You Don’t Have To Visit Seoul

A huge scary monster is a stand-in for Anne Hathaway‘s darker side…check. But why is the beast avatar wreaking havoc all the way over in Seoul, of all places? Why not Tuscon, Newark, Oakland or Portland? Why not a city in Spain, where the director, Nacho Vigalondo, hails from? I understand that Colossal half-blows, but even without the Toronto Film Festival reviews I kind of hate it instinctually. Costarring Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson.

Three Dog Night’s “The Worst That Could Happen”

President Trump’s inaugural address was just another pugnacious campaign stump speech — combative, simple-minded, egoistic, inelegant, no soaring oratory or vision to speak of — basically a declaration of an intention to right perceived wrongs, settle old scores, drain the swamp, lay waste the bureaucratic hordes, restore the lives of the hinterlanders who voted for him, etc. Thank you, God, for making it rain just as Trump took the oath.

Three For Starters

I’ve just returned from Sundance press headquarters with a pair of Eccles tickets for Sunday — a 3:15 pm screening of Craig Johnson‘s Wilson, which looks problematic, and a 6:15 pm of Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name. Right now I’m watching the Park Regency’s lobby flatscreens (two of them, both showing distorted taffy-pull images) with a mixture of numb resignation and paralyzing grief, but I’ve got three films on today’s slate — Margaret BettsNovitiate at 12 noon (Eccles), Michael Showalter‘s The Big Sick at 6:15 pm and Charlie McDowell‘s The Discovery at 9:30 pm. If I want to be hardcore I could also catch a press screening of William Oldroyd‘s Lady Macbeth aT 2:30 pm.

Snoring Bear Ejected

Note to snoring journo, sent at 5:43 am: “Your snoring woke me up at 4:30 am. Right through the closed door. I really, really don’t want you to share this place any longer. It’s awful to have to deal with this. I’m happy to return your money immediately.  Please vacate at your convenience. I’m sorry that I offered an invitation for you to stay here.”

An Inconvenient Reminder: (a) Climate Crisis Worsening, (b) Orange Orangutan Is An Enemy of Civilization, (c) Things Could Nonetheless Improve

I’ve just seen Al Gore, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk‘s An Inconvenient Sequel, a sequel to the nearly eleven-year-old, Oscar-winning doc that he and director Davis Guggenheim created. And I’m afraid that the general opinion is “nice film but meh…we know the climate crisis is mostly worsening, the 2015 Paris climate accords aside, so what else is new?”

That’s what a critic friend was saying at least (“I’ve seen a lot of climate-change docs, and good as this was it’s basically more of the same”), and even though I liked Sequel I couldn’t argue all that strenuously. It’s a nicely done, intelligently assembled film but it is more or less a rehash of the original brief, which is that we’re all doomed unless climate criminals (primarily the leaders of India, China and other developing countries) wake up, man up and begin the process of switching to renewable energy sources.

The difference between An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel is that the latter (a) takes a fresh look at what’s going on now (i.e., things are worse), (b) provides hope by focusing on the Paris Agreement, which Gore was very much a part of, and (c) acknowledges despair that a climate-change-denying beast is about to move into the White House. (more…)

That Bassy, Bitter-Sounding Voice

In the mind of Hollywood Elsewhere the career of the late Miguel Ferrer deserves high praise on the strength of two big-screen performances — the busted drug dealer Eduardo Ruiz in Steven Soderbergh‘s Traffic (’00) and avaricious yuppie Bob Morton in Paul Verhoeven‘s Robocop (’87). Everything else Ferrer did was fine but workmanlike. Ferrer has passed from cancer at age 61 — respect, condolences.

Click here to jump past the Oscar Balloon

Sundance Alienation, Rage, Melanie Lynskey, Desaturated Color, etc.

My first Sundance 2017 film, presumably, is the 6 pm Doubletree press screening of Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk‘s An Inconvenient Sequel. If I run out of that screening and make the Eccles press line by, say, 8 pm, I could see Macon Blair‘s I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore. Maybe. If I get there in time. I really love strategizing about press lines!

Mutant Paychecks

James Mangold‘s Logan (20th Century Fox, 3.13) will presumably be the last Wolverine flick to star Hugh Jackman…right? Would this have been made if big paychecks were not a consideration? We all know the answer. Boilerplate: “In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.” Costarring Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle.

My Cross To Bear

Every day the Sundance press office passes out a small allotment of free public-screening tickets to journos. You have to show up at 7:40 or 7:45 am inside the Park City Marriott (which is what Jordan Ruimy and I did) to get a decent spot in line, and then at 8 am they let you into the press office in order to fill out a ticket-preference form. One ticket per journo per day until Tuesday, which is when the corporate lah-lah crowd clears out and things ease up a bit. My first screening of the day is Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk‘s An Inconvenient Sequel — a 6 pm press screening at the Doubletree. Which means I’ll have to line up inside the tent around 4:30 or 4:45 pm. I love it.


Snoring Is Non-Negotiable

For reasons best not explained I decided last month to invite a fourth party to share unit #108 at the Park Regency — a large one-bedroom condo with a pair of bunk beds plus a not-very-comfortable fold-out couch. So we’re talking two guys in the bunks and another in the living room. (I have my own bedroom-and-bathroom with a recent-model TV.) Last night one of the bunk guys began to loudly snore, and it was bad enough to result in the following letter being sent to the offender:

“Dear snoring journalist,

“[Unnamed non-snoring journalist] barely slept last night due to your snoring, which he has described as quite loud, persistent and horrific. He tried earplugs and then a white-noise app to try and block out the sound, but your grizzly bear growling still kept him from slumber for the most part.

“[The other journalist] was able to sleep, but said he had some trouble with this also.

“We have to do something about this. We can’t deprive everyone of their much-needed sleep during this very demanding festival. This is non-negotiable. You have to go to the nearest Rite-Aid and buy whatever remedies they might have to arrest your snoring. If you don’t have the money for this or that remedy we will gladly chip in to help.

“If you can’t arrest your snoring we’re going to have to return your rent money, and you’ll have to find somewhere else to stay. I’m sorry, man, but big snoring is something that JUST CAN’T HAPPEN during the festival. Let’s hope you can find the right remedy and all will be well.” (more…)

Latest Best Picture Bing-Bang

Not much has changed since late November/early December, but a couple of things have. The Hidden Figures surge, for one. La La Land rules, of course, and the big four runners-up are Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight (I am unable to accept that a majority of Academy members believe that the entirely admirable but modestly scaled Moonlight is a more formidable achievement than Manchester…no!), Hell or High Water and Hidden Figures. In what ways am I deluding myself, if at all? What needs to go up or down?

An American Nightmare

A strutting, under-qualified, temperamentally unfit ego-monster will become president tomorrow at noon eastern. As Donald Trump‘s victory became apparent on the evening of 11.8.16 I called this the worst tragedy to hit the U.S. since 9/11. I was wrong, in a sense. As ghastly and deeply shocking as the World Trade Center attacks were, the country recovered after a few weeks and a semblance of normality was restored. The toxic effects of the Trump administration will be with us for four years. Nearly 3000 people died as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks, but how many will die sooner rather than later due to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Barring a successful impeachment, the U.S. will not only be saddled with a moody, ADD-afflicted, sociopathic Il Brutto until January 2021, but the decisions and priorities of a rogue’s gallery of ultra-conservative cabinet chiefs and henchmen — Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, Steve Bannon, Rence Priebus, Rex Tillerson, Ben Carson, Tom Price, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Steve Mnuchin, Rick Perry — arguably the most arrogant, unqualified, elitist, deeply insulated, ruling-classy or imaginatively-divorced-from-reality appointees (i.e., nominated Education Secretary Betsy Devos‘s belief that guns are necessary in certain western schools to guard against bears) in U.S. history.

Finalists That Will Make The Cut

This has been a slow day. I’m just sitting here in the Park Regency lobby, piddling around on a cold night in the shadow of the snow-covered Wasatch mountains. Sundance starts tomorrow (kind of) but there’s nothing going on…really. So where’s the harm in posting another Tom O’Neil-and-Pete Hammond Best Picture finalist chit-chat video? Oh, God…they’re talking about Deadpool.

Nothin’ To Say But It’s Okay

Burbank Airport this morning, around 8:45 am.

This is what your Average Joe grunt-level Sundance Film Festival pass looks like — no easy access, no special priveleges. Once I strolled with the Sundance Gods, cruising on a cloud above the hurly burly, and then Jason Berger came along and yanked me off that cloud. “Back to reality, pal…go into that big white tent and wait in line with the rest of the schlubs!,” he said, his hiking boot pressed against my larynx. “What do you think you are, special? Well, you’re not.”

Park Regency customer relations manager Crystal, who works from 3 to 11 pm.

Approaching Las Vegas around 10:15 am this morning.


Disturbance at McCarran Airport

Not a big deal.  I can roll with it. They’re sitting right behind me so, you know, I turned around and gave them a look, just to let them know how their shrieking was going down. They ignored me, of course. And that’s fine.


Hollywood Elsewhere’s downgraded (i.e., GENERAL press pass rather than EXPRESS) Sundance Film Festival starts today.  Well, tomorrow morning.  Right now I’m Vegas-bound. Southwest Burbank flight about to leave. Sunny skies.  All is well.  Or, you know, good enough.

An older guy in the lounge:  “You look like a musician.”  Me:  “I’m a journalist.”  Older guy:  “Whaddaya think of Trump?”  Me: “I think he’s a beast…an abomination.”  Older guy:  “Did you ever meet him?”   Me:  “Oh, riiight. I haven’t personally met him so I should reserve judgment…is that it?”  Older guy:  “So you preferred Hillary?”  Me:  “I didn’t like her that much, but I voted for her.  It was the only sane thing to do.”

PGA, DGA and WGA Deadpool Nominations Are A Rank Industry Embarassment

Variety‘s Kris Tapley has called Deadpool a “stunningly resilient” contender in the awards race so far. I’ve no choice but to agree. A film that for me was probably the most obnoxious and tediously self-absorbed of 2016 (at least as far as the 40 minutes’ worth that I watched) has been nominated by the Producers Guild (to the everlasting horror of the ghost of Darryl F. Zanuck), the Directors Guild (an Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First-Time Feature Film nomination for Tim Miller over The Witch‘s Robert Eggers?), the Writers Guild (a stain on that organization that will not be easily scrubbed or forgotten), the American Cinema Editors, the Visual Effects Society and the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild.

Deadpool is nothing more or less than a grating Daffy Duck cartoon blended with the self-regarding, self-perpetuating mythology of the Marvel machine. For the sake of the honor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, please, please don’t nominate this travesty for Best Picture.

Deadpool is a movie that puts its audaciousness in the forefront, even if it’s only mutated-skin-deep; a movie that makes space for violence, sex, and swear words, but never bites the hand feeding it by diverging from formula. It’s fun for a while, and then it all becomes deeply disheartening, because calling attention to the more businesslike mechanics of superheroics isn’t subversive when you’re also playing right into them. Pointing out the symptoms of superhero fatigue isn’t the same thing as overcoming it.” — Buzzfeed‘s Allison Willmore. (more…)