Brad Pitt is interviewed by a writer Margot Robbie likes, and revelations ensue; we unreservedly recommend Cha Cha Real Smooth; news from one of our favorite film festivals, Indy Shorts. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First, You Can Watch This Today: Esme, My Love is the story of a mom (Stacy Weckstein) who leads her daughter Esme (Audrey Grace Marshall) into the woods after observing signs that the girl has a terminal illness. Gorgeously shot, it’s earning intense festival buzz, winning Best Cinematography at the Richmond International Film Festival, Freewheeling Film Awards in London, and Cannes World Film Festival, where Cory Choy also won best director. You can catch a virtual screening of the film tonight at the film’s website, EsmeMyLove.com. Besides directing the film, Choy is an Emmy-winning sound mixer, which helps explain the stirring audio of the film’s trailer:
New Camera Alert: Speaking of lush visuals, Blackmagic just this morning announced the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2, which boasts upgrades including an adjustable touchscreen and a larger battery for more run time. Other features include a 6144 x 3456 Super 35 high-resolution HDR sensor, dual native ISO, EF lens mount and direct recording to USB-C disks. At $1,995, it’s an affordable go-to camera for indie filmmakers, and I want one. Here’s Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty discussing some of its other advantages.
Cha Cha Real Good: The missus and I finally watched Cha Cha Real Smooth last night after missing it at Sundance and the Provincetown International Film Festival and dang it sure is good. I’d recommend it for anyone who loves movies, but also anyone who hates movies, and is understandably extremely skeptical of a movie made by a 25-year-old writer-director-star (Cooper Raiff) and acquired by Apple for $15 million about a bar mitzvah party starter who falls for a slightly older single mom (Dakota Johnson). It all sounds like it’s going to be sickly sweet and annoyingly pleasant, right? But it subverts your expectations by dealing with very painful, tricky things, and handling them in imaginative ways that are funny, but don’t give them short shrift or make them feel like plot devices. And if you’re a screenwriter, it’s loaded with smart, light touches, like the “elbows scene,” about halfway through.
ICYMI: Here’s a great interview with Cooper Raiff that Joshua Encinias did for us last week.
Indy Shorts: Indianapolis’ Indy Shorts film festival, which is on our list of the Best Short Film Festivals in the World and our list of 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, just announced its lineup for this year’s edition, happening July 19-24. It will honor Colman Domingo, who appear in the short “New Moon” at the festival and will soon star in George C. Wolfe’s Rustin as gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. More than 100 filmmakers are expected to attend, and all outdoor screenings — this is fun! — will be carnival-themed and offer free pizza, cotton candy, and games. More information is here.
Skin & Bone: Among the films at the meticulously curated festival is Eli Powers’ eerily fascinating Skin & Bone, starring Amanda Seyfried as a farm woman who gives a job to a wanderer played by Thomas Sadoski. The job doesn’t seem so great to begin with, and then things get much worse. I met Powers and the film’s editor, Colin Smith, at Provincetown, and they seriously know what they’re doing.
Alex Jones: Whatever our thoughts on Alex Jones — conspiracy theorist, anti-establishment warrior, occasional mass-shooting denier — at least we can all agree: What a weirdo. A new documentary, Alex’s War, seeks to non-judgmentally make sense of how he turned out how he is.
Brad Pitt: Also weird, but in a good way, is Brad Pitt. A new GQ cover story got lots of attention from Twitterites claiming the cover makes him look like a cadaver — how do you mess up a photo of Brad Pitt?, many wondered — but the accompanying story, by Ottessa Moshfegh, is quite revealing. It includes this self-analysis from Pitt: “I consider myself on my last leg… this last semester or trimester. What is this section gonna be? And how do I wanna design that?” There’s also quite a lot about his nightmares, which fits with the lurid, garish look of the photos.
More on Those Photos: The more I look at them the more I think they’re surrealist and good. One thing that comes through very clearly in the Moshfegh story is how much Pitt loves to create, and take creative risks. This photo shoot feels in line with that. Lots of famous people micromanage their public appearances to make sure they never take a bad photo, but Pitt hasn’t generally needed to worry about that.
Why? You know why.
Say It Though: Because he is very handsome. Okay?
Also: I love that GQ got Ottessa Moshfegh to do this. Her 2018 novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation is exactly the kind of bone-dry humor that I swallow whole, and is being made into a movie by Lucky Chap, the production company led by Pitt’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood co-star, Margot Robbie. When I was in the Lucky Chap offices to write this story I was delighted to see it on the shelves, alongside lots of graphic novels and other books Lucky Chap was interested in that I shall not reveal because no one likes spoilers. Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt will also star in the upcoming Babylon, from Damien Chazelle.
The Big Short: Oh wait. Babylon will actually be the third movie to feature both Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. The first was Adam McKay’s 2014 The Big Short, which I recently rewatched and liked a lot. I still don’t understand what a “tranche” is.
Main image: Brad Pitt in Bullet Train, coming soon.