Return of Ethan Edwards

Reviewed on 5.18.15 by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Boyd van Hoeij: “The hunt for a teenage French girl who’s gone to the subcontinent to follow her possibly jihadist boyfriend turns her family into modern ‘searchers’ in Les Cowboys, the promising feature debut of celebrated French screenwriter Thomas Bidegain.

“Unlike the films he’s co-written for Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone), which often rely on Audiard’s stunning capacity to foreground grand emotional sweeps, this is a much more constructed narrative that could only be described as a writer’s film, though one with several pleasant — if shocking is your idea of pleasant, that is — surprises up its sleeve. (more…)

Who The Hell Was Howard Hawks?

Yesterday (5.30) was the 120th anniversary of the birth of legendary director Howard Hawks. I know he matters a great deal to anyone with any regard for classic 20th Century cinema, but what kind of respect does he enjoy, if any, among the Millenials? Do any of them give a shit? How many at least know his name and have seen maybe two or three of his finest films? Have they read any books about him? I think we all know the answers. I for one got off the Hawks boat after Hatari, but his output between Twentieth Century (’34) and Hatari is mostly unassailable. My favorites are the same as everyone else’s — Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Sergeant York, Ball of Fire, Air Force, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Red River, A Song Is Born, (NO to I Was a Male War Bride), The Thing from Another World, The Big Sky, (NO to Monkey Business), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Land of the Pharaohs, Rio Bravo. His greatest period was between ’34 and ’53 — a 19-year hot streak.

Bubba’s Hurtin’ Too Much To Care

Here is reason #1 why hinterland bubbas are squarely behind Donald Trump. Here are reason #2 and reason #3. They’re behind this megalomaniac because he’s leading the last-gasp charge in defense of a white heirarchy that ran the show as recently as 15 or 20 years ago. That era is over and the flannel-shirters who don’t have the right kind of skills for the 21st Century economy know it, but they’re nonetheless determined to go down swinging like Bill Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates at the end of The Wild Bunch.

On 5.20 The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik wrote that “the American Republic stands threatened by the first overtly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history — an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power.” And he’s not wrong. And the bubbas don’t care. They feel they’ve been fucked so badly that all bets are off. They’re determined to shoot the place up before dying.

“If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right — not by Perons or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. (more…)

Weide’s Reply to Ronan Farrow Squelched by THR, Daily Beast

Yesterday Robert Weide‘s exacting, impeccably logical and completely reasonable response to Ronan Farrow’s latest hit piece on Woody Allen, which The Hollywood Reporter posted on 5.11 to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival debut screening of Cafe Society, finally appeared. One of the reasons it took Weide, a noted screenwriter-producer and the director of Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011), three weeks to reply was because the article was considered and squelched by both The Hollywood Reporter and The Daily Beast. (Or so Weide has allegedly claimed on his Facebook page.)

Again, the 5.30 Weide piece (“Hard Questions for Ronan Farrow — An Open Letter”). Here’s a link to Weide’s 2014 Daily Beast article on the Dylan Farrow molestation allegation. (more…)

Don’t You Believe That Aykroyd

Ghostbusters exec producer Dan Aykroyd on “As originator of the original, I saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!” Impartial, persuasive, etc. Lubricated royalties recipient bending over at trough.

Stand Up For Harimbe

As of 9:30 eastern 316,097 people had signed the petition titled “Justice for Harambe.” It’s basically a statement condemning the mother of that four-year-old kid for not keeping a closer eye and thereby allowing him to slip through the fence and fall into the gorilla pit, which brought about the cruel and tragic death of poor Harimbe. The TV news cretins who sold this story as being about a poor little kid who was saved from the clutches of terrible death from a monster gorilla need to be bitch-slapped also.

California Dreamin’

Honestly, what’s your reaction to this shot of Hillary marching in yesterday’s Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua? I’ve said time and again that I agree with much of her agenda and that I’ll certainly vote for her in November, but I’ve never liked her and I never will. I look at that granny blueshades moon face and particularly that shot of Bill and Hillary yesterday and I just don’t feel it. What’s wrong with America putting its own Angela Merkel in the White House? Not much, I guess, but the thought of this still feels bummerish. Please, God — give Bernie one last big win in California on 6.7. Give the Berniebots this one final bolt-surge plus a rockin’ Philly convention and then we’ll slump in our seats and raise our hands weakly when Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls for a show of support for Hillary.

“Two Guys In An Alligator Suit”

This 15-foot alligator has been described by an employee of Palmetto’s Buffalo Creek Golf Resort as a kind of harmless mascot. Okay, but he has to eat X number of pounds of food on a daily basis to keep going. One or two golfers or more likely caddies per month, I’m thinking. I suddenly want to stream Lewis Teague and John SaylesAlligator (’80). Palmetto is a lower-middle income community on Florida’s west coast, south of Tampa.

Would Have Preferred The Fundamentals Of Not Giving A Shit

Rob Burnett‘s The Fundamentals of Caring premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival and garnered a decent 70% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Based on the same-titled 2012 novel by Jonathan Evison, it pops on Netflix on 6.24. Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson and Frederick Weller. N.Y. Post‘s Kyle Snith: “I enjoyed Fundamentals of Caring but it’s hard not to notice it amounts to a checklist of all the things that were once supposed to add up to an inspiring indie hit.”

LAFF Feels Minor, Marginal, Not In The Game

I’ll be back in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and the first thing I’ll be jumping into will be the L.A. Film Festival (6.1 thru 6.9). So far I’ve noticed three or four films of passing interest but nothing that really heats the blood. Just a lot of indie titles of marginal interest. No hot premieres, minor Sundance repeaters, none of the Cannes headliners…flatline. I shared this view with a film-savvy friend and he said “my impression is the same as yours. I felt like last year’s LAFF had almost no buzz, and this year it has even less.”

The only LAFF film that feels even slightly intriguing is 11:55, a High Noon-inspired drama about neighborhood violence. (It’s screening here in Manhattan tomorrow night.) There’s also Amber Tamblyn‘s Paint It Black — her debut effort as a director. John Krasinki‘s The Hollars, which didn’t fare all that well at Sundance ’16, is an attraction. Ditto Meera Menon‘s Equity, another Sundance premiere. There’s also Political Animals, a doc about LGBT legislators.

I’m assuming that the LAFF programmers deliberately decided to focus on smaller-scale American indie films that nobody has heard of, and didn’t even try to land the hot titles that people would actually like to see. Or maybe they did but the distributors of the hotties said “no dice” because they’re waiting for the start of awards season.

If I was running LAFF I still would’ve tried to book films with at least a semblance of heat. (more…)

Apes Next Door

What kind of three-toed sloth leaves a TV on all night long, and with the sound turned up fairly loud? I’m in room #211 at Brooklyn’s Henry Norman Hotel, and I can report with authority that the dipshits in #210 had their TV going loud from midnight until 8:30 or 9 am, and that the sound attenuation is definitely a concern here and that sleep was less than deep or serene. I told the night manager around 7:30 am what had happened, and about a half-hour later he was knocking on the door because the residents of #210 hadn’t answered the phone. They didn’t answer the door either so he let himself in and turned the TV off.

The manager confided that the guests were booked for only a single night’s stay and had apparently checked out around midnight or 1 am without bedding down. Three guesses as to why they didn’t stay, and the first two don’t count. If you don’t want to sleep over, fine, but who abandons a hotel room in the wee hours with the TV blasting? Anyone would say an element of manners and civility is clearly lacking. This is an aspect of our culture, or New York culture at the very least. It’s who “they” are. Who dat? People who were raised without a lot of discipline or by stable emotional role models, or both.

Paying Through The Nose

Whatever the truth of it, Johnny Depp was trashed in social media circles last weekend for having allegedly thrown a cell-phone fastball at wife Amber Heard and given her a facial bruise. Heard has obtained a restraining order over this alleged altercation as well as claims that Depp has “been violent towards her on multiple occasions during their 15-month marriage.”

Depp’s ex-wife Vanessa Paradis (who just did time as a Cannes Film Festival juror) has chimed in as a positive character witness, saying she finds Heard’s assertions dubious or appalling or something along those lines. And yesterday TheWrap guest blogger Doug Stanhope posted a piece saying that Heard’s assertions are “bullshit” and part of a deliberate shakedown attempt to get as much money out of Depp as possible. (Depp and Heard hadn’t signed a prenup before marrying.)

I know nothing specific but I’ve heard that Depp likes to bend the elbow so maybe something happened. I know for sure that when a super-rich, over-50 guy marries a hot actress who’s 25 years younger, he’s definitely asking for trouble. He’s basically saying “I know this almost certainly won’t last very long — I’m not an idiot — but she’s beautiful and the sex is great and I’ll be dead in 35 or 40 years so what the hell.” (The gossip, says a friend, “was that Heard was a banshee in bed, bringing in other girls for threesomes”). And now that chicken has come home.

I think The Movie Godz may have put in a call to the Fate Godz and suggested that Depp needs to pay a little penance for all those Pirates of the Caribbean movies. That may sound fickle or loony to some, but I’m a serious believer in the idea that if you deliberately make a movie that you know will make piles of money but which you also know will be hell to sit through for people like myself, then you have to accept that the forces of karma will somehow push back and bring grief into your life.

Sluggish, Near-Comatose Changeover

As of 5.18, Time Warner Cable (my ISP for years) officially became a Charter cable company, and more specifically a brand-new cable, internet and home-service provider called Spectrum. I understand that these changeovers always happen with a minimum of theatricality and presentation, but wouldn’t you think they could at least manage to call themselves “Spectrum” when you call the Time Warner customer service number? (I called this morning — here‘s what it said.) How hard could that be? Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton wrote that “the old names and logos will linger for a few months on the screen guides and billing documents while Charter readies its relaunch plan.” I don’t like or trust ass-draggers as a rule. Until further notice when you hear Spectrum, think slow-boat, slacker, slumber.

Post-Philadelphia Bernie Voters Hold Key

A 5.29 NBC News story by Dante Chinni calculates that with Bernie Sanders out of the Presidential race, Hillary Clinton‘s lead over Donald Trump, currently at 46% to 43%, would surge to 51% to 43%.

“To get a better look at where the Clinton-Trump race might stand after the nominating dust has settled, we recalculated the latest NBC/WSJ poll with Clinton capturing 70 percent of the Sanders-only vote,” Chinni writes.

“The result [is that] Sanders-only voters are worth an extra five points to Clinton. In the NBC/WSJ poll, Clinton’s advantage over Trump goes from three points to eight points and she leads 51 percent to 43 percent. But the difference holds in other polls as well. (more…)

Brian DePalma’s Hi, Mom!

News reports indicate that an innocent gorilla died yesterday because an irresponsible mother was too distracted to properly watch her four-year-old son. The kid crawled through a barrier and fell into a 12-foot-deep gorilla pit at the Cincinatti Zoo, and was soon being carried around by Harambe, a 400-pound, 17-year-old gorilla. Fearing for the kid’s life, zoo officials felt they had no choice but to shoot Harambe. “It seemed very much by our professional team…to be a life-threatening situation,” Cincinnati Zoo President Thane Maynard said at a press conference. The mainstream news whores won’t say this (all they’re talking about is what a close call it was…kid saved from scary gorilla!), but the kid’s mother killed that poor gorilla. Okay, 85% her fault and 15% the fault of the zoo staffers who built a barrier that a four-year-old could crawl through without much difficulty.

Brooklyn Cab

After Saturday’s Prague flight landed around 3 pm at JFK I decided to break with longstanding Airbnb tradition and stay at Greenpoint’s Henry Norman Hotel. It’s seven or eight blocks from the G line (the nearest stop is Nassau Ave.) but the HNH design is eclectic, striking, and boutique-y in a wonderfully non-corporate way. The Polish-Russian neighborhood is modest and quiet. The Henry Norman is a six-minute walk from Broadway Stages, the busy production facility.


Stopped Clock Right Twice Daily

The biggest pre-ordained, sight-unseen tank of the summer is Paul Feig‘s Ghostbusters (Columbia, 7.15) reboot. It doesn’t matter if it’ll be any good or not (although it’s obviously not going to be the least bit funny), or if it’ll make a lot of money, which it probably will. What matters is that everyone hates the trailers. There is, however, one thing working in its favor right now, and that’s Donald Trump’s vidclip from January 2015. Nobody wants to agree with Trump’s agenda so there’s now a little part of me that wants to like this awful movie whereas before I didn’t care — I just wanted it to die.

Beckinsale Breakthrough

After watching this excerpt from The Graham Norton Show, I realized that Kate Beckinsale, 42, has suddenly caught on by tapping into something a bit louche in herself. Part of this has to do with Beckinsale having nailed the part of Lady Susan Vernon, a blase, irreverent seductress, in Whit Stillman‘s Love and Friendship, but it’s mainly due to a suspicion that she’s somehow become Vernon or, you know, merged personalities. I’ve been reading for years that Beckinsale, a mother of a youngish daughter, is a bit eccentric and levitational but in the Norton clip she seems more than a bit perverse. A woman who thinks nothing of slipping a bar of chocolate between her sleeping boyfriend’s butt cheeks…okay!.

Beckinsale has been plugging away since the mid ’90s as an intriguing actress who’d never quite lit the big fuse. Sometimes it takes a while for an actor/actress to get lucky and turn the key just so and realize, “Ah, yes…that’s me, that’s my brand.”

Vernon has become Beckinsale’s all-defining role. Image-wise she and Vernon are suddenly a “team” in the same way that Bette Davis (also 42 at the time) and Margo Channing had seemingly blended into one person after the release of Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s All About Eve (’50). Before Love and Friendship Beckinsale’s best performance ever had been as a besieged journalist in Rod Lurie‘s Nothing But The Truth (’08). Before that her most admired turn had been in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (’98). I don’t blame KB entirely for acting in five of those awful Underworld movies (she held her nose and pocketed the paycheck so she could cover her daughter’s college tuition) but it’s water under the bridge now. From here on Beckinsale is, for me, Lady Susan chocolate bar ass-crack Vernon. (more…)

“It Feels Like She Is Lying, Straight Out”

There was a sobering discussion about Hillary Clinton‘s credibility gap during a Morning Joe segment yesterday morning. Transcripts are copied from Shaun King‘s 5.27 N.Y. Daily News column, titled “Hillary Clinton should quit presidential race as email scandal engulfs her campaign“:

2:43 — Mika Brzezinski to Andrea Mitchell: “The first interview we showed was the one you did with her and she says time and time and time and time and time and time again it was allowed. Was it allowed?” Andrea answers: “It was not allowed to not return those records before she left the State Department. She violated the Official Records Act, according to her own State Department IG (Investigator General) appointed by President Obama.”

Mitchell (cont’d): “What you have shown just now, Mika, completely undercuts the argument she has been making for more than a year, just as she trying to persuade voters that she is not untrustworthy. I think the most surprising, and in some ways shocking thing, is their reaction, claiming that this is the same as what former secretaries did.” (more…)