Saturday, March 03, 2018


The late - and sometimes great - George Carlin is somewhere right now with a big smile on his face. Those "seven words that you can't say on TV" (his signature comedy routine) liberally litter The Independent Spirit Awards telecasts every year and, frankly, they're no longer shocking.

And they aren't very funny either. At least, not within the context of The Independent Spirit Awards, which tries oh-so-hard to be cool but comes off as embarrassingly immature instead. It's amusing that an awards show that purports to celebrate edgy artistry in cinema is actually closer to Johnny Knoxville's "Jackass" movies in spirit (pun definitely intended).

Somehow, I managed to survive this year's telecast, in spite of the hosts, an annoying Nick Kroll and a very boring John Mulaney, both of whom tossed around all seven of Carlin's words with the abandon of 15-year-old boys who mistakenly think they sound "cool" (there's that word again). They were immediately toxic, spending the show's first 15 minutes or so sucking up to the #MeToo movement and trashing the usual suspects.

One particularly lame (and also inaccurate) joke was reserved for Woody Allen: One host quipped, "What about his last 20 not-watchable movies?”

Excuse me, but I've a hunch that 20 or 30 years from now, people will know who Woody Allen is and will still be watching his old movies, while Kroll and Mulaney will be just two more forgotten Hollywood footnotes. I mean, has either one of them ever created anything of any consequence?

One of the more dubious bits of the night involved the usually reliable Kristen Wiig, who showed up in disguise as a dithering, bleached blond 110-year-old movie veteran who produced, wrote and directed her own films back in the day. Kroll and Mulaney introduced her as "film legend" Fay Fontaine. It was a cruel spoof and, what's more, in direct opposition to the "year of the woman" that Hollywood is allegedly celebrating.


As for the awards themselves, how are they any different from every other movie award? The Independent Spirits like to think that they are indeed “independent” but the same damn names were announced tonight – Francis McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney. Where's the independent thinking? It was the same herd mentality. Only Timothée Chalamet was a new addition – for best actor – but that’s largely because neither Gary Oldman nor Daniel Day-Lewis was nominated. (Their films, although seriously arty, aren’t considered genuine indies, see?)

Redeeming the show was McDormand - as usual. "What I know about today," she proclaimed, "I get to swear. Do you know how hard it's been not to swear over the last couple of months? Because this awards convention goes on for-fucking-ever." Then she added: "Martin McDonagh knows a well-placed 'fuck' makes a sentence sing like nothing else,"

Great line.

In spite of all the self-conscious cursing, the funniest moments of the night were the shots of certain audience members eagerly waiting to hear their names invoked in acceptance speeches - as if it's some kind of validation to be singled out by an award winner. Their anticipation is almost palpable.

BTW, the boy hosts' closing words were "Holy shit!"

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Charlotte said...

Good point, re Woody Allen. I'm certain that anyone in that room last night would jump to work with him.

Bunuel said...

"Not-watchable"? I believe the word is "unwatchable," although I don't believe that one could say that about any of Allen's movies. Some are better than others, but they're all quite "watchable."

Alex said...

Seems to me that the Indy Spirits is no different than the Oscars, which have leaned increasingly towards indie films and performances during the past decade, despite Hollywood's hierachy lobbying on behalf of mainstream behemoths a few years ago

k. said...

Joe, I don't know who Nick Kroll (shame it's not Droll)or John Mulaney is. I am tired of #MeToo, even Woody Allen movies I don't like (the one with Drew Barrymore & Goldie Hawn especially) are "watchable." France McDormand is always terrific. I think when these awards were on, I was watching (for the 22nd time) "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." A perfect movie -- reminded me of watching "The Third Man" in Nice. k.

Gloria M. said...

Yeah, the Kristin Wiig bit was strange. Instead of championing women from the past who broke through the glass ceiling, the show ridiculed them. Very offensive.

Bill from Philly said...

I read on-line that she was supposed to be parodying Faye Dunaway, which makes it even worse. Why do that????

deirdre said...

I find it really infuriating when someone of questionable talent mocks someone who actually accomplished something. Yes, Allen’s films will live on – the Indie Spirits look like they are running on empty.

Marvin Halpern said...

Joe, I didn't watch the Independent Spirit Awards (as I hate watching "awards" shows). But from your comments and those of your readers, the show was AWFUL. However, everyone should bear in mind that the Independent Spirit Awards are put on by an organization called FILM INDEPENDENT, which does a GREAT deal for emerging filmmakers (most of whom are independent). An enormous number of filmmakers have been helped immensely by Film Independent; so that even though their "awards" show might suck, the organization itself does not! Also, you and everyone who replies to your blog would have to be real film buffs. Film Independent is of great help to all of us, as well. Check Film Independent's website; and if anyone can't find how that organization is most helpful to film buffs, I can be reached at (and I will inform you).