The mere idea of this kind of material being performed on today’s Saturday Night Live is, of course, unthinkable. The brilliant Bowen Yang aside, sensitivity has killed the spirit of high-voltage comedy on that show. Extreme attitudes (spiteful, acidic feminist vs. pompous male chauvinist pig blowhard) are used as satirical fodder here. Nobody agrees with Aykroyd and no endorsement is suggested, but ask yourself why the audience explodes with laughter after the Aykroyd remark heard at 1:45. Today’s SNL performers would never, ever get a reaction like this today.
Of all the traditional old-school fanboys with their seminal roots in the Star Wars glory period of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (’77 to ’80), author-filmmaker Chris Gore is easily one of the most passionate and articulate. And probably the frankest. He’s emotionally invested in fanboy theology, but also circumspect. He hates crap.
The below video (dated 5.12.21) is titled “Why 99% Of [Mainstream] Movies Today Are Garbage.” The message is basically this: Within the corporate Hollywood skydome, progressive political narratives have become more important than delivering pure-enzyme entertainment. Straight-up, get-it-done fantasy transportation has been elbowed aside.
And let’s be honest — most neckbeard fanboys (though not necessarily Gore himself) have strongly resisted the political feminist current of the last several years — the Kathy Kennedy-mandated feminist assertion element in the Stars Wars franchise and spinoff flicks, in particular. Gore’s basic attitude seems to be (a) “Ripley, yes — Rey, not so much,” (b) “Where’s the necessary devotion to the avoidance of numbing cliches?”, and (c) “Where are the new George Lucas-level visionaries and the execs, like Alan Ladd Jr., who will stand by them?”
Gore transcript (portions rephrased or condensed): “What do the fans think of this stuff? Are they satisfying the fans? When I think of the theatrical experience, which is going away…and it is going away…you’d better entertain me, given the cost of moviegoing. And whether Hollywood notices it or not, people don’t really like politics woven into mainstream entertainment experiences.
“And [yet] we’re seeing that more and more. It’s unbelievable to me. They’re leaving money on the table by not giving the customers what they’re looking for.
“So in my mind there’s no excuse for big studio releases to fail. You have the best people in marketing. You have the most talented actors. Craftsmen when it comes to special effects and cinematography. Music. There’s no excuse for that stuff to fail. Here’s the problem, the conundrum. The marketing for these movies is so good, that the product doesn’t live up to the marketing. I got chills watching the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker. I was excited to see that movie…the ninth and final chapter in that saga. And I cannot believe how horribly it turned out.
“It’s malpractice…what happened to that franchise. And how it’s divided fandom, fighting over things that are really irrelevant. Not entirely irrelevant, but when you’re seeing people from within that company [Lucasfilm] attacking the fans? Outside of Kevin Feige, who might be past his prime, I can’t think of a studio executive who is a visionary these days. We really are losing that American identity [in big entertainments]. Because of China. Where is the movie that we all love without reservation? We could talk about other franchises that have lost their way. I’m afraid that we’re never going to see another George Lucas because everything has become so corporate.”
“[Sigourney Weaver‘s] Ripley was a great character, and not just a type that they were trying to shoehorn in. There’s a difference.”
HE comment: Gore asserts that one of the main reasons that The Empire Strikes Back is the greatest Star Wars film ever made is because it doesn’t blow anything up at the finale. HE has long maintained that Episode 5 is actually a film noir — an action-and-thrills chase film about losing + forebodings of dark destiny and in the end being badly beaten. A well-constructed, crackerjack flick in which the bad guys always have the upper hand and the good guys are constantly running and hiding and dodging laser bullets, and in the end they’re battered and bruised (minus a hand, carbon-frozen) with their asses totally kicked. The Empire Strikes Back is basically about “you can run but you can’t hide from the Empire…try as you might and brave as you might be, a happy ending is not in the cards for you guys…not this time.”
HE to friendos: Outside the trades and the N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, et. al., do any of you know of any stringer critics or website columnist-critics who are attending Cannes in July? France just announced a 30-day quarantine for British visitors — it may be finessed away by the festival, but why only the English? If the French are serious, why aren’t they calling for a 30-day quarantine for Americans as well?”
Friendo to HE: “Probably because the UK has done far worse than the U.S. in terms of getting people vaccinated, plus the number of Brits coming into France certainly far exceeds the number of Yanks on a daily basis. That said, the French have been very under-supplied with the vaccine — friends who live in Cannes have told me over the past week that they want the vaccine but can’t get it yet.
“If the [French] quarantine is expanded, no Americans will be showing up in Cannes — that’s for sure. As of now, all the trades are planning to be in Cannes in force. Can’t say I’m thrilled about the gobs of tourists who will be in Cannes in July for the beach and will then feel the need to rubberneck around the Palais.
“Thierry Fremaux is being very upbeat and is stressing all the precautions and new protocols that will be in force, but still…we shall see. Venice managed surprisingly well last September but there were scarcely any foreigners there and the Lido is very separate from Venice itself, so not so hard there to maintain safety procedures.
“That said, the line-up of Cannes films should be very strong — lots of films jammed up, waiting for the light of day. Still, the festival holding all the aces this year should be Telluride — two years’ worth of foreign films we haven’t seen plus new high-end American goodies.”
From “Amid Cannes Uncertainties, Many Dealmakers May Skip In-Person Event,” posted this morning (5.28) by THR‘s Alex Ritman and Scott Roxborough:
…means that Eloise, our lonely, bewildered protagonist (Thomasin McKenzie), will, once she steps inside Cafe de Paris, run into all kinds of celebrities and social climbers of the moment, including, one imagines, David Hemmings‘ photographer (“Thomas”) from Blow-Up or costar Terrence Stamp when young and drifting into his mystical phase. Or the Kray brothers.
Thunderball opened in London on 12.29.65, so the timeline works for early ’66.
It’s too bad that Wright went for a horror angle. Imagine all the stories and situations that could happen within such a realm. Horror drags everything down to its own level. The message seems to be “don’t go back in time….it’s horrible!”
The U.S. release of Last Night in Soho is on 10.22.21, and in England on 10.29.21.
If you’re just strolling along the Malibu Colony beach, cool. A simple communion with the wealthy vibes, intoxicating sea smell, gentle breezes, etc. You can approve a photographer (i.e., Carinthia West) taking snaps but that’s liable to draw attention, and in public places most celebrities do what they can, of course, to not call attention. So play it cool, Carinthia. We don’t want autograph seekers rushing over and spoiling the mood, right?
So why, one wonders, is Ron Wood carrying a couple of large, crimson-colored cheerleader pom-pom sticks? Answer: “It was October 1976 and Mick, Ronnie and I were on our way to Diana Ross’s daughter Tracee’s fourth birthday party, for which Ronnie is taking these red balloons. Ronnie and Krissy Wood had rented 54 Malibu Colony which was the base of operations for the all-night jamming sessions and partying so beloved of Ronnie. Ronnie’s manager at the time was Bob Ellis Silberstein, who was married to Ross.”
I saw the Stones perform in Madison Square Garden in the summer (or was it the fall?) of ’75. And then again in Paris in June of ’76 — Les Rolling Stones aux Abbatoirs.
We’re now almost three months into the 2021 Oscar year. A bit more than seven months between now and 12.31.21. Time moves along, doesn’t it?
What films released since 3.1.21 could conceivably warrant awards attention? Okay, unfair question for this time of year — none. Which films released since 3.1.21 could be called, without reservation, very good and an honor to their makers? If you ask me, Above Suspicion totally qualifies in that regard. Some would claim that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is also quite the achievement. (Apart from the glorious 1.37:1 aspect ratio I couldn’t stand it, but that’s me.) What am I forgetting?
Airplane! is not one of HE’s favorite 1980 films. Just because everyone laughed and it made a lot of money ($171 million or $580 million in 2021 currency) and was the last mainstream movie in which a suave jet-pilot character, played by famous TV actor Peter Graves, conveyed a sexual interest in a young boy…that doesn’t make it great or classic or anything in between. It was just a highly successful goof-off parody film…nothing more. Never forget that the mere act of making people laugh is the lowest form of humor.
Nor will I buy into the long-established counterview that Michael Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate is some kind of masterpiece. Visually it’s very handsome and impressive, but it also is, was and always will be one of the most grueling sits of my life.
And I’m no fan of Dressed to Kill either — it reeks of sexual loathing and disdain for poor Angie Dickinson‘s character, and I hate that scene in which she’s followed around inside the Metropolitan Museum by a good-looking asshole smoothie who hasn’t the balls to say anything to her, and is therefore worthless. I was around 17 or 18 when I learned the wisdom of “he who hesitates, masturbates.”
HE’s top 1980 features (in this order):
1. The Empire Strikes Back (magnificent from start to finish)
2. Raging Bull (a great film except for the odd closing tribute to Haig Manoogian, which has nothing to do with Jake La Motta and therefore leaves you with a “what? reaction — this is why RB is in the second slot)
3. Ordinary People
4. Atlantic City (sublime Burt Lancaster, and he was only 66 when the film was shot.)
5. The Elephant Man
6. Coal Miner’s Daughter (Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones and Levon Helm are aces)
7. Breaker Morant (lean, grave and masterful)
8. Used Cars (brilliant Preston Sturges film)
9. The Stunt Man
11. American Gigolo (has improved with age)
12. The Shining (when you consider what Stanley Kubrick‘s adaptation could have been, you can’t help but sigh with a certain air of regret — it’s a very rigid, almost constipated film)
13. Somewhere in Time (i.e., the version with the original uncut crane-and tracking shot that ends the film)
15. Stir Crazy
I’ve watched these YouTube clips from J.C. Chandor‘s Margin Call at least a dozen times and possibly more than that. They radiate serious grip — a magnificent feeling of real-world psychological tension and unspoken currents — the kind of thing that I live for (or used to live for) when I went to screenings and public showings.
