MCN Commentary & Analysis

Review: The King of Staten Island

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.

Surprise!

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.

45 Responses to “Review: The King of Staten Island”

  1. movieman says:

    I liked it a lot, too, although I was mildly disappointed by the relative lack of screen time accorded the wonderful Pamela Adlon.
    Can’t think of a lot of recent movies that wear their length (137 minutes, making it Apatow’s second longest film after “Funny People”) as well as this does.

    On an unrelated front, I stumbled across your interview with Peter Bogdanovich from a few years back and was stunned by your comments about “The Last Picture Show” (my all-time favorite movie btw).
    You said something to the effect that people today think of it as a comedy.
    Huh?!?
    In what world could anyone–from whatever generation/era–describe “Picture Show” as anything but a drama: a damn heavy drama at that.
    Yes, there are some funny(ish) moments as Peter copped to, but a “comedy”?

  2. Rams says:

    Who the heck is Pamela Adlon? The next Cybill Shepherd? By the way the TCM podcasts with Peter Bogdanovich and his career were fantastic. Remember P. J. Johnson? She was great in “Paper Moon”.

  3. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Funny People warrants a reappraisal,. I seem to recall that DP was lukewarm on it at the time. Sandler’s “things slip away’ speech at the Thanksgiving Dinner table has stayed with me.

  4. movieman says:

    “Who the heck is Pamela Adlon?”
    Seriously, Rams?
    FX’s “Better Things.”
    Just one of the best cable series in the history of cable TV.

    I LOVED P.J. Johnson! She came dangerously close to stealing “Paper Moon.” Whatever happened to her?
    Enjoyed the TCM podcasts, but as a lifetime student of all things Bogdanovich, there weren’t any revelations.
    He remains a great storyteller, though, and it was a pleasure to listen to.

    “Funny People” was an “A” movie for me from the start. I still think it’s one of Apatow’s top 3 movies (along w/ “Trainwreck” and “40-Year Old Virgin”).

  5. Rams says:

    Seriously, Movieman, I don’t have the time (or need) to watch every half-baked cable show. I remember forcing myself into watching an hour of “Breaking Bad” because it was so “beloved”. That was the last time I watched it. EEECH! But, everyone has an opinion and I respect that. And I’m a huge fan of “Daisy Miller”. I even read the novella. I also watched it on TCM. Pamela Adlon started her movie career with that horrid “Grease 2”. So sorry, Pammy, I literally have never heard of you until the wonderful Movieman brought you to my attention.

    And by the way, did any of the three of you who watched “Grease Sing A Long” see Dody Goodman (I think that’s who it was) at the end struggling with the green cotton candy?

  6. movieman says:

    To be perfectly honest, Rams: I actually prefer “Grease 2” to “Grease” (both sing-a-long and non sing-a-long versions) which for me is one of the worst-directed movie musicals in Hollywood history. (At least “2” had Michelle Pfeiffer.)
    Am a huge “Daisy Miller” fan as well.
    I remember Peter B. sending me a paperback copy of the Henry James novella prior to the release of the movie back in 1974.
    Of course I’d already borrowed it from the library (and read it), but appreciated the gesture and thanked him profusely.
    Peter was the first–actually, the only–movie director I ever wrote fan letters to, beginning in 1972 after seeing “TLPS” for the first time (I was still in grade school).
    That began a pen-pan relationship that lasted for many years. He was never less than gracious, generous and unstintingly kind to Kid Nobody Me from Ohio which made tabloid reports at the time about his raging egomania, etc. utterly baffling.
    My last contact with Peter was early summer 2002 when I did a phoner w/ him for “The Cat’s Meow.”
    I probably shouldn’t have been shocked considering our “history,” but was still enormously flattered that he actually remembered me from way back when.
    I’ve always wished Peter well, and continue to hold him in highest regard.
    Nothing in recent years has made me happier than seeing him (belatedly) receive his due as an icon of American cinema.

  7. Rams says:

    I worked with someone whose daughter was a big fan of “Grease 2”. So, you’re not alone. I have to admit that the direction of the original “Grease” (for lack of a better word) was actually “messy” if that makes sense. But so much of it is fun and always rewatchable. I believe Stockard Channing was thirty at the time of its release.

    I actually saw “The Cat’s Meow” in a theatre, and I enjoyed it. “Mask” was another that was underappreciated thanks to Cher’s problems with PB.

  8. Glamourboy says:

    I actually stood in a long line for the opening of Nickelodeon (tickets were 5 cents as a promotion)….and I love that era of PD…What’s Up Doc, Paper Moon, and Nickelodeon are great films. At that age I even liked At Long Last Love because it was my first exposure to Cole Porter music. Through a family friend I was able to visit Madeline Kahn on the set of Won Ton Ton:The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, and I told her how much I loved her in At Long Last Love and she actually turned pale at the mention of the movie.

  9. movieman says:

    I still can’t bring myself to watch the b&w version of “Nickelodeon” that Bogdanovich prefers, Glam.
    I must’ve seen the (color) theatrical release version a dozen times or more, and seeing it in b&w would just seem weird somehow. Like filtering out the color on your TV set.
    Maybe first-timers (to the film) would have a different reaction.

    It was love at first sight for me and “ALLL.” I remember begging my parents to take me to see it in Cleveland in April 1975 since it didn’t open locally. (I even bought the soundtrack album which I played to death, lol.)
    I think I must have seen at least four different cuts of the film over the year: each one has felt “different” somehow, but I’ve loved every version.
    It’s enormously gratifying to see the movie now treated with affection and respect. I still get PTSD recalling the outrageously vitriolic reviews it received at the time.
    Madeline Kahn was fantastic. She’s probably best known today for her Mel Brooks comedies, but she really did her best screen work for Peter. (And yes, I’m including “ALLL.”)

  10. Rams says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing “At Long Last Love” at Radio City Music Hall on the First Mezzanine in 1975. I think I read or heard that if Bogdanovich had used all experienced singers in the leads, the reviews would not have been as “vitriolic”. After all the black and white Art Deco sets and costumes are sumptuous. Can you imagine Babs singing Cole Porter? I guess “Funny Lady” was more tempting.

  11. YancySkancy says:

    David: Robert Smigel also had a surprising cameo as “not Triumph” in A Marriage Story, as the mellow counselor the couple has a session with near the beginning. I assumed his casting may have been a little in-joke, given the in-your-face style of his most famous creation.

  12. Bob Burns says:

    From Alyssa Rosenberg’s editorial in today’s Washington Post, entitled “Shut Down allPolice Movies and TV Shows. Now”

    “For a century, Hollywood has been collaborating with police departments, telling stories that whitewash police shootings and valorizing an action-hero style of policing over the harder, less dramatic work of building relationships with the communities cops are meant to serve and protect. There’s a reason for that beyond a reactionary streak hiding below the industry’s surface liberalism. Purely from a dramatic perspective, crime makes a story seem consequential, investigating crime generates action, and solving crime provides for a morally and emotionally satisfying conclusion.
    The result is an addiction to stories that portray police departments as more effective than they actually are; crime as more prevalent than it actually is; and police use of force as consistently justified. There are always gaps between reality and fiction, but given what policing in America has too often become, Hollywood’s version of it looks less like fantasy and more like complicity.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/04/shut-down-all-police-movies-tv-shows-now/?arc404=true

    It should go without saying that Hollywood has no moral standing to advance a credible rebuttal. No doubt the publicists will find an apologist if they feel they need one.

  13. Hcat says:

    Another Grease 2 fan here. Probably my favorite disreputable movie.

    For all the cash in sequels of the early eighties it holds up better than Sting 2 or Jaws 3D.

    Opening against ET didn’t do it any favors.

  14. moviemanm says:

    It’s funny, Rams.
    We’ve grown accustomed to seeing (and hearing) musicals in which the leads aren’t, well, professional singers.
    From “Chicago” to “La La Land,” it’s become the New Normal.
    Maybe that’s one reason audiences have finally caught up to the charms of “ALLL.”
    It was a movie musical decades ahead of its time.

  15. YancySkancy says:

    Bob: Seems to me that the most “creditable rebuttal” is right there in the accusation: “Purely from a dramatic perspective, crime makes a story seem consequential, investigating crime generates action, and solving crime provides for a morally and emotionally satisfying conclusion.”

    People who are responsible for creating thousands of hours of programming will naturally lean on the genres and tropes that audiences respond to. Many of these shows also depict crooked cops, racist cops, violent cops, etc., even if the protagonist cops save the day and assure us that these bad apples don’t spoil the whole bunch (and of course shows like The Shield have actually been built around bad cops). The article suggests we’re all so “addicted” to these tropes that — what? We can’t grasp real-life police transgressions? There will always be those who are outraged and those who are apologists, but I’m not sure a love of cop movies and shows is driving the difference for many people. Obviously, going forward there should be more responsible handling of this kind of content, but shutting it all down seems pretty drastic to me. I still perhaps naively believe that most people understand that TV and the movies at best only reflect aspects of real life. If not, I guess we’re in for a lot more “reality” TV and, I dunno, kids’ shows? Medical and legal dramas also obviously depend a lot on crime, even if they don’t always privilege the police perspective. Dump them too? That covers like ALL TV drama, basically, except soapy family stuff. Or do we just make all such shows anti-police, with a depiction of all cops as corrupt and immoral, which would be no more realistic or fair than what we’ve already got? It’ll be interesting to see how producers and networks handle this.

  16. Rams says:

    Actually Catherine Zeta-Jones started in musical theatre, and Emma Stone was in “Cabaret” on Broadway I believe. Also Renee Zellweger won an Oscar for “Judy” while being nominated for “Chicago”. All singing- all dancing! Julie as you love her- singing, dancing, delighting. (That was a catchphrase between me and a co-worker once upon a time). What movie was that from?

    And can’t you wait for Spielberg’s WSS?

    By the way I love “Chicago” and “Oliver!” and let the naysayers be damned. Especially “Oliver!” in 70 mm.

  17. Hcat says:

    Oliver! Is over baked in that distinctly 60s way. However it wears it better than the other post sound of music pre Caberet like throughly modern Millie and Hello Dolly..

    I think most of the criticism toward Oliver! Is more directed towards what it represented than what it is. Nearly every other musical at the time suffered from the same flaws but since Oliver! Won the Oscar it is made the punching bag while something like Camolot that couldn’t carry the weight of its ambitions nearly as well as Oliver! is simply a footnote.

  18. movieman says:

    Had no idea Zeta Jones did musical theater pre-“Chicago.”
    Always loved her: used to think she was the most beautiful woman alive.

    What about “Sweeney Todd” (w/ Depp and Bonham Carter singing Sondheim)? Not among the most trained vocalists, but people (myself included) accepted them in the roles.
    One of my favorite B’way memories was seeing Lansbury and Len Cariou in the original production of “ST” in spring 1979.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for “Hello, Dolly!” I remember seeing it twice–in 70 mm, no less!–during its original theatrical run. (Naturally we got it 6 months after it opened on the coasts.) Always felt to me like the last great (well, semi-great) Old School Hollywood movie musical.
    Loved “Oliver!” at the time, but have always been reluctant to see it again.
    Just the thought of twee ‘lil Mark Lester makes my teeth ache.

  19. Glamourboy says:

    Speaking of underappreciated musicals (and I’n with you guys on Grease 2)….any love for The Apple? Forbidden Zone? My biggest guilty pleasure is the 70s musical of Lost Horizon…

  20. Rams says:

    It’s kind of strange that you never hear Babs talk about her “Dolly” days with Gene Kelly. Like she directed it or something. I’ll never forget Liv Ullmann bursting out in song in the first musical interlude in “Lost Horizon”. What a jolt!

    I had the pleasure of seeing Julie Andrews on stage in “Victor/Victoria” at the Marquis Theatre sixth row center in the orchestra section. I almost bellowed out “We love you Mary Poppins” during the curtain call but I held back for some reason.

    I’ve only seen “Sweeney Todd” once even though I love the music. The movie just was too bloody for my tastes.

  21. movieman says:

    “The Apple”!?!
    LOL.
    I never thought I’d hear that title again, in any capacity.
    Don’t remember it at all, but my movie records show that I ranked it #1 on my 1980 10-worst list, lol.
    I know that I saw “Forbidden Zone.” B&W? The “Fantasy Island” midget and Susan Tyrrell, right?
    Saw it, but don’t remember it being a “musical,” just very, very trippy-weird. I think I saw it at a midnight movie in Hawthorne, New Jersey in…1982?

    Funny you should mention “Lost Horizon.”
    (Talk about musicals where nobody was a trained singer!)
    I thought it was as boring as dust in 1973, but when I re-watched it on TCM a few years back I found myself. unexpectedly….entertained.
    “There’s a lost horizon…” is now permanently lodged in my head.
    Larry Kramer. Wow.

  22. Bradley Laing says:

    —An earlier commentary on the comments thread suggested that movie theaters would not reopen if the insurance companies would not cover them. I did not think that insurance companies would have to ensure movie productions from COVID 19 risks.

    Cannes Dealmakers’ Concern: COVID-19 Insurance Risks
    6:58 AM PDT 6/11/2020 by Patrick Brzeski , Scott Roxborough

    With a vaccine nowhere close to global readiness, reinsurance companies — the groups that insure insurance companies — are refusing to cover COVID-19-related risks, making production insurance and completion bonds impossible to secure. Without these instruments, institutional investors — never in the game of taking on undue risk — can be expected to balk at bankrolling new indie projects.

    International production executives the world over are now calling for governments to step in, as the U.S. did after the 9/11 attacks, when legislation, called the Terrorism Risk Insurance 
Act (TRIA), was introduced. That bill required insurers to make terrorism coverage available to policyholders, which was instrumental in getting film production in New York City back on track.

  23. Amblinman says:

    I did not enjoy King of SI. It plays like if you remade Knocked Up but Rogan’s character is just a dick who hangs out with…trash-stupid criminals. What am I missing here? Davidson’s GF is fantastic. I totally wanted to watch a movie about her. She’s actually funny. I dunno why I’m rooting for a mopey bore to…show up when she least needs his company to crowd an important day for her? Yeah, guys? This is the arc?

    But at least it was long.

  24. Bob Burns says:

    If a film’s cast and the leadership of its crew are all white it should not receive awards. The publicists can handle this without the Academy having to institute messy standards. Even if the director has chosen to tell a story with all white characters (why?), that can be overcome with black and female department heads. Fifty-five years after Selma and Birmingham it is long past time for these publicity houses, who control the awards circus, to stop promoting all-white productions for awards.

    While we are at it, cultural expropriation is not award-worthy. It has been excoriated in the arts for more than 100 years. Time for our culturally illiterate US film community to get their heads out of their asses.

    If studios want to continue making films with all-white casts and crews, or if white film makers insist on stealing the cultural heritage of other peoples for their next gig…. they have the right to do so. And audiences are free to attend, of course. But these films are not awards-worthy.

  25. movieman says:

    Loved the new Spike Lee movie, but I can’t help thinking that if it had played theaters Lee would have been strongly advised to cut a half hour from it.
    Netflix really is all about bloat: in their original movies and even individual episodes of most of their series.
    Found it a little distracting that the same actors (sans make-up) played their characters as young men in the Vietnam flashbacks. Although it probably would have been even more distracting if they’d been buried under unconvincing de-aging make-up.
    After awhile I just rolled with it, and even kind of got the point.
    Delroy Lindo surely deserves a Best Actor nomination–i.e., if there are Oscars for 2020 movies. A big “if” at this point.

    New “dates” for “Tenet” and “Wonder Woman”!
    (Eye-rolling emoji.)

  26. Bradley Laing says:

    Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ Pushed Back Two Weeks as Movie Theaters Ready to Reopen
    Wonder Woman 1984 delayed until October 2

  27. Rams says:

    The factor of “bloat” has to do with the lack of discipline and focus. The fact it appears that it is so widespread speaks volumes. They hand these people a large paycheck which clears easily and tell them to do whatever they want. The so-called “giving notes” or critiques appears limited if nonexistent. I hate to bring it up (not really) but I saw the bloat first hand on a nice cinema screen for “The Irishman”.

  28. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Rams, by ‘these people’ I take it you’re referring to some of the top moviemakers in the world, you know? In principle surely giving the likes of Scorsese, Lee, and the Coens licence to do what they like is a good thing? I’m sure that Spike, after his tough experience on the Oldboy remake, would have welcomed such freedom. ‘Bloat’, like progress, is a word that can mean just about anything depending on who’s using it. I wouldn’t lose a minute of The Irishman.
    As long as I can press pause and go to the bathroom, that is.

  29. Rams says:

    First of all, I was commenting on a previous commenter referring to Netflix and their omnipresent “bloat”. Remember “Heaven’s Gate” (which I prefer to “The Irishman”)?. It brought down United Artists. Remember “Cleopatra”? It almost brought down 20th Century Fox. (Of course, Disney did the job many years later). Netflix quietly passed on Scorsese’s next opus. 0-10 Oscars did the job. I want Oscars for my money!!! By the way, when I saw “The Irishman” in a movie theatre, I didn’t get up once for a bathroom break. I suppose I might have been more immersed in the bloat than you were watching it on tv.

  30. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Fair enough then.

  31. Hcat says:

    Rams, I would say it is much too simplistic to say the Gate and Cleopatra brought down the studios. Fox was feast and famine all through the sixties. I can’t count the number of times I have read “the film single handedly saved Fox from bankruptcy.” I’ve seen it attributed to Sound of Music, Planrt if the Apes, butch and Sundance and MASH. Just as it wasn’t possible for each of these films to be the one savior Cleo was not the only thing to lose money, just the highest profile debacle.

    Gate is even more dubious. It lost a ton of money but Transamerica was one of the biggest companies in the world. They could have easily absorbed the hit (they had the Bond and Rocky franchises) but they simply decided movies weren’t worth the hassle after very publicly losing their studio heads.

  32. Christian says:

    Speaking of movie “musicals,” tonight I’m rewatching “Vox Lux.”

    I know, I know: It has musical *performances* in it and isn’t really a musical. But it’s fun just to work it into not-very-related conversations and see if it gets a reaction. People really hated this film. I struggled with Portman’s performance when her character – older than when we first meet her as a student, played by another actress – is introduced as a well-known musical artist, but I eventually adjusted and ended up admiring the film. I’m about to find out if that reaction holds up.

  33. Ray Pride says:

    VOX LUX: ipsum bonum

  34. Stella's Boy says:

    Now seems like a perfect time to talk about media representation of law enforcement. Especially when it comes to scripted and “reality” television. In the last week I’ve read many stories about and listened to several podcasts on the very subject. There’s a thoughtful discourse happening right now about it. As there damn well should be.

  35. Rams says:

    I said “Cleopatra” almost brought down 20th CF. An excellent book “Final Cut” by Steven Bach about the chaotic shoot of “Heaven’s Gate” certainly implies that United Artists was brought down by this film (I not only read it but also saw “Heaven’s Gate”). I also saw the 70mm four hour version of the Liz and Dick epic at the Film Forum in NYC. Again, I’m just saying handing “people” a blank check without some discipline, focus and control “ain’t” gonna work in the long run. Oh, by the way, Hitchcock’s most successful film on many levels was released 60 years ago this month- “Psycho”. What better lesson in filmmaking. And to all a good night!

  36. Hcat says:

    Not saying this just to be contrarian, but I still don’t see Cleo as fitting the bill of blank check auteur excess. Given the number of directors involved through its production Cleo was more a directive fromthe front office than a studio being taken for a ride.

    Gates, firmly a debacle, but a film I enjoyed, falls closer to something like Days of Thunder or Waterworld. One of if not the most expensive film the studio ever made and it fits a larger narrative that was brewing at the time. A high profile flop or draw from a successful auteur, superproducer, moviestar that the press was able to point to as proof that the studios had relinquished too much power to the group. The results of Days and the headache of WW can’t be as easily tied to the respective sales of those studios, but a case can be made that all three films in their way showed pointed to a budgetary future the parent company was not interested in participating in. UAs loss was as terrible as the loss of Fox is today, but you can’t blame one director for MGM not being a good steward of a purchased studio anymore than you can blame the Scott brothers for the slow strangulation of Par by Viacom because their projects likely contributed to Gulf and Western hightailing it out of the business.

  37. Rams says:

    The completed “Cleopatra” filmed mainly in Rome was directed by one- and only one- director, Joseph Mankiewicz. “Heaven’s Gate” was pulled from release in November, 1980 practically after a couple of days. It was re-edited in the Spring of 1981 with a paltry re-release. “Days of Thunder” and “Waterworld” had their problems, but they had decent releases and made some money.

    Sumner Redstone through Viacom purchased Paramount. It had nothing to do with Gulf and Western and them being hightailed out of the business.

    On an unrelated note. Netflix’s big hit during the last few days has been the Polish original “365 dni” which is a soft porn item.
    Their top ten daily list has become very entertaining especially with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (ironically first released by Paramount) being on it recently.

  38. movieman says:

    Speaking of Netflix, Olivier Aassayas’ “Wasp Network” dropped today and it’s killer: a fascinating true-life story that was completely unknown to me, and told in a dynamic/kinetic fashion.

    Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz and a (barely recognizable) Gael Garcia Bernal are all fantastic.

    Assayas has never made a wrong move for me: I’ve either liked or loved all of his movies. He’s one of the best filmmakers working today.

    Was this a Netflix pick-up? I could’ve sworn it was originally slated as a theatrical by Magnolia (or a similar indie-ish distrib) when it premiered in Venice (and NYFF) last year.

    Either way, it’s definitely in the top-tier of 2020 releases for me.

  39. Christian says:

    Excellent news, MM! Had no idea a new Assayas was on the way. I still haven’t seen his last U.S. release.

  40. movieman says:

    “Non-Fiction” (Assayas’ previous film) still hasn’t been released on DVD/Blu-Ray, Christian.

    I’m guessing that it might turn out to be one of those rare contemporary movies Criterion releases: like they did w/ IFC’s “Wildlife” and “Certain Women,”
    That’s the only explanation I can think of for why it hasn’t come out yet.

  41. Rams says:

    The only “movie” Netflix has dropped on Blu-Ray or whatever has been “Roma” to my knowledge. Thanks to Criterion. If any one has better information please tell me because I only speak the truth. Netflix’s badgering of reducing theatrical windows is kind of strange because they have a vise grip on their “originals”. Is there any place besides Netflix that you can watch such wonders as “Murder Mystery” except on their queue? Oh by the way “365 dni” is still at the top of the heap. And the audience- hating “Da 5 Bloods” is falling fast into the rabbit hole after a few days. I’m sure they’ll be financing a “Debbie Does Dallas” reboot soon.

  42. movieman says:

    Criterion ships “Marriage Story” next month, and”The Irishman” will be a future Criterion title.

    Odd since Netflix hasn’t exactly been reticent about releasing many of their innumerable series on DVD.

    Not sure what the difference is re: their original movies.

    You’d think they’d be delighted to make add’l profits from critically acclaimed in-house productions like (for starters) “Buster Scruggs,” “Meyerowitz Stories,” “Private Life.”

  43. Rams says:

    I hate to burst your bubble, but the dvd market has been in the toilet for awhile now. We’re in the streaming racket, and those website bubble people are in for a rude awakening when they think PVOD is the new nirvana. I’m sure D+ (the new moniker for the C- Disney+) is soon going to be in shock when their dvd market shrinks to nothing.

    And Netflix isn’t dumb; maybe they’ll try “365 dni” on dvd and sell it in the adult section of your local Blockbuster Video store. He-He.

  44. Rams says:

    They’ve only have released one so far “Roma” on physical media. And the “auteurs” were not created by Netflix. I’m afraid after all the filmmakers and actors die out we will be left with the likes of Noah Centineo and Milly Bobby Brown. Their business model can not create auteurs and stars. Oh in case you didn’t know Blockbuster didn’t have an adult section.

  45. David Poland says:

    I feel like I am too far behind to jump into all of that.

    But the difference between Roma and Marriage Story getting Criterion is ego, money, and willingness from Criterion. At this point, discs go against the Netflix philosophy.

    You might be a Criterion Blu-ray if… Netflix made a book about your movie.

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The Star

"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."

The Star | 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

Variety

"Provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses."

Variety | September 19, 2020

The Guardian

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."

Winston Groom, 77, Survived By A Box Of Choc'lates

The Guardian | September 19, 2020

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David Poland | September 8, 2020

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