Sunday, March 26, 2023

Reflections on iconic films of last year

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE: The film’s simple message about the importance of family drew criticism for being predictable and a letdown after the elastic mayhem that led to it. The thing I didn’t understand is how you lose money running a laundromat, especially if you own part of the building. The cast in Everything Everywhere All at Once work is interesting. Michelle Yeoh is enormously charismatic, we see the return of Ke Huy Quan after lo these many years, the welcome antics of such disparate talents as Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Tallie Medel, and Jenny Slate, even the pungency of Jamie Lee Curtis as an embittered IRS flunky—these add up to something new when set against the backdrop of franchise sequels, reboots, and the current mirthlessness of American filmmaking. The humor, though, is silly and second-rate. The googly eyes, the talking raccoon, the pet rocks at sunset, the send-off of 2001: A Space Odyssey—all those work against the cast instead of with it. There should be a moratorium on 2001 parodies at this point, and writer-directors like Kwan and Scheinert should know that. In a film that is, in the end, really about adult regret, these juvenile ideas from sketch comedy and music videos one after another reveal themselves as distractions. If the multiverse needs that much flailing and tinkering to come out the same as it always does, then I don’t believe in it and don’t need it. The Ramones understood this universal truth better than the Daniels: “Second verse same as the first.”

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT of course originated as a German novel written by Erich Maria Remarque about World War I published in 1928.  It follows the journey of Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) on the Western Front of World War I. This film is a thorough treatise on the cyclical, streamlined lethality of war and the machinery that supports it, from its opening shot to its last, a stunning achievement from its director/co-writer Edward Berger. The depiction of the cycle through the military lives and experiences playing out directly onscreen serves to make the point that much more impactful than any overt anti-war dialogue or speech. We see Paul man go from bright-eyed and enthusiastic to very sullen with a sunken and haunted face. It is through his appearance that viewers are physically shown how war makes monsters of men. Berger’s craftsmanship in this film is striking, turning the horrors of war into a visceral experience. Berger does this not just through gory battle scenes, but taking us through the full process of war, from the frontlines to the negotiating tables. It also touches upon the lasting legacy of war as we see how the insistence of the winning French side on humiliating the Germans will inevitably lead to the next Great War we all know followed soon after. The editing and cinematography serve the film’s message well, working in perfect concert and making the experience that much more impactful. Daniel Brühl’s Matthias Erzberger is keenly aware of the staggering loss of life, patiently trying to guide political leadership toward a ceasefire, keeping in reserve his desperation, aware of the stark reality that Germany has already lost. It’s a position that has yet to sink in for many of those around him. As the film’s end title cards remind us, WWI was fought over patches of ground hundreds of yards wide, with either side hardly advancing their position across the course of war. 

BABYLON: This end-of-cinema epic starts by dramatizing the old joke about the man who cleans up elephant shit at least being in show biz, a literalization of La La Land’s contention that the audience likes crap more than jazz. The idea that we need Damien Chazelle to tell us that movies “meant something” and are not a “low art” is absurd, a sure sign of a disconnection from the reality of the lives of film fans across the world. Maybe Chazelle never meets any of these fans. As a murky Mad magazine fold-out comedy, Chazelle’s movie achieves a sort of grandeur in evoking a silent era that is reminiscent of Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger. It does this by imitating the work of filmmakers from the generation immediately before Chazelle’s, lifting ideas and scenes from Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Baz Luhrmann, even Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza. But it pretends it’s not doing this, claiming instead that Singin’ in the Rain is its touchstone, going so far as to reproduce the predecessor “Singin’ in the Rain” musical number from The Hollywood Revue of 1929, as if that is some kind of deep research. Its real cohort is disgruntled movies like The Big Picture, Under the Silver Lake or The Disaster Artist. Like Babylon, they are about the impossibility of achievement in Hollywood filmmaking, made by callow writer-directors who have tasted success and are afraid the supply is running out.
Australian director Andrew Dominik takes on 1950s American icon Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, miscasting Ana de Armas as a Marilyn ripped from the pages of Joyce Carol Oates' novel. The film is like Babylon in the way it demeans and befouls everything it touches, but Dominik is meaner and more lowdown than anything Damien Chazelle has ever encountered, including Tobey Maguire. Dominik’s Hollywood, unlike Chazelle’s, contains the pulsating viscera of surgery footage and has no love for the movies at all. That’s because Dominik is dead certain he is a better filmmaker than anyone Marilyn Monroe ever worked with. Blonde is a brain-damaged movie but, unlike Chazelle’s, it doesn’t induce laughter or pity. If this film had been directed by Andrea Dworkin it would still have been easier on men and on humanity. Specific dissections of “the blonde” are not new in the cinema. As out-there a director as Larry Buchanan made one Monroe biopic (Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn, 1989) and there was an Australian actress in the 1970s named Linda Kerridge who specialized in Marilyn imitations and seems to have lived as if she were Marilyn herself. I saw her playing Richard Lewis’s neighbor in an obscure movie called Diary of a Young Comic (1979) that it was way better than Blonde.

From Andy Warhol to Norman Mailer, Marilyn Monroe’s beauty and memorabilia have been the subjects of the creepy, insistent fascination of many weirdos. Dominik, with a big Netflix budget, has outdone them all, without thinking he’s one of them. He treats Marilyn like she’s the Barbie whose head Dawn Wiener tries to saw off with a cleaver in Welcome to the Dollhouse. In Blonde, Marilyn must suffer every kind of sexual predation or betrayal from every man she meets. Dominik reduces each of them to a lowest common denominator of American 1950s manhood, making most of them look like Richard Nixon, including Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), and JFK (Caspar Phillipson, brought back from Pablo Larrain's Jackie). The film ends in a paroxysm of grubbiness, after many scenes of Marilyn puking and bleeding, with men waving at her, their mouths distorted in vulgarity. By then it is impossible to tell if the confusing and confused Dominik is attacking masculinity, Hollywood, or America. Paradoxically it is over the subway grate of his inevitable remake of the white skirt scene from The Seven Year Itch that it becomes clear what’s going on: he’s blowing smoke up our panties.

Martin McDonagh, a writer always trying to be more of a director, starts with drone shots because Ireland's landscape is beautiful, and the film is set in 1923. McDonagh’s greatest strength as director is with his actors. The ensemble here—Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan—are all exceptional in the old Abbey Theatre way. This dark film plays on the enduring appeal of Irish music while teaching a hard lesson, which is that there is a difference between empathy and niceness. Colin Farrell is especially good as a stupid and boring but pleasant man driven to violence by his best friend’s sudden coldness, which is also a form of violence. McDonagh literalizes it through Gleeson’s self-mutilation, while Farrell works himself up like a Hibernian peasant, seeing that Gleeson keeps steelier and gorier. Although Kerry Condon's character best represents the search from freedom, it is Barry Keoghan who adds the most to the movie’s truly unsettling vibe. 

Keoghan, who apparently invoked (unfairly) the wrath of Jeffrey Wells, is one of the strangest actors working today, jerks his performances wildly between “this guy is the greatest actor I have ever seen” and “this kid is getting a little too weird.” Playing a tragic figure in a film of tragic figures, Keoghan works against the distracting drone photography, same as he did in Dunkirk and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. How long he can keep doing that before either insanity or stardom claims him?

TÁR: The best film of 2022. Cate Blanchett delivers the performance of the year in writer-director Todd Field’s superb motion picture, a character study so piercing in its analysis and so precise in its details that many have believed composer-conductor Lydia Tár to be an actual person. Instead, she’s a marvelous movie creation: an artistic genius with a loving daughter, but also a manipulator going crazy. Tár is a rarity in contemporary cinema in that it’s a movie that matters beyond the multiplex, the sort of brainy fare that has inspired almost as many think pieces as straightforward movie reviews. Impressively, the film isn’t pro- or anti- anything. Rather, it trusts viewers enough to allow them to absorb, understand, and appreciate the complexities inherent in cancel culture, in identity politics, and in the perpetual battle to separate the art from the artist. Todd Field’s Tar breaks all the rules of conventional screenwriting. It begins with a long take dominated by dialogue in the service of one image – that of a supremely confident Lydia Tar (Cate Blanchett) painting a verbal self-portrait by describing her life as a celebrated conductor. She’s being interviewed on stage by The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik and is giving him an unashamedly intellectual rundown. The tone is so elevated and, at the same time, so elliptical that you start to feel as if you’re watching a biographical documentary. Or maybe a filmed live play. 

It certainly doesn’t look or sound like the kind of American movie that gets a cinema release these days. Tár cost $35 million and grossed $6 million; The Fabelmans cost $40 million and grossed $15 million; Babylon cost $78 million and grossed $15 million; Amsterdam cost $80 million and grossed $14 million. To Leslie cost <1 million and grossed $34.000. So for the most part, expect studio heads to crunch the numbers and decide that, while variety might be the spice of life, it’s the same-old same-old that will ultimately save cinema. Cate Blanchett immersed herself in every aspect of Tar’s character: her armouring of arrogance, her joy in the music she conducts, her damaging need to exert power and her vertiginous fall from grace. Blanchett deserved her Oscar for a lifetime performance. Source:

Friday, March 24, 2023

Barry Keoghan: Untitled film with Jenna Ortega, Saltburn, Therapeutic Acting

Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye (Uncut Gems) is set to make his feature acting debut, teaming with Waves helmer Trey Edward Shults on an untitled film that also stars Jenna Ortega and Barry Keoghan. Plot details are being kept under wraps with the pic currently in production. Shults will direct from a script he co-wrote with Tesfaye and his producing partner Reza Fahim. Even though both Ortega and Keoghan have been weighing several offers following their big years, both made it clear they wanted this as their next project and following their commitments, the film was a go. Besides landing Ortega and Keoghan, Shults and Tesfaye also have assembled a below-the-line team that includes director of photography Chayse Irvin (Blonde). Jenna Ortega has been on a roll as of late, led by her Addams Family series, Netflix Wednesday, which has been renewed for a second season and is starring in Scream VI. Keoghan is coming off his Oscar-nominated supporting role in Searchlight’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which earned him a BAFTA win. He stars next in Saltburn, Emerald Fennell’s follow-up to Promising Young Woman. Source:

Segueing seamlessly from the theatre of absurdity, Lanthimos presents a tale of mythical, methodical revenge that starts with an ironic chuckle and moves inexorably towards a silent scream. Taking its titular theme from the myth of Iphigenia, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a deranged masterpiece, a wrathful tale of retribution and responsibility transposed from the stages of ancient Greece to the screens of 21st-century cinema. Colin Farrell plays heart surgeon Steven Murphy – wealthy, slightly world-weary and too fond of a drink. Steven lives in a grand, cavernous home with his wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy), and younger son Bob (Sunny Suljic). Their lives are materially rich, but emptiness prevails. The dialogue is theatrically mundane, delivered in the monochromatic rhythms of a trance state. Gradually, Martin inveigles his way into this picture-perfect family life, visiting the house, impressing the teenage daughter. Later, Steven meets Martin’s needy mum (a sharp cameo by Alicia Silverstone).

Lanthimos’s regular cinematographer, Thimios Bakatakis, accentuates the sense of dread as his cameras creep and crawl through hospital corridors, like the lurking spirits in The Shining – all low-angle prowls and ghostly high glides. Thunderous music cues (including bursts of Ligeti) crank up the cracked tone, ominous and screechy. Observing it all is Martin, brilliantly played by Barry Keoghan to combine the awkwardness of youth with the suggestion of unforgiving power, the bearer of projected parental guilt. Throughout, Lanthimos and regular co-writer Efthymis Filippou leave us tantalisingly uncertain as to whether this intense young man is the architect or messenger of forces beyond our ken. When awful truths are revealed, they are recited like cursed verses, conjuring a fable-like sense of fate, out of step with contemporary concepts of choice. It’s that clash between the farcical and the fearsome, which gives The Killing of a Sacred Deer its edge. As a doctor Steven plays God, literally saving people with his hands, but Martin is the ultimate foil, showing Steve just how powerless he truly is in the face of the unknowable. Viewers will doubtless have their own vastly differing reactions to this bizarre drama. Farrell said that making the film left him “fucking depressed”. Source:

