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I’ve been intending to point this out for decades, but for some reason I never did. There’s a visual element in a scene from Billy Wilder‘s The Spirit of St. Louis that makes no sense at all. I’m talking about the 90-foot-tall eucalyptus trees at the very end of the Roosevelt Field runaway — the ones that Charles Lindbergh (James Stewart) barely clears once the plane finally lifts off.
The first “hold on”, of course, is “why would any airfield allow huge trees to grow at the very end of a runway?” The second thing, of course, is that there are no eucalyptus trees in Long Island, or in any region that has cold temperatures.
We’re talking, in short, about two suspension-of-disbelief whoppers at the same scene. Wilder or his second-unit director presumably shot the takeoff scene somewhere in Southern California.
This pales alongside the biggest suspension of disbelief whopper of all time, which happened in the original King Kong. 24 words: “If the Skull Island natives built that huge wall to keep Kong out, why’d they make gates big enough for him to get through?”
This observation was first delivered by the late film scholar and archivst Ron Haver on the 1985 Criterion Collection King Kong laser disc, which contained one of the first-ever audio-track commentaries ever put on the market.”
[4:40 mark] “This film, today, is a satisfactory…uh, triumphant film for me, but it’s a smaller audience because documentaries don’t get worldwide attention. We’re selling it very nicely here, in Europe, and we’ll see where it goes. But America will remain a tough market.” — Oliver Stone, director of JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass, speaking to France 24 on 7.13.21.
I know that all the biggies said “no” to Stone and Through The Looking Glass over the last several months, but it really doesn’t figure that some distributor or streaming outfit somewhere wouldn’t want to offer this doc to the U.S. market. Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, History Channel, National Geographic…it doesn’t add up that none would have the slightest interest in putting it out there. Stone and his producers must be asking too much.
Psy-ops (or psychological operations) “are operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”
HE commenter Iceblink (about an hour ago): “I’m really starting to miss the days when Jeff had access to and had actually had seen at least some of these films. Now we’re rewarded with lame Friendo hot takes and the ruminations of one of my least favorite film critics out there. And you want people to pay for this?”
HE to Iceblink: “I didn’t go to Cannes this year…big deal. A lot of people didn’t. It didn’t feel right, money was tight, etc. I see everything I can in a timely fashion, and I’ll be attending Telluride, the coolest festival of them all, in less than six weeks. If you don’t like the column these days, fine. Go where ya wanna go.
“I have a better idea. Let’s reverse our respective roles. Why don’t you try entertaining me? Turn me around, open my mind, excite my blood….c’mon, man. I need some top-grade Iceblink reportage or poetry in my life. Or, you know, maybe you could write one or two things that would knock me out sometime later today. If so, great. But try doing it two days in a row. Try doing it five days in a row. Try doing it every fucking day including weekends. Try doing it 365 days a year.
“And if you can’t manage to dazzle me today or at the end of the week or the end of the month or by the end of the year…I’m not saying it’s not in you because maybe it is…but if you can’t manage it, would you consider doing one thing? Or trying to do one thing? Would you consider putting your phone on a camera mount, aiming it in your direction, turning on the video and…well, use your imagination.”
In yesterday’s paywall-protected riff on Grace Kelly (“Randy Society Girl“), I wrote the following: “Am I allowed to say that Kelly was slutty, or at least that I love the stories that suggest she was? I don’t mean this in a derogatory way — I mean it in the most delicious way imaginable.”
Friendo to HE: “I don’t think you can say that — slutty. You will be roasted for it.”
HE to Friendo: “I didn’t ‘say’ that — I asked if I was allowed to do so. Then I went to some effort to explain that I was using the term in a non-derogatory fashion, in a totally ‘you go girl’ way…from the perspective, in short, of a devout admirer. The difference between randy and slutty barely exists. How about frisky?”
Friendo to HE: “Doesn’t matter. Twitter will say you said slutty. This is the world in which we live.”
HE to Friendo: “If Anais Nin came back from the dead and said the same thing, would she too be roasted?”
A clip from Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s Memoria, which has split the Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize with Nadav Lapid‘s Ahed’s Knee. The film shot in Colombia (presumably in Cartagena) in late 2019.
Tilda Swinton: “I’ve composed a poem. A poem for the sleepless nights. ‘Beyond the pecking and once furious winds, an air gusts at its fading shadow.”
Tilda’s companion: “And…?”
Tilda: “That’s it.”
HE to comment community: I recognize that I occasionally interpret dialogue according to my own perceptions, so if I’ve misheard Tilda’s dialogue, please advise.
Spike Lee’s mostly-female Cannes jury has spoken: “If it’s extreme and provocative and ‘out there’ or in any way mind-bending, give it a big prize. Okay, we don’t have to go 100% extreme but let’s definitely emphasize that…anti-normal, change-driven cultural politics! And if we can give the biggest prize to a woman while letting the monsters in, so much the better.”
And so the Palme d’Or has gone to the most dynamically out-there film of the festival — a midnight movie, some called it — Julia Ducournau‘s Titane. And the guy who orchestrated not one but two singing cunnilingus scenes in a half-hallucinatory, magnificently ludicrous Sparks opera wins the Best Director Prize. And “Joe” Weerasethakul’s Memoria, whom one major critic called “a nearly pitch-perfect parody of an art film,” has tied for the third-place Jury Prize. And the Best Actor prize went to Nitram‘s Caleb Landry Jones and his performance as Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.
While acknowledging that among wiggy creatives and lifestyle provocateurs “the world is becoming more and more fluid,” Ducournau thanked the jury for embracing diversity and “for letting the monsters in.”
Spike’s Jury has second thoughts: “Okay, wait, wait…maybe we should tone things down a bit. Let’s give the Grand Prix to Asghar Farhadi‘s more cerebral, more ground-level, sad but safe-feeling A Hero. Farhadi wins second prize! Oh, wait, some of us don’t agree. Okay, let’s split the Grand Prix between the Farhadi (an Iranian film) and Nadav Lapid‘s Ahed’s Knee (shot in Israel), which feels, according to Deadline‘s Todd McCarthy, “like the work of someone who is flailing around, angry at everything and everyone and unwilling to take a step back and assess his thoughts, feelings and priorities in the interests of good drama.”
Jordan Ruimy: “Titane is certainly a compulsively watchable movie. It’s very hard to be bored by it. Lots of implausibility issues, but a very original creation. Compartment No. 6 is a slightly-above-average train movie.”
Critic who hasn’t seen Titane: “The good news here is that the world now doesn’t have to pretend to take these awards seriously (as it would have if the Farhadi had won). Ducournau’s Raw was a lot better in theory than execution. Is Titane great, or is it another theoretical transgressive feminist button-pusher? My guess is the latter. It’s not like they’ve ever considered giving the Palme d’Or to Gaspar Noe.”
Palme d’Or: Titane
Grand Prix — tie between Asghar Farhadi‘s A Hero and Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6.
Best Director: Annette‘s Leos Carax.
Best Actor: Nitram‘s Caleb Landry Jones.
Best Actress: Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person in the World.
Jury Prize — tie between Nadav Lapid‘s Ahed’s Knee and Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s Memoria.
Best Screenplay: Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car.