After the Academy Museum I dropped by the Farmers’ Market. Within five minutes I was ordering a cup of Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream at Local Ice (formerly Gill’s ice cream stand, which opened in ’37). Four younger women (early 20s) were behind the counter. I was holding an Academy Museum brochure and placed it on the counter as I waited.
One of the women (a pretty brunette) beamed when she saw the brochure, and leaned forward slightly and said, “So what did you think of the museum?”
For three or four seconds I wondered if I should just say “oh, I really loved it…very handsome, beautiful displays” and so on. But of course the HE thing won out.
“Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag because it’s pretty woke,” I said, shrugging my shoulders and trying to softpedal my words. “It’s basically a huge apology museum,” I continued. “An apology for white males having run the film industry for 100 years. It’s basically a celebration of the inclusion moves made over the last few years on the part of non-white people and women are concerned, and it’s basically bullshit.”
When I said the word “women” the 20something brunette slightly twitched. She was apparently trying to suppress her discomfort that this older customer with red-tinted glasses seemed to be vaguely irked by the museum celebrating the progress of persons like herself. (Which I wasn’t conveying at all.) Plus her eyes had begun to harden. She wasn’t about to get into an argument with a customer but she clearly wanted to hear how wonderful and cleansing the museum was, and she didn’t want to hear my anti-wokey.
“I can see you don’t want to hear my impression of the place,” I said, “but I know a lot about this town and I’ve been a movie journalist for a long time, and the museum is not about Hollywood history or culture as it was defined for a century or less. It’s strictly about what guilty liberals are doing to make things better for women and people of color.”
She smiled and said “I’m fine…just listening.” But her eyes twitched again when I said “women” for the second time.
“Nobody’s saying that women gaining more power and opportunity in the industry isn’t a welcome thing,” I explained. “But this and the secular histories of women and POCs and the Hayao Miyazaki exhibit on the third floor…that’s all the museum is about really. And that’s a very small slice of Hollywood history and culture.”
I would love to hear a recording of the women discussing my comments after I left. Publicity and marketing women who think like the ice-cream brunette have killed my life.
I visited the Academy Museum yesterday. Due respect but after 100 minutes of wandering around I felt that the $25 entrance fee was too high. It’s an impressive collection of exhibits that tell a certain kind of film history, but I felt slightly burned. The phrase I muttered two or three times was “this…this is it?”
For this is a huge, four-story, super-expensive apology installation. In room after room and in display after display, the museum says the following: “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is very, very sorry that white men ran the film industry for 100 years straight, and there are doubtless too many white men running things now, but at least things are changing now for the better — women, Black artists, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other POCs are making significant inroads, and we the Academy are proudly standing beside them and doing what we can to give them more power and say-so.
“So again, please understand our profound sorrow about how Hollywood’s film industry was run between 1915 and 2015, but the Academy is helping to make things right. Onward, progressive soldiers!”
I was especially entertained by two apology statements that are mounted on walls next to the “Backdrop An Invisible Art” exhibit. It partially salutes the huge Mount Rushmore painting used in Alfred Hitchcock‘s North by Northwest (’59) but mostly condemns it, or at least condemns the U.S. government for betraying the Lakota by allowing Mount Rushmore to be carved into a mountain in virgin Lakota territory, and by association condemns North by Northwest.
You’re given the distinct idea that North by Northwest is kind of an evil film, and that it might be better if Hitchcock, Ernest Lehman, Cary Grant and others involved were to be cancelled posthumously.
The best part of the museum is the viewing platform atop the rounded Death Star portion — the view of central Los Angeles is spellbinding. Otherwise you can have it.
Yesterday Jason Reitman‘s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony, 11.19) was screened at New York Comic Con. Naturally the fanboy tweeters and reviewers love it. In line with this, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheri Linden has posted a favorable sounding review, running 15 paragraphs.
Seasoned reviewers who want to be briefly candid but don’t want the candid stuff to color the tone of their review rely on a standard ruse, which is to insert an honest paragraph somewhere around the two-thirds mark. This is exactly what Linden has done. Consider the content of paragraph #11:
“The logic here doesn’t bear the slightest scrutiny“? “The supernatural stakes never feel high,” and “the fate of the world never seems in the balance”? “The hauntings [are] neither eerie nor frightening, but a weird mix of pseudoscience, nonsense and f/x overkill“?
Linden knew what she was doing. Her review started out in a very positive, close-to-euphoric vein, and was thus likely to placate most readers. And then in paragraph #11…truth bombs!
Critics just starting out should take note — this is how to be honest and “political” at the same time.
I won’t precisely say what happens at the end of No Time To Die, but it happens for two reasons — partly a dramatic one (which I respect within the realm of the plotting, James Bond‘s character arc, the emotional payoff and whatnot) but mostly for a political one.
The latter is about the producers’ belief that the curtain had to come down on Bond because his studly, smugly sexist, martini-sipping, tuxedo-wearing attitude had become an anachronism, and that this mid 20th Century character had to relinquish the reins in the woke era. Sooner or later all tropes become old hat and need to be retired. We all get that, except that this mid 20th Century character began to relinquish the sexist reins 25 years ago, and for the most part did relinguish them 15 years ago.
For that Bondian current of studly sexism is, in fact, a decades-old cliche — pretty much confined to the Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore periods and pretty much brought to a close during the Pierce Brosnan era, and more or less absent during the time of Daniel Craig (’05 to ’21 — Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre and No Time to Die).
And the wokesters don’t care — the Bond “thing” had to be symbolically terminated all the same.
Critics won’t say it was a political call, but it was — the last 40 minutes work dramatically on their own terms, as noted (and some will shed tears), but the finale was primarily implemented to satisfy “them.” Don’t kid yourself, and don’t let anyone blow smoke about this.
Excerpt from Matt Belloni‘s latest “What I’ve Heard”…
Is it really possible that a majority of voters will vote to put a deranged rightwing dog from hell…a bloated, fact-averse psychopath back in the White House in ’24? Even if Trump doesn’t win the popular vote, we know he’ll claim victory regardless, and then the same bullshit strategy — challenging vote totals, claiming fraud, “our country is being stolen” etc. — will kick in.
Except this time there will be fewer Brad Raffensberger types left to say no to Trump when he asks them to invalidate this or that state’s vote count. Right now and on a state-by-state basis, Trump is doing everything he can to fix things so that a ’24 Trump coup will succeed. There’s no disputing that. It’s going to happen.