Park Chan-wook, the South Korean Brian DePalma, strikes again with The Handmaiden, a competition entry at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Everything in the trailer has that extra-mad-sauce quality — underlined, emphasized, drilled. The source is Sarah Waters‘ “Fingersmith“, a 2002 historical crime novel set in Victorian-era England. The newbie is set in 1930s colonial Korea. It costars Ha Jung-woo, Kim Min-hee, Cho Jin-woong and Kim Tae-ri.
Yesterday’s big discussion topic was a N.Y. Times Magazine story, “How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk,” by Mark Landler — a concise, well-researched examination of Hillary’s aggressive foreign policy views. It complements Oliver Stone’s 3.30 HuffPost piece about how Clinton’s instincts are “steeped in the traditional post-World War II, Atlanticist, NATO-domination of the universe.” Landler’s piece is adapted from his book, “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power” (Random House).
Vanity Fair has essentially become a well-written women’s magazine. Okay, for women, gays, metrosexuals and frillies. And, I regret to say, for people like me. I can’t fully let it go, but on the other hand a magazine that seems to be about fashion, style and attitude first and then whatever else fits, is anathema to me. So I’ve been making an effort over the last year or so to wean myself off it, but…but! I sometimes find it hard to resist the covers. This month I’m going to experiment by not buying the Amy Schumer issue and see how it goes. It wasn’t Schumer but the appearance of another Jackie Kennedy article that tore it. Okay, I’ll be flying between now and June 1st so maybe not, but next month for sure.
Posted on 10.8.15: “I’ve been buying Vanity Fair for 30 years now. I can’t precisely pinpoint when I stopped reading it, but sometime within the last couple of years. The articles have begun to seem a little less substantial with more of an emphasis on girly, frothy, fashiony stuff. Or people I can’t stand to look at. I know that I hate the all-fashion issue. Anything that tries celebrate or instill a fascination with wealth and fashion and loaded people who are spending their money on increasingly peculiar or arcane things gets a down vote.”
In the first Telluride spitball piece of 2016, Variety‘s Kris Tapley muses about which films might show up at that elite, four-day Colorado gathering, which is only 17 or 18 weeks off.
Tapley rightly acknowledges that it’s too early to predict, but writes the following: “Sundance films rarely play Telluride due to the festival’s North American premiere restriction, it might be difficult for the fest to pass up Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, particularly given Fox Searchlight’s commitment to a presence there in recent years.”
I’ll go along with that, but I would add another exciting Sundance premiere — Amazon/Roadside’s Manchester by the Sea.
Chris Pratt on Passengers: “And due to some malfunctions in the hibernation pod, we both wake up.” Oh, yeah? Either Pratt, a good soldier, is repeating the company line, or Jon Spaihts‘ script was rewritten before shooting began. I can roll with either scenario.
The 2016 Cannes Film Festival jury was announced this morning. With director George Miller having been named jury president several weeks ago, the jurists (four actors, one producer, one director) are as follows: director Arnaud Desplechin (My Golden Days), Kirsten Dunst, Valeria Golino, Mads Mikkelsen, director Laszlo Nemes (Son of Saul), Iranian producer Katayoon Shahabi, Donald Sutherland.
Cannes juries have made perplexing calls at the conclusion of the last two festivals (’15 and ’14), and so the question is whether or not this year’s jury will prove to be as indifferent or hostile to consensus favorites as before. Someone noted last year that juries have lately tended to vote against the film with the greatest heat as they don’t want to seem too populist or accomodating.
The 2014 jury (led by Jane Campion) prompted widespread forehead-slapping when they gave Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Winter Sleep, a highly respectable character study, the Palme d’Or when Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Leviathan was the clear favorite of the cognoscenti. And the decision by last year’s jury (the one headed by the Coen brothers) to hand the Palme d’Or to Jacques Audiard‘s entirely decent Dheepan resulted in some consternation as most know-it-alls felt that Son of Saul or Carol should have won.
I’m cynically presuming that this year’s jury will probably follow suit by confusing or pissing people off about one or more of their award decisions.
First-hand recollection of shooting of The Shining by some electrician who came to know Stanley Kubrick and even played chess with him: “Some people were scared of Kubrick because he could make or break a career. But not Jack [Nicholson]. Jack called him Stan to wind him up. You could call him Stanley, Mr. Kubrick or Guv, just not Stan. But they liked each other.
“One time Jack said he had done his back in and needed a few days off. That’s a lot of time when you’re shooting a big film, but Stanley said okay. The next day we were in the sparks room watching Wimbledon when Stanley walks in. He asks what we’re up to and as he turns to look at the telly, there he is: Jack Nicholson sat in the crowd with a girl on either side. Stanley went mad.”
Six years ago Marshall Fine’s Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg, an altogether fascinating and highly engaging doc about one of the greatest anguished Jewish comedians of all time, disappeared into the maw of the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy of 2017.
Lo and behold, Fine’s Robert Klein doc is now available to stream on multiple platforms for the first time ever.
Roughly a year before the Weinstein disaster I saw Fine Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg, and I fully concurred with all the then-current praise.
From “Speaking As An Honorary Anguished Jew, I Relate To Smart Docs About Authentic Specimens,” posted on 4.24.16: “Yes, I’ve been friends with Fine for a long time and yes, I’ve admired Klein since I was a kid but this is a fine (sorry) doc that imparts wisdom, feeling, perspective and smarts.”
“It serves as not just a personal look at Klein, but as something larger,” Showbiz 411‘s Roger Friedman wrote on 4.20. “It’s a real piece of history. What Fine and Klein have done here is make an excellent companion piece to the very good Joan Rivers doc of a few years ago, A Piece of Work. Since Alan King died rather young and abruptly, and nothing’s been done on Stiller and Meara, there is very little documentary record of the great Jewish comics who launched from the Ed Sullivan Show era.
“The doc is also very funny. Klein is incredibly endearing and corny, while at the same time maintaining an edge. That’s why he made 40 appearances on Letterman. I hope The Weinstein Company can give Still Can’t Stop His Leg a good release in major markets before VOD or Netflix. Like a Robert Klein show, the film is intimate and hilarious.”
In the late ’70s a smart Jewish friend and fellow cineaste told me I had more Jewish guilt than he. That was the beginning of my honorary Jewhood, which thrives to this day.
From 4.22 review by THR‘s Frank Scheck: Mr. Church “is a touching coming-of-age tale and an even more touching account of an unlikely friendship marked by love and respect. Director Bruce Beresford, working with material that inevitably recalls his Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy, never lets the overt sentimentality become too schmaltzy, even if he’s a bit hampered by the sometimes melodramatic plotting and schematic characterizations.
“The film is emotionally manipulative, to be sure, but it’s ultimately hard to resist, especially given the quality of the lead performances.
“Eddie Murphy is a revelation. He doesn’t seem quite right for the role at first, his blazing charisma ostensibly at odds with his character’s unassuming, dignified demeanor. But he tamps it down just enough to be fully plausible, and he adds quiet grace notes, both comic and dramatic, that make his Mr. Church just as captivating for us as he is for the people around him. And as the character ages a couple of decades, his performance becomes all the more effective, subtly revealing the vulnerability underneath the smooth facade.
I’ve said the following two or three times, but here goes again. One, if the Titanic had turned around and sailed back to the fatal iceberg before stopping engines a couple of hundred passengers could have been ferried from the sinking ship to the iceberg to wait it out until the Carpathia arrived. Yes, it would have been cold sitting on the iceberg but they would’ve survived. And two, if the crew had thrown the large banquet tables from the first-class dining room into the sea they could have been used as life rafts for those who couldn’t fit into the lifeboats. The first-class area of the Titanic was full of wooden furniture that would’ve floated. Armoires, bureaus, etc.
I’m in NYC for a few days starting next Saturday morning, and so I suggested to Jett and Cait that we might want to catch a Mets-vs. Giants game at Citi Field next Sunday at 1:10 pm. I don’t like to spend an arm and a leg for seats right next to the field but I prefer to sit not too far from the first- or third-base line, or in Citifield terms in the Metropolitan boxes.
Do they serve hot dogs in Citi Field’s left-field section, or do you have to bring your own?
Watch any baseball film (i.e., The Stratton Story, Angels in the Outfield, The Natural, Fear Strikes Out) and the main characters are always sitting near the first- or third-base lines…always. In Spotlight‘s Fenway Park scene the Boston Globe guys are sitting a few rows back from the first-base line — that‘s where you always want to be.
Jett was good enough to take the time yesterday to book our Stubhub seats for $192 (three seats at $60 each plus tax), but I had a heart attack when I realized that they’re in Section 134 — way the hell out in left field. Yes, they’re close enough to the grass so you can smell it (that’s essential to me — if you can’t inhale that damp-grass aroma what’s the point?) but I’ve never watched a game from left field in my entire life. Would the Boston Globe guys ever consider sitting in left field when they watch the Red Sox? Yes, it’s near the field and it’s just a baseball game but it’s still the pits.
Jett insisted that the above photo is misleading, that everything is smaller-scaled when you actually get there, that you can see everything from left field, and that I’m being a diva for complaining. I grumbled a bit more but okay, fine…left-field Siberia, here I come.
I’m not sure how far along Loving Vincent is, but I’m guessing it’s not yet completed. The site calls it the first fully painted feature film…ever. It’s being directed and composed in a studio in Gdansk by Polish painter and director Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, winner of a 2008 for Best Short Film Animated Oscar for Peter and the Wolf. The film is produced by Breakthru Films (Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) and the London-based Trademark Films. Things apparently began with a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »