The massive smoke clouds from the Santa Clarita fire (which I snapped a couple of shots of when I was in Studio City last evening) are casting a muddy glowing amber light over everything. If Vittorio Storaro was here (and for all I know he is) he’d be in pig heaven. Any photographer worth his or her salt is shooting this right now. Certain portions of the soot-and-ash flooded sky are more Apocalypse Now than Apocalypse Now.
I know I’m supposed to be jazzed about Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman (Warner Bros., 6.2) because of Gal Gadot, who delivered the only stand-out current in the otherwise regrettable Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But this trailer…I don’t hate it but it feels a little cheesy. I’m so sick of origin stories! Yes, it’s somewhat interesting to set the story in the era of World War I, agreed, but this trailer doesn’t seem to have that commanding, totally together feeling that you can always sense from films that have that “extra”-ness. My personal suspicion is that the appearance of Danny Huston constitutes a huge “forget it…this isn’t going to be that good.” Huston is fine but the only truly exceptional big-league film he’s costarred in was Children of Men.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts‘ Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros., 3.17) is obviously going to be at least half-decent. The Vietnam-era touches (especially dp Larry Fong‘s deliberate attempt to recreate Vittoro Storaro‘s photography in Apocalypse Now) give it an extra dimension. Tom Hiddleswift…sorry, Hiddleston and Brie Larson plus the always-barking Samuel L. Jackson plus Toby “Messala” Kebbell, Tom Wilkinson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly. Who took Michael Keaton‘s role? Wilkinson?
A guy named Terry Notary is playing Kong via mo-cap.
No glimpses of Kong’s face but we know for sure he won’t have those deliciously unreal white eyeballs that the original bruiser had in the 1933 original. Here’s how I put it on 9.19.10:
“Cooper’s Kong didn’t look like any gorilla, chimp or orangutan that had ever walked the earth. He was something between a prehistoric hybrid and an imaginary monster of the id…a raging nightmare beast designed to scare the bejeesus out of 1933 moviegoers.
“Willis O’Brien, the legendary stop-motion photography pioneer, used three slightly different-looking Kong models during filming, but for me the master stroke was deciding to give his Kong a set of gleaming white teeth and a pair of very bright white eyes.
Dangling doubt, bothersome situation (for me at least): If I want to help save our country from an egoistic, sociopathic blowhard who revels in dysfunction and his own smug ignorance I have to vote for a cold, calculating, uncharismatic harpy who was no music in her soul and whom I really and truly do not like. Obviously I have no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton. And yes, I recognize that charisma and excitement can be deceiving and that they shouldn’t be the final measure of things for semi-mature, non-ADD sufferers, but voters nonetheless have always responded to star quality, snap and pizazz — that extra punch in the punch. This is certainly what got John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama elected.
The fact is that by choosing nice-guy Tim Kaine, principled sailor that he is, Hillary has smothered what might have been. Spirit-lifting, Obama-like music, fire and poetry are not going to emanate from the Democratic ticket between now and early November — that’s for sure. Despite the fact that voters tend to support candidates who project something more than wonkish, forward-looking pragmatism. Bottom line: I hate Hillary for being more into her own notions of comfort and security than in recognizing the grave seriousness of her personal deficiencies and lack of appeal, which she’s now doubled down upon with the choosing of Kaine.
Update: I’ve just watched Kaine’s speech in Miami earlier today. He’s not bad. I like his Spanish. Maybe he’s a little better than I’ve been saying.
Yesterday on a Facebook thread I was chatting with an old friend about high school. I said I was living in a kind of hell back then. A mostly tolerable, mild-mannered, negotiable hell with no bills to pay. Obviously I survived. But it was pretty bad. I was walking around with a kind of blanket over my head.
The friend said he didn’t know things were so terrible for me back then, and I replied that they weren’t. My head was just in a mildly miserable place — the difference between terrible (a.k.a. horrible) and mildly miserable having been explained by that old Woody Allen joke.
Anyone who claims that their high school experience was soothing or ecstatic or emotionally fulfilling apart from the sporadic highs of parties, beer-chugging and camaraderie is either (a) lying or (b) wasn’t paying close attention back then. If they were truly surging and delighted in their mid to late teens then I fear that the ancient Chinese curse “may you peak in high school” might apply in their case. (And I’m sorry about that.)
As I said, my unhappiness was manageable and not “oppressive” per se but I was walking around with a pall in my soul. I was living in my dreams with input from movies, music, TV shows, books, magazines. And no mind-bending substances. (That came later.) I didn’t know much when I was 17 and 18 but I knew for damn bloody sure I didn’t want a life like my father’s — that decision was carved in stone.
Most fearfully, I was living with the chilling idea that things might get better but they might not — who knew? Well, they did and thank God for that. Because they almost didn’t. I’m not actually thanking “God” for things having turned out well. I’m thanking…well, maybe I am.
Donald Trump‘s acceptance speech aside, Thursday night’s big story was about rightwing radio host Alex Jones and conservative slimer/provocateur Roger Stone invading a Young Turks taping at the RNC and getting into a shouting confrontation with TYT host Cenk Uygur. I watch TYT daily but I missed this fracas, and then yesterday I was so depressed and furious about Hillary Clinton giving the finger to liberal progressives by picking the principled-but-boring Tim Kaine as her vp partner (plus I was buried in filing six other stories) that it just flew by me. I finally paid attention this morning. With Jones and Stone having invaded and tried to take over a TYT show in progress, I don’t blame Uygur in the least for getting blowing his stack. That said, the most amusing part of the video is the body language of TYT co-host Ben Mankiewicz.
There was a big fire in a hilly brush area to the east of Santa Clarita early this evening. Over 3000 acres, according to the L.A. Times. The smoke plume could be seen for miles. You could see the flames heaving and crackling from the hills of Studio City, where I took two of these photos from.