Presumably conveying shades of Antonioni’s The Passenger, Christian Petzold‘s Transit is an adaptation of Anna Segher‘s 1942 novel. It concerns a German refugee (Franz Rogowski) who, trying to escape Third Reich fascism, steals the transit papers of a dead novelist and assumes his identity in order to escape into France. Except Petzold’s film isn’t period — it’s set in the here-and-now.
Posted on 4.11.14: “Did you know that Oklahoma!, despite its stodgy mid-1950s squareness, is all about sexual longing and mating rituals and perversity, and is generally teeming with erections and dampness and pelvic thrusts?
[Click through to full story on HE-plus]
I just turned in my 2019 Critics Choice Awards ballot. The winners will be revealed at the big CC awards show on Sunday, 1.13, inside Barker Hangar. My main criteria was to (a) vote for serious true-quality contenders and not necessarily the hive favorites, and (b) to not vote for A Star Is Born in any category. I’ve omitted four or five of the minor categories.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
A Star Is Born
JW PICK: Roma
Christian Bale – Vice
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
Ryan Gosling – First Man
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
JW PICK Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate / Serious conflict — I wanted to vote for either First Reformed‘s Ethan Hawke or Vice‘s Christian Bale, but Dafoe’s Van Gogh slipped into my consciousness a couple of days ago and has hung in there.
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Glenn Close – The Wife
Toni Collette – Hereditary
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
JW PICK: Glenn Close, The Wife / serious conflict here — my actual favorite is Melissa McCarthy but I’m also a Close supporter from way back. Plus a Close win at the CC awards will bolster her Oscar chances and thus lessen the odds favoring Lady Gaga.
Hollywood Elsewhere will attend the Sundance premiere of Dan Reed‘s Leaving Neverland, a four-hour doc about the experience of two men — James Safechuck and Wade Robson — who’ve claimed to have been molested by the late Michael Jackson as minors. The Channel 4 doc (technically a pair of two-hour docs) was added yesterday to the Sundance ’19 lineup.
Jackson’s Santa Barbara sexual molestation trial of ’04 and ’05 didn’t involve Safechuck and Robson but Gavin Arvizo, who’s now 29.
Portion of a statement from the Jackson estate: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Statement from Reed: “If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to. It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories, and I have no question about their validity. I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”
Leaving Neverland will pop on HBO sometime this spring.
As mentioned, Hollywood Elsewhere will be operating on God’s good humor and the kindness of publicist pals during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. I’ve been told I’m definitely good for several films (Neverland included) so things seem to be working out. If only I’d managed to be more “woke” over the last two or three years I would have my usual press pass and things would be less complicated.
This is right up Hollywood Elsewhere’s alley — “horror” in quotes mixed with social metaphor in order to reflect some aspect of present-day art or culture or whatever.
If Dan Gilroy‘s Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix, 2.1) was opening in a standard theatrical-first way, it would probably suffer the fate of other upscale horror flicks (Hereditary, The Babadook, The Witch) — rave reviews, not enough business. Low-rent horror fans hate this smarthouse foie gras approach — they just want their meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
Wiki boilerplate: “After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.”
Gilroy to Business Insider: “It’s set in the world of contemporary art in Los Angeles, and its got a Robert Altman-like large ensemble cast. It’s got a Player vibe to it. There’s a large cast and we’re moving around from person to person as we move through this world. The story is being told through these different characters.” HE to Gilroy: Not primarily through Jake Gyllenhaal‘s character?
In a 1.8.19 Vulture interview with Mark Jacobson, First Reformed director-writer Paul Schrader has expanded upon his previously voiced opinion that low-rent audiences are the chief cause of today’s movie malaise.
During a BAFTA discussion in London a few weeks ago, Schrader said that “when people take movies seriously it’s very easy to make a serious movie. When they don’t take it seriously, it’s very, very hard. We now have audiences that don’t take movies seriously so it’s hard to make a serious movie for them. It’s not that us filmmakers are letting you down, it’s you audiences [that] are letting us down.” In other words, that was then and this is now.
“[What we’re discussing is] part of the larger question of the de-fraction of culture. The fact that there’s no center. There’s no Johnny Carson, there’s no Walter Cronkite, there’s no Bruce Springsteen. There’s no fucking center to popular culture. The atrium where everyone would get together to talk is now dozens of little rooms.
“So back in the ’60s and ’70s, if you wanted to talk about the culture, and what was happening around us, you were going to have to talk about Bonnie and Clyde. Or The Wild Bunch. That was part of the conversation. And so, if you look back through that period, almost every week something came out that would give a critic a bone to chew on. If it had substance in it, you know. It’s taken 50 years for those opposed to the counterculture to finally win. To make sure that 1969 could never happen again.
“And of course, we could talk for days about the cowboy atmosphere we’re in now. Nothing we’ve learned in the last 100 years is of much value. We don’t know what a movie is anymore. We don’t know how long it is, we don’t know where you see it, we don’t know how you monetize it. What if it’s a net series? That is half hours, or 15 minutes. What if it’s 115 minutes, you know? That’s still a movie, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Mad Men is a movie — a 79-hour movie.”
A few days ago First Reformed star Ethan Hawke explained his opposition to the Academy’s four-months-defunct idea for a Best Achievement in Popular Film Oscar.
To hear it from Little Gold Men‘s Mike Hogan, Hawke believes that the popular-film Oscar would have detracted from awards season’s true goal: to boost the signal on under-seen, artistically challenging films.
“There already is a popular Oscar,” Hawke said. “It’s such a dumb thing to say. The popular Oscar is called the box office. They’re mad they don’t get prizes. You know, well…guess what, dude? Your car is your prize. Those of us who don’t have a car need a prize.”
Hawke misses the point from the Academy’s POV. Viewership of the Oscar telecast is dropping and will continue to drop because the vast majority of the moviegoing public doesn’t care about the smallish, Spirit Award-level films that have tended to win Best Picture Oscars over the last dozen or so years. Eventually the Oscar telecast will die if it doesn’t adapt to the times.
The fact is that the vast majority of moviegoers are agnostic regarding the faith of cinema — they don’t regard theatres at churches but as sports arenas, amusement parks, funhouses. Concurrently there is such a thing as applications of high craft in the making of popular films, and it wouldn’t devalue the smaller good films if the Academy were to acknowledge and celebrate this.
Once again into the breach: On 9.10.18 Bloomberg’s Virginia Postrel posted a solution to the Best Picture Oscar problem (tickets buyers preferring mass appeal or FX-driven popcorn flicks, Academy members preferring to honor movies that are actually good in some kind of profound, refined or zeitgeist-reflecting way) that I think makes a lot of sense.