Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the '80s. Every so often, we'll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn't seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he's watching the video, then we'll post those thoughts here. This week's installment was picked by Rembert (as spotted by this tweet from rapper/producer El-P): the "City of Crime" music video from Dragnet. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the '80s, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you've read anything about Cloud Atlas, you're probably pretty sick of seeing this word you're about see. I apologize for that; it's tough to get around. So, OK, one more time: From the get-go, the tag on this thing was that it was — all together now! — "unfilmable." Speculation about how in the hell David Mitchell's epic novel was going to be translated for the screen was launched with the largely incomprehensible, largely gorgeous trailer; was tempered when its directors, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, did a pretty endearing job of explaining their crazy ambition, in both video and New Yorker profile form; and reached a critical mass with the polarized reactions to its film festival screenings and reviews. But all that chatter hasn't seemed to help much. The flick, budgeted at around $100 million, opened this weekend to a paltry $9.4 million.
Before I get to this SNL recap, I have a public service announcement to make: If you've been busted for cocaine, especially if you have never! ever! previously done drugs in your life, don't wear sunglasses in the dark. I am not a person who suspects people of doing cocaine in general; you can sit me down at a party and tell me a four-hour-long story about how you met your manager while wearing sequined pants and sweating your eyebrows off, and I won't have a clue. I'll just peg you as ambitious. But when a person wears sunglasses in the dark, I will immediately Google "[their name] + cocaine" and I will always find a result. So don't do that. I mean, do that if you want to do that. But just know that everyone will think you do a ton of cocaine, unless you are blind. If you are blind, and someone is reading you this recap, you go ahead and wear sunglasses wherever you want.
ESPN executive vice-president John A. Walsh asks film director Ron Howard for some advice on how to improve ESPN. Ron suggests that John emulate the unique player profiles given by legendary Los Angeles Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully.
For a work of fiction whose hydra-headed millennia-and-genre-hopping narrative begins at sea near 19th-century New Zealand and ends (um, spoiler alert, I guess, although the "end" in question happens around the halfway point) with a campfire story about man's final descent into barbarism in post-apocalyptic far-future Hawaii, David Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas is actually pretty easy to follow, and even enjoy. It's a page-turner that happens to be engineered like a particle accelerator; there are actual stories (and actual cliffhangers) within its tricky nesting-doll structure, as well as prose that riffs on Daniel Defoe, Martin Amis, and Philip K. Dick, but also Pelican Brief–era John Grisham, as if Mitchell were writing for the spinner rack in an interdimensional airport.
Editor's Note: Welcome to our series, Rembert Explains the '80s. Every so often, we'll e-mail 24-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn't seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he's watching it, then we'll post those thoughts here. This week's installment was selected by our deputy editor, Dan Fierman: Bosom Buddies - Pilot Episode. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the '80s, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Rembert Note: Before the new year began, I asked bosom buddies Bill Simmons and Dan Fierman if this series would continue into 2012, wondering if they were running out of material. I think they took that as an insult and as a challenge. Be excited.
Tom Hanks might star in an adaptation of Erik Larson’s nonfiction book In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which has just been optioned by Universal and Hanks’ Playtone production company. The book revolves around William Dodd, the United States’ ambassador to Berlin in 1933, his socialite daughter Martha, and the family’s transition from naiveté to “awareness of the mounting brutality around them.” When reached for comment on the project, Tom Hanks made a bug-eyed face before asking, “holy crap, did I just sign up for another World War II movie?” Grade: A- [HR]
How can Chet Haze prove to a nation of skeptics that he’s more than just Tom Hanks’ rapping son? One option would be to possess such supreme talent, to be so unquestionably valid on his own merits, that the Hanks association eventually drifts away into the land of interesting footnotes. Another option would be to have grown up estranged from his famous father, maybe on some cult-y hippie commune or in a small Central American country. Neither option is actually on the table for young Chet, though, which leaves him, now, attempting a third, more subtle tack: Writing a song called “Hollywood” in which he demonstrates a remarkable ignorance to the terminology of his dad’s profession. Check out this chorus: “I just wanna do it like they do it on the big screen / I’ll be your director / And you can be the main actress / Just me and you, no extras / Lights, camera, action.” Wait, wait, wait. Back up. Main actress? Not lead? Not star? Main? Clearly Chet knows nothing about movies, therefore wasn’t raised as a coddled celebrity kid, therefore should now and forever more be taken seriously as a young rap professional. Now can we just get Colin Hanks to co-sign this?
It’s been ten years since 9/11 and thus the time is ripe for Hollywood to step in and remind us how to feel about it. The mechanism? An adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s earnest and thinky 2005 novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which, judging from the just-released trailer, maintains the importance of being earnest but drops the thinkiness down a few pegs. To sum up: Tom Hanks is a perfectly Tom Hanks-ian father to a moon-faced, inquisitive, tambourine-playing son. Sandra Bullock, having finally gained industry permission to play the sort of toothless, maternal roles as the rest of the over-40 actresses in town, plays the boy’s mom. Then the planes start hitting buildings, U2 starts chiming on the soundtrack, and we appear to be on a one-way journey to schmaltzville, replete with a magical-realist quest (Hanks leaves a mysterious key from beyond the grave), fast flashes grief-stricken ethnic faces, and exactly the sort of stolid supporting performers you want to invest in if you hope to strike Academy gold in the motion picture postseason (Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman).
What do Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Sylvester Stallone, and Prince have in common? They’ve all been nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director! The Razzies have always prided themselves on nominating a mix of directors for the industry’s biggest prize. Sure, actors (Kevin Costner, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy) who step behind the camera are always favorites. But the Razzies voters seem to enjoy taking auteurs and top-notch pros down a peg, as well; by RazzieWatch’s count, 14 directors have been nominated for the Oscar for Best Director and the Razzie for Worst Director.
In predicting who might be nominated for Worst Actor, first you have to ask: What does the Golden Raspberry look for in its leading men? It’s a question that drives Razzie gurus crazy. Sometimes the winners of the Worst Actor award are megastars like Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, and Adam Sandler. Sometimes the winners barely qualify as actors at all: the Jonas Brothers, George W. Bush, Roberto Benigni.
Occasionally, an actor will dominate an era, as Kevin Costner did the 1990s, a decade in which he was nominated six times (and won three Razzies). But sometimes an actor will leap from obscurity with a performance for the ages, as Tom Green did when he won the Razzie for Freddy Got Fingered in 2001. (He’s still the only Worst Actor winner to accept his award in person at the ceremony.)
Winning an Oscar is the ultimate validation of an actor's work — but it won't pay for private school! So when the bills come due, lately it seems like even the most serious thespians will step over Terrence Malick to get to the nearest green screen (and easy paycheck) to deliver crappy dialogue into a 3-D camera. 2011's bumper crop of sequels, remakes, and general schlock has built swimming pools in the backyards of some of our most revered actors. But at what cost to their dramatic cred? Exactly how much of the shine have they taken off their Academy Awards? And which actor did the most damage this year? With Oscar-winners currently stinking up theaters in Larry Crowne and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Grantland's department of made-up entertainment-related statistics decided to find out.
What do auteurs Michael Bay and Terrence Malick have in common — other than that they’ve both made Megan Fox wash their cars in a bikini in lieu of auditioning for a role? (Fox got the part in Bay’s Transformers but her performance as "Celestial Dinosaur No. 3" was sadly cut from Malick's of Tree of Life.) They’ve both written letters to projectionists, advising them on how best to present their 2011 films! While the letters themselves strike differing tones (Malick terms his a "fraternal salute" to a "forgotten art" while Bay, unsurprisingly, uses capitalist logic – "your theaters invested a lot of money in this equipment" — in his plea for 3-D perfection), they are the latest missives in a trend that stretches at least as far back as noted control freak Stanley Kubrick, whose own letter re: Barry Lyndon also recently surfaced.
But this epistolary practice goes deeper than most cinephiles realize. Grantland gained access to some other recently-penned letters to projectionists from the directors of a few of summer 2011’s other prominent releases. We are proud to share excerpts of them with you now.