Produced in part by James L. Brooks (whose name used to mean a hell of a lot in the ’90s), The Edge of Seventeen (STX, 9.30) seems sharper and more angsty than your typical “miserable 17 year old girl trying to find a semblance of peace or satisfaction” dramedy. Directed and written by Kelly Fremon, pic costars Hailee Steinfeld (who’s now actually 19!), Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson and Kyra Sedgwick. Harrelson’s teacher character telling Steinfeld’s that “you need to watch out for run-on sentences” is what sold me.
It’s no secret I wasn’t much of a fan of The Birth of a Nation when I saw it at Sundance. But I do think it’s strong and compelling enough to become a hot conversational topic and most likely be Best Picture nominated and make a lot of dough all through award season and up to the Oscar telecast in late February. I may not be down on my knees in religious worship, but I recognize that Nate Parker‘s film is presenting a very strong narrative/myth, and that the mix of it and the present-day climate might prove highly combustible in the coming months.
There’s a belief out there that John Lee Hancock‘s The Founder (Weinstein Co., 12.16) was made for a mere $7 million. (Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson reported this figure last May, possibly after checking with the IMDB). That sounds low but maybe. I’ve always heard that ’50s period films (old cars, settings, wardrobe) tend to be pricey, not to mention the services of an established helmer like Hancock plus the hotshit, whambam, marquee-flasharoonie Michael Keaton plus respected, well-known costars Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Patrick Wilson, et. al.
A $7 million budget is good news for a film that, to go by Robert Siegel‘s script, is basically a downish portrait of dog-eat-dog entrepenurial capitalism — a movie that basically says “sometimes it takes a manipulative shithead to orchestrate a big success.”
Good low-budget films get made all the time — Jeff Nichols‘ Take Shelter ($1 million), Garden State ($2.5 million), Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation ($4 milllon), Animal Kingdom ($5 million), Jason Reitman‘s Juno ($7.5 millon), Dope ($700,000), Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike ($7 million). But none of these were “period”. If the $7 million figure is correct everyone must have worked for scale. I’m told that Keaton only got a lousy $250K for Spotlight. The services of Dern, Offerman, Lynch and Wilson aren’t that costly, I gather.
Pic was co-financed last year by The Weinstein Co. (which has domestic distrib rights) and Film Nation. Film Nation handled international sales. The Combine apparently managed the hands-on producing. I double-checked with the Weinstein Co. about the $7 million figure — no response so far.
This day-old anti-Donald Trump spot, created by the Hillary Clinton campaign, is easily the most artful, skillfully assembled political ad since Bernie’s “Looking for America” piece, which floored everyone, tapped right into the bloodstream. Trump-supporting dumbshits won’t get it, of course, any more than they understood that restricting the sale of automatic weapons was vital in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Is there anyone who wasn’t presuming in the immediate aftermath of the Nice tragedy that the late killer wasn’t some kind of Islamic nutter? Was anyone wondering if he/she was Swedish? The fact that the truck-driving fiend has been revealed to have been Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old, divorced, Tunisian-born father of three…well, no surprise.
But he may not have been any kind of radical, jihad-minded, ISIS-following terrorist. Not as we tend to imagine this kind of pathology, at least. More like a raging loser, a rogue who exploded, closer to the Orlando killer than those behind the Paris, Brussels or San Bernardino slayings.
A N.Y. Times story reports that Bouhlel, a delivery guy, “had a history of petty crime, including theft, going back to 2010, and he received a six-month suspended sentence in March for assaulting a driver during an altercation in January.” To my knowledge no terrorist organization or website has allied itself with Bouhlel or cheered his despicable act.
I for one am disappointed with Owen Gleiberman‘s review of Star Trek Beyond (Paramount, 7.22). Speaking as a confirmed hater/enemy of all things Justin Lin (except for the Sundance cut of Better Luck Tomorrow), I was hoping Gleiberman would vivisect with glee. Alas, he’s written a fair-minded assessment that says “not great but not too bad in a place-holding way.”
To make up for this I’ve assembled some excerpts that focus on the negative. That’s fair, no?
(a) “For all the addictive intensity of its visual flourishes, Star Trek Beyond is the most prosaic and, in many ways, the least adventurous of the Abrams-era Star Trek outings.”
(b) “It’s not until the halfway point of Star Trek Beyond when [director] Lin stages a sequence that truly seems to get his juices flowing.”
(c) “To say that the movie fails to break new ground would be putting it mildly. It truly feels like an extended [Trek TV] episode, without a single ‘Oh, wow!’ trick up its sleeve, which may be why, until the eye-popping climax, it’s more earnest than exciting.”
One of the biggest regrets of my life, personal and professional, happened at the ’01 Toronto Film Festival. A minor thing but at the same time, upon reflection, big. It basically involved my blowing off the great Debra Winger. The episode has strangely never left me.
I was exiting a press & industry screening of Big Bad Love, an indie drama about a boozy writer (played by director and co-screenwriter Arliss Howard) and his estranged wife (Winger, who was/is married to Howard). And like everyone else, I was somewhat surprised to find Winger and Howard standing in the lobby just outside the theatre, mingling and chatting.
I tend to shy away from this kind of encounter — too sporadic, too competitive — but this time I was especially averse as I didn’t want to share reactions to Big Bad Love, which were generally negative. But as I walked by Winger, who was being conversationally devoured by a small wolf pack, she looked right past them and, for maybe two and a half seconds, right at me. I recognize or know you on some level, her eyes said. C’mon over and we’ll talk a bit. And like the candy-ass I sometimes am, I immediately dropped my gaze and bolted.
At that moment I could and would have spoken to Winger for at least a couple of hours about almost anything, gladly, but not Big Bad Love. I was also a bit taken aback — intimidated — by those laser-beam eyes. And of course, by ducking her gaze I was giving her a negative review, and I’m sure she felt that, a little flash moment in her brain.
If I’d been able to push past my wimpiness I would have walked over and said something along the lines of “just want to convey my respect and fan affection…the movie didn’t get me, to be honest, but you did. And I love Mike’s Murder.” The encounter happened during the first weekend (i.e., the second or third day) of the festival. Two or three days later the World Trade Center was attacked.