Regarding Scott Feinberg's 7.5.21 THR story, "Cannes: Which Fest Films Could Become Oscar Contenders?", and the opening paragraph in particular: Login with Patreon to view this post
Hugs and condolences for the family, friends, colleagues and fans of director Richard Donner, who was born on 4.24.30 and passed earlier today at age 91. Donner was no visionary auteur but an amiable, well-liked, good-guy journeyman — he behaved like a human being, always got the job done, kept his cool, smoked cigarettes, etc.
Hollywood Elsewhere is an unqualified fan of two things Donner directed — “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” the 1963 Twilight Zone episode in which an airborne William Shatner grappled with the sight of a gremlin on the wing, and the original Lethal Weapon (’87), an anarchic, crazy-violent, occasionally funny cop thriller that helped launch a new idea in action films– i.e., the cop who was crazier than the criminals. (Angel Heart, which opened concurrent with Lethal Weapon, advanced the same notion.)
Be honest — the first Lethal Weapon was the only decent one, and it represented the only time in Donner’s career when he was truly the king of the hill and totally on top of the zeitgiest curve.
I was mezzo mezzo on Superman — didn’t care for the scenes with fat, white-haired Marlon Brando, hated the Jeff East casting as young Chris Reeve, loathed the North Pole ice palace, etc. But I loved Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty‘s interplay (“Otisburg?”).
I’m sorry but I had problems with every other Donner-directed film — The Omen (silly, stupid, annoying), Superman II, The Toy, The Goonies, Ladyhawke, Scrooged, Lethal Weapon 2, Radio Flyer, Lethal Weapon 3, Maverick (a friend called it “a $75 million dollar Elvis Presley film“), Assassins, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon 4, Tales from the Crypt: Ritual, Timeline, 16 Blocks.
Nobody cares about In The Heights any more, but if they did there’d be one more thing for wokesters to gripe about.
The last grenade thrown at Jon Chu and Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s musical (a mostly faithful adaptation of LMM’s 2005 stage musical) was the colorism thing — the film had ignored the presence of Afro-Latinos in Washington Heights and therefore was, after a fashion, guilty of a form of discrimination — i.e., colorism.
I never saw the stage play but a friend of Jordan Ruimy‘s did, and he reports that the film version “cut the plot line about Kevin Rosario, the Puerto Rican dad” — Jimmy Smits in the film — “not wanting his daughter Nina to date Benny” over an ethnic disparity issue. (In the film Nina and Benny are played by Leslie Grace and Corey Hawkins.)
A blunt way of explaining Kevin’s “ethnic disparity” problem is that he doesn’t want his daughter dating a guy who isn’t from their tribe and who doesn’t speak Spanish. A blunter way of putting it is that Kevin may have a problem with his daughter dating a black dude,.
Here’s a portion of the Act 2 play synopsis from Wikipedia’s In The Heights page:
“Nina and Benny spend the night together in Benny’s apartment as Kevin frantically searches for her all night; Benny worries about what Kevin will say about their relationship but is happy to finally be with her (‘Sunrise’). Nina eventually returns home to find her parents worried sick about her, and Kevin grows furious when he learns she was with Benny, disapproving of their relationship due to Benny not being Latino.”
A 6.10.21 Elle piece by Madison Feller discussed several differences between the stage and film versions. Feller didn’t mention Kevin’s problem with Benny in the stage version.
One of my all-time favorite jobs was working as a celebrity-spotter at Cannon Film premieres and after-parties. I had this responsibility was in late ’86 and ’87. I would rank it right below driving for Checker Cab in Boston. It was so easy and so satisfying. All I had to was stand at the door of film premieres and after-parties and make sure that no one of any importance was turned away. Login with Patreon to view this post
21 and 1/2 years ago Ronan O'Casey, an uncredited but pivotal Blowup costar, wrote to Roger Ebert to explain some of the odd particulars behind the shooting of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 London-based classic. Worth reading if you're any kind of Blowup fan. Here's the original Ebert posting: Login with Patreon to view this post
Quentin Tarantino‘s negative opinions about mainstream exhibition, posted earlier today by the Armchair Expert podcast, are, I feel, slightly misplaced.
“Some of these exhibitors who are going, they fucking deserve to go,” Tarantino said. “They have taken all the specialness out of movies anyway. Some of these chains [are] showing commercials all through it, [plus] they don’t turn the lights down [and] everything is stadium seating…plastic shit.”
