Around 1:45 pm I visited the Hollywood DMV office on Cole Avenue to once again, for the third time, try to pass my written motorcycle test. 12 or so multiple choice questions (I think), and all you need to do to pass is get nine of them right. I got four wrong and failed. So I renewed my temporary car driver’s license in the main room (I’m trying to get a combination car and motorcycle license) and went back into the Alcove of Agony and took the written test again. I failed it for the fourth time. But consider one of their fucking questions. They show you an overhead drawing of a motorcycle cruising alongside three or four parked cars, and I mean parked really close together, 9 or 12 inches between bumpers. Question: “Which possibility is the most dangerous to a motorcycle operator? (a) one of the cars pulling out, (b) a pedestrian walking between the cars and into the street? or (c) a car door suddenly opening?”
Julianne Moore deserves to win her all-but-guaranteed Best Actress Oscar for her bravura performance in David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars, and not so much for her earnestly skillful turn in Still Alice, which is basically slow-drip cyanide. Does anyone remember Maps? It broke last May in Cannes, played again in Toronto and then was kind of forgotten about. It shouldn’t be. This is apparently the first U.S. trailer for the Focus World release (opening on 2.27).
For what it’s worth (and I know this will surely fall on deaf ears as far as you-know-who is concerned) but despite last night’s Selma shutout in the BAFTA nominations….well, that’s a pretty bad sign, isn’t it? Not even a Brits-need-to-stick-together nomination for Best Actor contender David Oyelowo? That doesn’t seem….uhm, fair. Oyelowo’s MLK performance is definitely accomplished enough for Oscar consideration. Anyway I really wouldn’t mind at all if Selma manages to score a Best Picture nom…honestly. And the way this might happen is from a sympathy that AMPAS voters might feel over the numerous attacks upon its historical veracity. Selma has become a punching bag, and once that kind of thing reaches critical mass people sometimes say to themselves “okay, enough already…historical filmmakers always distort and this was no different…cut the poor film a break.” Is there any chance of this happening?
I am one of the biggest softies when it comes to offering forgiveness. Selma has been taken out to the woodshed. Director-uncredited cowriter Ava DuVernay has, I would presume, learned her lesson. At the end of the day Selma is good enough to warrant a Best Picture nomination. It can’t win and is no one’s idea of monumental cinema, but it’s gotten enough right and stirred enough people in the right way to deserve this honor.
“There is no room for the idea that Kyle might have been a good soldier but a bad guy; or a mediocre guy doing a difficult job badly; or a complex guy in a bad war who convinced himself he loved killing to cope with an impossible situation; or a straight-up serial killer exploiting an oppressive system that, yes, also employs lots of well-meaning, often impoverished, non-serial-killer people to do oppressive things over which they have no control. Or that Iraqis might be fully realized human beings with complex inner lives who find joy in food and sunshine and family, and anguish in the murders of their children. Or that you can support your country while thinking critically about its actions and its citizenry. Or that many truths can be true at once.” — from Lindy West’s 12.6 Guardian piece about the real Chris Kyle, the late sniper portrayed by Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper, which a fair number of Academy people are apparently liking and intending to vote for, or so I’m told.
On some level I feel regretful that yet another “Selma has distorted history” piece has been posted. It surfaced late yesterday afternoon in the New York Review of Books, and has been written by regular contributor Elizabeth Drew (author of “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall”), and I know I’m going to be blamed for pointing to it. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally apologize to Paramount Pictures, Ava DuVernay, Sasha Stone, Craig Kennedy and anyone else who is either irked by links to these articles and/or believes it’s unfair, anti-progressive or even subliminally racist to do so. But I think it’s a significant piece given the sterling reputation of the New York Review of Books. I personally let the Selma thing go a few days ago — the point has been made — but you can’t turn away when a mainstream media outlet of this stature stands and delivers.
The Charlie Hebdo massacre bad guys, Said and Cherif Kouachi, were killed two or three hours ago by French police. A hostage crisis at a kosher supermarket in Paris is also reported as having concluded with one nutter and four hostages dead. Yet another conclusion to a standard urban-terrorists-killed-by-law-enforcement scenario, directed by the somewhat younger John Frankenheimer. I know that the aftermath video footage I’m seeing is right near the Porte de Vincennes metro station, which I’m quite familiar with as a visual staple of my Paris metro experiences.