“Jeez, why so down on Jackass 3D?,” a journalist friend wrote last night. “I love those Jackass movies, and obviously so do millions of other folks. They’re the modern version of the Three Stooges, and I laughed as hard at Jackass II as I did at Borat. We all know stupidity sells, especially self-aware stupidity, so why is Jackass any more deplorable than Meet the Fockers or the 40 Year Old Virgin or, dare I say it, Woody Allen films like Sleeper or Take the Money and Run?
“I think there’s too much of an elitist ‘holier than thou’ attitude among critics and blogger-critics who feel it necessary to hold their nose when discussing Jackass. But not me — I love Jackass and Wildboyz and Viva La Bam, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I also love Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch and Jacques Tati and Peter Sellers and Animal House and the Marx Brothers and Chaplin, etc. So who has the more narrow-minded love of film?”
Wells to Journalist Pal: All I can say is that from this side of the divide, hating the Jackass franchise feels wonderful.
I’ve only begin to dip into Lionsgate’s Apocalypse Now Bluray, but so far it’s glorious. The only problem (and this is entirely the fault of my system) is that the bassy explosion sounds are overwhelming the speakers on my 42″ plasma. (Dynamic range and all that.) I’ll never forget my first exposure to the magnificent sub-woofer vibration — like some great rumbling earthquake — that came out of the Ziegfeld speakers when I first saw AN in 1979.
This is my favorite still from the film. The instant I saw it projected onto the Ziegfeld screen I said to myself, “Vittorio Storaro is a serious rock star.” I knew he’d done beautiful work on Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, but the Apocalypse Now photography was thrilling, gleaming, “extra.”
The most frequently cited contender for the just-announced 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards is Debra Granik‘s Winters Bone, which was nominated for Best Feature, Breakthrough Actor (Jennifer Lawrence) and Best Ensemble Performance. Lisa Cholodenko‘s The Kids Are All Right and Lena Dunham‘s Tiny Furniture received two nominations each.
The 20th annual Gotham Awards’ ceremony will be held on Monday, 11.29 at Cipriani Wall Street. Besides the awards presentations Robert Duvall, Hilary Swank, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky and Focus Features CEO James Schamus will each be presented with a career tribute.
Best Feature nominees are Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, Let Me In and Winter’s Bone. Wells to Gotham Awards committee: If you decide not to give the award to Black Swan, obviously the finest film in this bunch, please give it to poor little Let Me In, which really needs the attention.
Best Documentary nominees are 12th & Delaware (what’s that?), Inside Job, The Oath, Public Speaking and Sweetgrass. (And the reason that Amir Bar Lev‘s The Tillman Story, Alex Gibney‘s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Banksy‘s Exit Through The Gift Shop, Kate Davis and David Heilbroner‘s Stonewall Uprising, Vikram Jayanti‘s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector and Leon Gast‘s Smash His Camera weren’t nominated is….why again? I’m not clear on the criteria.)
Breakthrough Actor nominees include Prince Adu (Prince of Broadway), Ronald Bronstein (Daddy Longlegs), Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and John Ortiz (Jack Goes Boating).
Tyler Perry‘s For Colored Girls is being promoted today with an online art gallery display designed by Lionsgate marketing director Tim Palen. The idea is to digitally animate eight portraits of Colored Girls actresses by making their eyes, lips and heads move as we hear dialogue from one of their scenes. This is way beyond the realm of Clutch Cargo, but the minimal-movement aesthetic triggered this association.
An actual real-world version of same will show in Manhattan’s Lehman Maupin Gallery (540 West 26th Street) from 10.24 through 10.27.
Palen’s “Living Portraits,” which he conceived of and directed, were shot on 35mm film.
I was surprised to discover that the 1.66 to 1 crop used in the new Criterion Bluray of Paths of Glory feels relatively satisfying. All I can finally say is that it looks “right,” as if 1.66 to 1 was the idea all along. And I sat down with this disc ready to dislike what I might see and totally prepared to complain. But it doesn’t look bad. None of the framings seem cramped or confined.
This is a significant admission for me as I’ve been a 1.33 to 1 aspect ratio purist all my life. I wrote in May 2009 that cropping Dr. Strangelove to 1.66, despite the 1.33 aspect ratio providing acres of luscious head-room, was unfortunate. And I’ve said time and again that the new Psycho Bluray is revisionist vandalism due to Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1960 classic having been cropped to 1.78 in order to fit high-def plasma and LCD screens, despite Psycho having been shown on TV for decades at a perfectly pleasing 1.33 to 1 shape.
A part of me would still prefer to see Stanley Kubrick‘s 1957 anti-war classic opened up to a boxier 1.33 to 1 aspect ratio. 1.33 framings are immaculate in my book because of the Hollywood Elsewhere extra-air-space and room-to-breathe headroom principle — i.e., the more space around and particularly above the actors heads, the more pleasing to the eye.
Criteron’s Bluray mastering is superb. It has grainy textures, but they’re acceptable to my eyes. The detail is improved, of course, and the monochromatic range seems greater than any version I’ve seen before (including 35mm projection). Those mild, mid-range grays seem more vivid and robust. And I love the heightened indications of moisture in the eyes of the soldiers, and the fibres on uniforms and overcoats coming through with greater clarity and relief.
Paths of Glory has never looked or felt as good as this. What a sensual bath this Bluray disc amounts to. Watching it is almost like lying on one of those portable fold-up tables and getting a facial.
“We are in the era of Republican Mean Girls,” Maureen Dowd wrote in a 10.17 N.Y. Times column, calling them “grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.
“These women — Jan, Meg, Carly, Sharron, Linda, Michele, Queen Bee Sarah and sweet wannabe Christine — have co-opted and ratcheted up the disgust with the status quo that originally buoyed Barack Obama. Whether they’re mistreating the help or belittling the president’s manhood, making snide comments about a rival’s hair or ripping an opponent for spending money on a men’s fashion show, the Mean Girls have replaced Hope with Spite and Cool with Cold. They are the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate.”
A critic friend told me this morning that he had the same reaction to Chris Morris‘s Four Lions (Alamo Drafthouse, 11.5) that I did — astonishing concept (a suicide terrorist comedy), quite funny at times, but he couldn’t understand a fair portion of the dialogue due to the British working-class accents. They might as well be speaking Farsi.
“It was funny, or at least the parts I could understand,” he wrote. “Apparently they’re not putting subtitles on it, which is unfortunate because those accents were so thick and the sound so muddy as to be virtually indecipherable at times.”
My 1.24.10 Sundance review: “Early last evening I saw Chris Morris‘s Four Lions — an unsettling, at times off-putting, at other times genuinely amazing black political comedy about London-based Jihadists — Islamic radicalism meets the Four Stooges/Keystone Cops. It’s sometimes shocking and sometimes heh-heh funny, and occasionally hilarious.
“Morris uses a verbal helter-skelter quality reminiscent of In The Loop, and yet the subject is appalling — a team of doofuses who dream of bombing and slaughtering in order to enter heaven and taste the fruit of virgins. It’s amazing and kind of pleasing that a comedy of this sort has been made, but I don’t want to think about the reactions in Manhattan once it opens.
“At times it felt flat and frustrating (I couldn’t understand half of it due to the scruffy British accents) and at other times I felt I was watching something akin to Dr. Strangelove — ghastly subject matter leavened with wicked humor.
“An agent I spoke to after the screening said, ‘I don’t know if the American public is ready for this film.’ He’s probably right, but Four Lions is an absolute original — I’ve never seen anything like it, nor have I have ever felt so torn in my reactions. I’d love to see it again, but with subtitles.”