MCN Originals

Review: Little Women (no spoilers)

I was just happy to be in the room with this family. I was happy to be bathed in their familial intimacies. I felt my heart break with their heartbreaks. And I was happy to feel clear in what each of the people represented and not to feel like the characters or the director was shoving the subtext down my throat like they were fattening my liver for pâté.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Cinema, Trump, and Oscar

What smashed me hard across the face about 1917 was the simple earnestness about honor and, considering its time, manhood at a time when America is wallowing in a lack of honor and a dearth of what were once seen as the virtues of manhood.

1917 is just one of the 5 period movies that very specifically deal with the male engagement with power.

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Box Office First Look

I’m getting back into this habit… but a little uninspired so far.

Frozen 2 opened in the same slot as Frozen, although the first time around, it opened on a single screen. This time, it started wide, as has become the norm

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Do You Want To Build A Straw Man?

I like Mark Harris. I respect Mark Harris. I care what Mark Harris thinks.

Unfortunately, Mark Harris has become one of the media’s most aggressive spokeshammers for the “everything is a nail” coalition.

I read his most recent Vanity Fair piece, “Conventional Oscar Wisdom Has an Almost All-White Best-Actress Lineup—For No Reason” with real curiosity.

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Why You Should Be Afraid Of The End Of The Paramount Decree

hanges in the course of the last 70 years have put the studios in a better position to reinstate their cartel more than ever. Aside from Paramount, the other four surviving major theatrical distributors are owned by multinational conglomerates that do not rely on their theatrical business as their primary revenue source. Even Disney’s leading theatrical is dwarfed by other Disney divisions such as ABC, cable operations and theme parks.

Meanwhile, the exhibition business, which splintered in many directions after the Paramount Decree has consolidated dramatically. America has four chains that own almost half the total screens in the country. AMC (8,218 screens), Cinemark (4,566), Regal (7,308), and Marcus (1,098).

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Gurus o’ Gold: Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor (Nov 19, 2019)

Now The Gurus take on the four acting categories. Netflix represents about a third of the nominations. Two people of color slot in the Top 5s. A surprise in the Supporting Actress Five.

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Review: Frozen 2 (spoiler-free)

In a weird way, since the original started with the women’s childhoods, they made Frozen 2 into a prequel or origins story, even as it moves forward.

But the problem… the stakes are external, not internal. Arendelle needs to be saved… again. Elsa has to learn about her magic… again. Anna is adorable… again.

And the songs are… good. It’s like writing a sequel to Grease. Or writing a sequel to any great-song musical. Good. Luck.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Best Picture (Nov 18, 2019)

The season has started at least a dozen times by now. But today is the day that The Gurus are back. A first look at Best Picture today, with Best Actor & Best Actress coming tomorrow.

And guess what? The #1 slot on the chart belongs to… 2 movies.

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Review: The Good Liar

I had great fun, from start to finish, trying to anticipate what was about to happen next and then being taken places that were unexpected. Are a few of the functional devices a little clanky? Absolutely. But I wasn’t judging the movie on that basis. For me, it was more like watching a Mission: Impossible film or episode. I didn’t have to believe that a guy in a rubber mask with a chip to adjust his voice passed without question for another person. I enjoyed the gag.

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Can’t We All Just Not Agree?

We now have a group that postures itself as aggrieved by popular films they do not like and whine endlessly about how culture as we know it is under attack by these barbarians who, in disagreeing with their taste, allegedly want to narrow the cultural road to the broad tastes of the broadest group possible to the exclusion of all others.

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Review: Marriage Story (spoilers only in the broadest sense)

I feel like there is a giant hole in the middle of this work.

Why is this couple getting divorced?

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AppleTV+ Lands…

So, tomorrow is arrival day for AppleTV+. And Apple is doing everything right… except for delivering on content. “The Morning Show” has been the stalking horse, with TV superstar Jennifer Aniston, Oscar-winning movie star Reese Witherspoon, and the well-loved crossover star, Steve Carell. And they should have thrown away the first two episodes and started…

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Strategy Session: Getting Out Of The Way

Playing from ahead can be even more difficult than playing from behind, especially if your goal is a win and not just a participation trophy.

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Review: Motherless Brooklyn (spoiler-free)

Motherless Brooklyn is perfect. This is both a virtue and limitation. My sense of the film is that it is in the spirit of Chinatown and The Man Who Knew Too Much and even a movie like Phantom Thread. It is an innocent’s (or a relative innocent’s) dive into a is well-established world that is…

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16 Weeks To Oscar: Best Picture

The thing about a season that seems as unsettled as this Oscar season seems… is that things usually lean towards the default positions, which is a bit boring and all too predictable.

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Strategy Session: Eight Things (In No Particular Order) To Know About Oscar Season

Welcome to the first chapter of Strategy Session, you guide to how the Oscar season really works. To get things started, here are some general tips about how all this madness really works.

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CG Man Showdown: The Irishman v Gemini Man

Putting film criticism aside, how different are the two major computerized “de-aging” films of 2019, in substance and director approach?

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Review: Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood (spoilers)

I’ve seen Quentin Tarantino’s 9th Film, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood three times so far. I usually watch his films twice before writing, checking my most intense reactions against a second view. This time, I must admit that I have been trying to connect to a clearer reaction and I still am.

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Dad Star Man: A Review Of AD ASTRA

What if there was intelligent life at the farthest reaches of the studio system?

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The DVD Wrapup: JW3, Aladdin 4K, Third Wife, Daybreakers, Echo in the Canyon, Rabbi Jacob, Lock Up, Mayday … More

Even though Keanu Reeves deserves much of the credit for the series’ continuing success, there’s something else going on here.

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MCN Originals

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon