Nicole Kidman‘s Destroyer performance is all about (a) the makeup and (b) Kidman’s raspy, Clint Eastwood-like, all-but-unintelligible speaking voice. But really the makeup, and that was the responsibility of makeup designer Bill Corso and hair-department head Barbara Lorenz. These are the folks who deserve Oscar recognition more than anyone else. Remember them when filling out your ballots.
Vast majority of filmgoers, including under-45 movie fanatics: You expect us to pay attention and respect to some admittedly intoxicating signature films by an Austrian-born emigre who peaked in the ’20s and ’30s (particularly during his legendary Paramount period of 1927 to ’35), or between 80 and 90 years ago?
Wiki anecdote: “Between 1959 and 1963, Sternberg taught a course on film aesthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles, based on his own works. His students included Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, who went on to form The Doors. The group recorded songs referring to Sternberg. Manzarek has described Sternberg as ‘perhaps the greatest single influence on The Doors.'”
Barack Obama‘s list of his favorite 2018 films reflect his sophisticated-cineaste sense of taste (he knows the turf) and eye for quality. It’s a list that Eric Kohn, Alison Willmore, Justin Chang or any scholastically correct, Sight and Sound-approved critic might have assembled.
And yet I’m sensing that Obama chose these films very carefully, which is to say with a partial eye toward what the cool kidz on Twitter (i.e., the SJWs, the woke fascists) might say. Which is to say his list doesn’t seem entirely, real-deal honest. You know why? Because he blew off Green Book.
Obama is way too sophisticated a filmgoer to not recognize how confidently made, exquisitely honed and humanistically touching Green Book is. He knows exactly how good it is, he likes feel-good stuff in general, and he knows all about the antiquated black-white dichotomy of the early ’60s with his white mom and grandparents. And he’s way too smart and perceptive to buy into the SJW bullshit about Green Book being a white-savior or magic-negro film (it’s essentially a parent-child relationship-on-the-road movie). And yet he side-stepped Green Book because he knew that the cool kidz would otherwise frown.
I’m presuming that a list attributed on Twitter to outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a parody. But if it was real I would respect it more than Obama’s. Not for the choices but because it’s more straight-from-the-gut — more “take it or leave it but this is who I am.” Obama’s list is partly “this is who I am” and partly “these are the films that I know are the most critically approved and therefore the safest for me to include.”
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix) “is definitely an experience worth playing around with, and easily the only time in movie history that an interactive storyline on this level hasn’t turned out to be a steaming pile of garbage.” — from review by The Gate‘s Andrew Parker. I felt good about this right away due to Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) having the lead role. Then I wimped out. Then I went on a hike last night. Then I filed today. I might see it tonight.
You’ve probably read that yesterday Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old earned $3.1 million domestic at 1,122 theaters (i.e., Thursday). So who saw it and what’s the verdict? Here’s my 11.12 review.
The color-and-3D-enhanced World War I doc has now taken in $5.4 million in two days of showings in North America. It gathered $2.3 million on 12.17 — the largest single-day gross for a Fathom documentary in the U.S. Warner Bros. will launch a tri-city theatrical release (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC) on Jan. 11, and then expand to 25 markets on February 1st.
The enhanced-footage doc (colorized, digitally sharpened, converted to 3D) is about the arduous experience of British troops in the European trenches during World War I.
Roughly six million British troops were sent to fight in Europe between August of 1914 and September 1918. Just over 700,000, or 11.5% of the total, were reportedly killed. Then again the World War I Wiki page says 1,114,914 Brits died in the conflict — who knows?
It begins and ends with conventional black-and-white footage of young troops preparing for battle and then a closing section depicting the aftermath and return to the home front. Only the brutality of war section. which lasts a bit more than an hour, is shown in color and 3D. The opening black-and-white section lasts around 19 or 20 minutes, and then into the colorized carnage and then a wrap-up that last between 10 and 12 minutes, not counting closing credits. The film runs 99 minutes.
