It struck me earlier today that Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea is similar to Martin Ritt‘s Hud in that the lead protagonist doesn’t find salvation or redemption at the finale — no healing and certainly no parting of the clouds. What other films have a main protagonist who can’t find a way out of the pit or doesn’t care to find one, who finally says “aahh, the hell with it…I am who I am”?
From Hud Wikipage: “Paramount executives were unhappy with the film. They felt it was too dark; they were displeased by James Wong Howe‘s black-and-white cinematography and Hud’s lack of remorse and unchanged behavior at the finale.
“After Hud was previewed, Paramount considered dropping the project, feeling that it was not ‘commercial enough.’ But director Martin Ritt flew to New York and convinced the executives to release the film unmodified.
“Hud was acclaimed during its premiere at the 24th Venice International Film Festival. After opening on 5.29.63 it grossed $10 million, earning $5 million in theatrical rentals against a budget of $2.35 million.
This Mercedes AMG GT Roadster spot is okay, I guess, in a dopey, broadly satirical sort of way, but what’s happened to the Coen brothers? I’m asking because after Peter Fonda turns over the engine there’s an insert shot of a couple of full glasses of beer shuddering so badly they nearly tip over. That’s not cool, not the Coen brothers style. The Coens of yore would have shown a closeup of the beers vibrating ever so slightly without the glasses moving — still a bullshit notion but it would have passed muster. Comment #2: A single Mercedes “blocks in” motorcycles belonging to…what, at least 12 or 15 bikers? Comment #3: Fonda could use a little neck-wattle surgery and a thousand micro-hair-plug grafts. He needs to at least try to look like Terry Valentine again. Aging is inevitable, but you can at least make an effort to shave a decade or so.
For all those HE commenters who’ve incorrectly claimed that Real Time‘s Bill Maher and author-neuroscientist Sam Harris had somehow supported or aligned themselves with Trump’s Muslim travel ban, here are the facts. In passing: A 6.14.16 Washington Post story by Philip Bump attempted to calculate how many terrorists the Bush and Obama administrations have each killed. It was estimated that former President Barack Obama is responsible for having sent between 30,000 and 33,000 terrorists to Allah.
Hats off to Santa Barbara Film Festival exec director Roger Durling for generating an easy, amusing interview vibe last night with La La Land costars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the Arlington theatre. Alpha alfalfa adoration vibes…love love love. Everyone enjoyed it. That said, the chat lasted over two hours, which is a half-hour too long. 90 minutes should more than suffice. Incidentally: An HE salute to the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s tech team for turning around high-quality video clips of the previous night’s tribute the next morning. This has never happened before — I for one am seriously impressed.
The IMDb, the Amazon-owned website that provides movie/TV production and distribution data (along with celebrity news content), has decided to shut down its message boards because they’re “no longer providing a positive, useful experience” for the vast majority of its users. What’s this about? Concerns about trolling, obviously, but that’s the internet — often rude, unruly, sometimes odious or even hateful. But it’s the stuff of freedom.
This is obviously a bad thing but what brought this about? What exactly was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
IMDb message posted today: “As part of our ongoing effort to continually evaluate and enhance the customer experience on IMDb, we have decided to disable IMDb’s message boards on February 20, 2017. We regret any disappointment or frustration IMDb message board users may experience as a result of this decision.”
Don’t ask how or why, but I’m currently persuaded that the cleaning staff at the Fess Parker Doubletree has either stolen or diabolically hidden my Gillette Fusion Proshield razor. Remember that scene in Elaine May‘s The Heartbreak Kid when Charles Grodin gets angry at a hotel waiter when he’s told that they’ve run out of pecan pie? That’s me right now with the Fess Parker guys. They have my razor…I know they do!
Angelina Jolie‘s First They Killed My Father (Netflix, likely spring release) is based upon Luong Ung’s 16-year-old book of the same name. It seems to be basically a back-to-the-Killing Fields piece about the Khymer Rouge Cambodian genocide of the mid to late ’70s. Pic will chronicle Loung Ung’s “early childhood in Cambodia as a five-year-old girl who witnessed firsthand the brutal and murderous tactics of the genocidal Pol Pot regime,” etc. Joilie is obviously obsessed with the idea of horrific punishment and torture visited upon innocents, which she explored previously in In The Land of Blood and Honey, which was about the Serbian genocide of the ’90s, as well as Unbroken. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that Jolie is privately into bondage and discipline, which a friend confided to me three or four years ago.
Throughout last night’s Modern Masters tribute in Santa Barbara, Denzel Washington frequently referred to past collaborators not just in terms of their talent or genius but in terms of career oomph and creative power. “So-and-so director was coming off this or that successful film at the time and was really cooking with steam,” he said at least two or three times. It’s not just how good a director is, he was saying, or how big this director was in the past or might be in the future, but who he/she is at the current moment.
If you wanted to work with Alfred Hitchcock, he meant, you needed to team up during his legendary hot-streak period between Strangers on a Train (’51) and The Birds (’63), but not after Marnie (’64), which was the beginning of the downturn.
When the conversation turned to his brilliant performance in Jonathan Demme‘s Philadelphia (’93) and what the collaborative energy with director Jonathan Demme was like, Denzel offered the usual type of blah-blah answer. Then he said, “Where is Demme?” — i.e., what’s happened to him because he’s obviously no longer the hot-streak guy he was in the ’80s and ’90s.
Moderator Leonard Maltin chimed in with some blah-blah response (“He’s fine, he’s working on a project”), but Denzel had pushed the hard-truth button — the once-great Demme, now 72, has been in a kind of eclipse since his last formidable feature, Rachel Getting Married, opened a little more than eight years ago.
Over the least 13 or 14 years Demme has basically become a documentarian (The Agronomist, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Man from Plains, Neil Young Trunk Show, I’m Carolyn Parker, Neil Young Journeys, What’s Motivating Hayes, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids) who occasionally dips his toe into features.
Rachel, a low-budgeter in which Anne Hathaway gave an award-worthy performance as a neurotic with an addictive past, was the last time Demme was in the big game. I’m sorry but nobody paid any real attention to A Master Builder (’13) and Ricki and the Flash (’15) was decidedly minor, a fact that was signalled by TriStar’s decision to open it in August.
Demme’s essential period lasted about 13 years — Melvin and Howard (’80), Swing Shift (’84), Something Wild (’86), Swimming to Cambodia (’87), Married to the Mob (’88), The Silence of the Lambs (’91 — his biggest success) and finally Philadelphia (’93),
Things started to gradually deflate from then on. Beloved (’98), The Truth About Charlie (’02…meh), The Manchurian Candidate (’04…not half bad but it couldn’t overcome the exalted reputation of John Frankenheimer‘s 1962 version). And then came Rachel, Demme’s first “here I am again and this is what I can do” flick since Philadelphia.
I was in a heavily medicated cold fog during last night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival tribute to the great Denzel Washington. I was in the fifth row and paying attention, but at the same time in my own zone, a little bleary and weary. I was in such shitty shape that when it came time to take some video of Denzel as he walked up to the lecturn to accept his Maltin Modern Masters award, I couldn’t hold the damn camera as steadily as I usually do. Damn sniffles, runny nose, inflamed sinuses. I tried to get a Vitamin B-12 shot at a local clinic but the doctor said “we don’t just give B-12 shots for people who want to feel good.” I said “I don’t want to feel good — I’m trying to overpower my damn cold.” I felt so cruddy that I went right back to the hotel after the Denzel event ended — no after-party.