I can be a little trucculent in my critiques of certain movies and actors, but I don’t go after journos as a rule unless they go after me. As much as I despise certain fellows in this racket I’ll never toss grenades (call them “sexist” or whatever) out of the blue. And I certainly don’t put myself to sleep dreaming about their demise or (believe it or not but this has actually happened twice) threatening to hurt their income. And I’ll never tweet about how amusing it might be if this or that journo were to…heh-heh…be “killed” by Ed Norton. But some do think this way. They toss their little piss darts and then snicker about it. Which speaks, obviously, to their character. Real charmers. Just saying.
For the murder of 12 people in a Colorado movie theatre, James Holmes was today sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. HE sentence: death. From just-posted N.Y Times story: “On each count, Judge Samour read, the panel had been unable to agree that Mr. Holmes should be put to death, and jurors understood that as a result, the court would impose a sentence of life imprisonment. Only one juror needed to dissent for the sentence to be life in prison.” The jury was comprised of nine women and three men. At least one of them — one of the women, I’m presuming — bought the defense argument that prior to the 7.20.12 shootings Holmes was afflicted with “a deepening form of schizophrenia that infected his mind with powerful delusions that killing people somehow increased his ‘human capital.'”
I noted yesterday that I wasn’t detecting any strong currents (i.e., “something that hints at a certain molecular constitution”) inside Luca Guadagnino‘s A Bigger Splash, the remake of Jacques Deray‘s La Piscine that will debut at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. The IMDB says the domestic melodrama will open in England sometime in October but Fox Searchight’s distribution plan is vague. Last night I finally watched La Piscine start to finish. Man! The plot and the tone are as malevolent as this kind of thing gets. It’s a Mediterranean sun-baked noir with nary a drop of heart or compassion. And in at least one respect it’s fairly deranged. Who dumps Romy Schneider at a time when she was one of most beautiful women in the world? She was 30 when La Piscine was made in September 1968 and dead 13 and 2/3 years later, at age 43. Anyway, I sensed or suspected right away how audiences will respond A Bigger Splash if it follows the plot of La Piscine. “Audience-friendly” is not a term that I’d use. The costars are Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes.
Jeffrey Wells to 2015 Key West Film Festival honchos: As one of the better established bigmouth Hollywood columnists with a sense of style, I would be honored to cover the 2015 Key West Film Festival in late November. Yes, I know — you didn’t invite me like you invited Ann Hornaday (a friend with whom I share a Cannes apartment every May) and Eric Kohn. But I’d like to attend and cover anyway. Every so often I’ll prostitute my services to this or that interesting film festival, and it just hit me that I’ve never been to Key West. Plus it’ll give me an opportunity to drive up to Lionel Barrymore’s hotel in Key Largo. Thank you.
All due respect for the late Robert Stack, but he never struck me as one who possessed a clear natural style. By which I mean a way of being and behaving that feels cool without effort. You’d think that most actors would have it, but a few don’t. Bette Davis had it. Amy Schumer has it in spades but not Bill Hader, good as he is in Trainwreck. Robert Downey, Jr. has attitude as opposed to style — different things. Jennifer Lawrence has style all day and into the night. Carey Mulligan‘s style is very subtle but it’s there. The non-stylists can be skilled at acting a well-written role but not quite as good at just standing against a lamppost. It used to be said that Meryl Streep was all about technique and carefully constructed behaviors, but she’s developed a real style as she’s gotten older. Obviously Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant had style but I don’t think Franchot Tone, Robert Taylor and Charlton Heston did. (I know — “Franchot who?”) Bill Maher has style but not so much Jimmy Fallon. Walter Matthau had style to burn. Laurence Olivier had none of his own, but give him a fake nose or a wig or a Roman toga and style just poured into him. Woody Allen has style. Jimmy Cagney, Jack Nicholson, John Wayne, James Gandolfini. It’s hard to define style but I know it when somebody doesn’t quite have it. (A link for those who don’t know who Garcia Lorca was.)
The People’s Central Committee for the Compassionate Portrayals of LGBT Characters and Public Education Regarding Transgender Rights and Lifestyles announces the 9.18 opening of About Ray (Weinstein Co., 9.18). Formerly called Three Generations, it’s basically about Elle Fanning waiting to transition into a guy. Directed and cowritten by Gaby Dellal and co-written by Nikole Beckwith, pic costars Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, Tate Donovan and Sam Trammell. I don’t mean to sound flip or facile about this. It’s obviously an excellent thing that public consciousness about transgenders is much more enlightened than it was even five years ago. But trendy transgender-ism has been leapt upon with such fervor by liberal creatives that I’m detecting vague parallels to China’s Great Cultural Revolution. The climax of the Great Transgender Information Campaign of 2015 will happen, of course, with the arrival of Tom Hooper‘s The Danish Girl (Focus Features, 11.27).
In an 8.6 discussion with Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn, Edward Norton has two significant things to say about the New York/Hollywood award season, which will run this year from Telluride (9.4 to 9.7) until Oscar night on 2.28.16. The first thing I responded to sympathetically. The second thing I regarded as excessively austere and bizarre, to be polite about it.
The first thing Norton says is that it’s a huge drag to have to jaw with journalists and Academy members about your award-worthy film and/or performance for six months straight. This I understand and sympathize with, but on the other hand if it wasn’t for award season Hollywood wouldn’t have a financial incentive to make complex, adult-angled quality films at all. For all the hassle, award season is the only thing saving movie lovers from a nonstop barrage of superhero flicks, YA adaptations, dumb-ass hormone comedies and the usual half-intriging, half-oddball shit from the indie community. When Norton is on his deathbed one of the things he’ll look back upon with fondness is his performance in Birdman. Presumably he understands that without an award season nobody would have financed Birdman in the first place.
I need to acknowledge that this Goodfellas examination by 1848 Media‘s Julian Palmer is one of the smarter, better-edited ones — a comprehensive, connect-the-dots essay that makes an overly examined classic seem almost fresh again. But this has to stop. We’ve all done the Goodfellas backstroke though too many swimming pools now, and it’s time to ease up and celebrate something else. I may be extra sensitive or gunshy because of my recent grappling with the traumatic Brownfellas episode, but it’s bad for the soul to stay too long in the same foxhole. How about a thinky essay on….oh, Stephen Frears‘ The Hit? Or an essay that explains chapter-and-verse why Zero Dark Thirty is a truthful, dead-on masterpiece and why the Hollywood Stalinist left should be eternally ashamed for torpedoing it?
Whatever slim chance Donald Trump had to win the Republican presidential nomination probably died tonight when he explained why he’s more or less unconcerned with throwing around misogynist put-downs. Even he probably realizes you can’t alienate half the voters.