His public tantrum was unseemly, ungracious, and embarrassing — but it may pay off.
New York Knicks fans will never forget the 1994 playoffs, when Spike Lee, an ostensibly grown 37-year-old man who had leveraged his celebrity into scoring a courtside seat at Madison Square Garden, decided to make himself the center of attention late in the game. Lee, only a few feet from the action, got up and moved around and shouted at players and generally made a complete ass of himself. Lee had inexplicably made it his personal mission to taunt and distract the rival Indiana Pacers’ star shooting guard Reggie Miller. Then things got even worse: Miller responded by turning up the heat on his game from “smoking” to “molten.” Miller scored 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers came from behind to win the game. The Daily News ran a photo of Lee with the caption, “Thanks a Lot, Spike.” When the series moved to Indianapolis, Lee made his typical horrible move of mixing evil with entertainment, telling reporters (falsely) that Indiana was the birthplace of the KKK and that he would be staying at “the governor’s mansion,” in “the slaves’ quarters.”
Wesley Morris joins us to talk about “Green Book”, the latest Oscar winner to focus on a white character’s moral journey in an interracial friendship.
Three decades ago, the highest honor at the Academy Awards was given to a movie about a white passenger learning to love her black chauffeur. Sunday night, the same award was given to a film about a white chauffeur learning to love his black passenger. We look at Hollywood’s obsession with fantasies of racial reconciliation.
.. “Green Book” focuses on a white driver, played by Viggo Mortensen, and a black musician, played by Mahershala Ali, in the 1962 South.
Wesley Morris examines why tales of interracial friendships born out of employment are repeatedly rewarded at the Oscars.
“Green Book,” a segregation-era buddy film, won this year’s Academy Award for best picture, prompting anger from those who criticized the movie as a simplistic take on race relations.
Listen to an episode of “Still Processing” that revisits Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing,” which was snubbed by the academy in 1990, the year the racial reconciliation fantasy “Driving Miss Daisy” took home the top honor.
The four-hour ceremony threatened to turn into a lecture on how Hollywood is already busily vanquishing racism, sexism and other ills
But the ceremony eventually came to feel less like an outraged call to arms than a long lecture, written in thick black gold capital letters, about what a wonderfully warm and welcoming place Hollywood is. Everyone agreed that the times weren’t just a changin’. They had already changed.
.. It’s understandable that, in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the ceremony’s organisers wanted to repair some of the damage done to their industry’s reputation. But the Academy isn’t practising everything it preaches. There may have been a utopian range of presenters on the stage, but they handed the main prizes to a male director, male screenwriters, a male composer, a male cinematographer, a male editor, a male costume designer, and so on. Over all, there were six female winners on the night, and 33 male winners, which means that, basically, men won everything they possibly could, and that the female nominees didn’t get to stand up until Ms McDormand insisted that they do so during her rabble-rousing speech.
Woody Allen is making a new movie. Just kidding: He doesn’t make new movies. What he’s editing now, “A Rainy Day in New York,” about a college-age love triangle, could, like any of his movies, instead be titled “A Woman Gets Objectified by a Man.” This, in his view, is the pinnacle of art, its truest calling and highest purpose.
.. I’m the first person to read Allen’s collection — the Woody Papers — from cover to cover, and from the very beginning to the very end, Allen, quite simply, drips with repetitious misogyny.
.. never needed ideas besides the lecherous man and his beautiful conquest — a concept around which he has made films about
.. His screenplays are often Freudian, and they generally feature him (or some avatar for him) sticking almost religiously to a formula: A relationship on the brink of failure is thrown into chaos by the introduction of a compelling outsider, almost always a young woman.
.. Allen did lodge a complaint about the Weinstein moment, warning the BBC about “a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer.” He seems to believe that coworkers wink at each other all the time.
.. And here is a riff he wrote to caption an imagined photo of the Spanish socialite Nati Abascal, who worked with Allen in “Bananas”: “Could she act? Yes, I learned and especially in her defense. She blocked my [hand] as I reached for her thigh and brought her knee up sharply into my groin as we discussed show business. . . . I pulled a contract out of my pocket and we both signed, but not until I told her about the sexual obligation that was a part of the job of any actress who worked with me.”
.. goes on: “I came to appreciate her body for what it was as time went by, namely, a girl’s body. . . . Soon she got used to my ways. Aware of my position as father figure on the set (a director is just that) I allowed her to come to me with her problems. When she never showed up, I came to her with mine.”
.. Allen seems to see the function of women in his life as their begging to be a part of it — even outside the sexual realm.
.. But wait: Allen creates wonderful roles for women! Well, sort of. The fact that his work has earned so many women Academy Award nominations and prizes for acting — Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Dianne Wiest — is a nesting-doll joke: His trophies have trophies. Allen used Keaton and the others the way Harvey Weinstein used Meryl Streep: an Oscar lure shiny enough to blind aspiring acolytes to his darkness, though some of them recognized that darkness and decided to participate anyway.
.. In many ways, Allen frustrates people because he seems to relish dancing on the edge of the outrage
.. More than that, he seems not to care about bettering or changing himself in any way. He lives and thinks and creates as he did in the 1970s, nearly a half-century ago.
.. the tragic inception of his current marriage, which began when he started a sexual relationship with his then-girlfriend’s teenage daughter (now his wife of two decades). As he later described the affair: “I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me.”