Thursday, June 22, 2017

Christine Didn't Make It

This is Christine Chubbuck coming to you live from WZRB in Sarasota, back to you George.
I don't usually take a somber tone, I mean 99% of what I say and write is sarcasm. But I watched a movie recently that really affected me, and I've seen quite a few of those. Contemporarily speaking, this was perhaps the most overlooked film of this past year. It's called Christine starring Rebecca Hall as the titular character of Christine Chubbuck who is famous for shooting herself on air at the network where she worked. Rebecca Hall could very well be the most underrated actress of our time. People kind of lost interest in her after she was upstaged by Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Christina, Barcelona
It's one of those films that makes you immediately go on Wikipedia because you think to yourself that no way is this based on a true story, but it is. The tragedy of Christine is very much steered by the patriarchy that is constantly in her way. The film is meditative and a strong character piece and if you don't know what happens in the climax it can seem to drag, and yet Hall carries it so brilliantly. 
Christine is a co-anchor at some local station in Sarasota, Florida…jealous? And she's interested in positive human interest stories, alas her boss doesn't give a shit because it doesn't sell. One could say that it's the female Nightcrawler but the opposite of that. She doesn't want to sensationalize the news, in fact she calls it exploitative.
'Jesus Christ, just make your stories juicy!'
What's truly tragic is that she is optimistic to the very end. In the opening scene (this film takes place in the 70's btw) she imagines she's interviewing Richard Nixon, knowing she'll never even get close. We learn throughout the film that she lives with her mother, and about to hit 30, is still a virgin. She hates pot smoking, which her mother regularly engages in, and has a general disdain for the shall we say 'free love' of the times. She is so determined to not be famous per se, but to succeed in the job that she so much loves to do; a job dominated by male culture. She even volunteers at a children's hospital and is desperate for human connection. The lead anchor she frequently works with is the handsome George played my Michael C. Hall, whom she is desperately in love with, but because of her awkward workaholic demeanor, she doesn't really have a chance until he invites her out to dinner only to tell her that despite her hard work and cooperation with the whole 'if it bleeds it leads' attitude the station has taken on, that George has been promoted to anchor in Baltimore in a top 20 market over her. What makes it worse is that he was able to choose someone to take with him and surprise surprise it's not her. Things are made worse when she find out that she a cyst on her ovary and the entire thing has to come out. 
The fake flowers that symbolize a lot more than you think. 
Over time, Christine realizes that everything is working against her. We don't really get a sense that she's suicidal but we get clues that she has some mental issues that are only exasperated by her circumstances. 
Aside from Hall, it's the direction of the movie that is truly special. The camera follows her into an abyss surrounded by 70's glamour. There is a brilliant scene where she's clearly distracted in an interview on air by the fake flowers on her desk. She abruptly stops the interview and throws the flowers at the camera operator saying that it's all she can think about right now. 
I suppose there's a tenacious stubbornness to her that a lot of us, especially women can relate to. She works in a highly sexist environment where her abstaining from drinking and partying is looked upon as weird and she herself is looked upon as aloof. The amount of time she spends working shows how passionate she is, but left and right she is shut down even when she is cooperative. Her boss has nothing but disdain for her, and they are at odds almost constantly.
The way the film is directed, we can see that not only is Christine at the end of her rope towards the climax, but she sees no other way out. We don't see the gun, not really. We see it in her bag, but we don't see her staring at it contemplating what she's about to do, which is the lazy way out. 
Her final and only revenge is to put on a very false and somewhat creepy facade by going to her boss' office and asking to be lead on the following Monday about the weekend news. She promises that it will be sensational, and in the most prophetic and unforgettable way, through the strangest smile she tells him; 'I'm agreeing with you'.
The real Christine Chubbuck
I've already told you what ends up happening to Christine, and sometimes when you're not quite ready for that moment even though you know that it's coming, you need to see it again. But I couldn't watch this again. It was directed so viscerally that I literally jumped …off of the exercise equipment I was on, but give me a break. 
Back to Hall, I really thought she'd be at least nominated, but the film was small, the film was dark, and if anyone should have won, it should have been Natalie Portman for her haunting portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, but Hall needs to be acknowledged not only for the aesthetics of Christine; the walking style, the hair, the mannerisms, etc. But it was one in a few times where an actor inhabits a character so intimately that it really bothers you. You want so much to know what's going on inside Christine's head and her descent into making the decision that she finally does, and yet you don't want to know; that's great acting. Hall did Christine Chubbuck justice in a subdued, understated performance of a woman who is pushed into a corner by her male colleagues and no matter how hard she fights and how much she compromises, she feels that she's left with no choice and no other way out. And there's a strangeness in that part of you that actually does understand that.

Trailer below, streaming on Netflix, highly recommended.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Let's Talk About Bill Cosby

