Talking Cinematic Treasures ‘Blade Runner 2049’ & ‘The Florida Project’ [Adjust Your Tracking Podcast]

Things are tough out there. At least it’s a good time to be going to the movies…

On this episode of Adjust Of Your Tracking, Joe and I gush about two wildly different movies and find solace in simple pleasures, like enjoying weird movie days (Joe explains on the show), the genius of Roger Deakins, and remembering that even played out songs like Kool & The Gang‘s “Celebration” can sound amazing again with just the right amount of cinematic verve thrown over the track.

Though I’ve already talked in depth on The Playlist Podcast about Denis Villeneuve’s decades-later sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” I just can’t get enough of this movie. And so, we start the show there, with lots of praise for the film’s many strengths while we also lament its weak box office performance last weekend. On the back half of the podcast we also go nuts for Sean Baker‘s “The Florida Project,” a film so teeming with life and infectious energy and truth that it’s almost overwhelming. Except you’re having too much fun while also being deeply moved. It’s another home run for A24, which continues to support superb filmmakers with strong visions and give them a proper home at cinemas. Listen in to hear us blab about these great movies.

LISTEN: Super Dark Times’ at the Cinema, Plenty to Recommend on Streaming [Adjust Your Tracking Podcast]

All episodes of Adjust Your Tracking are part of The Playlist Podcast Network and can be found on iTunes,Soundcloudand Stitcher. You can stream or download the podcast via the Soundcloud embed below or up top. You can also subscribe on iTunes to get them on the regular. Leave us a review and rating there if you’re so inclined and help spread the word on our podcast.

As always, thanks for listening!

‘Last Flag Flying’: Richard Linklater Tackles Middle Age In Bittersweet Road Trip [NYFF Review]

“Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day,” Bob Dylan laments wearily in “It’s Not Dark Yet.” “It’s too hot to sleep,” he cries, “And time is running away.” It’s a melancholy dirge reflecting on one’s impermanence, reflecting on how much time you have left before you shuffle off this mortal coil. Yet, there’s also a life-affirming quality to the song. I’m still here, the spiritually bruised track says, but you haven’t gotten rid of me yet.

The tune from Dylan’s famous and influential Time Out Of Mind plays over the closing credits of Richard Linklater’s latest drama, “Last Flag Flying,” and like the title of the movie, the song embodies the summation of the director’s thoughtful and autumnal consideration of hanging on as the last man standing.

Based on novelist Darryl Ponicsan’s “Last Flag Flying,” his belated sequel to “The Last Detail,” which was adapted into the seminal 1973 drama by Hal Ashby about two vulgar Marines ordered to bring a young offender to a military prison. Linklater’s movie picks up with the these three Vietnam vets thirty years later, but it’s fair to say it a very loose “sequel.”

last flag flying linklaterThere’s the incorrigibly coarse and defiant Sal Nealon (originally played by Jack Nicholson, now Bryan Cranston), Richard “The Mule” Mueller (Otis Young, now Laurence Fishburne) the gruff and blasphemous Marine now turned reformed reverend, and lastly Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Randy Quaid, now Steve Carrell), the kid the men took to the brig thirty years ago. Once reunited, Doc asks a sudden, life-disrupting favor of his former friends — accompany him to the funeral of his son killed in combat in the Iraq War.

Compelled by a sense of guilt and duty, the pair reluctantly agree and what ensues, after the solemn shock of this request, is a funny, sad and profane travelogue across the Southeast where old friends bicker and bond, while tasked with one last somber detail.

As a buddy road trip movie, playing not unlike Linklater’s version of “Grumpy Old Men,” “Last Flag Flying” isn’t always grave. It’s quite funny or at least it tries to be. Comedy is where the movie is at its least convincing and there’s a lot of groan-worthy dad jokes. One crucial scene where the gang, loosened by alcohol, fall into a reminiscing about their Vietnam days and revel in drunken nostalgia is never as comical as it hopes to be.

Uneven as the humor is, there’s strong introspective qualities. Swinging between garrulous and jocular recollections, to more wistful considerations of the past, its scars, their regrets and the ever-dwindling road that’s left to travel, “Last Flag Flying,” is at its best when its mediating on death and the light that dims near the winter years of life.

last flag flying carrellCharacteristically loose, occasionally tedious, as Linklater is wont to do, the shaggy and rambling ‘Flag’ tends to wander in an Altman-like exploratory way; this is a far cry from the tightly-scripted Robert Towne story of “The Last Detail.” Yet it’s marked by its economy of filmmaking. There’s a premium placed on long takes that marinate in the actor’s performances. Exuding a clear affection for his characters, the director just wants to hang out with these guys and hear their stories, and Linklater hangs back and listens.

