Out of Hollywood Elsewhere’s 10 projected Best Picture Oscar contenders, I’ve seen exactly four — Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland, Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7, Florian Zeller‘s The Father and Chris Nolan‘s Tenet. The other six are in the wings. I’ve heard that David Fincher‘s Mank is totally masterful and bucks-up approved, and I will be trusting in that assessment until I see it and make my own. So far the standings for the Best Director Oscar contenders…check back with me later. But it looks right now like Nomadland‘s Frances McDormand and The Father‘s Anthony Hopkins are in the top slots for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.
“He cannot pitch and roll with what people may think about him…this humiliation that he feels but can’t bear to feel…there’s a great sadness in that, for me. There’s something internally wrong with the guy, and you’re saddened by that. The fact that he can’t ignore slights, is sorta nuts. He’s a keyboard warrior coward.” — The Mooch.
Imagine actually choosing to stay in a gaudy, Las Vegas-styled hotel on the Sunset Strip…a modern stopover for young dipshits, ablaze with nocturnal, motion-flow blue lighting. I’m speaking of the Pendry Hotel (corner of Sunset and North Olive), which is a different idea and structure than the Pendry residences.
I was friendly to some extent with production designer Richard Sylbert, whose location choices for Chinatown were the stuff of legend, and I’m telling you he’d be appalled by this place. It’s rancid, soul-less.
“A legal career is but a means to an end, and that end is building the Kingdom of God.” — presumed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
“Building” the kingdom of God? What, the same way a construction team might build a 12-unit condo in Orlando? The last time I checked “the kingdom of God” began to build itself X number of eons ago and will continue this building for X number of eons hence, regardless of any notions of good or evil or “do unto others” or any of that jazz. The kingdom of God is not a theological projection or a moral proposition but an infinite realm of ever-expanding micro-cellular creation by way of intelligent (or at the very least unified) design.
The staunchly Catholic Barrett, on the other hand, believes that God is some kind of benevolent, all-seeing, magnificently moral being who roots for the good guys (i.e., the Christians) down on planet Earth, but at the same time has an iron-clad rule about not stepping into the situation too aggressively.
Like any good Catholic, Barrett respects this hands-off, absentee landlord, “it’s up to humans to do the heavy lifting” policy, but at the same time believes that God is on her side and will be pulling for her confirmation, if and when she’s nominated, and that once on the court he wants her to implement His Moral Vision for life on our poisoned planet. She will be, in short, His loyal agent — the servant of his bidding.
In short, Amy Coney Barrett is a religious fanatic.
Susanne Bier is the director of The Undoing, an HBO miniseries based on Jean Hanff Korelitz‘s “You Should Have Known“, apparently a “deeds of evil duplicitous husband are traumatically revealed to strong-willed but deluded wife” airport novel for women.
Bier’s The Night Manager miniseries was respected and well received, and she was, I felt, in a truly excellent feature groove during the aughts (Open Hearts, Brothers, After the Wedding, Things We Lost in the Fire, In a Better World). But this new project feels like trouble. The trailer suggests a difficult sit.
Amazon boilerplate with Kidman and Grant’s names inserted: “The somewhat arrogant Grace (Nicole Kidman), a tough-talking marriage counselor, has written a book for wives, ‘You Should Have Known”, to kinda sorta blame them for not recognizing things about their husbands. You know the saying ‘physician, heal thyself”? You can see where this novel is going.
“What Grace didn’t know about her own husband Mike (Hugh Grant) is the stuff of this long, drawn-out novel. Grace never suspected that Mike, an esteemed pediatric oncologist, could be a liar. Or worse. For someone who scorned women for not realizing their husbands lied and held secrets, Grace was about as clueless as a popsicle, maybe more so.”
Orange Plague + Melania visited Ruth Ginsburg Bader‘s flag-draped coffin this morning at the top of the Supreme Court steps. The camera catches sight of Melania at 3:27. And then The Beast. The crowd at the bottom of the steps doesn’t react to Trump’s presence until 4:18, at which point the negative chanting begins (“honor her wish!”, “vote him out!”). It’s obvious that Trump has heard their chants — turning his head slightly, stiffening, shifting his weight. The First Couple turns and leaves around 5:07.
The profitable Variety and the money-losing The Hollywood Reporter are now (or are soon to become) sister publications run by the same outfit.
Variety and Deadline owner Jay Penske (PMC or Penske Media Corp.) has inked a deal with MRC, a media and production company founded by Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, to operate The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe under a new shingle called PMRC.
Variety excerpt: “PMC will lead daily operations of an expanded entertainment and music brand portfolio under the PMRC banner that will bring two Hollywood trade institutions under the same roof for the first time. Billboard, Vibe and the Reporter will join PMC’s Variety, Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide.
“The second joint venture calls for MRC to use its content production assets — which include Dick Clark Productions — to develop new content and business opportunities drawn from stories and other intellectual property culled from across PMRC brands.”
I asked some folks for a little speculation. “What might actually happen with the merger?”, I wrote. “What do your nerve endings tell you? Whenever companies or publications merge there are always people who get cut loose. Always. And we all know The Hollywood Reporter has been hemorrhaging money for a long time.”
Informed guy #1: “Variety is in excellent financial shape, and THR, as you said, has been hemmhoraging money for a long time. So I would expect that there’ll be changes there. But I think Penske wants to save THR, not kill it. And this, in the long run, is its best chance of being saved.”
Apparently another “bit”, the partial idea being to trigger and enrage. But not altogether because he’s said more than once that “we’ll have to see.” In other words he’s serious. Anyone who says he’s just playing people like me haven’t been paying attention. Bill Maher has been talking about “what if Trump won’t leave?” for three years or so. And here we are.
Trailers have to sell the basic sizzle to the lowest common denominator. Naturally. Millions have to be briefed on what the Chicago 7 trial was all all about — who was who, what the Nixon administration was after, what the political currents were in ’68 and ’69. All to say that Aaron Sorkin’s film (limited theatrical on 9.25, Netflix release on 10.16) is much better than what this trailer indicates. Aces with room to spare. I knew this less than five minutes in.
I wish, by the way, that I could find a clip of that Bobby Seale courtroom bit in Woody Allen‘s Bananas (’71). Allen’s Fielding Mellish is prosecuted for treason or grossly un-American behavior, and, like Seale, is soon bound and gagged by the presiding judge (the resemblance to Judge Julius Hoffman being unmistakable), etc.
When Tenet stalled domestically, distributors large and small gulped. The writing on the wall was there for all to read, and many are deciding to cut bait for the time being. Certainly on Disney’s part. Black Widow, West Side Story, Deep Water…all bumped into ‘21. Who knows what major titles will open this year? I’m feeling very sorry for exhibitors — they must be in shock right now. What a horrendously unsettling era we’re all living through, and largely because of how Trump handled, or rather didn’t handle, the pandemic. Along with his lunatic followers and those with attitudes like Van Morrison‘s, plus the help of under-30 party animals. Three months ago we were all expecting that some kind of limited theatrical situation would be opening up by…October or early November? Certainly by the holidays. This is such a tough situation. It’s brutal.
Default fundamentals apply when a director assesses another director’s work. Political, fraternal, instinctual. If a deep-down reaction is, say, one of genuine if slightly muted admiration for the craft, theme and/or performances (or for all three), the director will always brush aside the “slightly muted” and amplify the love. Always accentuate the alpha — there could never be a reason not to. So we’re naturally obliged to regard all such testimonials with a grain of salt. That said, Aaron Sorkin‘s assessment of David Fincher‘s Mank is encouraging as hell.
What’s the big gripe against BLM wokester shitheads in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, D.C. and elsewhere? That the occasional looting, taunting, window-breaking and trashing of small businesses over the last three or four months have persuaded chubby, gray-haired hinterland types to think about voting for Trump.
The exact same complaint was being heard in the late ’60s, which was that the unruly appearance and behavior anti-establishment hippies and yippies were prompting Middle Americans to vote for Nixon and “lawnorder.”
There’s a discussion along these lines in Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7. On one side are the rambunctious, frizzy-haired Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, and on another the pragmatic, moderate-minded activist Tom Hayden. Their attorney William Kuntsler is thinking about putting one of them on the witness stand, and they’re discussing who this might be.
Hayden: Maybe he thinks I won’t get the crowd worked up at all. Maybe he thinks there are jurors who rely on the safety of the police, and are put off when someone calls them pigs. Or maybe he wants a witness who dresses like a grown man.
Rubin: The cops in this city in the summer of ’60 were pigs.
Hayden: I wonder how many of them had kids in Vietnam.
Rubin to Hoffman, pointing at Hayden: “He‘s gonna take the stand, not you? And we’re okay with that? (beat) Abbie?
Hoffman (to Hayden): What did you mean, the last thing I want is to end the war?
Hoffman: Centuries ago when the trial started, you said, why did I come to Chicago? And I said, ‘To end the war.’ And then you turned to everyone and you said, ‘The last thing he wants is to end the war.’ What did you mean by that?
Hayden: That you’re making the most of your close-up.
Hayden: No more war, no more Abbie Hoffman.
Hoffman: What’s your problem with me?
Hayden: I wish people would stop asking me that.
Hoffman: Answer it. One time.
Hayden: All right. My problem is that for the next 50 years, when people think of progressive politics they’re gonna think of you. They’re gonna think of you and your idiot followers. Passing out daisies to soldiers and trying to levitate the Pentagon. So they’re not gonna think of equality or justice. They’re not gonna think of education or poverty or progress. They’re gonna think of a bunch of lost, stoned, disrespectful, foul-mouthed losers. And so we’ll lose elections.