Polanski at the height of his success
With the giant clusterfucks of the current administration's agenda against women of constant shit and malice hitting us in the face like a curve balls at …I don't know what constitutes fast in baseball, whatever. I wanted to bring this subject up because among all of the Trump news to which I have almost become immune, almost (I mean, its great material for my non-existent comedy career). Alas, we've all recently heard among the Trump babble that the jury is in a deadlock about the verdict against Bill Cosby. A deadlock is not the best use of that word but at least they didn't call it a hung jury …Am I right? Ok! Enough puns. 
If you're not up to date because you've made a nice home for yourself under a rock, let me enlighten you. After a woman's accusation came out that Cosby had sexually assaulted and raped her, it was about 10 or so years old. Now, in the state of California that is still within the statute of limitations so he can still be prosecuted for it. After this very courageous woman finally spoke up, it seemed like every other woman in the greater Los Angeles area came out all with the same disturbing story. 50 to be exact. I mean, it boggles the mind. 50 women are accusing Cosby, and what really sticks in my craw is that these women will never be vindicated. They will never see justice. He's not going to stand trail for those 50 as he should considering none of them had the courage to speak up, which is totally understandable. What's the word of a lowly ingenue against one of the biggest celebrities of that era? If this teaches us anything, and knowing about rape statistics, the most important and best thing a woman can do if she is victimized is speak up. You would think that a comic as successful as Cosby doesn't have to drug and rape girls. Who knows, was it titillating? Was it amusing? At least we know that to a sane person it's sick and wrong, and according to the police an egregious violation on too many women to even wrap your mind around.
Now, I'd like to talk about a paradox of conscience that I've dealt with for a while. It's interesting that no one has yet compared this scandal to the Polanski scandal of the 1970's. Here's some backstory on that; Roman Polanski was and is a brilliant filmmaker from Poland who lost both parents in the Holocaust as a kid. He made a name for himself as an auteur in Europe, moved to Hollywood and after Rosemary's Baby, he was THE Roman Polanski. He was married to the beautiful and wonderful Sharon Tate for a little less than a year until she and others at her house were brutally murdered by the Manson family while Roman was in London. His life changed forever, I mean of course it would. It should be added she was 8 1/2 months pregnant with their child at the time. 
A few years later, when he decided not to give into grief but to survive and to keep going as an artist he made arguably his best film; Chinatown. Around this time, he started dating very young girls. He's European, they were European, I'm sure there was some legality there. Then, one night at Jack Nicholson's house, he was taking photographs of a 13 year old girl named Samantha Gailey, and according to public record, he proceeded to give her champagne and quaaludes to knock her out (sound familiar?), then sodomized and raped her. 
Because of a really long story about what happened to the system of justice in this particular case, even though he had admitted culpability and guilt, he fled to France. To this day he is not allowed in the United States. The crisis comes from the fact that as a film lover, I without any pretense, faux intellect, or politics, really admire and respect him as a filmmaker. He is actually one of my favorites, and given what he had survived in his life, is it time to forgive him? Should we have forgiven him before? Surprisingly most people did. Except the police. I will never in my life advocate what he did. I have had to separate the person from the crime like a family member would.

Cosby at the height of his success
However, there's a sense of betrayal with Cosby that I cannot come to terms with. I grew up on The Cosby Show, and he really was America's dad. Not only that, he was so wholesome, and so iconic, realizing what he had done was such a blow to me that I don't think I have any forgiveness for him. As a woman, it makes my skin crawl. What I think bothers me the most is that he thought he could go on and on and get away with it, but now he's learning that no one is above the law. I just have no mercy for him. Why his case is different to me than the Polanski case is a total mystery. I do not think of Polanski as a victim. Although the European press would argue that. There is a very interesting documentary that I will link that expresses how he became two different people to two different sets of press; The European press saw him as this wholly tragic figure who survived the gassing of his mother, the murder of his wife, and maintained his voice against the Hollywood machine, while the American press saw him as this malignant twisted dwarf who dabbled in Satanism (untrue btw), was highly controversial, and just the perfect villain.
13-year-old Samantha Gailey, Polanski's victim. 
And yet, Cosby would be the last person to understand as a villain. So many of us, particularly women, have difficulty coming to terms with that. He brought happiness to so many homes on TV night, broke race barriers in comedy, did a great deal for Civil Rights as well. And yet, his epic downfall is what his legacy will be, it is not tainted. It is forever tarnished. 
I think the moment where I truly felt guttural hate for this man is when someone not exactly known for being of sound mind or for telling the truth; Janice Dickinson was interviewed about her experience with him as a young model. She said her piece, but the camera man failed at his job and forgot to turn off the tape. You can see that she started weeping in a way I never want to see a woman weep. Sexual assault is no joke, and having to hold it in because of intimidation from Cosby is even more disturbing and disgusting. 
Back to Polanski, I would blanket statement this whole thing and say that of course circumstances aside it is never ok, and we all know this. What is it about a person that you can eventually forgive and one that is unforgivable. When Polanski received his Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2002, every single member in the Dolby Theater stood up and clapped their asses off. Is it time? I doubt it. It's ironic that a man like Polanski who made films that were really amazing and that's about it, is more forgivable than Cosby who brought us so much joy when we were children. But perhaps that's why we hate him more. And you know what? We should. There will always be an asterisk next to both of their names, and actually perhaps Cosby's name will be erased from TV history so that there isn't a giant splotch on their repertoire.

How the world will now remember Cosby. 'Shame' should be written on his lapel like a scarlet letter. 
Ironically for Cosby, Hollywood is a very forgiving city. Hugh Grant, Mel Gibson, fucking Tara Reid, I mean c'mon. But in this age where women feel that their rights are being peeled apart like an orange, he is not a martyr. He is the shining example of what happens when power in Hollywood goes unchecked. We've talked about what's most infuriating and for lack of a better word defiling about this whole case is that it took one woman to speak up to make a whole army of them who felt so little next to the great and powerful Cosby to speak up and lived in silence for YEARS. I really do hope he gets his comeuppance. If not in court, the certainly in the court of public opinion. Why? Because I'm a woman. We will always be intimidated by figures like that who have more power, more money, more everything to fear people into speaking up. But since Obama had put sexual violence on the map, and really made it a forthright issue, its time to say I don't give a fuck who you are. You're a monster, and that's all I see.

Below is the trailer for the film I had mentioned earlier. It's called Wanted and Desired. Don't bother with Netflix the full thing is on Youtube, it is a must-see.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shakespeare's Gay Pride

Granted I've never seen this play live, but this is definitely the best and most iconic version of Shylock. 

Brace yourselves, this might be controversial but since when do I shy away from that. I go home after a lone day, and I read or watch Shakespeare and try to write...because I am better than you. Tonight I rented on Demand my favorite Shakespeare play; The Merchant of Venice. Those of you who know it, good for you, and for those of you who don't...you're an asshole. But it concerns a man named Antonio (played in the film by Jeremy Irons) and the story goes that a 'close friend' Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) desperately wants to court a woman named Portia (Lynn Collins) who lives in Belmont which I assume is a tiny island off the coast of Venice. Here's the problem. Bassanio is a do-nothing, just a pretty boy with a lot of passion. Antonio his friend is a merchant...hence the name 'Merchant of Venice'. Long story short (too late), Antonio wants to help him so much that he gives him license to borrow money from the Jew of Venice, Shylock (Al Pacino) who is a money lender because Jews back then couldn't own businesses. Shylock complies but not before reminding Antonio that he's a piece of shit and giving the condition that if he is not paid back, the forfeit will be a pound of Antonio's flesh ...literally. How's the Vera cliffs notes? They agree and the deal is made and that's as far as I'm going because for chrissake read some goddamn Shakespeare. 
Artist rendition of Portia fighting off suitors.

On to my point, aside from the fact that there are always women disguised as men and the other way around particularly in his comedies (Twelfth Night, Midsummer, this play, etc.) There is always a special and unspoken relationship between certain male characters. Ask yourself, why would Antonio agree to this insane condition on Bassanio's sake? He's always seen in the play as being so overtly kind and almost a doormat to the much younger and prettier Bassanio. He is literally willing to put his life on the line for him. It's quite similar to the relationship that Iago and Cassio have in Othello. And no, I don't think this is an Elizabethan bromance. It can be argued that Antonio's loyalty to Bassanio is stronger than Bassanio's loyalty to Portia. 
The debt to be paid. He hath laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains. 

In Shakespeare, the women who have relationships with each other are usually ones of mutual respect and friendship. Much like you would find on an episode of Sex and the City. Yet the director of this particular film likes to play up the shall we say flighty relationship between Portia the most beautiful woman in Belmont and her BFF Nerissa, to the point where it's not so subtle. 
Portia doesn't need suitors, she has Nerissa. 

There's another element, it's quite small but it's become an iconic Shakespearean line and most people that use it today don't even know that it comes from this play. Shylock has a daughter Jessica who decides to renounce her Jewish faith to marry a man called Lorenzo. She dresses in a man's disguise to escape and says; 'do not look at me for I am much ashamed of my disguise ...but love is blind'. Indeed it is. Lorenzo would love Jessica as a man or woman. Because love is blind. Ok, enough redundancy. 
In the end, everyone marries each other, save for one character; the Merchant. I would argue that the merchant faces just as bad of a fate as Shylock. He is left alone because of his identity. Shylock is a Jew, and Antonio is gay. Not giving much away, when Shylock asks for his bond to be fulfilled as the money was not paid back to him, Antonio and Bassanio have perhaps the most tender moment between two humans I've ever seen. Antonio asks for his hand to hold him through this whole cutting out a pound of flesh being removed thing, and proclaims love for him...of course this is probably a love of friendship, but still. It's Nicholas Sparks tenderness. If it were me I'd be asking everyone to hold my hand and then probably pass out. And yet, it's deeply meaningful in subtext. And for the first time you see compassion on Bassanio's face. I feel that's actually pretty important. Not even when he wins Portia's hand in marriage does he show such emotion. It reminds me a lot of how Romeo reacts at the death of Mercutio. Yes, we all know what happens in the end, but the sorrow at the loss of a ...shall we say friend, is very powerful. 
So many iconic soliloquies in this play, this is from the 'quality of mercy' speech given by Portia in drag.

Now, this is not the only play that has somewhat homosexual subtext and characters; Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, Banquo from Macbeth, even Hamlet to a certain extent. But hey, argue with me all you want, I haven't drawn a line in the sand. I'm just finding recurring themes that I want to address (where my theater geeks at?). If people to this day are still debating whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote all of Shakespeare which you can read all about here , then I get my gay themes in Shakespeare hypothesis. Clearly I miss grad school or something. Anyway, below is the trailer. At least watch the film. Aside from the Zeffirelli 1969 version of Romeo and Juliet, this is as close to the original source material as you're likely to get in cinema. 

See below: 




Sunday, December 25, 2016

On Christmas Night I'm Watching Schindler's List

The famous girl in red who serves as a catalyst in the change within Schindler's attitude, symbolizing every Jew he wasn't able to save. 
Let's put everything aside for the moment; Spielberg's first Academy Award, the event that it was that everyone saw, how important it is not only to the Jewish people, but for the world at large, etc. I want to talk about the filmmaking, because if I talked about absolutely everything, I'd never finish this post. 
Most of all, let's talk directing. Spielberg said his decision to shoot in black and white was because he didn't want to 'prettify' any images of the Holocaust. Apparently the studio insisted for a while that he shoot in color, and he assured them that if that was the case, he wouldn't have made the film. The lights and shadows harken to something out of Orson Welles. His long time DP (Director of Photography for the layman) Janusz Kaminski is truly a paragon of his craft. He made the events of the Holocaust and the events in Schindler's life so seamless as he moves from shmoozing with Nazi's in the first scene, the the chaos of Jews pretending that they have 'essential' factory skills so that they would get a blauschein (a blue card) meaning that they could go to work for Schindler (Liam Neeson) instead of being loaded up into trucks headed for death camps. His fluid camera captures the most aggressive and most intimate moments ranging from the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto to a conversation between Schindler and his wife. 

Itzhak Stern played brilliantly by Ben Kingsley as Schindler's accountant and de facto right hand man. Their exchanges range from the mildly intellectual comic banter to some of the most harrowing moments of the film. 
As a historical epic (and that's what it is, not just a bio-pic), Spielberg utilized suspense so brilliantly it astounds me even today, considering that I've seen the film way too many times (like there even such a thing). A very iconic example of this is when Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes) stands atop his balcony with a rifle killing people off one by one. He's aiming for a young Jewish boy who told him that he couldn't clean his bathtub as much as he tried. Amon tells him (as Schindler instructed when he said that power comes from pardon) that he pardoned him, changed him mind and after a few missed shots, as the kid walks away, aware of his fate, eventually gets shot in the back. 

'I pardon you'.
Another suspenful and heartbreaking scene is when a machinist gets examined by Göth, because Göth (like most Nazi's) takes his bloodlust to the extreme, and decides to kill him on the basis that he didn't make enough hinges. He knocks him to the ground and pulls the trigger, but the pistol jams. Through tears, the man tries to explain why his work was 'unsatisfactory' as Amon keeps trying to fire over and over again. Finally, he gives up and pistol whips him. The man survives, and is the one that writes the letter to the Soviets in case Schindler was captured that every Schindler worker signs on his behalf.
One of the most iconic scenes in the film of which I just spoke. It is so compelling, so terrifying, and so brilliantly executed, that it is the hallmark of perfect directing.
Now let's talk about the writing and acting. There is so much more going on than the story itself, and even with characters that have just a couple of lines, it pulls you into this film, this story, this world as if it's almost matter-of-fact. There is small humor here and there, especially with the Nazi's. A good example of this is when his accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) gets mistakenly put on a train to a camp, and Schindler goes to rescue him, despite his efforts, low-ranking Nazi's won't let him off. Schindler takes down their names and says; 'Thank you gentlemen, I think I can guarantee you that you'll both be in Southern Russia before the end of the month, good day'. Then the film cuts to Schindler walking along the train pass and yelling for Stern, while the low-ranking Nazi's follow him doing the same. Now that's good writing. 
But Spielberg doesn't shy away from the stuff none of us want to see, because we don't want to think that the greatest mass genocide in modern human history happened only 60 some years ago. He does this very subtly. A man sorting valuables, obviously those that Jews who are now in camps had to give up gets handed a burlap bag, inside which are a few handfuls of gold teeth. The man takes off his glasses in disbelief, as do we if we had glasses. But back to this later. 

