I don’t know how I feel about posting footage of BB-8, but I guess I don’t feel too badly about it. A genuine, organic thing — a creature that was built, puppeteered and performed. I don’t know anyone who would have been happy dealing with R2D2 again. I valued his smarts and spirit but he always bothered me. And BB-8…well, I’m impressed.
Three days ago I nearly fell out of my chair when I noticed a Twitter dispute among some Alfred Hitchcock devotees (including occasional HE gadfly Glenn Kenny) about who had been more influential in restoring the reputation of Hitchcock’s Marnie — New Yorker contributor-columnist Richard Brody (a.k.a., tinyfrontrow) or the late Robin Wood, whose fascinating interpretations in his 1965 book “Hitchcock’s Films” did a lot to advance the belief that Hitchcock was a major mainstream artist. Given that Marnie is still a ghastly thing to sit through (I tried doing so a couple of years ago), I wasn’t aware that Marnie‘s reputation had ever been restored. But that’s the foo-foo crowd for you, encamped and gathering firewood on their own tight little island.
How much farther can Quentin Tarantino crawl up his own ass in search of material for his latest cinematic swagger dance? “Pretty much every account of last night’s performance has failed to say whether The Hateful Eight sounded good enough to be a decent movie,” I wrote after the 4.19.14 live reading of an early draft of Tarantino’s latest. “Let me state very clearly and without a shred of a doubt that it didn’t. It’s a fairly minor and almost dismissable thing — a colorful but basically mediocre Tarantino gabfest that mostly happens on a single interior set (i.e., Minnie’s Haberdashery, located somewhere near the Wyoming town of Red Rock during a fierce blizzard), and which unfolds in the vein of The Petrified Forest.
The Hateful Eight “is about a gatherin’ of several tough, mangy hombres sitting around talkin’ and yappin’ and talkin’ and yappin’. And then, just to break up the monotony, a little more talkin’ and yappin’. Along with a little shootin’ and poison-coffee drinkin’ and brutally punchin’ out a female prisoner and a few dozen uses of the word ‘nigger’ (par for the QT course) and swearin’ and talkin’ about fellatin’ and whatever else.
This is not a full-boat trailer — it’s basically another tease. I was in and out (“The force is in my family…I have it, my sister has it, you have it, my father-in-law has it, my cousin has it, my cat has it, my accountant has it”) and waiting for a taste of narrative, some hint of a story…nope. But at least it has that Uncle Festus-and-Chewy moment at the very end — “We’re home.” I’m sorry but I’m detecting too much of a geek-friendly vibe, a little too much of an attitude that seems to say “yah-hooo!” and “yeaah!…this brand-new amusement park is really cool!” J.J. Abrams presumably understands that this movie can’t fully succeed unless it appeals to cineastes who consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the most riveting and distinguished chapter in the Star Wars legend. In other words, it has to satisfy or at least reach out to guys like me. The toenail-fungus geeks are already in the tank. Just saying.
Elizabeth Warren is doing her reputation no favors by sitting out the 2016 election, as she’s said over and over that she’ll do. It doesn’t matter if she can’t beat Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. If the corporate-funded Clinton cakewalks to the nomination the entire country, from progressive liberals to rural yeehaws, will be denied the strong, opinion-shaping conversation about the increasingly one-percent-favoring economy that the 2016 Presidential election demands. Warren will be doing Clinton no favors by not running — the lack of a vigorous challenger will in fact make Clinton, who will almost certainly shoot herself in the foot more than once over the next several months, all the more vulnerable because her message will be unrefined and her campaign will be untested when she faces off against Jeb Bush. An easy-street Clinton will never talk the talk. Warren has to run in order to do that — to state and re-state the facts about how this country has fallen more and more under the control of a lopsided oligarchial system over the past 30-plus years. (Note: This video eloquently states the case, but for some reason it repeats itself starting at the 5:00 mark.)
“Costa-Gavras‘s The Confession is not, I think, a better movie than his prize-winning Z, with which it will inevitably be compared, not only by the critics but also by those members of the public who may look for a repeat performance. The earlier film was a nearly perfect topical thriller whose form pretty much defined the substance of its liberal politics.
“However, because the subject of The Confession is much more complex, much more human, I find it vastly more interesting than Z, even when one is aware of the way Costa-Gavras manipulates attention by the use of flashy cinematic devices that sometimes substitute for sustained drama. It is a horror story of the mind told almost entirely in factual and physical terms, which is something of a contradiction.
The 2015 Cannes Film Festival roster was announced in Paris this morning, and it is what it is. No surprises — all previously spitballed. I’ve been feeling a wee bit glum about what seems to me like an underserving of crackling dimensionality and serious marquee pizazz but let’s try to be optimistic. Among all of the announced (including out of competition or OOC), I feel instinctually drawn to or moderately cranked about the following, in this order: Todd Haynes‘ Carol (yes!), Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man (OOC), George Miller‘s Mad Max: Fury Road (OOC), Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario (sorry but I’ll always be wary of Villeneuve), Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth, Jacques Audiard‘s Erran, Justin Kurzel‘s Macbeth (Shakespeare for ADD generation?), Joachim Trier‘s Louder Than Bombs, Gus Van Sant‘s The Sea of Trees, Barbet Schroeder‘s Amnesia and Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s The Assassin (special Asian martial-arts suffering potential).