I am Steve Coogan‘s character here, and he is me. Except I’m less testy with a somewhat more positive outlook. It should be noted that Happyish (Showtime, debuting on 4.26) was primarily developed by Shalom Auslander, an American author and essayist whose writing style is “notable for its Jewish perspective and determinedly negative outlook.” It should also be noted that Ken Kwapis, a lightweight, Catholic-raised sitcom guy who directed the pilot and “most” of the first season’s episodes, directed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and He’s Just Not That Into You.
The first words you hear in this teaser for Spectre (MGM/Columbia, 11.5) are out of the mouth of Naomi Harris‘s Miss Moneypenny: “Frehnsic finelee relees’d this.” Listen to it a couple of more times and you finally realize she’s saying “forensics finally released this.” Then she informs Daniel Craig‘s 007 that “you’ve got a secret…something you can’t tell anyone because you don’t trust anyone.” Is James Bond is about to learn that his father is Darth Vader? At the end it says “coming soon”…29 or 30 weeks from now is “soon”? It’s opening on 11.6.
Rupert Goold‘s True Story (Fox Searchlight, 4.17) is very well made — clean, assured, well-ordered — to relatively little effect. It’s basically a chilly procedural, based on Michael Finkel‘s real-life account (“True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa“), about a couple of guys who couldn’t be more different, a journalist (Jonah Hill) and a murderer (James Franco), who nonetheless share a sociopathic nature. They’ve both done things that are self-destructive and inexplicable, Finkel (Hill) having gotten fired from the N.Y. Times for inaccurate or falsified reporting and Christian Longo (Franco) having murdered his family and then used Finkel’s name while on the lam in Mexico.
Earlier today I mentioned that the basic plot of Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics, 7.24), about a 40ish college professor (Joaquin Phoenix) having it off with one of his students (Emma Stone), is sure to reactivate discussions about Allen’s personal history. The subject is actually reactivated now with an excerpt from Mariel Hemingway‘s new book, “Out Came The Sun,” being kicked around. Hemingway was 16 when she played Allen’s 17 year-old girlfriend in Manhattan (’79), but when she was 18, she writes, the 44 year-old Allen invited her to come to Paris with him.
Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics, 7.24)
Woody Allen, Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan (’79).
That was a bit on the sleazy side, agreed, but it wasn’t that bad as Allen made the offer with the full knowledge of her parents, who “lightly” encouraged her to go. If a middle-aged guy wants to make a play for a significantly younger woman, the decent thing, I feel, is to wait until she’s 21 or 22. Then again Woody and Mariel had a certain levitational bond over having brought their very best game to Manhattan, and Woody, I’m assuming, was probably channeling the usual X-factor rationale about exceptional people living by their own rules.
Yesterday’s Salon contributor Erin Keane wrote that Hemingway’s revelation “demands we look unflinchingly at the reality that Manhattan so artfully disguised as art, and see it for what it truly is. Woody Allen is a genius. Woody Allen is a predator. He put those two sides of himself together, hand in hand, and dared us to applaud.”
Doesn’t “predator” allude to a compulsive behavior pattern, or certainly something more than a one-off? Keane also says that the idea of an 18 year-old being romantically entwined with a 40-something boss is “theoretically disgusting.” Well, okay, but not entirely. It was unseemly for the 44 year-old Allen to try and get something going, I agree, and yet the 18 year-old Hemingway was of legal age. As it happened she said no and everyone moved on.
From what I’m hearing, the only guaranteed solid-crack, down-on-your-knees home run at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (5.13 to 5.24) will be George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which will screen on Thursday, 5.14, in an out-of-competition slot. I’ve heard second-hand from a guy who knows a guy who’s worked on the sound effects (or something like that) that this all-new chronicle of the adventures of Max Rockatansky is total wowser. At the very least it’s generating a lot more excitement than the rest of the presumed Cannes slate combined, or at least the one that’s been spitballed by Variety staffers.
Like last year’s Leviathan or Wild Tales, the ideal Cannes film is, of course, either a triple or a homer — a film that will ripple and resonate all through the summer, get a second bounce from Venice, Telluride and Toronto and keep running all the way to the finish line. A film that brings you to your feet, sends you out on a high, makes you happy to be a film worshipper. But aside from Fury Road I’m not sensing any serious power-hitters this year. Most of the films being speculated about by Variety sound to me like doubles and line-drive singles at best, and a few sound like instant dismissals (i.e., Naomi Kawase‘s Sweet Red Bean Paste).
I’m not “bummed” by this likely slate, but I do feel a tiny bit deflated. I read the Variety piece and went “really?…that’s it?” The air is hissing out of my Cannes balloon as we speak. 2015 is looking like one of the strongest award-calibre years in a long time, and for timing reasons none of the serious hotties will screen in Cannes. What happened to Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass? Or Angelina Jolie‘s By The Sea? And what happened to my idea of Thomas McCarthy‘s Spotlight debuting on the Croisette? Phffft.
For all I know this color shot from the Trevi Fountain scene in Federico Fellini‘s La Dolce Vita isn’t a black-and-white frame capture that’s been colorized. It may be that, but until yesterday I’d never contemplated the dark brown hair of the young Marcello Mastroianni (35 at the time of filming in the summer of ’59) or the blazing blonde tresses of the young Anita Ekberg (28 at the time) in their apparently natural splendor. (Nod to Leticia Garcia, a.k.a. @Ms_Golightly, for posting this.)
Primitive stuff. “Great white dope” indeed. There’s a basic instinct in Antoine Fuqua‘s films, not always present but often enough, that wants to amplify or exploit rather than insightfully explore or finesse or find new ways into familiar or otherwise common situations. Fuqua always goes for the gut impact moments. Faux-sensitive. Basically an “exploitation” guy. Jake Gyllenhaal‘s pugilist (when’s the last time you’ve seen a WASP boxer?) seems to be saying in almost every scene, “I love my little daughter…don’t take her away from me…oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!” Tweet from Christopher Campbell (i.e., thefilmcynic): “Going by her brief scenes in the trailer, I have a feeling Oona Laurence is the one to watch in Southpaw more than Jake Gyllenhaal.”