Sometime around '82 or '83 legendary film critic Andrew Sarris shared a classic line of despair -- “the bottom has fallen out of badness in movies.” And within that particular pocket of time with the wrong people starting to exert more and more influence in Hollywood, that was a fair (if profoundly depressing) thing to say. Login with Patreon to view this post
The coupling of Aaron Sorkin and Paulina Porizkova has gone south, and “why” is none of my damn business. But I can’t help myself. My guess is that Sorkin, like most writers, needs to live and work in a certain regulated hardcore way, and he’s not the type to drop to his knees and slavishly worship his wife or girlfriend on a daily basis. That or he simply didn’t spend enough money on Porizkova, who almost certainly demands, being an ex-supermodel, a triple-A, bucks-up, nothing-but-the-best lifestyle.
As for Porizkova’s psychology, read (a) Katie Rosman’s 5.15.21 N.Y. Times profile along with (b) Roger Friedman’s 5,15,21 assessment of the article and Porzikiova herself — “There’s no end of weirdness here.”
The thing I noticed about the new trailer for Ridley Scott‘s The Last Duel, which is set in 14th Century France, is that Matt Damon is wearing his hair in a rural-Pennsylvania ’80s mullet style. (I know this suggests that I’m not an especially deep or thoughtful person, but that’s the first thing that hit me.)
The second thing is the subdued color scheme used by dp Dariusz Wolski — grayish and almost monochrome except for evening scenes set near a fireplace, in which case the tones are primarily amber.
The third thing that came to mind is that the “accused rapist who insists he’s innocent” plotline, which is based on historical fact, delivers an echo of sexual harassment and assault in the #MeToo era.
The fourth thing is that El Cid features a similar duel scene that lasts about nine minutes.
There were some recent reports on Reddit about one and possibly two sexual assault scenes that were allegedly difficult for some viewers to sit through, but I don’t want to get into it.
The Last Duel (20th Century, 10.15) costars Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck.
Whoever approved the cover design for the forthcoming Criterion Bluray of Jack Arnold‘s The Incredible Shrinking Man (’57) was telling us in a plain, straightforward way (hello?) that the film is just as much of a penetrating look at the social and psychological issues afflicting mid ’50s suburbanites (mass man complex, creeping conformity, feelings of diminishment) as a sci-fi thriller and a landmark visual-effects film.
Speaking as the son of an advertising man who commuted to Manhattan every morning and often had a drink or two when he returned at 7 pm, Nunnally Johnson and Daryl F. Zanuck‘s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (’56) is one of the finest dramas about ’50s suburbia and the pressures that came with that manner of life.
The Shrinking Man Bluray will pop on 10.19.21
I don’t have narcolepsy, but I can drop off any time, anywhere. It happened yesterday in the midst of a short trip to visit my local mechanic. I was driving east on Melrose when I thought of a mistake I wanted to fix on a recently posted story. So I pulled over and stopped in a legal white parking zone, and started to edit. I felt a slight drooping urge and closed my eyes. 20 minutes later I came to; I was shocked to discover how long I’d been out. The car had been running the whole time with the a.c. on. Weird to wake from a nap you hadn’t really “planned” to take in the first place.
I’ve melted down over certain feelings…moments of vulnerability and regret. Pets who’ve died violently, tragically. The things that most often prompt leakage are usually connected to loss (i.e., cherished deepheart things you can never get back). And sometimes it happens over nothing. I once broke down because I was so physically exhausted.
I know that as far as watching actors succumb to big emotional moments in films is concerned, it’s almost always more affecting when the weeper doesn’t turn on the faucets…when he/she attempts to keep it buttoned and can’t quite manage that. Gladys George‘s big moment in The Best Years of Our Lives…that line of country. Or that feeling you get from certain film scores.
So there’s nothing wrong with weeping or even people who tear up at the slightest provocation. Some of us are built that way…no fault or foul.
But there is a little something “wrong”, due respect, with weeping over superhero and fantasy movies. Certainly from my crusty perspective. This is a generational thing, obviously, but I just can’t understand how anyone could succumb to deep quaking currents over the fate of Yoda or Han Solo (carbon-freeze scene) or Natasha Romanov in Avengers: Endgame. Or Robert Downey‘s big Tony Stark death scene…I was delighted when that smart-ass billionaire finally bought the farm.
A couple of days ago the Canadian government relaxed its tough Covid restrictions on public gatherings, and suddenly the Toronto Film Festival, which
many some distributors had more or less relegated to the “forget it” pile over its (recently modified) mostly streaming policy, was back in the game. But how “back in the game” can an allegedly big-deal festival be with headliners like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dear Evan Hansen?
