| September 17, 2020
This movie should have been called, “The Non-Graduate.” That’s what it is… a 2020 take on another era’s Ben Braddock. There is no Mrs. Robinson, because the faux stability of the suburban household is long gone. The closest we get to that character is the ex of our hero’s mother’s romantic interest… who our hero doesn’t sleep with, but through whom our hero gathers nasty intel on his assumed rival.
To extend the comparison, The Graduate focuses on a child of privilege who comes home from university to a malaise of comfortable inaction. Plastics. He acts out in the most violent way of which he is capable, having an affair with the wife of his parents’ close couple-friends, all the while pining for the pure romance of her daughter.
None of this fits The King of Staten Island, because Pete Davidson’s Scott Carlin is already destroyed at the start of the movie. His mother is a widow. He is already self-destructive. He, like Ben Braddock, has settled into the place where he is comfortable and unchallenged. Ben was floating in the pool, tanning. Scott is sitting in his basement, getting baked.
Scott’s ambition is to get through the day, the hour, the minute. He’s not okay. But he’s not looking to go anywhere. Even his sex life is barely a tick beyond complete passivity.
The firehouse his father passed away as part of is his Elaine in this telling of the story. It is profoundly connected to his pain, but it is also the place where he could find a reason to start living again.
Davidson co-wrote the film (with SNL writer Dave Sirus) based on his own story and Judd Apatow directed it. This is not your expected Judd Apatow movie either. It’s his darkest work, a smidgeon more so than Funny People.
The thing about the Apatow-directed titles is that there are usually a bunch of pals, hanging around playing videogames and smoking pot. And those pals are in this film too. But unlike previous JuddFilms, they aren’t used for comic respite here. And aren’t benign. Yet he and the writers don’t scapegoat them either. The movie is not about getting away from his people to save himself. It’s not that movie either. Every time you think you see the easy out coming, they go somewhere else.
The character that is Pete Davidson, Scott, doesn’t get easy redeeming moments, yet he is consistent through the picture. He is never not a decent human, even though he does some dumb stuff. So it is not a journey of miles, but of inches (like The Graduate).
I won’t get into spoilers. The other actors are good, though Bill Burr as a sex object was not on my to-do list for this lifetime. Bel Powley is perfectly real. Marisa Tomei tones down her charms enough to play a subtle parental role. Maude Apatow is building a fine resume (still not over her having children on Hollywood). There are a lot of bigger-role actors doing small parts and they underplay and aren’t trying to steal scenes that they could steal. And my favorite surprise was Robert Smigel as… not Triumph! See if you can spot his shot.
There is a dark charm to this film and to Davidson that is winning in an unexpected way. Apatow has become masterful at bringing out the very specific personalities of comics, like Amy Schumer, Pete Holmes, and in death, with his poetic, cinematic doc, Garry Shandling.
I understand why this film is on VOD this week, as it is a difficult sell. The SXSW premiere and the hip audience the festival has delivered for Universal most of the last decade could have helped the studio marketing team figure it out. But it’s not the Apatow movie you expected. It’s not the Pete Davidson movie you expected. Selling a lovely small film about a young man’s journey to peace with himself isn’t easy. “Sandler on coke” is a lot easier (though that was heavy lifting and A24 did a great job).
In many ways, “Pete Davidson on coke” would have been easier, too. A comic mockumentary about him being emotionally disconnected and a parade of starlets, young and not-so-young lining up to see if the rumors about his penis are true would be a much easier sell. Because that is what the media created. Who the hell knows what is true?
This is the second time I have been surprised by Davidson. His stand-up special on Netflix (Alive From New York) blew me away in a way I never saw coming. He wasn’t distant. He wasn’t full of shit. And he was not without feelings. He isn’t the most skilled stand-up. He isn’t super-smooth. But he is raw and from that rawness comes great humor. And he makes it seem a lot more casual than I believe it was.
I don’t know where Pete Davidson will go next. I hope somewhere happier for himself. But this is a fine marker of a young man, not afraid to go where he knows he must. For Apatow, there is a level on which he has been working — coincidentally or not — since he returned to stand-up. (Will Ferrell, by the way, has a terrific new piece coming to Netflix in a few weeks… classic Ferrell… but not Judd’s — or Adam’s — thing anymore. Unexpected roads.)
Whatever the delivery system, I am happy this film exists and that people will see it. I look forward to seeing it again.
| September 17, 2020
| September 16, 2020
| September 16, 2020
"The hundreds of movie stars and filmmakers who normally swarm TIFF were kept out of Toronto by the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to all but essential crossings and by strict quarantine rules for visitors. TIFF compensated by enlisting celebrities as festival ambassadors to engage in virtual versions of Q&A sessions. Numbers are not available yet for how many tickets were sold. Bailey and Vicente said they’re delighted with public response to TIFF 2020’s new venues, especially the West Island Open Air Cinema at Ontario Place, where moviegoers snapped up tickets to sit in Muskoka chairs in socially distanced circles. 'People loved that,' Bailey says. The fest also had to cope, just before opening day, regarding its plan to let people take their masks off inside TIFF Bell Lightbox screenings, so they could consume snacks. Masks were deemed mandatory throughout screenings, robbing TIFF of a chance to recoup some of its financial losses through concession sales."
| September 20, 2020
“We’re going to be setting up a very large fund for the education of American youth... Do me a favor, could you put up $5 billion into a fund for education, so we can educate people as to real history of our country -- the real history, not the fake history?"
Oracle And Walmart Appear Ready To Split TikTok Proceeds After Acceding To Trump Demand For $5 Billion Toward Trump's "1776 Committee," Fashioned From Spite Over The 1619 Project; Money Will Be Spent To Alter Teaching Of American History And Indoctrinate Students In Trump Image
September 19, 2020
Edgar Wright: "'Diana Rigg will meet you at Berners Tavern.” Just seeing those words written in a text gave me an anxious thrill. Despite her illustrious work on stage and screen (big and small), the blushing adolescent in me was still nervously excited to meet Emma Peel. When I walked into the restaurant I was dead on time. But she was fifteen minutes early, already at the table and looking fabulous in leopard print and gold bangles. After I stumbled through my hello, she offered, “I’m having a Campari and soda, darling, will you have one?” That was the first time, aged 45, I’d ever had a Campari and soda. And what a great way to start."
"It has been compared to western war movies such as Dunkirk (although there is more than a touch of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor in there), and so far it has taken more than $400 million at the box office, making it the second-highest-grossing movie of the year worldwide. The Eight Hundred draws attention to the meteoric progress of China’s increasingly blockbuster-oriented film industry, but also to the Chinese government’s determination to stamp its authority on it. The two might be on a collision course."
| September 19, 2020
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019