Way back in 1996 I was working at ABC Television and in those days the entire network focused on the Academy Awards broadcast because, aside from the Super Bowl, the Oscar's was the biggest night in television (meaning the advertising revenue for the show was astronomical). It's hard to believe now but 25 years ago there was still a broad celebration of Hollywood heroes and the art of filmmaking that crossed political lines and united the country (and the world). The winner of Best Picture that year was Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" which is an epic celebrating freedom and Scottish nationalism - with some based Catholicism weaved into the narrative. There was the de rigueur celebration of nepotistic achievement with Nick Cage (Coppola) best actor and Mira Sorvino best supporting actress but that's part of the Tinseltown business model. There was even the (stealth) celebration of a homosexual pedophile when Kevin Spacey won best supporting actor for his portrayal of Roger "Verbal" Kint/Keyser Söze in "The Usual Suspects" so… a little prize or acknowledgment for everyone. As always, it was an #OscarsSoWhite evening but the Academy even tossed a bone to the POC by asking Whoopi Goldberg MC the festivities.
Ten years later, in 2006, the Awards Shows had all gone gay and Brokebutt Mountain was looming with America's people suffering under a forced march of awareness. Start pushing Sisyphus - it's a big hill to climb. Alphabet people were being pushed to the front lines of the culture war and the national security state was leveraging the resulting confusion and division to powerful effect. This kicked off an exciting run of fundamental transformation that worked according to plan but not fast enough for some people.
Ten years after that, in 2016, we were living through the #OscarsSoWhite dispute over diversity and racial representation as chronicled in The Guardian: Hollywood claims to have listened. So will 2016 be the last ‘white’ Academy Awards? It's too good (it really is), now that "The Slappening" has happened, to sum up this wonderful meditation from the UK's Edward Helmore (no, I did not make that name up) on the state of 2016 Hollywood - You simply MUST click on the link and read it, and I mean take it ALL in, the photos, the captions and especially the comments section containing 174 pearls of wisdom. But I will cite one specific passage from this article having to do with Will Smith's decision to boycott the Oscars and how Chris Rock was weaving a comedy act out of this thespian’s principled stance for equity.
Entertainment trade magazine Variety reported that Rock’s routine included a joke about the celebrity couple boycotting the awards – Will Smith, denied a nomination for Concussion, and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who have cited systemic racism in the industry as their reason for their non-attendance. Sadly, that joke may never be heard; its punchline is considered “too lewd” to get past the Oscar censors.
What was that joke? And don't tell me it was the "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited" joke that did get past the Oscar censors at the 2016 awards because I'm not buying that cover up. That's not the joke that's been rattling around Will Smith's brain for the past 5 or 6 years but, when you think about it, you have to assume that Will Smith was thinking about more than one spicy joke. Will and Jada are a rich vein of comedy gold for anyone in the business of making people laugh and, as bad as things were in 2016, the Academy Awards did not officially die until the La La Land/Moonlight incident in 2017 so I'm not going to pick sides on the Smith vs. Rock beef. It's obviously long simmering and emotionally difficult for everyone involved so my guess is that Tupac fit somewhere in the punchline.
I stopped watching the Academy Awards years before #OscarsSoBlack dragged the show into a ghetto of bitch slapping family feuds. If that’s what the new audience wants from their silver screen icons then let them have it.
- CODA - (Winner) American remake of a 2014 French movie and I am told that it's very impressive. A feel good family drama about a girl raised by people who can't hear her. Sort of like a white Willow Smith who lives in a coastal New England fishing village. [Remake]
- Belfast - Kenneth Branagh makes good movies and I liked this one very much because it captured the perspective of a boy but imparted a good deal of manly wisdom on the ways of the world. Very discombobulating to see American television piped into the consciousness of these Irish lads and realize how immigration destroyed English society. [Nostalgia]
- Don't Look Up - Netflix agitprop about astrological disaster with a top flight cast and out of this world production value. I didn't watch it. Meryl Streep as Fake POTUS so who cares?
- Drive My Car - Japanese remake of a Beatles song from the 1960's, just kidding, it's a Japanese remake of Checkov's "Uncle Vanya" set in Hiroshima, nope, it's just another a post-modern Asian drama like "Parasite" - enjoy! [Remake]
- Dune - A remake of a 1980's David Lynch movie which is an attempt to do the impossible - namely, to capture Frank Herbert's SciFi masterpiece on celluloid (or pixels or whatever) and have it make sense. This things is loooong and only gets through half the story. For he is the Kwisatz Haderach! [Remake]
- King Richard - Longtime KOTCB readers know that I am ardent supporter of jeu de paume but regard whiff-whaff at 120 mph with considerable hostility - especially after King Richard took over the women's game using his "daughters" as proxy for his ambition. Check out the 1982 documentary "The French" by William Klein to get a feel for what tennis once was. [Nostalgia]
- Licorice Pizza - Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors and I'd have given the statue to him for this MAGA nostalgia film - sort of the SoCal version of Belfast. A reminder that we once lived in a free country. [Nostalgia]
- Nightmare Alley - A remake of a 1940's Film Noir classic with a knock-out cast and proven director, Guillermo del Toro, means you can't miss this paean to Clown World nascency. [Remake, Nostalgia]
- The Power of the Dog - A remake of a 1960's western by Kiwi Jane Campion staring Dr. Strange Ben Cumber-bun (Englishman) and pudgy Kirstin Dunst (blah) holds very little interest for me - and I really like Jane Campion's films. I don't know, the modern westerns always get ruined by 21st century sensibilities and I don't like to watch Hollywood shit all over America - arguably the greatest part of America which is the cowboy - so I don't watch these movies. [Remake, Nostalgia]
- West Side Story - A remake of a 1960's movie adapted from a 1950's musical written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim but this go-round is piloted by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Tony Kushner. If you think there is any fucking way I would get caught dead in a theater watching this trash then you're crazy. [Remake, Nostalgia]
So there you have it - 6 remakes, 6 nostalgia flicks and a propaganda film celebrating the end of the world. That’s entertainment.