Little did I know last September that in missing Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer‘s Still Alice at the Toronto Film Festival that I would be committing myself to being in the dark about Julianne Moore‘s Best Actress chances for nearly two months. I realize, of course, that her front-runner status is largely about her being “due” along with her bravura turn in Maps to the Stars, but her work in Alice has to count for something. The coping-with-Alzhiemer’s drama will screen at the 2014 AFI Fest twice, at the Egyptian on 11.12 at 8pm and then the following day at the Chinese at 2:30 pm.
My idea of a cool and studly fast car movie is Drive. My idea of a complete waste of time is James Wan‘s Furious 7 (Universal, 4.3.15). I have the same amount of belief in the real-world versimilitude in this trailer as I do in a Road Runner cartoon. Sky-diving cars with special chutes that open and close at just the right time? Sure thing. The bit with the late Paul Walker running along the top of a bus teetering on a cliff isn’t bad conceptually, but Wan waits too long and expects us to believe that a guy could leap…what, 40 or 50 feet and fall into a car and not crack his ribs and elbows and forearms? If anyone had the courage and the character to make a real car movie (i.e., something that restores the aesthetic of the car chase in Bullitt) I would pay to see it repeatedly. The people who made Furious 7 are, no offense, corporate-fellating scum.
On 10.28 a N.Y. Times story by Maureen Carvajal announced that a full-length version of Orson Welles‘ never-completed The Other Side of The Wind, which was shot in fits and starts from the early to mid ’70s, will be assembled and screened next year, possibly at next May’s Cannes Film Festival. Carvajal reported that Royal Road Entertainment’s Filip Jan Rymsza and Frank Marshall have reached an agreement with the sometimes-warring parties (including, significantly, Welles’ daughter Beatrice) to buy the rights. The producers intend to have it ready for a screening in time for May 6, the 100th anniversary of Welles’s birth, Caraval wrote. The day after the announcement I spoke with Berkeley film professor and ex-Variety guy Joe McBride, the author of three Welles books as well as a former producer and supporting player in Wind. Again, the mp3.
On the first day of filming The Other Side of the Wind on 8.23.70 (l. to r.): Orson Welles (seated, left), costar Peter Bogdanovich and producer and bit player Joe (a.k.a. Joseph) McBride.
As usual the rankings are based on a mixture of real-world likelihood, pressure of colleagues and the eternal, rock-solid assessments of the Movie Godz.
Birdman‘s Michael Keaton has been in the top Best Actor slot since Telluride and I don’t see that changing, but who knows? Special HE shout-outs to two guys no one is mentioning but whom the Godz are insisting upon — Tom Hardy for his performances in The Drop and Locke, and to Bill Hader for his career-changing Skeleton Twins performance as a sardonic, living-in-emotional-limbo gay guy.
It’s been widely observed that the Best Actress heat afforded to Julianne Moore and her Still Alice performance is about being “owed” plus her fading histrionic actress turn in Maps to the Stars (I still haven’t seen Alice, and probably won’t until the AFI Fest showing.)
In the Best Supporting Actor realm I’m a bit more of an Edward Norton-in-Birdman guy than a cheerleader for J.K. Simmons-in-Whiplash, although I recognize that some believe that Simmons is the current front-runner . I also recognize that conventional wisdom says that Boyhood‘s Patricia Arquette is in the lead for Best Supporting Actress, which is well and good except for the fact that Emma Stone‘s Birdman performance blows Arquette’s out of the water.
Obviously I’ve included speculative support for unseen performances…and so what? You know who’s also “owed” as far as the Best Supporting Actor category is concerned? A Most Violent Year‘s Albert Brooks because he wasn’t even nominated in this category for his delicious Drive performance.
Here’s the most recent HE Best Director chart. The Best Picture chart is sitting inside the Oscar Balloon box. Disputes and admonitions are requested. All charts are fluid and malleable.
By the way: I am in awe of Jett Wells‘s ability to bang these four charts out in record time — they had been pre-designed but he did all the resizing and zig-zagging and name-tagging in about 45 minutes.
It’s almost a slur to call Jennifer Kent‘s The Babadook (IFC Midnight, 11.28, theatrical/VOD) a “midnight movie” by virtue of it being an IFC Midnight release. It’s much better than that. It’s not just about a widowed mom (Essie Davis) and a young son (Noah Wiseman) being spooked by a gothy, top-hat-wearing, needle-fingered goblin but the emotional and psychological roots of this haunting and a gradual, careful accumulation of believability, chills and force. It’s one of those restrained, character-driven, less-is-much-much-more horror films that pop up once in a blue moon — a mix of Polanski’s Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby plus Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Orphanage plus a dab or two of F.W. Murnau‘s Nosferatu. Almost everything in-camera, super-meticulous design, no cheap jolts, no conventional gore to speak of…but scary as hell. As I said last week, it’s significantly more effective than Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining in telling a story of dark spirits overtaking the mind and soul of a parent and leading to evil impulses. Is Kent the first woman director to really score big-time in this realm? The Babadook opened in England on 10.24 with a 96% RT rating. Here’s an interview with Kent in a recent issue of Film Comment.
In a pre-Halloween “What’s The Deal”segment TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider concentrated on classic Halloween pix and in so doing ignored the then-soon-to-open Nightcrawler. I took him to task and Sneider pushed back, saying he was a huge fan, etc. And now this, which is basically a make-up segment. I agree with all of Sneider’s award-nominating suggestions except for (don’t hate me, Dan) Renee Russo for Best Supporting Actress. She nails her TV news producer character as far as it goes but all she does is react to Jake Gyllenhaal‘s pitches and pleas and manipulations. She has no real song or engine of her own. The role lacks breadth and vulnerability, and she doesn’t say anything funny. Sorry.
This photo of a couple of “Eye of the Beholder” Halloweeners appeared on Twitter this morning. The ghoul makeup used for this renowned 54 year-old Twilight Zone episode (original air date was 11.11.60, exactly one week after JFK’s election) is fairly primitive by today’s standards. You therefore wouldn’t think it would hold much sway, but apparently there’s a certain Zone awareness among under-35s. If you want a pair of decent “Eye of the Beholder” action figures, it’ll cost you around $200. The second shot is of Jett Wells in zombie mode. I roamed around West Hollywood last night in a brown leather eye mask that I bought in Venice…no biggie.
Jett Wells — Friday, 10.31, sometime after dark.
I know all about getting beaten up by politically correct 20somethings. I was called a vile racist and worse by a mostly younger Twitter mob after writing a piece on 12.26.13 about dealing with an obviously unstable, intellectually-challenged black guy who wouldn’t shut up during a 4:30 pm showing of The Wolf of Wall Street at Leows 34th Street. The same fascist thug mentality (or something very similar to it) was behind a recent online petition to disinvite Bill Maher from giving a December commencement address at U.C. Berkeley. “Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for,” wrote Khwaja Ahmed, a member of the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, in a Change.org petition titled “Stop Bill Maher from speaking at UC Berkeley’s December graduation.” Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks has blocked any chance of Maher’s invite being rescinded.