Tonight I’m taking Jett and Cait to a 9 pm New York Film Festival screening of Manchester By The Sea. Tomorrow evening is the all-media for Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant. On Thursday night I’ll be catching an unusual 8:30 pm screening of a secret movie. There’s an Ang Lee press breakfast on Friday morning at 9 am, then a 12:30 pm NYFF press screening of Elle (which I saw in Toronto but it’s certainly good enough to catch twice) followed by a press conference with Elle director Paul Verhoeven and star Isabelle Huppert. And then at 6 pm I’ll be catching Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at a special NYFF showing at the AMC Lincoln Square. (There’s another one at 9 pm.) Finally on Saturday morning there’s an 11 am NYFF screening of James Gray‘s fact-based The Lost City of Z. What am I missing?
Variety‘s Brent Lang is reporting that Birth.Movies.Death editor-in-chief Devin Faraci has stepped down after being accused by Caroline Contillo, a sometime blogger and meditation teacher who self-identifies on Twitter as “spacecrone“, of a sexual assault incident that happened 12 years ago.
Over the weekend some in the Twitterverse called for Faraci’s head, and now they have it. The only question I have is one of proportionality.
Apart from the issue of whether or not Faraci is widely liked or has created enemies, does an intelligent if abrasive writer-columnist deserve career ruination because of an unmistakably odious incident? Is it fair to send a drunken driver who has hit a pedestrian and who may be suffering from alcoholism…is it fair to sentence this offender to a long, life-destroying stretch in San Quentin? Some out there feel that severe punishment is the way to go, but I don’t know.
Faraci has written the following: “This weekend allegations were made about my past behavior. Because I take these types of claims seriously I feel my only honorable course of action is to step down from my position as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death. I will use the coming weeks and months to work on becoming a better person who is, I hope, worthy of the trust and loyalty of my friends and readers.”
I’ve never felt much affinity with lightweight Today show co-host Billy Bush, who’s been suspended over his distasteful giggling at Donald Trump‘s lewd remarks in that 2005 Access Hollywood hot-mike tape. But people who regularly interview celebrities are pretty much required to adopt an obsequious, non-judgmental attitude toward almost anything that “talent” may say, and if possible laugh at it. If Bush had a semblance of character or backbone he wouldn’t have giggled at Trump’s creepy bragging, but guys like Bush are never valued for this — be honest. They’re valued for their breezy on-air personalities and being able to spin almost any occurence or utterance into a chuckle moment.
A friend saw Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant (Warner Bros., 10.10) last night. “Ben Affleck is quite good as an autistic hitman,” he writes, “and those two words say all you need to know about the film. It’s thoroughly watchable but totally ridiculous, filled with too many plot contrivances, a very long exposition scene explaining the plot, and a way-too-long shootout scene at the finale. Also, if you’re going to hire top actors like Jean Smart and Jeffrey Tambor in supporting roles, why give them about two lines to speak, and then shuffle them off into oblivion? Bottom line: this film is not exactly an advertisement for autism research.”
Asked to explain his undecided mindset about the upcoming Presidential election, internet sensation Ken Bone, obviously a bright fellow, told Jimmy Kimmel last night that he’s “more undecided than ever.” If that was all Bone had said I would find his position reprehensible given the absolute odiousness of voting for Donald Trump. But then Bone elaborated. On one hand he wants the fossil-fuel industry (for which he works) to thrive and thereby hasten the melting of the poles and the flooding of cities, which is why he’s half-inclined to vote for Trump. But he also finds the notion of taking away the rights of certain peoples and tribes “unconscionable” and is therefore more of a Hillary Clinton guy. And yet when it comes to saving his fossil-fuel income it’s possible Bone might accommodate himself to this or that unconscionable policy. He’s just not sure. He needs to think it through. On top of which he’s a Jabba. I’m sorry but Ken Bone has had his 48 hours. That’ll do, I think.
This morning I clicked on a 9.27.16 Cinemaholic piece, written by Ashes Roy, titled “The Ten Best Movies About Spies and Secret Agents.” I expected I would get a piece out of strongly disputing some of the picks. To my surprise I partly agreed save two or three plus the order of the rankings. Without making a big deal out of it here’s my amended list with an understand that I’m focusing on movies about intelligence tradecraft — the chess games spies play in order to acquire and act upon important information.
10. Michael Winner‘s Scorpio (1973) — I realize this is mostly a flimsy B-level programmer, but I had to include it due to a brilliant third-act “hit” sequence in which Burt Lancaster puts two bullets into a CIA chief;
9. Anton Corbijn‘s A Most Wanted Man (2014);
8. Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty;
6. Sydney Pollack‘s Three Days Of Condor (1975);
4. Doug Liman‘s The Bourne Identity (2002);
3. Carol Reed‘s The Third Man (1949);
2. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s The Lives Of Others (2006);
1. Martin Ritt‘s The Spy Who Came In From Cold (1965)
The Cinemaholic/Roy piece lists John Frankenheimer‘s The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as a fifth-place choice. I don’t regard this classic Kennedy-era thriller as a spy film. It’s a political-cultural satirical piece about ’50s paranoia and commie-hunting with an undercurrent of perverse black humor. In short it’s way too rich and multi-levelled to be labelled as a spy flick.
There was a 45th anniversary screening of William Friedkin‘s The French Connection last Friday night (10.7) at the Academy. A related 10.8 Moviefone piece by Gary Susman notes that a bumper-car moment during the famous subway chase sequence (contained in the clip below) “was unplanned, caused by an unwitting Brooklyn driver on his way to work who crossed onto the set and into the path of Popeye’s Pontiac.” Up until 20 minutes ago I never knew that.