...but it wasn't. Because Amazon decided early on to campaign Small Axe, the Steve McQueen anthology series that began on British TV and which included Mangrove, a brilliant Chicago 7-like courtroom drama, for Emmy awards. This decision was greeted with shock and surprise by award-season handicappers because of the high regard in which Mangrove and Lover's Rock, another portion of Small Axe, were held. Login with Patreon to view this post
The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will fall on Saturday, 9.11.21 -- roughly 8 and 1/2 weeks from now. It'll be treated as a fairly big deal by everyone, I suspect, and by the mainstream media in particular. Documentary tributes, historical assessments, first-hand recollections, etc. Login with Patreon to view this post
Earlier today on Twitter PopCulture.com staff writer Daniel S. Levine (@dsl899) enthused about Criterion’s recently released Bluray of Frank Borzage‘s History Is Made At Night (’37). The film is proudly bannered as a restored 4K digital transfer. Levine called it “great.”
What this Bluray seems to provide, based on frame captures, is another lovingly restored grainstorm experience — a hazy, soft-focused relation of Criterion’s Bluray of The Awful Truth (released on 4.7.18). Borzage’s 1937 film probably looks as good as it ever will on Bluray, agreed, but it’s certainly not the stuff of profound visual transportation. Not in my book, it isn’t.
So I asked Levine what exactly is so “great” about the Criterion Bluray in question. Not only did he decline to reply, but he blocked me.
If I was Levine I would’ve manned up and said something like “this is the most lusciously rendered version of this classic Borzage film ever savored in HD…the heavy-mosquito-swamp atmosphere is not a problem but a beautifully detailed, other-worldly immersion…Jean Arthur, Charles Boyer and Colin Clive covered in hundreds of trillions of micro-mosquitoes…it’s glorious!”
There’s always been a Grand Canyon-sized gulf between the cinematic preferences of press + industry sophistos who attend the Cannes Film Festival vs. the locals and tourists who occasionally attend a festival beach screening.
There’s nothing particularly “wrong” with the latter preferring the simple, oafish, completely free pleasures of F9 outdoors to, say, trying to score tickets to one of the indoor festival screenings, many if not most of which would probably rub your hoi polloi types the wrong way.
Consider nonetheless this report about last night’s F9 screening by Variety‘s Manori Ravindran, and more particularly the last seven words in the opening paragraph: “F9 may not have been the planetary blockbuster anyone expected at Cannes, but amid the randy nuns, self-indulgent musicals and bovine documentaries, it was the planetary blockbuster we needed.”
Remember that Mad magazine bit when the alarmed Lone Ranger shouts “Indians everywhere, Tonto!…we’re surrounded!” and the faintly grinning Tonto says “what you mean ‘we’?”
In the same spirit, HE asks Revindran “what do you mean F9 was what ‘we‘ needed”?
Given the all-but-universal understanding that the Fast & Furious franchise is soul cancer for the chumps and that some of us could be forgiven for assuming that F9 producers are in league with satanic forces, are you, a London-based Variety staffer, saying that you…what, identify with the rabble? Or are you suggesting that F9 is a pleasure to sit through?
Ravindran notes that soon after F9 was unveiled in early June as a high-profile beach freebie, it was “instantly mocked by some who balked at Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto putting the pedal to the metal in highbrow Cannes.
“But come Monday evening, hundreds of people — [mostly] holiday makers — lined up along the Croisette hoping to score a striped deckchair or sandy spot to watch the latest chapter in Universal’s 20-year-old franchise.
“Cannes’ July dates, as opposed to the usual May affair, meant many were at the film festival for the first time in their lives, and rather than struggle to navigate a finicky ticketing system for an auteur movie they might not even like, the familiarity of another Fast and the Furious movie promised an evening of guaranteed thrills.”
HE to Paul Schrader a few minutes ago: “Great news about The Card Counter (Focus, 9.10.21) allegedly going to Venice and Telluride. I don’t know this for a fact, but Jordan Ruimy alleges from Cannes that you spilled the beans during a recent q & a, stating that The Card Counter will in fact be premiering on the Lido and, two or three days later, in the happy hamlet of Telluride.”