Making the list.
A very important character is Poldek Pfefferberg (Jonathan Sagall) who actually wrote the book that the film is based on. He survived from the start of the Holocaust to the liquidation of Krakow to standing next to Schindler as he says a tearful goodbye to his workers at the very end. He is a rogue character. The first time we see him, he's mad at another seller on the black market for giving him shoe polish in glass containers instead of metal and threatens his co-conspirator. Schindler overhears his tenacity and offers him a job buying things on the black market that will be needed to shmooze with more Nazi's and eventually trade for the lives of his Jews. His mass fortune which was made by profiteering off of free labor from Jews at his company, he eventually gave up to save everyone he possibly could. 'They say that no one dies here, they say your factory is a haven, they say that you are good' a woman tells him who is desperate to bring her elderly parents into Schindler's factory. She dresses up in fancy borrowed clothes and puts on rouge and lipstick to appeal to Schindler. At first, he's furious at the fact that he's considered a Moses among the Jews, but his conscience catches up with him and he trades his cigarette lighter, his cigarette case, ties, pins, suits; everything, for his own humanity, and for theirs. 
Moreover, this is not a film about Schindler, and it is not a film about the Holocaust either. This is a film about history. A history that has been preserved in survival accounts, photographs, testimonies, etc. But someone had to put the pieces together and give us a narrative that not only educated us, but touched and enlightened us. The chaos, the deplorability, the horror, and the sorrow birthed a film that in itself is history, which taught us a very important thing through its fly-on-the-wall aesthetic; That (as the ring that the surviving Jews give to Schindler says) 'He who saves one life, saves the world entire'. 
'It's Hebrew from the Talmud, it says he who saves one life saves the world entire'.
Even watching it now, after so many times I can't even count, there are moments of terror, moments of contemplation, anger, but mostly moments of awe in the worst way. This is our history, not just the Jews, but all of us. A time where survival was more important than any sort of life, where hiding in excrement  meant the difference between life and death, where there was real evil in the world, and eventually the righteous  triumphed over it. This happened, and no one has ever or since brought it to film more comprehensively, with more brevity, and with such a sincere heart. 

Below some related clips: 




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Emma Stone: The New Old It Girl

A take on The Virgin Mary (which was also a hilarious SNL sketch)
I haven't blogged in a while, and there's a good reason for that. My last blog was around Halloween, and then the election happened, and I don't know about you but I'm feeling just generally down no matter how many Samantha Bee or Seth Meyers I catch on the Youtubes making fun of this catastrophe.
Yeah 2016 in hindsight was a giant garbage fire. I'm not going to go that far into it, we all know what I'm talking about, but one source of comedy still stands strong and will continue to. The show has been on the air for 40 years and counting. Have you guessed it yet? I'm talking about SNL. You hear me Trump? You hear me racists, bigots, electors, Kellyanne, Mike Pence, Steve Bannon? We're still here, and we still have right to laugh. Ok, enough of my soap box rhetoric. On to some frivolous entertainment musings.
Everyone (especially young white pre-pubescent girls) want to be BFF's with Jennifer Lawrence. She smokes weed, she drinks Two Buck Chuck, she just doesn't give a fuck. In fact she makes such a point not to give a fuck that it's coming off as disingenuous.

Emma hosting SNL for her third time two weeks ago. 
The other day she got some much deserved heat because homegirl loves to run her mouth about all of the weird and embarrassing situations she finds herself in that are usually endearing but not in this case. Long story short; she said that she scratched her ass on sacred rocks in Hawaii where they were shooting Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so hard in fact that she dislodged a giant boulder which rolled down the hill and almost killed the sound guy. She thought it was hilaaaaaarious. Not so much. Also her movies are getting ridiculous. Yes she was Katniss, yes she has an Oscar for a film I really love; Silver Linings Playbook, but that was a while a go, and frankly Passengers looks pretty sweaty to me.
A couple of weeks ago Emma Stone hosted SNL for her third time (not for nothing, but when J-Law hosted it, it was crazy awkward and just proved to all of us that she's not as funny when on-script). In my opinion, it was the best show of the season so far, and one of the best of the last few years. Emma, like Jen seems older than she actually is, perhaps wise beyond her years, but she's quiet, demure, and doesn't pound our heads into the fact that she's JUST LIKE US. She's not.
But she's very very funny. Granted it's not just her, the new head writers at SNL gave her a great script, and she killed it. From the candle song to the cleaning crew Christmas songs to the high school obnoxious improve sketch that I love so much, she was fabulous. Oscars aren't the measure of a good actress. Case and point: Gena Rowlands STILL doesn't have one, and Marisa Tomei does. Explain that logic to me, you know what? Don't. But Stone's performance for which she was nominated (Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was a really solid and visceral performance. She has a quiet lightning inside of her, and it doesn't help that she's gorgeous. She doesn't have to change her look, hair color, or wear Dior couture all the time (sorry another jab at Jen). She's just herself, and with La La Land coming out worldwide next week, it seems like she's rising while Jen is slowly descending on the ladder of hot young it girls.

Lest we forget, Stone was tapped to play perhaps the greatest female character ever written; Sally Bowles in the 2014 Broadway revival of my favorite musical; Cabaret.
With so many examples of faux white girl feminism that are so obnoxious that they crawl under my skin and make me nauseous; like Taylor Swift and her stupid squad, Lena Dunham and her show that she doesn't even write anymore, I could go on and on but I don't want to. In this climate, I would rather have a friend like Emma who has it together and seems eons smarter both streetwise and intellectually than Jennifer, despite the fact that both are high school drop outs. It just seems that Jennifer peaked a while ago, and now she's the highest paid actress in the business. We as snarky critics can say it's because she sold out, but that's not snark, it's just the truth. Emma continues to pick interesting and unique projects and can go from Spiderman to Birdman to La La Land seamlessly. Btdubs her chemistry with Gosling is too ridiculous. I'm sure he can have chemistry with a gardening tool, but still. I've switched teams, and I'm excited to see what Emma does next. Keep in mind, she started out in the Frat Pack opus Superbad as Jonah Hill's love interest. Let me say that again: Jonah Hill's love interest.
Her performance in Birdman was pretty untouchable. She didn't have that many quips or clap trap monologues, but her down-to-the-bone performance as a lost and confused former junkie daughter of a washed up has-been actor almost stole the show. Almost, because stealing from Michael Keaton is pretty damn hard. A for effort. 
I'm not even going to touch on Margot Robbie who is probably the best and smartest actress under 30 right now, and though it would be fun to throw a monkey wrench into this agenda, I like pinning two actresses that are around the same age and with the same influence on the zeitgeist against each other for shits and giggles. It makes me feel better about myself. And in a time when we desperately need some escapism, Emma delivers. Also, Jen stop scratching your ass on sacred rocks, it's not funny and it's flat out disrespectful, crude, and ridiculous. We're the fairer sex for a reason. Enjoy your free drinks.

Below some SNL clips and La La Land Trailer:



Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Have Something For You to Watch on Halloween

One of the more memorable scenes from the film. Can't tell you what's going on though, and it's hurting my soul.
The VVitch came out of nowhere, and I do mean nowhere. Shot in some desolate woods in Canada over 25 days by a freshman director who looks like he just stumbled out of the most hipster hipster bar in Los Angeles, I had heard things about it. Mostly that it was legit the most terrifying, unsettling film that will make your blood run cold. I was assuming this was coming from people who had never seen The Shining, or Rosemary's Baby, or The Exorcist. But now that I too have seen it, I will gladly put The VVitch into that group. I've read Arthur Miller's The Crucible more times than I care to remember and the Salem Witch Trials were never handled with that much honesty and brevity since. 

Does this not remind you of a certain famous painting?
But this is not about that. And the parallels between it and the New Testament were so subtle, nuanced, and brilliant it made me think; 'wow, hipsters can direct'. Robert Eggers, barely 32 (so exactly my age) cast a film with an all British (with the exception of one Scot) cast for this unsettling horror-type movie. I'm hesitant to call it a horror movie, even though that's how it's been marketed. To me, it's a period piece; a bleak drama much like There Will Be Blood with a lot of seriously disturbing images and themes. This is not a film for your parents or for the faint of heart, seriously you've been warned. 
I am not going to give away any spoilers, what I will give you is the premise. Set maybe a few years prior to Salem, a Puritan family is banished for the patriarch's disagreements with his elders about interpretations in the Bible. Defiant, he moves his family; wife Catherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, and two really annoying twins around 5 or so to the wilderness...oh and there's a newborn who's pivotal to the story. What he was thinking I don't know, but it's his pride that spurred the journey and that's already giving stuff away. Now, anyone who is a horror purist knows that only bad shit can happen to you in isolation in the woods. The daughter Thomasin is the central character, who is about to reach 'womanhood' i.e. puberty, and the parents discuss selling her to another family so she can properly deal with it, which was not uncommon at the time. They are completely isolated save for their farm animals one of which is a surly black goat with giant horns called Black Phillip. The twins claim that he speaks to them and they speak back, and as we know, when animals do that and only little kids notice it, it's a common horror trope. But then it launches into a whirlwind of bizarre and such visceral happenings that you WILL have trouble sleeping at night. Even though you live in the middle of the city and don't own any goats. 

Black Phillip
What is beautiful about the film is the pacing (borrowed no doubt from Ingmar Bergman) where it emphasizes the feeling of degradation and isolation and eventually hopelessness and loss of faith. The other major aesthetic (borrowed from Kubrick no doubt) is the decision to shoot exclusively with natural light. And anyone who has ever made a movie, whether a 3-hour opus or a student film knows that negating your Omni's is basically film suicide. But to get the authentic feel the director strove for, it paid off.
Again, can't say what's happening. It's not a cliché exorcism I can tell you that much.
Now, you're probably thinking, they are in the wilderness near creepy woods, the film is called The VVitch...there's a witch in the woods, bam, you solved the puzzle...NOPE! And if you want to know what's actually up, guess what, WATCH IT. Stay home from the lame Halloween party you were invited to where everyone will be dressed as either Donald Trump or someone from Orange is the New Black, and just cuddle up with a pet or a stuffed animal like a child because no matter how tough you think you are, this movie will crawl under your skin and scare the life out of you. 

The climax of the film...have I left a good cliffhanger?
It was so impressive to see a film that was not only shot for under 2 million, made the rounds at Sundance and got picked up by A24, but that resurrected a genre that's basically become a parody of itself. If we label it a horror film, it's definitely up there with the aforementioned Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, etc. And it was directed by a guy who's basically the bastard child of Polanski, Bergman, and Kubrick; not a bad label to have. AND it's his first film. This was such a relief and single handedly restored my faith in the genre while making me slightly suicidal. Just kidding, but it did stick with me for so long and so strongly that I'm still not able to shake it off. 
Oh and in its defense, people were wondering why the fuck it's spelled the way it's spelled and that's because that's what pamphlets that made rounds in the colonies around that time looked like when they were asking people to beware of VVitches. It's not a hipster thing...well maybe a little bit. There I just gave you Halloween plans, you're welcome. 

Trailer below. 


Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Patriarchy vs. Amanda Knox

Now 30, Amanda looks like she's aged about 20 years in 6. 
Like many of you I decided to Netflix and Chill with a rather unnerving documentary that was just released yesterday simply titled Amanda Knox. We all, or most of us, remember this scandal. To us American folk, we saw it quite differently from how Italians saw it. We know bits and pieces here and there, and almost kind of know what happened, but this documentary is not so much about the crime, but about the titular character and what she had to endure. 
'Foxy Knoxy' as her friends called her decided to study abroad her second year of college in Perugia, Italy, a small provincial yet beautiful town in Umbria. She very quickly caught the attention of an awkward but pretty engineering student; Rafaelle Sollecito. They had a whirlwind romance of 5 days which culminated with them sleeping together at his place. The next morning this 20 year old woke up to just about the worst news anyone could; her British roommate Meredith Kercher had been brutally murdered in the dorm they shared together, with her body still there, and blood everywhere. 
Where people got suspicious of Amanda was that she didn't call the police immediately and in fact showered, changed, and hung out a bit before she realized there was a body in the other room. 
We all remember when the media descended on the dorm and outside of it there was Amanda and Rafaelle making out. Most saw this as bizarre behavior, like she couldn't give two shits, which she explains in the documentary was actually a comfort from someone she cared about in a time of crisis. 
We all have different ways of dealing with shock, and this was hers. 