Speaking of those performances, while Lawrence and to a lesser degree, Cranston, deliver admirable turns (the “Breaking Bad” star is a little too hammy at times), it’s Steve Carrell that steals the show as the sad and lonely Doc trying to mask his grief with an amiable, albeit hound dog-faced front. Yul Vazquez gives an excellent turn as no-nonsense Colonel who butts heads with Doc and attempts to convince Larry to bury his son at a military cemetery with full honors. And the legendary Cicely Tyson provides a moving cameo appearance in one of the movie’s most critical scenes about the moral obligations to the truth versus the notions of letting sleeping dogs lie.

Following the good times college comedy of “Everybody Wants Some!!,” Linklater’s latest effort, will feel like a left turn palate cleanser that works in a very different key. Unlike that movie, the hip Annapurna Pictures is unsurprisingly not distributing the film, with Amazon Studios picking up the reins, and younger audiences looking for a cool Linklater movie have come to the wrong place.

last flag flying, richard linklater‘Flag’ possesses unexpected cultural relevancy as well. With all the current talk of flags, anthems, knees taken, and what this means about fealty and respect to country, ‘Flag’ could bridge the gap between warring factions and their interpretations of patriotism. Because as a heartfelt, humanist drama about friendship, sacrifice and service, even with its very complicated, even resentful relationship to patriotism and love of country, ‘Flag’ features a universality of prideful emotion that could transcend and speak to both sides.

A bittersweet, earnest contemplation of growing up and growing old, “Last Flag Flying” is a crossroads film about the wistful glow of the past and the unknown path that lies ahead. Given his boyish looks and fresh-faced spirit, you’d never guess that Richard Linklater is 57 years old, but it makes sense that a man approaching his ‘60s would craft a drama this plaintive about taking stock of life.

Throw in a dolorous dash of Levon Helm, the charming, sweet rootsiness of Neil Young and a soulful farewell from Warren Zevon and you’ve struck the musical chord of “Last Flag Flying” in song form. In its deeply affecting final moments, where Linklater beautifully folds the movie’s threads and themes, “Last Flag Flying” coalesces into a poignant portrait of honor, the bonds of brotherhood and coming to terms with mortality. It’s not dark yet, the movie intones, but it’s getting there. [B]

Follow along with all our New York Film Festival coverage here.

  • cirkusfolk

    What other songs are in the movie?

Bob Weinstein Accused of Sexual Harassment, Harvey Weinstein Resigns From The Weinstein Company Board

“I know him on a personal level better than anyone. It’s hard to describe how I feel that he took out the emptiness inside of him in so many sick and depraved ways. It’s a sickness but not a sickness that is excusable. It’s a sickness that’s inexcusable,” Bob Weinstein said last week about his brother Harvey Weinstein in an extended interview with The Hollywood Reporter. However, ever since he tried to separate himself from his brother, there are many who have suggested Bob Weinstein has his own demons, and now it looks like they’re coming to light.

READ MORE: ‘Beautiful Girls’ Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg On Harvey Weinstein: “Everybody-F**king-Knew”

Amanda Segel, an executive producer of “The Mist,” has accused Bob Weinstein of sexual harassment, in a story that sounds not unlike something from Harvey Weinstein’s odious playbook. Segel shared her story to Variety, some of which we’ve excerpted here:

Segel’s discomfort with Bob Weinstein began in June 2016 when he invited her out to dinner in Los Angeles, at Dan Tana’s restaurant. Segel had been told by coworkers that Bob Weinstein had inquired with them whether she was single. She agreed to go to dinner with him in an effort to establish a professional relationship with the head of the company behind “The Mist.”

During the dinner, Weinstein asked Segel highly intimate questions and made romantic overtures to her, according to Segel. He wanted to know her age because he told her he didn’t want to date anyone younger than his daughter. He told Segel that he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel because his daughter was staying at his home in Los Angeles.

About halfway through the dinner, Weinstein asked Segel if she would drive him back to the hotel so that he could let his driver go for the night. Segel agreed. When she took him to the Sunset Boulevard hotel, he asked her to come up to his room. She declined.

