It’s time once again to measure the year’s Best Picture nominees against the famous Howard Hawks criteria for a good film — “one with three great scenes and no bad ones.” Which of the 2017/2018 Best Picture contenders meet Hawks’ definition of a quality-level film and which don’t?
You need to do two things: (1) List the three good scenes in Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and (2) answer honestly if any of these films have any bad scenes.
HE nitpickers have tried to dismiss the Hawks criteria, but a movie that delivers three great scenes and no shitty ones is always a very good film. Because people always tend to remember those extra-powerful or poignant moments. Because they always sink in.
HE’s list of Hawks’ seven best films (in this order): Red River, Only Angels Have Wings, The Big Sleep, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Air Force, Scarface.
With Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux’s marriage having officially gone south (and not recently but several weeks ago), it needs to said that the Brad Pitt-getting-back-with-Jen scenario, which the tabloids have been pushing for a couple of years now, has to be bullshit.
First, even if there was some kind of half-rekindled relationship between the two (which is almost certainly imaginary) there would be no reason for Aniston to trust Pitt. The fact that he cheated before means the odds are at least 50/50 that he’ll cheat again. Second, Pitt would never go back to Aniston for reasons of pride, partly because of the trust issue and partly because you can’t go home again. Third, Brad’s next serious girlfriend or wife needs to be someone better than Angelina Jolie and way better than Aniston, and by that I mean someone like Amal Clooney…a lawyer or a diplomat, a brilliant book author or stage director or brain surgeon, someone classy and accomplished but without Jolie’s curious history.
Francis Lawrence, Peter Chernin and Steve Zaillian‘s Red Sparrow opens two weeks from now, technically on the evening of Thursday, 3.1. The first screening happens tonight in the Fox lot, and the review embargo ends tomorrow at 9am Pacific. This in itself indicates this 20th Century Fox release might not be too bad, as studio publicists would enforce a review embargo only hours before it opens if it stunk.
Mr. Lawrence has sent a message to all critics asking that they keep “all major plot points including the ending secret so other viewers may also enjoy the movie to the fullest.”
It goes without saying that Tatyana is very keen on seeing this potboiler, which costars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton, and costars Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds and Bill Camp. She’ll be giving me an expert critique about how realistic the various Russian accents may or may not sound.
A Criterion Bluray of Cristian Munguiu‘s Graduation (Romanian: Bacalaureat) will street on 5.22.18. I don’t know why it’s been given a 2K mastering instead of 4K, but it has. Essential viewing for anyone with half a brain. Easily one of the best films of ’16 or ’17, whichever you prefer. It earned a pittance at the U.S. box-office, largely due to the fact that a majority of American moviegoers are morons.
“Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation is a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption. It basically says that ethical lapses are deceptive in that they don’t seem too problematic at first, but they have a way of metastasizing into something worse, and that once this happens the smell starts to spread and the perpetrators start to feel sick in their souls.
“I don’t necessarily look at things this way, and yet Mungiu’s film puts the hook in. I felt the full weight of his viewpoint, which tends to happen, of course, when you’re watching a film by a masterful director, which Mungui (Four Months, Three Weeks, Two days, Beyond The Hills) certainly is.
“And yet I tend to shy away from judging people too harshly when they bend the rules once or twice. Not as a constant approach but once in a blue moon. I’m not calling myself a moral relativist, but I do believe there’s a dividing line between hard corruption and the softer, looser variety, and I know that many of us have crossed paths with the latter. Let he who’s without sin cast the first stone.
“Politicians or dirty cops who accept payoffs from ne’er-do-wells in exchange for favoritism or looking the other way — that’s hard, blatant corruption. Soft corruption is a milder manifestation — a form of ethical side-stepping that decent people go along with from time to time in order to (a) prevent something worse from happening or (b) to help a friend or family member who’s in a tough spot and needs a little friendly finagling to make the problem go away or become less acute.
Tonight the first wave of the Black Panther faithful will swarm into megaplexes in every state of the union and ignite a seismic moment in Hollywood history. It’s not just the $150 million that Ryan Coogler‘s film is expected to earn by Sunday night but also the representation factor — an almost-all-black cast (two middle-aged male white guys are included), power-punch superhero flick that screams “now,” empowerment, authority, 21st Century change and tribal fervor like no Hollywood film ever before.
