MCN Columnists
Other Voices

Voices By Other Voicesvoices@moviecitynews.com

A Good Year For The Oscars

I leave it up to the TV critics to analyze the Oscar ceremonies as an entertainment TV show. However, as far as I am concerned, Chris Rock did a good job, even if had expected him to be edgier and more provocative. One of the things that struck me about the show was the large…

Read the full article »

The MCN 100: The Early Poll 2003

In an awards season fraught with new issues, Movie City News introduces the “MCN 100,” a voting group of 100 film journalists from across the globe, representing print, television, radio and the internet. Members have been drawn from some of the best known and the most obscure publications in the world in hopes of finding…

Read the full article »

The Oscar Tradition: Celebrating Mediocrity?

How good are Oscar-winning movies, artistically? More specifically, applying the dimensions of timeliness/timelessness to Oscar’s history, two issues are pertinent. First, how many of the Oscar winners were artistically decent when they were made and honored? And second, how many of the celebrated pictures have withstood the test of time, the ultimate criterion in any…

Read the full article »

Oscar 2004: Flashback to Oscar’s Memorable Speeches

Suppose You won the Oscar! What would You say? How would you grab your 45 seconds–unless you are Warren Beatty or Julia Roberts and get to talk much longer–in the spotlight? The Oscar speeches are often the show’s most memorable–and most hilarious–moments, perhaps because they still maintain some aura of suspense and spontaneity, if not sensibility. Over…

Read the full article »

Oscar 2004: The Critics vs. Clint

Or How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Critics I don’t think Clint Eastwood has bloomed. I think the press has been Hornswoggled. “Unforgiven” was another Western in which you were pacifist until it’s necessary for you to start shooting. I always see Eastwood following the script slavishly; I never see him…

Read the full article »

Sundance 2005: The Mainstreaming of Indies

Let’s assume that the only source of information about American indies is Sundance’s premier section, the Dramatic Competition – excluding world premieres, American Spectrum, Frontier and other series that exhibit new films. What kind of conclusions can be draw about prevalent trends in paradigms, themes, and styles? What’s the state of the art of American…

Read the full article »

Voices

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin