Terry Crews and Luke Wilson in Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" (2006)
About a month ago, I re-published a 2008 essay here on the sudden relevance of Mike Judge's 2006 comedy, "Idiocracy." It turns out that great minds think alike. In today's New York Times, Andy Webster profiles Judges' film for a series of upcoming screenings in New York this week:
"If ever an era was in dire need of pointed commentary and point-blank humor, it is our fractious present. So hail the IFC Center for the series Autocratic for the People: An Unpresidented Series of Star-Spangled Satires. And for Mike Judge’s crude but prescient 'Idiocracy' (2006), playing Friday, March 3, through Sunday, which nails our media-addled-and-addicted culture with a precision often inducing queasiness
Apparently, the comparison was not lost on Judge who was reportedly planning "Idiocracy"- inspired anti-Trump ads during last fall's campaign marathon. I've no idea if he ever went through with the idea. My hunch is that if they ever did materialize, they would have gained attention for adding even more heat to an already incendiary election season.
And Hollywood and its denizens couldn't get enough of either the awards (no matter how cheesy) or the telecasts that market them. It was sickly symbiotic: An insatiable star could collect an armful of trophies, while the members of the assorted awards-producing groups got to hang with the film's A-list attention addicts, maybe even be photographed with a few.
Naming The Most Embarrassing Movie Award Show is way more difficult than predicting the Oscars (duck soup), given that they're all shameful. But the most offensive for me is The Independent Spirit Awards telecast.
For some reason, this show brings out celebrities' worst insecure need to be "cool" in a way that makes high school kids seem sophisticated.
"What the f***!" is the level of response that a winner is likely to invoke at the Indies. Trendy stars get on stage and horse around (forced fun!) and their attempts at being glib are excruciating to witness. At the same time, they want to be admired as serious artists, see, because - well - they are.
They would be Naomi Watts and Michael Fassbender.
After being nominated for a best actress Oscar in 2012 for her performance in "The Impossible," Watts has spent the last five years appearing in now fewer than 17 films. Seventeen.
She's had supporting roles in some highly estimable films ("Birdman," "Demolition" and "St. Vincent"), made a slew of independent titles ("Adore," "Sunlight Jr.," "While We're Young" and "The Sea of Trees"), appeared in two movies with Jacob Tremblay ("Shut In" and "The Book of Henry") and, for fun, did the funny but reviled "Movie 43" and a couple "Divergent" films. Upcoming are "The Glass Castle," "The Bleeder" and the delayed release of "About Ray," made in 2015 with Elle Fanning (as a transgender) and Susan Sarandon and now titled "Three Generations."
The "X-Men" films notwithstanding, Fassbender has compiled an eclectic filmography in the past few years. True, he's had high-profile roles in "Macbeth," in "Steve Jobs" and "12 Years a Slave" (both of which brought him Oscar nominations) and, most compellingly, in Ridley Scott's "The Counsellor." And he worked with Scott (again) and Steven Soderbergh on a couple mainstream oddities ("Prometheus" and "Haywire," respectively).
But then there were David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Mind" (as Carl Jung) and such tiny titles as "Frank," "Slow West," "Trespass Against Us," "Assassin's Creed" and "The Light Between Oceans." Next up: Terrence Malick's "Song to Song," an ensemble piece with Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Holly Hunter, Benicio Del Toro, Val Kilmer and Haley Bennett, and Thomas Alfredson's "The Snowman," co-starring Rebecca Ferguson and Chloë Sevigny.
He was 61.
I first encountered him in Kathryn Bigelow's vampire frolic, "Near Dark" (1987) and admired his work is so many other titles - Carl Franklin's "One False Move" (1992), Walter Hill's "Trespass" (1992), Mike Binder's "Indian Summer" (1993), Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" (1995), Sam Raimi's "A Simple Plan" (1998), Ron Underwood's "Mighty Joe Young," the aforementioned "Haywire" (2011) and his two films with Helen Hunt, John Irvin's "Next of Kin" (1989) and Jan DeBont's "Twister" ( 1996).
His 2001 directorial effort, "Fraility," starring Matthew McConaughey, is a brilliant thriller - one of the best, on par with Charles Laughton's "Night of the Hunter" (1995). And "Big Love," of course. Bill Paxton will be missed.