Covid shut-in fever — stasis, boredom and dreaming about those bygone days when we could do pretty much anything — has been with us for five and a half months. Thanks to the mask refusers, party animals and bumblefucks we’ll be stuck in this godforsaken tomb for another two or three months, perhaps until early ’21. Thank God for occasional diversions.
Nine and 1/3 years ago I ran a piece called “Taxi Driver‘s Brown Blood“. It was about (a) Grover Crisp and Martin Scorsese‘s Bluray restoration of Taxi Driver (4.5.11). and more particularly (b) a technical question asked of Crisp by The Digital Bits‘ Bill Hunt.
Hunt asked about the brownish, sepia-tone tinting of the climactic shoot-out scene, which had been imposed upon Scorsese by the MPAA ratings board. Scorsese had always intended this scene to be presented with a more-or-less natural color scheme, in harmony with the rest of the film. Hunt to Crisp: “Why didn’t you and Scorsese restore the originally shot, more colorful shoot-out scene?”
“There are a couple of answers to this,” Crisp replied. “One, which we discussed, was the goal of presenting the film as it was released, which is the version everyone basically knows. This comes up every now and then, but the director feels it best to leave the film as it is. That decision is fine with me.”
HE response: “There can be no legitimate claim of Taxi Driver having been restored without the original natural color (or at least a simulation of same) put back in. The film was shot with more or less natural colors, was intended to be shown this way, and — with the exception of the shoot-out scene — has been shown this way since it first opened in ’75.
“There’s nothing noble or sacred about the look of that final sequence. The fact that it was sepia-toned to get a more acceptable MPAA rating is, I feel, a stain upon the film’s legacy.”
Crisp explained that even if Scorsese wanted to present the natural color version, the original Taxi Driver negative is gone and there’s no way to “pump” the color back in.
Steven Gaydos 2011 comment: “Jeff’s right that it’s a shame a filmmaker had to alter his film in order for it to be seen in wide release, but according to my in-house expert (Monte Hellman, who oversaw the digital restoration/release of his 1971 film Two Lane Blacktop), if the negative is gone, as Crisp clearly says it is, then ‘you can put the color in but it will never look right, and certainly won’t look anything like the original footage.'”
And that was that.
But two or three years later I came upon this image of the wounded Travis Bickle, and damned if it doesn’t look like the original probably did before the MPAA stepped in.
I wondered right away where it came from, and I asked myself “if someone could satisfactorily manipulate a single frame from that shoot-out sequence to make it look right and natural, why couldn’t someone manage the same trick for the whole sequence?”
How do you handle a hungry man? You kill him with fat, grease and cholestoral. Remember that scene in The War of the Worlds when Gene Barry and Ann Robinson are preparing fried eggs inside an abandoned farmhouse, and Barry says with an air of comfort and satisfaction “we’re doing all right”? Once in a great while I’ll prepare an old-fashioned fried egg, bacon and home fries breakfast. Unhealthy but emotionally comforting — a breakfast serving that tens of millions of mothers (including my own) would prepare on weekends.
Obviously the word “THE” has been afforded great significance within the realm of Warner Bros./DC adaptations. In the tradition of Matt Reeves‘ THE Batman, we now have James Gunn‘s THE Suicide Squad (Warner Bros., 8.6.21), a five-years-later sequel to David Ayer‘s Suicide Squad. THE Suicide Squad is also known as Suicide Squad 2 but don’t let that throw you.
The Suicide Squad is the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Written and directed by James Gunn (who, don’t forget, lost his Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 job over a 2018 Twitter kerfuffle only to be re-hired later on), pic is a paycheck paradise for costars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, David Dastmalchian, Michael Rooker, Taika Waititi, Nathan Fillion, Storm Reid, Daniela Melchior, Steve Agee, Sean Gunn, Joaquín Cosío, Juan Diego Botto, Julio Ruiz, Flula Borg, Tinashe Kajese, Mayling Ng, Jennifer Holland and Viola Davis.
In a day-old Independent piece by Adam White, WW84 costume designer Lindy Hemming acknowledged that Lord was partly inspired by Orange Plague.
Excerpt #1: “That’s helpful to look at Donald Trump, isn’t it?” Hemming teased. “There is something about the period of Donald Trump and being a businessman, isn’t there, of being rather sleazy a little bit, and a bit goofy [in the] hair and a lot of talk. So that’s why he’s there. Yeah, so that’s it, really.”
Excerpt #2: “Director Patty Jenkins has suggested that Trump served as just one of a number of inspirations for the character. ‘He’s one of them,’ Jenkins told Screen Rant. ‘I mean honestly, the funny thing is he is [an influence], but I’m not trying to make…I don’t want to get political, it’s not about being political.’”
(l.) Pedro Pascal as “Maxwell Lord; (r.) Donald Trump in the mid ’80s.
Sidenote: Who or what is the female hyena monster [after the jump]?
Wonder Woman 1984 was originally slated for release on 12.13.19, before being advanced to 11.1.19. It was then delayed to 6.5.20. On 3.23.202 COVID concerns bumped it to 8.14.20. Then it was bumped again to 10.2.20.