Thursday, 1.19, 10:05 pm.
Press tent line for An Inconvenient Sequel.
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 takes a fresh look at what’s going on now (i.e., things are worse), provides hope by focusing on the Paris Agreement, which Gore was very much a part of, and finally despair by acknowledging at the very end that a climate-change-denying beast is about to move into the White House. (more…)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…)
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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…)
From 1.17 N.Y. Times story about Betsy DeVos’s Education Secretary confirmation hearing, written by Kate Zernike and Yamiche Alcindor: “With time limited, Democrats confronted Ms. DeVos with rapid-fire questions, demanding that she explain her family’s contributions to groups that support so-called conversion therapy for gay people; her donations to Republicans and their causes, which she agreed totaled about $200 million over the years; her past statements that government ‘sucks’ and that public schools are a ‘dead end’; and the poor performance of charter schools in Detroit, where she resisted legislation that would have blocked chronically failing charter schools from expanding.
“Under questioning, Ms. DeVos said it would be ‘premature’ to say whether she would continue the Obama administration’s policy requiring uniform reporting standards for sexual assaults on college campuses. She told Connecitcut Senator Christopher S. Murphy, whose constituents include families whose children were killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that it should be ‘left to locales’ to decide whether guns are allowed in schools, and that she supported Mr. Trump’s call to ban gun-free zones around schools. She also denied that she had personally supported conversion therapy.”
I’m not calling the recently released Barefoot Contessa Bluray (Twilight Time) a problem, much less a mockery of a sham of a sham of a mockery of a sham. I haven’t seen it so what do I know? I know this: Twilight Time‘s decision to mask the film within a whacked-down 1.85:1 aspect ratio rather than the much more pleasant 1.33:1, which offers the usual extra headroom…the decision to do this is truly a shame. Really. A friend of DVD Beaver’s Gary W. Tooze has been quoted as calling this decision “a travesty…I’ve seen it in open matte in Academy ratio and to me it’s balanced perfectly that way. Thank goodness there’s a 1.33:1 DVD.” Yes, the 1.85 fascist view is that a mainstream studio film released on 9.2.54 should be cropped at 1.85, but that’s not what many others feel. Where is the harm in opening up this Joseph L, Mankiewicz film and letting it breathe? None…none whatsoever, and up above the ghost of Contessa dp Jack Cardiff would approve.
The Criterion guys decided to create remastered Blurays of Jacques Demy‘s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (’64) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (’67) when it became known a while back that these classic French-language musicals were the primary inspiration of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. It’s been recognized that Rochefort, which is more of a dancey, jazzy thing, exerted more influence than Cherbourg. Will I request freebies for reviewing purposes? No, I will not. I respect Demy’s vision but I’ve never been a fan. I took one look at Cherbourg back in the late ’70s and went “nope.”
Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau‘s Trophy, a Sundance ’17 doc, exposes the ethical aspects of professional big game hunting (i.e., guys who take millionaires into the bush so they can bag a rhino or a lion) vs. the ongoing uphill battle to conserve wildlife. Yes, Virginia, there are thousands of rich assholes who get a thrill out of drilling African wildlife with hot lead and then posing with their carcasses. L.A. Times celebrity assessor Amy Kaufman tweeted yesterday that Trophy “could be the next film out of @sundancefest to spark the kind of anger and debate that The Cove and Blackfish did.” Anger, sure, but who would argue with any sincerity that it’s cool to murder animals for the manly joy of it? The early-to-mid 20th Century culture that shrugged when Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway shot animals is no more. In today’s context the African hunting exploits of Donald Trump’s sons are nothing short of disgusting.