...is whether or not WBHE's Casablanca 4K Bluray (11.8) will resemble my all-time-favorite version, which is the slightly DNR-ed 2008 Bluray. If it has that clean and velvety look, fine. If it doesn't and instead resembles the unfortunate 70th anniversary 2012 Bluray, which is crawling with billions and billions of digital mosquitoes, I will (a) be unhappy and (b) do what I can to spread the word. Login with Patreon to view this post
Oscar Expert (singular) stands for identical twins who are 24 or 25, and for my money they’re fairly sharp and articulate as far as their age and experience has taken them. (I still haven’t determined their actual names.) What’s interesting is that they’re simultaneously obsequious and ambivalent about The Fabelmans. Just listen.
Blend the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic Beer Run scores and you’ve got a bracing 35%! You know what this does? It prepares people for a piece of shit, but when they go to see it and realize it’s nowhere near as bad as these scores suggest (just ask Kate Erbland!), they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Now that we’re all up to speed on presentism, or the current industry-wide requirement that all historical films need to reflect present-tense diversity standards and enlightened present-tense attitudes, we can more readily understand why Green Book was so viciously attacked almost exactly four years ago.
Peter Farrelly‘s film was bludgeoned by wokesters because it adhered to the realm of 1962 rather than 2018. It told the story (i.e., a tour of the Deep South by African-American pianist Don Shirley and Italian-American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga) according to the standards and mindsets of the Kennedy era.
In the eyes of Bob Straus and the Green Book condemnation squad, thus was the one unforgivable sin.
Casting presentism: “For the last four or five years Hollywood progressives have also insisted that all historical films have to adopt the practice of presentism in terms of casting. That means that all casts have to reflect social values as they should be in terms of inclusion and representation rather than how they actually may have been during the time of the story.”
The woke Stalinist critics who did everything in their power to take down Farrelly’s Green Book four years ago have come out guns blazing against Beer Run, partly to punish Peter for winning the Best Picture Oscar despite their best efforts to prevent that from happening,
They also don’t care for the meathead mentality of Zac Efron‘s “Chickie” (Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman is calling him “the beer whisperer“) and his stupid plan to give his ‘Nam-serving buddies a beer hug.
Well, from what I’m gathering from the reviews, the film doesn’t seem to admire Chickie all that much either. Certainly not by the end of the film. Because he’s a changed, beaten-down man by then.
The arc seems to be “naive patriotic idiot goes to Vietnam to show love to buddies stuck in the war machine, and gradually learns what an absolute horror the Vietnam War is and what a ludicrous and lethal lie the Pentagon is selling.” So he finally comes to see, through hard experience, what his war-protesting sister was on about in Act One.
And guys like Raven Brunner #TIFF22, who said last night that The Greatest Beer Run Ever “is SPECTACULAR…a topical story set to the Vietnam War that addresses the conflict between news media & the public, & the casualties of war. Zac Efron charms as Chickie who navigates the war zone with optimism & a gag mission. #TIFF22 pic.twitter.com/61itIX5xWM
The Beer Run team was never going to get the elite critics to like this film, not with the Green Book history. Posted on 8.17.22: “A film about a New York working-class paleface with a meathead accent travelling thousands of miles to bring beer to his Vietnam War-serving bruhs in ’67 and ’68 is going to be attacked six ways from Sunday…too white, too apolitical and not guilty enough for starters.”
But something is telling me that Joe and Jane Popcorn may take a shine to it. Maybe.
Hammond: “This is the rare Vietnam film seen from the POV of a civilian, a key reason it works as well as it does.”
Late last night I streamed B.J.Novak‘s Vengeance (for $20 bills!) and was seriously, genuinely impressed. How the hell did the Blumhouse animals get involved with this? It’s way, way above their usual crude-horror level. And at the same time it’s a Focus Features release, and I was asking myself “what the hell happened with the marketing on this thing?” I’d barely heard of it until Sasha Stone urged me to see it yesterday afternoon.
The Texas-based Vengeance is VERY sharp and savvy, and at the same time one of those rare films with the capacity to settle down and “listen to the grass grow” (a line from Hud, another rural Texas drama) and even feel a semblance of generosity and human compassion for the lives and values of red-state primitives, which is to say folks who aren’t so appalling once you get to know them. Come to think of it I don’t just mean the Texas rurals but also Novak’s “Ben Manalowitz”, whom we also get to know in ways we don’t see coming.
This semi-dweeby 30something who’s played by the star (as well as the director and screenwriter) is a bright, low-key, entirely rational Brooklyn horndog type, way ahead of himself in some ways and at the same time on the emotionally stunted side, and what he experiences in Vengeance is part Brigadoon, part Local Hero and part…well, not quite The Long Goodbye but something that certainly flirts with that realm.
My initial assessment was to call Vengeance a culture-clash dramedy — an extremely social-media-attuned Brooklyn hipster & writer/podcaster & hook-up artist vs. more-than-initially meets-the-eye, family-anchored rurals in Bumblefuck, Texas.
Except it’s not really a “dramedy.” The satirical humor is so dry and under-stated and nuanced and even drill-bitty at times, punctuated as it occasionally is by curiously wise reflections about liberal social media perceptions and ways of living and relating that one could describe as empty or at least lacking in a smartphone-oriented sense vs. under-educated, trailer-park Whataburger Texas primitives, and delivered with a near-total absence of conventional schtick that I didn’t know where to put it.
But I knew for sure that I was watching something real and refreshing. Plus it conveys a learning curve and emotional growth on Novak’s part. And it gives Ashton Kutcher his best-written, most quietly charismatic role ever.
The problem comes at the very end when Novak delivers a surprise ending that was seemingly stolen from, as mentioned, Robert Altman‘s The Long Goodbye, and I’m telling you that it really, REALLY doesn’t work, even though Novak declares early on that he’s not a Texas-styled vengeance type of guy, which is a set-up for an ironic finale. Ben Manalowitz isn’t Shane or Charles Bronson in Death Wish, and there’s no way a guy like this will suddenly morph into an angel of moral justice…no way in hell. I would go so far as to call what I’m half-describing as a train-wreck ending, although Novak manages it throw in a few grace notes after the big surprise. There were four or five ways to go at the very end, and Novak chose the absolute worst option.
That aside (and it’s only a short bit at the very end), Vengeance is WELL worth seeing and thinking about the next day, I’m actually considering giving it a re-watch later this week. There’s no question that Vengeance, which sounds like a primitive actioner in the Mel Gibson mode, is a completely shitty title considering what it’s actually about. Whoever said “wait, let’s call it Vengeance!” should be put into a paddock for seven days and be made to suffer the ridicule of being hit with tomatoes and rotten bananas. Okay, that might be too harsh. But they should at least go on an apology tour and try to explain what their thinking was.
One small thing: Within the Texas family that Ben Manalowitz spends a fair amount of time with is a foxy airhead-y teenage blonde, played by Dove Cameron. Her character, “Kansas City Shaw”, just wants to be “famous”, she says, and for a while you’re thinking “okay, where’s this going to go?” Is she going to hit on Ben in hopes of his inviting her to visit Brooklyn? (She delivers a line early on that alludes to oral predilection.) Is she going to post Instagram videos of herself interacting with Ben or something? But nothing happens. We all like hot blondies but Novak drops her like a bad habit. There’s a second-act family feast scene at Whataburger, and we can see the back of Cameron’s blonde head, but Novak doesn’t give her a line or even a quick insert close-up. She’s part of the family but has been, in a manner of speaking, erased. A curious call.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »