removing it from my Altman pantheon. I loved it in ’75 but I’m pretty sure I’ll never watch Nashville again. It’s failed the test of time.
In basic construction terms Nashville is about a troupe of eccentric, improvising actor-hipsters leaning on their default Left Coast impressions of Nashville’s sophisticated-hick culture and dispensing variations on a single dismissive theme: “These people are small and petty and lame and delusional.”
One measure of the present climate is that it feels a teeny bit scary to acknowledge the existence of white culture or white heritage in this country. In some quarters this admission might be interpreted as a vague indication of the wrong kind of social views. In this context quoting statistics from Wikipedia’s White Americans page — “white Americans constitute 72% of the 308 million people living in the United States…the largest ethnic groups (by ancestry) among White Americans being Germans, Irish and English” — could leave a person open to attacks from p.c. purists. Safer to avoid the subject altogether.
I’m mentioning this as context to a brief exchange last night between Devin Faraci and myself, to wit:
It was almost six years ago, but I’ll never forget LexG‘s confession in a comment thread (or on Twitter) that he loved The Wolf of Wall Street “for the wrong reasons.” He loved the debauch, in other words, and ignored the stringent social commentary aspect. Which wasn’t that different from the conservative Academy biddies (Hope Holiday and friends) who hated the debauch (“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves…talented men putting such junk on the screen and thinking it was funny!”) while failing to detect the social critique stuff.
Now that it’s a part of Hollywood history, can we finally admit that despite the film being a metaphorical lament about the nature of elite American capitalism, the reason WOWW grossed more than $392 million worldwide and became Scorsese’s highest earner was because most moviegoers embraced LexG’s attitude?
Could WOWW be funded or greenlighted in today’s punitive climate? I think we all know the answer. It would be seen as too lewd, too depraved, too Trumpian.