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Links for the Day: Sid Caesar R.I.P., Greta Gerwig on Television, Into the River of Fundament, Darren Aronofsky Wins Battle with Paramount, & More

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Links for the Day: Sid Caesar R.I.P., Greta Gerwig on Television, Into the River of Fundament, Darren Aronofsky Wins Battle with Paramount, & More

1. “Sid Caesar R.I.P.” Comedian of Comedians From TV’s Early Days Dies at 91.

“By the late 1950s, he was off the air, a victim of changing tastes as well as personal problems. He made a triumphant comeback on Broadway in 1962, playing seven characters in ’Little Me,’ a musical created by Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh and Mr. Simon. (A concert revival of ’Little Me’ was part of the Encores! series at City Center this month.) A year later, Mr. Caesar held his own among comedy heavyweights like Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney and Jonathan Winters in the hit movie ’It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.’ But his problems soon got the better of him, and his comeback was short-lived.”

2. “Greta Gerwig on Television” Richard Brody on the actress signing with CBS to star in the comedy series How I Met Your Dad.

“My first thought was: if only Barbara Loden had been given a sitcom after the release of her masterpiece, ’Wanda,’ she might have been able to finance another feature on her own. If the pilot for Gerwig’s show is picked up, she’ll be busy for—a third of the year? Half? And she’ll have a reliable source of income that will free her up to work on projects that inspire her uninhibited passion. Meanwhile, the particular challenges of television—the rapidity, the overt comedy, the omnipresence of the business side—may prove to be a useful experience and even a source of inspiration. (Plus residuals.) Imagine that Gerwig had received a no-strings-attached grant for the amount of the contract. I’d imagine that the cheers would be heard through my Twitter client, but it’s hard to imagine why the free but disengaged hands that it would leave her with would necessarily be better than a prominent gig, however commercial.”

3. “River of Fundament.” The Paris Review on Matthew Barney’s singular new film.

“On a day of shooting, Barney, as director, painted gold accents on grisly undead characters’ faces and guided actors through dialogue drawn from Mailer as well as Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William S. Burroughs. ’Past and future come together on thunderheads, and our dead hearts live with lightning in the wounds of the gods,’ bellowed one character, in a scene that required more than a few takes to get right. With his bushy white beard, and wearing a black T-shirt ornamented by the death-metal band Cannibal Corpse, Barney looked like anything but a refined cineaste. But his charge was much the same. ’Pour it a little more aggressively,’ he said through a mouthpiece to a production designer wetting the set with a strange, unidentified liquid. To the actress Ellen Burstyn, in the midst of a stubborn scene, he suggested, ’I think we should not smile.’ He was right: the eerie Burstyn’s version of not-smiling makes for an effect not to be forgotten.”

4. “Darren Aronofsky wins ’battle’ with Paramount over final edit of Noah.” The Black Swan director was “upset” over the studio’s attempt to appease religious audiences by recutting his biblical epic.

Aronofsky’s big budget fantasy has been plagued by reports that Paramount bigwigs cut their own versions following negative reactions from test screenings for US religious audiences, a demographic the $130m film needs to address if it is to stand a chance of recouping its gargantuan budget. But in the new issue of the Hollywood Reporter, the director of Black Swan and The Wrestler insists that the final version audiences will get to see in multiplexes is entirely his own. His victory might be a somewhat pyrrhic one, however, since Paramount appears to have given up the fight after its own versions of the film tested no better with Christians than the director’s cut.”

5. “Alan Moore’s School Daze.” Watchmen and V for Vendetta author talks movingly about being excluded from school for selling drugs.

“It is quite shocking how vividly Alan Moore recalls the isolation he felt after being excluded from education at the age of 17. It was 1970 and on the Friday night he and his fellow ArtsLab creatives had put a show on in Northampton Central Library’s performance space, Carnegie Hall. The Monday after that triumph Alan was in the headmaster’s study at Northampton Grammar School (now NSB) being told that for him, school days were over. He had been caught selling LSD and he would be expelled. Other schools and potential employers would be warned he was trouble. More than 40 years later Alan’s anger and hurt has transformed into an empathy for excluded pupils that prompted him to take up the invitation from National Literacy Hero and Northampton youth library worker Ruth Gasson to help expelled students re-engage with the education system.”

Video of the Day: Dale Hansen celebrates our differences:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjc6QlIdGg4
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Awards

Oscars 2019: Who Will Win? Who Should Win? Our Final Predictions

No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them.

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Roma
Photo: Netflix

No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits. Across the last 24 days, Ed Gonzalez and I have mulled over the academy’s existential crisis and how it’s polluted this year’s Oscar race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again. We’re spent, and while we don’t know if we have it in us to do this next year, we just might give it another go if Oscar proves us wrong on Sunday in more than just one category.

Below are our final Oscar predictions. Want more? Click on the individual articles for our justifications and more, including who we think should win in all 24 categories.

Picture: Green Book
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Actress: Glenn Close, The Wife
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Original Screenplay: Green Book
Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Foreign Language: Roma
Documentary Feature: RBG
Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence
Animated Short: Weekends
Live Action Short: Skin
Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Production Design: The Favourite
Cinematography: Cold War
Costume Design: The Favourite
Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice
Score: If Beale Street Could Talk
Song: “Shallow,” A Star Is Born
Sound Editing: First Man
Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Visual Effects: First Man

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Awards

Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Picture

The industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again.

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Green Book
Photo: Universal Pictures

“I’m hyperventilating a little. If I fall over pick me up because I’ve got something to say,” deadpanned Frances McDormand upon winning her best actress Oscar last year. From her lips to Hollywood’s ears. No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits.

But first, as McDormand herself called for during her speech, “a moment of perspective.” A crop of articles have popped up over the last two weeks looking back at the brutal showdown between Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare In Love at the 1999 Academy Awards, when Harvey Weinstein was at the height of his nefarious powers. Every retrospective piece accepts as common wisdom that it was probably the most obnoxious awards season in history, one that indeed set the stage for every grinding assault we’ve paid witness to ever since. But did anyone two decades ago have to endure dozens of weekly Oscar podcasters and hundreds of underpaid web writers musing, “What do the Academy Awards want to be moving forward, exactly? Who should voters represent in this fractured media environment, exactly?” How much whiskey we can safely use to wash down our Lexapro, exactly?

Amid the fox-in-a-henhouse milieu of ceaseless moral outrage serving as this awards season’s backdrop, and amid the self-obsessed entertainers now wrestling with the idea that they now have to be “content providers,” all anyone seems concerned about is what an Oscar means in the future, and whether next year’s versions of Black Panther and Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody have a seat at the table. What everyone’s forgetting is what the Oscars have always been. In other words, the industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again, and Oscar’s clearly splintered voting blocs may become ground zero for a Make the Academy Great Again watershed.

In 1956, the Oscars took a turn toward small, quotidian, neo-realish movies, awarding Marty the top prize. The correction was swift and sure the following year, with a full slate of elephantine epics underlining the movie industry’s intimidation at the new threat of television. Moonlight’s shocking triumph two years ago was similarly answered by the safe, whimsical The Shape of Water, a choice that reaffirmed the academy’s commitment to politically innocuous liberalism in artistically conservative digs. Call us cynical, but we know which of the last couple go-arounds feels like the real academy. Which is why so many are banking on the formally dazzling humanism of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and so few on the vital, merciless fury of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman.

And even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the academy’s new members, there’s that righteous, reactionary fervor in the air against those attempting to “cancel” Green Book. Those attacking the film from every conceivable angle have also ignored the one that matters to most people: the pleasure principle. Can anyone blame Hollywood for getting its back up on behalf of a laughably old-fashioned but seamlessly mounted road movie-cum-buddy pic that reassures people that the world they’re leaving is better than the one they found? That’s, as they say, the future that liberals and Oscar want.

Will Win: Green Book

Could Win: Roma or BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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Awards

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.

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BlacKkKlansman
Photo: Focus Features

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

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