Very few people hike around the flush, north-of-Sunset neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Bel Air like Hollywood Elsewhere does.
Locals drive through and tourists roam around in minibuses, vans and hearses with some guy narrating, but you can’t “look” at these nabes through plastic viewing panels. You have to stand there on foot and take in the huge scale of some of the more ostentatious palazzos (Caesar Augustus would be gobsmacked if he could time-travel here) and just smell the grass lawns, the ivy-covered walls, and the towering pine, sycamore, cypress and jacaranda trees. And then you’ll come to a nice lookout spot and gaze upon the glittering flatlands and the hundreds of commercial buildings and high-rise condos winking like dull diamonds in the temporarily smog-free air. The temps were low-50ish and the winds were stiff and strong.
You can’t live in this area and not eventually say to yourself, “I’m here because I worked hard and am good with money and investments, but also because I’m better than the people living below me…I can’t say this on Twitter but it’s a little bit true.”
Last night’s trek began at the corner of Whittier and Lexington. North on Ladera Drive, right on Ridgedale, fast left on Bridle Lane, and then left on Angelo Drive. We stayed on winding, super-steep Angelo for a good mile and a half, being careful to dodge the speeding Porsches and Lamborghinis tear-assing around corners at 40 mph or so. (Asshats.) When we finally hit the very top of flush mountain — and I mean way, way up there — we took a right on Davies Drive, easing into a slight downhill grade. And then a super-sharp right on Cielo Drive, and then downhill to Benedict Canyon Drive.
We eventually passed under the former site of the Robert Byrd-designed, French farmhouse abode shared by Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate during the first eight months of 1969. The Manson murder house (10050 Cielo Drive) was torn down in the late ’90s. Jeff Franklin‘s grotesque Mediterranean-by-way-of-Uday Hussein-supermanse sits there now.
Recently fallen tree on Ladera Drive — Thursday, 12.27, 6:20 pm.
Taking my cue from Ernest Hemingway‘s “write hard and clear about what hurts,” I have an unpleasant confession to share. Sometime around 3:30 or 4 am (i.e., the hour of the wolf) I dreamt about waiting to die on death row. Draw your own conclusions but it happened. Everyone has nightmares from time to time, but nobody in my racket talks about stuff like this. This is one of the reasons why Hollywood Elsewhere is perhaps the only film + culture + psychological excursion column worth reading on the planet earth.
It was like a string of Twilight Zone mini-episodes. Two or three minutes and fade to black, and then the next one, etc. There was some debate by the death row honchos about what mode of execution to use — injection, firing squad, gas chamber a la Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity, hanging, electric chair, guillotine or thrown to hungry wolves a la Ernest Borgnine in The Vikings. At one point I was led out to the MacMurray chamber with 20 minutes to go before they dropped the pellets, and then Sacramento approved a stay of execution.
The dream was so distressing that my left leg turned into concrete from the tension, and then succumbed to an agonizing charleyhorse. I leapt up and tried walking around to get the blood flowing, and then I used a heated vibrating muscle relaxer device that I bought a few years ago on Amazon. The death row + leg seizure double whammy was so traumatic that I decided to decompress on the living room couch by surfing Twitter and checking column typos. I crashed an hour or so later, exhausted. I awoke at 8:15 am Pacific.
I’m partly blaming the Sundance commissars along with everything else (A Star Is Born, James Wan and Aquaman worship and Jason Momoa‘s smug, shit-eating aqua-grin, the SJW twitter predators).
Life is demanding and draining and rarely relaxing, much less celebrative. The goal, of course, is to live as vividly and vibrantly and energetically as you can while you can. “We’re all gonna get there, no exceptions” — Terence Stamp in The Hit. But only a few of us can dance down staircases like Jimmy Cagney (okay, I haven’t done this over the last decade) and sing harmony on each and every Beatles song ever written and hike up super-steep 45 degree roads in the Hollywood hills (as I did last night with Tatyana), etc.