It’s funny, but I don’t think I want to present myself as the Anton Chigurh of Hollywood columnists. I relate a lot more to Josh Brolin‘s No Country For Old Men character. I certainly don’t want to project myself as some kind of fearsome cyclops. The idea is funny, but over and over again it might be a bit much. (This is just a rough idea of how the revised HE logo might look on a regular basis.)
The screenplay for Ingrid Goes West (Neon, 8.4) “adeptly sets the scene for some classic comedy of embarrassment and then sets things in motion smoothly,” says Hollywood Reporter critic Leslie Felperin. “But as whirlwinds are reaped and revelations tumble out, a not-in-a-good-way sourness emerges that makes the last act more unpleasant than perhaps the filmmakers intended.
“Although one wants to praise the screenplay for not spelling everything out, sometimes the characters’ motivations feel just a little too opaque and their decisions seem more motivated by plot mechanics than real human desires.
“On the other hand, that may be exactly the point, and the film might be read as a gloss on how shallow, whimsical and aimless these sort of people are. Certainly, hummingbird-fast editing, courtesy of Jack Price, makes the montages of emojis, hashtags and filtered phone-shot snapshots feel just as hyperactive and dizzying as one would expect, and like social media itself, the final effect is both weirdly entrancing and cloying.”
Last evening the SRO and I were heading east on Montana Avenue when I noticed that a new 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey was playing at the Aero. It was 7:10 pm, or 20 minutes before the show would begin. I excitedly talked her into catching this 1968 classic, as she’d never seen it. So we bought our tickets, got our refreshments, sat down in the third row…and the film looked like dogshit.
Dark, muddy, no focus or sharpness to speak of, all of those exquisite values covered in shadow — a complete rip-off of the patrons who paid $15 a pop.
They were presumably showing the same freshly created 70mm print that’s been playing at the American Cinematheque Egyptian in Hollywood, which means that it probably looked like shit there also. It’s an absolute scandal that that no one’s said anything. All of these 2001 fans, paying crowd after paying crowd, watching one of the inkiest, most under-lighted prints I’ve ever seen, and they’ve all just sat there like sheep.
I went into the lobby and told the staff that the print, or at the very least the projection, was bullshit. “My 2001 Bluray looks glorious on my 65″ Sony 4K, but what you’re showing doesn’t look anywhere near as good,” I said. They reacted like cigar-store Indians. Shocked, fearful.
The manager appeared. “Have you ever seen the 2001 Bluray on a decent high-def screen?” I asked him. “Yeah,” he said. “Well, the Bluray is how it should look — what you’re showing looks like shit.” Manager: “You can’t expect a 70mm print to look like a Bluray…it’s a different thing. It’s celluloid.” Me: “Oh, yeah? I saw a clean 70mm 2001 print at the old Plitt twinplex in Century City back in the mid ’80s, and it looked beautiful. Your print looks like crap.” Manager: “You’re the first person to say anything like this.” Me: “Oh, well, that changes everything! Nobody else complained, you say? That must mean I’m full of shit then!”
I meant to post this over the weekend but didn’t. 20th Century Fox’s Cinemacon presentation happened four days ago, but I have to mention what a knockout it was — a real “That’s Entertainment!” extravaganza complete with singing and dancing and white-glow-rod costumes. What a jolt to see the familiar Fox logo suddenly re-defined by white tubular neon — it took my breath away. I had to share at least this.
I’m reading Michael Callahan‘s Vanity Fair profile of illustrator Robert McGinnis, “The Man Behind History’s Most Iconic Movie Posters, From Breakfast at Tiffany’s to James Bond.” I know the realm — all those ’50s and ’60s-era illustrations of glammy, cartoonishly rail-thin women, often posed with leading men in tuxedos and suede pumps. But the illustration that got me was “Ethan,” which McGinnis painted 37 years ago. McGinnis’s subjects, curiously, are always slimmer and taller. That’s his trademark unreality. The Duke, 48 and bulky when he made The Searchers, is down to his Big Trail weight.
Ten people dead inside St. Petersburg’s Sennaya Ploshchad metro station. Happened around seven hours ago, or sometime after 3 am Pacific. Obviously the work of Swedish terrorists. “I saw a lot of smoke, a crowd making its way to the escalators, people with blood and other people’s insides on their clothes, bloody faces…many were crying,” said St. Petersburg resident Leonid Chaika, who said he was at the station where the blast happened. The motive was probably related to Russia’s anti-ISIS, pro-Hassad aggression in Syria.
What female villains have you completely believed in, and why? I could go on and on about my faves, but the key element is that you believed they weren’t just “playing” villainy but living in caves of their own choosing or creation.
In no particular order: Barbara Stanwyck‘s Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity, Meryl Streep‘s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Jane Greer‘s Kathy Moffet in Out of the Past, Margaret Hamilton‘s Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, Kathy Bates‘ Annie Wilkes in Misery, Louise Fletcher‘s Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Sharon Stone‘s Catherine Trammell in Basic Instinct, Bette Davis‘s Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, etc.
I didn’t believe in Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad) at all. Her performance was all about extreme-playdough mannerisms, posturing, makeup and wardrobe. All I believed was that Robbie had been hired because she’s hot.
I’ll tell you who I believed in 110% — Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. The capsule definition of Alex Forrest was that of a manic, lion-haired feminist banshee who tried to leverage a single night of mad, passionate sex with Michael Douglas into a knife or a bomb that would detonate his marriage. But I didn’t really believe in that — that’s what the research-screening audiences saw. What I believed in was Alex’s instability and emotional desperation, and that made her scary. The scariest thing she said was “I won’t be ignored, Dan!”
I’m sorry but I don’t regard Sofia Boutella‘s demonic mummy demon (i.e., a resuscitation of Ahmanet, an Egyptian princess from 5000 years ago) as any kind of scary. One, Boutella’s casting as the mummy was a political sop to notions of gender equality in the film industry. And two, I saw her up close at Cinemacon in Las Vegas and she’s no Charlize Theron (who I would buy as a mummy monster in a New York minute) — Boutella is delicate and modest-sized. I don’t get the threat.
You can say “in a CG spectacle the physical size or gender of the villain doesn’t matter…it’s all in the dark conjurings and wild effects” and I would reply “no, you’re wrong…the performer has to put some kind of chill into your system…you have to accept the idea that the actor or actress villain is harboring some kind of real-deal malevolence or madness on their own dime…you can’t just trot out some attractive French-Algerian actress who’s slender and only 5’5″ tall and say ‘okay, audiences…here’s somebody you should definitely be scared of.'”
Alex Kurtzman and Tom Cruise‘s The Mummy pops on June 9th.