Bad buzz has been dogging Stephen Frears‘ The Program (formerly Icon) for a while now. Turned down by Cannes but screening here in Toronto early next week. As far as I know there’s still no U.S. distributor. Charisma-challenged Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong and Chris O’Dowd as David Walsh, the Irish sports journalist who busted him. Screenplay by John Hodge (Trainspotting) and based upon Walsh’s investigative book. Costarring Dustin Hoffman, Lee Pace, Bryan Greenberg, Edward Hogg, Laura Donnelly and Guillaume Canet “as notorious Italian physician Michele Ferrari, who was the mastermind behind Armstrong’s doping operation.”
Between the Swahili-like working-class London accents, which are always a problem for me in any film, and the bassy-boomy sound system at Toronto’s Princess of Wales theatre, I was able to understand maybe 15% to 20% of the dialogue in Brian Helgeland‘s Legend (Universal, 10.2). I understood the basic gist of most scenes, and I definitely heard a complete line or two (“Those who lives in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”) but not being able to savor the verbal particulars is extremely annoying. “Yeahwankerduhluffuckuhlwounday, uhm?” Again — wait for the subtitles on the Bluray. I’ve just remembered that I’ve never seen Peter Medak‘s The Krays (’90), but now I’ll be making a point of it. Honestly? If you remove Tom Hardy‘s hot-shit volcanic, at times howlingly funny performance as Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the Kray twins’ Wikipedia page is ten times more interesting than the film.
The opening credits announce that David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis (Warner Bros., 10.30) is “suggested” by Rachel Boynton’s same-titled, decade-old documentary. Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another way of putting it is that it’s been transformed into a Sandra Bullock film in much the same way that the once-austere Gravity became a spacesuit-Sandy-in-peril movie for her fans. Four days ago I wondered aloud if Green’s film will be “a Sandra Bullock flick with a real-world political undercurrent, or a political dramedy in which Bullock stars?” Well, it definitely ain’t the latter. Not precisely a Bullock formula thing, mind, but fairly close to that.
All I did during this morning’s 8:30 screening was scowl and grumble and lean forward and occasionally cover my lower face with my right hand. No moaning but occasionally my mouth would pop open in astonishment, or according to Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas, who was sitting beside me.
What’s a well-respected, semi-realistic political campaign movie? Michael Ritchie‘s The Candidate, right? Well, imagine The Candidate with Robert Redford still playing Bill McKay but instead of Peter Boyle as his campaign manager you’ve got the spirited and irrepressible but at the same struggling-with-depression Barbra Streisand (half the way she was in What’s Up, Doc?, and half Kuh-Kuh-Katey in The Way We Were), and that’s pretty much what Our Brand Is Crisis is, except it’s set in Bolivia and Redford is played by Joaquim de Almeida.
Over and over and over Bullock gets her closeups in this thing, and she looks so reliably and relentlessly herself in every shot and scene. She’s playing a brilliant political consultant in a sometimes surly, sometimes pratfally way, but Our Brand is Crisis is mainly about the fact that (a) she looks burnt-out sullen and kind of Lauren Bacall-y with her one-size-fits-all deadpan glamour-puss expression, nicely dyed blonde hair and distinctive black-rimmed glasses, and (b) she has a great-looking ass for a woman of any age, let alone her own.
Before people start calling me a sexist pig, understand that at the climax of a completely absurd mountain-road race between two political campaign tour buses, Bullock drops trou and shoves her creamy biege, perfectly-shaved butt cheeks out of a side window, “aimed” at her political opponents who are riding alongside. (It’s called “mooning.”) I would have respected this scene more if Bullock’s ass (or that of the ass model who was hired for this one bit) didn’t look so CG-scrubbed. It looks like a love-doll ass. (And don’t blame me — I’m just describing what I saw.)
Last night I caught I Saw The Light, a mostly downish, spotty and not-very-enjoyable Hank Williams biopic that at least features a worthwhile performance from Tom Hiddleston as the volatile, short-tempered, alcohol-afflicted country music legend who died, stupidly, at age 29. I also caught Ridley Scott‘s The Martian, a smart, seriously enjoyable, technically satisfying and emotionally inspiring big-studio rescue + popcorn movie that’s about as deep as a jacuzzi. And it’s fine for that. As I tweeted last night, it’s aimed at the people who really love halftime shows at the Super Bowl. And it’s very amusingly written and rank with pop-music usage and commentary — it’s almost a Tarantino movie in some respects.
I’ll have to get into this late this afternoon as the clock is ticking…
It’s 7:40 am. I should have been out the door ten minutes ago for the 8:30 am Scotiabank press & industry screening of David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis, which, to go by initial reviews, is allegedly an in-and-outer with noteworthy performances from Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton. In order to do that I’ll need to blow off the 9:30 am screening of The Danish Girl (which I’ll be seeing an at early-evening public screening so no worries). At 12:15 pm I’ll be catching Brian Helgeland‘s Legend, the Kray brothers crime melodrama with Tom Hardy in both roles.
I’ll have about three and a half hours to tap out some thoughts and digressions before the aforementioned Danish Girl showing at 6:15 pm, which will be followed by a 9pm screening of Jay Roach‘s Trumbo.
There are several parties but I thought I’d try and drop in on the ones for The Danish Girl and Trumbo. For the first time in 15 years I haven’t been invited to the traditional Sony Pictures Classics party, possibly/partly due to my having shared suspicions about the apparently-not-so-hot quality of I Saw The Light (which I sat through early last evening) and Truth (which I’ll be catching at a p & i screening of tomorrow) or possibly because we’re all interesting but contradictory souls with fascinating personalities who will someday die and turn into dust and ash. I couldn’t fit the SPC party in anyway due to the already stuffed schedule.