On 11.21 Kino Classics will release a Bluray of David O. Selznick and John Cromwell‘s Since You Went Away (’44), a domestic wartime drama that runs nearly three hours. The Bluray contains the 177–minute roadshow version while Wikipedia lists a general release version running 172 minutes.
I can watch The Best Years of Our Lives over and over, but I can’t invest in watching a nearly-three-hour woman’s film starring Claudette Colbert. She was mildly alluring in the ’30s (Cleopatra, It Happened One Night, Midnight) but something intensely stodgy and conservative overtook her in the ’40s. Plus she was a Republican and a Reagan supporter, and she had a short neck.
Since You Went Away is famous for a sentimental railway station goodbye scene between costars Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker, who’d been married for four or five years at the time of filming. But Jones had been having an affair with Selznick since ’43, and the couple was going through a bitter divorce; they parted soon after Since You Went Away was completed. The farewell scene was parodied in Airplane! (’80 — clip after the jump)
The father of actor James Cromwell, the elder Cromwell was a kind of house director who churned out audience movies in the ’30s and ’40s (The Prisoner of Zenda, In Name only, Abe Lincoln in Illinois) before shifting into film noir (Dead Reckoning, The Racket). The poor guy was blacklisted from ’51 through ’58. His last significant film was The Goddess (’58), which was thought to be based on the unhappy personal life on Marilyn Monroe.
The top vote-getter for The Toronto Film Festival audience poll (called for promotional purposes the “Grolsch People’s Choice Awards“) is Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The first and second runners-up are Craig Gillespie‘s I, Tonya (stab me with a fork) and Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name.
Hollywood Reporter award season pulse-taker Scott Feinberg called the Three Billboards win an “upset” because he’d been predicting Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water for the win. I suspect that TIFF audiences appreciated Shape as far as it went (i.e., sex with gill-man) but they really liked where Three Billboards went at the end — away from anger, turning it down, acceptance.
The Midnight Madness Award went to Joseph Kahn’s Bodied (winner), Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 and James Franco’s The Disaster Artist.
From Pumpkin Spice Cheerios URL: “Made from real pumpkin puree and a delicious blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It’s fall in a box! This seasonal flavor is going to be a pantry staple…but make sure to grab a box as it’s only available for a limited time.”
“I saw mother! with an almost full house last night in East Hampton, New York. An older, dare I say erudite crowd — I don’t know how I got in. It played well until the end. One walk-out in front of me that I saw. A lot of uncomfortable laughter during the post-birth pass around. And then a little stunned silence at one critical moment. The very end plays pretty cool with some people, those who were giving what they’d just seen a pass because of the payoff. That’s the sense I got from chatter on the way out. But Mrs. McCuddy isn’t forgiving me any time soon. She turned and said ‘That’s the worst movie ever made.’ And we aren’t remodeling the country home any time soon either.” — HE’s own Bill McCuddy.
“No. It’s more like Aronofsky meets Salvador Dali or Luis Bunuel (they were friends). It’s a Surrealistic Pillow. It’s the year’s best movie to watch high. But it’s not something to literally pick apart at the seams. That takes all the fun out of it.” — Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson.
John Carpenter to the critics who’ve been wetting themselves over Get Out since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 1.24.17: “I’ve been quiet over the last eight months because Jordan Peele‘s a sharp, savvy actor, comedian and filmmaker, and he deserves his day in the sun. But Get Out was a tribute to me, okay? To the kind of mid-budget socially reflective genre satire that I used to make. I’m the godfather, I own the patent, and now that Oscar season has begun I want a little acknowledgment of this. Okay, Larry Cohen might have been another inspiration, along with, I suppose, The Stepford Wives. But have any of you pricks even mentioned my influence in your reviews? Would you even say the name Carpenter if I didn’t grab the mike and say ‘c’mon, what the fuck, guys…let’s be fair about this’?
Gastone Moschin, the Italian actor who played Don Fanucci in The Godfather, Part II and a fascist bad guy in Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Conformist, died twelve days ago (9.4.17) at age 88. He was living in Terni, Italy. The family spokesperson apparently didn’t feel that announcing his death in a timely manner was a matter of urgency, and that’s okay. Everything in its time.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach? No offense but he’s not good-looking enough. If I was a girl or a gay guy I wouldn’t be interested. He looks like the best friend of the bad guy. Am I allowed to say this? Of course not. I’m still looking forward to seeing Tokyo Project, which lasts all of 32 minutes.
Offer American moviegoers a chance to try something a little different, a film that’s a bit more complex and fibre-rich and challenging than the usual bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, and they will lunge at Tony the Tiger every time. That is who and what Americans are for the most part — lazy, pleasure-seeking, popcorn-munching toads.
If you were paying any attention to the online conversations from Toronto over the last several days, you knew that Darren Aronfosky‘s mother! was something you had to see this weekend. It might not be your cup of tea or it might thrill or levitate you, but if you had the faintest interest in the latest topic du jour and keeping up with the Joneses in terms of cafe chatter, mother! was essential viewing.
(l.) Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s L’Age d’Or, released in 1930 to great controversy; (r.) Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, released yesterday by Paramount Pictures.
Yes, Paramount sold it as a conventional horror film, which mother! certainly isn’t. But content doesn’t seem to have been a factor. It would be one thing if a sizable nationwide crowd paid to see mother! yesterday and decided they didn’t like it….okay, fine. But they didn’t even show up. It was like they could smell what mother! was selling and just said “nope!” When people don’t want to see something, you can’t stop ’em. But Jennifer Lawrence can be proud — she really put herself out there and scored with a difficult, leap-of-faith, swan dive of a role
Obviously we’re looking at two Americas in terms of horror-film fare — one that loves cheaply superficial, teen-friendly, empty-headed horror films like IT (which I hated and which has made $274,310,619 worldwide so far) and another that savors the idea of smart, occasionally metaphorical, ahead-of-the-curve horror flicks like mother!, The Babadook, The Witch and that line of country.
I’m a mother! kind of guy, but then you knew that.
You know what mother! is? It’s the new L’Age d’Or. Luis Bunuel‘s 1930 surrealist film, which opened on 11.29.30 at Studio 28 in Montmartre, also got a kind of F grade from conservative audiences of the day. It was attacked, spat upon, banned and withdrawn from circulation. It too was regarded as too arty or too perverse. All to say that Aronofsky and Lawrence are in good company, and that they should be proud for having made — no exaggeration — a disruptive, socially reflective masterpiece.
Earlier today the great Harry Dean Stanton left the planet. He was 91. HDS’s greatest role, no question, was Bud, Emilio Estevez‘s sardonic father figure and spiritual guide, in Alex Cox‘s Repo Man. There’s a good reason why I bought Criterion’s Bluray of that landmark 1984 film, and that’s Harry Dean.
His second best performance was in Ulu Grosbard‘s Straight Time (’78), in which he played Jerry, an amiable thief and old friend of Dustin Hoffman‘s Max Dembo. Jerry’s luck runs out following the robbing of a Beverly Hills jewelry store, but it’s really Dembo’s fault for taking too long after the alarm had sounded and for choosing Gary Busey, a junkie and a weakling, to drive the getaway car. I believed every word, every line that Stanton said in that film. 100% genuine, absolute real deal. Jerry to Max: “Get me outta here…get me outta here, man.”
Stanton’s third best wasn’t a performance but a wordless cameo. It happened at the very end of David Lynch‘s The Straight Story (’99). Richard Farnsworth finally completes his journey to his brother’s (i.e. Stanton’s) home, and HDS steps out and stands on the front porch and looks at his brother and just kind of quietly melts, almost imperceptibly.
And that’s it, really — just those three performances. No, wait…one more.
In Frank Perry‘s Rancho Deluxe (’75), HDS played a glum but romantically susceptible ranch hand named Curt. Curt is always hanging with his best friend Burt (Richard Bright), and of course their names are a running gag. And of course a young woman whom Curt falls for, a niece of Slim Pickens‘ bounty hunter called Laura (Charlene Dallas), has a hard time recalling if his name is Curt or Burt. Her affections, in other words, are less than 100% sincere. I think it’s allowable to mention that Rancho Deluxe has a great (if brief) blowjob scene between HDS and Dallas. Amusing and curiously erotic at the same time.
I could never quite invest in Wim Wenders‘ Paris, Texas (’84), in which Stanton played Nastassja Kinksi‘s ex-husband, Travis. HDS was just shy of 60 when he played the part, and he could never generate even a hint of a sexy-older-guy vibe — it just wasn’t in him. Kinski was 22 or 23, and there was just no buying them as a couple. I therefore watched Paris, Texas with a certain detachment. I’ve never even thought about re-watching it.
20-plus years ago I went down to The Mint to hear Stanton and his band play a couple of sets. He was a reasonably decent vocalist. The band was mainly performing top-40 soul and blues standards. At one point Harry announced that they were about to play “Mustang Sally,” and I remember wincing and saying to myself, “Oh, no…don’t do that..please. I hate that song, mostly because it’s been played to death for decades.” But they did, of course. That tore it for me. I left 15 or 20 minutes later.
Most filmgoers don’t associate the terms “horror flick” and “intriguing social metaphor.” They just go for the shocks and shrieks. But with the arrival of Darren Aronofsky‘s mother!, this dynamic is about to change.
It’s a film about dark, malicious things happening to a home and more particularly to a shaky marriage between Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, but it’s not some primal, oozy, goo-gloppy horror flick but — surprise! — a nervy, wild-ass provocation that actually qualifies as “thoughtful”. Really. Five or six people can see mother! and come out with five or six different takes, and all of them valid.
Obviously all horror flicks are signifiers of subterranean cultural undercurrents, but most stand and deliver as visceral experiences. The best ones slip into your bloodstream and before you know it you’re them. Or they’re you. mother! is visceral as hell, but you can’t watch it and not think “uhhm, this is about more than what I’m seeing on the screen…this might actually be about everything that’s happening on the planet right now.” Or not. Up to you. But it begs to be grappled with.
What happens in mother! is not entirely pretty or pleasant, but the movie is obviously a social or mythical allegory of some kind. I regard it as a portrait of the rancid, poisonous currents in our culture invading and ruining an oasis of purity and simplicity, or maybe as just a simple re-telling of the Adam and Eve saga. Some are seeing a reflection of what celebrities often go through with overly aggressive fans. The other day I called it “the single most profound explanation or dramatization of the saying that ‘hell is other people.'” Others are detecting an oblique confession of what Aronofsky may be like as a husband (i.e., self-engulfed in his artistic process, susceptible to mood swings).
Reactions are so intense and all-over-the-map that there’s only one thing to derive: mother! has to be seen.
The reaction of N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott is one of respect and even amusement (“Don’t listen to anyone who natters on about how intense or disturbing it is — it’s a hoot!”). At the same time National Review‘s Kyle Smith has called mother! “an exercise in torture porn” and possibly “the vilest movie ever released by a major Hollywood studio.” Fantastic! Agitated French conservatives reacted with similar disdain when Luis Bunuel‘s L’Age d’Or opened in Paris in 1930, and look what happened with that one.
I should’ve posted this All The Money In The World trailer yesterday. Gut reactions requested. Kevin Spacey‘s transformational make-up is exciting in itself. I’m sensing an undercurrent, ramped-up energy… something along those lines. Obviously a strong…make that an interesting cast: Michelle Williams first and foremost, plus Spacey as J. Paul Getty (nobody plays disdainful pricks with his panache) as well as Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Charlie Plummer, Charlie Plummer (playing kidnap victim John Paul Getty III) and Timothy Hutton as an attorney.
I’m currently on a United flight back to Los Angeles, somewhere over Ohio or Indiana. Nice seat, AC plug beneath the seat, wifi slowish but tolerable.
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