For the last three or four years the sprawling, industrial-strength, woke-minded TIFF has occupied a third- or fourth-place standing among early fall festivals — the immaculate Venice and Telluride festivals tied for first, followed by the respected New York Film Festival with the frail or at least somewhat lessened TIFF bringing up the rear.
Nothing has really changed in that respect, even with the restrictions lifted and the belief (despite the spreading Delta variant) that the pandemic may be coming to an end. Toronto is an okay fest — it’s fine — but it ain’t what it used to be. It’s no longer a vital thing for people in the press as well many some distributors. Lively, perhaps even urgent but not vital. TIFF has become a “big”, semi-important, second-tier festival.
Is it safe to say that Clifford the Big Red Dog will win the TIFF People’s Choice Award?
So TIFF is Clifford the Red Dog, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Phillip Noyce and Naomi Watts’ Canadian isolation film Lakewood, the North American premiere of Last Night in Soho plus Dear Evan Hansen, an IMAX presentation of Dune and not much else. More titles will be announced, but today was supposed to be a big hoo-hah day.
Clifford, the Big Red Hoo-Hah!
Here’s a partial copy of the Variety rundown (*previously announced) with HE reactions following some titles.
*Belfast, d: Kenneth Branagh | United Kingdom / World Premiere / HE: Directed and written by Branagh, who was raised in Belfast. Set in the ’60s, presumably focusing on “the troubles,” etc.
Clifford the Big Red Dog, d: Walt Becker | USA/United Kingdom/Canada / World Premiere / HE: Forget it.
Dear Evan Hansen, d: Stephen Chbosky | USA / World Premiere / HE: “Is it me or does Dear Evan Hansen radiate an aura of extreme sensitivity and emotional vulnerability? It feels…what’s the term I’m searching for?…kinda snowflakey.”
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, d: Will Sharpe | United Kingdom / Canadian Premiere / HE: British biographical twee, Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Toby Jones…forget it.
Lakewood, d: Phillip Noyce / Synopsis: “A mother (Naomi Watts) desperately races against time to save her child as authorities place her small town on lockdown.” HE: Minimalist thriller, made by a master craftsman.
*Jagged, d: Alison Klayman| USA / World Premiere
*Last Night in Soho. d: Edgar Wright | United Kingdom / North American Premiere (i.e., debuting in Venice) / HE: Edgar Wright is a popcorn genre guy…he’ll never try to climb out of that box.
*The Mad Women’s Ball (Le Bal des folles). d: Mélanie Laurent | France / World Premiere
*Night Raiders, d: Danis Goulet | Canada/New Zealand / North American Premiere
One Second – Zhang Yimou | China / North American Premiere
The Survivor, d: Barry Levinson | USA/Canada/Hungary / World Premiere
Drive My Car, d: Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Japan / North American Premiere
The Eyes of Tammy Faye, d: Michael Showalter | USA / World Premiere (No Venice or Telluride)
*The Guilty, d: Antoine Fuqua | USA / World Premiere
Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades), d: Jacques Audiard | France / North American Premiere
*Petite Maman, d: Céline Sciamma | France / Canadian Premiere
*The Starling, d: Theodore Melfi | USA / World Premiere
One, the first 25 to 30 seconds of this morning’s Blue Origin takeoff delivered first-rate, Ron Howard-level cinematography.
Two, that Blue Origin mission control narrator (a woman) sounded like a breathless cheerleader, the manager of the glee club…we’ve been accustomed to decades of listening to those low-key, just-the-facts NASA narrations from those conservative-sounding guys with Midwestern accents, and then this morning’s realization that Blue Origin isn’t about “facts” but the sell…the enthusiasm! Which was unattractive.
Three, the Blue Origin booster’s return to terra firma and a sound, safe landing is very impressive…for decades and decades NASA boosters have been falling back to earth and crashing into the ocean, but now they’re intact and re-usuable. Way to do it.
And four, it was over too quickly — 10 minutes and 10 seconds.
Presumably we’ll soon be seeing footage of Bezos and the other passengers — Mark Bezos (brother), Oliver Daemen and Mary Wallace Funk — weightlessly floating around the capsule for roughly four minutes.
Just a demo, an advertisement, a thrill ride. Fun and games for the wealthy. Most of us feel that billionaires are obliged to do altruistic things with their wealth. This morning’s flight was on the other end of that spectrum.
“Used to worry ’bout the starving children of India / You know what I say now about the starving children of India? / I say,’ohh mama.'”