I don’t care what these Cinemacon guys are saying — Robert Eggers‘ The Northman (out in the spring of ’22) is a 10th Century Viking revenge saga, and is sure to be intense in the usual Eggers way. But as far as I can discern it’s not some bloody-ass, tons-of-blood, piles-of-bodies Braveheart deal. It’s about a Nordic prince looking to avenge his father’s death, yes, okay, but calm down, will ya?
Last night or early today critic Guy Lodge posted a dry little remark on Twitter, which is that he’s “scared to have an opinion on Ted Lasso so safest just to keep not watching it.”
What caught my attention had nothing to do with Ted Lasso but what Lodge was unintentionally alluding to. By casually confessing in a subdued offhand way that he was scared to post a potentially unpopular opinion, Lodge was acknowledging in a roundabout fashion that “scared” is a slight thing.
He wasn’t saying that he’s scared of the woke-terror mob or that this is something he contends with from time to time, but that it might be, heh-heh.
So yes, Guy was “joking”, but there’s nothing more revealing about human nature than a joke.
Jokes are never just about “hah-hah” — deep down they’re always about fear, poking exposed nerves, humiliation and rage. They’re about “uh-oh” or “I actually despise myself at times” or “this is rather terrifying” or “dear God, save me from the firing squad.”
Being a serious critic and top-tier Variety stringer, Lodge would never admit that there are times when he’s afraid to post a dicey or nervy opinion. “Scared” is not a word that critics are allowed to have in their vocabulary or their psyche. But the fact that Lodge faintly chuckled about it tells you everything.
Critics are all about craft and personal cred — their writing skills, seasoned insights, industry knowledge and straight-from-the-shoulder judgments.
It follows that no serious critic will ever admit to being afraid to convey the “wrong” viewpoint, or to vaguely allude to something that they shouldn’t vaguely allude to. At the same time they all know what not to say, and they’re very, very careful not to trip any wires or step on any land mines.
The bottom line is that they’re all vaguely terrified these days of the woke comintern. Just look at what happened to poor Dennis Harvey — say the wrong thing or say it the wrong way, and your employer might throw you under the bus in order to curry favor with this or that big-name actress who was unhappy with a sentence or two.
Critics aren’t stupid. Every time they write a review it’s like walking on a tightwire and knowing full well that all it takes is one wrong phrase or one inelegant clause or parenthetical and they’ll soon be dodging sniper fire and even possibly be out of a job.
The promotional campaign for FX’s forthcoming Impeachment: American Crime Story (9.7, ten episodes), which focuses on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and is co-produced by Lewinsky, is heating up.
I’ve tapped out two or three riffs on the series. All that’s left is to watch it and decide what’s what.
There’s never been much doubt about Clinton’s in-office behavior and character in the ’80s and ’90s. In his hormonal heyday he was a total hound. And I think we all understand that the series will almost certainly get out the wooden paddle and leave serious welts. Apart from telling a good story and possibly delivering strong performances, the basic idea or goal appears to be punitive.
If on the other hand the series appears to be dealing straight cards without an agenda, I’ll be among the first to stand up and say that.
Does Clinton deserve to be slapped around by a docudrama that seems to have been informed by a prosecutorial #MeToo perspective? Well, he certainly made his own bed during his Arkansas governorship (’79 to ’81, ’83 to ’92) and his two terms as U.S. President (’93 to ’01), and now this particular chicken (based on Jeffrey Toobin’s “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President“) has come home to roost.
A fair portrayal of this sordid saga would certainly own up to the fact that it usually takes two to tango in these situations, but I suspect (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that the series is going to contend that it takes one — a powerful manipulator with the ability to persuade less powerful persons to give him what he wants.
I’ve suspected from the get-go that the film is going to portray Lewinsky as a gullible and vulnerable innocent who was emotionally exploited and manipulated in this situation, when in fact she seems to have gone for it big-time because she knew (or certainly had reason to presume) she would get something out of the relationship.
In March 2019 Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair that she considered the Clinton affair to have been “a gross abuse of power”, adding that Clinton “was my boss…he was the most powerful man on the planet”.
I’m peering into a crystal ball and flash-forwarding to a theatrical showing of Steven Spielberg‘s The Fablemans, which began shooting last month.
I’m sitting in my favorite front-row seat and watching a solo scene with Gabriel LaBelle, whose “Sammy” character is based on the mid-teenaged Spielberg, a fledgling, naturally gifted filmmaker living with his family in early ’60s Arizona.
As Sammy enters his bedroom we see hazy, grayish milky streams of Arizona sunlight pouring through the partially curtained windows. And I’m thinking, “Wait a minute, this seems familiar.”
I can’t put my finger on it but I’ve seen several films with interior scenes that resemble this one.
I know that as a devoted filmgoer my life would seem…well, not “impossibly empty” but certainly diminished without grayish, alien-spaceship milky sunlight streaming through windows in the films that I see. I’ve adored this kind of cinematography for so many years. I loved it in Lincoln and I’ll love it next year when The Fablemans opens.
Thank God for small favors — at least The Fablemans isn’t being shot by Bradford Young.
Yesterday World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy reported that Joe Wright‘s Cyrano (UA Releasing, 12.25), an adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s Goodspeed Opera House slash Terris Theatre production in 2018, will be at Telluride next week.
As he did onstage, the great Peter Dinklage will play the lead, except in this version (as in the 2018 musical play) Cyrano’s romantic handicap is not a big nose but dwarfism.
The musically-augmented feature costars Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn, Brian Tyree Henry and Kelvin Harrison Jr.
I have no dog in this. I’m just repeating what J.R. seems to believe and going “okay, fine, whatever.” JR says it’s been “half-assedly” confirmed by a person associated with the film, so I guess what I’m doing is half-assedly passing along the news. I’ve seen a text message from this source that agrees with and/or doesn’t deny the news.
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel Charles-and-Diana’ed out? Season #4 of The Crown (which I found rather good) has taken us through the whole, drawn-out decline of their relationship saga, chapter and verse. And now we have to endure Jackie, Part 2 — a feature-length study of Too-Short Diana’s emotional and psychological strain during a royal weekend in the country in which the decision to divorce is finalized. I don’t feel the fascination.