My Jet Blue flight from Albuquerque arrived at JFK this morning at 5:45 am. Two hours sleep, if that. I crashed on Jett’s couch from 9 to 11 and then filed a few. I now have to head into Manhattan to replace my dead iPhone 6 Plus and then, once that’s done, walk over to a tech place on St. Marks to make sure it’s fully updated via the latest Cloud capturings. This sounds old-fashioned but I might even ask them to migrate data from the dead phone to the newbie, just to be thorough. Some dinner this evening, a touch of relaxation, more filing early tomorrow and then out to Newark at 10 ayem to catch a 12 noon Porter flight for Toronto.
I’m not expecting that Criterion’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller Bluray (10.11) will clean up or digitally improve upon that atrocious-looking fake snowstorm that dominates the finale of Robert Altman‘s 1971 western. It should be improved upon but it won’t be. Criterion never upgrades or otherwise second-guesses the composition of a film, no matter how bad it may appear by present-day standards. I just want to be clear about what I expect to see when the Bluray pops.
A few weeks back: “This candle-and-kerosene-lighted classic is already dark and smokey, and given their established tendencies the Criterion guys would probably take it even deeper into the cave.I’m fearful because I dislike their darkened-down 4K version of Only Angels Have Wings, and I’m no fan of the seemingly darker Bluray of The Player. Enough with the inky.”
I was too consumed by the Telluride Film Festival to pay attention to this 9.2 Boston Globe piece by Ty Burr, which is probably prescient. It basically reiterates that as the mass audience has become more and more ADD, ignorant and sloth-like, the culture of cool, intelligent, educated-viewer cinema, while generating steady if modest returns, is becoming a smaller and smaller aspect of the movie business — a kind of cafe-society culture.
This observation was echoed in a 9.5 Indiewire piece by Eric Kohn.
“This is where the cinema is headed as its more commercial iteration — we still call them blockbusters, although few blocks are busted nowadays — founders on creative bankruptcy and an audience that will inevitably move on to other forms of entertainment,” Burr wrote. “I called it the jazz-club metaphor in a column last week and the parallel holds: As the two-hour theatrical film falls slowly out of mainstream orbit, it becomes increasingly the province of a smaller but self-selected audience of movie-literate cognoscenti, old, young, and in between.
“The Oscar season caters to the broader end of that audience but no further: The last five best picture winners have averaged a comparatively paltry $65 million at the box office (the number falls to $47 million once you factor out Argo).
“Even those diehards are watching movies as part of a larger audio-visual diet that is in serious technological and cultural flux. I could easily say that Lemonade was the best movie I saw this spring and Stranger Things was the best movie I saw this summer, and if you reply that they’re not movies because they didn’t play in theaters or conform to a two-hour run time, I’d say you’re living in the past. The Hollywood studios still feel comfortable in that paradigm but they’re starting to look like the only ones. Maybe they’re the suicide squad.”
The National Board of Review is, of course, that small, storied organization whose annual movie-award choices dominate the conversation for three or four hours each year around the beginning of December. They are always the first to announce a Best Picture winner and so on. Last year they announced their picks on December 1, 2015, or exactly a day before the New York Film Critics Circle announced their winners on 12.2.15. This year, however, there’s a new early bird outfit in town — the Critics Choice Awards, which have been annually handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (of which I am a member) for years now. On 8.18.16, however, the BFCA announced its intention to ace the influence of the Golden Globe Awards by holding the Critic Choice Awards on Sunday, 12.11. But the BFCA also announced that initial balloting would begin on the morning of 11.28.16 and end on 11.29.16, late in the day or early evening. The BFCA noms will be announced on 12.1.16. Hence, it would appear, the NBR had to advance their schedule by a day.
Being a huge fan of Damian Chazelle‘s La La Land, I was heartened last weekend by Tom Hanks‘ expressions of enthusiasm during the Telluride Film Festival. I also more or less agreed with his remark, uttered last Saturday during a Sully q & a session, that La La Land‘s commercial debut on 12.2 “is going to be a test of the broader national audience.” Hanks’ kicker was that “if the audience doesn’t go and embrace something as wonderful as this then we are all doomed.”
I was therefore irked when HE commenter Bobby Peru stated in an HE comment thread that La La Land will probably not be embraced by mainstreamers with any real enthusiasm. I have my own suspicions about what may happen when La La Land opens (all of them rooted in the plague-like manifestation of shallow ADD tastes and cultural degradation that we see everywhere), but I asked Peru to explain his thinking. If you weren’t reading last weekend, what he said is worth kicking around.
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone in Damien Chazewllle’s La La Land.
“This isn’t my opinion as much as a series of what I believe to be sad facts,” Peru wrote. “However, first we need to agree on whether you are suggesting that (1) it will find an art-house audience (it will), or (2) it will find mainstream success (i.e., $$$) with Joe and Jane Popcorn, to use your lexicon.
“1. While a film version of Hamilton could change the rules, movie musicals just do not make bank today, particularly not ones that resolutely don’t cater to the whims of pop music (unless they are Fox TV revivals of Grease featuring Vanessa Hudgens and company). Even something as quality-driven as Love & Mercy is a marketing struggle, and that movie had a built-in audience. We’ll see if Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga can change that with A Star Is Born. The current crop of ticket buyers driving today’s hits have very specific musical tastes — see last week’s VMA awards if you’re unsure what I’m talking about. Hamilton would work. Something called La La Land? Hmmm.
“2. Neither Ryan Gosling nor Emma Stone is any kind of box office draw for the average moviegoer, and wherever either has had a hit film it hasn’t been because of either. They have actually had more busts. If you asked the average person (again, the question being whether the film is going to draw a sizable Saturday night crowd in Tallahassee) to name a film that either of them has been in, they’d be very hard pressed. So there’s that.