Congratulations to new Sundance director Eugene Hernandez; The Whale earns applause, and a backsplash; Harry Styles did not spit on a Don’t Worry Darling co-star, and a new “deliberately non-monetized” film mocks tech CEOs. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
New Sundance Director: Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente announced today that Eugene Hernandez will join the nonprofit as the next director of the Sundance Film Festival and head of public programming. Hernandez now leads the New York Film Festival as its director, and will depart after this year’s festival, taking place September 30–October 16. Hernandez joined Film at Lincoln Center in 2010 as the Director of Digital Strategy, and was promoted to deputy director in 2014. He was previously the co-founder and editor-in-chief of IndieWire.
Statement: “Sundance’s decades of leadership, championing artistic discovery and independent expression, was a landmark catalyst in my life. Nearly 30 years ago, looking for direction and curious, I went to the Sundance Film Festival for the first time. I immediately connected with its mission, and it changed my life,” Hernandez said.
Today: The Indie Street Film Festival kicks off today with an opening night screening of Linoleum, starring Jim Gaffigan as an aspiring astronaut and Rhea Seehorn as his wife and former TV co-host. I’m a judge at the festival and have discovered some terrific films through it, including Love Tasting, which is like Less Than Zero if it were set in contemporary Poland. Loved it.
The Whale: The Darren Aronofsky film starring Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound recluse received a six-minute standing ovation after its Venice Film Festival premiere. Fraser is earning plaudits and Oscar talk in a role being packaged as a comeback for the Mummy star. But NPR managed to track down at least two people who are offended by the film’s premise.
May I Editorialize? It’s shameful that Aronofsky had Fraser play the part in a so-called “fat suit” instead of giving an opportunity one of the many 600-pound A-list actors in Hollywood, a community that is famously welcoming to plus-size performers.
Spit Take: “This is a ridiculous story — a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation,” a spokesperson for Chris Pine said in response to tweets claiming Harry Styles spit on Pine at the Don’t Worry Darling premiere, accompanied by a video in which Styles clearly does not spit on anyone. “There is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”
How Good: Will Don’t Worry Darling have to be to justify all the silly attention it’s gotten?
In Praise of Rogue One: It’s easy to develop warm feelings for the corporations that have acquired the legal rights to the characters you love, and to forget that they will mine your affections and nostalgia as ruthlessly as possible. That said, I enjoyed and agree with this Shirley Li article in The Atlantic praising Rogue One, which she calls a “minor miracle” for its focus on the little people, it’s lack of fealty to lesser Star Wars films, and its jaw-dropping ending.
Silicon Docks: Check out this cool trailer for the upcoming animated Irish film Silicon Docks, which will debut on YouTube on Oct. 1. The film is about internet entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos on a Dublin pub crawl, trying to meet up during a pandemic lockdown. Though we wrote yesterday about how films can make money via YouTube releases, Silicon Docks director Graham Jones says the project is “completely and deliberately non-monetized.” He and his collaborators, including animator Kasia Wiśniewska, want to “see how 10 early pioneers of the web will react to a taste of their own medicine.” Will they ignore it? Try to shut it down? We’ll see. I love the animation and laughed several times.
“Birds… Gravitate Toward Me”: Is my favorite line from Silicon Docks. What’s yours?
Main image: Elon Musk, as portrayed in Silicon Docks.