The infamous kiss outside the crime scene that the media saw is extremely weird ....understandably so, but c'mon.
The government of Perugia didn't see it that way, and charged both Knox and Sollecito with first degree murder, with the former barely able to speak Italian, held without a lawyer for days of questioning without the use of a bathroom or food. She finally broke in what we here in the states would call a 'coerced confession', and after a very short trial both were found guilty and sentenced to 26 years and 25 years respectfully. 
Where it gets really sick is that the judge, who is featured heavily in the documentary; a self-proclaimed devout Catholic (not that there's anything wrong with that) and a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, had dreamt up a scenario where Amanda was in the middle of some kind of Satanic orgy when Meredith walked in on her and paid the ultimate price. We now know that what actually happened was a violent burglary; poor Meredith was home alone when two men broke into the dorm, sexually assaulted her and killed her. But the judge still ...still believes his ridiculous Satanic ritual theory as if he has Rosemary's Baby on a loop in his head. This leads me to a very vicious double standard forced on Amanda Knox which made her spend 4 years of her life without a lawyer, and without support, in an Italian jail, to which she refers as 'the dark place'. 
When defending herself she said something extremely important and resonant; 'I was sexually active, I was not sexually deviant'. It's sad to think that those two are mutually exclusive when it comes to women...perhaps not all women, but certainly for Knox. 

Foxy Knoxy as a happy 19 year old with a sparkle in her eye, in her hometown of Seattle. 
At her appeal, it was found that the judge was kind of a ridiculous sycophant, misogynist, and an overall crazy person. Also, there was heavy tampering with the crime scene, and both Sollecito and Knox's convictions were overturned. Thus ending the saga of a whole patriarchal state of mind against an innocent girl. She returned to Seattle in tears and disappeared from the spotlight, until she reappeared for this documentary. But it wasn't over. Apparently that same judge wanted her blood so badly that he petitioned for her to be extradited back to Italy for a second trial, to which the American government gave the finger. She was at last exonerated completely after two more years. On the whole, this scandal lasted for 9 years of Amanda's life. Yes her behavior was strange, yes she was promiscuous, does that make her a cold blooded killer? According to the government of Perugia, yes it did. 
When she begins the documentary, she says that; 'if I am guilty, it means that I am the ultimate figure to fear, but if I'm innocent that means that everyone is vulnerable. Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing, or I am ...you.' Those words basically sum it all up; Because she was young, beautiful, and rather odd, she paid a price of 4 years behind bars. 'Femme fatale', 'heartless manipulator', 'concertante of sex' ...even if these were true they don't spell murderer to me. 

Seconds after hearing that the Supreme Court of Perugia had overturned her conviction. 
Because I'm a woman, I think what happened to her was one of the greatest injustices and miscarriages of the criminal justice system. There is still a double standard where we as women are not just labeled whores for our sexual behaviors, (which are by the way are nobody's business) but can be put to prison for them. I believed in her innocence from the beginning and you're free to disagree with me. But, I believe a large part of her struggle was just because she was beautiful, sexually active, talked a lot about sex, and not much else. Would we for a second combine those traits with the premonition or heartless killer if it were a man? I doubt it. 
Anyway, I'm going to get off my soap box, and just recommend you watch it. As a documentary it's very engrossing and competently made. Even if you think you know the story, you don't know all of it. 

Below, trailer: 


Saturday, September 24, 2016

In Memoriam: Curtis Hanson, The Quiet Intellectual

Curtis Hanson
In case you missed it (you probably did, what with the first Clinton/Trump debate coming up and the riots in Charlotte, and of course Brangelina splitting up), filmmaker Curtis Hanson passed away last week. Now that last sentence makes me sound profoundly shallow, but I try to have tunnel vision into what's going on in pop culture, and I'm sure I'm late AF to the Brangelina party, just like I missed the Hiddleswift split party, and it's too late for my Best/Worst dressed list for the Emmy's (Sarah Paulson took my breath away). 
Alas, this is not to be overlooked. Not very prolific, and always a bit under the radar, Curtis Hanson has not made many films; most of which, like him, flew quietly under the radar with one exception; L.A. Confidential (1997) which sweeped 9 nominations at that year's Oscars and lost all of them (save for one; Kim Basinger for Best Supporting Actress) to Titanic (just threw up in my mouth a little bit, it's fine). 
Poster art for L.A. Confidential
A little backstory about the film; it's based on the novel by James Ellroy who writes pulp fiction novels, for those of you who don't know the term past the Tarantino movie, let me enlighten you. From the time of writers like Raymond Chandler and Charles Jackson, there have been pulp fiction novels. They're kind of like the B Movie of books. They are seedy, salacious, and over the top; dealing with murder, a hot girl (a Femme Fatale for the expert), and a caper of sorts. They are a great read because they are somewhat easy to digest; they aren't exactly Dostoyevsky. But Ellroy took it to the next level and coupled that camp with the dingy, seedy (again), and deliciously fucked up world that is Los Angeles in the 50's. It's an insider's view; kind of like the back end of the website to the glamour facade of Hollywood; and entire industry and culture built on lies, prostitutes, dirty deals and crooked people. That's basically what the film is about. The film is probably as close to the book as an adaptation has ever been, and that's why it's confusing as hell, even for someone like me. Who's that, why is he doing such and such, wait, I though that was the good guy, wait, who even is that? Those kind of questions run through your mind constantly but you can't help but be swept away in the writing, the performance by now some of our favorite actors...among them; Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and (arguably) Russell Crowe; and most of all, this nostalgia that most of us don't even remember because we didn't live through it. 
James Ellroy. He could not look like more of a pulp LA writer if he tried. 
Me? I'm a sucker for Old Hollywood. I don't know why I had to make that public and put it in writing, because most people are already saying to themselves; duh!. But hey, let's make it official. I won't go into the convoluted plot that is nuanced brilliantly and beautifully by Hanson, because as I said he had a whole filmography under his belt, among them lesser but still great films like 8 Mile and Wonder Boys. He wasn't exactly an auteur, just a really competent filmmaker. And with L.A. Confidential, he rose to being an amazing filmmaker. And some of us just need that one diamond in the rough to seal our legacy. And that he did. 

-How did you know I was a cop?
-It's practically stamped on your forehead. 
In 2005, it was my first year in New York, I had just transferred to NYU where a professor took a liking to me (not that kind of liking ...I don't think) and happened to be on the Board of Review which meant he got to go to a lot of pre-release screenings, of which I accompanied him to many times. One of them was for Hanson's more blah films; In Her Shoes, a totally forgettable Cameron Diaz vehicle capitalizing on Sex and the City culture, with a weak script and boring plot. Even for a sub-standard chick flick it blew, but I went because I was promised there would be Q&A afterwards. But I didn't know that my professor was on first name terms with Hanson, and invited me down after everyone left so that I could talk to him. I really didn't know what to say except ask him questions about L.A. Confidential's aesthetics, themes, etc. So basically I sounded like a pretentious film student, which I kind of was at the time, but whatever.
Anyway, I think it's important to acknowledge his passing, but moreover his body of work, which yes, was hit and miss, but I believe every director, even some of the best have misses under their belt. He was a very astute and competent man, and a very talented and perhaps deeply intellectual person which you definitely saw come out even in his sub-standard films. He was that quiet New Yorker type who strove desperately to make the films that he wanted, but unfortunately didn't always get his way.

Below, some trailers and scenes: 






Sunday, September 11, 2016

To Mourn the Death Of Hiddleswift I Did My Own Version of 73 Questions with Vogue! Just as Spontaneous, Not Nearly as Basic

I tried to be basic. It didn't fit.

What's keeping you busy these days? 
-Work.

What's the most exciting thing in life right now? 
-The Emmy's 

What are you bored of?
-Snapchat

What is something that recently moved you?
-a moving vehicle

What's going on over here?
-I'd rather not say

How many guitars do you own? 
-1 acoustic guitar and it's missing a string.

What's the first song you learned to play on guitar?
-The House of the Rising Sun

First thing you do after you get an idea for a song?
-I rub one out

What is your songwriting process?
-A lot of crying and white wine

What song took the least time to write?
-'Fuck it' in E Flat

What song took you the longest to write?
-The Libretto to Hamilton ...I wrote that.

Is this the room where you keep awards?
-Does a CPR certificate count as awards?

Who is your favorite teacher?
Graig Uhlin at NYU who taught my first Warhol class. 

If you could teach one subject what would it be?
Sarcasm.

What's your favorite beverage?
Cold brew.

What's your favorite cocktail?
Anything single malt.

What's your favorite food?
Bacon.

What would you order at a drive through?
Starbucks just made a drive through near my house, so Starbucks

Best birthday cake you've ever had?
For my 28th birthday my friend got me a Strawberry Shortcake from Sweet Lady Jane in West Hollywood. They use fresh seasonal berries and make their own buttercream. It was ridiculous.

What was the last thing you baked?
Meth. 

What's one thing you need to have in your fridge at all times?
Grapes.

What is one thing you still have from childhood?
A creepy horror movie looking doll.

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
Arrested Development

What is your favorite show currently on air?
Halt and Catch Fire

What is your favorite movie?
Seriously?

What movie recently made you cry your eyes out?
The Theory of Everything

Why do you think you're the most followed person on Instagram? 
My Instagram account is actually a front for a brothel I run.

Have you ever Googled yourself?
Daily.

What do you think when you google yourself?
Google still hasn't learned how to spell my name.

If you had one superpower what would it be?
Mind reading.

If you were not a singer what would you be doing?
Polishing my Tony collection and doing a Scrooge McDuck dive into my giant room of money.

Cool or bizarre talent?
I can say it but you're not going to like it.

Whats something you can’t do?
There's nothing I can't do.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Is that Kirsten Dunst?

Whats the best gift you've ever received?
My mom got me a gold Tiffany's bean for my graduation...which I lost so when I finished grad school she got me a platinum one to teach me a lesson. 

One habit you wish to break?
Boys.


Do you have any nicknames?
My friend calls me Gigi because she thinks I look like Gigi Hadid, she's my favorite. 

What surprises you about people?
Celebrities are really short.

What makes you laugh?
Children on leashes.

What does creativity mean to you?
Tennessee Williams.

What's most adventurous thing you've ever done? 
My roommates and I did 5 sprints back and forth in Morningside Park at 2 am for exercise but I think we were drunk.

What are your favorite lyrics?
Shake your head girl, with your pony tail, takes me right back, when we were young. From 'If There is Something' by Roxy Music

One song you wish you'd written?
Killer Queen by Queen

Best fan moment?
I have haters not fans.

Whats your most memorable career moment?
Facilitating the opening night red carpet for Cinequest

What's one accomplishment you're proud of?
Graduating from Columbia University with honors.

What is one thing you want to try but are too scared to?
Snake blood.

What is your spirit animal?
George Clooney's pet pig.

Where should you take my wife?
A swingers bar.

Advice for singers?
Stop writing shit.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I plead the 5th.

Most difficult song to perform on stage?
I always think I'm going to kill Christina Aguilera on karaoke night and I'm always wrong.


How many cats are in this room?
I'm allergic. 

If you were a cat would you get along with your cats?
No.

How many cat breeds can you name in 10 seconds?
Sphynx, Main Coon, British Shorthair, Tabby, Scottish Fold, Germany.

What's the coolest thing in this room?
I have a bottle of 2010 Chateau Margaux.

What is one woman’s closet you'd raid?
Tilda Swinton

What's your favorite fashion trend?
Mod eye make-up

What do you have to have in your purse besides your phone and wallet?
Eye liner.

What are you wearing to this year's Met Gala?
Alexander McQueen

What did i want to do at age 5?
I wanted to be a Marine Biologist I think, which is a glorified way of saying I wanted to be a SeaWorld Trainer.

What do you wish you knew at 19?
Some people suck.

What is something you will not be doing in 10 years?
Babies.

What is the most important life lesson?
Get over it.

