Right around the time I shot this iPhone video during yesterday afternoon’s Berlin-to-Prague train trip, Glenn Kenny was calling me “worthless” on Twitter for not dropping everything in order to see Alain Resnais‘ Life of Riley (a.k.a., Aimer, boire et chanter) at the Berlinale. Serious respect to a venerated master, but Resnais’s greatest period of vitality lasted for 20 years, or between Hiroshima, Mon Amour (’59) and Mon Oncle d’Amerique (’80). It’s great that he’s still creating at age 91 but I’ll see Life of Riley when I get around to it.
Six or seven years ago I was chatting with the late Andy Jones at an Academy screening when an African-American professional woman walked by. I waved and greeted her effusively. Two seconds later I was mortified because I’d addressed her with the name of another African-American professional…good God. After she left Andy chuckled and said, “That’s okay, Jeffrey…all black women look alike so it’s understandable that you made that mistake.” I’ve never felt so completely humiliated. White man! All to say that while KTLA’s Sam Rubin appropriately apologized for briefly thinking that Samuel L. Jackson had performed in a Super Bowl commercial that belonged to Laurence Fishburne, the bottom line was that he had confused the two because of his…uhm, cultural perspective. These things happen every so often, I suppose, but I know it’ll never happen with me again.
I’ve been excited about seeing Jose Padhila‘s Robocop (MGM/Columbia, 2.12) for a couple of years now. It began with an interview I did with Padhila as he was beginning work on the remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original. As an admirer of Padilha’s Bus 174 (’02), Elite Squad (’07) and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (’10), I knew his Robocop would have to be at least somewhat rock ‘n’ roll. Anway, the Los Angeles all-media screening of Jose Padhilla‘s Robocop broke a little while ago and reviews will soon be posted. But something’s wrong. The Rotten Tomatoes score indicates a ho-hum response. The feeling is that (a) it’s an in-betweener, (b) it’s not saying gnything new, (c) it’s efficiently made but not satiric or “out there” enough. I don’t have tracking info but it’s probably not going to make box-office history — I can feel it. I suppose this is due to a general feeling that Verhoeven’s original didn’t need to be remade.
In a 2.9 Gold Derby piece about why certain Oscar handicappers are picking Gravity to win the Best Picture Oscar, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond explains as follows: “I had been predicting Gravity for much of the season and then moved on briefly to American Hustle and then 12 Years a Slave. But I have gone back to Gravity because simply I think it could be a ‘consensus’ film. It may not be on a majority of ballots as a number one choice, but I bet it is on many as a number two. This is a year where a number of good films will likely split that number-one passion vote. I doubt any of them will get over 50% first time out. That’s when the number two choice makes a huge difference. Right now I am betting that number two is Gravity with a lot of help from below-the-line branches. I was given pause by its loss at the ACE Eddies but not enough to cause great concern. BAFTA will be the next litmus test. Until then I will stick with this strategy.”
Translation: The sheep-herd mentality is almost always averse or blind to films that project a singular verve or a ferocious passion like — hello? — The Wolf of Wall Street, which is hands down the best film of the year. Which is why an orbital verisimilitude amusement ride — a towering technical achievement but that’s all — is probably going to take the top prize. Fantastic! The Academy members who decided the 1965 Oscars would get along very well with today’s gutless go-alongers if they could time-machine into the present.