Marlon Brando‘s Emiliano Zapata is suddenly seized with self-doubt. He’s become the very thing he once fought against. He’d begun to circle the name of Henry Silva‘s Fernandez, whom only a few seconds ago he’d regarded as an irritant or an enemy. Then the feeling spreads. Joseph MacDonald‘s camera dollies in as a key light hits Brando’s eyes and cheekbones and for 32 seconds — 2:08 to 2:40 — the realization sinks in. Joseph Wiseman places his hand on Brando’s shoulder, conveying a shade of concern but not much comfort, and the score by the great Alex North underlines and obliterates.
Matthew Cullen‘s London Fields “was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, but it was later pulled from the festival roster after Cullen sued the film’s producers, accusing them of fraud and using his name to promote a cut of the film he does not support.”
From Kaleem Adtab’s 9.17.15 review, published by The Independent: “Images of a world in chaos flash throughout the film, which is told from the perspective of an American writer who has come to London to seek inspiration for a new novel.
“Billy Bob Thornton plays Samson Young, trying to overcome writer’s block by sampling the underbelly of London life. He is a quiet, lonely figure who complains that he has a bad imagination. Given that much of what happens on screen comes from his imagination, this is a big problem. Most scenes lack pace, are performed badly and are accompanied by a running commentary of action we can see for ourselves. It’s car-crash film-making.
“Young has two suspects in mind: a cockney hooligan who dreams of being a darts champion (Jim Sturgess) and a city slicker (Theo James) who is bored with his seemingly idyllic life. All three parts of this love triangle give dire performances and when the action settles on their shenanigans the film falls apart, and the early promise of an inquiry into the writing process, à la Adaptation, goes by the wayside. Of the characters it’s only the uncredited Johnny Depp, the coolest guy in the room with his dapper dress sense and long sideburns, who comes away with any credit.
The reason I visit Starbucks is partly the coffee, of course, but mainly the wifi. And yet I never just squat — I always order something. Because it’s rude to just stroll in and plop down and suck up their wifi like a hobo. They’re trying to run a business and they only have so much space for customers. I figure the least I can do in exchange for the good wifi is order a black coffee and perhaps even a large cappuccino with an extra shot.
If I’d arranged to meet someone at Starbucks I would definitely order a tea or a coffee before sitting down. It’s just good manners, and who can’t spare a couple of bucks?
Those Philadelphia dudes who got escorted out of a Starbucks six or seven weeks ago were probably targeted because of their skin shade, but they would’ve been free and un-hassled if they’d simply ordered something. Starbucks isn’t a public library or park or airport lounge — it’s a business.
I’m totally down with the idea of Starbucks exec chairman Howard Schultz, an actual billionaire, running for president against fake billionaire Donald Trump in 2020. Yesterday Schultz resigned as exec chairman, effective 6.26, with his eye on new challenges. He’s obviously pondering a White House run. Schultz has the Starbucks brand recognition. He’s obviously innovative, practical minded and not insane, and he could pull away from the pack. And the rural dumbshits would’t feel threatened because he’s white, albeit half-Jewish.
Nobody really believes that Bernie Sanders can beat Trump. Everyone likes Joe Biden but he has a certain yesterday’s-news aura (not to mention that horrible neck wattle). And Oprah Winfrey has made it clear that she lacks the character and cojones to run. Somebody has to step up and start making noise about replacing Trump. If not Schultz, who?
When it came to mastering The Big Country for Bluray, MGM technicians were both the bad guys and the good guys. They incorrectly mastered the 1958 William Wyler film eight years ago so that their 2011 Bluray appeared to have the mumps, but they also fixed the problem when Kino Lorber bought the video rights last year.
KL told MGM they would pay to fix the mumps problem, but MGM did it on their own dime, I’m told, while at the same time removing dirt, enhancing the color, deepening the black levels, etc. So the just-released KL Bluray looks a lot better.
Plus the extras are either new or new-to-Bluray (audio commentary by Sir Christopher Frayling, “Directed by William Wyler”, a 60-minute documentary; Wyler doc outtakes with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Billy Wilder; interviews with Catherine Wyler, Cecilia Peck, Carey Peck, Tony Peck and Fraser Heston; “Fun in the Country” featurette; and Larry Cohen on Chuck Connors.
Whoever cut this Star Is Born teaser is highly skilled. The timing, the touch, the vibe, the glancing moments…it feels just right. It also indicates that there might be something to the heated buzz about the film itself, even if it came from the likes of Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence. (Never listen to actors’ opinions about anything.) The performing feels assured, confident, real. Director-star Bradley Cooper seems to know a thing or two.
Remember hearing last year about how Lady Gaga wanted to be billed by her actual name, Stefania Germanotta? Obviously that’s out the window.
Lady Gaga: “Everyone tells me they like the way I sing but not the way I look.” Bradley Cooper: “You mean because of your nose?” Gaga: “Yeah, partly.” Cooper: “Don’t worry about it. You’re beautiful. You think I worry about having a ruddy, sunburnt face, which kinda makes me look like a wasted, gone-to-shit alcoholic? I don’t. I just get out my guitar and sing the song.”