Just keep in mind what I said a couple of weeks ago, which is that Black Panther feels a little directionless at first — the term is “less than fully satisfying” — and that it doesn’t really kick into gear until the final 60 minutes.
Keep in mind whqt the Boston Globe‘s Ty Burr said, which is that Black Panther “isn’t the greatest movie ever made, [and] probably not even the greatest superhero movie ever made, but it’s very, very good.”
And keep in mind what Movie Nation‘s Roger Moore said the other day:
“Marvel marvels aren’t so much scripted and directed as focus-grouped and engineered. The story beats, hero or heroine hurdles and fights and effects are so familiar as to be budgeted down to the penny. Broadening the appeal of your franchise ethnically is just smart business. In story terms, in character inclusions, in casting, pandering pays. You’d expect no less from Disney.
“So you’ve got another cool costumed hero tested with dead daddy issues, another ‘sibling’ (or close relative) rivalry, another hidden world where superhuman heroes lay low.
“[Black Panther] has the attempted gravitas of Logan, the myth-building of Wonder Woman and the same pacing problems as those two consequential, worthwhile and only occasionally fun additions to the genre.
“This Panther is awfully slow on the prowl. The two hours and fourteen minutes just amble by. There’s little urgency to any of this, even the finale. It’s just passable entertainment, a noble attempt at waxing mythical that never, for one second, delivers that out-of-body giddiness that makes popcorn pictures of its ilk burst to life.”
Variety‘s Guy Lodge wouldn’t dare write a regular-guy, straight-from-the-shoulder, Hollywood Elsewhere-style review of Wes Anderson‘s Isle of Dogs. He’s too invested in presenting himself as elite, effete and eternally cutting-edge, and that means maintaining a constantly accommodating attitude toward cool-cat cinema, which of course includes all forms of animation.
Nonetheless, even with Lodge’s bending-over-backwards approach, the best he can offer in the way of an Isle of Dogs back-scratch is that it’s “puppy-treat cinema” with a “slender, precarious narrative…small, salty, perhaps not an entire meal, but rewarding nonetheless.”
So this is why Fox Searchlight and IDPR’s Bebe Lerner decided to completely ignore my request to participate in a Berlinale junket for Isle of Dogs. (They had previously invited me to the 2014 Berlinale junket for Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, and before that the London junket for Fantastic Mr. Fox.) They knew I was no fan of animation, fair enough, and that I’m not a fan of Japanese culture in general. They also knew they had a marginal film on their hands, and that they had to restrict themselves this time to hardcore animation devotees.
Lodge will forgive me, I’m sure, but he seems to be saying that Isle of Dogs is “rewarding” mainly for animation hipsters, for people who are inclined to feel rewarded going in. But that it’s a dicey proposition, perhaps, for Joe and Jane Popcorn.
I for one have always had a problem with the basic concept of Isle of Dogs because of the garbage. Who wants to hang with a bunch of dirty dogs who eat rotting garbage covered with white worms?
“Isle of Dogs is really a film about its own enthusiasms: for four-legged fleabags of all shapes and sizes, of course, but also for the culture and cinema of Japan, which is woven with typical fastidiousness into Anderson’s magpie aesthetic,” Lodge writes. “That makes it a markedly more eccentric proposition than Anderson’s first feature-length foray into stop-motion, 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox — and with a PG-13 rating for its dry adult comedy, mostly played in a limbo-low key, a niche commercial prospect too.
Most of the Gold Derby know-it-alls are picking Sebastian Lelio‘s A Fantastic Woman to win the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar. Because it’s (a) good and (b) transgender. But a passionate minority (including Hollywood Elsewhere) has a special place in their hearts for Ruben Ostlund‘s The Square
Just for the record, Hollywood Elsewhere is calling President Donald Trump a repulsive, sentiment-exploiting, NRA-embracing, side-stepping piece of slime…no offense. Trump: “We are here for you….whatever we can do”? “Let us pray for healing and for peace…God’s word…I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears, I will heal you”…you make me want to vomit. “Family, faith, community and country…a culture in our country that embrqces the dignity of life”? “Assist in any way we can”?
Nikolas Cruz legally bought an AR-15 assault weapon when he was 18, but he wasn’t able to buy a handgun because he wasn’t 21 — that’s the law.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »