Peter Farrelly‘s Green Book has won the Producer’s Guild of America’s Daryl F. Zanuck award. Remember when I urged everyone to vote for Green Book as a royal fuck-you gesture to the p.c. haters? Well, that’s what happened tonight….yes! “Hate begats hate,” etc. Green Book and Roma are now neck-and-neck for the Best Picture Oscar. (Right?) I think it’s also very safe to say that A Star Is Born is now finished as a Best Picture contender — no wins from the PGA, Golden Globes or the BFCA, over and out. It’s been a good night for Hollywood Elsewhere.
Two days ago Tatyana was looking at some photos on my Macbook Pro. When she saw the one below she said, “And who is this woman?” HE: “What woman?” Tatyana: “This woman, the brown hair.” HE: “But she has sideburns.” Tatyana: “Where? I don’t see.” HE: “This woman is me.” Tatyana: “This is you?” HE: “But that’s cool. I like being mistaken for a woman.”
The shot was taken by my dad during a visit to Paris, aboard one of the Bateaux Mouches boats, summer of ’76.
From the get-go I was down with Damien Chazelle‘s First Man. I regarded it as a serious, ambitious film that deserved all good things that might come its way. But then it got drop-kicked by Joe Popcorn, and was soon after dismissed by the Oscar-season handicappers. Yes, me included. I didn’t change my mind or stop admiring it — I just candy-assed out when the box-office collapsed. What do you want me to do? Stand against gale-force winds?
Filed from Telluride on 9.1.18: First Man is an intense, unconventional, psychologically penetrating take on the experience of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and his wife, Janet Shearon (freckly-skinned Claire Foy, whom I last saw in Steven Soderberg‘s Unsane) from the early to late ’60s, culminating in the historic moon-landing mission of July 1969.
It’s no Ron Howard movie, that’s for sure — jarring, louder, lonelier, scarier, and well removed from that emotionally familiar, somewhat jingoistic universe of dramatic ups and downs that we all recall from Apollo 13.
I was seriously impressed with First Man because it’s really quite different — a kind of 16mm art film approach to an epic journey, an intimate, indie-styled, deeply personal movie writ large and loud with a rumbling, super-vibrating soundtrack.
Criterion’s new Notorious 4K-scanned Bluray delivers a serious HE “bump”. Within seconds I was sitting up in my seat and going “wow!” Satiny smooth and gleaming, mineshaft blacks, shimmering silver tones and clean as a hound’s tooth.
I’ve been watching this 1946 Alfred Hitchcock noir classic since I was a proverbial knee-high, and all through the evolving formats — theatrical, broadcast TV, VHS, laser disc, DVDs, previous Blurays. This is easily the best-looking version I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t even watch it on my premium 65″ Sony HDR 4K (which is back in Connecticut) but a run-of-the-mill 55″ Insignia 1080p monitor.
That said, the Criterion Bluray contains a fold-out brochure, and on the very front is an image of Cary Grant‘s Devlin character that will make your blood run cold.
Created by illustrator Greg Ruth, it’s the darkest and ugliest image of Grant mine eyes have ever beheld. It’s like a shot of his corpse on a morgue slab after he’s died of scarlet fever. Or a candid taken after somebody snuck into Grant’s bungalow while he was napping and smeared his face with greasepaint.
I’m not kidding — Grant’s skin is so dark and heavily shadowed he could be playing the debonair brother of Laurence Olivier‘s “Mahdi” in Khartoum. Or maybe a stand-in for Henry Brandon‘s “Scar” in The Searchers.
On his website Ruth describes the shot as a spot-on image of a “tuxedoed and conflicted” Devlin, but it’s not even derived from Notorious — compare Grant’s bow tie in the Ruth art compared to a standard Notorious still [after the jump].
The idea, I presume, was to suggest that Devlin is a chilly, dark-hearted soul (which he arguably is until the final reel) but Ruth’s image suggests Devlin has taken an overdose of sleeping pills after lying under a sun lamp for ten hours.
Here’s an essay Ruth has written about his Notorious creations.
If I’d been the senior editor of the Notorious brochure and Ruth had submitted the Grant death-mask shot for approval, I would have made a face and said “what exactly is your problem, bruh? I mean, this image tells me there’s really something wrong with you. Have you seen the film? Grant isn’t playing the devil in Notorious — he’s playing a bothered, women-fearing, emotionally brusque CIA agent. Plus he redeems himself in the end.”
It would be entirely fitting and appropriately respectful if the Academy would include the late Leonard Klady in the forthcoming Oscar telecast “death reel”. It really would. For Len was as much a part of the soul and the fabric of Hollywood output and hoo-hah over the last 40 years as anyone else. As a storied Variety guy, LAFCA member and Movie City News box-office guru, Klady was right there, knee-deep in the trenches…absorbing, interviewing, tabulating and commenting every step of the way. The death reel always includes a few non-celebs — Klady’s life warrants this modest tribute and then some.
My first trip to the Cannes Film Festival was in 1992, and I owe the success of that adventure to Klady in part. He told me one night that the festival was too overwhelming for a first-timer — that there were too many angles and trap doors and necessary buttons to push, and that I didn’t have a prayer in hell of keeping up. As a result I doubled-down on my research and preparation, working extra hard at making the right calls and sending out letters to everyone, and as it turned out I did pretty well on my maiden voyage.
Seasoned Film Guy: “I love re-reading Len Klady‘s Cinefile columns in Variety, or his name on pieces like the Filmex tribute to the Garys in 1993 and that mention of his chat with Marcello Mastroianni in Palm Springs. Because they remind that he was doing what we all love best: being part of the greatness of film via these schmooze opportunities with the greats and [generally being] part of the hip Los Angeles film lover contingent, along with Len’s wife Beverly Walker. You know she’s the person who put Two Lane Blacktop on the cover of Esquire along with THE ENTIRE SCRIPT back in 19frickin71??? She’s a wonderful lady — so informed and passionate about cinema. All we need is film love.”
This three-day-old essay examines the way things were 20 years ago — Harvey Weinstein, Shakespeare in Love, Gwynneth Paltrow. Hollywood values and how HW aggressively rewrote the book on Oscar campaigning. It runs almost 20 minutes but is wisely judged, astutely written and nicely edited. Kudos to the maestro of Be Kind Rewind, whose name (unmentioned in the “About” section) is unknown to me. I attended the Miramax Beverly Hills hotel after-party after Harvey’s big Shakespeare in Love triumph. It was in the Polo Lounge and in an adjacent outdoor area. I was actually following behind Harvey as he entered the soiree…garlands to the conqueror! Every heavy-hitter in town was there. Quite the night.
“To me, the real lesson on this government shutdown is that we found out that federal workers — [holders of] quintessential middle-class jobs — can’t afford to miss one paycheck. When did it get this desperate? This shutdown is not about the wall — it’s about the wallet. And it’s more proof that the great American middle-class is disappearing faster than R. Kelly‘s Facebook friends. All ‘middle-class’ means now is that you’re poor but you don’t do meth. Sorry but it’s not ‘middle-class’ when your retirement plan is a Lotto ticket. And that’s just how the Koch Brothers like it.”
Perfect analogy: “Vulture capitalism has done to the middle-class what airlines have done to their customers. Because we didn’t lose the comfort of being middle-class all at once. They took it away an inch at a time. Like legroom.”