In a general election N.Y. Times/Siena poll of Iowa voters Donald Trump not only out-points every Democratic contender, but he beats current Iowa Democratic caucus poll champ Bernie Sanders by six points. He’s a rancid crime-boss fascist facing impeachment, and Iowa bumblefucks prefer him to each and every Democratic contender? What is happening?
From N.Y. Times account of Lev Parnas-supplied phone video of a chat he and President Trump (along with others) had during April 2018 about the purportedly disloyal Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was then ambassador to Kyiv.
The part you want to listen to starts at the 3:35 mark.
Parnas: “The biggest problem there, I think, where we, where you, need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.’”
Trump (following some wallah-wallah): “Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
Times: “Yovanovitch remained in her job for another year after Mr. Trump’s remarks until she was recalled on the White House’s orders, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry. It is not clear whether the president changed his mind, forgot about his order or was talked out of dismissing her.”
I sent a draft of “Park City Kool-Aid” to a critic friend earlier today. His response just arrived:
“I think your basic take on the woke critical groupthink here is spot-on. Indiewire is now officially over the edge. It’s not that they’re always wrong; it’s that, as you say, they can no longer be trusted. They’re the Boys and Girls Who Cried Woke.
“I can’t tell you which critics at Sundance haven’t been woke body-snatched. I’m sure that some haven’t been. Variety‘s Peter Debruge is still calling them honestly (he panned the woke-ish Zola, which Eric Kohn loved), and so, I think, is THR‘s David Rooney.
“But yes, the bubble is more hermetic, and more fake, than ever. And it all just helps Trump…”
All I’m hearing from people on the Sundance ’20 beat so far is “duds”,” “wait until Monday or Tuesday”, “nobody’s really flipped for anything yet,” “nothing better than a B” and so on.
The general feeling I’m getting is (a) “we want to be as enthusiastic and attuned as possible to whatever people are seeing or talking about” and/or (b) “we certainly don’t want to post any flatline responses to films that others are digging or getting off on on some level, as that would indicate we don’t get it and therefore might not return to Sundance next year.”
Who can be trusted? Is there anyone up there with a Hollywood Elsewhere-type attitude? Anyone who constantly struggles with his/her negative feelings about wokesters and has to really fight to tap out fair-minded reviews because they don’t want to sound too toxic or dismissive? What critics or columnists can be semi-reliably counted upon to not swim with the school of little fishies? Who’s most likely to write “take it or leave it but this is what I think about a Sundance film that everyone is giving a pass to or flipping out for”?
My basic reaction to Team Indiewire so far is one of absolute distance. I don’t trust a single word they’re saying about any film debuting in Park City. I believe they’re in the tank for just about anything and everything, and if they have a less-than-enthusiastic response they’ll downplay or muffle it as much as possible.
In my mind Indiewire is basically Woke Pravda — an organ of the p.c. commentariat that hands out approval notices based largely on WHAT a movie is saying as opposed to HOW it is saying it.
Tell me I’m misguided or prejudiced against them and that I need to hit reset and flush my head out.
I really hate critics who seem determined to smile all the time and radiate as much positivity as they can at all times, and have rarely if ever posted a mezzo-mezzo review of anything, much less a pan. I’m thinking of one critic in particular who smiles so much she makes my own facial muscles ache. A determination to be relentlessly positive and borderline euphoric about damn near everything is much, much worse than having a generally negative attitude.
All this aside, I remain hopeful, based on the last 25 or 26 years of attending Sundance, that four or five worthwhile films will have emerged by next Tuesday or Wednesday.
I don’t know from Janicza Bravo‘s Zola as I’m not in Park City, etc. But last night at the Eccles (a) the mob went apeshit for it and (b) certain black critics got on certain white critics for not liking it and/or using the wrong terminology in their positive reviews.
I’m imagining that Zola might become the next Tangerine…right? Hipster filmgoers have room in their heads for this kind of thing. Absurd humor, Floridian sleaze, based on a 2015 Twitter tale, etc.
Zola “is all about escalation. Bravo is a talented filmmaker, but there is nary a subtle moment in her overtly stylish frames. One imagines that with a better screenplay she will eventually give us a special film someday.” — from Jordan Ruimy’s World of Reel review.
HE friendlies are hereby asked to regard the sweater worn last night by costar Nicholas Braun, 31, and render an honest verdict. Purple, tan and cream-biege. You can’t order a person to show taste in this realm. You can’t slap them into submission. I’m not the only person to suggest that Millennials may be the most atrociously-dressed generation in American history.
Clip from last night’s Real Time with Bill Maher, at the beginning of the panel: “I was watching the impeachment [hearings] all week and thinking what would movies about Trump be called? There are so many titles that come to mind. A Clockwork Orange. Say Anything. Hairspray. From Russia With Love. But honestly? The movie is Julius Caesar. That’s where we are.
“If you remember Roman history, and I’m sure very few people do. But Shakespeare wrote a play about it, there have been movies about it, and before that it was real history. This is the moment in America that Rome faced with Julius Caesar. When the Republic became a dictatorship. I know they’re going to acquit him. But the fact that we had this trial, and there were no witnesses [and no evidence allowed]. And we don’t care about laws any more. Or rules. Or what matters.
“When it goes from ‘nation of laws’ and ‘republic’ to ‘Senate that just goes along” and “might is right’…this is that moment.”
“The Clinton impeachment trial began with a Presidential blowjob. The Trump impeachemnt trial will end with one.” — Bill Maher last night.
Incidentally: I understand people calling the years of the first decade of the 21st Century (2000 to 2009) as “twothousand-something.” Even I was doing this in the early stages. But over the last decade there’s been no excuse for people not saying “twenty-something”…twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve. And yet tens of millions persisted with the twothousand. Three or four times I’ve asked when this idiocy will stop. Back in the 20th Century people didn’t refer to the year that the U.S. entered World War I as “onethousand nine-hundred seventeen” — they called it nineteen-seventeen.
Has anyone noticed that all of a sudden everyone is referring to the current year as twenty-twenty? The third 21st Century decade has only begun and all of a sudden the “twothousand” loyalists gave abandoned their post and run for the hills. I haven’t heard a single person say “twothousand-twenty”…not one.
Wiki excerpt: Vincente Minnelli and John Houseman‘s The Bad and the Beautiful (’52) “was shot as Tribute to a Bad Man, but the studio (Dore Schary‘s MGM) began to worry it would be mistaken for a western.
“The title was changed to The Bad and the Beautiful at the suggestion of MGM’s head of publicity Howard Dietz, who took it from F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“Houseman called it a ‘dreadful title…a loathsome, cheap, vulgar title.’ But when the film became successful “it seemed like one of the greatest titles anyone had ever thought of,” he admitted. “It’s certainly been imitated enough: anytime anybody’s hard up for a title, they just take two adjectives and string them together with an ‘and’ in between.”
More wiki: “At the time of the film’s release, stories about its basis caused David O. Selznick — whose real life paralleled in some respects that of the ‘father-obsessed independent producer’ Jonathan Shields — to have his lawyer view the film and determine whether it contained any libelous material.
“Shields is thought to be a blend of Selznick, Orson Welles and Val Lewton. Schary said Shields was a combination of “David O. Selznick and as yet unknown David Merrick.”
“Lewton’s Cat People is clearly the inspiration behind the early Shields-Amiel film Doom of the Cat Men.
“[Lana Turner‘s] Georgia Lorrison character is the daughter of a ‘great profile’ actor like John Barrymore (Diana Barrymore’s career was in fact launched the same year as her father’s death), but it can also be argued that Lorrison includes elements of Minnelli’s ex-wife Judy Garland.
“Gilbert Roland‘s Gaucho may almost be seen as self-parody, as he had recently starred in a series of Cisco Kid pictures. The character’s name, Ribera, would also seem to give a nod also to famed Hollywood seducer Porfirio Rubirosa.
“The director Henry Whitfield (Leo G. Carroll) is a ‘difficult’ director modeled on Alfred Hitchcock, and his assistant Miss March (Kathleen Freeman) is modeled on Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville.
Jon Stewart‘s Irresistable (Focus Features, 5.29) is about a small-town mayoral election that is ramped up and complicated by big-city tactics and pricey consultants.
Right away I was reminded of Daniel Petrie‘s Welcome to Mooseport (’04), a political satire that costarred Ray Romano and (in his last screen role) Gene Hackman.
In Stewart’s film a hotshot campaign strategist (Steve Carell) decides to assist a retired ex-Marine colonel/farmer (Chris Cooper) in a run for mayor. Things turn brutal and scrappy with the emergence of a carniverous Republican rival (Rose Byrne).
Directed and written by Stewart. Costarring Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, CJ Wilson, Will Sasso.
Last night Parasite maestro Bong Joon-ho sat for a Santa Barbara Film Festival interview with THR‘s Scott Feinberg. Brad Pitt drew a lot more people the night before last, but whaddaya expect? Plus Feinberg asked the right questions. A splendid time was had by all.
Besides being a brilliant director, Bong is a total film monk with an encyclopedic mind — he knows as much about Budd Boetticher, Samuel Fuller and Ida Lupino as any effete film nerd you could name (Glenn Kenny and David Ehrlich included). And so your heart goes out to him. His English is rudimentary (he mostly spoke in Korean with a translator by his side), but he’s sharp and articulate and often amusing. Feinberg didn’t ask Bong if he gets high (or if he uses a bong when he does), but he’d be a good guy to get ripped with.
