In today’s Movie News Rundown: Patty Jenkins describes the 1980s Kansas punk scene that informs her films; SAG-AFTRA says “most” productions are paused; a very name-droppy item about watching Dirty Harry writer (yep!) Terrence Malick’s movies on a iPhone; and R.I.P. to Joe Clark, the bat-wielding principal played by Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me.
Great Interview: Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins walks Marc Maron through her life and filmmaking career, which includes growing up in the Kansas punk scene, working on hip-hop videos, trading letters with Monster subject Aileen Wuornos, ending up $80,000 in debt by making the Oscar-winning film, and how the death of her fighter-pilot father when she was seven years old influenced the Wonder Woman films. She also pursued a movie about Chuck Yeager.
DIY: One point Jenkins makes in the interview is that whatever you think of punk music, its Do-It-Yourself aesthetic translates beautifully to moviemaking: Punks did everything from silk screening their own shirts to designing their own fliers to booking their own shows. The point also came up in our interview with punk-turned-director Scott Barber, who used what he learned in a band to make his Nickelodeon origin story The Orange Years.
Pause: SAG-AFTRA says “most” productions are on hold because of the spike in COVID-19 cases. “Most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January if not later,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and executive director David White said in a statement. “This means that the number of our member performers working on sets right now is reduced. Our safety protocols ensure appropriate precautions for the holiday hiatus period including additional time for testing prior to the resumption of production.”
Malick on iPhone: IndieWire has a cool writeup of the Talking Deakins podcast in which Denis Villeneuve says he once horrified celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins by watching Terrence Malick movies on his iPhone. “I had The Thin Red Line from Terrence Malick on my iPhone and Roger thought it was horrific. Me, I thought it was cool because I could take the movie with me,” Villeneuve says. “I want to fight for the big screen, but a lot of my cinematic experiences have actually been on television.” Villeneuve recently lashed out at former phone company AT&T for deciding to air his new film Dune on HBO Max at the same time it arrives in theaters.
Sid and Nancy: That picture above of Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb from 1986’s Sid and Nancy is a nod both to the DIY approach Jenkins is talking about and Deakins, who DP’d the film — something I didn’t know until today.
Something Else I Just Learned: Terrence Malick was one of the writers of the original Dirty Harry, but didn’t get a credit. Thanks, Bret Easton Ellis Podcast.
Comment of the Day: “Up your nose with a rubber hose, Pedro Almodovar,” writes Robin Turner in response to his decision to release his latest film in theaters instead of a streaming service. “I support theaters and the people that can and want to go to see those big beautiful screened films, but for all the hundreds of thousands of people that can’t go out to a theater because of disabilities that simply do not allow it, then up yours. Why should we be punished and not be able to see film premiers when every normal, healthy person can. Streaming has finally put us on equal footing with all the other viewers. Thank you HBOMAX, I love you…”
R.I.P. Joe Clark: The inspiration for the 1989 Morgan Freeman film Lean on Me gained national attention with a tough-love approach that included patrolling the halls of his Paterson, New Jersey high school with a bullhorn and a bat. “In one day, he expelled 300 students for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers, and drug possession and lifted the expectations of those that remained, continually challenging them to perform better,” his family said in a statement. “Roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, Clark’s unorthodox methods won him both admirers and critics nationwide. … Clark explained that the bat was not a weapon but a symbol of choice: a student could either strike out or hit a home run.” Joe Clark died Tuesday at the age of 82.
Here’s a Very 1989 Sequence from Lean on Me: