This was snapped in Brooklyn (I think) a couple of days ago, or whenever the most recent snowfall began. It ranks in my mind as one of the coolest inclement-weather snaps I’ve seen in a long time, largely because it’s almost entirely monochrome except for (a) the glowing stoplight, (b) the brake light on the truck, (c) the half-obscure STOP sign, and (d) the faintly fleshy color of the legs of the dude with the umbrella. I’ve seen young guys in shorts during Sundance blizzards, and, as I’ve said before, this is strictly a 21st Century Millennial phenomenon. No other generation in the history of civilization has distinguished itself by wearing shorts in this kind of weather.
Following the 3.6 posting of “Likeliest ’18 Best Picture Contenders“, I asked five or six publicists to tell me what I’d missed or should remove. Two of them said that I need to include Black Panther as a Best Picture contender, and more than a few HE commenters said the same. I agree — Black Panther will most likely be nominated but mainly for cultural and representation reasons. Because by the measure of cinematic merit alone, it’s not good enough until the last hour.
That said, Black Panther is a stronger, more satisfying film (at least in my book) than the absurdly over-praised Get Out.
I realize that Dexter Fletcher took over as director of Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was canned for being AWOL a few times and clashing with the cast and crew, but it would seem awfully weird for Fletcher to be given sole credit, no? Even with Singer’s hothead rep.
I am very, very disappointed that Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman will, in fact, open sometime in ’19, and most likely during that year’s award season. The reason is extensive de-aging CG work. Steven Zaillian‘s screenplay (based on Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses“) is allegedly a series of flashbacks that will show the titular character, Robert DeNiro‘s Frank Sheeran involved in bad-guy activity over several decades. DeNiro will reportedly appear as a 30-year-old in one of these sequences.
One authority is hearing “terrific early word on Beautiful Boy — extraordinarily well done, beautifully acted.” They’re also hearing that Adam McKay’s Backseat “is going to be killer.” This same source has seen Dan Fogelman‘s Life Itself (Amazon, 9.21 — Oscar Isaac, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas, Mandy Patinkin, Samuel L. Jackson, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening) and calls it “very charming” with a stellar cast and a “great” screenplay.
While promoting Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story yesterday, Susan Sarandon explained the Hollywood casting basics. “In my business it’s all about your sexual currency,” she said. “People hire women they want to be with and men they want to be, and anyone who falls in between is a character actor.”
What Sarandon didn’t acknowledge (and this is not new for HE regulars) is that sexual currency standards have significantly changed over the last decade or so, and that the principal change-agent in this shifting landscape has been Judd Apatow. Producers and directors will always “hire women they want to be with,” but the guys they want to be used to be traditional or at least semi-traditional leading-man types, and now (and roughly since Apatow’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin) they’re not.
Here’s how I put it on 8.15.14: “Guys who got the girl used to look like guys who got the girl. And girls who attracted a lot of guys used to look like girls who attracted a lot of guys. But no longer. By today’s standards any homely, marginal, bearded or overfed guy or girl can hook up with good-looking types and nobody bats an eyelash.
“Blubbery Seth Rogen getting lucky with and impregnating Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up…uh-huh. Rogen married to and boinking Rose Byrne every which way in Neighbors…if you say so. Mark Duplass making sensitive-guy moves on Melissa McCarthy in Tammy…really? The bulky, nearly bald Steve Zissis connecting with Amanda Peet on HBO’s Togetherness…right. Anne Hathaway being sufficiently taken with Rafe Spall to move in with him in One Day…remarkable. The obviously desirable Anna Kendrick and Keira Knightley finding dweeby twee-male Mark Webber attractive and beddable in Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies and Joe Swanberg‘s Happy Christmas…huh?”
“In short, Apatow’s rules of attraction have been sinking in for years and we’re all buying it.
Nothing makes my blood run colder than to read the words “much richer grain textures” in a DVD Beaver Bluray review. But that’s what it says in Gary W. Tooze‘s assessment of Criterion’s forthcoming Bluray (4.17) of Leo McCarey‘s The Awful Truth.
That’s pretty damn close to Tooze’s assessment of Criterion’s His Girl Friday Bluray (“it has more, and consistent, grain”), and I’ve learned through hard experience what this actually means. Tooze also reports that the Awful Truth Bluray “looks wonderfully film-like“…good God.
I bought Criterion’s His Girl Friday Bluray and discovered that it’s “completely smothered in digital grain mosquitos,” as I said in a 1.13.17 review. “I kept thinking to myself ‘poor Ralph Bellamy, playing that poor dope from Albany and having to sit there and suffer as those billions of mosquitoes crawl all over his head and neck and hair, not to mention Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and all the rest besieged by the same swarm.”
This plus the DVD Beaver screen captures of the Awful Truth disc show that this 1937 screwball classic has been grainstormed to a fare-thee-well.
I’ve said it 10,000 times, but I don’t like heavy grain. No one does except for grain monks (i.e., perverse aficionados) like Tooze. Call me a plebian but I prefer my older black-and-white films to be tastefully DNR’ed — I want them to look as sharp, clean, unfiltered and un-muddied as possible, and that means no swarms of Egyptian mosquitoes covering each and every frame.
Right now (i.e., the post-Oscar season blahs) would be a great time for A24 to release Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed, which everyone went nuts for six months ago. March, April and May films have always lacked nutritional value; it would be wonderful to settle into Schrader’s best film in years right now. Alas, First Reformed won’t open until 6.22.
From my 9.1.17 review: “First Reformed, a spare, Bresson-like, thoroughly gripping piece about despair, environmental ruin, moral absolutism and sexual-emotional redemption, is completely rational and meditative and yet half crazy. But in a good way.
“On top of which it’s been shot in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, which itself is cause for modest celebration.
“I can’t over-emphasize how amazing it feels to watch a fully felt, disciplined, well–ordered film by a brilliant guy who had seemingly lost his way or gone into eclipse, only to be startled when he leaps out from behind the curtain and says ‘Hah…I never left!’
“First Reformed is so Schraderian, so moralistic in almost a Travis Bickle kind of way, so tortured and yet fully engrossing. Everyone has been calling it Taxi Driver meets Diary of a Country Priest with a little Hardcore and Rolling Thunder thrown in.
“Set in upstate New York, it’s Reverent Toller (Ethan Hawke), an ex-military chaplain turned small-town minister, who gradually succumbs to the idea — don’t laugh or recoil — of moral absolutism by way of becoming a suicide bomber.
One reason that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is okay with meeting President Donald Trump next May, I suspect, is that they’re peas in a pod — a pair of overweight, cult-of-personality authoritarians who have reflexively turned to bluster when challenged — and that a certain form of blowhard-to-blowhard, asshole-to-asshole, takes-one-to-know-one communication will probably kick in.
That’s probably the instinctual motive on both sides, come to think of it.
What may result is another matter. There’s ample cause for skepticism. A 3.9 N.Y. Times analysis piece by Max Fischer (“7 Big Things to Understand About Trump’s Talks With North Korea”) covers most of the bases.
Korea-watcher Jeffrey Lewis c/o Middlebury Institute of International Studies: “Kim is not inviting Trump so that he can surrender North Korea’s weapons. He’s inviting Trump to demonstrate that his investment in nuclear and missile capabilities has forced the United States to treat him as an equal.”
“Skeptics are also right to fear that Mr Trump — a man who boasts about his television ratings, and who is bored by briefings and scornful of foreign alliances — could end up being played like a gold-plated violin.
“There is nothing new about a North Korean despot proposing a meeting with an American president, or expressing warm words about denuclearization in return for security guarantees, by which the Kim regime usually means the withdrawal of American troops from the Korean peninsula and the breaking of treaty alliances with South Korea and Japan.”
I wouldn’t see Nash Edgerton‘s Gringo with a knife at my back, no offense, and I’m starting to think I might be better off not seeing Ava DuVernay‘s A Wrinkle in Time. This adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s Y.A. fable smelled like trouble months ago. I’ve written that I “missed” my only chance to attend a Wrinkle screening last week, but the truth is that I was terrified of submitting to it and so I decided (with some domestic pressure) to attend J.J. Abrams‘ Oscar Wilde party instead. No regrets.
- 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 »