Others May Laugh But I’ll Probably Just Sit In Respectful Silence

A producer friend went to the premiere of Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy‘s The Boss (Universal, 4.8) last Monday night in Westwood: “Very physical comedy. McCarthy is hilarious. One-woman show. They go over the top in a knock-down, drag-out brawl in the street between two girl scout troops, but you can’t help but laugh at the audacity. Audience laughed all the way through. A big hit.” Once again HE is offering respect to the newly-svelte McCarthy for her weight loss — still chubby and funny but no longer a Jabba. Hats off.

Manhattan Will Be An Underwater Theme Park Sooner Than Previously Expected

The headline of a 3.31 New York article by Jonathan Chait flat-out says that Republican intransigence about climate change (a significant percentage of Republican legislators and voters are still in denial mode and/or downplaying the data as much as possible) will trigger a “worldwide catastrophe” if these monkeys continue to be put in positions of responsibility by voters. And God forbid that a Republican denialist or proscrastinator (i.e., another Dubya) gets into the White House.

Chait’s piece leans heavily on a 3.30 N.Y. Times story by Justin Gillis (“Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly“) which contains the following, as summarized by Chait:

“In reality, the Manhattan-as-underwater-theme-park scenario remains very much in play. The latest modeling projects a sea rise of five to six feet by the end of the century, with a sea-level rise of a foot per decade after that.”

Somehow this new data hadn’t quite gotten through to me. It basically means that the East River and the Hudson will have begun to seep onto Manhattan streets by the time Jett’s grandchildren (he’s getting married next year) have reached their 30s, and certainly by the time his great-grandchildren are running around.

A September 2013 article by National Geographic‘s Tim Folder (“Rising Seas”) stated that in 2006 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted a maximum of 23 inches of sea-level rise by the end of this century. (more…)

Movies You’ve Not Only Missed But Will Never, Ever See

I’ve said many times that any and all Asian martial-arts films (past, present, future) are anathema to me, and that I will never, ever sit through another one. There are few things in life that I am more resolute about. I’m also determined to never, ever see (a) Arthur Hiller‘s 1972 adaptation of Man of La Mancha with a singing-dubbed Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren (yeccch), (b) Peter Hunt‘s 1776, the 1972 adaptation of the 1969 Broadway musical that costarred William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, John Cullum, Ken Howard and Blythe Danner (uggh); (c) Ken HughesChitty-Chitty Bang Bang (overly precious from a distance), (d) Richard Fleischer’s Dr. Doolittle (’67) with Rex Harrison, and (e) Blake Edwards’ Darling Lili (’70) with Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson. I am in a state of absolutely serene acceptance about never seeing these five, and I’m fairly sure I could easily think of another 40 or 50 if you give me an hour or so.

Please list your never-see-’ems with parenthetical explanations if you care to share.

If Oliver Stone and Sarah Silverman Are Against You…

From Oliver Stone’s 3.30 Huffpost essay in support of Bernie Sanders: “I’ve been in deep despair these last few months about our political landscape. [Because] it’s clear that the die is cast and that Hillary Clinton will win — that is, if you believe in numbers and materialism. But I don’t, not completely.

“[We] need to read to understand how difficult a situation we’ll be in if we continue with a harder-line version of Obama. Clinton has effectively closed the door on peace, blasting both the Palestinian peace process and the Russians in the same week. NATO is her god — the best thing the ‘exceptional’ U.S. has to export in this new ‘American Century.’

“But who set this policy and who controls this country? Clinton’s point of view is steeped in the traditional post-World War II, Atlanticist, NATO-domination of the universe. It’s set in stone. No president it seems, no democratic vote, no dissenting media can alter this. We’re going to be in border, resource, and forever wars for the next 10, 20, 100 years, until Trump (whom our shadow government will never allow to exercise power) actually said, in his straight way of talking, ‘our cities go bust.’

“Our media has been drained and made callous by war, increasingly sensationalized by TV, looking for the next high in the next headline, the more outrageous the better. Modesty in American politics is dead — it’s better to be sensational. (more…)

Realm of Hell

Yesterday morning I was almost convinced that my agonizing sound-synch issues had been solved by using an HDMI cord to connect my Sony sound bar to the ARC (Audio Return Channel) option instead of a standard cable connecting the Digital Audio Output (located at the rear of any high-def TV) to the sound bar. Well, it worked for about a day and then the shit returned. [Check the video below — the sound is just a micro-second late.] I literally fell to my knees and began to weep when I realized the monster was back. Tears of rage.

John Tillett of INC Technologies had suggested installing a sophisticated Marantz system that would definitely eliminate the problem, he said, but it would have set me back $1200. He also mentioned returning the current Sony 65-inch 4k (XBR 850C) and replacing it with a Sony XBR65X930C which has built-in speakers on the side and theoretically can’t deliver out-of-synch sound. So I did that yesterday (cost: $500) while purchasing the $200 Sony sub-woofer (SWFBR100) that goes with it.

The 930C newbie (my third purchase within a four-week period) arrives on Sunday and the current one (850C) wll exit. I’ve been bled dry by this problem. I just want it to stop.

Discreet Refusal To Go Along

I’m not saying I’m the only columnist-critic who’s quietly declined to go along with the double exclamation point punctuation of Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some!, but I honestly don’t know of anyone else who has. This isn’t a huge deal, obviously, but I really don’t care for that double tap. It’s cheap, easy. I’ll go along with occasional punctuation flourishes in movie marketing, especially if they involve a certain coolness a la Se7en or 48 HRS. or movies titles with all-lower-case lettering. But sometimes you have to stand up. HE to media lemmings who’ve gone along with this: Where if anywhere would you draw the line? What if Paramount had decided to use three exclamation points? What about four or five? Do you believe in adhering to any punctuation standards of your own, or do you just believe in absolute whoring as a rule? Will you blindly submit to any twinkle-toes jiggly doo-dad marketers might concoct?


Do you feel the coolness of this image? Not using exclamation points is da bomb.

J.J. Abrams & Leni Riefenstahl: Something Superficially In Common

Last December I noted that Synapse Films’ Bluray of Leni Reifenstahl‘s Triumph of the Will was the first to abandon the traditional blue-trim packaging (routine on just about every Bluray the world over) in favor of funereal black. The black was insisted upon by restoration guru Robert Harris, who felt that the doc’s content and history demanded it. Today the Bluray for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived, and the first thing I noticed was the black plastic trim. So now there are two Blurays with this signature appearance, but only one with a thematic reason for being black. I’m told that 4k Blurays also have black trim but who buys or even inspects those at retail stores?

The Killer

I was feeling twinges of sadness and resentment at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and had I unfolded what I was feeling I might have written something akin to what Devin Faraci has tapped out here. Faraci knows the geek realm better than I, but I’ve been a Zack Snyder hater for a few years now and so Faraci’s article, which is titled “Superman and the Damage Done,” stirred something more than agreement. It ignited emotions that I felt but hadn’t articulated. Here’s an excerpt:

“Zack Snyder’s intentions in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman is to destroy Superman, something he actually accomplishes literally at the end of the latest film. I can only imagine what sort of hyper-distant, Dr. Manhattan-ish being Snyder will pull from that grave in a future movie, especially since BvS has officially killed off Superman’s human alter ego, Clark Kent. Snyder has been chipping away at the foundations of Superman for some time, killing Dr. Emil Hamilton, a close comrade of Superman, in Man of Steel, and unceremoniously executing Jimmy Olsen in this film.

BvS also tells us that Snyder has every intention of killing Lois Lane in the future, as his gameplan for the future of the DC Movieverse is to recreate the Injustice game/comic, where Superman becomes a murderous warlord after Lois Lane is killed. (more…)

Son of Words Fail

Donald Trump seems unable or unwilling to do research. If he did he could at least make it seem that he knows what he’s talking about. But no — he seems to be winging it, making it up as he goes along. Using verbal precision when stating beliefs or positions during interviews seems to constantly elude him. That line he shared with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews about women who’ve had abortions needing to face “some form of punishment” was promptly walked back, but the next appalling statement is just around the corner. He just can’t play it like a pro. He has to start fires.

If Trump is nominated Hillary Clinton has the Presidency totally locked and in the bag. The Republicans know they’ll lose if he’s nominated, and so the current talk seems to be that they need to deny Trump the nomination in Cleveland and at least lose with a candidate they can stomach.

I haven’t linked to that two-day-old essay by former Trump PAC spokesperson Stephanie Cegielski, but it seems to contain all anyone needs to know about the game Trump is playing. Yes, Snopes Dan Evon reported yesterday that while Cegielski was a strategist for the Make America Great Again super PAC, she was never Trump’s “communications manager and top strategist.” But she was close enough to his campaign to write the following, which should give pause to anyone with half a brain:

“[Donald Trump] does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit what he does not know — the most frightening position of all.

“I consider myself a part of the silent majority that led to Trump’s rise, which is why I want you to know that I am with you — I wanted Trump to be real, too.

“He is not. He even says so himself. His misogyny? That’s the character. His presidential candidacy? That’s a character, too. (more…)

Eureka

My agonizing sound-synch issues have been solved…I think. The miracle worker was a guy named John Tillett (jtillett@inctech.net) from a San Fernando Valley outfit called INC Technologies. Tillett’s genius move was to disconnect the cable connecting the Digital Audio Output (located at the rear of any high-def TV) to the Sony sound bar, and instead use an HDMI cable to employ the ARC (Audio return Channel) option. 20 minutes after he arrived the sound from all devices (Oppo Bluray, Roku 4, Direct TV, Sherwood Region 2 Bluray) was perfectly synched. Coping with this issue has been a terrible throbbing headache for me, and now it seems to finally be over. And if it’s not I can always call Tillett and ask him to drop by. I’ve talked to several people about this problem over a period of three or four weeks, and not one of them even mentioned the ARC option. This is the home-tech world we live in now. Not that many people understand the whole equation.

Boorish Jocks, Kindred Spirits

A couple of weeks ago I noted that the almost uniformly positive reactions to Jeff NicholsMidnight Special were due to the fact that (a) critics have decided Nichols is one of the auteurist good guys and a likable one at that, and therefore (b) any semi-coherent film he makes gets at least a pass if not a thumbs-up. The same thing seems to be happening now with Richard Linklater and his latest film, Everybody Wants Some!, which currently has ratings of 97% and 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively.

It’s not that critics are being too kind (although I think some of them are) but most are not really levelling with their readers. Which is why people don’t trust them. They know/sense that critics live in their own elite realm, and that they always seem to write about this realm (self-regarding, navel-gazing) rather than the one inhabited by ticket-buyers.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with recognizing and celebrating Linklater’s exceptional vision and extraordinary focus, but at the same time you have to at least mention that Everybody Wants Some! doesn’t tell anything close to a story, and that there are millions of Joe Popcorns out there who go to movies expecting some kind of narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s fine to say “this is better than the usual-usual, and it’s so special that it doesn’t need to tell a story”…no problem with that. But you have to at least admit that the none-too-hips are going to have a problem with a movie that ignores the playbook and makes up its own whimsical music as it goes along. (more…)

Everybody Wants Some! Is Sooo Casual

 The good news is that Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some! is cool, smart, fresh, atypical. It’s a period campus ramble-on, set in the climes of Texas State University in 1980, and more particularly a situational thing that feels enjoyably realistic and familiar in at least a couple of hundred different ways.

The bad news is that it’s mostly about a bunch of baseball-star jocks sharing a fraternity house, and athletes, I feel, are always a drag to hang with because they’re mostly a bunch of pea-brains — hormonal, relentlessly competitive, single-minded, somewhat conservative, egoistic, and lacking in curiosity. I’m sorry but I’ve been around the track a couple of hundred times and that’s my opinion.

Then again Everybody Wants Some! is a refreshingly unusual jocks-on-a-college-campus comedy, which is to say something quieter and more oblique and introspective and curious about what makes this or that guy tick. It spends a whole lotta time answering that last line of inquiry.

Yes, it’s frequently amusing but I’m not even sure if it’s fair to use the word “comedy.” It dispenses a steady torrent of little laugh sliders that make you chortle or grin or guffaw, but it never strains to be “funny.” Either you’re paying attention and enjoying the observational servings or you’re not. (more…)

NeverHillary#

Susan Sarandon feels that there’s really no comparison between Bernie Sanders, whose candidacy is some kind of heaven-sent, once-in-a-lifetime event, and the profoundly sullied, corporate-moneyed Hillary Clinton, who’s “not on the right side” of things. Sarandon’s assessment is more correct than not and I’ll never be ecstatic about Clinton’s candidacy, but I’m definitely voting for her. Put it this way — it’ll be nihilistic to not vote against Trump winning. Not a happy situation, agreed. Sarandon may not admit this, but if Bernie were to capture the Democratic nomination (which can’t possibly happen) he would be George McGovern in ’72.

For Those Who Missed Theatrical Peek-Out

Doug Tirola‘s Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead will stream eventually, but the Magnolia Bluray comes out of the gate on 4.19. I plugged and plugged this doc for months after catching it at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. “Quite the cultural landmark…about something that nearly everyone understands or identifies with to some degree, which is the seed and birth of anarchic, counter-conventional, ultra-outlandish comedy, which everybody takes for granted today but was a whole new thing when it popped out of the National Lampoon in 1970.”

Saul Bass Is Pissed Off in Heaven

I wasn’t paying much attention when Chuck Todd’s MTP Daily, a daily spinoff of Meet The Press, popped last September. But editors of NewscastStudio, a trade publication for creative pros working in television, were, and I’m genuinely surprised that they didn’t acknowledge that the Capitol building logo design is a direct lift from Saul Bass‘s art for Otto Preminger‘s Advise and Consent (’62). NewscastStudo quote, posted on 9.28.15: “The show uses a very animated style for its graphics, likening it to ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ The look, a vast departure from the Sunday show, brings a fun and playful patriotism to MTP Daily.”

“An Excess of Zeal”

If there was a semblance of a mature, grown-up attitude within Donald Trump and particularly his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the March 8th arm-grabbing incident between Lewandowski and former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields would have gone away weeks ago. All Lewandowski had to do was (a) apologize for being overzealous in trying to shield Trump and (b) offer to cover Fields’ medical costs and traumatic discomfort expenses — which is almost a silly notion considering that all Fields received was a very slight arm bruise. But Trump/Melandowski weren’t mature and sensible in their responses to the incident, denying and dismissing and downplaying, and now Melandowski has been arrested in Jupiter, Florida, for battery. The new video tells the tale. Melandowski responded to Fields grabbing Trump’s arm like a thuggish bodyguard with an alcohol problem. Trump said today that he’s standing by Melandowski because he doesn’t want the guy’s life to be “destroyed” by this incident, which I understand on a certain level. But immature blustery behavior creates and perpetrates its own karma.

(more…)

No Advance Looksees at the Linklater

If you have any kind of half-decent film on your hands, the standard approach is to start screening it for elite critic-journos a few weeks beforehand, and then show it to the all-media crowd nine or ten days in advance of the commercial opening. For whatever reason Paramount dismissed this strategy when it came to Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some, which opens tomorrow (3.30) but technically starts showing tonight for Landmark ticket-buyers. The Everybody all-media also happens tonight at the Paramount lot, and before this there was only the South by Southwest debut. The usual routine of showing it to choice critical elites didn’t happen here. (A friend who always gets early-bird invites was only invited to tonight’s all-media.)

Nicholson’s Largesse

This morning a producer friend told me about how Jack Nicholson saved Jim Harrison‘s financial ass in 1978 with a loan of $15K. The late author-poet (whose recent death prompted yesterday’s post) became friendly with Nicholson through novelist and screenwriter Thomas McGuane, who had written The Missouri Breaks (’76) . McGuane and Harrison had met from their mutual base of Livingston, Montana. Harrison published three books in the early to mid ’70s — “Wolf: A False Memoir” (’71), “A Good Day to Die” (’73) and “Farmer” (’76), but the income from these works was negligible and by ’78 he was “broke and all but starving,” the producer relates. Harrison was working on “Legends of the Fall” (which was actually three novellas — “Revenge,” “The Man Who Gave Up His Name” and “Legends of the Fall”) and so Nicholson, advised by McGuane of Harrison’s desperate situation, stepped in with the $15K, which gave Harrison enough breathing room to finish. “Fall” was published in ’79. It became Harrison’s biggest success of his life at the time, and he lived more or less comfortably after that. Here, by the way, is a nice Outside piece on Harrison (“The Last Lion,” published on 8.31.11) by Tom Bissell. Curious milestone: 13 months from now Nicholson will turn 80. Salud!