For Zodiac‘s Ten-Year Anniversary, Cinefamily Isn’t Screening 162-Minute Director’s Cut? Shame!

If you’re any kind of Zodiac fan, you know that David Fincher’s 162-minute Director’s Cut is the only version worth seeing or discussing. The original theatrical cut ran 157 minutes. The five-minutes-longer Director’s Cut offers expansions in ten scenes, and most importantly includes the black-screen musical time passage sequence.

No self-respecting cinefile would even consider watching the Philistines-only theatrical cut, and yet Cinefamily will be screening the 157-minute version on Thursday, 2.9, in honor of the film’s 10th anniversary. (In fact Zodiac opened on 3.2.07.) There’s still time to fix this. If Cinefamily doesn’t acknowledge error and announce that they intend to screen the 162-minute cut, they have no honor.

A 3.16.08 analysis by moviecensorship.com’s “Frankie“: “The five minutes of new footage edited back into the film will only go detected by either the filmmakers or Zodiac‘s die-hard fans. One will have to scrutinize over Zodiac‘s already-long 162 minute run time like it was the Zapruder film to catch all of the added scenes, which are mostly additional transitional cues and/or longer beats during the second act’s end-run-around of an investigation, culminating in the most noticeable of ‘new’ sequences — an extended ‘musical segue”‘ from the 1970s to the 1980s.

“But because Zodiac is a film about the consequences of details – big or small – about how even those filed under plain-slight can easily slip through the cracks, the new footage serves as another means by which Fincher enhances his audience’s viewing experience, aligning itself well with the investigation Zodiac’s detectives conduct.” (more…)

Balding Toad Gets Lucky…Don’t Ask

In what universe does an overweight, balding, pasty-skinned physician have even a wisp of a chance of scoring with a group of nubile 20something nymphs on a Greek island? In the actual world a guy like this might strike up a casual conversation with vacationing beach hotties…maybe, if the women were bored and God smiled for perversity’s sake.  

For whatever reason an increasing number of cutting-edge filmmakers are refusing to accept that unattractive people live in a hole of muted misery for the most part, and that their lot in life, at best, is to only fraternize among themselves.  (Unless they’re rich, famous or brilliant.)  The universal law about birds of a feather flocking together for thousands of years can’t be changed just because a director-screenwriter (i.e., Suntan‘s Argyris Papadimitropoulos) decides to imagine otherwise.

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Honorable Dismissal

Last night Orange Orangutan fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for declaring that the Justice Department would not defend Trump’s executive order on immigration. Shameless, sphincter-smooching White House spokesperson Sean Spicer explained that Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to defend Trump’s order. The statement added that Yates, a career prosecutor whom Trump named as acting attorney general, is “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was named as acting attorney general.”

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Anti-Trump Oscar Telecast? Yes, Do It, Go There.

“After 45 years of scattershot liberal protest, the Academy Awards are now the perfect bully pulpit from which to address the already glaring moral calamity of Donald Trump’s presidency,” Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman has written in a 1.30 thinkpiece.

“Certainly, a balance needs to be struck: The point of the evening is to celebrate the movies nominated, and politics shouldn’t overshadow that. But I do believe that politics can blend with that. America will be watching — in greater numbers, I suspect, than we’ve seen for a long time. And not just blue-state America. I mean Trump voters too (do you think that none of them went to see La La Land?), and also swing voters, who may already be feeling a touch of buyer’s remorse, and who may have begun to peel off from the Trump crusade.

“What’s required is a way to speak truth — artfully and memorably, the way Meryl Streep did — to the Oscar-night viewers who are movie lovers who are citizens who have the power to change America. What’s required is a moment that can translate into a meme of protest. A lot of liberals have already begun to realize [that] the only way to defeat Donald Trump is to fight fire with fire — and on Academy Awards night, that means fighting show business with show business.”

