The Ankler‘s Tatiana Siegel is reporting that Apple is seriously thinking about “crashing the Oscars” with Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon, if and when it opens in December. World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy has repeated the story sans paywall. If Scott brings the same intense historical realism to Napoleon that be brought to The Last Duel and especially The Duellists, his forthcoming Apple-distributed drama will almost certainly be a keeper.
Nationalist anti-immigrant sentiments have surfaced in several European countries over the last few years, and now Georgia Meloni, a hard-right, anti-immigrant politician whose principal affiliation is with the radical Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia), has been elected Italy’s prime minister.
It is fair to presume that Meloni’s’ victory is mostly about ground-level, Average Joe racism — wanting to protect traditional Italian culture from a feared flooding of the country and the culture by Middle Eastern and northern African immigrants.
The electoral ascension of the hard-right Sweden Democrats represents another cultural convulsion caused by this same concern.
N.Y. Times reporter Steven Erlanger: “European Union leaders are now watching [the Meloni] coalition’s comfortable victory in Italy…with caution and some trepidation, despite reassurances from Ms. Meloni, who would be the first far-right nationalist to govern Italy since Mussolini, that she has moderated her views.
“But it is hard for them to escape a degree of dread. Even given the bloc’s successes in recent years to agree on a groundbreaking pandemic recovery fund and to confront Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the appeal of nationalists and populists remains strong — and is spreading, a potential threat to European ideals and cohesion.”
Some are under an impression that Ti West‘s Pearl (A24, currently playing), the X prequel, is some kind of unusual, imaginative gothic slasher film blah blah. And I’ve been told “you really ought to see this.”
Well, I caught it last night, and shame on the above-described. They need to beg for forgiveness, take their shirts off and beat themselves with birch branches, wash their mouths out with soap.
That goes double for a friend who wrote that “while X is a generic slasher flick, Pearl does flesh out some of the X characters. X is X but Pearl is something completely different. I don’t know if you’ll like it or not, at the very least the cinematography is fairly stunning.”
Allow me to ask a question of the Pearl fan clubbers. The question is “what is wrong with you?”
Pearl is a facile, lazily conceived, sloppily written, incongruent American gothic slasher flick that basically asks “what if Dorothy Gale was an enraged, self-hating, mother-hating, animal-hating, everything-hating fiend who uses a three-pronged pitchfork the way Norman Bates used a kitchen carving knife?”
I know what strikingly handsome, wow-level cinematography shot in a wide-open farming locale looks like. Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler‘s lensing of Days of Heaven is one example. The bucolic farm images of Pearl (shot in New Zealand, pretending to be Texas) are decent but nothing to get too excited about. Bothersome at times…under-lighted, sometimes muddy compositions. It reminded me of the visual palettes of The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit On Your Grave and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Seriously, fuck this movie.
Random jottings during the screening:
(a) “This is low-rent crap…perverse, brainless, derivative psycho Americana“;
(b) “Pearl’s hard-nosed German mother (Tandi Wright) emphasizes that life is hard and they need to struggle to survive, but she refuses a neighbor’s gift of a stuffed pig?”;
(c) “An alligator living in a lake in Texas?”;
(d) “Mia doesn’t like to be stared at by the brown cow”;
(e) “For my money the cinematography is on the muddy and grainy and under-lighted side”;
(f) “Wright’s performance is pretty good”;
(g) “The 1920s silent stag film was diverting”;
(h) “Masturbating with the scarecrow was okay“;
(i) “The allusion to the 1918 pandemic was interesting”;
(j) “Why doesn’t she chop her father’s hands off with an axe and feed them to the alligator? Why doesn’t she feed herself to the alligator?”;
(k) “Stupid crap…wasting my life watching this shit…feed him to the fake gator!”;
(l) “Where does Pearl get the idea that she’s some kind of good singer or dancer? I know she’s delusional but why go to an audition if she doesn’t have some kind of half-reasonable hope that the audition guys will respond to her skill and talent? That said, the World War I chorus girl sequence isn’t bad”;
(m) “Pearl pitchforks the only nice, sensible guy in the whole film because he begins to realize she’s a bit of wacko, which of course she is”;
(n) “I’m soooo glad I never saw X. I’m ecstatic that I missed it.”
(o) “Ti West is an animal…a serious primitive…the polar opposite of a filmmaker like, say, Todd Field.”
At what point can The Woman King, which cost $50M to produce and another significant chunk of change to sell, be considered profitable? Theatrical revenues are, of course, just one aspect of the overall revenue stream these days, and The Woman King hasn’t really opened internationally yet. But right now the worldwide earnings after the second weekend are around $37.5M. Not bad, I guess, but not earthshaking.
The film has nonetheless connected to a decent or moderate degree. Will it end up as a break-even, which is to say earnings of well over $100M (as you do have to add marketing costs)? You tell me.
Right now I would describe The Woman King, all things considered, as a modest, respectable success. That’s fair, no? A friend says that “given its budget and lack of star power, it was never meant to break the bank. But it’s done quite well.” Sure, no arguments, respectable showing.
But this morning I looked at the Woman King audience scores on three aggregate sites — Rotten Tomatoes (99%), Metacritic (2.5%) and IMDB (6.1%). And the evidence seems clear (or strongly indicates) that the Rotten Tomatoes gang has “cooked the books” as far as The Woman King‘s audience score is concerned. With the other two aggregates reporting much lower audience reactions, what are the odds that RT’s 99% score is trustworthy?
Not even Goodfellas, which everyone likes or admires, has managed a 99% audience score.
Three days ago (9.22) Evie‘s Gina Florio took note of this incongruity. Her article is titled “There’s Speculation That The Woman King Audience Score And Reviews On Rotten Tomatoes Are Manufactured.”
Florio links to a Twitter dude named @fatherquads, who believes that a faction within RT is indeed posting fake audience numbers.
“The [RT] profile claims to have 99% audience score, and over 2,500 verified reviews,” he tweets. “The only problem is that [the blurbs are] all short, posted soon after one another, and don’t talk much about the content of the movie, rather how much of a YAS SLAY QWEEN Viola Davis is.”
Friendo: “RT is a totally corrupt and despicable entity that I’ve loathed from day one and never pay the slightest attention to. Their data is mostly meaningless (or so obvious that it tells you zilch). ‘Interpreting’ RT tells you nothing. And who cares what demo The Woman King is appealing to? Who cares what action fanboys think? The fact that black women had an action film to call their own is, I would say, a good thing. I mean, why not?”