I’m not saying I’m so enthralled by James Marsh‘s Oscar-winning Man on Wire that I’m unwilling to absorb another, just-as-mesmerizing impression of Philippe Petit‘s 1974 World Trade Center feat. Robert Zemeckis‘s The Walk (TriStar, 9.30) might just do that. I would love it if Zemeckis somehow re-charges the story; I just don’t see how it can turn out better than Marsh’s doc. (I’ve heard from a friend that it’s a little dicey in the first half, but the second half is pretty great.) The Walk will have its first big showing at the New York Film Festival eight days hence, or on 9.26. Select journos are naturally expecting some kind of simultaneous L.A. screening.
I’ve decided to be the official mediator between Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg regarding their dispute about James Vanderbilt‘s Truth (Sony Pictures Classics, 10.16), which ignited yesterday. What actually happened is that Feinberg, who saw Truth in Toronto, attacked the film — a curiously aggressive response four weeks before the opening, not to mention that Feinberg mostly focuses on analysis and trend-spotting. This prompted Stone, who saw and loved it in Los Angeles around the same time, to attack Feinberg. I tumbled for Truth in Toronto and am frankly more on Stone’s side of the fence in this matter, but I can be fair-minded when the occasion requires.
Here’s the initial Feinberg article, Stone’s pushback response and my ecstatic Toronto review.
The film is a dramatization of Mary Mapes’ 2005 memoir “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.” It’s basically about how and why Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and legendary CBS anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford) lost their jobs in the wake of a poorly sourced but nonetheless accurate 2004 60 Minutes report about a young George W. Bush having allegedly received preferential treatment in an attempt to duck military service in Vietnam.
The pro-Truth Stone believes that the film passes along a comprehensive and justifiably damning portrait of corporate cowardice on the part of CBS after the infamous 60 Minutes Killian documents story blew up in late ’04. She points out that if Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee had acted similarly — if he had thrown Woodward and Bernstein under the bus when their story about H.R. Haldeman being named in Grand Jury testimony as the fifth White House official to control the Nixon re-relection team’s slush fund was attacked for being false (even though Haldeman was the fifth official to control the fund) — the All The President’s Men saga would have been quite different.
The anti-Truth Feinberg believes that the film errs in trying to portray Mapes and Rather as flawed heroes, and that it’s too hard on CBS and not hard enough on Mapes, whom he believes didn’t do her job properly and deserved to be canned. He believes that “a narrative motion picture was probably the wrong format in which to re-litigate this saga…ironically, it feels more fitting for a segment on 60 Minutes…[it] just doesn’t quite ring true.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is on top because (a) he’s been humping it in features for 22 years (since This Boy’s Life) and is arguably more “due” than Julianne Moore was before she won last year, (b) because he should’ve won that bitch trophy for The Wolf of Wall Street, and (c) because it is believed in certain quarters that The Revenant is the best AAA art film he’s ever been part of. Johnny Depp is ranked second because of the wig and the husky eyes, but he probably won’t last because Scott Cooper‘s film, as good as it is, doesn’t really break fresh ground. Eddie Redmayne is next for giving 110% to a role that demanded nothing less, and yet his Danish Girl performance feels one-note. (Not Redmayne’s fault but the writing.) You know what else feels a little one-notey? Michael Fassbender‘s lead performance in Steve Jobs. But the relentlessness does leave a strong impression. I was telling myself that Michael Keaton or Mark Ruffalo should be nominated for Spotlight, but I don’t see how you can call either of their performances leads. I put in John Cusack for Love & Mercy because Paul Dano‘s performance will, I’ve been told, be campaigned as a supporting thing — smart move. Geza Rohrig‘s barely verbal performance in Son of Saul is the most harrowing I’ve seen this year from anyone. Michael Caine delivers the goods in Youth, but his best shot is to use the gold-watch, end-of-career tribute pitch. Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo…maybe. (Tip of the hat to HE’s Sean Jacobs for Photoshopping the chart.)
I spent more than 50% of this morning cleaning and tidying the Bloor Street condo where I stayed during TIFF (thanks to old friend Dennis Edell and his wife Leslie), and the other half trying to get going on five or six stories. To little avail, I should add. I took the Bloor train to the end of the line, hopped on the Rocket Express to Pearson Airport and realized when I got to the American Airlines desk at 1:10 pm that I was more than five hours early. I had it in my head that my flight left around 3 pm, and I couldn’t be bothered to double-check. Now I’m working on stories in a lounge — no electrical outlets, of course. Determined to catch up despite feelings of fatigue, depletion.
Mickey Rourke to TMZ: “Tell Donald Trump to go fuck himself…he’s nothing but a big-mouthed bitch bully, and I’d like to have 30 seconds in a room with the little bitch…all right?” Asked whom he wants to become president, Rourke replied, “I like, uhm, the doctor…uhm, the black dude.”
My final Toronto screening was Morgan Neville‘s Keith Richards: Under the Influence, which begins today on Netflix. It’s a warm, intimate, amiable portrait of where the 71 year-old Rolling Stones guitarist and co-founder is at today, but it follows what may seem to some like an unusual strategy. Instead of taking us back through Richards’ rich and fabled musical history with the Rolling Stones, which is why 99.5% of the potential audience would be interested in seeing Neville’s doc, it largely focuses on the rhythm–and–blues influences of the Stones’ first incarnation (’62 to ’65) when they mainly performed covers of blues standards. The doc doesn’t exactly ignore the Stones after they began to fashion their own unique sound with Aftermath (’66) — the first real-deal, pulled-from-the-marrow Rolling Stones album — but it doesn’t pay a huge amount of attention to this period either. Which, you know, has lasted for half a century. The doc also touches upon country-music influences. A fair amount of footage is just jolly Keith in conversation, recording his new album (“Cross-Eyed Heart“), shooting the shit and picking guitars with musician pallies (including Tom Waits) and strolling around the grounds of his woodsy country mansion in Weston, Connecticut. It more or less reflects the emphasis that Keith created in his 2010 autobiography, “Life,” which I respected and rather enjoyed. Richards’ net worth is over $300 million. He’s happy, makes others happy, does what he wants, etc.
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