Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma has won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion. All right, that settles it — this Netflix release clearly has the muscle to win two if not three major Academy Awards (picture, director, screenplay)…it’s that kind of accomplishment. Grand Jury Prize was won by Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Favourite. The Silver Lion for Best Director went to Jacques Audiard for The Sisters Brothers. The Volpi Cup for Best Actress went to The Favourite‘s Olivia Colman (even though her role is clearly not a lead). The festival’s Best Screenplay went to Joel and Ethan Coen for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Jennifer Kent‘s The Nightingale won the Special Jury Prize, and the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Performer went to The Nightingale‘s Baykali Ganambarr.
I’m starting late, but today’s schedule includes (a) a hotel-room interview with director Nadine Labaki, whose brilliant Capernaum (showing at TIFF) everyone flipped over in Cannes four months ago; (b) a 4 pm screening of Paul Greengrass‘s 22 July at the Elgin, (c) the big Sony Classics dinner at Morton’s, and (d) a 9:30 pm screening of Steve McQueen‘s Widows at Roy Thomson Hall. Update: The Labaki interview will happen during the Morton’s dinner.
As mesmerizing and swan-divey as Carey Mulligan is in Paul Dano‘s Wildlife, there’s no forgiving her character for boinking the Uriah Heep-like Bill Camp. I’m sorry but that’s a shutdown, an unforgivable; ditto her perverse decision to almost invite her son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) to participate in this infidelity.
For the fourth or fifth time, my Sundance ’18 review: Paul Dano‘s Wildlife is a sluggish but otherwise strongly directed middle-class horror film — cold, creepy, perverse. I didn’t hate it because of Dano’s visual discipline (handsome compositions, a restrained shooting style, extra-scrupulous 1960 period design) and because of Carey Mulligan‘s fascinating performance as a youngish cheating mom in a small Montana town. But it’s a funereal gloom movie, and it makes you feel like you’re sinking into a cold swamp.
On top of which I was appalled — astonished — by the cruel, self-destructive behavior of this sad 34 year-old woman, whose name is Jeanette, and particularly by her decision to invite her 14 year-old son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) to almost participate in some extra-marital humping with a rich, small-town fat guy (Bill Camp) while her irresponsible husband Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) is off fighting a forest fire with local volunteers.
I’m sorry but Felix Van Groeningen‘s Beautiful Boy (Amazon, 10.12) just lies there. It does a good job of pretending to be alive and human as far as the drug-addiction genre allows, but it has no pulse, no campfire-tale hook, no currents that pull you along.
Based on a pair of best-selling memoirs by journalist David Sheff and his son Nic, Beautiful Boy is a sensitive, well-intentioned, steady-as-she-goes saga of meth addiction. But the decision to tell the tale from the elder Sheff’s perspective, or that of Steve Carell‘s mopey-dope performance, was lethal. Because Carell is boredom personified here; ditto the other grim-faced adult characters played by Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Timothy Hutton, etc.
The only thing that could have saved Beautiful Boy would have been to shift the POV to Timothy Chalamet‘s Nic — to follow the lead of Otto Preminger‘s The Man With The Golden Arm by sinking into Nic’s secret subterranean life of copping, shooting, evasions, lying, low-downing and evading the law, etc. As is, the camera rarely buddies up with Nic and his girlfriend Lauren (Kaitlyn Dever) and their scumbag pallies, and the sense of fatigue that comes from hanging with dull-as-dishwater Carell becomes oppressive. And then numbing.
I was inwardly screaming last night as I sat in my balcony seat alongside Dave Karger and several other journos. HE mantra: “I’m dying…I’m sinking into boredom quicksand.”
Who thought that making a movie out of these books would be a good idea? This movie is going to expire and disappear so quickly it won’t be funny. Dead, dead, deader than dead.
Yes, Chalamet (whom I ran into at the Soho House after-party…”yo, bruh!”) is very convincing as Nic — he’s a highly skilled and charismatic actor who digs right in — but all you can feel as you’re watching the poor guy is pity. Because he’s trapped in a dull movie, and the only thing that can save him in this context is for the movie to fucking end.
For those who aren’t in Toronto right now: You need to process Twitter reactions to A Star Is Born from a certain cultural perspective. I’ve been told that what I’m about to imply could get me into trouble so I’m going to step lightly here. I think we all understand there are certain persons out there who are totally into musicals, and who are extra-totally in the tank for all things Lady Gaga. Just as I am admittedly in the tank for all things Roma and Alfonso Cuaron as well as First Man, Cold War, Capernaum, First Reformed and possibly Green Book. Just as First Showing‘s Alex Billington is in the tank for almost every geek-fanboy movie that comes along and Collider‘s Jeff Sneider is in the tank for David Gordon Green‘s Halloween sequel. We all have certain aesthetic flavors and emotional persuasions that we enjoy diving into and identifying with and prioritizing.
It’s therefore fair to acknowledge that here in Toronto there was a certain Star Is Born cult ready and waiting to leap into the air and throw confetti before the first press screening. I’m not saying there’s anything remotely unwelcome or uncool about this enthusiasm, but A Star Is Born does seem to have a kind of “in the tank” home team at the ready.
No need to make anything out of this except to repeat, as I’ve said in previous post and contexts, that you’d probably be wiser to listen to those who aren’t in the tank (i.e., persons like myself) than to those who are. Yesterday I called Bradley Cooper‘s tragi-musical a well-made, first-rate, heart-melting cheese casserole that will accumulate a few Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Within the realm of what A Star Is Born is and despite what Steven Gaydos may tweet, that’s high praise indeed. And you can take that to the bank.
Last night I was waiting in line at Rabba Foods, a deli-like store at the corner of Simcoe and Nelson. I was holding a few items, including two plastic cups of granola, fruit and vanilla yogurt. Waiting, waiting…and then I heard a kind of pop sound, like a small balloon exploding. I ignored it. Finally it was my turn and I put my stuff on on the counter, and realized that one of my yogurts was missing. I turned around and saw a white granola-fruit blob on the linoleum floor. Aahh, that was the small exploding sound!…me, my yogurt, my error, apologies. Nobody rushed over to clean it up. The blob just sat there like an object d’art.
Michael Moore and handmaidens during the Fahrenheit 11/9 after-party at at Speak Easy.
Even I was unnerved — okay, scared — by the appearance of that evil, banshee-like, black-eyed nun in the last Conjuring movie I saw. But when it come to The Nun, the just-opened spin-off, it seemed inevitable that it would be sludge. I sensed that intuitively before checking out the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores (respectively 29% and 46%). But I haven’t seen it (Telluride and Toronto deluge) so please, if there’s anything half-good about The Nun that requires a brief mention, please share. A few HE community members must have seen it.