If I Can Avoid 35mm Projection, I’ll Certainly Do That

“You can get technical. You can talk about grain. You can talk about the depths of color registration. You can talk about the ‘sensuousness’ of film as compared to digital. But here’s the big mystery for me. There are films I’ve seen a dozen times that have always affected me emotionally, have devastated me, [but] just do not have the same effect on me when I see them projected digitally. I can’t explain that. It’s the same movie, the same story. But there’s something different. I am really struck by this. We react to these formats differently on an emotional level.” — Toronto Bell Lightbox senior programmer James Quandt talking to National Post‘s Calum Marsh.

Posted on 1.30.15: “Not so long ago I would have swooned at the idea of savoring a parade of black-and-white widescreen classics in their original celluloid splendor. Nobody is a bigger fool for this format than myself. Why, then, would I be ducking BAMcinematek‘s “Black & White ’Scope: American Cinema” (2.27 through 3.19), a 21-film series of widescreen monochrome masterpieces, if I was living in New York? Because 15 of the 21 are being shown in 35mm, and we all know what that means — dirt, scratches, pops, possibly too-dark illumination or murky images, occasionally weak sound, reel-change marks, etc. There’s just no romance left in film projection. That was then, this is now. Digital exactitude or nothing.” (more…)

Sound and Fury at LAX

Yesterday I drove down to the LAX Muslim immigration demonstration around 3 pm. A real alpha-fraternity thing — raucous, wonderful, beautiful, loud, adamant, open, spirited. They do manifs in Paris all the time, but this one (part of a nationwide response to Trump-Bannon’s anti-Muslim immigration executive order) felt like something else. This was the second event of this type that I joined within the past 8 days, the first being the Park City Women’s March, and once again I felt imbued with a feeling of hope and even euphoria. I must have waved, hello’ed and arm-patted 50 or 60 strangers. We were all there together, all as one.

What did it boil down to? Reassuring theatre + a reminder that hundreds of thousands of others around the country were marching and chanting against the Beast.

Conclusion of a 1.29 Medium.com piece by Yonatan Zunger: “The Trump administration is testing the extent to which the Department of Home Security (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored. Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.” (more…)

B Sides, Fillers, Runts

I’ve recently developed this thing for underwhelming Rolling Stones B-side tracks from the ’60s, particularly “Sad Day” and “I Don’t Know Why.” I love that almost-but-not-quite quality. Very few Stones’ songs are about loser attitudes and self-pity, but these two qualify in spades. The great Richie Unterberger of allmusic.com has tapped out some excellent notes on both [after the jump].

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Normalizing Scumbags

If there was even a semblance of moral order and just desserts in the universe, the people behind this “meet the happy Trump family!” Us cover piece — editor-in-chief Michael Steele, for one — would be arrested, tried, convicted and pilloried. What could be lower at this stage of the game than to normalize a brutish authoritarian regime that has almost immediately (within the last ten days) thrown the U.S. and its institutions into chaos? And things are only just beginning. This cover will be a yoke around Steele’s neck for the rest of his life; ditto Wenner Media.

Post-SAG Awards Conversation

Me: Not to take anything away from the great Denzel Washington, but why didn’t Casey Affleck win the Best Actor SAG award last night? He’s been blitzkreiging that category for weeks, picking up 30something Best Actor trophies thus far. And all of a sudden Denzel surges ahead. Denzel was and is flat-out brilliant in Fences, but be honest — were you thinking the same thing I was thinking?

Friend: I don’t think that’s why. Denzel had never won a SAG award. That said, Manchester overall seems to have lost some steam.

Me: SAG stuck right to the predicted script with everything else, including the Hidden Figures surge, and yet they decide to ignore the longstanding Affleck inevitability and go for Denzel because they were exceptionally mindful about Denzel having been empty-handed and wanted to be…what, magnanimous?

Hooray for the Hidden Figures team! La La Land still wins the Best Picture Oscar, of course, but cheers to Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Theodore P, Merlfi, Kevin Costner (who wasn’t there), etc.

