Ilya Naishuller‘s Hardcore is obviously adrenalized madness. The Grand Theft Auto POV strategy was first used on Robert Montgomery‘s Lady in the Lake, except that was much tamer, almost all dialogue, etc. Occuring in Moscow over the course of a single day, the unseen main character is “a cyborg super-soldier who goes on a blood-drenched rampage in a frantic attempt to rescue his scientist wife from an evil group of heavily-armed mercenaries,” blah blah. I’m seeing it tomorrow night at 9:45 pm.
From Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan: “As a riveting procedural story, I’ve seen Spotlight compared to films like Zodiac and All the President’s Men, but the more instructive example for Oscar voters will be Argo, another well-engineered, fact-based drama that eventually became the Academy’s consensus pick for Best Picture. Plenty of Oscar voters will give Spotlight their No. 1 spot, but this audience-pleaser is sure to collect just about everybody else’s No. 2 votes, and that may be crucial in a year where several of the biggest movies yet to screen, like Joy and The Revenant, come from some of our most polarizing auteurs.
“Boy, is this movie good. It’s not a showy, bombastic picture — it has that in common with the journalists it portrays, who are mostly concerned with ducking their heads down and doing the work — but it’s so assured, so deft, and so satisfying that I think it’s destined to go far with Oscar voters of just about every demographic. The Academy has made daring picks for Best Picture over the past two years, anointing the tough, arty 12 Years a Slave and the wordy Birdman, but I think voters are yearning to return to something conventional, and Spotlight’s got a down-the-middle, perfectly executed pitch they’ll find hard to resist. It also has the sort of social significance that Oscar voters like from their Best Picture winner: You can pat your back for putting it on your ballot.”
The main difference between this new trailer for Ryan Coogler‘s Creed (Warner Bros., 11.25) and the one that popped on or about 6.30 is the amount of Sylvester Stallone footage. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) is central in both, of course, but the earlier version indicated an all-black ensemble delivering a rotely inspirational boxing tale with Stallone pinch-htting. The new trailer is selling a two-character boxing drama (Jordan, Stallone) on a more equal basis. What eastern-seaboard city is uglier than Philadelphia? If some God of Fate were to visit me at 4 am and say “you will never visit Philadephia again for the rest of your life,” I would say “okay, whatever…I can live with that.” Pic costars Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris and real-life British champion boxer Tony Bellew.
Why are we still without at least one female talk-show host? I’m afraid to even discuss this for fear of being gutted on Twitter. It would have to be a comedienne, of course, but specifically a cutting-edge, across-the-board iconoclast (i.e., no p.c. agendas). Like Amy Schumer. I would be levitating if Schumer had agreed to host The Daily Show, but of course she didn’t. All of these guys are cool in their own way, but I’m happiest in the company of Bill Maher, Larry Wilmore and John Oliver — the least bullshit-tolerant and most politically-attuned. The remainder in order of most-liked first and least-liked last: Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, James Corden. No opinion: Trevor Noah.
James Vanderbilt‘s first-rate Truth opens a month hence (10.16) and this is what Sony Pictures Classics is issuing in the wake of the first triumphant showings at the Toronto Film Festival? The apparent idea is to emphasize to your basic older, not-keeping-up-like-they-used-to viewers that Truth is about the famous Dan Rather (obviously played by Robert Redford). Which of course it isn’t — it’s really about Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and a story that was hurriedly aired before it was ready, and how the negative blowback killed her TV news producing career along with Rather’s. Where’s the trailer? SPC has had all summer to throw one together and this is their opening marketing salvo?
Yesterday two journalist-critics happened to mention that Johnny Depp, recently arrived in Toronto for the premiere of Black Mass, looked fat to them. Separate conversations, no prompting — they just said this out of the blue. Depp is 52 and it’s really easy to put on weight at that age, but he’s always kept things in check. Then I saw this pic today. He’s obviously not conventionally “fat” but by his own Captain Jack standards he sorta kinda is. He’s obviously chunkier than when he portrayed James “Whitey” Bulger. Is it a crime to channel the physicality of Ernest Borgnine or ’70s-era Marlon Brando? No, it isn’t. Happens to the best of us, and I should know. Six or seven years ago (i.e., the last gasp of my drinking days) I was looking like a middle-aged lesbian. It’s easily dispensed with — you just have to quit drinking, eat less bread and dairy, hit the treadmill and ride your bike.
Matt Damon is being slammed for advocating merit above diversity in a conversational snippet from the 9.13 debut episode of HBO’s back-from-hiatus Project Greenlight. It happened duing a polite dispute with producer Effie Brown (Dear White People). Yesterday Jezebel‘s Kara Brown derided Damon for whitesplaining, but what did Damon actually say? Simply that quality could be compromised if there’s an over-emphasis on hiring diverse filmmakers, and that “merit” is the only thing that should matter at the end of the day, leaving “all other factors out if it.” Btu he expressed it a little too bluntly when he said that “when we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.” In response to which Brown said “whoa!”