…and it hung in there. Pence didn’t feel his presence? He didn’t feel the faint tickle? A real man would’ve felt it and flicked it away. Was the fly meditating or defecating? All I know is that the winged intruder eventually lost interest and flew off. “There are better things to do in my short fly life,” he decided.
“Ballsiest Visionary Art Film Of The Year,” posted on 11.4.17: Who knows if there will even be serious film historians 50 years hence? The culture might be so degraded by then…I don’t want to think about it. But if they’re still around one or two will probably look back upon our troubled epoch and ask “which 2017 films really conveyed what the world was like back then? Which tried to express what people were hoping for or afraid of? Which tell us the most in terms of cultural self-portraiture or self-reflection?”
I can guarantee you right now that Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! will definitely be among the few films that scholars of 2067 will study when they ponder U.S. culture during the first year of Donald Trump’s administration.
I can also assure you that no one will pay the slightest historical attention to Thor: Ragnarok or Logan or even Blade Runner 2049. These three films have earned serious box-office coin, of course, while mother! topped out at a measly $17,800,004 domestic and $25,850,098 foreign. But they won’t matter when all has been said and done and the deciders have completed their assessments. Art lasts; all diversions melt.
In the same way that the mid ‘1950s were clearly reflected by Kiss Me Deadly, Patterns, No Down Payment and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the currents of the mid to late’60s were c channelled by Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary’s Baby, The President’s Analyst and The Graduate, Aronofsky’s allegorical horror film burrows right into the dirt and muck of the here-and-now.
In my book mother! is either the fourth- or fifth-best film of the year, in part because it’s probably the most courageous. How did Aronofsky get Paramount to finance and release a film that Joe and Jane Popcorn reportedly hated with a passion? Whatever the back-story, the release of mother! is a proud event in the annals of American cinema because it went for something and nailed it, because it reaches right into the nightmares and agitations and self-loathings of a convulsive era and says “do you smell it…do you sense the disease and disruption? Not the chaos that you’re watching on-screen, but the real-deal horrors that are defining the world outside?”
If there are any film critics organizations out there with any balls, they’ll give Aronofsky a special artistic courage award or two next month.
“Obviously all horror flicks are signifiers of cultural undercurrents,” I wrote on 9.15.17. “Most stand and deliver as visceral experiences, but the best ones slip into your bloodstream and before you know it you’re them. Or they’re you. mother! is visceral as hell, but you can’t watch it and not think ‘uhhm, this is about more than what I’m seeing on the screen…this might actually be about everything that’s happening on the planet right now.’ Or not. Up to you. But it begs to be grappled with.
From Scott Feinberg‘s exclusive THR story (10.7) titled “Drive-In Screenings Will Now Count Towards Eligibility”:
1. Films which are intended for theatrical release, but are initially made available through commercial streaming, VOD service or other broadcast may qualify by making the film available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release or broadcast.
2. Films may [also] qualify with a traditional theatrical release, completing a seven-day run in one of six qualifying cities (Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta), screening at least three times daily, with at least one screening between 6 pm and 10 pm daily.
“Additionally, drive-in theaters in these cities will now qualify as a commercial venue. The screening requirement [in this instance] will be adjusted from three times daily to once daily. Films that have a theatrical release are not required to submit to the Academy Screening Room within 60 days — it is optional.”
The 93rd Oscars will happen on Sunday, 4.25.21.
July 2012: I bought a pair of Bruno Magli shoes 12 years ago in Venice, Italy. They’re the highest-quality kicks I’ve ever owned, and easily the most uncomfortable. They feel like they’re made of wood. It would be agony to wear them more than two or three hours at a stretch. But I’d rather suffer with a pair of beautiful shoes than walk around in super-comfortable shoes that look atrocious.
10.7.20: I’ve decided to get rid of some shoes that have been sitting in my closet for years but have never been worn. I’ve chosen four pairs; I’ll be dropping them off at Goodwill later today. But I couldn’t discard my 20 year-old Bruno Maglis. I just couldn’t. They hurt too much to wear more than a couple of hours, as mentioned years ago, but I cherish the fact that they’ve barely aged over the course of two Bush terms, two Barack Obamas and one Donald Trump.
I remember the moment I bought them like yesterday. Some overpriced boutique in the well-lighted San Marco district, where you’re always guaranteed to over-pay. But I was in a sucker mood. Time and again they’ve made my feet feel aching and punished, but I’ve never felt badly about owning them. Comfort is nice, but looking good is more important.
In a Variety cover story penned by award-season handicapper Clayton Davis, the legendary Spike Lee is asked what message he has “for Oscar voters who don’t agree with the new set of [diversity-favoring] Academy rules?”
Lee’s response: “They probably voted for Driving Miss Daisy and Green Book.” Lee is alluding to a bloc of voters known for their white boomer mindsets, and otherwise regarded as change-resistant bugaboos with conservative perspectives and what he presumes is a grumbling resistance to p.c. quotas and checklists.
Yes, there’s a New York Italian-American perspective in Green Book, and yes, the script was co-written by Nick Vallelonga (son of Viggo Mortensen‘s Tony Lip character) along with Brian Hayes Currie and director Peter Farrelly.
Then again it’s based on the documented recollections of Don Shirley as well as Tony Vallelonga, and it’s not told so much from a “white” point of view as much as a 1962 social perspective, when things were a lot less liberal and fair-minded compared to today.
And it’s fundamentally a parent-child relationship film with Mahershala Ali‘s Shirley character, a masterful jazz pianist, maintaining the ethical and behavioral upper hand throughout most of the film.
Lee’s derision doesn’t seem to be based on how the story is told (what would he have done differently if he wanted to be truthful about Vallelonga and Shirley’s recollections?) but that Green Book was made at all.
In short, Green Book isn’t a “white perspective” movie but a blend of all the above. Sharf, a dutiful foot soldier in service of the woke Indiewire agenda, is deliberately misrepresenting, as Lee has all along.
No dispute about Bruce Beresford‘s Driving Miss Daisy reflecting a whitebread industry consciousness about racism. I’ve never been much of a fan of this 1989 film, but to be fair it is set in Atlanta of 1948, which was a whole different moral universe than the realm of Los Angeles some 41 years later, much less today.
Every time I see DVD Beaver screen captures of 4K Blurays, they always look darker than corresponding Bluray and DVD captures from years past. Which always prompts the same question — “Why shell out good money to watch a darker, more shadowy version in 4K when (a) the 1080p Bluray version is more pleasing to look at plus (b) the naked eye is hard pressed to tell the difference between 4K and 1080p in the first place?”
HE to DVD Beaver’s Gary Tooze: “Why is it that your 4K frame captures are ALWAYS DARKER? Who the hell wants to see a film with inkier images and diminished colors compared to the Bluray versions? Call me a peon but I don’t see the attraction. Not to mention the fact that HBO Max’s “boxy” HD version of Full Metal Jacket, which was sadly removed a few weeks ago, looked beautiful. Please share the upside in buying a cleavered (1.85:1) version with inkier images? Especially compared to the more commonly available versions via HD streaming or previous Blurays.”
Tooze to HE: “Hi, Jeffrey — without going into a long detailed answer, darker is GENERALLY more accurate to the theatrical [presentation]. Also you are probably not looking at this with an HDR monitor. The [DVD Beaver] image is only a simulation. It generally looks better on an HDR TV system. Best, GT.”
HE to DVD Beaver’s Gary Tooze: “I tend to prefer images that (I know this makes me sound like a peasant) look really good over those that are ‘closer to theatrical.’ If ‘closer to theatrical’ means the addition of muddy shadows, I’ll take a pass and stick with the good old 1080p version.”
Competing captures of 1080p Bluray vs. 4K
For years Russian car crashes have been my favorite source of entertainment. I laugh out loud every time, and I’m speaking as an LQTMer. My second favorite is Jurgen Henn’s website devoted to crashes at Durham’s Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass. Nicknamed The Can Opener or The Gregson Street Guillotine, it’s commonly known as the 11-foot-8 Bridge, hence http://11foot8.com. Between April 2008 to October 2019, Henn recorded over 145 collisions.
Donald Trump as Evita Peron…there’s something in this. Could his deranged supervillain profile translate down the road into some kind of grandiose tragic figure in a film, play, musical drama or opera? Sure, maybe, but who would want to see it? He’s too much of a grotesque figure — too bloated, too corrupt, too much of a hatemonger, too much in the grip of demented fantasy and rancid delusion — to be portrayed in any kind of half-sympathetic terms.
There’s obviously a Nixon-like movie in Trump’s saga, and I’m guessing such a film (which Oliver Stone might not be interested in making) could be morbidly fascinating. But we’re all watching this movie unfold right now. Almost every ghastly detail is out in the open, and those that aren’t are being speculated or imagined six ways from Sunday.