After that night, Weinstein began sending emails to Segel with questions that were outside the scope of work on “The Mist.” He said he wanted them to be friends. She said that was possible but in a non romantic way, and reiterated that she was not open to dating.

In a scenario that echoes some of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Segel asserts that during this period Bob Weinstein invited her to a house he’d rented in Malibu for a party. When he called Segel to tell her the address of the house, she gathered that it was not a party but an invitation for the two of them to be alone. She did not attend.

Bob Weinstein persisted in trying to get Segel to join him for dinner, and she agreed on one other occasion, bringing “The Mist” executive producer and writer Christian Torpe with her. Eventually things escalated to a point where Segel, through her lawyers, established an agreement with The Weinstein Company executives that she never be in the same room or on the same call as Weinstein. And if “The Mist” was picked up for a second season, she would have the option to leave her contact (the series was not renewed).

Bob Weinstein has denied that any inappropriate behavior took place.

READ MORE: Producers Guild Of America Votes To Oust Harvey Weinstein

Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein — after being fired from The Weinstein Company — has now formally resigned his position on the board. THR reports that Colony Capital continues to look at buying at The Weinstein Company, and notes that the “plan is to keep current management in place — minus Bob Weinstein, perhaps.” I imagine today’s news might factor into that decision. However, it should be noted that even if Harvey Weinstein still has no executive power, he owns 20% of The Weinstein Company shares, and could still wield his influence on the future of the studio.

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is the Show Fans Have Been Waiting For [Review]

Less than five minutes into “Star Trek: Discovery,” we’re pips-deep in technobabble, Klingon dialogue, and a callout to Kahless. This show isn’t afraid of going geeky and pleasing fans at the exclusion of outsiders, but it also looks as good as the big-screen blockbusters that draw opening weekend crowds in the millions. Most of those millions didn’t know Drax the Destroyer from Ronan the Accuser before flocking to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and they may give “Star Trek: Discovery” the same benefit of the doubt if their knowledge of Gene Roddenberry‘s universe doesn’t extend past J.J. Abrams‘ big screen reboots, aka the Kelvin Timeline. But will the more casual fan care enough to pay for a subscription to CBS All Access, where the show will live exclusively after its premiere?

The CBS show is set about 10 years before the original series (in the Prime timeline), and Spock’s father Sarek (James Frain) shows up in the premiere as the adoptive father of our human protagonist, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). She is first officer on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, serving under Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Though the episode “The Vulcan Hello” begins with the Shenzou on a standard mission, they’re quickly pitted against the Klingons. “Battle is not a simulation,” Captain Georgiou says, as her crew faces the possibility of war. “It’s blood and screams and funerals.”

Star Trek: Discovery

The premiere and its follow-up, “Battle at the Binary Stars,” are focused more on war than on exploration, but ‘Discovery’ still exhibits the franchise’s trademark sense of wonder at space and solid special effects that leave the audience in as much awe as the characters on screen. These two episodes also stay true to progressive politics and diverse crews of “Star Trek.” ‘Discovery’ continues the previous series’ commentary on our contemporary Earth, with the Klingons’ desire for unity and cultural purity sounding far too familiar to anyone who has watched the news lately. We still haven’t met most of the show’s cast, but even the glimpse we get here puts the show in line with its predecessors, with even more to come.

Though it’s exciting in itself to see an expensive sci-fi show led by a black woman, show creators Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman and showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts haven’t given Burnham that characterization of her identity and stopped there. Raised by Vulcans, she’s a fascinating blend of logic, precision and risk-taking. There’s plenty of action in these early episodes, but Martin-Green is just as adept with fight scenes as she is with the moments of big – and little – emotions. *minor spoiler ahead* She also has a moment of serious conflict with another Starfleet officer (historically a no-no in Roddenberry’s creation), which shouldn’t work this early on in the show, given these characters’ newness to the audience. But thanks to the work that the actors and writers’ room does, we buy not only the seriousness of this rift, but also the close relationship that it arises within. *end spoiler*

Michelle Yeoh, Star Trek: Discovery

While “The Vulcan Hello” is a solid episode that balances nuanced character development, gorgeous special effects and some laugh-out-loud dialogue from Fuller and (gulp) Akiva Goldsman, “Battle at the Binary Stars” seems unsure of how to fill its time outside of the titular fight. There’s a filler scene or two, and it ends so abruptly at 40 minutes that I wondered if there was an issue with the app (nope). The cliffhanger is likely engineered to hook audiences who used CBS All Access’s free trial to watch the first two episodes and keep them coming back for more. The show couples pure “Star Trek” spirit and references that will make fans grin, but it has enough action and compelling characters to draw in people who don’t know the difference between the Kelvin and Prime timelines. However, the question remains if there are enough of them to sustain such a costly show on a standalone platform. [B]

  • rayg

    Yes, I had been waiting for the premiere of this series. As I was watching it, my mind just kept going: “Wow! This is really boring.”

    • swell

      whereas Encounter at Farpoint was TNG’s finest hour. Clearly.

      Show is off to a pretty solid start… glimpse at where it’s heading at the end of the 2nd episode was pretty damn cool.

      Also, the show is going to get tweaked visuals and presentation. It’s over 50 years old. I’m old enough to remember the non-stop bitching about both the early seasons of TNG and DS9 (and the utter indifference to Enterprise and Voyager). Perspective.

  • rayg

    “an expensive sci-fi show led by a black woman” I think that show is called Killjoys on SyFy.

    Question: why does every new iteration of Star Trek have to change the appearance of Klingons? Trying to figure out how they go from what is in this show to what was in the Original Series set 10 years later to Worf in The Next Generation. If they continue the movie series with the alternate timeline, there is no telling what they will look like.

    • swell

      yeah, Killjoys. That budget buster.

    • MikeDK

      Agreed.

      And on a sidenote, I am pretty sure most casual viewers will find Klingon characters hard to watch. I was really annoyed with the amount of Klingon spoken so far. Give it a rest.

      And they are just really boring antagonists.

  • ziplock9000

    “‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is the Show Fans Have Been Waiting For” You might want to take a closer look at what the fans have been saying. A large percentage have reservations with continuity or lack thereof. Which is more important to Star Trek than just about every other franchise out there.

  • Fernando Almeida

    Good thing that Netflix will air it here in Brazil

  • MikeDK

    “Raised by Vulcans, she’s a fascinating blend of logic, precision and risk-taking.” – No she isn’t. In the first 2 episodes, that character could have had any backhistory you could think of. There is nothing inherently Vulcan about her character. A fascinating blend. You should really get out more, if you find that “fascinating”.

    It was a fine 90 minutes, but lets not go overboard. The writing and acting was mediocre. Only really positive thing was Doug Jones’ character. I like him.

    • Philip R. Frey

      The writer clearly *wants* to be fascinated and so is. I doubt she’s an actual Star Trek fan or she’d know that very little in this show is what Star Trek fans were looking for.

      It reeks of another alternate reality to me. They should just say that it is and then do their thing. Then I can ignore it completely, like I do the Kelvinverse.

  • James Orr

    Can’t say I agree with that heading at all. As a TV show, its not bad. As a Star Trek series, its awful. It doesn’t encapsulate anything about the series ethos whatsoever. It also completely disregards any sense of continuity or in-universe lore. It might as well be taking a big ‘ol dump on the name Star Trek.

Liam Neeson Decides To Keep Punching People In Movies After All

Liam Neeson, who stars in this weekend’s Very Important and also Very DullMark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House,” recently announced that he was putting away his special set of skills. The actor, who has seen a late career resurgence thanks to punching people in the “Taken” movies and punching people movies directed by his bud Jaume Collet-Serra (“Run All Night,” “Unknown,” “Non-Stop,” the upcoming “The Commuter“), declared he was done punching people. Well, that resolution hasn’t lasted long.

Perhaps realizing that no one is going to see ‘Mark Felt’ this weekend and that all we want to do is see Liam Neeson punch people, the actor has wisely announced his glorious return to punching people.

“It’s not true, look at me! You’re talking in the past tense. I’m going to be doing action movies until they bury me in the ground. I’m unretired,” he told Variety.

Well, that makes sense given that he’s still got the snowy revenge movie “Hard Powder” on the way, and probably keeps getting scripts on his desk which require him to kill someone using only a Bic pen or something. Either way, Neeson’s bread and butter lately has been severely disabling bad guys on the big screen, so it looks like he’s going to tap that well until its dry. And hey, who can blame guy?

“The Commuter” rolls into the station on January 12, 2018.