Just to elaborate further on “Saltburn,” Emerald Fennell’s upcoming thriller starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi and Rosamund Pike. The film was test-screened in Culver City, California and the reactions have been wildly positive. Fennell directed the Sundance sensation, “Promising Young Woman,” in 2020. She went on to win a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. Obviously, her follow-up comes with high expectations. Those expectations seem to have been met. Barry Keoghan carries the movie and is said to be flat-out great. The movie fully showcases his insane commitment as an actor. “He will shock you,” says a person who attended the screening. Everyone else is supporting, including Rosamund Pike. Carey Mulligan only has a few scenes, but makes a very strong impact with the limited time that she does have. Pike is said to have the best lines. The film, which is set in the early aughts, is being described as a Thriller/Drama. A significant amount of the plot takes place in college. The movie starts off as the school year is beginning during the late summer. “I don’t know how audiences will embrace this because there’s a lot of nudity and explicit scenes that will get them talking. I hope these scenes don’t undermine other aspects of the film. In my opinion this movie is drastically better than “Promising Young Woman,” so if that got nominated for best picture, best editing, best screenplay, it would be a shame if this didn’t. However, Emerald is for controversial endings. Not everyone will be happy, I fear.” Keoghan has already showed great promise in “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “American Animals,” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Source:

BK Fan: Barry was a year older than me in high school. In the last three years I saw him, I thought he was very cute, he was quiet, he was friends with some of the popular boys, but he wasn't like them. His best friend, Harry, was infamous for dating lots of girls, he was a flirt. But Barry had only dated a few times throughout those years. He dated one girl for a long time, her name was Faye, and she had said some unflattering things about him, but everybody found out that wasn't true. Apparently he was actually upset that she'd broken up with him and tried to subtly ask her why. He wanted to apologize for whatever slight she felt he had done. The rumor was she felt uncomfortable that he was so upset, so she started saying he was an asshole. Barry said he wanted to be an actor or a boxer, and he was a huge comic book nerd. He had trouble with his older brother, and his family life had always been rocky and complicated. He was always a soft-spoken guy at class, and he struggled with his mental health too, but he didn't talk about it much. Source:

Barry Keoghan: My mother was from Summerhill—she was on heroin, and she died from it. My father had another woman. I grew up in foster care, and my granny raised me from when I was 12 on. Coming from the working class makes it hard enough to get into this game, but coming from foster care with no parents is even harder. I'm wild proud where I come from, because if I can fucking do that, then anyone can. It's nice coming from Summerhill, because you don't come from having everything, and what you do get, you appreciate it.

From 2017 to 2020 Barry Keoghan was in a relationship with Killarney native Shona Guerin, whom he had met on Good Friday in a Killarney pub in which she was working. The pair appeared on the Irish show Livin' with Lucy together in 2019 in which Lucy Kennedy stayed with them in their Los Angeles home.

In September 2021 Keoghan began dating Alyson Sandro, a dentist whose father is from County Cavan. A few months later, on Ireland's Mother's Day, 27 March 2022, he announced that the couple were expecting a child together, Brando, born on 8 August 2022. In March 2022, Barry Keoghan was confirmed as the new ambassador for the Barretstown children's charity and also helped open the charity's new Aladina Studio in Kildare. Keoghan and his family moved to Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, Scotland in November 2022.

-Larry Fitzmaurice: Did you learn anything from your grandmother as far as growing into being a man?

-Barry Keoghan: I'm good to women. I treat women with a lot of respect. That's probably from being raised by a woman—I hold her responsible for that. I treat women very good. I'd be lost without them. I thought I was going to be a boxer or something like that—I was into sports. When I was acting, I don't know, there was something about it—I can't pinpoint what it was. The perks of it are all great, but there's some other reason why I do it, it's so therapeutic—expression and stuff—so it's along the lines of that. [Irish playwright and filmmaker] Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father) was my mentor.

-Barry Keoghan: I'm an amateur boxer in the Celtic Core. It's something I do on the side.  I never got to meet my granddad. He was a doctor, a war vet, and he worked on the docks. Watching those movies of Paul Newman and Marlon Brando reminded me of him, and home, and how people talked to ladies and held their dresses. 

-Larry Fitzmaurice: Your two big roles were very opposed to each other thematically.

-Barry Keoghan: George (Dunkirk) is naïve and innocent, and Martin (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) is completely tormented, so it was fun playing with that range.  Source:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Schizophrenic gene code, Youth Risk Behavior

Patrick Tracey, author of Stalking Irish Madness: “I had to go to Ireland to find the roots of the disease and also to discover that Irish researchers are actually leading us out of the darkness. It was an Irish research team that first cracked the schizophrenic gene code, an enormous discovery. A DNA stew was cooking in the west of Ireland and it had to do with suffering. You can drive people into insanity. Anecdotally, visitors to Ireland in the 19th century wrote of the high levels of madness inflicting the nation. They were often stunned by its prevalence.  The rates of schizophrenia fluctuate in populations but the Irish levels red lined in the 19 century. Schizophrenia is not a case of snapping back and forth between different personalities — a common misconception. Schizophrenia is the hearing of voices, but the hallucinations can be seen, felt, and smelled as well as heard. It's fright night for life for many, an all-consuming terror that never ends.”

The Banshees of Inisherin is really about the heart of classic Irish culture. The absurd pride that has led to several civil wars, revolutions, and attempts at sedition in the last century. About how they’d like to have been home to the next Mozart, but would gladly cut off any ability for that to happen if such a situation required compromise. They’d like to think of themselves as nice folks, but that niceness is really just naivety and is destroyed by alcohol or honesty. The more sane Irish seem to leave for better options elsewhere, as Padraic’s sister does. It’s a fascinating movie because it uses cultural assumptions to tell a story about self-hate, especially masculine self-hate, that’s both sympathetic and disgusting. Source:

Derek Thompson has been writing on this subject for the Atlantic. His take on the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), published earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “American teenagers — especially girls and kids who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning — are ‘engulfed’ in historic rates of anxiety and sadness.” For Thompson, the best explanations are “the decline of physical-world interactions due to the prevalence of social-media use; the decline of time spent with friends; a more stressful world of mass-shooting events and existential crises such as global warming; and changes in parenting that might be reducing kids’ mental resilience.” The Covid-19 pandemic made an already bad trend worse. Jonathan Haidt of New York University has made similar arguments. According to Haidt, there has never been a generation as “depressed, anxious and fragile” as Generation Z, Americans born between 1997 and 2012. They have “extraordinarily high rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide and fragility.” By most objective measures, such as disposable income or access to entertainment, America’s teenagers and 20-somethings are better off than their parents and grandparents were at the same stage in life. According to the non-profit advocacy group Mental Health America’s 2023 report that 11.5% of American kids aged from 12 to 17 are “experiencing depression that is severely impairing their ability to function,” while 16.4% report “suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year.” 

This is a problem that is getting worse over time. According to Office Practicum, there was “a 27% increase in anxiety and a 24% increase in depression between 2016 and 2019” in this teenage group. Amazingly, 1 in 6 US children aged between 2 and 8 has been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. Here, too, the trend looks terrible. The share of children aged 6 to 17 who have ever been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression has been rising since the early 2000s. Between 2011 and 2021, the percentage of high school students who experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness rose from 28% to 42%; of those who seriously considered attempting suicide, from 16% to 22%; of those who made a suicide plan, from 13% to 18%; of those who attempted suicide, from 8% to 10%. “In 2021, 12% of high school students had ever taken prescription pain medicine without a doctor’s prescription or differently than how a doctor told them to use it.” According to Tanz et al. (2022), the number of overdose deaths among Americans aged 14 to 18 rose 94% from 2019 to 2020, and 20% from 2020 to 2021. True, the vast majority of these deaths were due to opioids and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, so this could just be a story of more potent drugs and more tragic mistakes, as opposed to deaths of despair. Two-thirds of those who died from overdoses were male, whereas the survey evidence points to a crisis of female mental health. 41% of teenage overdose victims had evidence of mental health conditions or treatment.

There’s only one glitch with this harrowing narrative: The reality is that there is a mental illness epidemic throughout the population. It’s not just the kids who are not all right. In 2019-2020, according to Mental Health America, 20.8% of adults were experiencing a mental illness, equivalent to more than 50 million Americans. Admittedly, the percentage of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide is 4.8%, a quarter of the YRBS figure for high schoolers.  However, according to MHA, the rate of substance-use disorder is 15.4% for adults, whereas it is only 6.4% for young people. A staggering 32.6 million people have an alcohol use disorder in the US, nearly all of them adults. Of these, at most 50% overcome their addiction and achieve sustained abstinence, according to Sliedrecht et al. (2019). Most of the estimated 108,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 were of adults. Contagion is the key concept if we are to understand our modern malaise, and you cannot understand contagion until you understand the structure of networks. 

In my 2017 book
The Square and the Tower, I quoted Stanford University biology professor Deborah M. Gordon’s argument that online social networks were replicating on a vast scale many of the more insidious features of friendship circles in a middle school. I also cited research by Holly Shakya and Nicholas Christakis, who used data from 5,208 adults over two years, to argue that “the more you use Facebook, the worse you feel.” I even quoted Facebook’s own research, which came to similar conclusions about the effects of the overuse of social media by students. All that research has since been reinforced by studies such as Allcott et al. (2020), which concluded that using social media was a form of addictive behavior. The issue remains a battleground for social scientists, but I remain firmly persuaded that the creation of vast online networks greatly increased our vulnerability to contagions of the mind, including “mind viruses” of all kinds. Into this hyper-networked world came SARS-CoV-2, a genuine virus spread through the air rather than online and capable of causing severe illness or death. To a truly unprecedented extent, social life came to halt. Large proportions of the population were confined to their homes in what resembled mass house-arrest. The enduring mental health cost is being borne by sufferers of long Covid, an umbrella term for a variety of the lasting “sequelae” that afflict a significant minority of people infected by the virus. These include cognitive impairments such as memory loss, concentration problems — all colloquially known to patients as “brain fog.” Douaud et al. (2022) even found evidence that Covid infection was associated with changes in brain structure.

There is, however, another possibility that cannot be ruled out. With the number of therapists growing faster in the US than average for all occupations—and with mental health services booming in college campuses—young Americans surely have more access to psychotherapy than any previous generation of teenagers and twenty-somethings. At the same time, from my Baby Boomer vantage point, they seem to have a lot less of what we used to think of as fun. This is the part of the latest YRBS that attracted less comment. “Sexual behaviors,” the report states, “have been improving for all students, but especially for Black and Hispanic students.” The percentage of high schoolers who have ever had sex fell from 47% in 2011 to 30% in 2021. The share who have had four or more sexual partners was down from 15% to 6%; the share who were currently sexually active was down from 34% to 21%. 

In America today, the peer group pressure among teenagers is to get counseling rather than to get crazee. I feel sorry for Generation Z. Compared with being a teenager in the 1970s, being a teenager in the 2020s seems like no fun at all. But can there really have been as many suicide attempts by high schoolers in 2021 as the YRBS implies — which would be around 2.5 million? When I was seven years old, London was 86.2% White. Half a century of migration has reduced that share to 36.8%. You will look in vain for the race riots prophesied by Enoch Powell in his notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968. The big mental health pandemic of our time is the one that is driving tens of millions of adults to shorten their lives by suicide or by an addictive intake of alcohol and drugs that amounts to slow suicide. These are the unhappy people who took Slade literally. They just attract less media coverage than the Instagram-induced angst of Generation Z. Source:

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Barry Keoghan in talks for Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" sequel

Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner Barry Keoghan is circling his next high-profile role, with the actor in negotiations to join Ridley Scott’s untitled “Gladiator” sequel. If the deal closes, Keoghan would join fellow 2023 Academy Award nominee Paul Mescal (a best actor nominee for “Aftersun”), who is set to star in the Paramount Pictures film. The sequel follows 2000’s blockbuster hit “Gladiator,” which was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won five, including best picture. It earned $460 million at the box office, and now Scott is returning to direct and produce the sequel. Paramount has dated the film for November 22, 2024. David Scarpa is penning the script for the sequel, which Scott will also produce with Michael Pruss via Scott Free, as well as Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher via Red Wagon Entertainment. It’s been quite a year for Keoghan, who is fresh off his best supporting actor Oscar nomination and BAFTA win for his heartbreaking turn as Dominic in “The Banshees of Inisherin,” as well as a shocking cameo as the Joker in “The Batman.” The Irish actor is also part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to his role as Druig in “The Eternals,” but his breakout role came in 2017 with “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” With “Dunkirk,” “Chernobyl” and “The Green Knight” also among his credits, Keoghan’s career is hotter than ever, as he recently completed production on the Apple TV+ miniseries “Masters of the Air,” as well as Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn” and the Irish drama “Bring Them Down” (in which Keoghan replaced Paul Mescal). Source:

Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer was, according to Jessica Kiang at the Playlist. “A film of clean hands, cold heart, and near-Satanic horror, which was garlanded with boos at its Cannes press screening, an absolutely brilliant film.” David Ehrlich declared: “This is Lanthimos’s most scattered and sedate film, but it’s his scariest as well. Influences and shades of Lynch's Blue Velvet to Cronenberg’s early body horror can be found in this suburban nightmare, which alternates between the sterile hallways of Steven’s hospital and the immaculate interiors of the upper-class house that he shares with his wife and their two kids, Kim and Bob.” For the Irish Times’ Donald Clarke, this film’s “nightmarish, Old Testament horrors are unshakable. Lanthimos is not quite a surrealist, but his universe is sufficiently skewed for the main characters to accept the logically outrageous when it arrives. 

Lanthimos’s tone is closer to that of Pinter than Ionesco.” According to Rebecca Elliott from "The real star of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, however, is Barry Keoghan as the young Martin. Never before has such a subdued portrayal felt so menacing. Though Keoghan keeps it simple with his approach to the disturbing teen, it's the matter-of-fact delivery that truly makes the whole situation extremely unsettling. Just when you think that the kid might just be a bit dull, Keoghan's nuanced performance slowly reveals that the wheels are indeed turning as the chilling plot thickens."

According to The Telegraph review: “It’s also venomously funny. Lanthimos has long been intrigued by the comedic power of the uncanny and its close relationship with dread, and both sensations are in constant flux here. When absurdism feels this wrong, you know it’s being done right.” “When we started writing the script, we discovered there were some parallels with the tragedy Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides, and I thought it would be interesting to have a dialogue with something that is so ingrained in Western culture, revenge and redemption,” Lanthimos told Fabien Lemercier from Cineuropa. In Greek mythology, Agammemnon accidentally kills a deer sacred to Artemis to which Artemis responds by altering the weather so that Agamemmnon and his fleet cannot sail to Troy. As a penance, Artemis demands that Agammemnon sacrifice his eldest daughter Iphigenia. There are different versions of the story. In an alternative version, before Agamemnon could sacrifice her daughter, Artemis saves her and replaces her with a deer on the altar. The music at the end is the opening of Bach's St. John Passion - which is essentially Christ's death set to music by Bach. Curiously, part of another of Bach's Passions was used in Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. 

As far as an agent of upheaval, Keoghan makes his character Martin genuinely formidable. Taciturn, insanely manipulative, and a piercing gaze —the actor performs a total reversal of his eager-sailor role in Dunkirk. The whole love angle between Martin and Kim represents how some girls with "dad issues" can act out sexually and look for a replacement for their absentee father in others. The end shows us Kim pouring blood-like ketchup over the fries that Martin said he loved the most. Maybe Kim was so brainwashed and in love with Martin that she agreed to play along the sickness and even helped poison her brother. She always seemed to know about her brother dying and the ending scenes hinted at them being together in the future. Source:

Barry Keoghan is a Dublin-born actor and new dad who’s built a quite remarkable career for himself, considering his neglected upbringing. Keoghan says he prays often to his mother, who died of a heroin overdose when he was 12. "I'm pretty sure she's right by my side all the time," he says. Taken in as child by his grandmother, aunt, and cousin, Keoghan gleaned mannerisms from the likes of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. "There's a composure about him that he won't break until the end—actually he doesn't, because he leaves with a smile," he says, reminiscing about Newman's defiant prisoner. "It speaks to me in many ways." Keoghan's also hoping to coax Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement for a Billy the Kid movie he's developing. It seems like a long shot, but he did once meet Day-Lewis, who apparently said he was a "massive fan." It would be an understatement to say the feeling is clearly mutual. Keoghan knows he gets typecast as a sinister presence, but wants more opportunities to show his range, thankful that in Banshees he shows tenderness as Dominic Kearney. 

That said, he'd jump at the opportunity to play the Joker again, following up on his brief cameo in Matt Reeves' The Batman. "I'd love to show a little arc of him," he says. "If I could bring him to life that would be amazing and give you my version, which you've not seen. I want to get there and kind of then show vulnerability, because that's what's real." Martin McDonagh, who wrote the part of Dominic intentionally for the actor, already regards him as “one of the best actors of his generation in the world today, let alone in Ireland”. Director Chloé Zhao, an Oscar winner in 2021 for Nomadland, cast him as Druig, a mind-controlling alien, in her Marvel movie Eternals. She has described him as a “wild wolf”. It is these two fantasy roles that now get Keoghan recognised on the street. But for the quality-boxset-consuming classes, it is more likely to be his role as Pavel, a nuclear contamination “liquidator”, in the acclaimed drama series Chernobyl. 

Christopher Nolan still remembers Keoghan’s audition for Dunkirk: “He had innocence, but with stunning sophisticated truth and maturity.” Nolan calls him “a dazzling talent”. Barry Keoghan was born in 1992, in Summerhill, a drab inner city of Dublin. During his troubled childhood, he spent seven years living in 13 foster care homes before he and his brother Eric were raised by their grandmother. Keoghan talked of a list of directors he’d like to work with. The names he summons at the moment – Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Céline Sciamma, Greta Gerwig – are all women. “With a man directing, I can get a bit guarded,” he says. “But with women you allow yourself to be a lot more open and vulnerable, and with being a bit more vulnerable there’s a bit more access to you and to the character.”

