Yes, there is male genitalia in Anomalisa, and a chaste depiction of man-on-woman oral sex. But surely the MPAA’s CARA ratings board understands that this content is mitigated by the fact that the audience is looking at a recreation of male genitalia on a fucking puppet and that puppet-on-puppet oral sex is a wee bit different than watching live humans do the same. To be fair and upfront the MPAA’s explanation for the R rating should say that the film contains “STRONG SEXUAL PUPPET CONTENT” and “GRAPHIC PUPPET NUDITY.” Find me one Middle-American prude — one! — who will straight-facedly complain about naked puppets engaging in stop-motion simulation of intimate acts.
At noted there are two making of The Godfather scripts on the Black List — Terry Clyne‘s I Believe in America and Andrew Farotte‘s Francis and the Godfather. There’s no question in my mind that Clyne’s is the superior work — cleaner, simpler, more compelling. But Farotte’s has a better chance of being made, I’m told, because CAA is representing it and is better positioned to cope with all the rights issues while Clyne’s script has no producer and no agent — just a manager representing Cline. David vs. Goliath.
To make either film a producer would have to get the rights individually from everyone in the script (Evans, Coppola, Pacino, et, al.) to proceed with any aspect of development or production. This is creatively a challenge as living characters always want creative control over their depiction — any depiction — which is not possible to give and still make a movie. And they will each want a lot of money. Each deal also has to be negotiated individually. I think Coppola is still repped by CAA so they probably already have his tentative approval on Francis and the Godfather along with Pacino, et al. And CAA will automatically prevent any other script in the marketplace from moving forward because they probably already control some of the necessary individual rights.
I recently wrote of my admiration for Terry Cline‘s I Believe in America, a screenplay about the making of The Godfather. A day or two later a guy suggested that a script based on Steven Bach‘s “Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate” might be an even more compelling read. A sprawling, dialogue-driven, slow-motion calamity flick, set mostly in Hollywood and New York with occasional detours to the shooting set with fascinating, whip-smart dialogue and one of the most unusual villains of all time — director Michael Cimino. The instant I heard this my brain spun around, clicked its heels and said “yes!”
This could be a brilliant six-episode HBO or Netflix series, I’m thinking. Or a ten-episoder…whatever. Not long after posting about the Godfather script I was informed by a producer friend what a complete friggin’ nightmare it can be to produce films about the making of this or that classic film/play/anything if any of the principals are alive. I don’t know if getting the rights to Bach’s book (which of course was legally cleared when it was published 30 years ago) would lessen difficulties or not, but I’m dead certain that the entire world would stop whatever it’s doing to watch a miniseries about this catastrophic Hollywood saga. I got so high on the idea that I ordered a paperback version of Bach’s book — I haven’t read it in over three decades.
My year-old 64 gig iPhone 6 Plus ran out of space so a couple of weeks ago I bought a slightly used 128 gig version. Now I’m dumping the 64 gig for $450. It cost me around $700 new not counting an extra $80 I just shelled out to fix the sound “so don’t even think of offering less than $450,” I said in my Craigslist ad. “This is an excellent deal for someone. I don’t need to sell it but I’d like to.”
The first nibble came in a half-hour ago. Our initial discussion went as follows (all punctuation exactly as received):
Possible buyer: “hello is this iPhone 6 Plus still for sale?”
Me: “Yes. My number, as I said in the ad, is ——-.”
Possible buyer: “That’s good the i need it to look like new cause my wifes birthday is fast approaching and i cannot afford a brand new phone at the moment so i would love to get her this phone once i am sure that it is in a good condition.”
(Several minutes transpire)
Me: “So do you want to see it or not?”
Possible buyer: “where are you located?”
Me: “Good God, man…the ad says West Hollywood.”
A growing consensus appears to be saying that more than just a few isolated problems have plagued the Ultra Panavision 70 roadshow presentations of Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight. If anyone has any first-hand reports, please post them — but the word thus far has made the situation fairly clear. Private industry venues are one thing, but a significant percentage of commercial cinemas clearly weren’t up to the task. And this is no mark against Boston Light and Sound‘s Chapin Cutler, who was hired by the Weinstein Co. to make sure that the Ultra Panavision 70 showings went smoothly. There is no finer or more knowledgable projection technician in the world than Cutler, but he was facing an insurmountable situation. The technology wheel has turned, and there was only so much Cutler could do to remedy that.
Nobody loved this idea more than myself. But the 70mm projection I saw earlier this month at the Linwood Dunn didn’t look “wow” or “extra” by any visual standard I’m familiar with. It looked ripe and sharp but I could have been looking at a 35mm presentation — it just didn’t scream “70mm!” On top of which (this had been noted by just about everyone) Robert Richardson‘s cinematography doesn’t pop that much — not with two-thirds of it shot in a shadowy, basketball-court-sized cabin lit by lanterns, a fireplace and occasional windowlight.
“‘Quakin’ and shakin’, they called it, great balls of fire, contact. Then it was you and the ground: kiss it, eat it, fuck it, plow it through with your whole body, get as close to it as you can without being in it or of it, guess who’s flying around about an inch above your head? Pucker and submit, it’s the ground. Under Fire would take you out of your head and your body too. Amazing, unbelievable, guys who’d played a lot of hard sports said they’d never felt anything like it, the sudden drop and rocket rush of the hit, the reserves of adrenalin you could make available to yourself, pumping it up and putting it out until you were lost floating in it, not afraid, almost open to clear, orgasmic death-by-drowning in it, actually relaxed. Unless of course you’d shit your pants or were screaming or praying or giving anything at all to the hundred-channel panic that blew word salad all around you and sometimes clean through you. Maybe you couldn’t love the war and hate it at the same instant, but sometimes those feelings alternated so rapidly that they spun together in a strobic wheel rolling all the way up until you were literally High On War, like it said on all the helmet covers. Coming off a jag like that could really make a mess out of you.” — page 63 of a dog-eared 1978 paperback version of Michael Herr‘s “Dispatches.”
In Peter Yates‘ The Hot Rock (’71), the fourth and final attempt to steal a huge diamond involves the surreptitious hypnotizing of a safe-deposit box security officer for a Park Avenue bank. The hypnotist, a woman called Miasmo, tells the officer to obey any person who says the words “Afghanistan Bananistan.” Co-conspirator Robert Redford, having rented his own safe-deposit box in the same bank, enters the vault and says the words. His expression as he waits to see if the hypnosis scheme has worked is, in my humble view, priceless. He does it just right.
Earlier this month Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy chose The Tribe, a brutal, vocally silent Ukranian film about violent robbers and pimps at a boarding school for the deaf, as his #1 2015 film. He called it “the toughest film to talk any normal person into seeing this year, but debuting director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky (remember the name, even if you can’t pronounce it) uses all his self-imposed restrictions (no dialogue, very long takes) to great advantage in this stunning study of societal degradation.” It’s really a 2014 film but we’ll let that go. I missed it when it played on the Cote d’Azur 20 months ago, and couldn’t fit it in when it played Sundance ’15. Drafthouse Films booked it into a few venues last June. (The most recent playdate was at the Indiana University Cinema in Bloomington.) To my knowledge I never received a year-end screener, and the domestic DVD/Bluray doesn’t pop until March 2016. I just wrote a Drafthouse rep for a screener or a link. It has a 78% Metacritic rating. Total Film’s Matt Glasby said “it treads the dark path between misery porn and masterpiece.”