Margin Call premiered at Sundance in January ’11 (I attended the first press screening at the Holiday Cinemas), and by the time it opened the following October Chandor was well branded as a leading young light — a serious-focus, auteur-level helmer who, it was presumed, would make moviegoing for educated over-35s a slightly less draining experience.
This presumption was happily fulfilled with the brilliant All Is Lost (’13), containing Robert Redford‘s greatest performance, and A Most Violent Year (’14), an excellent Queens-based noir about a family business.
In July 2014 Chandor was hired to direct Deepwater Horizon, but by January 2015 he’d left the project over creative differences (i.e., head-butting arguments with Mark Wahlberg). And then, four years later, came Triple Frontier, a Netflix thing which I found fully realistic and satisfying except for the finale when the thieves decide to give a significant portion of the dough to Ben Affleck‘s calorically-challenged daughter. If it was my call, she’d get Affleck’s share and no more.
Last August Chandor, one of the true good guys of cinema and a reach-for-the-sky craftsman and visionary, was hired to direct Kraven, The Hunter with Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing the titular character. The release date — 1.13.23 — tells you everything.
We all have to earn money and keep the lamps burning, but the idea of Chandor directing Kraven is, no offense, shattering.
I saw Jules Dassin and Mark Hellinger‘s The Naked City (’48) back in the early ’80s, or so I recall. I would’ve gotten around to a re-viewing sooner or later, but now I’m revved after catching Bruce Goldstein‘s “Uncovering The Naked City,” a 23-minute doc that explores the various locations and strategies that went into filming this hard-boiled New York cop movie, shot entirely on location. Now I’m locking into watching Criterion’s HD version this weekend.
Enterprising photographer Stanley Kubrick, 19 at the time, was spotted hanging around the Naked City set.
Hellinger, who narrates the film (and I wish they’d forgotten about any narration at all — it makes it feel hokey now), died of of a heart attack on 12.21.47 at age 44. (Who keels over at age 44?) The Naked City opened the following March.
Film historian William Park has argued that, despite Weegee‘s work on the film and its title coming from Weegee’s 1945 photo book, the film owes its visual style more to Italian neorealism rather than Weegee’s photographic work.
known been assuming over the past year that Wes Anderson‘s film, originally slated to play at last year’s cancelled fest, would return this year. Keslassy devotes the first five paragraphs to Dispatch…okay, all right, got it.
The surprise (revealed in paragraph #6) is that Tom McCarthy‘s Stillwater will also play there. That’s a significant vote of approval by Cannes honcho Thierry Fremaux.
Up until this moment I’ve been a little iffy about the Stillwater potential (Matt Damon‘s apparent miscasting plus his character’s swallowed, guttural, working-class patois) but now I feel more hope. Even if it’s more or less a riff on the dramatically beaten-to-death Amanda Knox story.
Misheard rock lyrics is a popular meme. No less than three fellows (Gavin Edwards, Martin Toseland, Charles Grosvenor) have written books about this topic. Everyone understands that rock lyrics occasionally invite misinterpretation, and nobody accuses anyone of being an asshat if they insist that the key line in “Blinded by The Light” is not “revved up like a deuce” but “revved up like a douche,” as in fucking douchebag. That’s on Manfred Mann,** of course, and not “Blinded” author Bruce Springsteen.
But if you mishear dialogue spoken by a French actress (Camille Cottin) in the Stillwater trailer, you’re deaf and clueless. At the :43 mark, she says a quiet line to Matt Damon‘s character — a beefy, burly, cap-wearing 40something bumblefuck type -— and is apparently referring to his incarcerated daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin). The line she says to Damon is “the father of duhkat?…he left in six” something-or-other.
You’re also an asshole if you mishear movie dialogue spoken by a British actress of Asian descent in the new Eternals trailer. Despite the unmistakable fact that Gemma Chan absolutely does not say “beautiful, isn’t it?” but says “Eefrent…isn’t it?” Or possibly “Steefrent…isn’t it?”
Look at the teaser again — Chan’s line comes at the :29 mark.
When you say “beautiful” you have to get that first syllable right — sounds like “byew” or “byoo.” The second and third syllables are pronounced either “tihful” or “teefull.” There is no way on God’s green earth that Chan says “byooteefull.”
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »