Last Friday David Poland posted a piece about five major irritants in Stars Wars: The Force Awakens — 1. The Giant Supreme Leader Snoke; 2. Fake-out deaths; 3. Anyone can use a light saber; 4. Those Kylo Ren destruction tantrums; and 5. Why does Kylo Ren have the mask? For me the lightsaber complaint strikes closest to home. Me: “This film is also big on people with no experience being naturals at the tasks that they are suddenly thrust into. Remember how Luke took pretty much all three episodes to mature into Jedi-dom? Forget that. Apprenticeships are for suckers in this new universe.” Friend: “Luke was training to be a Jedi master — Rey is not. The force is in her already because, as you probably figured out, she’s [spoiler redacted]. You know, passed down trait?” Me: “Not buying that.” Friend: “Well it doesn’t matter if you buy it or not — that’s the story as written.” Me: “Luke has to learn about the force, acquire his powers stage by stage. Rey just jumps right in. C’mon!”
Link #1 and link #2. Inarritu to Zeitchik in 12.4 piece: “I find it hilarious, and pathetic in a way. You have one guy in a garage inventing something that’s then shared by somebody else. And then a newspaper acknowledges it as news, and then it triggers papers around the world. What’s unbelievable is the validation. When I first saw it I thought it was a joke. But then it gets validation, and the studio actually has to release a statement that there was no bear rape. It’s like a crazy mad comedy. In the 140-character world it doesn’t matter if it’s true. There’s no complexity or conversation. Just certainties. It’s the same with politics. Everybody is so certain. We just need Trump to say the raping bear was Mexican and we’ll be done.”
The 11th annual Black List (i.e., 2015’s best unproduced screenplays according to 250 film executives) was posted about a week ago. I’d like to read all of them, but I have a list of favorites — Spring Offensive, Blackfriars, Chappaquiddick, 105 And Rising (inspired by Last Days in Vietnam), All The Money In The World, I Believe in America/Francis and the Godfather, Mayday 109. Anyone with PDFs is requested to pass along the following:
SPRING OFFENSIVE by Matthew McInerney-Lacombe / Dr. Liz Scott, a British epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, fights to contain an outbreak of Ebola in Afghanistan’s war torn Helmand province as the Taliban’s assault on allied forces threatens to turn the localized outbreak into a global catastrophe.
STRONGER by John Pollono / The true story of Jeff Bauman, who after losing his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, was an integral part of helping police to locate the suspects. (Now being made with Jake Gyllenhaal starring, David Gordon Green directing.)
BUBBLES by Isaac Adamson / A baby chimp is adopted by pop star Michael Jackson. Narrating his own story, Bubbles the Chimp details his life within The King of Pop’s inner circle through the scandals that later rocked Jackson’s life and eventually led to Bubbles’ release.
ROCKET by Jeffrey Gelber, Ryan Belenzon / Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, has 4672 strikeouts, 354 wins and a record 7 Cy Young awards. This is the story of why he is not in the Hall of Fame.
THE LIBERTINE by Ben Kopit / After the Head of the French National Assembly is placed under house arrest for accusations of sexual assault, he must live in a guarded apartment with his estranged wife until the case comes to a close.
MISS SLOANE by Jonathan “Jonny” Perera / A powerful lobbyist sacrifices her career on Capitol Hill so she can push through an amendment enforcing stricter federal laws regulating guns.
SEPTILLION TO ONE by Adam Perlman, Graham Sack / While a former FBI agent is working in the fraud unit of the Texas State Lottery investigating a woman who has mysteriously hit the lottery jackpot three times, he falls in love.
Back in the 20th Century people used to ask actors for autographs instead of cell-phone selfies. Eccentric as it may sound, fans would actually carry around autograph books for this purpose. It’s been suggested that now and then hardcore fans would ask for more than just a signature — they would ask the celebrity to write a quote he/she is famous for uttering in a film. If you ran into Gloria Swanson, let’s say, you would ask her to write “I am big…it’s the pictures that got small.” If you ran into William Holden you’d ask him to write “if they move, kill ’em.” Or so goes the legend.
Today Daily Beast contributor Tom Teodorczuk posted an interview with 45 Years costar Tom Courtenay, and about halfway through Courtenay mentions that he was recently approached by an autograph hunter asking him to sign a piece of paper underneath the words “the personal life is dead” — one of the utterances of Strelnikov, his character in Dr. Zhivago. Courtenay tells Teodorczuk that the quote is “a load of bollocks,” but did he oblige?
I’ve been way, way behind on Matthew Heineman‘s Cartel Land, a doc that’s mostly about Mexican vigilante militias (i.e. “Autodefensas“) fighting the Knights Templar drug cartel in the Michoacan region. It focuses in particular on Dr. Jose Mireles, a Michoacan-based physician who began leading the Autodefensas in 2013 after being kidnapped by the cartel and “several” family members having been murdered by same. (The doc also profiles the less interesting Tim “Nailer” Foley, leader of Arizona Border Recon.)
In any event I finally caught Cartel Land last night at a private screening in Tribeca. Totally riveting, grade-A, deserves to be nominated. My first thought was that it could easily be adapted into a compelling narrative feature. Mireles is a genuinely heroic, charismatic fellow — a kind of silver fox Emiliano Zapata with a yen for the ladies. I’m told that director Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker) “likes” the notion of a dramatic adaptation.
(l. to r.) Cartel Land producer Molly Thompson, Black Mass producer John Lesher, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matthew Heineman, producer Tom Yellin at Locanda Verde — Sunday, 12.20, 7:20 pm.
Cartel Land debuted at Sundance 2015, was acquired by The Orchard last February, opened last July to a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating, and was recently named as one of the 15 short-listed docs for a possible Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.
You’re an executive producer who needs to decide whether to co-finance a proposed adaptation of M.L. Stedman‘s “The Light Between Oceans,” a 1920s period drama that Derek Cianfrance will direct. The basic set-up is that Tom (Michael Fassbender), a World War I veteran and lighthouse keeper, and his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander) are living on an isolated island off the west coast of Australia. The inciting incident is the discovery of a dead man and a live baby in a boat that’s washed onto shore. Having suffered through two miscarriages and a stillbirth, Isabel decides that the baby is a “gift from God” (baby Moses found in the Nile reeds) and ignores her husband’s natural impulse to report the discovery. Reality eventually intrudes. Would you invest in this film, and why? I would run in the other direction. Who could identify with a woman so deluded or self-absorbed that she would believe she can keep an abandoned baby like a $20 bill found on the street? Who would raise a child on an isolated island without benefit of schools and the opportunity to develop social skills? I don’t even want to see this thing, despite Stedman’s 2012 book having been roundly praised.
Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander in forthcoming Focus Features release, The Light Between Oceans.