Boilerplate synopsis: A gambler called William Tell (Oscar Isaac) attempts to give guidance to a young guy named Virk (Tye Sheridan) who is out for revenge against a mutual enemy (presumably a character named “Major John Gordo”, played by Willem Dafoe). Tiffany Haddish plays a character named “La Linda.” (Do I have this right?)
HE to Focus marketing: The Venice and Telluride debuts are roughly six weeks off — isn’t it time for a trailer? Not to mention the 9.10.21 commercial debut.
Schrader to L.A. Times guy Mark Olsen on 9.11.20: “I don’t want to get too deeply involved in the plot, but what I will say is [that] over the years I’ve kind of developed my own little genre of films. And they usually involve a man alone in a room, wearing a mask, and the mask is his occupation.
“So it could be a taxi driver, a drug dealer, a gigolo, a reverend, whatever. And I take that character and run it alongside a larger problem, personal or social. It could be debilitating loneliness like in Taxi Driver. It could be a midlife crisis [as] in Light Sleeper. It could be an environmental crisis like in First Reformed.
“So now I have a character and he’s in his room, he’s alone. And he has a mask on. And the mask he wears is a professional poker player. And the problem that runs alongside him is that he’s a former torturer for the U.S. government. So it’s a mix of the World Series of Poker and Abu Ghraib.”
Early this morning “Steve Brody” remarked about my umpteenth posting of “A Little Residual Ingmar,” a story about a momentary attraction to Harriet Andersson and a subsequent humiliation from the wicked tongue of Erland Josephson.
“I always admired Josephson as a performer,” Brody said, “[but] this anecdote made me revere him as a human being as well.”
HE response: “Your last line isn’t 100% sincere, but your trademark toxicity is showing. I’ve been around enough actors at parties to know that when some get drunk they become silly or gleeful or morose (i.e., like anyone else). And some turn bloodthirsty. Sober Josephson may have been one thing, but you can always spot a prick when they pick on someone of a lesser status, especially when the victim doesn’t speak the prick’s language.
“Josephson with a buzz-on wasn’t mean — he was sadistic. But then you relate to that, don’t you?”
Full disclosure: During my peak drinking days (early to mid ’90s plus my longish wine-sipping period in the aughts) I was not a happy or silly type after I’d downed two or three — I became snappy and acrid. (Which is precisely what my alcoholic dad used to do.) I didn’t lay into people with a will and a whip, but I would throw stingers. Thank God that part of my life is over and done with.
HE to community, whether you drink or not: What happens when you’ve bent the elbow a bit — do you turn goofy, sentimental, snippy and ascerbic, or wicked and withering?
Hollywood Elsewhere congratulates Alex Castro, Variety‘s vp of video, for the impressive production values (especially the title graphics) that are the best part of “The Take“, a new showbiz chit-chat show (lasting 7:40) that popped on 7.9.21.
The co-hosts are Variety‘s senior correspondent Elizabeth Wagmeister and awards editor Clayton Davis, who completely cemented their woke reps last April when they openly lamented Anthony Hopkins winning the Best Actor Oscar, and, more precisely, the late Chadwick Boseman not taking it instead. Total “hooray for our side” cheerleaders.
The tone and attitude of The Take is completely vapid, of course — a showbiz Live With Regis and Kathy Lee minus the wit. But it feels first-rate, or at the very least looks slick and polished.
I said yesterday that Ever Anderson, the 13 year-old daughter of Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson who plays the young version of Scarlett Johansson‘s Natasha in Black Widow, is the most fetching presence in the film.
I wrote, in fact, that Anderson “has a much more interesting face (indications of emotional complexity, soulful eyes) than Johansson and costar Florence Pugh combined.”
Instead of a “muscular hardcase sisters against their violent pursuers” action thriller, Black Widow would’ve been far more intriguing if Anderson had been made ScarJo’s costar (instead of Pugh), and the story had been some kind of time-warp mother-daughter thing in which ScarJo’s Natasha and her younger self (Anderson) are paired, and the basic dynamic would’ve been been Natasha protecting and schooling her younger self.
Not everyone has “it,” but Anderson definitely does.