Taika Waititi‘s Jojo Rabbit will have its big Toronto premiere on Sunday evening (9.8), or three nights hence. The Fox Searchlight/Disney release opens just over five weeks later, on 10.18.19. The latest one-sheet has just been released. I’m a bigger fan of the original [after the jump].
Posted on 3.22.06: “I came across two dialogue files by accident this morning — two clips from Paddy Chayefsky‘s The Hospital (1971), and it hit me all over again how wonderfully particular and penetrating and needle-sharp these soliloquies are.
“George C. Scott‘s confession to a colleague about what a wreck his middle-aged life has become is about as masterful and genuine-sounding as this sort of thing gets, and I love the the cadence he brings to some of the lines. (The almost imperceptible pause he inserts between the words “pushing” and “drugs” is sheer genius.) And the “murder by irony” confession by wacko doctor-patient Barnard Hughes is a wow, particularly at the end when he recites a litany of medical ailments (one after another after another…no end to it) that comprise, metaphorically or otherwise, “the whole wounded madhouse of our times.”
“There’s always a fair amount of good dialogue at any given time, but the super-pungent, intellectually flamboyant stuff that Chayefsky used to write — a little show-offy at times but pleasurable as hell — has…well, maybe it’s out there and I’m just not running into it. Or maybe it’s just gone.”
Directed and written by Donata Carrisi, it costars Toni Servillo (whom I presume is playing the lead), Valentina Bellem, Stefano Rossi Giordani and Katsiaryna Shulha.
Boilerplate #1: “A private investigator on the verge of death revisits a cold case after the victim turns up alive. A terrifyingly dark chase, where no one knows who is the hunter and who is the prey.” Boilerplate #2: “With the help of a special investigator and a doctor and special investigator, a woman tries to recall the circumstances of her abduction and imprisonment.”
I’ve corrected the opening line in yesterday’s post as follows: “Although the legendary Dustin Hoffman is costarring in Into The Labyrinth, a forthcoming Italian-made film, he hasn’t been in any U.S.-produced films since The Meyerowitz Stories (’17).”
You can never trust a trailer, but I want to trust this one. Against all suspicions it convinced me that Destin Daniel Cretton‘s Just Mercy (Warner Bros., 12.25) might be an above-average drama in the tradition of Call Northside 777. The cutting and the acting feel restrained, balanced, sincere. Based on Bryan Stevenson‘s “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption“, about the case of Walter McMillian. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall and Brie Larson. Pic will debut at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday, 9.6.
The Maple Street Monsters are raking poor Scarlett Johansson over the hot coals of wokedom for saying she believes Woody Allen‘s longstanding claim of innocence regarding Dylan Farrow’s molestation allegation, and adding that she’d “work with him anytime.”
Actually Johansson could have expressed her views about Allen with more conviction if she’d added that she not only believes Woody but his son Moses Farrow, a 41 year-old therapist who was at the Farrow home in Bridgewater on the day in question — 8.4.92 — at age 14.
Before her comments appeared in a Rebecca Keegan interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Johansson’s open and unaffected Marriage Story performance was a top-ranked contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Now she double deserves that honor for exhibiting political courage on top of her acting achievement.
L.A. Times writer Christi Carras posted a lament this morning that began with these words: “And now a moment of silence for Scarlett Johansson’s publicist.”
Allow me to suggest a moment of silence for the zealots who insist, despite mountains of non-damning evidence and abundant indications to the contrary, that Woody, Moses, Robert Weide and Woody’s daughter Bechet Dumaine Allen, who has stated a belief in his innocence, are lying or deluded.
Posted on 2.7.19: “If after reading Moses Farrow’s 5.23.18 essay as well as Robert Weide’s “Q & A with Dylan Farrow” (12.13.17) and Daphne Merkin’s 9.16.18 Soon-Yi Previn interview…if after reading these personal testimonies along with the Wikipedia summary of the case you’re still an unmitigated Dylan ally…if you haven’t at least concluded there’s a highly significant amount of ambiguity and uncertainty in this whole mishegoss, then I don’t know what to say to you. There’s probably nothing that can be said to you.”
“I see Woody whenever I can, and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it,” Johansson told Keegan. “I have been very direct with him, and he’s very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe him.”
