Opening in Las Vegas, November 10, 2017


The Oscar bait films, as well as some Christmas trash, open this week.

I’m eager to see two films. One is The Florida Project (92), from Sean Baker, who made a good film with a smart phone (Tangerine) and now gets to use 35mm. It’s about poor people who live in motels near Disney World, and from all indications seems to be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, as well as one for Willem Dafoe, the only professional actor in the cast.

I’m also dying to see Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck (72). Here’s the summary from Metacritic: Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his home and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out on quests to find what they are missing that unfold with mesmerizing symmetry.

In the I’ll pass category, there’s Murder on the Orient Express (53), perhaps the most pointless film of the year. This is the fourth filming of one of Agatha Christie’s most popular books. Anyone who has seen the film with Albert Finney need not see this one, as I understand the solution to the murder is the same.

Tragedy Girls (58) is kind of a Heathers for the social media age, as two girls go on a killing spree to get more hits. This subject could be the making of a good black comedy, but apparently this isn’t it.

And then there’s Daddy’s Home 2 (29). We’ve noted here that Will Ferrell’s career is in the crapper, as he seems to be only interested in the paycheck now.


Opening in Las Vegas, November 3, 2017


After a couple of weeks of doldrums the box office is set to pick up this week with a film from Marvel and a sequel to a popular films. It also (gasp!) has the first Christmas movie of the season.

The third Thor film, subtitled Ragnarok  (73), is getting decent reviews, mostly because of its comic nature (it is directed by Taika Waititi). I’ve always found the Thor features the weakest of the MCU, perhaps because Thor just isn’t that interesting. Every film gets stolen by Loki.

Bad Mom’s Christmas (42) is the yuletide sequel to a popular comedy. I didn’t see the first one, and have no desire to, so unless I’m kidnapped I won’t be seeing this one. From what I heard from people I know, a lot of women went to see the first one.

I’m very much looking forward to The Killing of a Sacred Deer (75), Giorgio Lanthimos’ follow up to the wildly original The Lobster. The reviews are disappointing, but I’m up for anything he has to show. Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Alicia Silverstone (!)

Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president, has been quite visible in films and plays lately, from Tom Wilkinson in Selma to Bryan Cranston on Broadway. Now comes LBJ (54), with Woody Harrelson as the president. This seems unnecessary, as indicated by the meh reviews. Another dud from director Rob Reiner.

Streaming on Netflix: Alias Grace (82), another adaptation of a Margaret Atwood novel. It’s about a murder in the wilderness back in 1843. I’ll definitely watch it.

For you in America, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour!





2m2e7oz1Welcome to HAGEBOC 2017!  Please join me in celebrating the holiday season by guessing how much money Star Wars and a few Oscar-bait dramas will earn between now and early January!

No change in the scoring system this year (4 points awarded to the person with the closest guess, 2 to the runner-up.  A 2 point bonus for being within 500k.  Bonus questions are worth 1/2 point each).

Answers are due on Friday, November 3rd by 3:00 pm EST.  Good luck!

  1. What will Thor: Ragnarok earn this weekend?
  2. What will A Bad Moms Christmas earn this weekend?

Oscar 2017: Best Actress


By my count, Oscars have gone to actors playing mute or deaf characters four times–Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda, John Mills in Ryan’s Daughter, Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God, and Holly Hunter in The Piano. You can also add Jean Dujardin for his (almost) wordless performance in The Artist. If all the advance word is true, a another may be added this year. It seems Oscar loves performers who don’t speak.

But it’s still early, so things may change. This is how I see the Best Actress race at the end of October. In alphabetical order:

Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Will Annette Bening ever win an Oscar? She’s playing a juicy role, that of Oscar-winner Gloria Grahame. The question is whether this film will be released this year. It’s been pushed back all the way to December 29th. One thing is for sure–she won’t lose to Hillary Swank again.

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water. The front-runner, playing a mute woman who falls in love with a strange creature. The film is sci-fi, so it has something of an obstacle to overcome, but the advance word is great.

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The film has been a hit at festivals, and judging by the trailer McDormand is given some memorable lines. She’s been nominated four times before, so seems to be an Academy favorite.

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya. She received a Gotham Award nomination, so apparently the film is not a joke. Tonya Harding certainly is a role full of comedy and drama, and Oscar like performers who play real people. Would Tonya Harding attend the ceremony?

Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel. Woody Allen is always good at getting women Oscar nominations. This would be Kate’s eighth total, for what is said to be a meaty role of a woman living on Coney Island during the ’50s.

Also possible: Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project; Meryl Streep, The Post, Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul; Saorsie Ronan, Lady Bird; Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game.

Review: Suburbicon


suburbiconGeorge Clooney’s second film as director in 2005 – ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ – was one of my favourite films of the 2000s. Concise, sharp, riveting and intelligently done; it was fully deserving of the critical praise and Academy Award nominations it got. At this time it seemed certain that Clooney would be a director of note for decades.

Alas the films he’s directed since have largely been critical disappointments and his latest film – ‘Suburbicon’ – is such a woeful misfire that one can only conclude that ‘Good Night, And Good Luck’ was a fluke exception to the rule.

Set in 1959 American suburbia, the home of middle-class Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is invaded by two thugs whose actions lead to the death of his wife Rose (Julianne Moore). Everyone in town is shocked by the event and supports Gardner and his family. But when Gardner’s young son Nicky (Noah Jupe) sees his dad & Rose’s sister Margaret (also Moore) fail to ID the two culprits in a police lineup it’s clear there’s much more to this than meets the eye.

Suburbicon fails on multiple levels. One reason is that it seems to treat the fact that seemingly affluent and content 1950s Middle America was – gasp! – in fact full of hypocrisy, contradictions and complacency as something fresh and insightful. Somehow Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov (working off an old Coen brothers screenplay) seem to have ignored the endless TV shows and films documenting this in recent decades that have made that assumption a well-worn cliché by now.

And in anycase, the film does virtually nothing interesting with this assumption as it’s all lazy surface-detail observations; apparently mentioning the central family is Episcopalian numerous times is as far as it goes for insight. The central character of Gardner is a total void as we never begin to understand his motivations as to why he behaves the way he does. Dealt with such an empty vessel of a character, Damon struggles haplessly.

As well, Clooney’s is aiming for the skewered crime-noir that original writers and his regular collaborators the Coen brothers are famous for but he’s simply not up to the task. Especially in the early segments, his direction is telegraphed and heavy-handed and what should be an intense and compelling crime mystery feels tedious and dreary. The home invasion scene early in the film is one of the least-interesting types of those scenes I can recall and feels twice as long as it should be.

But the film’s biggest error is a subplot awkwardly inserted in (which has no real connection to the main plot and could’ve easily been excised from the film) is about the arrival of a black family in the all-white neighbourhood. Reactions go from initial bemusement and shock (the local postman presumes the wife is the house maid) to outrage and a violent and vicious mob.

This subplot is so cartoonish and relentless that its impact is zero. An early scene of a town meeting where local residents voice their disapproval at non-whites being part of their town feels like a meeting of overt virulent racists from the KKK as opposed to what many 50s white suburbanites would be like. The film’s racial commentary is so heavy-handed that it makes ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?’ seem like a subtle take on race relations.

There are a few positive aspects to the film. A scene where in response to Nicky’s displeasure Margaret turns from a sweet and sunny persona to someone full of deviousness and manipulation is well done and acted. Also the scene where an insurance investigator (well played by Oscar Issac) interrogates Margaret is atypically riveting. And the 1950s style and visuals are pleasing on the eye. But in truth this film has very few pleasures or satisfaction to offer.

There has been talk in social media that the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Damon & Clooney’s associations with the disgraced producer ensured this film was doing to be DOA at the box office when it opened and perhaps that’s true to an extent. But even if that scandal hadn’t occurred ‘Suburbicon’ would’ve sunk anyway as it doesn’t succeed on any level.

Movies Opening and Streaming in New Jersey and Surrounding Environs and Worldwide – Weekend of October 28th, 2017

Jigsaw – I’m not a horror movie fan, but you can’t deny the staying power of a movie where people cut their limbs off that has lasted eight installments. But then, Medea is on her second Halloween movie already, so there’s that, I guess. And yes, I’m still at the point where I can watch Medea much more easily than I can watch people cutting off their own limbs. Is this one even about people cutting off their limbs, or are they treating it like romantic comedies? Does Jigsaw have a kid with someone he’s torturing or something?
Suburbicon – I have to admit I’m a fan of Clooney’s directorial efforts. I don’t remember much about the Gong Show movie but I can’t really remember why (maybe it was because Sam Rockwell was in it?) and Good Night, Good Luck was so well done, and I was so impressed that Clooney directed it, I still remember it fondly. I’ll have to revisit it soon. This stars Damon and has a home invasion and black humor, apparently, thanks, likely, to the fact the Coens co-wrote it. I can’t imagine the low-key direction of Clooney will mix well with the Coens, but what do I know? And I’m wondering if the current Weinstein imbroglio is going to harm Damon’s career – more than his current movie choices have, of course. But it’s currently at 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and Ebert reviews gave it a 1.5, so maybe the Weinstein kerfuffle won’t make any difference.
Thank You for Your Service – What is this? Ah, a movie based on a book about service members returning home from service. Will it delve into the reasons for the war in question? Or does the marketing team not want to incur the wrath of trolls who would bag the movie for getting political? Who knows. If this is your kind of movie, I hope you get something important out of it, and it enhances your life somehow. Who’s Miles Teller? What has he been in?
Notable Streaming Releases –
Creep 2 – Our own James says Creep 2 is pretty excellent, it’s doing great on Rotten Tomatoes, and the first review I read says Creep 2 is ‘strange and wonderful’. It, however, stars and was co-written by Mark Duplass, so this is all I will say about this movie, as I will not be seeing it. But if you’re gonna watch this, hope it’s as good for you as it was for James and the reviewers.
Stranger Things 2 – By far the biggest event of the weekend. I can’t add anything to this part of the post that hasn’t been discussed already. But I will say that man, you have to be awfully cynical (or under 25 because, you know) to think Stranger Things is, you know, bad, and not the masterfully-crafted homage it is to all the things that made entertainment so fun and interesting and watchable in the 80’s.
The Center Will Not Hold – I decided to add this one because it’s a fantastic look at a fantastic woman, Joan Didion, directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne. A fantastic look at a certain time and place through the lens looking through the eyes of a national treasure and one of the most important American writers ever. It’s uplifting and enlightening and tragic and worth it. Watch it.

Review: Blade Runner 2049


Okay, a few things to get out of the way: I have seen the original Blade Runner, but it was a long time ago and I don’t remember much of it. That might have helped some while watching Blade Runner 2049, the long-simmering sequel, which is all about replicants, bio-engineered beings that resemble humans in almost all ways but are not, though in what ways we really don’t know.

There’s a title card that tells us that replicants in the year 2049 are new and improved, and always obey (this is sort of like Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot). The older models, the ones who did not obey, are hunted down by blade runners. One of them is Ryan Gosling, and he’s a replicant. The opening scene has him “retiring” an old model, then finding another one buried on the property.

It turns out this replicant had a baby. In the world of this film, it is earth-shaking news that replicants might be able to breed. The head of the company that makes them, a weird cat played by Jared Leto, wants this baby, who would now be about 28 years old, found, so he can figure out how it was done. Gosling, working for the police, is also assigned to find it. So we get a classic noir tale, as Gosling follows clues wearing a knee-length trench coat and a day’s stubble (replicants can grow facial hair, I guess) to figure out who that baby is grown up to be.

Though the film is structured as a noir, of course it is also science fiction. Turns out we have flying cars in 2049, and I hope I live long enough to get one. Of course, the world is a bleak place. The cities are still like the original film, with huge advertisements and holograms (one of them is for prostitution and is naked about fifty feet tall). For companionship you can have a hologram for a partner, as Gosling does (Ana de Armas), who he can talk to, but physical contact is tough.

Leto’s assistant (Sylvia Hoeks), also a replicant, is the bad-ass who is chasing down the baby and creating mayhem wherever she goes. We also meet a woman who is responsible for creating the memories that are implanted into replicants, and a human prostitute who fills in for de Armas to make sex possible (this reminded me of the scene in Her where this attempted). The future is not so bright.

The trailer gives away an important plot point that is used as a surprise in the film–the return of Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, who was the original Blade Runner. If you’ve been arguing about whether Deckard was a replicant or not, the film answers it definitively. We also get a brief return of Sean Young, who is really nothing but CGI.

I’m kind of avoiding saying whether I liked the film or not. I did, but I’m not sure why. The look is tremendous. Roger Deakins is the cinematographer–will be finally get his Oscar? The sets are beautiful in their bleakness, while Leto’s inner chamber is awash with reflected light off of a pool that is mesmerizing. But a few things bother me–the rules of what replicants can and can’t do bother me. They are created, without souls, but little seems to separate them from humans. They can bleed, feel pain and emotion (some are always crying). I would have liked more specificity.

Also, since the lead character is basically an android, what does he want? The first thing you learn in writing drama is that a character must want something, and must be always trying to get it. Gosling, because he plays a non-human who is programmed to do his job, is simply following orders through most of the film. At a certain point he takes on the ability to do his own thing–how did that happen? Replicants can also clearly love–he loves his hologram, for instance. How does that interfere with their obedience?

This film creates a lot of interesting questions and doesn’t answer all of them, which is okay. The lack of box office (the first film didn’t do great business, either, not in its first release) would suggest that any further sequels are unlikely, even though they are set up. I suppose fans will just have to argue about this one for thirty years until Blade Runner 2082 is released.

Review: The Meyerowitz Stories


This may seem odd but when I watched The Meyerowitz Stories, which has no opening credits, I had no idea who wrote or directed it. Turns out it’s Noah Baumbach, and it fits firmly in his oeuvre, although more like While We Were Young, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale than the films he has co-made with Greta Gerwig. In looking at his resume, I’m interested to see that he co-wrote a film with Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), because The Meyerowitz Stories plays like The Royal Tenenbaums, as re-imagined by Woody Allen.

I guess any movie about neurotic New York art types can be traced to Allen, but there are a lot of similarities. The movie centers around the relationship of Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman), a sculptor who never got as famous as he wanted to be, and his three children. They are Adam Sandler, who gave up a musical career to be a house-husband for his daughter, now going off to college; a dowdy typical middle child (Elizabeth Marvel), who has grown used to and weary of being ignored, and Ben Stiller as a successful estate manager in Los Angeles, who had a different mother than the other two.

Hoffman is on his fourth wife (Emma Thompson), a lush, and Stiller is planning on selling all his artwork and his New York house, which Sandler is against. Hoffman is a buttoned-down man who is nevertheless full of rage and envy. He can’t tolerate the slightest bit of rudeness, and simmers with resentment that his old friend, Judd Hirsch, is getting a show at MoMa while he can only get in a group show at the school where he taught, Bard. Each child has their own problems with him–Sandler and Marvel were ignored by him, while Stiller was smothered. Yet Hoffman is largely oblivious to any of this and for an artist has no real self-reflection.

The first half of the film is much better than the second, when the plot takes a turn for the cliched. The dialogue is sparkling, and Allenesque–Hoffman at one point says, “Maugham was skillful, but not an artist,” which reminded me of the line Jeff Daniels had in The Squid and the Whale–“It’s minor Dickens.” Hoffman’s character is very much like Daniels’s in that film–intellectuals who have no real emotional connection to those around them.

The film has a number of sub-plots and surprise cameos. Sandler’s daughter is a film major at Bard who makes semi-pornographic films, featuring herself (that Sandler can watch them is a bit of a joke, I guess). She is played by Grace Van Patten, who I just saw in Tramps, and I wrote that she had a Shailene Woodley vibe. In this film, not knowing who she was, for a moment I thought she was Shailene Woodley. Someone should get them together in a sister movie. Adam Driver has one scene with Stiller that is very much like the scene with Michael Caine and Daniel Stern in Hannah and Her Sisters, Candice Bergen shows up for one scene as Stiller’s mother, and Sigourney Weaver plays herself. Hoffman can’t get over meeting her. “She said, ‘I’m Sigourney,’ and I said, ‘I’m Harold,'” he keeps repeating.

While I liked the movie a lot, it is very brittle. Part of this is Hoffman’s performance, which is not one-note but the man is one-note. His presence, though humorous, kind of set my teeth on edge. When he leaves the picture for a while, the film takes on a different tone. A scene in which Sandler and Stiller start by apologizing to each other but end up in a hapless fight is both funny and heartbreaking.

Sandler, devoid of any of his annoying tics from his low-brow comedies, is terrific, perhaps best in the opening scene, when he is trying to find a parking space in Manhattan (I’ve been through that). Stiller has the same neurotic anger he’s had in other Baumbach pictures, such as Greenberg and When We Were Young (where Charles Grodin basically plays the Hoffman character) and all the way back to Reality Bites. If I were giving career advice to Stiller I’d advise to play someone isn’t so pent up with stress. He should play a guru, or something.

The film was made by Netflix, and got a brief but necessary run for Oscar consideration. What remains to be seen is if the Motion Picture Academy, which was created and maintained by people in the film business, will embrace the streaming business. It will have to happen sooner or later, maybe it will here, but I’m guessing except for a writing nomination, it won’t happen this year.

Movies opening and streaming in Connecticut – Weekend of October 21st, 2017


Theatrical releases

Boo! 2: Tyler Perry returns as Madea in this sequel to the 2016 hit, Boo!  It should easily open at the top of the box office this weekend.  I haven’t seen any of this series, but they’ve been uniformly successful.

Geostorm: Gerard Butler stars in this environmental disaster epic filmed way back in early 2014.  Following some negative test screenings, Warner Brothers reportedly pushed Director Dean Devlin aside and brought in Jerry Bruckheimer and television helmer Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd) to try and salvage it.  The budget ballooned north of 120m and it will be lucky to close its run at 25m domestic, so uh, nice try I guess.

Only the Brave: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller and Jeff Bridges star in this firefighter drama from Director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron Legacy). Given the problems happening in the Western United States right now, it’s not entirely surprising that audiences aren’t turning out for this.

New and notable streaming

Wheelman: Well-reviewed Frank Grillo-starrer that looks like a action movie version of Locke.  Definitely seems worth a watch. (Netflix)

1922: This may come as news to some, but 00’s almost-leading man Thomas Jane is still making movies!  This is his third Stephen King adaptation (following The Mist and…Dreamcatcher) and it’s based on a novel I’ve never heard of, but hey – he’s supposed to be really good in it so it might be worth checking out. But probably not. (Netflix)



Movies opening and streaming in Connecticut – Weekend of October 13th, 2017


Theatrical releases

Marshall: Chadwick Boseman is future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in this legal drama from long lost Director Reginald Hudlin. Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens and James Cromwell co-star. RT: 86%

Hudlin has actually had an enormously successful career in television and comic book writing (he actually ran BET for some period of time) but he’s still probably best remembered for his early 90’s comedies like House Party and Boomerang.  This is his first feature in 15 years.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman: True story about how the relationship between a psychologist (Luke Evans), his wife (Rebecca Hall) and their lover (Bella Heathcote) resulted in the creation of the superhero, Wonder Woman. RT: 87%

We’re two-for-two here with Directors who are making a return to features after an extended break.  Like Hudlin, Robinson has primarily been doing television work in recent years and hasn’t directed a film since 2005’s Herbie: Fully Loaded.  Yes, the director of a forgotten Lindsay Lohan film has made one of the better reviewed films of the year.

Side note: I really enjoyed Robinson’s short film, D.E.B.S. (a clever, sapphic Charlie’s Angels parody).

Happy Death Day: Great premise (Groundhog Day…as a horror film!), a perfect release date and in a nice surprise, an above average quality film should open #1 this weekend. Frankly, it would be a little embarrassing if it didn’t.  RT: 68%

The Foreigner: This Jackie Chan / Pierce Brosnan action picture is somehow opening wide (I’m unsure whether STX is aware that it is not 2002) but hey, good for them I guess. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye) is behind the camera, although that doesn’t mean much nowadays. RT: 56%

New and notable streaming

The Meyerowitz Stories: Noah Baumbach’s latest stars Adam Sandler (in a widely-praised performance), Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. RT: 91% (Netflix)

The Babysitter: McG (Charlie’s Angels, This Means War) directs this teen-centric horror picture starring Bella Thorne. The screenplay made the 2014 Black List, which is something, I guess. RT: 60% (Netflix)

Security: Antonio Banderas made a DTV, non-comedic version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and it really doesn’t look that bad. Bonus: they were able to pay Ben Kingsley’s quote!  RT: No Reviews (Netflix)

Not a film, but…

Mindhunter: David Fincher and Charlize Theron produce this Netflix drama about the early days of the FBI’s Criminal Profiling Program. Fincher also directs the first two episodes. RT: 96% (Netflix)

Opening in Connecticut – Weekend of 10/6/17


Blade Runner 2049: Well-received sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.  The film’s opening is going to be disappointing based on the budget (some 170m), but I’d expect to see it re-released during Awards season.  The film’s failure to attract audiences under 30 makes me think this might have been better positioned, branding-wise, as a new property set in the same universe (ala Prometheus) rather than as a direct follow-up.

Personal interest factor: 9

The Mountains Between Us: Almost exactly 20 years ago, Fox released David Mamet and Lee Tamahori’s The Edge, a terrific thriller about two men attempting to survive the wilderness (and each other) following a plane crash. While there are some superficial similarities between that picture and this weekend’s Kate Winslet/Idris Elba starrer, I’m doubtful whether anyone will remember this in two weeks, let alone two decades.

Anyone wondering why Kate Winslet would want to lock herself into four Avatar pictures only needs to look at how this is performing (critically and financially) for the answer.

Personal interest factor: 2

My Little Pony: The Movie: This probably would have done gangbusters as a DTV title released at the height of the MLP renaissance. For the life of me, I have no idea what Lionsgate was thinking going wide theatrical with it in 2017.

Personal interest factor: 0

Oscar 2017: Best Actor


Taking a look at the movie calendar for the rest of the year, the Best Actor Oscar race looks unusually skimpy. Sure, there’s Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg movie, but other than that the biggest stars didn’t make movies this year of had flops. This has set up what is perhaps the easiest forecast of the upcoming Oscar campaign.

Because there’s only one obvious nominee, I’m going take some very wild-ass guesses. In alphabetical order:

Chadwick Boseman, Marshall. Boseman, who has specialized in playing the great black men of the century (Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and now Thurgood Marshall) stars in a legal drama when the hallowed Supreme Court justice was a lawyer. Interestingly, it is not based on Devil in a Lemon Grove, a popular book about Marshall defending black boys for murder in Florida. This all depends on the impact of the film. If it doesn’t open with a splash, Boseman will be forgotten, no matter how good he is.

Daniel Day-Lewis, The Phantom Thread. No one knows much about this movie, but we do know that Day-Lewis and director P.T. Anderson teamed for one of Day-Lewis’s three Oscar wins (There Will Be Blood). Day-Lewis’s announcement that this is his last film may help him get a nod, but he’s said that before.

Domnhall Gleeson, Goodbye, Christopher Robin. Another actor playing a real person (author A. A. Milne), which the Academy loves. Gleeson, the son of Brendan Gleeson, has been in many good movies over the last few years, and again, it all depends on how the film is received. Looks like a weepie.

Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman. What’s that, another real person? Yes, Jackman plays P.T. Barnum in a musical. Couple with Jackman’s gritty finale as Logan earlier in the year, he really displays his range. He got a nod for Les Miserables, and if this film is a hit I think he’s a safe bet.

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. It seems folly to announce a winner in October, but Oldman may have this sewn up now, playing Winston Churchill (yet another real person) in tons of makeup. Oldman was only been nominated once before, but has the kind of respect (imagine a man playing Sid Vicious and Churchill). The film has been by critics and Oldman has been anointed.

Other possibilities: Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger; Michael Fassbender; The Snowman; Tom Hanks; The Post; Bryan Cranston; Last Flag Flying; Sam Elliott; The Hero.

Random Thread for October, 2017


As you all know, I live in Las Vegas. I was awakened by a text from my sister at about 3 in the morning (she lives in New Jersey) asking if I was okay. I was wondering why the concern when she told me about the shooting. I went back to sleep but got more texts, so when I woke up at 6 for work I put one of those damn “I’m okay” things on Facebook.

I hardly ever go to the Strip and certainly not for a country music festival, but I’m only about ten miles from where it happened. No one is safe, as long as these kinds of weapons are legal. And no “good guy with a gun” could have taken out a target on the 32nd floor from the ground. What I fear is happening is that we are becoming numb to these attacks. In 1966, Charles Whitman, the sniper at the University of Texas tower, killed 17. It was world-wide news. Today it’s small potatoes, because he was using single-action rifles, and his shooting spree lasted over 90 minutes. You can kill 17 in less than 17 seconds now.

The American fetish with guns is so strange and so deadly. We’ve got to get over it. If you’re keeping guns because you’re afraid of the government, well, you and your AR15 would be vaporized by an Apache helicopter. Guns in the home are statistically more likely to be used on family members than against intruders. “Responsible gun owners” are constantly being shot by their toddlers. It’s enough.