What can you say in another language?
My favorite Hebrew expression is 'Chaval al ha Zman' it means 'waste of time' you say it sarcastically when you had a good time.


What do you love most about the town you grew up in?
That the Nazi's tried to take it and we were too badass to give it up.


What is the bravest thing you've ever done?
Admitted I loved someone.

What's the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Drugs?

What is your one most important goal?
To have my play produced.

What is your favorite scented candle?
Bond #9 Sag Harbor.









Saturday, August 13, 2016

Choose Life...Danny Boyle Better Not Disappoint with the Trainspotting Sequel

The boys (L to R): Sick Boy, Renton, Tommy, and Spud.
I like to think of Danny Boyle's career as the ultimate hit-and-miss. His earlier work; Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and even The Beach (I know most critics panned it, but I have some kind of cult attraction to it) were all great. Then it kind of went downhill. Despite the Academy Awards (which they actually make fun of in Trainspotting when Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) says it means fuck all and is a sympathy vote) Slumdog Millionaire might be the most over-hyped movie of the 21st century, and the Steve Jobs bio-pic should have clearly been directed by David Fincher. It was a mess considering the director focuses on style and formalist aesthetics and is working with a sharp bio-pic script from the king of 'don't change shit out of my words' screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Aside from Trainspotting, perhaps his high point was 28 Days Later. Trainspotting was a cataclysmic film in the 90's when making films about rebellion, drug addiction, and nihilism were on every filmmakers to do list. This one stands out, and stands the test of time more importantly, mostly because the protagonist Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a master of his own destiny. He doesn't excuse any of his actions or try to justify him, and whether he experiences tragedy, fulfillment, or mostly dissatisfaction, he keeps on trucking, and eventually wins us all over...also the script is funny as hell. We notice that in this film, he's allied himself with the idiom of British Filmmakers. He wasn't international, and his films have a hallmark of being bleak, dark, and sarcastic. His visual style is very haptic and hectic, this has worked for him in the past, and when he's trying to make serious films it just doesn't work. 

Publicity still with Danny Boyle on the left. 
I was a little apprehensive about the Trainspotting sequel, particularly because a sequel that comes out 10 years after the original is usually a film no one asked for. Also, the original was to the letter an adaptation of the genius Irving Welsh book. I have no idea what this will be based on, but Boyle is creative enough, and maybe he'll hire Welsh as a co-writer. What's really exciting is that we'll get the same cast back. Unlike what happened with Dumb and Dumber To, or Terminator Gene...shit, Trainspotting launched the careers of many brilliant actors, and brought them out of just fame in the UK to international stardom. Ewan McGregor is a household name, while Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewan Bremner haven't been as successful because this film was the high point of all their careers; not to mention Shirley Henderson, Kevin McKidd, and Kelly McDonald who went on to work with brilliant filmmakers like Mike Leigh, also one of the greatest British filmmakers walking this earth. 
I'm sure this movie was so popular because it was cool AF. Rebellion is always cool, even on the streets of Edinburg when you're stealing from shops to pay for your junk habit. 
Now, another point of apprehension. When I was an angsty teenager, I had a poster of the film on my room that was also covered in pictures of Kurt Cobain, a Velvet Goldmine poster I think, and other angsty things of that nature. I thought initially that like Fight Club, I would love it as a teenager and hate it as a grown up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although Trainspotting is highly stylized, its message of nihilism and redemption is far more genuine than that in Fight Club. Also, it's not supposed to be this cool movie just to be cool for teenagers like Fight Club is, where we see people rebelling against society or withdrawing from it completely; sarcastically justifying it to themselves and the audience. 
There are a lot of elements in the film that are a little too close to comfort, and while hitting all of the angsty nihilism points that teenagers are drawn to, it remains very sincere, and remains a towering statement. 
The is one of the more memorable and surreal scenes that became a hallmark of the Boyle aesthetic, when Renton has to dive into 'the worst toilet in Scotland' to retrieve his opiate suppositories. That's a weird sentence. 
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) realizes that his escape from reality (it's heroin in the film but it could be anything) is not exactly the choice way to live. It's a way to die, and unlike most movies about drugs, it drives that point home in a very sharp and non-sentimental way. His ending monologue mirrors his opening monologue when he talks about choosing life, a career, a wife, all other bullshit that he decided to forgo for 'a healthy junk habit'. In the end of the film, he decides to conform, but it's not selling out. Ironically it's more of a middle finger to society than the initial one he gives it. 
It's a dated film, don't get me wrong, but it stands the test of time. Re-watching it, I was prepared to be like, see this is why I don't like it anymore. I'm not a dumb teenager who wants to rebel no matter what and asks stupid questions like 'why does there have to be war man?'. 
I don't want to say that this movie is about people and not drugs. It's about drugs. And there's nothing wrong with that. Most movies show a trajectory that descends slowly but surely into an abyss of nothingness brought on by addiction, you can have that. Mark Renton is the ultimate existential prototype. He understands the consequences of his actions and that everything is based on his decisions, and is fuck all to do with destiny. It's actually a pretty uplifting film. Also, the dialogue couldn't be tighter, and the characters are very well nuanced; even though seeming one dimensional at first. 
The OG cast returns. I'm excited, are you?
In the end, Renton makes a huge decision that most people would consider low and reprehensible, and he doesn't bother to justify it to himself. He realizes that the only person worth caring about is himself, and kisses his life of being depressed over his surroundings and numbing the pain with heroin behind him. He smiles and says 'I'm going to be just like you'. You don't like the world you live in? Tough shit, that's just how it is. You can become a junkie and ignore it, or as Mark does, you can give it the finger and move on. 
I think this film also appeals to teens because of its quick and witty dialogue, which be honest, you didn't really get until you were much older. Also, perhaps the Scottish accents got in the way. But if Boyle could just revisit himself in the 90's as a filmmaker when he was making films that were hyper-real but not disingenuous, then he'll have a good sequel. His biggest flaw is holding back. In Trainspotting, he doesn't hold ANYTHING back, he's only started to to win Academy Awards. Give up being PC, we all know it's not in your nature, and also it doesn't have to be formulaic or by-the-numbers. It can be a masterpiece much in the tradition of your earlier work, if only you can let go of 'the rules'. We're all holding our breath...well, I am. 

Below, trailer for the sequel: 


Scenes from the original: