Indie gem victim of the Hollywood bully-vard

Hollywood movies have become so formulaic, so degenerate, or so boring that I’ve gone from watching one movie a week to devotedly watching the Oscars in utter disdain.

I want nothing to do with any of this. Don’t watch. Make a point not to watch. And I’m not alone, as Oscar ratings have plummeted to more than 10% of their heights in the glorious 1990s.

Now even spectacularly well-made movies leave you unmoved. You may also have played a video game.

No film can win a prestigious Oscar unless it meets a set of racial and sexual diversity quotas, according to the 2020 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences edict, so the agitprop farce is by design.

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Box office receipts last summer fell, about 20% lower than they had been in the previous decade.

Hollywood has lost interest in attracting American audiences — and it’s only going to get worse.

Judging by the latest offerings from the Sundance Film Festival coming soon to your streaming service, there’s no depth filmmakers won’t go to to turn off paying customers.

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Terrible Hollywood fare

The latest film reviews from Sundance (now practically a subsidiary of corporate Hollywood) were curated this week on Twitter by author Peachy Keenan: grannies celebrating their healthy vaginas, a sex scene that ends with the girl covered in blood, lots of dicks, extended filming close-ups of a woman pleasuring a man as she urinates behind a tree, “stomach-pounding satanic rituals,” the compulsive nymphomaniac masturbator trapped in a repressive Christian fundamentalist community in rural Kentucky, Anne Hathaway as a lesbian predator and a “bisexual love triangle offering graphic straight and gay sex scenes.”

    Andrea Riseboroughv
Andrea Riseborough played Lesile in “To Lesile”.
Getty Images

Hollywood is dead.

And then comes a stunning gem of a film, ‘To Leslie’, that renews your faith in human nature. A microcomputer indie, shot in 19 days, all on film, for less than $1 million, it’s director Michael Morris’ first feature and a triumph for little-known screenwriter Ryan Binako, who loosely based his alcoholic self . mother.

The “Leslie” of the title is a single mother from small town Texas, whose life spirals into addiction after winning the lottery and wasting the money on drugs and alcohol. The film begins as she is evicted from a cheap motel and decides to move in with her now 20-year-old son, six years after leaving him.

It’s a familiar subject, but the acting is so wonderful, the script has such subtlety and insight, and the film is directed with such restraint and gentle optimism that it takes your breath away. It’s as close to a perfect movie as I’ve seen in a long time. It never wallows in the misery of addiction or softens Leslie’s ego or pretends her demons will magically disappear.

British actress Andrea Riseborough manages to bring Leslie to life without histrionics or over-sharing. She’s so real that one online reviewer said, “I thought they got a drunk Texan girl, not a classically trained British actress, to live the part.”

I don’t want to spoil the movie for you by overdoing it. It may not be to everyone’s taste. Suffice it to say that after all the bad movies I’ve watched over the last few years, it came as a welcome relief.

Cultural hijackers

But of course, a work of art this beautiful just has to be destroyed by the dragons that have taken over our civilization. They hate beauty so much, they have to tear out the last tiny bits they manage to hold on to. They can’t let it go because when people see the beauty again, they will be reminded of how alive it made them feel and how there was so much more.

“To Leslie,” with its tiny budget and modest ambitions, features Hollywood films about the banal, inhuman, broken-souled, decadently expensive, China-challenging.

So someone made a scandal.

When the film was released late last year, it was ignored and earned just $27,000 at the box office.

In Lesile
“To Lesile” was shot in 19 days, on film, for less than $1 million.

in lesiille
The Academy decided not to strip Riseborough of her nomination.

But even though she didn’t have the marketing budget to compete with the megabucks studios, amazingly, she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Riseborough with a low-key, word-of-mouth campaign.

The director’s wife, Mary McCormack, created enough buzz with emails and small screenings at their home to get noticed by the right people. He knew that once they saw it, they would love it.

“In addition to how proud I am of my husband Michael, we feel so strongly about the beautiful films that are being shown, whether they have millions and millions to spend on publicity or not,” she wrote in passionate emails to friends, obtained by Vanity Fair. “Now, films like ‘To Leslie’ are an endangered species. . . close to extinction. I’m worried that if we don’t all support the creation of small independent films, Marvel Movies will collapse and be gone forever.”

Everyone who saw it loved it, because how could you not? Suddenly big stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton and Jennifer Aniston gushed about it on social media and hosted screenings. Riseborough deserves to “win every award there is and all the ones that haven’t been invented yet,” Paltrow posted on Instagram.

Link the categories for racism.

You see, this year was supposed to be “the most diverse Oscars ever,” as summed up by Hollywood podcasters Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez.

Instead of a feel-good story about an underdog movie, the media narrative became “this white actress with all her white actor friends pushed out two highly touted and expected black actresses. . . It was a huge campaign to put a white face forward.”

Andrea Riseborough
Andrea Riseborough arrives at the BAFTA Tea Party 2023 in Los Angeles on January 14, 2023.
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Riseborough, who is white, is accused of stealing the role of a black woman, Viola Davis in “The Woman King” and Danielle Dudweiler in “Till.”

Excuse for “misogyny”.

‘Till’ director Chinonye Chukwu complained that the process “endorses whiteness and perpetuates an unabashed misogyny towards black women”.

LA Times film critic Robert Daniels lamented, “What does it say that black women who did what the establishment asked them to do — fancy dinners, private Academy screenings, meet-and-greets, crazy TV spots and magazine profiles — are ignored when someone who did everything outside the system gets rewarded?’

All the usual suspects went to work to crush Riseborough’s joy of success and pestered the Academy to do a “review” to see if “To Leslie” had broken any rules with the “social media campaign and publicity tactics it caused worry. After a week of agonizing, on Tuesday they decided not to withdraw her nomination from Riseborough.
But the damage is done. An unnamed Academy member was quoted as saying by Variety, “Whatever happens, her reputation is tarnished, whether her campaign did anything or not.

The only way to beat the bullies is to go see the movie. You will love it.