“I asked a class of 40 who has seen an Ingmar Bergman film before. Two raised their hand. I asked them, dreading the answer, who knows who Ingmar Bergman is. The same two raised their hand. Then you wouldn’t know who Fassbinder is, I said, and this time twenty students said a loud ‘I do.’ For a second there my hopes rose, irrationally. Then I woke up. They meant Michael, not Rainer Werner. With an e, not an i. And this is Ivy League. And this is New York. This, my friends, is the new illiteracy. And we have to do something about it.” — Christina Kallas, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film Program, and at The New School for Media Studies in New York City, posting earlier today on Facebook.
Earlier today I did a phoner with Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, the co-directors of the admirable Amanda Knox, which has been airing on Netflix since 9.30. It’s a smart, absorbing, well-organized doc. Here‘s my 9.21 review.
I’m trusting everyone knows who Knox is and is up to speed with what happened to her in Perugia, Italy. The film reminds that Knox didn’t kill anyone, and that she was railroaded by (a) incurious, overzealous prosecutors, (b) shoddy, second-rate forensics and (c) sensationalistic press coverage by the media but particularly the British tabloid press. The film persuaded me that Knox is a bruised but innocent woman who deserves our sympathy and compassion.
Author Chris Robinson, Amanda Knox.
But after the interview I did a little web searching on Knox, who’s now 29. I read a couple of her columns in the West Seattle Herald, one of which, published in August, mentioned her then-current boyfriend, author Christopher Robinson (“The War of the Encyclopaedists“).
And then I came upon a photo of Knox and Robinson [above]. I couldn’t help but observe that Robinson, who is presumably a nice guy and a gifted writer, looks like a combination of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Ali G and a space alien from an episode on the old mid ’60s Star Trek series. Who wears a beard like that? I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that my opinion of Knox plummeted after seeing this photo. I’m not back to wondering if she’s guilty of a crime, of course, but I’m honestly wondering about…well, I’ve said it.
Any number of name-brand, battle-tested directors could have shot this latest Hire short, The Escape. The fact that Neil Blomkamp did means nothing — it’s just another display of hardboiled attitude, killer driving shills and fleet editing. Okay, the last 90 seconds has a nice settle-down vibe. Clive Owen as the Driver, Jon Bernthal as the bearded bad guy, Dakota Fanning as the scared moon-faced blonde in the back seat and Vera Farmiga as her mother. Written by Blomkamp and David Carter. Featuring the BMW 5 Series (G30)
A mild dispute about the rules of tourist photography happened last night in downtown Savannah, or rather in the tourist section around Congress Street. Serves me right for going there. What happened was more or less a repeat of an incident that happened five years ago. Nobody was rude, nobody shouted, it was all cool. But I was once again reminded that while I don’t hate tourists as a rule I really don’t like dealing with them as they always seem to have tedious attitudes. Here’s how it went down in 2011:
“I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski…just don’t expect me to stop and wait while you take a photo. Because I don’t do that, no offense.”
“I raised my camera to take a picture of a couple of Clydesdale horses, and right at that moment a heavyset woman who was about to walk in front of my viewing path went “oh” and stopped and waited. She was being polite, of course, but I’ve said before that waiting for someone to snap a photo is a mark of middle-class cluelessness about photography. A good photographer has to roll with what happens, and sometimes you can get a better shot if somebody or something is half-obscuring what you’re shooting. You never know, and you’re better off not knowing.
“I never stop and wait for a picture to be taken…ever.
It is axiomatic that when a legendary director, actor and Oscar-winner delivers a curiously colorful performance in a spry, interesting film that heads will turn. More specifically it would not be out of the realm if this performance were to be contemplated within the context of the soft, amber glow of a career in its final stage. The Best Actor and Best Supporting field is a little on the weak side so maybe. The situation will clarify after Rules Don’t Apply opens AFI Fest on 11.10.
Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson is reporting that Beatty has “opted” for a Best Actor campaign to support his performance as Howard Hughes. “However,” Thompson adds, “it could also be considered a supporting performance; Hughes’ role in the first half of the movie is smaller than it is in the second.”
I heard this morning from a Los Angeles-based journalist friend who could have attended the Savannah Film Festival but said he’s “no fan of the South.” My reply: “Suit yourself but it’s so beautiful and serene here. Savannah is a living, breathing remnant of a long-gone culture, the refined and genteel South as it once was. Like any 21st Century city or town Savannah accommodates all the tech comforts, but it has a 19th Century soul.
On my rent-a-bike following a Monday night dinner with Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone at Bella’s. As we passed through a Bull Street square we ran into Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg and Off The Rails director Adam Irving. (Photo by Sasha Stone.)
“The feeling of laid-back refinement is everywhere. The all-but-empty side streets (especially at night) remind me of nocturnal strolls in the Dorsoduro district of Venice. Plus the storied Civil War-era architecture (mostly wooden but many large brick homes and buildings), the clop-clop of horses pulling carriages, huge trees draped with hanging moss, the easily discernible aura of ghosts and history, the vast parks and calming, well-landscaped squares and the general Forrest Gump atmosphere of politeness.
“There seem to be few big-city agitations going on and certainly far fewer cars than Los Angeles on a slow day — Savannah at 9 pm is like L.A. at 3:30 am.
“Not to mention all the sublime foodie restaurants, the comforting fragrance of nature (the scent of terra firma and aged lumber and the nearby Savannah River), the shaded streets and oh, the flatness! You can ride a bicycle for miles without the challenge of a single hill or slight incline or even a speed bump.
“And now that earthy aroma has been accentuated by hundreds of brush and leaf piles all over the city, on every residential corner, due to Hurricane Matthew. When I was a kid in New Jersey people used to rake leaves into huge piles in the fall and burn them curbside at dusk. Right now Savannah has that same leaf-pile aroma.