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal, 6.22) is just another serving of idiot-brand dino sausage. Same software, same template, aimed at popcorn rabble. Did I hate it? No and yes. But we all know what the shot is. Universal continues to push the same dino buttons because millions of easy-lay types have paid good money to see the sequels. The Jurassic franchise is downswirling, and Chris Pratt is devalue-ing himself. No good can come of this except to the benefit of Universal stockholders.
There’s a single, stand-alone moment that gets you — i.e., the sight of a long-necked, cow-like dinosaur moaning in despair, all alone as volcanic lava bombs rain down upon Isla Nublar as the last ship departs. The island is being consumed by the Mount Sibo volcano and this poor sad dinosaur is stuck on the pier, awaiting a fiery death. It’s the only formula-free bit in the whole film.
It’s very dispiriting to see director Juan Antonio Bayona, whose sublime crafting of The Orphanage (’07) made it one of the finest horror films of the 21st Century…it’s very dispiriting to see such a gifted director succumb to by-the-numbers, corporate-format, hack-level filmmaking.
I regret that Bayona felt obliged to begin Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom with an action-teaser sequence — the exact same strategy (i.e., a promise of gorey thrills) that so many other films in this realm have gone for.
I’m annoyed that Jeff Goldblum accepted a fat paycheck to shoot a windy Congressional testimony scene — one that boils down to an editorial warning about disturbing the natural order of things.
I hate that the first time we see Pratt’s Owen Grady, he’s building his own home — singlehandedly! — in some remote wilderness location, and I hate that he’s singing to himself when Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Claire Dearing first approaches with the expected proposition — i.e., returning to Isla Nublar to transport the dinos to a new island. And I hate the fact that no one mentions financial compensation for either Dearing or Grady as part of the deal, etc.
I was annoyed by the predictable p.c. flavor in the screenwriting and casting realms — Daniella Pineda playing Dr. Zia Rodriguez, “an ex-Marine who’s now the Dinosaur Protection Group’s paleoveterinarian”, as a blunt-spoken, tough-as-nails type, while Justice Elio Smith squeals and cries and all but weeps with panic as Franklin Webb, the Dinosaur Protection Group’s systems analyst and hacker.
Last night I tried to catch a 7 pm all-media screening of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom (Universal, 6.22) at the AMC Century City, but I almost didn’t make it. It happened in theatre #2, where two previous screenings had occured at 10 am and 3 pm. I arrived around…oh, 6:50 pm but all the seats seemed to be taken. I asked a Universal staffer if I should leave and she said, “No, no…we’ll figure it out.” Things didn’t look at all hopeful.
On top of which the crowd looked kind of mongrelish to me — overweight, T-shirts, jeans and sweat pants. There were a lot of kids there, and they all seemed to be wolfing down popcorn, candy and super-size soft drinks. A typical mall mob, the kind you’d see at Magic Mountain or Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm. A thought went through me — “Do I want to sit with these awful-looking people? I don’t see any of my critic friends here. This is not my kind of scene.”
But I shook myself out of that mindset, manned up and decided to do my job, even without a seat. After a while I walked up the left-side aisle and sat down on the steps.
Ten seconds later a nice 30ish woman said, “We have a seat here.” It was five or six in from the aisle. “Oh…thank you so much!,” I said. I shuffled my way in and sat down, and right away felt a twinge of concern. On my right was a 20something woman of no particular distinction, but to my left…good God…was a Jabba-sized Latina who was sitting with a similar-sized friend. And Jabba #1 was eating, eating and eating. The movie began and she kept chowing down like someone who hadn’t eaten in days.
Her first course was some kind of chicken salad, tomato and cucumber dish inside a deep plastic container. Then came the second course — a butter-soaked tub of popcorn and a big slurpy drink. Then she opened up a bag of Doritos.
I didn’t say a word. I didn’t give her the HE stink-eye. I just sat there like a sphinx and tried to concentrate on the film. But every now and then I snuck a peek.
I couldn’t ignore the fact that Jabba #1’s reactions were extremely coarse and downmarket. I was reminded of those close-ups of Collisseum cheap-seat serfs watching Christians get eaten in Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Sign of the Cross. Every time a person got eaten by a dinosaur, Jabba #1 went “oooh, hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” Movies like Fallen Kingdom are obviously made with this kind of person in mind. She really loved the huge alligator-like dino that leapt out of the sea to eat a squealing 20something guy who was trying to climb into a hovering helicopter — “Eeeeee-hee-hah-hah!” Anything and everything that happened of a stupid or low-rent or pandering nature, Jabba #1 was in movie heaven.
Yes, I focused on the film and took mental notes all through it, but I couldn’t completely divorce myself from the Jabba #1 factor. I mostly pushed it aside but I kept twitching when she laughed. I’ve said this dozens of times over the years, but hell is truly other people.