Could a comedy-sketch show theoretically get away with doing a “Men on Books” routine in 2017? If a latter-day David Alan Grier and Damon Wayans, who ruled the nation when they did this on In Living Color between ’90 and ’93, were to try this on Saturday Night Live, they would be torn to shreds on Twitter. In a world in which Moonlight is the ultimate “oh, wow,” comedy routines like “Men on…” have to get the boot. The gap is too great; they can’t co-exist. All I know is that (a) I used to love In Living Color and (b) I sat in my seat like a stone-faced corpse as I watched Moonlight last September in Telluride.
I met Trae Crowder a while back when he visited Real Time with Bill Maher. He sounds like the grandson of the guy who fucked Ned Beatty in the ass in Deliverance, but he’s totally cool. If only there were a few more Southern guys like him — i.e., irreverent but amiable, nobody’s fool and willing to cut through the bullshit. Crowder’s co-authored book (with Corey Ryan Forrester), “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Outta the Dark“, came out last October, and I wouldn’t mind reading it.
Southerners are good people if you can forget what they believe in. I had a great time when I visited Shreveport six or seven years ago. I visited a nifty little country bar, drank a lot, joked around with everyone and met a pretty lady who had just left her husband and was looking to ratify this decision by doing the nasty with the right guy, who turned out to be me.
Hot on the heels of Jason Pollock‘s Stranger Fruit, a controversial doc about the 2014 Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson that premiered last weekend at South by Southwest, TheRoot.com‘s Michael Harriott has posted an even more inflammatory piece called “Everything You Think You Know About the Death of Mike Brown Is Wrong, and the Man Who Killed Him Admits It.”
The big assertion in Pollock’s doc is that a new security-cam video proves that Brown didn’t steal a box of cigarillos from a Ferguson liquor store before the 8.9.14 encounter with Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown following an altercation. Pollock’s conclusion is that minus the cigarillo element, Brown wasn’t a belligerent asshole thief but an amiable drug dealer who got caught in a racial crossfire.
But Harriott’s piece is a bigger bombshell, or at least it purports to be. It states that a court docket (i.e., an official summary of proceedings in a court of law) from a late-2014 civil suit proves that Wilson flat-out lied in his grand jury testimony about the incident.
Harriott excerpt: “New court papers reveal that Brown never tried to take the officer’s gun, never struck the officer and did not initiate any contact with Wilson, who was cleared of wrongdoing by a secret grand jury in November 2014.”
I spent 40 minutes this morning writing a response to Harriott’s article, and then sent it to a Brooklyn guy who had passed it along. I also copied it and sent a version to myself. There was no objectionable material in what I wrote, but both emails disappeared for some reason. On top of which the Brooklyn guy was unable to forward my original email back to my inbox. He finally captured the content in three PDF docs and sent them along…got it! Rather than re-type it, I’m posting the PDF images to save time:
Last week an HE tipster caught a research screening of George Clooney‘s Suburbicon at the Sherman Oaks Arclight, and he says it’s quite good — a dry Fargo-esque noir comedy set in ’50s suburbia. The stars are Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and young Noah Jupe.
He’s actually calling it Clooney’s best-directed film ever…more bell-ringy than The Ides of March, Monuments Men, Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Paramount will presumably release Suburbicon sometime this fall.
Put another way, this guy has seen four unreleased films over the past few weeks (the other three were Trey Edward Shults‘ It Comes At Night, Jason Reitman‘s Tully and Destin Daniel Cretton‘s The Glass Castle), and he says Suburbicon is the best of the lot.
Suburbicon star Julianne Moore, director George Clooney during shooting last fall.
Suburbicon was shot in the Los Angeles area last October and November.
Joel and Ethan Coen‘s mid ’80s script was reworked by Clooney and Grant Heslov — they all share an even-steven “written by” credit (presumably pre-WGA review).
The other film Suburbicon resembles besides Fargo, he says, is Martin McDonagh‘s unreleased Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight, sometime in the fall).
I’ll skip over the plot particulars, but it involves deceit, murder and hired hitmen a la Fargo with a pinch or two of Double Indemnity. Speaking of that 1944 Billy Wilder film, Oscar Isaac, portraying an insurance investigator, has a great interrogation scene towards the end in the tradition of Edward G. Robinson‘s Barton Keyes character.
Suburbicon‘s hired bad guys are vaguely similar to Fargo‘s Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare — i.e., a skinny guy and a bruiser type.
TheWrap‘s Sam Frago has written that Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver “exists in this dreamlike state of ecstasy for nearly 70 minutes, [buth] then there’s a peculiar pivot into conventionality.” And while Variety‘s Peter Debruge has called it “a blast, featuring wall-to-wall music and a surfeit of inspired ideas,” he said “it’s also something of a mess.” How do reviews like this result in a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating? Obviously something stinks in Denmark.
