The Glorious Corner: NYC’s Lincoln Plaza Cinema To Close, “The Shape of Water”, BBC Working On Weinstein Scandal Documentary and More!

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G.H. Harding 

LINCOLN PLAZA  REPRIEVEMilstein Properties responded to the uproar over the news that its longtime tenant, Lincoln Plaza Cinema, will close in January by revealing   it plans to preserve the space as a movie theater after vital renovations are completed.

The company today gave no exact timetable for the planned closing and reopening and did not confirm whether Toby and Dan Talbot, widely respected film business figures for more than 60 years, would remain involved as programmers. Even so, the plan to maintain the subterranean indie film temple on Manhattan’s Upper West Side as a place for movies gives both New York cinephiles and the specialty film business some reason for hope during the holiday season.

Here is the company’s full statement:

“Milstein Properties built 30 Lincoln Plaza in 1978; we are long-term members of this community and have played a central role in nurturing this special theater. There is vital structural work needed to repair and waterproof the plaza surrounding the building that cannot be completed while the space is in use, and will begin now that the cinema’s lease has expired. At the completion of this work, we expect to re-open the space as a cinema that will maintain its cultural legacy far into the future.”

News broke Friday that the revered film destination was planning to close at the end of January after 30-plus years after the Talbots said they could not come to terms with Milstein on a new lease. Outrage quickly erupted from New York moviegoers and film industry veterans, who are already bracing for Landmark’s Sunshine multiplex on Houston Street downtown to go dark in January. A mixed-use retail and office building will replace the Sunshine, the latest sign of both New York City gentrification and exhibitors’ struggle to stay relevant in the Netflix era.

Located across Broadway from Lincoln Center, the Lincoln Plaza has long been an important launch pad for platform releases. While lacking amenities or polish, it has served as a curator of quality films emerging from the festival circuit and the global independent scene.

I also watched on yesterday’s Sunday Today with Willie Geist, how traffic at the nation’s malls is down about 50%, with many of them closed or in the process of closing and how many have been re-purposed as office building or micro-apartments. Amazing!

I guess further signs that home really is where the heart is now. As much as watching a film at home is perhaps more desirable in so many ways, for me, nothing could ever replace watching a movie on a big screen in a movie theater proper. I feel bad that someone could never live out that experience. I well remember the theater located at the much missed Gulf & Western building in Columbus Circle (now a Trump International Hotel). You had to walk down a series of stairs to gain access to a huge theater with a huge screen. I saw some great movies there. Then, the passing of the Ziegfeld. Sad, very sad.

THE SHAPE OF WATER — In much the same way that last year’s La La Land just totally captivated me, I went to see Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water and was captivated all over again. For me, this is the movie of the year. Escapism at its best with a delicate and moving love story; tremendous special effects and just sensational acting from Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. From the opening moments of the movie I knew I was in for something special. I loved Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and especially his Hellboy movie. Del Toro can spin a story with the best of them, but the care and quality control –not to mention attention to detail- is nothing short of extraordinary. With this movie, Del Toro ensures his status as a visionary director.

I guess by now, mostly everyone knows what the basic premise is, but the way he tells the story is just beautiful. Hawkins, who first gained notoriety in Mike Leigh’s 2008 Happy-Go-Lucky, is simply sublime here and Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins just superb. I loved everything about his movie and the music by Alexandre Desplat, just dazzling. No question, the movie of the year!

THE BBC/WEINSTEIN AFFAIR — Harvey Weinstein is set to be the leading man in a feature-length documentary about his sex scandal that has engulfed Hollywood. The BBC is to lift the veil on Weinstein after more than 80 women accused him of various inappropriate behavior ranging from rape to sexual assault through to intimidation, bullying and some strange showering habits.

Simon and Jonathan Chinn’s Lightbox is making the 90-minute film, which will be directed by Ursula MacFarlane, who has directed docs including Charlie Hebdo: Three Days That Shook Paris and worked on Netflix series Captive.

The film, which has the working title Weinstein, will aim to bring fresh insights and revelations to the story of Weinstein’s rise and fall as well as providing an account of one of the most far-reaching scandals in Hollywood’s history, one which is still developing. It will feature interviews with a number of the actresses who have told their stories.

Some of the women who have come forward against Weinstein include Rose McGowan and Boardwalk Empire star Paz de la Huerta, who both alleged that Weinstein raped them, Asia Argento, who alleged that he forcibly performed oral sex on her, Salma Hayek, who claimed that he sexually harassed her and threatened to kill her during 2002 film Frida, and Ashley Judd, who was one of a number of actresses who said that he asked for erotic massages and to be watched showering.

Weinstein will also feature interviews with journalists, producers, directors, agents, lawyers and others who have previously been unable or unwilling to talk publicly about Weinstein and the culture of fear and abuse that permeates Hollywood. It will also aim to tell a broader story of Hollywood, through the prism of the sex scandal, from the emergence of the studio system in the 1930’s and chart Weinstein’s history in the business from the 1970’s.

Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn said: “Through telling the story of Weinstein’s extraordinary rise and fall, this film will really get to the heart of the big questions that lie at the center of the scandal: how did Weinstein get away with his behavior for so long, what does his story reveal about how powerful men have operated in Hollywood and beyond and will this be a watershed moment in terms of the way women are treated in the workplace?”

McDonald added: “This film promises to be the definitive take on the Weinstein scandal. As well as revealing the inside story of the past few months in minute detail, it will also look to the past to tell the story of abuses of power within Hollywood since its very origins and chart the rise of Harvey Weinstein himself over many decades. This is a film which will ask difficult and challenging questions about complicity, the price of silence and the corrosive effects of power and I’m certain that Lightbox will bring their signature approach to this important subject.”

I don’t know how this production could be viewed as the definitive take, as it’s still unfolding and hasn’t been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. I predict that this will come out, but it will be much delayed in production and subsequent release.

Also, on a related note, I wonder how long it will be before the film and TV world acknowledge this sea change. How long will it be before the ripped-from-the-headlines Law & Order script comes forth? There is one undeniable fact: things will be different from now on. Stay tuned.

SHORT TAKES — It was 17 degrees in Bay City, Michigan (where Madonna hails from!) for Micky Dolenz’s last show in 2017.  Next up for him is the Flower Power cruise in February … We were just gifted with the limited edition (750 only) Debbie Gibson We Could Be Together set – an import –  the definitive take on Gibson’s career. All her music, videos, and two live CDs, it’s all here. Interestingly enough, the only omission is her 2003 album Colored Lights via Fynsworth Alley records; which featured a track (“Sex”) from her long-in-the-works Skirts musical. It’s a Gibson-victory lap for sure for her extraordinary career, We’ll have more on this one for sure … More Best Ofs: Battle of the Sexes with Steve Carrell and Emma Stone. What a terrific movie; it did not get the attention it should have to my mind, but just brilliant. Also, USA’s The Sinner with Jessica Biel and Robert Funaro; and Leonard Cohen’s final album, You Want It Darker and the debut release, Bad Old World, from, Honey West, featuring Ian McDonald. Both superb! …One major disappointment of the year, Annamaria Fazio. Her manager and publicist brought us some terrific music. What a voice. One week till Xmas … amazing!

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