Why did Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski or more precisely the screenwriters (Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz) think that lineage was important? Who cares if Teller’s flyboy character, Bradley Bradshaw, is the son of Lieutenant Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (played by Anthony Edwards in the original 1986 blockbuster)? But you know what? For all his public-image issues Teller is a first-rate actor — Whiplash, War Dogs, Only the Brave, Thank You for Your Service. I always believe him. One day he’ll get lucky.
Scarlett Johansson is in trouble again for wrongful cultural appropriation.
Last year ScarJo was accused of whitewashing after portraying “Major Mira Killian” aka “Motoko Kusanagi” in the Japanese manga-based Ghost in the Shell (Paramount). Now she’s being accused of “ciswashing” for signing to play real-life trans massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill in Rub & Tug, a forthcoming crime drama to be directed by GhostintheShell helmer m Rupert Sanders.
Johnsson’s response to the Twitter outcry: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
The trans-twitter community apparently feels that only a real-deal trans actor should play Gill (who transitioned from being a woman to a man). They presumably regard Johansson’s casting in the same light that Native Americans probably saw the casting of Henry Brandon as “Scar”, the Comanche villian in John Ford‘s The Searchers (’56).
Let’s back up and consider how this could have been avoided. Actors in top-tier Hollywood films are typically cast by producers and directors with two goals in mind — (a) find the most gifted actor to play a given role for the benefit of the film, and (b) preferably an actor with name recognition among the hoi polloi, in order to help boost ticket sales. So in a perfect world Johansson would have declined and Sanders would’ve found a gifted trans actor instead…fine. But who would that be?
I’m in no way condoning “ciswashing,” but if you were the producer of Rub and Tug, would you be cool with Johansson withdrawing and then casting a more authentic actor? What would have been a practical solution?
The folks at IDPR aren’t letting grass grow under their feet as far as John Krasinki‘s A Quiet Place is concerned. A day or two ago an assortment of journos and columnists received a special Quiet Place package from the high-powered publicity firm. It contained a DVD of Krasinski’s film along with a letter that reads, according to THR‘s Scott Feinberg, “As we enter the second half of the year and you begin to work on your awards coverage, we wanted to remind you…”
In the same way that Universal got the jump by inviting journos 13 months ago to an FYC “garden party” on behalf of Jordan Peele‘s Get Out, IDPR is looking to ignite Best Picture talk for Krasinski’s high-end horror flick. And why not? It’s only July, and A Quiet Place is almost a sure thing. The little man in my chest (a close relation of HE’s fabled insect antennae) is 80% convinced of this.
In the old days (i.e., three or four years ago) Academy voters wouldn’t have considered a well-made “elevated” horror film as a possible Best Picture contender. But things have changed. The New Academy Kidz (i.e., the younger, proportionately female, multicultural types who were invited to join AMPAS to counter #OscarsSoWhite) are totally down with nominating genre films, and so Get Out, a racial-minded Stepford Wives, became a Best Picture nominee. Hell, the Best Picture Oscar was won by The Creature From The Love Lagoon. So A Quiet Place shouldn’t have any trouble.
Don’t forget that Quiet made $187 million domestic and nearly $330 million worldwide.
For what it’s worth, I called A Quiet Place “an exceptional, top–tier horror–thriller…it has some logic problems but the oppressive silence element is brilliant and in fact riveting. Best monster-stalker flick in years.”
I added that having a baby in such a situation is a suicide move, of course. “In a world of alien domination and global decimation, what is the ONE THING ABOVE ALL that a heterosexual couple DOESN’T want to do?,” I asked. “In a world in which the slightest sound will trigger instant savage death, what is the ONE THING that a heterosexual couple must NEVER, EVER DO, no matter what? That’s right — they don’t want to get pregnant. Because there’s no keeping babies quiet, and so the aliens will immediately pounce and kill the infant within hours of its birth along with mom, dad and everyone else.”
In a 6.28 Guardian article, Anne Billson seemed to be responding to David Thomson’s 6.21 London Review of Books essay about Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo (“Vertigo After Weinstein“), which was somewhat disapproving.
Billson doesn’t name Thomson, but he’s the only major critic who has recently questioned whether Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece is an acceptable fit in the #MeToo era. Thomson basically said that given Hitchcock’s creepy attitudes toward women on-screen (and his behavior toward Tippi Hedren in the early ’60s) he doubts Vertigo will be #1 again when Sight & Sound critics vote in 2022.
The crux of Billson’s argument is that Hitchcock created many strong and perceptive female characters, and that many of his male characters are weak and vacillating. “For a so-called misogynist, his films feature a lot of intrepid heroines,” Billson writes. “Even when the women are nominally just love interests, they are unusually plucky and quick-witted.” An accurate observation.
The subhead of Billson’s piece: “While some critics see the film, released 60 years ago, as proof of Hitchcock’s sexist creepiness, a closer look reveals that strong women and weak men were often at the heart of his work.”
“If, in some quarters, Hitchcock and his films are still considered the last word in misogynistic creepiness, Vertigo is exhibit No 1,” Billson states. “‘Look how strong and stable the male characters are,’ says one critic (I’m paraphrasing but not by much), while describing the female characters as simultaneously ‘unhinged, duplicitous and submissive puppets‘ — which would be quite a feat if it were true.”
I haven’t found that “puppets” quote in Thomson’s piece, but maybe I skimmed too quickly.
In fact, a good portion of her article recounts charges of perversity and misogyny that have been thrown at Hitchcock. She seems to be saying “not so fast” but the general impression I got was that she sees Hitchcock and his creations as complex and conflicted.
Hunter Lurie, 27 year-old son of director Rod Lurie, passed early yesterday morning in Michigan. The cause was cardiac arrest. Rod announced the sad news this morning on Facebook. As a former journalistic colleague of Rod’s as well as a longtime friend (we go back at least 27 or 28 years) and a father of two sons who were born right before Hunter, this hits hard. I mainly knew Hunter from his Twitter feed. He was a serious movie Catholic; he knew his stuff backwards and forwards. “Almost everybody who knew Hunter will tell you he made them feel smart,” Rod has written. “He made them feel good about themselves…made them feel respected and dignified…always made you feel better after you spent time with him than before.” Hugs and condolences to Rod and his ex, Gretchen.