Keoghan is halfway through waxing lyrical about his latest project, Fennell’s Saltburn – a film about English aristocracy and an “obsessive” Scouser, played by him in his first lead role – when his partner Alyson Sandro steps into the blaring sunlight of the garden. She's an orthodontist from Scotland who he met in February of 2021 in London. Alyson says she wasn’t one bit impressed when Barry told her he was an actor, and didn’t care about his Hollywood pals. “He was saying he plays a superhero in a film. I went, ‘Who, Spider-Man?’ They’ve been together ever since and welcomed Brando in August. Barry is determined to give his newborn all the things he didn’t have growing up. “It’s indescribable,” Keoghan says of his new fatherhood. “It’s a love I’ve not felt before. You can learn from how you were raised. I have the chance to do the things that weren’t done for me.” Only 29, Barry seems to have an evolved sense of fame and its drawbacks. “You hate the parties,” Alyson says. And he agrees, calling fame “a world build on artificial things and fake promises.” Barry told GQ that he brings a stuffed toy everywhere with him – it used to belong to his late mom. “When I’m happiest, I feel like she’s with us,” he says. “Wherever that teddy is, or wherever Alyson or my boy is… that’s home for me now.” Source:

The gossip IG group "curators of pop culture" Deux Moi (@deuxmoi) has weighed in on an item named "Afterdark" about an Irish actor, if it could be Paul Mescal or Barry Keoghan; and some industry insiders have concluded the "agitated" and "promiscuous" behaviour seen at UK pubs corresponded to Mescal and not Keoghan. A leaked email was debated as belonging to either of them. According to an insider who was recently blocked from Paul Mescal's social media (and others): I wouldn’t call Barry a heartthrob. Barry Keoghan is not it. The Old Queens Head Pub is in Islington, London. Everyone in the area knows it's Paul Mescal. Right down the road from the theatre where he plays in A Streetcar Named Desire. Also just to clear this up, I know a director who worked with Barry Keoghan in one of his early films. He’s a great guy! Barry lives in a small town in North East Scotland now, and he keeps to himself. He's an ambassador for the Children's charity Barretstown. He’s very much in a relationship with the mother of his child. Not 100% sure they’re married. But this post is 100% Paul! The main clue is "Afterdark"/ "Aftersun".

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

“Daisy Jones & the Six”, "Behind the Doors"

There’s a thrilling moment a little before the halfway point of Amazon’s new limited series “Daisy Jones & the Six” in which two stars collide. The ethereal vocalist Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) has been invited to perform her collaboration with a rising rock band, but crashes the stage a bit early and then refuses to leave after her one song has been performed. Daisy and the Six’s lead singer Billy (Sam Claflin) share the microphone for a while, if “share” is the word for what one does in a battle for territory; faces close together, they’re competing for a claim on the song they sing, competing to be heard. That rivalry is the essence of “Daisy Jones & the Six,” a flawed but compelling adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2019 novel of the same name. Reid has described her novel as “a Fleetwood Mac vibe,” if not precisely drawn from Fleetwood Mac’s story — and, as with the real-life Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, the two musicians at the center of this fictional group generate as much drama as they do music. Unlike Fleetwood Mac, Daisy Jones & the Six definitively break up in 1977, which we’re told at the start. As we watch Daisy, in the 1970s, stomp over the Six in an act of willful spotlight-seizing, we hear Daisy, in the 1990s, tell us that this was simply beyond her control. 

“They wouldn’t let me leave!,” she laughs. We’re being told this story by characters looking back with regret. There’s little of the swirling heedlessness of blossoming attraction here, Billy is trying to keep himself from falling in love: At least notionally committed to the mother of his child (Camila Morrone). And Claflin, never more watchable than when he’s watching Daisy, sells the struggle nicely. But then, Daisy is primarily interested in herself — which is not to say she’s a narcissist, just someone who acknowledges she’s a born star. Daisy’s personality is huge, but it’s not just the band over which she’s running roughshod — it’s the show. Source:

A new book about The Doors and Jim Morrison seen from the road manager Vince Treanor: Behind The Doors. The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager (2023) will not be available for purchase through Amazon or international bookstores. Behind The Doors. The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager can only be ordered directly from the publisher Aldus Boek Compagnie, from Netherlands. Source: 

David Warren: Was the glue within The Doors falling apart?

Vince Treanor: After Jim Morrison's death, everybody was shattered, everybody was devastated. It was a case of a reformation of the band. It was a different sound and music. It wasn't The Doors anymore. I knew when I heard the music that this was not good. This just wasn't The Doors and it wasn't going to be a success. Nevertheless, we did the 1971 tour, the four performances, and sure enough, people did not like it. When the five guys played Doors pieces, the audience was ecstatic, really happy, clapping and cheering, when they played the new music, the excitement just wasn't there, they didn't have their hearts in it.

David Warren: A lot of rumors have been said to come from the 1980 biography No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Vince Treanor: That book was not factual. It's Danny Sugerman's dream about making himself an important figure in Jim and Pam's life. He was 14 at the time and claimed to be Jim's confidant. You have a 14-year-old who claims to be the confidant for a 24-year-old alcoholic. Danny was nothing more than a pest, he was a groupie. And I said so in the book. He was constantly trying to sneak into rehearsals, and we had a way to getting him out. Many times, he tried to ingratiate himself to Kathy, by going up and down saying 'I'll open the fan mail' so he hung around the Office, and every once in a while, Bill Siddons would give him some money and tell him 'Go over get me something to drink', sending him on silly errands just to get out of the place but he was nothing more than a pest. He claimed he helped The Doors to move into their new office. He didn't do any such a thing. He was a boy in school, it was 1968, he was 14 years old. What kind of an idiot has a boy moving The Doors into their new Office? 

DW: Did it ever cross your mind that Jim Morrison would never return from Paris or that he'd die at such a young age?

VT: No, nobody suspected that, why would you believe that? Jim had called John a couple of weeks before he died and he said 'I'm feeling better, I wrote some new stuff and stopped drinking, I've cleaned myself up, I realize all the stupid mistakes that I made and I'd like to come back. How about we consider to get together again, you can look at my new stuff and we can go on.' I think Jim called John because he was the one who was adamant that he would never play with Jim on stage again. He was trying to let John know that things were different, that he was cleaned up, and two weeks later he was dead. Nobody suspected that, why would we? There were a couple of post cards and a letter suggesting that things were going well. He and Pam were enjoying their stay in Paris and he was fine. Pamela Courson was a terrible influence, she was one of the sources of his disquietude, they fought often and violently. 

DW: Do you think Pamela Courson contributed to his early death?

