The Morning Jolt


Justice for Harvey Weinstein’s Victims Begins Today

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, kicks off the Film Finance Circle conference with an informal discussion at the inaugural Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi, October 15, 2007. (Steve Crisp/Reuters)

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! The next Morning Jolt will arrive Tuesday, May 29.

Harvey Weinstein Makes His Perp Walk

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “‘justice too long delayed is justice denied'” in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963. Justice for the victims of Harvey Weinstein has been delayed for a long time — but it is, this morning, finally arriving within the U.S. legal system.

Harvey Weinstein has arrived at a police station in New York where he is expected to surrender himself to face criminal charges in a sexual assault probe.

Weinstein stepped from a black SUV and walked slowly into a Manhattan police station before a crowd of news cameras. He didn’t answer respond to shouts of his name.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press the case includes a woman who has said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a meeting at his office in 2004.

The woman, Lucia Evans was among the first to speak out about the film producer.

An official says the charges are likely to include one other victim who has not spoken publicly.

The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

Lawyers for the film producer have said all allegations that he forced himself on women were “entirely without merit.”

Last week, the Cannes Film Festival invited Italian actress Asia Argento to make some remarks about the #MeToo scandals. Perhaps the organizers expected a version of the “this year many spoke their truth and the journey ahead is long, but slowly, a new path has emerged” fortune-cookie talk that Annabella Sciorra had to read off a teleprompter at this year’s Oscars. The filmmaking community demonstrated over the past year that they’re so upset by the rampant sexual harassment and assault that they’re willing to unleash every vague euphemism they’ve got.

Argento pulled absolutely no punches. “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground.”

It seems like a lot of Hollywood figures were eager to jump to the healing and the “things are better now” assurances and skip over the accountability. Argento would have none of that, telling the stunned, silent audience, “even tonight, sitting among you, there are those that need to be held accountable for their conduct against women for behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry or workplace. You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are, and we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”

Who else is out there who is getting away with it?

Democrats Suddenly Realize How California’s Primary System Can Hurt Them

The New York Times acknowledges that California’s primary system, which sends the top two vote-getters to the general election regardless of party affiliation, could end up costing Democrats some winnable House seats. “California is the center of the action for Democrats looking to take back Congress. There are at least seven Republican-held seats vulnerable to a Democratic takeover. But in three of them, Democrats are in real danger of getting shut out because they have too many candidates competing for too few votes, opening a way for two Republicans to win those top two seats.”

Whoops. It’s almost like party primaries were there for a reason.

You may have heard during the post-2016-election Democratic temper tantrum that “45.2 million Americans cast a vote for a Democratic Senate candidate, while 39.3 million Americans voted for a Republican.” This is a lot easier to achieve when you have two Democrats running in the general election for Senate in California but no Republicans — meaning Democrats received 7.9 million votes for Senate there and Republicans had zero. “Had a Republican Senate candidate in California captured as many votes as Sanchez did — about 2.9 million — the total for the two parties nationwide would have been about even.”

At What Point Do We Reach the Saturation Point for Star Wars?

We’ll see how Solo: A Star Wars Story does at the box office in the coming weeks. But I wonder if Disney’s extraordinary ambitions for the cinematic world are starting to hit a ceiling.

I say this as a once die-hard fan. Maybe you had to be a child of the Reagan era to understand the enormous patience required of fans back then. Han Solo got stuck in carbonite . . . and we had to wait three years to see what happened next. From 1980 to 1983, kids debated whether Darth Vader really was Luke’s father, what Jabba the Hutt looked like, whether the Rebels would ever win. There was a lot of time for fans’ anticipation to build.

If you were a kid into science fiction, spaceships, aliens, and robots and all that in the 1980s, Hollywood gave you one or two films a year up your alley: A Star Trek film, E.T., Tron, The Last Starfighter . . . maybe you went into David Lynch’s Dune expecting a traditional sci-fi desert epic and walked out thoroughly confused.

Now retailers are wondering why Star Wars merchandise isn’t selling the way they hoped. Well, between 1977 and 1983, three Star Wars films came out. With each film, kids had three years of Christmases, Hanukkahs and birthdays to ask for and get all those toys they craved. (And with no, your selection of toys depended entirely upon what was in the Toys‘R’Us or other retailer that day.) Playing with the toys and making up your own stories in your head or with other kids was part of how you had fun during those three-year gaps in between movies — and after Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans thought . . . that was it! The story was done.

With Solo hitting theaters today, we’ve now had four Star Wars films since December 2015 — and the Rebels television series, with each movie and show introducing its own line of merchandise. At some point the market gets saturated.

Separately, I’m sure when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and announced plans for a new film every year, they envisioned something akin to Marvel (which they also own). Marvel Studios figured they could create and successfully market two superhero movies a year (now getting up to three) as long as each film and hero embraced a distinct genre or vibe. Thor was closer to a Lord of the Rings swords-and-sorcery epic, Captain America was a swashbuckling 1940s pulp adventure, Ant-Man was a comedic heist film. One could argue that they were other genres of films that just happened to have superheroes in them.

I’m not sure Star Wars lends itself so well to different styles of stories, at least in two-hour movie format. (The Rebels and Clone Wars animated series were able to experiment a bit more.) Solo is clearly going for a Western vibe and a heist story . . . but so was Rogue One, allegedly. The original Star Wars films already include elements of most of these genres: fantasy, war films, bits of comedy, a touch of romance, dollops of philosophy . . . all wrapped up in the broad space-opera sci-fi/action-adventure category.

Would a wackier, Guardians of the Galaxy vibe work in a Star Wars film? Would Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s conspiracy and political intrigue work in a Star Wars film, or would that feel too much like the plodding scene in the prequel trilogy?

Or did Disney spend $4 billion for the rights to make one kind of movie, with a built-in impassioned fan base . . . forever?

ADDENDA: John Podhoretz liked Deadpool 2, and I did too, but I’ll make one observation. One of the things that made the first Deadpool movie feel so fresh, surprising, and different was the relatively smaller budget and limited scale. It was as if Ryan Reynolds and crew scoffed at the idea that a superhero film had to be a big, elaborate epic, and they gambled that they could create a rollicking nearly-two-hour story with just a basic wisecracking-jerk-seeks-revenge-and-tries-to-rescue-girlfriend plot — no fate of the world at stake, no hunt-for-the-magic-Mcguffin, no we’ve-got-to-shut-down-that-machine-to-stop-that-giant-light-in-the-sky-and-doomsday third act. It was one step removed from a ’90s Steven Seagal movie with Don Rickles in the lead role.

Deadpool 2 is a bigger movie in just about every sense, and it starts to feel a little bit more like the summer blockbuster it was originally mocking — more characters, more elaborate sets, multiple villains, wildly destructive urban chases. It’s funny, it’s fun, it’s full of surprises . . . but once a couple of computer-generated-effect characters start pummeling each other, Deadpool 2 starts to get a little less distinguishable from the other X-Men movies, and/or the Avengers films and/or the deeply disappointing Justice League.


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