Although the legendary Dustin Hoffman is costarring in Into The Labyrinth, a forthcoming Italian-made film, he hasn’t been in any U.S.-produced films since The Meyerowitz Stories (’17). Allegations about Hoffman having been a sexual harasser in the ’80s surfaced that same year, and then came the infamous John Oliver incident in 12.3.17. So at age 82 he may be done.
I was watching the below clip from Kramer vs. Kramer last night, and thinking about his best performances. When I say “best” I mean the most engaging and likable as opposed to the most fiercely committed or energetic.
Hoffman’s glory decade was the ’70s, of course. He actually had a pretty great run between The Graduate and Death of a Salesman in ’85 — a span of roughly 18 to 19 years.
I have to be upfront and admit that I always felt removed from his Rain Man performance, which was technically adept but struck me as too mannered and tricky. And I’ve always really disliked his Lenny Bruce in Lenny — too much practiced charm, too hungry for affection. I hated him in Hook (along with the whole film), and I never liked his slightly dazed, open-mouthed Papillon performance either.
My top 15 are as follows: (1) The Graduate, (2) Marathon Man, (3) Kramer vs. Kramer, (4) Straight Time, (5) All the President’s Men, (6) Tootsie, (7) Straw Dogs, (8) Midnight Cowboy, (9) Death of a Salesman, (10) Dick Tracy, (11) Ishtar, (12) Wag The Dog, (13) I Heart Huckabees, (14) Meet the Fockers and (15) The Meyerowitz Stories.
What am I overlooking?
I should’ve watched Dave Chapelle: Sticks & Stones before going to Telluride, but I didn’t. Napping, shopping, watching a comfort film, distracted, caught up in this or that. And then Telluride happened. Then I returned Monday night (actually around 1:30 am) and worked yesterday. Then I finally watched it last night.
And I LQTM’ed all through it. Or at least, you know, smirked. I actually laughed out loud (not loudly but vocally) during the Jussie Smollet bit. But mostly I happily smirked. Partly at the material itself (although not at the “I don’t believe Michael Jackson‘s HBO accusers, and even if he did molest them he was still Michael Jackson” riff…I didn’t believe a single word of that) and partly in celebration of his skillful tweaking of the Outrage Police. Right now and for the foreseeable future, anyone and anything that riles cancel culture is good. And this, bless him, is what Chapelle does with casual but wonderful expertise.
“All The Worst White People Love Dave Chappelle’s Sticks & Stones“…really? I disagreed with a good 50% or perhaps even 60% of what Chappelle said during the show, and I loved it anyway. Because he agitates and aggravates the honorable descendants of Maximilien Robespierre.
Thank you, dearest Dave, for your snowflake imitation: “‘Duhhh…hey, duhhh…if you do anything wrong in your life, and I find out about it, I’m gonna try and take everything away from you….if I find out, you’re fucking finished.’ (To audience) Who’s that? That’s you. That’s what the audience sounds like to me. You are the worst motherfuckers I’ve ever tried to entertain in my fucking life.”
Old Chapelle: “I give all married men the same advice, gay or straight. Get a dog. A dog will love you all the time, but she’s not going to.”
Ten years ago I wrote a similar-sounding sentence — “life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs” — and I’ve been paying in spilt arterial blood for that ever since. All I meant was that constant, non-judgmental love (which is what dogs and cats will give you if you show them tender love from the get-go) is a very soothing and comforting thing. My mistake was implying that I wanted to control women like some owners control their dogs. I’ve only had one dog in my entire life, and I never trained her to do a damn thing. I never said “sit” or “heel” or “roll over” to her…never. What I should have said was cats, not dogs. Because I’ve been a cat man all my life. Cats do whatever they want, but if you’re kind and loving they’ll always reciprocate in kind. And it’s wonderful to be loved without being judged and scolded and side-eyed half the time.
Chapelle is wonderful because he says risky stuff despite the risks. We’re all living through The Terror right now, and most people are saying “showflake twitter terror is wonderful because only the bad people are paying the price!” Chapelle knows this and says what he says anyway. I didn’t agree with half of what he says in Stick & Stones, but I love him for being who he is.
Meghan McCain, after saying there will be "violence" in America if the AR-15 is banned because it's "the most popular gun" in the country, then declares that she's "not living without guns." pic.twitter.com/YlDtQwkFr0
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 3, 2019
What would Leni Riefenstahl say? Witholding reactions from this horse for the time being. Soliciting reactions from HE community. Your sense of the tone, tempo, attitude and whatnot?
One reaction: The little Nazi kid (Roman Griffin Davis) screaming when he discovers the Jewish refugee (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in the attic? It’s irksome. Exaggerated, slapstick-level screaming to convey shock or surprise — a cheap trick.
After playing TIFF, Jojo Rabbit (Disney/Fox) opens on 10.18.
Marriage Story, agreed, is Kramer-like in some ways, and at the same time less so in others.
The key difference, I believe, is that Kramer delivers a stronger, more emotional gut punch in terms of primal family conflict, step-by-step character revelation and especially by way of a gripping courtroom climax, and all of it fortified by flawless, profoundly effective performances.
Baumbach’s lead characters, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), are sensible, perceptive and intelligent 30somethings with careers in the performing arts, and with a mild issue or two. Both are afflicted with somewhat selfish, competitive and headstrong attitudes, or at least in each other’s presence. But because of their self-knowledge and reasonableness there isn’t much in the way of character arcs or changes. Baumbach isn’t playing on that court.
But Benton is playing this game by way of Dustin Hoffman‘s Ted Kramer, a Manhattan ad agency creative who starts out as an aggressively nervous, insensitive, somewhat brittle alpha male and certainly no one’s idea of a good father. Meryl Streep is Ted’s wife Joanna, initially a woman suffering from depression and a floundering sense of identity.
But after Joanna leaves Ted is, for the first time in his life, the sole guardian and caretaker of his son (Justin Henry, who’s now pushing 50!) and grappling with each and every parental challenge on his own. Measure by measure he undergoes a gradual emotional growth arc — advanced dickishness to tolerably flawed to 100% devotional passion to his son.
Kramer may sound formulaic on paper but it’s believable and well-observed for the most part. It’s a movie about gradual, initially-fought-against changes for the better. And yet Benton’s script doesn’t oppressively spoon-feed.
Plus Kramer vs. Kramer is only 104 minutes long (it’s so skillfully assembled that you don’t notice the density as time flies by) while Marriage Story is 136 minutes, or roughly a half-hour longer.
This isn’t to suggest that Marriage Story doesn’t get you. It was the biggest hit of Telluride ’19, and for good reason. I felt completely at home and intimately involved every step of the way.
But side by side Kramer is, I feel, the slightly more poignant of the two. It has a way of seeping into your chest cavity, especially during Benton’s second and third acts. You can feel it coming together and gathering strength.
When I spoke last Friday to Renee Zellweger at the annual Telluride brunch, she looked exactly (and very fetchingly) like a somewhat older but entirely vibrant and relaxed version of Dorothy Boyd, the lover and wife of Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. She looked like herself, I mean, and well-tended at that.
Zellweger was 26 or thereabouts when she costarred in that landmark Cameron Crowe film. Now she’s 50, and has some kind of serene, settled, casually glowing thing going on. If I didn’t know her and someone told me she was 45, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.
Why did I just write two paragraphs about Zellweger’s appearance instead of her exceptional, affecting performance as Judy Garland in Rupert Goold‘s Judy (Roadside, 10.4)? It’s water under the bridge but five years ago everyone was saying Zellweger looked like someone else. Which, to be honest, she did for a certain period.
And now, in a new Vulture profile, Jonathan Van Meter has touched on “the subject” and shared the same view. Renee looks like Renee, all is well, etc.
As noted previously, Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman (debuting at the New York Film Festival on 9.27) runs in the vicinity of 209 minutes, give or take. This morning the NYFF’s press screening schedule stated that the Netflix release runs 210 minutes but that this is “approximate and subject to change.”
But of course. All directors like to fiddle around until the last minute. They usually stop editing under duress because distribution deadlines demand it. In Scorsese’s case this could mean some kind of last-minute subtraction or addition. No worries either way. Like any artist Scorsese is a constant searcher and rephraser, but always the master of his own house.