How many decades have directors of horror films been using scratchy, high-pitched howls to make sure that audiences understand that something horribly scary is happening? I guess it began with Bernard Herrmann‘s screechy violins on the Psycho soundtrack. I only know that you can’t watch a horror film or a trailer for one without hearing that shrieking laryngitis banshee wail — the universal sound for all ghosts, demons, banshees and monsters. I’d really love to be spared every so often.
I’m thinking of hiking up to the San Francisco Film Festival on Saturday, 4.27 to hear Steven Soderbergh deliver a “state of the cinema” speech as well as an explanation of his reasons for taking a taking a little time out, a.k.a., a “Frank Sinatra retirement.” No more gratis hotel bookings so we’re talking round-trip air fare plus two nights at some flophouse or b & b plus the usual expenses or roughly $700 bills just to hear Soderbergh give a speech.
I’ll also be doing the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival from roughly Thursday, 4.11 through Sunday, 4.14. I’ve been there before and its a nice, agreeable, intelligently programmed affair. When I was drinking it meant something to be staying in the middle of wine country; now not so much. But I get to park it here so it’s all good.
“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear,” Roger Ebert wrote in a 9.15.11 Salon piece. “I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
“I don’t expect to die anytime soon. But it could happen this moment, while I am writing. I was talking the other day with Jim Toback, a friend of 35 years, and the conversation turned to our deaths, as it always does. ‘Ask someone how they feel about death,’ he said, ‘and they’ll tell you everyone’s gonna die. Ask them, In the next 30 seconds? No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen. How about this afternoon? No. What you’re really asking them to admit is, Oh my God, I don’t really exist. I might be gone at any given second.’
“Me too, but I hope not. I have plans. [But] I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things. In my plans for life after death, I say, again with Walt Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
Last last week I wrote to Woody Allen about the Shane aspect-ratio brouhaha. I wrote him in care of his publicist Leslee Dart of 42West. About a half hour ago I received a letter from Woody via Leslee as follows:
“I wanted to add my strenuous objection to putting out an edition of Shane in any format other than the precise original.
“Black bars are much preferable and years before they were acceptable to audiences I always insisted on them for my movie Manhattan rather than giving in to what may be a more commercial but is definitely an artistic degradation of how the movie should look.
“The compromise of putting out two versions, an original and one commercially modified, would certainly not be acceptable to me on a film of mine. While I don’t like the idea of [this compromise happening to] one of America’s Greatest Westerns and one of its finest all-around films, I suppose it’s better than riding roughshod over the original masterpiece and losing it to attempt with version.”
Woody apparently wrote this in some haste and I’m not quite sure how to properly edit the last six words of the last sentence, but I presume he means it’s better to have a dual-aspect-ratio Bluray (containing a 1.66 plus a 1.37 version) than to not have a 1.37 version available at all.
Woody’s last line is directed not at myself but at Warner Home Video and/or Paramount Home Video executives, to wit:
“I hope you will consider this before an irrevocable mistake is made.”
Deadline‘s Pete Hammond is reporting specifics about the Academy’s upcoming May 4th meeting in which everything that needs to be fixed and or streamlined ort re-thought will be discussed en masse by Academy members on both coasts. As any and all topics are fair game, it seems imperative that the issue of minimizing the impact of the likes and dislikes of out-to-pasture Academy members be addressed.
If the Academy wants to be part of the world as it is right now and have the Oscar winners reflect this, it has to reduce the influence of people whose professional peaks happened 15 or 20 or 25 or more years ago. These people will retain membership and all the priveleges that go with that, but their votes won’t count as much as those who are actively working and contributing to the films of today. Simple.
Every year Academy members will be asked online “how recently have you worked on a feature film destined for theatrical or a film or series destined for cable or streaming?” If the last film you worked on was released ten or more years ago, you get a single vote and become a C-grade voter. If the last film you have worked on was released between five and ten years ago, you get two votes and become a B-grade voter. And if you’ve worked on a film made and released within the last five years, you get three votes and becomes an A-grade voter.
How would this system be unfair? What could possibly be the downside? If this system had been in place seven years ago, Brokeback Mountain would have won the Best Picture Oscar.
Less than two days after announcing that he would be cutting back on reviews due to a recurrence of his cancer, Roger Ebert has left the earth. I’m very, very sorry that he didn’t get more time as I know he wanted it and would have made excellent use of it, as he did during every waking minute of his life . My heart goes out to Chaz Ebert and to Roger’s friends and fans and the whole community…Jesus. This hurts. Life is short. Hugs and condolences.
This morning’s exclusive New York Post story about Christopher Abbott‘s decision to quit Lena Dunham‘s Girls doesn’t even hint why. It only says that Abbott and Dunham “began butting heads” as the third season began shooting because Abbott “didn’t like the direction things are going in.”
Anyone who watches the show can put two and two together. Abbott walked because his character, Charlie Dattolo, strikes at least some of us (i.e., myself) as a rich, stone-faced, totally-stuck-on-himself little prick who is probably hung like a cashew. He’s off and on with Allison Williams‘ character but mainly he wants to fuck her occasionally. Or so it seems to me.
All I know is that every time Abbott comes on-screen I say to myself, “Oh, Jesus, here comes that pathetic little asshole with the chilly manner and the shark eyes and the dorky beard and the rounded little girly shoulders….God, this guy is repulsive!”
Abbott knows that even the hippest people out there sometimes get the idea that a character an actor plays is actually who that actor is, and he was afraid of being typecast throughout the universe as a pissy little dickhead, and Dunham wasn’t interested in humanizing him or giving different colors as she only writes guys who are (a) nice but insincere horndogs, (b) confused and angry and arrogant after a fashion, or (c) guys who ejaculate on their girlfriend’s boobs after telling them to crawl around on all fours.
Girls is largely about girls going through all kinds of anger and confusion and frustration and relationships that are basically maddening and probably futile, and the guy characters do not come off that well — let’s face it.
If you want to see a Girls-type thing (Brooklyn, hipster poverty, da coolness) without the male-hate factor, watch Frances Ha when it comes out on May 17th.
I said three months ago that the CG compositions of 1920s Times Square in Baz Luhrman‘s The Great Gatsby are spot-on, and now these new shots of NYC and surrounding environs indicate all the more than the visuals are going to kill if (and this is a big “if”) they’re not too CGish. I first read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book in my early 20s; I started to read it again in the ’90s but I got bored or distracted by something. I’ve just decided I’m going to crack it open again.
Repeating: “My second reaction was to wonder why Luhrman cast a 70 year-old Indian actor, Amitabh Bachchan, to play a Jewish gangster associate of Jay Gatsby‘s, Meyer Wolfsheim, whom F. Scott Fitzgerald based on Arnold Rothstein. Even if you mentally erase the fact that all big-time gangsters in the 1920s were either Italian, Irish or Jewish, the idea that an Indian guy could rise to the top of the big-time crime world of New York City in the early 1920s is, in itself, absurd.
“So Luhrman gets it almost exactly right in terms of the movies playing in Times Square from the spring to fall of 1922, but he gets it wildly, flamboyantly wrong with the casting of an Indian actor pal as Wolfsheim. Which feels to me like two minds within the same person working at cross purposes, which indicates trouble for the film.”
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »