R.I.P. Norm Macdonald; the Crowdfund Cavalry; Morissette Denounces Jagged

We remember Norm Macdonald with some of his terrific jokes; a new (reputable) crowdfunding idea invites you to get in on the ground floor; Alanis Morissette denounces a new documentary she took part in; film festival news from two beloved New York beach communities. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

But First: California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently signed a bill adding $330 million to the state’s film and TV incentives program, easily survived a recall effort. Probably not because of the incentives problem but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

A Crowdfunding Idea: This is in its very early stages, but filmmaker Lucas McNelly, who recently wrote this lovely piece for us, is trying to assemble an army (the non-violent kind) of people to help crowdfund indie films. He calls it The Cavalry, and you can read about it — and how to get involved — here.

Alanis Morissette: Hours after the new Alanis Morissette documentary Jagged drew widespread attention for a moment when she discusses sexual abuse, the singer denounced the film for having what she called a “salacious agenda.” She adds: “This was not the story I agreed to tell. I sit here now experiencing the full impact of having trusted someone who did not warrant being trusted.” Here’s her full statement to Variety. Hey, you can always watch the Kenny G documentary instead.

Hamptons: The Hamptons International Film Festival, taking place Oct. 7-13, just unveiled a lineup that includes some of the most anticipated films of the year, including the closing night film The French Dispatch, the Saturday Centerpiece screening of Spencer, and the Spotlight selections Cyrano, The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, Passing, and The Power of the Dog.

Rockaway: The Rockaway Film Festival, now underway until Sept. 19, features in-person discussions with filmmakers including the Oscar-nominated Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Jane Schoenbrun (We’re All Going to the World’s Fair) and Sky Hopinka (maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore). We’re grateful to Schoenbrun for being one of the panelists on our latest list of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, and Hopkina for serving on the same panel last year.

Grants: The Redford Center, founded by Robert Redford and his son, James Redford, just announced nearly $300,000 in funding for film projects focused on environmental justice — including development grants to Demon Mineral, Impossible Town, Oaklead, and To The End, and impact campaign grants to Razing Liberty Square and We Still Here/Aqui Estamos.

R.I.P. Norm Macdonald: The brilliant comedian, who starred in Dirty Work and bowed to no one as Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update anchor, has died at 61 after a long fight with cancer that he kept private for many years. Watching old Norm clips yesterday I laughed harder than I have in a very long time. He could deliver the most perfectly cutting jokes, but never at the wrong person, and the childlike quality to his delivery made everything funnier — as if he discovered the truth of things as he said them. Here are a few of the things he said and did that made me laugh the most.

These First Two O.J. Jokes:

Carrot Top:


The Norm Macdonald Extremely Gentle Celebrity Roast:

Main image: Norm Macdonald in the 1998 film Dirty Work.

The post R.I.P. Norm Macdonald; the Crowdfund Cavalry; Morissette Denounces Jagged appeared first on MovieMaker Magazine.

Christopher Nolan’s New Film; Defending Kenny G; The Penguin: The Series

Alanis Morissette speaks out in a new documentary; another new doc lets Kenny G shake off his haters; Paul Schrader praises digital film; the new Christopher Nolan film goes to Universal; A-bombs and the Penguin are having a moment. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

Alanis Morissette: The singer says in the new HBO doc Jagged, premiering today at the Toronto International Film Festival, that she was raped repeatedly as a 15-year-old — and that when she told people, no one did anything about it.

Defending Kenny G: Filmmaker Penny Lane has a knack for making sympathetic documentaries about reviled and seemingly irredeemable people — her last one was about Satanists. Her latest takes on someone even more divisive: Kenny G.

Schrader: Here’s Paul Schrader talking to MovieMaker managing editor Caleb Hammond about how shooting on digital film helped him retain full control over his (excellent) new film, The Card Counter. He also talks about a grouchy commentary track he once recorded, in which he was pretty tough on himself.

“He Speaks in Your Voice, American”: Ted Melfi, whose new film The Starling just premiered at Toronto, will adapt, direct and produce the 1997 Don DeLillo novel Underworld for Netflix, Deadline exclusively reports. Underworld is a hypnotically sprawling novel about baseball, the atomic bomb, waste, heroin, and America. I have no idea how one would adapt it and can’t wait to see.

A-Bombs, So Hot Right Now: Deadline also exclusively reports that Universal Pictures has won the right to finance and distribute the new film from Christopher Nolan, about J. Robert Oppenheimer and his work creating the atom bomb.

The Penguin: You can’t accuse Warner Bros. of leaving any IP unexploited: The Hollywood Reporter says HBO Max is exploring a Penguin series based on the version of the character who will appear in the upcoming Matt Reeves film The Batman. THR says Colin Farrell, who plays the crime lord (real name Oswald Cobblepot) in the film, has been approached about playing the role in the series but that no deal is in place. HBO Max is also working on a new Batgirl film and a series about the Gotham police force.

‘I Like Your Size’: A cool thing that happens when you search for “Kenny G” is that YouTube assumes you’re a huge fan and serves you videos like this one. (Also it is perfectly within bounds for a movie publication to share this because the “regulators — mount up!” is from Young Guns.) Enjoy!

Main image: Christopher Nolan directs John David Washington in Tenet.

The post Christopher Nolan’s New Film; Defending Kenny G; The Penguin: The Series appeared first on MovieMaker Magazine.

In Listening to Kenny G, a Smooth Jazz Icon Shakes Off the Haters

Filmmaker Penny Lane has a knack for making sympathetic documentaries about reviled and seemingly irredeemable people — her last one was about Satanists. Her latest takes on someone even more divisive: Kenny G.

I kid, of course. While Listening to Kenny G, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, recounts a barrage of insults fired at the smooth jazz sensation, it also becomes clear that Kenny G needs no redemption. He’s done a great job rehabbing his own image, through social media acumen, collaborations with modern stars like Katy Perry, Kanye West and The Weeknd, and his own undeniable work ethic.

At least in the film, he seems pleasantly open to self-examination. He’s neither humble nor braggy, but gives give himself credit where it’s due. He says he still practices sax three hours a day, even after selling more than 75 million records, making him arguably the most successful jazz artist of all time. (I say “arguably” because many critics, some of whom are featured in the doc, don’t consider his music jazz.)

Yes, his songs are smooth, easy listening — but as Kenny G makes  clear, he believes those are good attributes. You won’t be surprised to learn that Kenny G is a bit of a people pleaser.

Lane welcomes esteemed jazz critics who make cogent arguments that the man born Kenny Gorlick frustratingly ignores more than a century of jazz music to make hits like “Songbird” and “Silhouette” that have no relation to the works of great jazz saxophonists like Ornette Coleman and Charlie Parker. (At one point, Kenny G — gasp — fails to recognize an image of Thelonious Monk.)

But before you join the scolds, Kenny G owns up to the fact that he was never that into jazz, and grew up more interested in smooth R&B — think of the exquisite Bill Withers-Grover Washington Jr. collaboration “Just the Two of Us.”

Later, we see him at least try to use his powers for good, but shoehorning a playful “sax education” course into recent performances, and trying to turn his fans on to artists like Stan Getz. (Though not everyone loves him paying homage to Louis Armstrong with a duet from beyond the grave. Judge for yourself.)

The doc also artfully addresses the accurate observation that Kenny G is the latest in a long line of white artists who made millions smoothing out the edges on a Black art form to make it more palatable for the masses. After saying, a little astonishingly, that he hasn’t really thought about it, Kenny G addresses this criticism directly, and, I think, respectfully.

Meanwhile, footage from his concerts speaks for itself: As much as his haters might like to think his audience consists entirely of middle-aged white people waiting in elevators and dentists’ offices, his fans undeniable cross all demographic lines. (The film also explains how Kenny G’s undeniably lovely “Going Home” has become China’s official song, of, well, going home.)

The film is executive produced by The Ringer creator Bill Simmons, who has a deal with HBO to produce music documentaries, and is off to a strong start. Another TIFF film to come out of that collaboration is Jagged, an Alanis Morissette documentary drawing lots of press attention this morning.

Lane, whose 2019 film Hail Satan? is the funniest documentary I’ve ever seen, says in an introductory video for TIFF that she made Listening to Kenny G to investigate why some art is considered good and other art is considered bad — and the feelings you feel upon finding out someone hates your favorite artist.

The moral of the story might be that hate is even worse than the worst smooth jazz.

Listening to Kenny G, directed by Penny Lane, is now playing at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Main image: Kenny G on the cover of his 1992 album Breathless.


The post In Listening to Kenny G, a Smooth Jazz Icon Shakes Off the Haters appeared first on MovieMaker Magazine.

Alanis Morissette Says She Was Raped at 15 in New Documentary Jagged

Alanis Morissette says in the new HBO documentary Jagged that she was raped multiple times as a 15-year-old — and that when she told people about it, no one did anything.

The film, now playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, focuses on Morissette’s breakout stardom in the ’90s and the difficulties of navigating the music industry as a young female star. The critical praise she received was often undercut by criticism of how “angry” she seemed. But she became one of the most successful artists in pop-rock history, and an inspiration to artists like Taylor Swift and Beyonce, both of whom are seen performing her song “You Oughta Know” in the doc.

At one point in the film, director Alison Klayman juxtaposes a decades-old interview in which Morissette talks about difficult relationships, with a new interview in which the Canadian icon, now 47, says she was a victim of multiple statutory rapes, and that no one helped her when she spoke out. She does not name any assailant, but it’s clear she’s talking about more than one case.

Also Read: In Dashcam, a Trump Troll Is Tormented by Anarchy in the UK

“I had no idea what the concept of a professional boundary meant, but it was me getting a sense of of boundaries, or lack thereof,” she says in the film. “Me not telling specific information about my experience as a teenager was almost solely around wanting to protect — protect my parents, protect my brothers, protect future partners, protect myself, protect my physical safety.”

At that point Morissette pauses, telling her interviewer: “I’m gonna need some help because I never talk about this shit.”

She then continues.

“There’s a lot of shame around having any kind of victimization of any kind, and it took me years in therapy to even admit that there had been any kind of victimization on my part. I would always say, you know I was consenting. And then I’d be reminded, ‘Hey — you were 15. You’re not consenting at 15.’ Now, like, oh yeah — they’re all pedophiles. They’re all statutory rape.”

Canada’s age of consent is 16.

She adds: “I did tell a few people. … It kind of fell on deaf ears a little bit. It would usually be a stand-up, walk-out-of-the-room moment.”

Then she talks more generally about women who come forward with sexual abuse allegations, and aren’t believed.

“A lot of people say, ‘Why did that woman wait 30 years?’ I’m like fuck off, they didn’t wait 30 years. No one was listening, or their livelihood was threatened, or their family was threatened. So yeah, the whole ‘Why do women wait’ thing? Women don’t wait. A culture doesn’t listen.”

The film premieres at Toronto tonight and is available now digitally. But The Washington Post reports that Morrisette is unhappy with the film for “unspecified reasons” and will not attend. The Post cited “a person familiar with Morissette’s plans.”

Klayman told Deadline in regards to Morissette not attending: “Of course, it would have been great if she could be here with us, but I’m so grateful for all the time that she did put into making this film.”

Morissette talks at length in the film about the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated industry — and says problems persisted even though she was the star. She notes her anger when she found at that the men in her backup band would leverage access to Morissette to meet female fans. (Morissette pointedly rejects the term “groupies” as dehumanizing.)

Jagged includes interviews with Shirley Manson of Garbage, critic Hanif Abdurraqib, and filmmaker Kevin Smith,  who cast Alanis Morissette as God in his film Dogma. The film takes its title from Morissette’s massive hit record Jagged Little Pill, which has sold 33 million copies — the 12th most in music history.

The film is produced by The Ringer founder Bill Simmons, who has a deal with HBO for a series of music-centered documentaries. Another, Listening to Kenny G, is also premiering at TIFF.

The Alanis Morissette documentary Jagged, directed by Alison Klayman, is now at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Main image: Alanis Morisette in Jagged.


The post Alanis Morissette Says She Was Raped at 15 in New Documentary Jagged appeared first on MovieMaker Magazine.