VT: Absolutely. First, she was a junkie, she was manipulative, she had him buying her heroin. They argued a lot. She had him buying all the clothes for her boutique Themis and then she gave the clothes away to her friends, Jim would be buying more clothes and she'd give them away to her friends. The whole place was a den of iniquity. She and her heroin buddies would be over there shooting up and smoking grass, while sitting on the floor telling each other how wonderful the world was, while Jim was out there trying to earn money, at that time he was doing HWY. She was one of the causes of Miami's debacle. First, Jim had seen the Living Theater performance, second he had a violent fight with Pam before he got on the plane, then he was totally drunk by the time he got to Miami. When he heard about the Miami promoter cheating him, and he was determined not to do a show in Miami, that was why there was so much talking and not so much singing. You could talk to him when he was sober, and it was interesting cause he could talk about things that people didn't know, understand and didn't think about. That made him seem extremely brilliant. 

The times have changed for the worse. I like steam locomotives, rockets, electronics, I love the machinery, all the things that made the United States great, the industry that made America great. America lost its heavy industry and will never be great again until the United States wakes up and realizes it handed its technology to China and they made China not only strong but a strong enemy. That was a stupid thing to do. That's what greed does, a lack of foresight, and the fact that you can get into bed with the politically opposed, and make a goal of it and you can't do it. All you do is make them a stronger enemy. Source:

-Patricia Butler: In the spring of 1973, Pamela Courson was living in San Francisco with Michael Verjaska. She had been friends with Michael for a few years but they became lovers after Jim died. She was also dating Randy Ralston. My sources of information about Pamela not being a heavy heroin user before Jim Morrison's death are: the LAPD report; Pamela's autopsy report; January Jensen and Ellen Sander's recollections; Ellen Sander hastened to refute Pamela's rumored heroin addiction while she was in Paris, and after. "When she stayed with me, I did not see her do anything like that. And if she was a heroin addict in Paris -- it's awfully hard to hide it. It's not like you can put it down for a week. I saw no evidence of any kind of hard drug usage while she was at my house, and I was with her almost constantly." January Jensen, who lived in nearby Sausalito and became Pamela's confidante, echoed Ellen's observations.

-Frank Lisciandro: I read the so-called first-hand account written by Alain Ronay which was published in Paris Match magazine. He contends that he was there and that he knew what happened. Then again, I spoke with Mrs. Courson—Pamela’s mother—who told me what Pamela told her over the last few years, which contradicts what Alain Ronay wrote. This was a private conversation, so I never have written about it or told anyone in the press. What I will say is that if what Pamela told her mother was true, and if I understood what her mother told me, then it would contradict the major points of Alain Ronay’s version of events. There’s been a lot of talk that Pamela was some sort of heroin junkie. I don’t know that for a fact; I only know that from hearsay. I never saw any marks on her arms, and I never heard her or Jim ever talk about heroin at any time. Likewise, Babe Hill admits to taking nearly every drug known to man with Jim, but he categorically denies that Jim ever used heroin. With the exception of Pamela, there is no one who spent more personal time with Jim than Babe. And anyone who says they were around Jim as much as Babe, is just not being truthful. I think Babe would have seen heroin use by Jim. Heroin was definitely around so Jim could have definitely gotten some, but I just don’t think he would have hid that from Babe or me. And to complicate the matter, there are people out there who make comments about Jim and tell stories about him who didn’t know him at all, but these are the same folks who endlessly speculate as to who Jim was or make up stories because they want to pretend that they really knew Jim Morrison. The fact is that 90% of what I hear about Jim Morrison strikes me as being totally wrong; absolutely and totally wrong. Source:

Saturday, March 04, 2023

James Ellroy's biography "Love Me Fierce In Danger" by Steven Powell

James Ellroy and the Meta-narrative of the Black Dahlia Case’ in Cross-Cultural Connections expands to include new research. Ellroy’s attempts to control the Black Dahlia narrative by tying the story inextricably to his own experiences and his Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction persona began to fall apart when he became involved with two historical researchers on the Dahlia case, Larry Harnisch and Steve Hodel. There have been multiple true-crime books published about the Black Dahlia case, all written with the intention of doing what the LAPD could not: solve the case (or exploit the case's interest). For many years after the publication of The Black Dahlia, Ellroy did not comment on any of the Dahlia theories, as he seemed content with his fictional portrayal of the case. Ellroy’s first public endorsement of the work of a Dahlia researcher marked a distinct change in attitude from the novelist, and came in the documentary James Ellroy’s Feast of Death, where Ellroy endorsed Los Angeles Times reporter Larry Harnisch’s theory that the LA-based surgeon Dr Walter Bayley murdered Elizabeth Short. Ellroy did not take his endorsement of Harnisch’s work much further. Elements of Harnisch’s theory faintly echoed the narrative of The Black Dahlia, which may have appealed to Ellroy. According to Harnisch, Dr Bayley was in a state of mental decline at the time of the murder and died shortly thereafter: his personal and professional life was falling apart, and Elizabeth Short inadvertently reminded him of a family tragedy which sparked a homicidal reaction, all of which would have been familiar to Ellroy and the connections he weaved between the Sprague family and the Dahlia murder. It would not be until the publication of Steve Hodel’s Black Dahlia Avenger (2003) that the remarkable parallels between fiction and reality in Ellroy’s work would emerge. Steve Hodel was completing the research and writing on the ‘Aftermath’ chapter for the paperback edition of Black Dahlia Avenger, and Ellroy asked to see the new material. Ellroy later commented that he had been ‘unconvinced’ by Hodel’s theory when he first read the hardcover edition. Hodel requested that Ellroy provide a blurb for the new edition, but Ellroy responded with an offer to write the foreword. 

Hodel said: ‘to his credit, Ellroy never claimed his novel was anything other than “pure fiction.”’ Then Hodel hypothesized that George Hodel’s friend and criminal accomplice Fred Sexton was a plausible suspect in the murder of Ellroy’s mother. For Ellroy the murder of his mother and Elizabeth Short had always been symbolically linked, but now he had been confronted with the second true-crime writer to claim the cases were factually connected through the same murderer – a serious blurring of the line between fact and fiction that Hodel claimed had been the source of his initial reservations about Ellroy’s work. Ellroy expressed his opinion of this element of Hodel’s theory in no uncertain terms: ‘Bullshit, bullshit, just bullshit, and I told Steve that. Just bullshit.’ As Ellroy was beginning to distance himself from the work of Harnisch and Hodel, unsurprisingly, both true-crime writers expressed some degree of regret over Ellroy’s endorsements, with Harnisch commenting, ‘James Ellroy’s various endorsements have more to do with Ellroy’s well-established hunger for publicity rather than genuine support of any particular theory’ (Harnisch 2010). Hodel was rather less critical: ‘I know for a fact that James truly regrets writing the Foreword to my book. However, I suspect that his real regret is coming not so much from the heart, but rather from Ellroy, the businessman. And, believe me James is first and foremost - a businessman. His business is the promoting and marketing of James Ellroy, and he is very good at it’ (Hodel 2010).Through his involvement with Harnisch and Hodel, Ellroy realized he had lost his prominence in the Dahlia narrative. In terms of his authorial control, the least successful was the debacle of the Harnisch/Hodel affair, and it was during this period that Ellroy made repeated comments about ending his involvement with the Dahlia legacy. Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy (2023) by Steven Powell

