I’m sorry but spelling and pronouncing the name of Thailand director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Mekong Hotel, Cemetery of Splendor) has always been a problem for me. Guy Lodge types won’t admit this but it’s true for most of us (or at least those of us who are honest). His Wiki bio says that “cinephiles affectionately refer to him as ‘Joe’ Weerasethakul — a nickname that he, like many with similarly long Thai names, has adopted out of convenience.” The last name, of course, is much more difficult to handle than the first. In my mind he’s always been Apichatpong J. Weisenheimer.
World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy has been polling critics for their favorite films of the twenty-teens. So far he’s heard back from 134 critics, but is looking to poll 200 or better before posting the results next week. This morning I sent him my nine–year rundown [after the jump] and asked how many of my picks have landed near the top of Ruimy’s best-of-the-decade list.
Ruimy’s response: “There are two films on your best-of-the-teens list that are currently in the top 10: The Social Network and A Separation. Two more of your favorites, Manchester By the Sea and Call Me By Your Name, are in the top 20. The Wolf of Wall Street is slowly climbing up. Moonlight is among the top ten, and Get Out isn’t far behind.
HE opinion: Moonlight is a good film, but was over-showered with praise by way of virtue-signalling and p.c. kowtowing. Now that the post-Twilight Zone truth about Jordan Peele has begun to settle in (i.e., that he got lucky by way of overpraise from guys like L.A. Daily News critic Bob Strauss), Get Out‘s rep is almost certainly undergoing a reassessment.
Back to Ruimy: “Out of the 134 critics that have submitted their lists thus far NONE have mentioned Zero Dark Thirty, Leviathan or The Square. Only three lists have Son of Saul, including my own. Surprisingly Moneyball is getting some decent love — it’s on five lists.
“Apparently not enough people have seen Diane.”
When people clap at the end of an industry screening, it usually indicates (a) politeness and (b) support of filmmakers whom some in the audience would like to meet and perhaps even work with some day. When people clap at a regular ticket-buyer screening, it means the film is a hit — period. They clapped at the end of Platoon, The Silence of the Lambs, Goodfellas, Titanic, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.
What goes through my mind when this happens? I say to myself “this is what I love about seeing a film in a theatre…I love this kind of clear and immediate sense of how a film has played with a cross-section…you obviously can’t get this at home….I also love it when people laugh at a film by hooting and talking back to the screen, like when I saw Irwin Allen‘s The Swarm at the Quad back in ’78.”
Director-screenwriter Oliver Stone, currently the Noam Chomsky of Hollywood filmmakers, is still fully engaged, plugging away and firing on all cylinders. He’ll probably remain that way until the day he drops dead. But from ’86 through ’91 Stone was incandescent and untouchable — Salvador (’86), Platoon (’87), Wall Street (’87), Talk Radio (’88), Born on the Fourth of July (’89), The Doors (’91), JFK (’91). You could extend the streak, I suppose, to Natural Born Killers (’94), even though Heaven and Earth (’93) was a problem. Any Given Sunday (’99) was of course a major rebound. Okay, call it a 13-year streak.
“Of course, the big circuits would love to play the $175-million Martin Scorsese gangster epic — as long as it isn’t released by Netflix. Even Mexico’s Cinepolis refused to show the Oscar-nominated Roma — directed by favorite son Alfonso Cuarón — because Netflix would not respect the exclusive theatrical window. That means that no major chain will show the Scorsese [film] either.
“That leaves Netflix going back to the 100 or so indie theaters it booked on Bird Box and Roma. In New York, The Irishman could wind up opening at the IFC Center. And in L.A., Netflix is in the process of acquiring and partnering with the American Cinematheque to program the venerable Egyptian Theatre. That would give the streamer a permanent weeknight venue for L.A. awards events and premieres all year long.”
Friend: Look at this new voter poll — that lame Joe Biden handsy “controversy” didn’t make a dent.
HE: Mr. and Mrs. Older Middle America are half-asleep at the wheel and lazy as fuck.
Friend: Will you ever be able to face reality?
HE: It’s not that I find Joe deficient, but he’s YESTERDAY’S NEWS….he’s the SENIOR-SET LAYOVER FROM THE OBAMA YEARS, and really, from the ’90s and early aughts. People start to decline in their late 70s and certainly by their early ’80s. The Presidency is not for Joe…not now. He’s an 18-years-older Stuart Symington, when Symington was running in ’60. Or Symington running in ’80, when he turned 79. Joe’s moment has PASSED…water under the bridge. Joe isn’t even a baby boomer — he was born in ’42, or right at the tail end of the Baby Bust generation. The boomers came along in ’46. A number of N.Y. Times and Washington Post columnists have said this over and over. The verdict is clear — in the long run Biden would be better off stepping aside.
It HAS to be Buttigieg, Beto or Harris. They are now, Biden is yesterday. It HAS to be this way. Biden’s numbers are simply about name recognition — that and the astounding laziness and lack of focus on the part of middle-range poll respondents. Once the real debates start and the ’20 primaries begin, his big lead will evaporate like that. Beto is not over — he’s just gathering himself, working the towns, finding his national voice. The man connects with people. My favorite is Buttigieg — he’s really GOT IT — but Beto would be excellent, and he’s taller than Trump (while Mayor Pete is four inches shorter). The only thing that scares me about Buttigieg is the Alfred E. Neuman resemblance and the fact that he’s only around 5’9″ or thereabouts. The only thing that scares me about Harris is that voice of hers, that lack of oratory command, that scolding tone. She may win against Trump, but she may not.
Friend: Oh, for fuck’s sake! How can people on the left be THIS ETERNALLY STUPID, going all the way back to 1972? THINK about where we are. Three years ago the country was yanked HARD RIGHT. There is zero chance, after the first term of a presidency, that the country will swiftly be pulled HARD LEFT. So Harris is out automatically. She is not a moderate. Mayor Pete is gay. The number one job of the commander in chief is not to make boomers feel like their life is worth a damn or to sell false hope to millennials it is to be in charge of the most powerful army in the world. Anyone who becomes president has to be THAT before they are anything. It isn’t about what YOU LIKE. It isn’t about what liberals need to feel good about themselves. It is about asking an entire country to change horses midstream.
Right now Trump’s disapproval ratings aren’t anywhere near Jimmy Carter’s. Carter was primary-ed by Ted Kennedy. The entire Democratic Party turned against him and we got fucking Ronald Reagan and HW for 12 years! Do you know how badly they raped this country in ten years? THAT SHIT IS ON THE DEMOCRATS. Cut to 2000 — idiots who supported Ralph Nader let Al Gore slip through because people like you didn’t think he was hip enough. We got BUSH for eight more years. Now we come to 2016 and Green Peace and fucking Naomi Klein and idiots like Shailene Woodley could go to Standing Rock and pretend they gave a damn but in reality they would not vote for Hillary. So now we have Trump.
I’m sure Howard will hit all the right notes, but I wonder how he’ll treat Yes, Giorgio (’82), which is about a love affair between the bearish, barrel-chested Pavoratti (more or less playing himself) and a doctor, played by the wafer-thin Kathryn Harrold.
It was the only film in which Pavoratti starred, and it became one of the biggest box-office catastrophes of all time, costing $19 million to produce and earning only $2.3 million. It’s probably a safe bet that Howard will deftly sidestep this episode, as his doc was made with the cooperation of the Pavoratti estate.
As a young-buck critic (and I realize this is a totally predictable HE observation) I remember being struck 37 years ago by the fact that Yes, Giorgio was the first mainstream Hollywood film in which a fat man played the lover of a slender hottie. This was probably a significant reason why the film didn’t work with audiences — they just couldn’t accept this as a real-life scenario. The other reason is that the Franklin Schaffner-directed romance tended to skirt the surface — it was almost all cuteness and froth. On top of which Pavoratti played a sexist, self-absorbed egotist, albeit with a gentle manner.
When in real life has a girthy, rotund fellow landed a rail-thin girlfriend or wife? Orson Welles scored with Oja Kodar, but who else?