1. ”Godfather Cinematographer Gordon Willis Dies at 82.” He shot the Godfather trilogy and such Woody Allen classics as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose and Zelig.
“Gordon Willis, the acclaimed cinematographer behind the Godfather trilogy and such Woody Allen films as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose and Zelig, has died. He was 82. Richard Crudo, the president of the American Society of Cinematographers, confirmed the news Sunday night. No other details were immediately available. Willis’ credits also include Klute (1971), The Paper Chase (1973), The Parallax View (1974), The Drowning Pool (1975), All the President’s Men (1976), Comes a Horseman (1978), Allen’s Interiors (1978), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and Stardust Memories (1980). Willis received Oscar nominations for Zelig and The Godfather: Part III and earned the ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. In 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar ’for unsurpassed mastery of light, shadow, color and motion.’ He was given the nickname ’The Prince of Darkness’ by fellow cinematographer Conrad Hall for his daring use of using as little light as possible.”
2. “Iranian actress Leila Hatami’s kiss at Cannes Film Festival angers authorities back home.” Iranian actress Leila Hatami has angered authorities in Tehran by kissing the Cannes Film Festival’s president on the cheek, an act seen as an affront to the “chastity” of the Islamic republic’s women.
“A photograph carried by Iranian media shows Hatami kissing Gilles Jacob at the opening of this year’s festival. ’Those who attend intentional events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world,’ deputy culture minister Hossein Noushabadi said, in quotes carried on the website of state broadcaster IRIB. ’[The] Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence.’”
3. “Why Victims’ Families Are Furious About 9/11 Memorial Museum.” The 9/11 Memorial Museum, set to open to the public this Friday, is at the center of an intense debate.
“The New York City-based museum costs $24 to enter, and the gift shop offers pricey coffee mugs, T-shirts, key chains and stuffed animals. A separate part of the museum also houses some 8,000 unidentified human remains from the terrorist attacks. Those juxtapositions—tribute and commercialism, trinkets amid tragedy—have victims’ families fuming. Jim Riches doesn’t plan on visiting. His son Jimmy, a firefighter, was 29 when he died in the attacks. It took more than six months to find some of Jimmy’s remains. The rest, Riches believes, are unidentified and in the repository. ’My son’s friends are going to have to pay $24 to go down and pay their respects,’ Riches said. ’I think that’s a disgrace. It’s the only cemetery in the world where you have to pay a fee to get in.’”
4. “How the structure of restaurants breeds rebellion.” Today’s special: arbitrary rules.
“Some characters defy order and upset the humorless stability of a well-run restaurant because they’re a free spirit, and, well, just not a rule-follower. John Belushi’s Bluto in Animal House only cares about immediate gratification and having fun—there’s probably a sign in that cafeteria not to eat the food until you pay for it, but reining in his appetite to follow instructions is not even on Bluto’s list of considerations. The conservative, rule-following, top-of-the-power-structure students try to maintain status quo and smother Bluto’s chaotic influence, but are clearly outnumbered based on how quickly the food fight ignites. The idea that ‘50s society was repressed is a basic trope, but the cliché is more fun if we get the sense that it’s always on the verge of subversive release and somebody’s about to get a face full of green Jell-O.”
5. “Bombast: This Print Could Be Your Life.” Nick Pinkerton gives 35mm a farewell tour.
“Rather than by scarcity, our relationship with the media we consume is now dictated by the myth of everything-available-all-the-time-always bounty, which is pervasive and pernicious. The thinking goes: there is no pressing reason to make it to a screening, because you can see it on DVD, Netflix, Hulu, etc.—nevermind that you’ll be seeing something entirely different when you do, and that the absence of any sense of urgency means that you’ll very possibly put off seeing whatever it is in perpetuity. Meanwhile, in erstwhile cultural capitol New York City, the disappearance of video stores has continued apace with Manhattan’s being denuded of bookstores, meaning that it has rarely been more difficult to see precisely what you want to see, precisely when you want to see it. Hail thee, o Internet, for ushering in this New Jerusalem of cultural bounty!”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar:
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Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay
After walking back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing here.
Eric and I have done a good job this year of only selectively stealing each other’s behind-the-scenes jokes. We have, though, not been polite about stepping on each other’s toes in other ways. Okay, maybe just Eric, who in his impeccable take on the original screenplay free-for-all detailed how the guilds this year have almost willfully gone out of their way to “not tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film.” Case in point: Can You Ever Forgive Me? winning the WGA’s adapted screenplay trophy over presumed Oscar frontrunner BlacKkKlansman. A glitch in the matrix? We think so. Eric and I are still in agreement that the race for best picture this year is pretty wide open, though maybe a little less so in the wake of what seemed like an easy win for the Spike Lee joint. Nevertheless, we all know that there’s no Oscar narrative more powerful than “it’s about goddamn time,” and it was so powerful this year that even the diversity-challenged BAFTAs got the memo, giving their adapted screenplay prize to Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. To bamboozle Lee at this point would, admittedly, be so very 2019, but given that it’s walked back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing.
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman
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.