Ryan Gosling‘s reactions as Emma Stone stumbled and stammered her way through her acceptance speech [after the jump] are priceless. (more…)

Calling Sandra Bullock’s Ocean’s 8 Character “Debbie” Ocean Isn’t Cool

The decision by Ocean’s 8 director and co-writer Gary Ross (and co-writer Olivia Milch) to name Sandra Bullock‘s lead character “Debbie” Ocean is an indication of where they and this stupid-ass, cash-grab franchise spinoff is coming from. Seriously….Debbie Ocean? What, she’s the sister of George Clooney‘s Danny Ocean who’s been waiting her turn? Debbie is a name for harried stay-at-home moms and lightweight girls who text and shop and read popular fiction between flights. Debbie means compliance, keeping your head down, servitude, going along. Debbie Dingbat, Debbie Does Dallas…that line of country. Women of substance with the D name call themselves Deborah. If Ross and Milch had any kind of coolness current they would recognize the absurdity of giving the head of a team of women thieves a Barbie Doll name and go instead with Millicent, Maxie, Hortense, Sassafras or Alicia…anything but fucking Debbie. Ocean’s 8 will open 17 months from now, on 6.8.18.


The Ocean’s 8 team (l. to r.): Lou (Cate Blanchett), Nine Ball (Rihanna), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Constance (Awkwafina), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), and Tammy (Sarah Paulson).

Dead Russians Tell No Tales

A day or two ago Russian publisher Novaya Gazeta reported that Russian intel officer Sergei Mikhailov was arrested, dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported or passed along that Mikhailov was charged with treason.

It’s also come out that Ruslan Stoyanov, a cybersecurity official with a private firm, was recently arrested on “suspicion of treason.”

Yesterday I tweeted and Facebook-posted a Telegraph story, written by Robert Medick and Robert Verkaik, that said a British asset who may have leaked to Christopher Steele the existence of Donald Trump’s alleged pee-pee blackmail video is now dead, apparently murdered. (more…)

Where Has This PBS Guy Been?

Look at the face of PBS News Hour interviewer Jeffrey Brown during this Manchester By The Sea piece, which posted three days ago. He’s really, really fascinated by director-writer Kenneth Lonergan, which seems to indicate that Brown has only recently gotten into the film. Who waits this long to pay attention to a great movie? From my perspective Manchester, which has earned $41 million domestic, is over a year old and by any measure enjoyed its movie-culture peak during the Telluride-Toronto-New York film festival cycle, which was four months ago, and again when it opened last month. And yet two out of three moviegoers will tell you it’s depressing. No — it’s called sad, and the morons refuse to get or accept that. Best description ever, from Boston Globe critic Ty Burr: “A ghost story about a man who’s still alive.”

Farhadi Won’t Attend Oscars, But A Symbolic Oscar Vote For The Salesman Is Essential

The psychology behind Donald Trumps’s Muslim immmigration ban “is not just limited to the United States,” Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has said in a statement. “In my country hardliners are the same. For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals.

“However, I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences. I believe that the root cause of many of the hostilities among nations in the world today must be searched for in their reciprocal humiliation carried out in its past and no doubt the current humiliation of other nations are the seeds of tomorrow’s hostilities. (more…)

Polanski Agonistes

I’ve said over and over since Roman Polanski’s September ’09 Zurich bust and all the other ludicrous harassments that followed that the now 83-year-old director is an Art God who gets a pass, at least from this quarter. The man has been lashed and bruised for over 40 years because of a single selfish incident**, one that he did 70something days in prison for before hightailing it when the presiding judge reneged on a plea deal (the whole sordid saga was recounted in Marina Zenovich‘s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired). Samantha Geimer, the victim in the mid ’70s rape case, said two years ago that Polanski “said he did it, he pled guilty, he went to jail…I don’t know what people want from him.”

But there’s no stopping the SJW pitchforkers. When RoPo was recently nominated to serve as president of the 2017 Cesar Awards French feminists (including the webmasters of Osezlefeminisme pushed back strongly enough to cause Polanski to withdraw. In a 1.26.17 Le Figaro interview the 81 year-old Alain Delon said that Polanski should be praised, not trashed. “If I were asked to preside over the Caesars in his place, I would not go, in solidarity with Polanski,” Delon added. “Every time he goes across the street, [are] we going to talk to him about 1970?”

The only problem with Delon’s support, of course, is that he’s a rabid right-winger. (more…)

Back In The High Life

Snowstorms are wonderful and cold weather builds character, but warm weather is really nice to come back to. What a balmy feeling as I emerged from my Las Vegas-to-Burbank Southwest flight and stepped onto the tarmac…the late afternoon sun about to set, inhaling that familiar Los Angeles stink, that soft olfactory caress of healthy flora, soot, car fumes, terra firma and Del Taco dumpsters. It actually became a little cool as the sun went down, but I felt so comforted by the hometown vibe that the first thing I did after dropping my bags was to hop on the bike and just feel the breeze as I wove my way through traffic. I get around, and a lot faster than anyone in a car. I’m Neal Casady, the young Alain Delon, Ray Hicks, Charles Bukowski, Henry Millera free man in Paris.

Randy Newman’s “My Life Is Good”

Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil to Hollywood Elsewhere‘s Jeffrey Wells: “CONGRATS to Kevin Polowy for reaping 100% perfect score predicting the PGA awards! CONGRATS also to Tariq Khan, Joyce Eng and Sasha Stone for Best Scores predicting ACE Eddies: 100%. SAG Awards are TONIGHT — Please make sure we’ve got YOUR predix! Competition is FIERCE!”

Wells to O’Neil: What about the Muslim immigration ban protest at LAX? I’m not trying to be an asshole — I really feel that the Muslim protest thing is the only thing that matters now.

Sidenote: On top of which the competition isn’t fierce. SAG’s ensemble award will go to either Moonlight or the surging Hidden Figures. Manchester‘s Casey Affleck will naturally land the Outstanding Male Performance award and La La‘s Emma Stone will take the Outstanding Female Performance honor, Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali will take Best Supporting Male and Fences’ Viola Davis will win the Best Supporting Actress prize.

Maybe O’Neil was referring to “fierce” competition on the TV side.

Up With STEP Sisters

Time constraints caused by schedule overlap kept me from seeing all of Amanda Lipitz‘s STEP last night (I caught 55 minutes’ worth), but I saw enough to absorb the basic scheme and appreciate that despite a slightly raggedy approach it’s a spunky, engaging, “we’re black and proud and headed for college if we can earn good enough grades and somehow manage the financial aspect” thing. It’s about hard work, high hopes, heart, family, ups and downs, etc.

We’re all familiar with docs and narratives about high-school strivers. The best of them are rough and real but also comforting and inspiring. We can do this if we really believe in ourselves and work our asses off and if fate or God smile, etc. STEP feels like one of the better ones. It ends, of course, with a competitive performance finale, the outcome of which gives you a nice “fuck yeah!” feeling. (Or so I was told by a guy who saw the whole thing.)

Shot in late 2015 (or a few months after the Baltimore unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray), the doc focuses on three senior girls at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women who are members of the stepdance team, and are known as the “Lethal Ladies of BLSYW.”

The most magnetic of the three is Blessin Giraldo, a spirited looker who’s looking to attend college away from Baltimore, where she’s seen some tough times both at home (her mother suffers from depression) and elsewhere, except she’s having scholastic difficulties and is therefore putting her future in some jeopardy.

The second most interesting is the brilliant Cori Grainger, a shy, cautious type hoping to attend Johns Hopkins University on a full scholarship. Bringing up the rear is Tayla Solomon, whose single mom is a corrections officer. Like Blessin, Tayla also isn’t earning high-enough grades, at least at one point in the saga. (more…)

Holding Pattern

Last night I caught my last two films of the 2017 Sundance Film festival– Amanda Lipitz‘s STEP, a rousing, affecting doc (recently acquired by Fox Searchlight) about getting out and over for a trio of inner-city Baltimore girls whose involvement in a Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women step dance team is fused with their attempts to gain admission to a good college, and Ted Bourne, Mary Robertson and Banks Tarver’s TRUMPED: Inside The Greatest Political Upset Of All Time. I’ve been working on reviews of both, but I’ll have to finish them (or try to) at Salt Lake City’s airport. My Park City Transportation shuttle arrives in 25 minutes.