Larry Harnisch (March 2, 2023, IG @lmharnisch): "I don't know what James Ellroy says about me and frankly I don't give a shit either; let me put it this way: there's a new biography of James Ellroy out and I refuse to buy it, but the book says that I complained bitterly that Ellroy drops all his friends which he does so yeah to me James Ellroy is an over the hill writer who keeps writing racist, sexist crap. In real life if you are buddies with James Ellroy, he thinks he is the greatest writer ever. I mean the guy has a phenomenal ego. I worked at the LA Times, I worked in a building full of good writers; a lot of them were better than Ellroy. I was a copy editor at the LA Times and here's this high school dropout James Ellroy schooling me on how to speak and use his Hipster language, the jive talk that he does all the time. And every fifth sentence is about his manhood, you know it's how prodigious it is, how massive it is; he's always talking about it, you would not believe how much... and to me, somebody who has to talk that much about it, he has a problem. So that's kind of my thing with Ellroy. I know there is a new biography out of him. I'm never  buying it in any bookstore. I might thumb through it but sure as heck I will never buy it."

Sunday, February 19, 2023

"The Menu" as Allegory of the Film industry

I think The Menu is an extremely meta film that works by comparing itself with this restaurant culture. The movie is indeed about archetypes but The Menu tries to say that these archetypes work the same way in both restaurants and movie culture. The chef represents the director/creator of a movie, there is the movie nerd/foodie, the critics and the people that will just repeat whatever the critics say, the old couple who are into this thing but they dont really try to engage with it as they only care about the cultured status they get from attending, the old washed up insider and the fans that are there too just for the exclusiveness (like in the big festivals). Then there is the main character: Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) who is a regular person who just wants to watch a movie/eat and is dragged there by another fan. She just wants to eat and is content with her usual choices, she does not want to be there and finds the movie/the menu stupid and pretentious but has her opinion shutdown by the movie nerd who will keep making up excuses for the film. The chef wants to know whether she's 'with them' or not, he wants to know whether she will engage with the film in the same way they all do or not. I think he's asking the audience if they will stick with the movie itself and asking them to give it a chance, he sets up a timer for when things will start to fully fall into place and wants to know if you will enjoy this movie as a quirky horror comedy or if you will accept the deeper message it's trying to convey.

At the end the main character, the average movie watcher gets fed up and asks for just a regular old fun movie without any abstract adornment, so the chef cooks her a good old fashioned burger because at the end the director's goal is to entertain her. She sails off and enjoys the end of the movie as just this funny thing, while all the people trying to dissect it all while they all collectively burn. High-class dining and those who participate in it (both on the creative side and the consumer side) serve as an allegory for how the film business has suffered a similar fate to Chefs Slowik and Hawthorn. Here's some of the most important characters and how they relate to the film industry: Starting with Tyler, a representative of the cinephile types. Tyler knows everything there is to know about food, and the processes in which the food is made. He even demystifies the starter dish, noting that it's created with a pacojet. The only thing he doesn't know about cooking is cooking itself. When Chef Slowik insists that Tyler cooks, he makes a fool of himself. He knows about all the tools and processes, yet can't execute upon something as simple as cutting up a shallot. Much like Tyler, the cinephile has the same predicament. They are cursed with the knowledge that lies behind all filmmaking, yet are unable to become filmmakers themselves. 

Bryce, Soren, and Dave are the producers. They're the ones who have financial control over the restaurant, but what they really want is creative control. To them, they don't see the value in eating at Hawthorn and being able to experience Chef Slowik's creations. If they had it their way, then Hawthorn would just be another McDonald's, and Chef Slowik would be simply someone to steer the ship. When the film shows the tax returns and how they fudged the numbers on those, it's an allegory for how studios fudge box office numbers in order to hide profits from the directors and cast and funnel money to themselves. Lillian and Ted are, of course, cuisine/film critics. I think the shot at critics is made fairly obvious by the tortilla scene. A bad review can tank a restaurant in the same way that a bad review can tank a director's career. There's also the broken emulsion - much like Tyler, it's easy to have the knowledge that the technique behind an art. Having the technique to do that art is much more difficult.

John Leguizamo's character actually doesn't even have a name and is simply referred to as Movie Star. It's actually pretty clever - he's just another movie star clinging onto whatever relevance still remains from his stardom. The Movie Star's sin is that he no longer cares about art. Even worse, he's completely detached from it. Slowik hates the Movie Star because he saw a movie that he starred in that was terrible. Not only was the film terrible, but it was also on one of Slowik's few days off. The Movie Star has no apologies for this. For him, he was just getting another paycheck. For Slowik, the apathy the Movie Star shows is worse than any terrible film he could have made.

Margot is the average movie-goer. In a way, she is uncorrupted. She's interested in the magic behind it all, but the cinephile's obsession puts her off. Her request for a simple cheeseburger doesn't show her lack of appreciation for the finer things in life but an appreciation for the simple things. Chef Slowik is jaded. His sole purpose in life, cooking, is now mostly "enjoyed" by the rich people. Even worse, those who are still capable of appreciating his skills are nitpickers and wannabes, incapable of enjoying something simply for the sake of enjoying it. Part of why Chef Slowik likes Margot is because she is capable of enjoying something simply for the sake of enjoying it. It takes Chef Slowik back to his days as a humble burger flipper, back when he knew what he was serving was not a dish meant to be picked apart by critics, analyzed by amateur foodies, and questioned by those who fund him. At the same time, the cheeseburger Margot asks is far from another mass produced cheeseburger from another franchise. Chef Slowik shows that there's room in the middle for things that aren't just another bite, but also can just be simply enjoyed. Source: