1. “Sochi: Gay Activists Protest in St. Petersburg on Eve of Olympics Opening Ceremony.” The action is part of a global campaign urging Olympic sponsors to speak out against the persecution of gays in Russia.
“Andre Banks, All Out’s co-founder and executive director, who was leading one of the Global Speak Out actions outside McDonald’s in New York’s Times Square, told The Hollywood Reporter: ’It is important that Olympic sponsors understand and speak out against the impact these laws have on gay Russians.’ He added that, in the past, public demonstrations by gay and lesbian Russians had lead to violence, arrests and fines, but activists felt that on the eve of the Winter Olympics they had no choice but to ensure their voices were heard.”
2. “Inside Russia’s Anti-Gay Vigilante Army, Occupy Pedophilia.” Rich Juzwiak on the U.K.’s Channel 4 documentary Hunted about the inner workings of Occupy Pedophilia.
“I thought the following scene was particularly poignant. In it, a survivor of anti-gay violence describes his attack, which left him without his left eye. He also explains the psychology of his assailants: ’First they shut us up with their laws so we cannot say anything in our defense, and then they say we are similar to murderers and perverts. If it’s constantly drilled into people that we are murders, scum and perverts, I understand why these guys shot at me. If you repeat something all the time, sooner or later there will be a click, and they will pick up a gun and go and shoot.’”
3. “Now Movie Studios Want to Control Twitter.” Paramount censoring bad press about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Nijna Turtles.
“There’s a lot of science to explain why we don’t trust advertising, and a pretty great book on the subject, but there’s a fundamental problem (for companies) with PR. While you can completely control the ads that people don’t trust, you can’t control public relations. At least not as much as you’d like. You can’t eat your cake and entice people to buy it, too. To be fair, movie studios have accepted that shift relatively well — probably because PR solves the age-old problem of having to advertise a new product (and make millions of people believe in it) every other month or so. But now that the Aint It Coolism of internet movie sites has reached gargantuan levels, studios are scrambling for some semblance of control over the things they don’t want out in the open yet. The latest, biggest example is Paramount sending copyright violation notices to random Twitter users for sharing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concept art.”
4. “Sympathy for the Loser.” Mitt Romney’s Sobering Netflix Documentary.
“Netflix is advertising Mitt with the tagline, ’Whatever side you’re on, see another side,’ promising a glimpse of the ’real’ presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor. Yet the ’other side’ it wants us to see is all the minutiae that goes into a presidential campaign—the sitting around with your wife before a televised debate, the late-night powwows about primary numbers, the endless traveling. This is the guts of Mitt, and because the final outcome is known from the beginning, there’s a strange poignancy to the futility of what we observe. Normally, such a backstage, procedural documentary shows us all the hard work as an inevitable precursor to the eventual triumph. But not Mitt. We watch a guy working very, very hard, even though we know he’s going to fall short.”
5. “Strength and Compassion.” A Note to Drug Abuse Concern Trolls, Concerning Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t strong enough. That’s not a value judgment. It’s not a comment on his intelligence, his character, his drive or his talent. It’s just a fact—one that anybody who’s grappled with substance abuse or watched a loved one struggle with it will recognize. Addiction is a beast. It’s powerful. Sometimes it overwhelms even those who fight hard against it for decades. We should not ignore these facts when an addict relapses—temporarily, permanently or fatally. We should not distort these facts to make it easier to denounce the addict for failing a test of morality or guts. It’s such a bizarre phenomenon, this concern trolling, this posthumous shaming. It reminds me of Western men’s 19th century obsession with never showing “a yellow streak,” as if physical courage were the sole determinant of virtue. It’s dumb. It’s unrealistic. It’s cruel. And in this context, it’s useless.” [See also: Glenn Kenny and David Carr.]
Video of the Day: Richard Brody on Lost in Translation:
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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay
This season, Hollywood is invested in celebrating the films they love while dodging the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
You know, if it weren’t for the show’s producers effectively and repeatedly saying everything about the Academy Awards is terrible and needs to be changed, and the year’s top-tier contenders inadvertently confirming their claims, this would’ve been a comparatively fun and suspenseful Oscar season. None of us who follow the Academy Awards expect great films to win; we just hope the marathon of precursors don’t turn into a Groundhog Day-style rinse and repeat for the same film, ad nauseam.
On that score, mission accomplished. The guilds have been handing their awards out this season as though they met beforehand and assigned each voting body a different title from Oscar’s best picture list so as not to tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film. SAG? Black Panther. PGA? Green Book. DGA? Roma. ASC? Cold War. ACE? Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Even awards-season kryptonite A Star Is Born got an award for contemporary makeup from the MUAHS. (That’s the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, not the sound Lady Gaga fans have been making ever since A Star Is Born’s teaser trailer dropped last year.)
Not to be outdone, the Writers Guild of America announced their winners last weekend, and not only did presumed adapted screenplay frontrunner BlacKkKlansman wind up stymied by Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but the original screenplay prize went to Eighth Grade, which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. Bo Burnham twisted the knife into AMPAS during his acceptance speech: “To the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!” In both his sarcasm and his surprise, it’s safe to say he speaks on behalf of us all.
As is always the case, WGA’s narrow eligibility rules kept a presumed favorite, The Favourite, out of this crucial trial heat. But as the balloting period comes to a close, the question remains just how much enthusiasm or affection voters have for either of the two films with the most nominations (Roma being the other). As a recent “can’t we all just get along” appeal by Time’s Stephanie Zacharek illustrates, the thing Hollywood is most invested in this season involves bending over backward, Matrix-style, to celebrate the films they love and still dodge the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
Maybe it’s just tunnel vision from the cultural vacuum Oscar voters all-too-understandably would prefer to live in this year, but doesn’t it seem like The Favourite’s tastefully ribald peppering of posh-accented C-words would be no match for the steady litany of neo-Archie Bunkerisms spewing from Viggo Mortensen’s crooked mouth? Especially with First Reformed’s Paul Schrader siphoning votes from among the academy’s presumably more vanguard new recruits? We’ll fold our words in half and eat them whole if we’re wrong, but Oscar’s old guard, unlike John Wayne, is still alive and, well, pissed.
Will Win: Green Book
Could Win: The Favourite
Should Win: First Reformed
Watch: Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, Starring Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton, Gets First Trailer
Joanna Hogg has been flying under the radar for some time, but that’s poised to change in a big way.
British film director and screenwriter Joanna Hogg, whose impeccably crafted 2013 film Exhibition we praised on these pages for its “disarming mixture of the remarkable and the banal,” has been flying under the radar for the better part of her career. But that’s poised to change in a big way with the release of her latest film, The Souvenir, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the film’s world premiere at the festival, A24 and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired its U.S. and U.K. distribution rights, respectively. Below is the official description of the film:
A shy but ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.
And below is the film’s first trailer:
A24 will release The Souvenir on May 17.
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing
For appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore, one film has the upper hand here.
Given what Eric wrote about the sound editing category yesterday, it now behooves me to not beat around the bush here. Also, it’s my birthday, and there are better things for me to do today than count all the ways that Eric and I talk ourselves out of correct guesses in the two sound categories, as well as step on each other’s toes throughout the entirety of our Oscar-prediction cycle. In short, it’s very noisy. Which is how Oscar likes it when it comes to sound, though maybe not as much the case with sound mixing, where the spoils quite often go to best picture nominees that also happen to be musicals (Les Misérables) or musical-adjacent (Whiplash). Only two films fit that bill this year, and since 2019 is already making a concerted effort to top 2018 as the worst year ever, there’s no reason to believe that the scarcely fat-bottomed mixing of Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody will take this in a walk, for appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore.
Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Could Win: A Star Is Born
Should Win: First Man