I for one believe that Fani Willis did fairly well on the stand yesterday. She came off as a tough, focused and highly principled professional, and as a human being. She and Nathan Wade broke up last August over differences in values and estimations of male-female equality, and while the optics are still crazy and ridiculous from a certain perspective I came away thinking "okay, that happened but was it really so bad that they were fucking each other for a certain period?" Login with Patreon to view this post
You can call Taylor Hackford a director who’s always been more about flash and impact than depth and emotional spirit, but you can’t say he didn’t enjoy a highly impressive breakout period — a five-year run between ’80 and ’84.
The Idolmaker, which I re-watched about half of last night, kicked things off with a dynamic performance from the late Ray Sharkey and a seriously invested stab at recreating that late ’50s, post-Elvis-explosion period when performers like Tommy Sands and Fabian (portrayed in the film as Tommy D. and Ceasare) were big with teenyboppers.
Two years later came An Officer and a Gentleman, a formulaic romance in some respects but strengthend by Richard Gere‘s Zack “Mayonnaise”, the soulful Debra Winger dealing straight cards and touching bottom in every scene, and Louis “D.O.R.” Gossett Jr., who wound up taking that year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
The Hackford run crested with Against All Odds, an Out of the Past remake with Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward, James Woods, Richard Widmark and Alex Karras. Great Sunset Blvd. car chase, great Yucatan peninsula sex scenes, etc. It’s hard to believe that Bridges was once in really great shape.
None of these three (released in ’80, ’82 and ’84) are great or near-great, but they really do score as engrossing midrange edge-seekers…better-than-decent screenplays, dramatic flair, hormonal hunger, rousing energy, zero boredom, etc. And yet two (Idolmaker and Odds) conclude on downbeat, meditative notes.
Hackford’s next six films, released between ’85 and ’00, lacked the dynamic highs of that opening trio but were respectable efforts — White Nights (’85), Everybody’s All-American (’88), Blood In, Blood Out (’93…great title!), Dolores Claiborne (’95), The Devil’s Advocate (’97) and Proof of Life (’00). Then he hit a solid triple with Ray (’04), which resulted in Jamie Foxx winning a Best Actor Oscar (and in the process stealing it from Sideways‘ Paul Giamatti!)
Tran Ahn Hung's The Taste of Things (aka The Pot au Feu) has been near the top of my best-of-2023 list since I first saw it in Cannes last May. (Here's my 5.24.23 review.) Pretty much everyone with a semblance of taste in film and/or food adores it. It's not just endearing but a form of religious rapture by way of a series of loving, nurturing food orgasms. But it's more than just a fine foodie flick. Login with Patreon to view this post
N.Y. Times correspondent Peter Baker, reporting from Munich: “Just hours after her husband was reported dead, Yulia Navalnaya made a dramatic, surprise appearance at a gathering of world leaders in Munich on Friday. Taking the stage, she denounced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and vowed that he and his circle “will be brought to justice.”
“The diplomats and political leaders at the Munich Security Conference were already reeling from reports that her husband, Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian dissident, had died in prison under suspicious circumstances when Ms. Navalny stunned the hall by striding in. Conference organizers quickly wrapped up a session with Vice President Kamala Harris and turned the microphone over to Ms. Navalnaya.
“’We cannot believe Putin and his government,’ Ms. Navalnaya told the audience. ‘They are lying constantly. But if it’s true, I would like Putin and all his staff, everybody around him, his government, his friends, I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our country, with my family and with my husband. They will be brought to justice, and this day will come soon.”
“Ms. Navalnaya spoke clearly and calmly, with remarkable composure, her face etched with evident pain but under complete control. Standing at the lectern, she clasped her hands in front of her and stared straight ahead as if willing herself to focus on her message.
“The audience was captivated and gave her an emotional standing ovation when she finished.”
The N.Y. Times is reporting that Vladimir Putin’s most vocally outspoken and high-profile political foe, the imprisoned but until recently very much alive and relatively young Alexei Navalny, 47, is dead…just like that.
The story is that Navalny, whom Putin henchmen irrefutably poisoned and nearly killed in 2020, suddenly lost consciousness and died after taking a walk inside the Arctic prison compound to which he was transferred late last year.
Navalny was somehow iced by Putin henchman, of course, and it’ll take a long time to prove it, of course, if it can ever be proved at all.
Perhaps Tucker Carlson could be persuaded to return to Russia and launch a no-holds-barred investigation?
It’s been understood for years Putin is a murderer, plain and simple. The Navalny hit is just another notch on his belt. Do I have incontrovertible proof that Navalny died at Putin’s behest? No, I do not. But we all “know.”Navalny had been serving a trumped-up, bullshit 19-year prison sentence on extremism charges. He has been behind bars since he returned from Germany in January 2021, serving time on various charges that he rejected as a politically motivated effort to keep him imprisoned for life.
