The Robert Towne-David Fincher commentary track is perfect. You don’t need to concurrently re-watch the film for the 17th or 18th time. Dialogue + commentary, smooth as silk. Incidentally: All these years in Los Angeles, and I’ve never once visited Walker’s Cafe (700 W Paseo Del Mar San Pedro, CA 90731).
Bret: “From a political standpoint, Nikki Haley has played her cards pretty astutely. She might be the only potential GOP candidate who can unite the party. She’s smart, charismatic, has a great personal story, did the right thing as governor of South Carolina by getting rid of the Confederate flag from the State House soon after the Charleston church slaughter, and was effective as U.N. ambassador. If she wins the nomination she’d be a formidable challenger to the Democratic nominee, whoever that winds up being.”
Gail: “Wow, Kamala vs. Nikki.”
Bret: “Interesting that Kamala ’24 already seems like a foregone conclusion. Shades of Hillary ’08? Haley’s dodges and maneuvers are a bit too transparent. And her brand of mainstream Republican conservatism is just out of step for a party that is increasingly out of its mind.”
Gail: “Still, you’ve got me obsessing about an all-female presidential race.”
Bret: “About time.”
HE reaction: Stephens is probably right. Republicans don’t want to nominate a classic conservative as much as a lunatic — Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, somebody who might capture the nut fringe. The only thing that worries me about Kamala is her speech-giving voice — shaky timbre, uninspired phrasing. I’d be just as happy with Gretchen Whitmer. And I’d be extra-delighted if Pete Buttigieg runs again.
“The art of cinema is being systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned and reduced to its lowest common denominator — ‘content.’
“As recently as fifteen years ago, the term ‘content‘ was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form.’ Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should.
“’Content’ became a business term for all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode. It was linked, of course, not to the theatrical experience but to home viewing, on the streaming platforms that have come to overtake the moviegoing experience, just as Amazon overtook physical stores.
“On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?
“Curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist,’ a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity — you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you. (The best streaming platforms, such as the Criterion Channel and MUBI and traditional outlets such as TCM, are based on curating — they’re actually curated.) Algorithms, by definition, are based on calculations that treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else.” — Martin Scorsese in a Harper‘s essay about Federico Fellini, titled “Il Maestro.”
After the Blake Lively Boone Hall wedding catastrophe of a few years ago, who could have possibly failed to understand that attending any kind of Antebellum South event was extremely unwise if not flat-out stupid? Bachelor contestant Rachel Kirkconnell nonetheless “went” there in 2018.
In a 2.9.21 discussion with Extra‘s Rachel Lindsay (herself a former Bachelor contestant), Bachelor host Chris Harrison tried to wave off Kirkconnell’s naivete while concurrently blaming “this judge, jury, executioner thing,” etc. Which of course landed Harrison in hot water, the result being that he’s temporarily withdrawn from hosting duties.
When will this finally sink in? Anything Antebellum is best ignored or avoided. Forever.
The Ryan Reynolds-Blake Lively Boone Hall nuptials were obviously ill-advised, but nine years ago there wasn’t this instant socio-political condemnation thing associated with Southern plantations. 12 Years A Slave hadn’t even been filmed at that point. Eleven years before the Reynolds-Lively wedding a scene from Peter Chelsom and Warren Beatty‘s Town and Country was partly filmed on a storied Southern plantation. And Forrest Gump, of course, had been filmed on a similar Georgia plantation eight years before that.
A little more than five years ago (on 10.29.15) I joined Scott Feinberg and a friend of his for a scooter journey to Wormsloe, a Savannah location used in Forrest Gump. A three-century-old plantation with a long straight driveway shaded by an entwined canopy of moss-covered oak trees, etc. We didn’t attend any sort of planned event there, thank God — we just wanted to see it, take pictures, etc.
Four or five years ago, a certain multi-word mantra began to get around in entertainment-related journalistic circles. The mantra was this: “Get with the ‘woke’ Khmer Rouge program — embrace the notion that almost all straight white guys are evil or at least deplorable on some level, that people of color are blessed and need to be embraced and exalted every which way, and that the time has come for women who’ve been sexually harassed and/or discriminated against to be avenged — or forget about working as a front-line journalist.”
In short, the time had come for a little reverse discrimination against white males. Was this viewpoint justified? Yes — absolutely, abundantly and to hell with due process. Bully boys in powerful positions had earned this enmity for centuries, and now the tables had turned and a lot of powerfully corroded whiteys were hauled before courts (legal as well as Twitter-verse) and the general tone turned to one of condemnation and retribution.
Fairly or unfairly, the message was clear to every seasoned, semi-verified or would-be journalist or critic: talk the talk and walk the walk, or you won’t survive in this industry. Because a revolutionary mind wave, driven by Donald Trump nausea and Harvey Weinstein-esque repulsion, is spreading throughout liberal professions, and those who fail to sign on with enthusiasm will…uhm, have a difficult time of it.
My first significant taste of Khmer Rouge hysteria happened in the fall of ’17, as I was on my way to the Key West Film Festival. Indiewire‘s David Ehrlich shrieked like a p.c. banshee when I tweeted to Jessica Chastain that an aspiring film critic not only needs to be talented, tenacious and willing to eat shit, but that it would “help” if he/she is “fetching.” Ehrlich was appalled that anyone would even suggest that an attractive appearance might have something to do with how you’re received in mixed company or by potential employers. I called him a delusional little bitch, of course. 18 months later Bill Maher set him straight.
All to say that when it comes to reviewing Allen vs. Farrow, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering‘s four-part Woody Allen hatchet-job doc which totally pushes the Dylan-and-Mia view of things, there’s no way for critics in the employ of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire and the Daily Beast to say anything except “hmmm, yeah, maybe, food for thought, who knows?, Allen is toast anyway and he’s probably guilty of what Dylan has long claimed, and this four-part investigation sure makes him look like the devil so he probably is.”
Do we all understand the basic dynamic? These critics are simply not allowed to disagree with the Mia-Dylan case or or quote from Moses Farrow‘s essay (“A Son Speaks Out“) or point out the Woody-exonerating facts. If they divert from the party line, they’ll be in trouble and they know it.
I haven’t seen Allen vs. Farrow (it premieres on HBO Max this weekend) but the hanging-judge reviews by Indiewire‘s Ben Travers and the Daily Beast‘s Marlow Stern speak for themselves. These guys were clearly wokester Woody haters before they watched the series. Then again the THR and Variety reviews don’t really come up for air either.
HE’s overwhelming impression is that the Dick-Ziering doc is a one-sided hatchet job. Elite wokester journas, to repeat, are so sold on and submerged within the faith of #MeToo deliverance and historical righteousness (which, on its own terms, is not disputed in the slightest by HE) that there’s only one way to review this four-part doc, and that’s by ignoring the facts and dismissing Woody’s denials and and Moses Farrow’s account of Mia’s psychology and behavior and what happened up at Frog Hollow on that day in August of ‘92. Haters are gonna hate. Deniers are gonna deny.
World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy: “Are you surprised by this? Imagine if a trade like THR or IndieWire would actually go against the grain and flat out say ‘this documentary is bullshit‘ and ‘it neglects facts and is one-sided”…the backlash would be so overwhelming that there would be calls for the writer to be fired. It’s fucking sad. Unless you operate your own site you’re basically committing career harakiri if you side against woke and #MeToo narratives.”