Bong Joon-ho is a serious Hitchcock-DePalma devotee who knows sophisticated film language and choreography like the back of his hand, but let’s be honest — his instincts as a storyteller and scenarist are broad and populist-popcorny. Whammo visual impact elements (look at how gifted and clever I am!) always come first. He’s not Christian Mungiu.
This was HE’s final SBIFF dog-and-pony show. I’ll be pushing on at 11 am and heading back to West Hollywood. Thanks for much to Roger Durling, Sunshine Sachs p.r. and the first-rate SBIFF staffers who make this festival run so smoothly and efficiently.
As I listen to this and that Southern Republican Senator or Congressperson talk about the impeachment trial on CNN, I’m reminded of their tendency to speak with flamboyant hick accents (think Andy Griffith in No Time For Sergeants) as a way of emphasizing their front-porch, common-man attitudes. Because a pronounced down-home accent will resonate with conservative, low-income voters.
I’m listening to these actors and muttering “you contemptible phonies…nobody talks like this except for shotgun-toting, overall-wearing Homer & Jethro types living in the rural-est regions of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.”
“Disappearing Ink,” posted on 10.31.11: “Way back when people from Georgia used to speak with delicate Georgian accents. I remember hearing them at gas stations and diners when I drove through Georgia on my way to Florida. Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara spoke like a Georgian. Jimmy Carter still does, pronouncing ‘oil’ as ‘awwl’ and so on.
“But I heard no Georgian dialects during my three and a half days in Savannah. Okay, one or two but just about everyone sounded like they came from Connecticut or Maryland.
“Atlanta has always been an uptown burgh, but I’ve always thought of Savannah as some kind of genteel hamlet where you could hear elegant, well-bred Southerners talk like elegant, well-bred Southerners. Remember Kevin Spacey‘s mint-julep patois in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? Nobody talked like that in my presence last weekend. I guess you have to hang with the hicks in rural Mississippi or Alabama or Louisiana to hear people talk with any kind of drawl.
“The South used to be an exotic place. A realm apart, different aromas and assumptions, definitely not the North. It was a fabled territory that created literate, cultivated folk like William Faulkner and Harper Lee and Erskine Caldwell and characters like Boo Radley and Valentine Xavier and Blanche Dubois.
HE aside: Did you know that if you don’t eat much (i.e., “not eating” but actually nibbling with discipline) you’re in the grip of an eating disorder? I didn’t know that. I fall off the cockatoo wagon all the time, but I get right back on it. Not eating much is freedom, power, liberation. At the same time, eating Hostess cupcakes at 12:30 am in a 7-11 is arguably just as thrilling as watching a new Taylor Swift doc.
From David Ehrlich‘s review of Lana Wilson‘s Miss Americana (“Taylor Swift Reclaims Her Narrative in Thrilling Netflix Doc”):
“Private without being invasive, Miss Americana (Netflix, 1.31) follows Swift almost everywhere she goes. Wilson walks Swift backstage, waits for her in her armored black Suburban, and sits across from her on the superstar’s private jet. Fans will lose their minds over the studio footage of Swift fumbling through rough drafts of their favorite songs.
“But certain things are off limits: actor boyfriend Joe Alwyn never shows his face to the camera, despite Swift giving a long soliloquy about her soul-completing need to call someone at the end of the night. And her mother’s breast cancer — which Swift explicitly sings about in the heartbreaking ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ — is only mentioned in passing.
“Sometimes those redacted areas leave too much blank space for Wilson to paper over, but at other times they help narrow the movie down to the raw (and all too relatable) story of a girl who’s on the brink of 30 and still trying to find a sustainable measure of serenity.
“At one point Swift asks the camera, ‘Do you really care if the internet doesn’t like you today if your mom is sick from chemo?’ And in lesser hands, that moment would have settled as a rhetorical question from a beautiful and ridiculously powerful multi-millionaire who’s learning to delineate between the things she can control and the things she can’t.
“In the broader context of Wilson’s film however, that question doesn’t seem rhetorical at all. The answer is yes. You do always care. Selling out Madison Square Garden doesn’t stop you from feeling alone. (HE aside: poor baby.) “Singing like you have nothing to lose doesn’t protect you from an eating disorder. The threat of losing your closest friend doesn’t inure you from the kindness of strangers.
“The power of Miss Americana is in watching someone who stands astride the world gradually realize that her art is the only thing that she can control. If she can only hear the boos, it doesn’t matter how loudly the rest of the world is clapping, and so she might as well do what makes her feel good.
Breathtaking Ehrlich: “Woke Swift, who rises like a phoenix from the ashes of the singer’s sexual assault trial, is an astonishing thing to see.”