U.S.-based Putin-fellating righties will sidestep or otherwise ignore this killing, but the same MAGA fanatics who’ve either supported Putin’s Ukraine invasion or have at least lobbied against the U.S. support of the war…this cabal of serpents will not be mourning Navalny’s death with any passion. In my opinion they share a certain degree of responsibility for what has happened to Navalny.I feel so enraged about this, I almost feel sick. If there’s any kind of anti-Putin, pro-Navalny demonstration in NYC this weekend, I’ll be there with bells on. It won’t accomplish a damn thing, of course, but I can feel molten lead in my veins. I’m on fire.
Posted on 1.29.22:
And why an alarming percentage of them, against all concepts of reason and decency, are talking about voting for The Beast. It’s because of this shit.
There isn’t a single line in this essay (“Identity Politics Is Ruining Entertainment“) that isn’t truthful, and yet the Hollywood Elsewhere community of psychotic reality deniers (Castor Oil, etc.) will almost certainly come after this with a hammer and chisel.
Last night I caught Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s Bob Marley: One Love, a biopic of the legendary Jamaican raggae singer‘s last few years (early to late 1970s). It’s somewhere between half-decent and “soft”, as in worshipful, friendly, appealing and mild-mannered. I didn’t hate it but it never really builds or pays off. It focuses on the spirit behind Marley’s music, which is good and welcome, but it mainly just ambles along. It’s a “hang” film.
The main problem is that Marley and the Wailers are all mumble-talking in standard Jamaican-rasta style, mon, and I couldn’t understand very much. Okay, an occasional word or phrase but not much more than that. At first I was thinking “what the fuck are they all saying?” but I soon relaxed into the idea that this is native and real-deal, of course. I sure as shit didn’t want Marley to talk like me or Bill Maher or some middle American dude — I wanted him to sound authentic, and he does as far as his theatrical effort goes. But I’m gonna have to rewatch this thing with subtitles.
Most of the critics won’t mention this, of course. They don’t want to be accused of being xenophobic so they’re all going to pretend they could hear the dialogue perfectly.
Kingsley Ben-Adir‘s performance as Marley is good and genuine. He’s much better looking than Marley ever dreamed of being, and more muscular. Plus he’s prettier than most of his female costars. I would be down with Ben-Adir being hired as the new 007. He’s audience-friendly.
The film deals with Marley’s cancerous big toe but doesn’t dramatize the poor guy’s death at age 36. Marley could have saved himself by amputating the damn toe but he refused. And the film barely glances at his vigorous womanizing. 11 kids! This is typical music superstar behavior, of course. And it doesn’t really drill into the political currents. It’s one of those films that you need to research on your phone after watching it.
Bob Marley: One Love not a top-tier biopic at all, and perhaps not even a second-tier biopic, but it’s moderately okay for the most part. It didn’t try my patience or piss me off or prompt me to cover my face with my hands.
The thing that interested me was the curious genesis of Marley’s Exodus album. Sometime during ’76 one of the Wailers is shown entering Marley’s home with the soundtrack album for Otto Preminger‘s Exodus (’60), composed by Ernest Gold. Somehow this inspires Marley’s Exodus, but why is a 16-year-old vinyl album (initially released in ’60) suddenly of interest to Marley and friends? Plus it’s quite a coincidence that the Gold theme song is used as background music for a bodybuilder show in Bob Rafelson‘s Stay Hungry (’76). Think about it.
Criterion will be releasing a Girlfight Bluray on 5.28.04. Great film, excellent news.
Before the Sundance Film Festival woked itself to death, it was the indie pathfinder and trailblazer — the greatest-ever springboard for American indie cinema. And in my 24 diligent years of covering that January celebration (’95 to ’18), one of the most exciting Sundance premieres was Karyn Kusama‘s Girlfight on 1.22.00.
A great boxing flick, a first-rate relationship drama and the film that launched Michelle Rodriguez, it won the festival’s Grand Jury Prize and the Best Directing Award in dramatic competition. Produced for $1 million, Girlfight‘s distrib rights were bought by Screen Gems for $3 million.
I saw a proud and tough feminist film, and one that could really connect with Latinas and women of color along with indie film fans.
Girlfight opened eight months later (9.29.00) and promptly flopped. Latinas and women of color stayed away in droves. After a five-week run it had tallied a total domestic haul of $1,565,852 plus a lousy $100,176 overseas. I’ve never understood why this happened. I’ll bet that a fair percentage of HE readers never even saw it.
Two days before pre-production was set to begin Girlfight‘s financier backed out, and so producer Maggie Renzi and director John Sayles coughed up the $1 million themselves. Screen Gems acquired the film for $3 million so at least Renzi and Sayles were made whole.
- 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 »