1. Stop Calling Tom Hanks an Everyman. Tom Hanks is one of the most likable movie stars working today, and he’s probably the modern actor most associated with the term “everyman.” Slate’s David Haglund, however, writes that the word might not be such a snug fit for him.
Tom Hanks is not an “Everyman,” and neither was Jimmy Stewart. What they both are is affable, handsome-but-not-too-handsome heterosexual American white guys with middle class backgrounds and largely British ancestors who generally portray good guys in the movies. That is a very specific thing! And it is no coincidence, of course, that these are the sorts of men that the word “Everyman” typically follows around. The term dates to a time and place where anyone who was not a straight, white (and arguably even British) man was explicitly regarded by law and social norms as inferior to those who were. Read more.
2. Amazon’s New Pilots are Awful. Amazon had a great week, what with the announcement of Woody Allen’s new sitcom and “Transparent’s” triumph at the Golden Globes. Then their new pilots premiered, and Slate’s Willa Paskin has some bad news, saying that nearly all of their seven new shows are terrible.
“Point of Honor” —which “Lost’s” Carlton Cuse produced—takes a far more serious tone, but is even more misguided. It’s set in 1861 at the start of the Civil War and centers on a rich Virginia family. There are three sisters with heaving bosoms and divided loyalties—one is married to a Yankee—who must take on unexpected responsibilities; and there’s a righteous, noble brother, a West Point candidate who insists upon freeing the family’s slaves even as he readies to fight for Virginia and the Confederacy. You see what they did there? So long as the family frees their slaves, the audience should feel OK sympathizing with them as they fight to maintain slavery. Right? This show is, to put it kindly, total hooey. Read more.
3. Advice for Sundance Newbies. Any young writers, critics or reporters going to Sundance for the first time? Tomris Laffly has advice for Sundance newbies:
Try to get enough sleep. Wake up early. I know, the two don’t really go together. The number of hours I slept in Sundance on any given night has been as scarily pitiful as 3, and as outlandishly luxurious as 6 (very rare). But I promise you, your day will be messed up quicker than you think if you accidentally sleep in. And you won’t really take away enough from the films you see if you’re overly tired. And you will be tired. And sleep deprived no matter how hard you try. All I’m saying is: listen to what your body needs and try to balance your schedule and pace yourself. Skipping a late night film or leaving a party early might seem like the end of the world while you’re there, but it’s not. Read more.
4. The Passion of Marion Cotillard. Marion Cotillard just earned a surprise Oscar nomination for her superb performance in “Two Days, One Night,” a turn that’s at once low-key and emotionally devastating. Writing for the New York Review of Books, J. Hoberman praised her work:
Tense and bowed down, her voice and expressions strained, Cotillard carries the weight of the story (as well as the movie) on slender, slightly hunched shoulders. Her character, who had been hospitalized for depression, is all nerves. When, in one moment of despair, Sandra cries that she feels as though she doesn’t exist and is “nothing at all,” she articulates some deeper truth about workers in the ruthless new economy—what the sociologist-philosopher Pierre Bourdieu saw as the unnerving erosion of personal dignity in the absence of job security. Read more.
5. “Blackhat” as Michael Mann’s Lonely Film. “Blackhat” is getting some of the most polarizing reviews of Michael Mann’s career, which is what makes it worth seeing and debating. At his blog Apocalypse Now, Scout Tafoya makes an argument for the film as Mann’s heaviest, loneliest movie.
Everything here weighs a ton. It starts with how he chooses to fill a frame. He builds himself a considerable team; Davis, Hong Kong police including Hemsworth’s love interest, Hemsworth himself, his minder and whoever else happens to be within arm’s reach. Mann arranges them in chaotic patterns and erratic formations, hinting that they aren’t united by a purpose, merely by incidental geography. Then he makes this giant crew sprint through the X and Z axis as frequently as he can find a reason to. The running is labored and ugly. It looks strange. Perfunctory. “What’d she say?” “Move fast.” They run because they’re being compelled. Different from the usual desperation with which Mann imbues his action sequences. They don’t live for this. It’s a task, like anything else. When asked what he’ll do once he’s been freed Hemsworth lamely suggests that he’ll fix TVs. The world doesn’t need Mann’s version of a hero. The world is quiet and his characters have fallen quiet with it. Mann searches the faces of the dead for meaning and finds nothing as sad as Hemsworth, framed alone in worlds moving at an alien pace. “Blackhat” is a very lonely film. Read more.
Tweet of the Day:
Just apropos of nothing in particular: FEATURE FILMS ARE NOT HISTORY. THEY ARE HISTORICAL FICTION.
— a. o. scott (@aoscott) January 17, 2015