I’m sorry but I like the poster more than the trailer for Terry Gilliam‘s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The poster kills; the trailer is a “hmmm, yeah.” I’m doubly sorry that Gilliam won’t be able to screen his long-gestating film in Cannes next month, due to a lawsuit with Portugese producer Paulo Branco. Costarring Jonathan Pryce, Adam Driver, Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro. Who remembers Lost in La Mancha? It doesn’t feel like it popped 16 years ago, but it did.
Eric Kohn‘s 4.7 Indiewire piece about the Netflix-vs-Cannes brouhaha mentions a significant point, which is that a law overseen by France’s culture minister requires 36 months between a film’s French theatrical release and its streaming debut. So if Netflix were to theoretically commit to theatrical openings this year for its five films slated for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the company wouldn’t be able to stream them in France until 2021. That is beyond absurd. A six-month window would be more like it.
Kohn and Anne Thompson‘s latest Screen Talk:
…into submission by this thing, sitting there in my seat and getting pounded, elbowed, waffle-ironed and slam-banged for 156 minutes. And it’s all about perks, pomp and paychecks…an army of filmmakers hauling it in, and not so much as a taste for Hollywood Elsewhere. This movie will do nothing but sap and impurify my precious bodily fluids.
I’ve been wondering all my life why Orville Nix was so far from the Presidential motorcade when he captured his crappy footage on 11.22.63. The motorcade route was widely known, having been published in the local papers. Why was Nix so far away from Elm Street, a half-block to the north? Nix just before the big moment: “I can hear the motorcade coming. It’ll be coming down Elm any second now, but I don’t want to get too close. It’ll make for a better shot if I can capture the whole panorama. True, I won’t get a closeup or even a medium shot of the President and Mrs. Kennedy, but the grass and the asphalt road and the trees and the blue sky are just as important, if not more so.”
And what about that gifted cinematographer Abraham Zapruder? He wasn’t aiming his 8mm camera properly, and so most of what he captured was above the JFK limousine. In fact Zapruder almost managed to miss the grisly Kennedy head shot. 85% to 90% of the image is about Dealey Plaza grass — 10% or 15% of the Zapruder image, at most, shows the limousine and its occupants. Zapruder just barely captured what happened. He nearly missed it entirely.
Zapruder and Nix were typical suburbanites with typical photographing skills. Both clearly believed in the importance of touristy wide shots, and had no apparent use for MCUs or close-ups. If only someone with a knack for decent framings had been on the scene. If young Steven Spielberg, 16 or 17 years old at the time and visiting Dallas with his mother for some reason, had been at the base of the grassy knoll and shooting with an 8mm Kodak wind-up, history would have been in his debt.
It’s time for another scolding about another mispronunication. Case in point: The last name of special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It’s a German name, of course, and the easiest explanation is to break it into two syllables. The first syllable is pronounced like “mule” and the second is pronounced “lehr.” And yet every cable news and radio announcer pronounces it “muller” — first syllable “mull” (as in mulling something over) followed by “lur.” Film mavens are familiar with the still-living German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, and that his last name has always been pronounced mule-ler and not muller. And don’t forget Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
It was reported yesterday that Netflix is threatening to withdraw five major films, including Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma, Paul Greengrass‘s Norway and Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind, that were slated to premiere during next month’s Cannes Film Festival. Netflix is angry about a decision last year by festival topper Thierry Fremaux to exclude their films from competition, which was prompted by Netflix’s refusal to book films theatrically in France. Withdrawing these films would be Netflix’s “fuck you” to the festival and French exhibitors combined.
HE to Netflix: You should bend on this one. You really should. Your no-theatrical-release policy has cast a pall over the film industry. I’m not saying that a good film going straight to Netlix is necessarily cause for mourning on the part of its makers and fans, but a lot of people in this industry feel that way. You have to acknowledge that the faith of theatrical is in everyone’s bloodstream, and that you can’t just say “no theatrical, fuck off, we live in a streaming world, get used to it.” That’s harsh. That’s cruel.
Everyone is presuming that you’re not going to open Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman without an initial theatrical opening of some kind, so you’ve already capitulated to some extent. Can’t you loosen up a bit more?
Due respect but from my perspective you’ll be doing a rotten, rotten thing by preventing Cuaron’s film from playing in Cannes, not to mention the Greengrass, the Welles and Morgan Neville‘s Welles documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead. Not to mention Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark. Bad karma, bad vibes, too much ego.
Yes, exhibition has all but divested itself from quality-level films and has devolved into a brothel of CG spectacle and almost nothing else, but great cinema has been nurturing and flourishing in theatres for the last century or so, and you can’t just say “okay, no more theatres” just like that. Cinemas are not just places to project images but churches of communal worship — chapels, cathedrals, temples, mosques, synagogues and fundamentalist Elmer Gantry tents. You can’t just raise your hand and tell a worldwide community of movie lovers that they’ll have to do their praying at home now. You can’t just shut all that down. It’s wrong.
Hollywood Elsewhere disapproves of the Quiet Place creature design. A large brown praying mantis with a human-skull head with moving parts that pop in and out. I didn’t believe it. All I saw was yet another competitive CG creation, built by designers who are looking to create a cooler-looking monster than the one they all saw in the last big monster film.
You know what would be cool for a change? Non-CG Tom Savini-styled monsters. All makeup, nothing digital, played by actors in makeup and no deep-register gurgling. The monsters in Cowboys & Aliens made that same damn gurgly sound.
Imagine if the Quiet Place monsters were seven-foot-tall bipeds who were bald and howled like cats and sucked the blood out of humans for nutrition — if, in short, they looked, sounded and acted like James Arness in The Thing. Absurdly primitive, of course, but at least it would be different and even wowser in the midst of today’s creature-design dictatorship.
Sent this morning to management of La Pizza in Cannes: Bonjour, La Pizza! — Je vous écris pour demander deux grandes tables (15 ou 20 personnes par table) le lundi 7 mai, pour le groupe de journalistes américains habituel (environ 40) qui se réunit chaque année à La Pizza, la veille du départ de Cannes. Festival du film.
Nous rencontrons toujours le mardi soir mais cette année le festival se lance un jour plus tôt — le mardi 8 mai. Donc, cette année, nous rencontrerons le lundi 7 mai en soirée, vers 19 h et 19 h 30, à donner ou à recevoir.
S’il vous plaît essayer et nous accueillir. Merci, et à très bientôt. — Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere