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The trailer for Worth (Netflix 9.3) indicates quality — a thoughtful, low-key drama about the experience of Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton), an attorney who was appointed to administrate the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. His task was to decide which amounts certain families of 9/11 victims would be paid as compensation.
Feinberg followed a certain impartial formula (including, I’ve read, a refusal to evaluate individual suffering), some families received less than others, and there was some resentment about this.
The film is based upon a book Feinberg wrote a book about this experience, titled “What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.”
Keaton and Tucci costarred in Spotlight (although they didn’t share any scenes), and one of the Worth producers, Michael Sugar, had a producing credit on Spotlight.
On top of which the film’s screenwriter-producer, Max Borenstein, is best known for writing Godzilla (’14) and Kong: Skull Island (’17), and contributing to the story of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (’19) and Godzilla vs. Kong (’21). How do all these monsters square with compensating the families of 9.11 victims?
Besides Keaton, the cast includes Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Laura Benanti, Talia Balsam, Marc Maron, Chris Tardio and Victor Slezak.
…or will we wait a little bit?
I’m done with my condemnations of Leos Carax‘s Annette (Amazon, 8.6 limited). But I’m wondering if anyone caught it in a theatre last weekend, and what the reactions might have been. I recognize that most will probably wait for the 8.20 streaming date (i.e., a week from this coming Friday).
HE commenter Kristi Coulter (2 days ago): “Did I like it? I don’t know that it’s a like/dislike kind of movie. I’m not at all sorry I saw it; I’ll probably watch it again at some point. But I felt very emotionally distanced from it, and it’s at least twenty minutes too long.
“The NYT review describes Driver’s character as a man who can’t quite see other people as real, not even his own wife and child, but I’m not sure Carax sees her as real, either. She’s basically there to represent an idea of feminine goodness and warmth and there’s only so much Cotillard can do with that. And is it asking for too much realism to wish the movie had convinced me these two characters would ever have a first date, let alone get married?
“As for the ‘morally repellent’ question: well, Driver’s character certainly is morally repellent — and highly unpleasant to watch, too –but I didn’t find the movie itself morally repellent. Honestly, I think it would have to be more committed to a set of values beyond its own style for me to get worked up one way or the other over questions of morality.”
Just under a month ago I bought a Kindle copy of Michael Wolff‘s “Landslide.” And in the pre-opening chapter (“Introduction”) I was struck by four well-honed paragraphs that seemed to sum up Trump’s mystique with unusual clarity — one of the most concise descriptions of that blustery, bullshitty thing that he’s done all along.
Three days ago, the N.Y. Times posted a story by Nicole Hong titled “Inside One Company’s Struggle to Get All Its Employees Vaccinated.” The subhead reads, “At an optical business in New York City, it took months of coaxing, a cash bonus and a weekly testing mandate to persuade 90 percent of the staff to get a coronavirus vaccine.”
Every third or fourth paragraph is infuriating. Here’s a taste:
“John Bonizio, 63, the owner of Metro Optics, was ecstatic when he learned in January that optometrists and their staff members would be among the first groups eligible for the vaccine. During the chaotic early days of the rollout, Mr. Bonizio found a hospital with plenty of vaccine appointments available and offered to schedule them for every employee.
“About half of the staff members rushed to get a shot. But because his employees interact with dozens of patients and customers each day, he wanted everyone to be vaccinated. When he called the employees to ask why they were hesitant, their answers foreshadowed the resistance that would unfold in the coming months around the country.
“Some people said they did not trust the government, citing false conspiracy theories that the vaccines contained tracking microchips planted by the authorities. Others noted that the vaccines had not yet been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration and worried that getting vaccinated would interfere with their ability to have children. (Scientists have said there is no evidence that the vaccines affect fertility or pregnancy.)
“One employee said she was concerned because she thought a vaccine had caused the characters in the film I Am Legend to turn into zombies. People opposed to vaccines have circulated that claim about the movie’s plot widely on social media. But the plague that turned people into zombies in the movie was caused by a genetically reprogrammed virus, not by a vaccine.
“Talking to employees about the misinformation they saw spreading on social media was like walking on eggshells, said Brett Schumacher, 38, the company’s general manager. Trying to persuade a skeptical co-worker to trust the government and health officials in the middle of the workday can be awkward.
“’We do have one person who is just anti-vax, period,’ Mr. Schumacher said. ‘I didn’t get into the full reasons behind it because that kind of stuff just makes my blood boil.'”
Hong spoke to a Metro Optics employee named Tiara Felix, who said she’ll leave her job if faced with a vaccine mandate. “There’s no choice,” Felix told Hong. “I’ll have to quit.”
In short, Tiara Felix is rather stupid. There’s no other term for it, and there’s no known cure.
Variety‘s Adam Vary to The Suicide Squad director James Gunn: “With Peacemaker and The Suicide Squad both on HBO Max, you’re right at the heart of the massive changes the industry is going through with the rise of streaming. People don’t even quite know what a movie is anymore, or where they’re going to get exhibited. How do you see yourself fitting into all that moving forward?”
Gunn to Vary [following “long pause”]: “I don’t really care that much. I really just care about whatever the project is in front of me. The Suicide Squad is made to be seen first and foremost on a big screen [but] I think it’s gonna work just fine on television.
“Listen, movies don’t last because they’re seen on the big screen. Movies last because they’re seen on television. Jaws isn’t still a classic because people are watching it in theaters. I’ve never seen Jaws in a movie theater. It’s one of my favorite movies.
“I…don’t want the theatrical experience to die. I don’t know if that is possible, but we also don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ve still got COVID, because people won’t get vaccinated, which, you know, they should. Hopefully — hopefully — that will not be a big deal to us in a year. And if that’s the case, what’s going to happen? We don’t know. Nobody knows.
“I care, because I would rather have people be able to go to the movies. But also, if they don’t, I’m not going to go slit my wrists. I don’t care that much. [Laughs]”
Hollywood Elsewhere feels the same way, after a fashion. I don’t want big-time movie exhibition to die, but when I think of the theatres that I really care about, I think of the Landmark chain and what the Arclight chain used to be, and of course the special theatres in Telluride and Cannes. Because I basically hate the gladiator movies that are occupying and dominating the magaplex stadiums these days. You go to these places to get thrashed and pounded.
Which is why it felt so weird to watch Stillwater at the AMC Century City recently. I was muttering to myself, “Jeez, I’m watching a carefully measured, character-driven adult drama inside theatre #9, which almost exclusively shows animal-level, wham-splat ear and eye–pounders…odd feeling. Hey, where’s Amanda Knox?”
Gunn is right, of course, about certain well-reviewed movies and various classics of the past enduring via streaming platforms. Streaming is obviously how all great movies are being kept alive these days, as well as providing a platform for fresh discovery.
Yes, the exhibition industry has been losing steam for a few years now, in part because theatres have become a digital ghetto for noisy, high-impact, lowest-common-denominator fare.
But until late ’19, exhibition was still the primary place where all movies began. Theatres were the primary default launch pad. Big-screen exposure and promotion established their presence and cultural impact. Theatres mattered less, but they still mattered.
I’m somewhere between depressed and horrified by the idea of a movie realm without theatres. And not just my kind of theatres. As much as I despise the gladiator experience, I want it to survive, ironically, in order to keep exhibition going in general.
In short, I might care about theatres more than James Gunn does. Unless I’m misunderstanding him.
Three days ago (8.5) the Gotham Awards announced that their acting awards will be (a) gender neutral and (b) will focus on lead and supporting — i.e., one in each category. I suggested that it would be fairer to male and female actors if they would hand out four such awards — two lead, two supporting.
On Friday, 8.6, I came upon a hill.com report along similar lines. The headline read that that “AMA doctors, experts recommend removing sex designation from birth certificates,” adding that “the move would protect against discrimination based on sex.”
Yesterday (8.7) Indiewire‘s Ben Travers and Libby Hill posted a discussion in which they called for other award-giving organizations (Oscars, Emmys) to also adopt a gender-neutral mindset.
Why exactly? The idea, apparently, is to make acting categories less discriminatory as far as transgender and non-binary-identifying actors are concerned.
The fourteenth paragraph in the Indiewire article, written by Hill, reads as follows: “As our collective understanding of identity grows, more and more individuals are opening up about their own relationships with gender and identity. This year’s crop of Emmy nominees featured Mj Rodriguez, who became the first openly transgender performer to be nominated in a lead acting category for her work on FX’s Pose, as well as several openly non-binary performers, including Emma Corrin, nominated in lead actress in a drama series for their work on Netflix’s The Crown and Carl Clemons-Hopkins, nominated in supporting actor in a comedy series for their performance on HBO Max’s Hacks.”
Journalists are encouraged to avoid stating what I’m about to state, but outside of your elite big-city woke communities there are tens of millions of people who feel — perhaps unfairly, perhaps incorrectly — that there are certain indisputable, day-to-day, biological distinctions that line up with conventional notions about males and females, and that such men and women, which is to say those who are comfortable with their gender and who identify as binary (including L, G & Bs) constitute over 99% of the population.
That’s not to deny or ignore the rights of transgender and non-binary persons, but to offer a sense of proportion and perspective.
Many people who live outside the Kingdom of Woke earnestly believe that last April’s Steven Soderbergh Oscar show was irksome and bizarre and bore little if any resemblance to the Oscar telecasts of yore, and in fact seemed to exist on a whole different planet. These same Average Joes will almost certainly regard the shedding of male and female acting categories as curious, and the bulk of these head-scratchers will probably call such a decision deranged.
Due respect to transgender and non-binary actors, but the vast majority of the country thinks that wokeness is a form of detached thinking and wackazoid progressivism, and if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants to double down on the Steven Soderbergh effect, they should definitely adopt gender-neutral acting awards.
Please tell me what I’m missing here. I’m not trying to be dismissive or an obstructionist of some kind. It’s just that I seriously feel that progressive elites have lost their bearings.