Your average American Bumblefuck is dumb as gravel when it comes to nearly everything outside of his/her immediate sphere of interest — money, friends, food, family, Twitter, fashion, pets, pet food, laundry, cutting the grass, toenail clippers. Honest admission: Before I flew to Seoul on a 2013 trip to Vietnam, I was under a vague impression that the Korean peninsula was located northwest of Japan. It’s located generally west of Japan. Okay, west by southwest.
Steven Soderbergh has said time and again that the reaction to his two-part, 258-minute Che, a brilliant, thinking-man’s epic about Che Guevara, was a downish turning point. He’s told N.Y. Times interviewer Dave Itzkoff in an 8.10 article that “he was changed for the worse” by it.
Che was critically praised, but its commercial failure “soured” him on high-minded prestige films. “Che beat that out of me,” Soderbergh says.
Posted from Cannes on 5.21.08: I know I predicted this based on a reading of Peter Buchman‘s script, but the first half of Steven Soderbergh‘s 268-minute Che Guevara epic is, for me, incandescent — a piece of full-on, you-are-there realism about the making of the Cuban revolution that I found utterly believable. Not just “take it to the bank” gripping, but levitational — for someone like myself it’s a kind of perfect dream movie.
It’s also politically vibrant and searing — tells the “Che truth,” doesn’t mince words, doesn’t give you any “movie moments” (and God bless it for that).
It’s what I’d hoped for all along and more. The tale is the tale, and it’s told straight and true. Benicio del Toro‘s Guevara portrayal can’t be called a “performance” as much as…I don’t know, some kind of knock-down, ass-kick reviving of the dead. Being, not “acting.”
I loved the lack of sentimentality in this thing, the electric sense that Soderbergh is providing a real semblance of what these two experiences — the successful Cuban revolution of ’57 and ’58, and the failed attempt to do the same in Boliva in ’67 — were actually like.
Oh, God…the second half is starting right now. The aspect ratio on the second film is 1.85 to 1, but the first film was in Scope 2.35 to 1.
Like I said yesterday, Logan Lucky (Bleecker, 8.18) plays much better at the Rodeo screening room (where the sound is rich and reasonably well-tuned) than at the Wilshire Screening Room (where the sound lacks specificity and is in fact on the cruddy side). It should also be acknowledged that while director Steven Soderbergh shows respect and affection for his North Carolina-residing characters, there’s also a gently lampooning quality to the dialogue. Ditto the performances and especially the actorish Southern accents, which are simultaneously low-key and drawly and quietly broad. (Adam Driver‘s, in particular.) There are digs at a pair of yokels who say they need emotional motives to take part in a robbery, just like rural voters who insist on voting their cultural resentments rather than for candidates who’ve advocated sensible, common-sense programs. And I would be derelict not to point out that there’s a scene near the end of the film in which Channing Tatum has suddenly dropped a good 20 if not 25 pounds. (Through most of the film he looks like Michael Moore.) I should also say there’s something JonBenet Ramseyish about young Farrah Mackenzie, or more precisely the way her mother and other adult women encourage her to look like a foxy teenager with loud makeup and teased hair. But I do want to see Logan Lucky become a success. If it succeeds, we all do.
New photos of Call Me By Your Name costars Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg accompany Lynn Hirschberg’s W riff about Luca Guadagnino‘s film, which the headline calls “the year’s most sensual love story.” Remark #1: Slight concern was expressed yesterday about whether Chalamet’s Tom Jones shirt might cost him votes with style-conscious Academy members. HE says “naahh…it would be one thing if Chalamet was 30, but he’s only 20…let it slide.” Remark #2: When did Stuhlbarg get a buzzcut and lose the weight? I almost didn’t recognize him at first. I know he’s straight, but the new look conveys an impression that he’s not only gone through a life change (new diet, workout regimen) but has decided to reorient his identity in other ways.
(l. to r.) Call me By Your Name costars Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothee Chalamet.
Recent major articles in both Vogue and the N.Y. Times are referring to Darren Aronofsky‘s latest as Mother! and not mother! Aronofksy has insisted all along that the lower-case spelling is the correct one, but when you have both the N.Y. Times and Vogue disagreeing…well, do you throw in the towel or what?
For the record, Wikipedia is also going with a capital “M” but acknowledges the title is “stylized as mother!“.
Wells to Aronofsky: “Do I take it that the lower-case battle has been lost, and that the rest of us can start using an upper case ‘m’ from here on?” Aronofsky to Wells: “The official title is mother!, and there’s a reason [for this]. I fought the battle on Pi too!”
For those who weren’t around 19 years ago, Aronofsky wanted his ’98 breakout film to be referred to with the pi sign and not as Pi. Wikipedia calls it Pi but says it’s “also titled with pi sign.”
Hollywood Elsewhere to Jennifer Lawrence & reps: That John Currin painting on the new cover of Vogue is infuriating. She looks like someone who might be mistaken for JLaw but is clearly not JLaw. Plus she looks like a model or someone else I recognize but can’t quite think of. Right on the tip of my tongue. I’ve been staring at this image for nearly an hour, and I just can’t accept that this is the same JLaw I’ve known since Winter’s Bone. I look at it and say, “Uhhmm, that’s not her…that’s a JLaw lookalike with the not-quite-right nose giving the game away…it’s almost JLaw.” On top of which that cat-fur hat…words fail.
Never again, sick of it, that’s all: I don’t want to ever listen again to a youngish actor or actress talk about how humbled and frazzled and tongue-tied they were when they first met an older, legendary actor or actress of a higher station. I understand why younger actors would want to convey this to journalists (i.e., showing obeisance before power is comforting in itself, but telling others about worshipful feelings doubles the pleasure) but I’ve been listening to this over and over for decades.
On top of which it’s basically bullshit. No matter how famous, older actors are always gracious and accepting of younger actors…always. Unless you’re incredibly antsy and insecure, meeting an older, world-famous actor is comforting, not nerve-wracking. Every actor young and old knows how good he or she may be, and no amount of flattery or obsequious behavior is going to change anything on either side. Actors with a semblance of self-awareness and dignity know this. If a younger actor is overwhelmed with affection or respect for an older actor, fine. (I felt this way in the presence of Cary Grant once.) But enough with the “I was so incredibly nervous I could barely put three words together” routine.
The greatest extended uncut shot in movie-western history, full of dark irony and without a word of dialogue, happens near the end of William Wyler‘s The Big Country (’58). For years I’d told myself it lasts 75 seconds (2:25 to 3:41) but Wyler actually uses a five-second MCU cutaway (3:25 to 3:30) to allow Charlton Heston to express contempt for Charles Bickford‘s stubborn hostility as well as a bit of self-loathing for himself. It’s so brilliant the way Wyler shows the Terrill ranch hands gradually joining in two groups — three at first, a gap, and then another six or seven.
Tilda Swinton [after the jump] says she’s seen Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s I Know Where I’m Going (’45) many times, but until this morning I’d never even heard of it. Or…wait, maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I’d read about it but rejected it out of hand because the two stars, Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey, held no immediate interest. (Hiller won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in Separate Tables, but in my eyes her finest performance was as Paul Scofield‘s lion-like wife in A Man For All Seasons.) Criterion has a DVD version for $32; I’ve just rented an HD version via Amazon for nearly one-tenth the cost.