I reported on 4.5.16 that Netflix had been negotiating “for months” to acquire distribution rights to Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind, and that the approval of Oja Kodar, Welles’ longtime partner and a key rights holder, was necessary to finalize things. I was told nonetheless that Kodar had “continued to block progress in her usual grasping way.”
But now this odious and grotesque situation has finally come to an end. It was announced today that Netflix has sealed the deal, which can only mean they coughed a lot more dough for Kodar than she was getting before.
I wrote last April that “Oja the Terrible is reportedly still refusing to allow the film elements (which are apparently still stored somewhere in the outskirts of Paris) to be inspected and is demanding even greater financial renumeration now that Netflix is involved.”
This pathetic psychodrama and restoration saga has been going on for a long time, but the first indication that Kodar might be willing to show at least a little consideration for her ex-boyfriend’s legacy came when Doreen Carvajal‘s N.Y. Times story, titled “Orson Welles’s Last Film May Finally Be Released,” popped on 10.28.14.
The piece reported that Kodar, the chief stopper in this situation along with Welles’ daughter Beatrice, had agreed to embrace a certain amount of trust and allow the film to be assembled and restored in good faith. Not really. Oja’s behavior for the last two and half years reportedly veered between the realm of unreasonableness and that of possible psychosis.
Brooklyn-based Jett says the blizzard that blew through the northeast today was “mild in the city — storms always die over NYC.” Almost always, he meant. I love snowstorms, rainstorms…any disturbance will do. Even though today’s was a bit of a letdown I would’ve loved to have been in midtown Manhattan in my overcoat and cowboy hat.
I don’t like these gun-at-your-head quizzes. Choosing a favorite tune out of dozens or hundreds means you’ll soon hate it from over-listening — great scheme! But for some reason I answered Ty Burr’s quiz yesterday: “Don’t Bother Me.” And if that doesn’t work, I’m partial to “Long, Long, Long,” “For No One” and “I’m A Loser.”
I saw Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation (Sundance Selects, 4.8) in Cannes about ten months ago. The great Mungiu, who shared the Best Director prize last May with Personal Shopper‘s Olivier Assayas, won’t be doing face-time interviews in Los Angeles. (Maybe phoners, I’m told.) My memory’s gone a little stale so I’m catching it again tonight at 7:30 pm.
But I’d see it again under any circumstance. All Mungiu films gain with repeated viewings. I’ve seen Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days four or five times, and I could watch it again right now.
“Conversation With A Master“, posted from Cannes on 5.20.16:
I spoke this afternoon with renowned Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, whose ethical drama Graduation (a.k.a. Bacalaureat) was universally praised after screening yesterday morning. I called it “a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption.”
We discussed the film’s view of things, which is basically how capitulating to soft corruption can seem at first like nothing but that it can slightly weaken your fibre and make you susceptible to harder forms down the road.
Accepting and living with a certain amount of soft corruption is par for the course in my realm. It greases the wheels in this and that way. If you’re at all involved with the hurly burly, you know the truth of this. “This world is so full of crap you’re going to get into it whether you’re careful or not” — a quote from what film?
I mentioned a story I passed along yesterday about my father having persuaded a Rutgers professor to give him a passing grade despite having failed a final exam, which was definitely a soft ethical lapse. Mungiu smiled and said, “Life is complicated.”
“When I’m around black people, I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘You’re too black.’ Then I come to America, and they say, ‘You’re not black enough.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!” — Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya to GQ‘s Shakeil Greeley in just-posted interview.
Hmmm…what am I allowed to say about shades or degrees of blackness these days? A voice within my system is saying “stop!…don’t say anything at all!” But I can at least say a couple of mild things.
Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.
If I’m reading the above quote correctly, Kaluuya has had to “wrestle” with black people calling him “too black.” What’s he supposed to say to that? What could he possibly say? What matters to actors is whether casting directors have decided that they’ve “got it” (charisma, relatableness, a steady centered quality) and whether the media regards them as good-looking or not. Kaluuya has nothing to worry about on either score.
Most whiteys understand and respect standard rhetorical limits. They can say “everybody’s everything, baby” but they can’t say “after many decades of life in this country I’ve come to regard American blackness as either a medium-shade deal a la Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington or Chris Rock or a steamed cappuccino thing…Spike Lee, Barack Obama, Jimi Hendrix. So Swiss dark-chocolate guys like Kaluuya…well, they seem less familiar.”
I’m not saying this, mind. I’m not even thinking it. I’m just saying that blacks can say whatever to other blacks, but whiteys have to zip it. If they don’t, the SJW hyenas will rush in and tear them to shreds.