Three days ago the New York Film Critics Circle creamed over Carol, and now the Boston Online Film Critics Association has tumbled for Mad Max: Fury Road to the tune of five awards — Best Picture, Best Director (George Miller), Best Cinematography (John Seale), Best Editing (Margaret Sixel) and Best Original Score (Junkie XL). And Creed took two awards — Michael B. Jordan for Best Actor and Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor. Will this be a regional critics group trend for the next two or three weeks — to honor films that haven’t been heavily favored by the Gurus of Gold or Gold Derbyites, to deny Spotlight any Best Picture awards, to ignore The Revenant, to favor genre films about physical conflict, to celebrate Kristen Stewart‘s performance in a negligible Olivier Assayas film that peaked during the 2014 film-festival season? Other BOFCA honors: Best Actress — Brooklyn‘s Saiorse Ronan, Best supporting Actress — Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria, Best Documentary — Amy, Best Animated Film — Inside Out.
F.X. Feeney, author of “Orson Welles: Power, Heart, and Soul”, “A. Hepburn”, “Michael Mann“, “Roman Polanski“.
Here’s a short Feeney piece about the film: “A man left for dead rises and, against every possible obstacle, seeks vengeance against those who not only abandoned him but murdered someone he loves. This is the plot of The Revenant. It has a classical familiarity. John Boorman’s 1968 crime drama Point Blank follows this outline, as does Man in the Wilderness, a 1971 western which starred Richard Harris and John Huston and was coincidentally based on the same historic incident – but all prior variations on such themes disappear as this film unfolds.
“One doesn’t ‘watch’ The Revenant so much as live it. If this movie becomes a smash hit, it will be because survival — pure and simple — has become such an across the board concern in so many of our imaginations, especially as the world degenerates daily into an ever more senseless shoot ‘em up. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu gives actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy ample time and space to act out this primal duel.
Shane Black‘s The Nice Guys (Warner Bros., 5.20.16) is some kind of thriller comedy costarring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger and Margaret Qualley. Cowritten by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi. Boilerplate: “Set during the 1970s, a Los Angeles private detective partners up with a rookie police officer to inquire about the apparent suicide of a fading porn star.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this feels like a programmer, a throwaway.
Jason Moore‘s Sisters (Universal, 12.18) is a relationship comedy about the disparate Ellis sisters reviewing and reliving their childhood…or something like that. Tina Fey‘s Kate is loosey-goosey and somewhat immature, and Amy Poehler‘s Maura is divorced and uptight, etc. Pic is about “one last party at their childhood home, which their parents are about to sell,” etc. Today I received an award-season screener — the first time in my life I’ve received a mainstream comedy by UPS/Fed Ex before the release date. The all-media is on 12.15 — the embargo lifts the following day.
The word around the campfire is that the Weinstein Co. gradually began to realize that The Hateful Eight is being processed by screening invitees as a kind of black comedy. I’m told the Weinsteiners wanted the Golden Globers to re-classify it as a comedy/musical but the effort didn’t succeed. The Hateful Eight isn’t my idea of a comedy. There isn’t much difference in Hateful‘s tone and attitude and that of Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds and Death Proof, and I’ve never heard them described as comedic. Hateful delivers the same old par-for-the-course Tarantino verbal swagger, loquacious and arch and yaddah-yaddah. Yes, a certain meta-humorous attitude is part of that but you can’t hoist up your britches and announce a re-definition of the term “comedy” because it suits your purpose to do so. Well, you can but not if people don’t go along with it.
Hateful Eight stirrup or handcuff swag, or misidentified as same?
By the way: Given that The Hateful Eight and The Revenant are a pair of high-style, ultra-violent wintry westerns opening against each on 12.25, you’d think that either 20th Century Fox or the Weinstein Co. would shift the release date of one or the other. But it won’t happen. The general presumption seems to be that the Tarantino will perform better than the Inarritu. The Tarantino brand is widely known and accepted as a swaggering, colloquial people-friendly thing and that the Inarritu brand is about ravishing images and solemn heavy-osity, which never has been and never will be a Joe Popcorn-type deal.
I’ve stated once or twice that I’ve fallen head over heels with Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s Revenant score. Yes, I’m aware that the score is co-composed by Sakamoto, Bryce Dessner and German electronic musician Alva Noto but it’s the Sakamoto sections (bassy symphonic strings for the most part) that lifted me out of my seat. Sakomoto’s music sounded that much better at the Arclight last night than at the Zanuck, by the way. My ribs were humming with pleasure from the vibration. A couple of days ago I tried to obtain a couple of mp3 excerpts from the Revenant score, and was promptly shut down. I can’t fathom why. It’s nuts to hide awareness of this score. People need be told it’s one of the standouts right now.
Reviews of Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s The Revenant will pop at 1 pm Pacific. I know I’m repeating myself but it took me two viewings to really get it — to fully submit and absorb that solemn and immersive symphonic effect without the mitigating difficulty of dealing with the bear-claw, ice-water brutality of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s ordeal. And sometimes this sort of thing happens. You have to be receptive to changes and expansions. Some films are a journey, and they aren’t one-stop-shopping. Have you ever encountered someone you found difficult or prickly at first but whom you came to really like once you got to know them? Some movies are like that. I only know that The Revenant became rapture last night during my second viewing. It may be that the vast majority of ticket-buyers will get The Revenant after a single viewing and that’ll be that, and that I’m a weirdo for needing two viewings. But I know there have been more than a few films in the past that I didn’t get the first time but totally got after the second or third viewing, Tony Gilroy‘s Michael Clayton being one. We all understand that movies of this sort (i.e., not conventionally “entertaining” at first but delivering something more profound and lasting in the long run) are the ones that people fondly remember months, years and decades later. This is one such occasion.