Whoa, wait…what’s wrong with stadium seating? I hated those old-fashioned, slight-grade theatres in which you’d routinely have to cope with some guy’s big fat head blocking your view.
Tarantino presumably believes, as do I, that movie theatres, at their highest iteration, are churches and cathedrals — places of spiritual communion and emotional uplift. But of course, mainstream movies are no longer in the “touch your soul and persuade viewers to contemplate the deeper, finer or sometimes crazier things in life” business. That idea began to wither and die 10 or 15 years ago. (The death process really began in the ’90s and the rise of guys like Jan De Bont, but we’ll let that go for now.)
Over the last 10 or 15 years theatres have been catering more and more to your low-rent, T-shirt and flip-flop animals who’re mostly into gamer-type action fare — not to your cultivated, somewhat educated cineastes (an all but entombed culture) but to the lowest-common-denominator LexG crowd. Bottom-of-the-barrel types who love F9…bottom feeders, toads, pigs at the trough.
Paul Schrader in November 2018: “There are people who talk about the American cinema of the ‘70s as some halcyon period. It was to a degree but not because there were any more talented filmmakers. There’s probably, in fact, more talented filmmakers today than there was in the ‘70s. What there was in the ‘70s was better audiences.”
Exhibitors have simply tried to adapt to the downscale ball–scratch mongrelization of movie culture.
Tarantino: “They have been writing their own epitaph for a long time, but they assumed the business would take you along. It’s been crazy throughout my career to see how the film experience is lessened for the viewer like every five years. However, I do think boutique cinemas actually will thrive in this time. And I am not talking about the La-Z-Boy, order nachos and margaritas…I actually like the Alamo Drafthouse a lot. But I have a living room, [and sometimes] I want to go to the theater.”
Tarantino is right, however, about exhibitors who never turn the lights down all the way. I really hate that. Movies need to be absorbed in complete darkness.
While chatting earlier today on the Armchair Expert podcast, Quentin Tarantino announced that he’s bought the beloved Vista Theatre — an historic 98-year-old venue between the Los Feliz and Silverlake regions of Los Angeles. The single-screen, 400-seat Vista is easily the most attractively designed and aesthetically pleasing commercial theatre in Los Angeles. It’s a work of art.
I’ve just realized I haven’t been to the Vista since catching a special midnight screening of Jennifer Kent‘s The Babadook on 12.7.14, which included a special introduction by William Friedkin.
With the Vista still shuttered by the pandemic, Tarantino said “we’ll probably open it up around Christmas time.”
HE to QT: Why six months from now? Why not Labor Day, which is eight weeks hence? Theatrical is bouncing back — why wait for six months? Failing that, why not October 1st? What do you need to do to the place improvement-wise? It’s been in reasonably good shape for several years now, no?
Tarantino stressed that like The New Beverly, the Vista will show “only film…it won’t be a revival house…we’ll show new movies that come out where they give us a film print. It’s not going to be like the New Beverly [Cinema]. The New Beverly has its own vibe. The Vista is like a crown jewel kind of thing. We’ll show older films, but it will be like you can hold a four-night engagement.”
What he seems to be saying is that The Vista will present films that will combine the aesthetic of (a) the current Westside Pavillion Landmark, but only if the distributor supplies a 35mm print, and (b) the Nuart, which sometimes will show older films along with European or Xtreme indie fare. Yes, 35mm prints of new films are still being made (or so I hear) but Tarantino knows that distributors are more or less out of the 35mm celluloid business, and that it’s
HE to QT: The New Beverly’s film-only policy is cool on one level, but a dying sentimental fetish on another. It’s fine to insist on a pure-celluloid experience, and being able to show (and savor) a mint-condition print can be wonderful thing. But it can just as easily be a drag. Digital is the way of things now, and there’s something needlessly stubborn about insisting that film is the only way to go.
“I imagined that Marlon Brando’s Bounty might look better than I expected, and so, like a moron, I went there tonight and took a seat in the second row. It looked like dogshit. Dupey, brownish tones, substandard projection lighting (I’d say around 8 foot lamberts, or 6 lower than the ASCAP standard) and nowhere near wide enough. The New Beverly doesn’t even present a true Scope aspect ratio (i.e., 2.35:1). It looked to me like 2.25:1.