You know what I hate about the Suicide Squad guys, sight unseen? Everything. I despise nihilism as an entertainment concept, and I cringe at the idea of Jared Leto doing everything he can to out-demon and out-contort Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson, and I loathe the idea of Will Smith pretending to be one of these guys as a career rejuvenation move, and I hate the fact that a huge audience is dying to see this thing. Because they love the idea of embracing nihilism beyond the reach of the law or social judgment. Grunting, cackling sociopaths too caught up in their cheap bad-ass posturings and anti-social swagger to give a damn about anyone or anything other than themselves…yeah! If anyone was stupid enough to inquire about their presidential preference, they’d almost certainly go for the Trumpster. The all-media screening isn’t until Tuesday, but if Suicide Squad was set in the mid ’60s somebody would say that “they kill, they maim and they call information for numbers they could easily look up in the book.”
At the very least the trailer for Rod Lurie‘s Killing Reagan (National Geographic, 10.16), which is based on Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard‘s partly disputed account of the March ’81 shooting of President Ronald Reagan, suggests that the film might be half decent, at least in terms of Tim Matheson‘s performance as the Gipper. John Hinckley‘s letters to Jodie Foster makes for difficult listening, but as far as I can tell they’re straight from the page.
With the “bad” Ben-Hur opening three weeks hence on 8.19, you’d think there’d be interest in the Aero or the American Cinematheque screening a DCP of the “good” 1959 version…no? Anyone can high-def stream the Wyler version at the drop of a hat, but I’ve never seen it projected with a full 2.76:1 aspect ratio. (The two or three times I’ve seen it in a theatre it’s always been shown at 2.55:1.) I suspect that the ’59 film hasn’t been screened because original rights holder MGM is a producing partner of the Timur Bekmambetov version, and fresh impressions of the Wyler (which is far from a great film but is (a) lucid and sturdy in a stodgy sort of way and (b) has a chariot-race sequence second to none) aren’t going to do the newbie any favors.
I’m told, by the way, that so far the new Ben-Hur isn’t tracking all that well.
If Jason Bourne was a tenth-grade student who had finished the year with a 57% grade average, he would have to take the class again during summer school. The Metacritic rating stands at 58%, almost exactly that of Rotten Tomatoes. Spoiler: I’ve thought and thought about Alicia Vikander‘s half-humanist, half-duplicitous CIA character, and I can’t decide who she really was or what she was really after. I’m not sure Vikander herself knew when she was performing the role. When she realizes that she’s been recorded saying things that indicate she’s been insincere in a discussion with Matt Damon, she says “shit” as in “curses! foiled again!” So she’s an untrustworthy baddie? That’s not what her actions indicate throughout most of the film so I don’t get it. And I’m not sure that I care either way. The not-bad Bourne made $4.2 million last night in nearly 3000 theaters. It will probably bring in between $55 and $60 million by Sunday night.
Zhang Yimou‘s The Great Wall (Universal, 2.17.17) was previously slated to open globally on 11.23.16. It’s now opening in China in December and stateside two months later. The Wiki boilerplate calls it “an American-Chinese 3D science fantasy adventure-monster action film“…good God. Despite the screenwriting contributions of Tony Gilroy, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, this is obviously made for folks in the cheap seats. Costarring Matt “paycheck” Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau. Filmed in China on a budget of $135 million — almost modest by U.S. standards. Everyone will speak English.
(l. to. r.) Carrot-top Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman, and an actor who resembles Animal Kingdom‘s James Frecheville (but who may not be).
Yesterday I wrote that “with Larrain already slated to attend the Telluride Film Festival with Neruda, it would be strange — a head-scratcher — if Jackie doesn’t wind up screening at Telluride also.” Convinced as I am that Telluride is the end-all and be-all of the domestic, ultra-refined, beginning-of-awards-season film festival experience, I asked “what possible strategy on the part of Jackie‘s producers could result in their film not playing Telluride?”
Answer: Jackie is looking to land a U.S. distributor, and Toronto, where it’ll screen after Venice, is much more of an acquisitions environment than Telluride. Plus a choice promotional berth at Toronto can be mighty tempting to a film in Jackie‘s position. So the decision to bypass Telluride has been made for the most practical of reasons. Fine.
If Hillary Clinton doesn’t get a decent bump out of the convention and particularly from last night’s speech, she’s in serious trouble. Hopefully she isn’t. Hopefully her poll numbers will uptick and that she’ll put Donald Trump away in the debates and we’ll be spared an Armageddon scenario, not by a comfortable margin, alas, but by the skin of our teeth. Maybe. I watched her speech last night (replay, not live) and she obviously handled it well. A commendable job. But I was almost fearful of what I wouldn’t see or feel from her delivery and presence, and I had to almost make myself watch it.
Nobody wants this headline to be true more than myself.
The speech was well crafted, and her delivery was good enough and that plus the cheers and those thousands upon thousands of balloons made for a stirring, well organized pageant moment. Hillary has brains, heart, steel and cojones. I’m a Bernie bro, but many — most — of her convictions are my own. But she has no music or poetry in her, and she’ll never strike a magical chord or hit a rhetorical home run with the bumblefucks.
God help us, she’s not what “they” want, and “they” are seemingly convinced that Hillary is indifferent to their economic pain and more particularly is against their cultural interests, and that she’s foursquare on the side of the big social-political changeover we’ve all been witnessing and sharing in over the last eight or ten or fifteen years (weakening of the rural, blue-collar economy plus, as Michael Moore noted a week ago, the growing power of the multiculturals, militant femme-Nazis and LGBTs) and for them it’s curtains for White Guy Rule, and so it’s the Last Stand at the Alamo.
I’m getting a really bad feeling here. I fear Hillary may be John Kerry. I’m sensing those same ’04 cultural vibes, the same “oh, yeah? we’ll show them” resentments.
For the first time in this election season I am really, genuinely scared.
HE’s own Sasha Stone posted the following on Facebook this morning: “This election will be a pure test of whether white males (on the left and right) can get over themselves and vote for the best candidate [regardless of] whether they like her speeches or not, whether they like her body or not, whether they want to sleep with her or not, whether they respect her or not and yes, whether they like her or not.
“The way I figure it is: likability is probably not the best reason to elect someone. TV charisma is an even worse reason. I think back to some of the best presidents this country has had — FDR included — and I think they would never get elected today. So it’s a test. We’ll see just how smart the people who are supposed to have the most power in this country do on this test.”