I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

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domino harvey
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I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:59 pm

Neon won bidding for Margot Robbie's Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya, which will get an Oscar qualifying run for this year. Buzz is big on Allison Janney being a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress

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Re: The Films of 2017

#2 Post by Ribs » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:10 pm

Neon's managed to totally flub almost all of its releases so far, so I'd not get hopes up either way. I'd argue A24's not had a particularly great year in terms of successful releases, either, but I expect they'll have gotten this awards release thing down to a science by now that the Alamo/Neon guys just couldn't possibly have the experience of mounting successful awards runs. Crazier things have happened, but I just don't have the faith in them (nor do I think the buzz has been generally positive enough to get more than a shrug from most people anyway).

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Re: The Films of 2017

#3 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:16 pm

Acting noms are possible, no chance for anything else. I imagine Neon committed to an aggressive awards campaign for Robbie and Janney, otherwise surely the producers would have taken the offer of what is believed to have been over twice as much from Netflix

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#4 Post by domino harvey » Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:57 pm

This came in second for the audience award at TIFF, a strong indicator that this might be a crowd pleaser and potentially more of an awards draw than anticipated

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#5 Post by Ribs » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:32 pm

Unsurprisingly given a December NY/LA release, despite huge controversy continuing bellowing behind the scenes at Alamo. It honestly seems like this scandal could be bad enough to cripple the company.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#6 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:20 am


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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#7 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:23 am

Seeing this tonight and genuinely didn't expect such a campy tone. Hoping that's more the editing of that trailer than anything. Although maybe you can't tell this story any other way.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#8 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:25 am

Probably. I have vague memories of this happening, but it seemed ridiculous even then.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#9 Post by Werewolf by Night » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:28 pm

I don't get a "campy" tone out of that trailer so much as a GoodFellas- or To Die For-style tone—a detached, amusedly ironic, looking back ruefully tone. The screenwriter has written some notorious stinkers, though, so it will be down to Margot Robbie and Craig Gillespie to strike the right balance. It's already been nominated for a Gotham Award, so at the very least it's probably not an outright turd.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:00 am

Wow, so that’s why the festival heads kept saying things like “crowd pleaser” and “entertaining” - because this is a pretty amateurish film that never does anything wrong enough to warrant too much scorn, but is often hilariously tonedeaf and almost desperately yearning to be something more ambitious and better than it actually is.

Its strange, needlessly clunky title is only the beginning of a number of filmmaking decisions that are just puzzling, and that often betray a sense of what Craig Gillespie was reaching for when he made those decisions, which somehow is worse than if they were just naïve oversights. Instead, there are so many attempts to make a Goodfellas or Boogie Nights out of this material that those influences often bleed much too far into Gillespie’s choices - take his very 70s heavy soundtrack for a film set in the 90s for example (including “Goodbye Stranger,” which is still inextricably tied to a slow-mo shot in Magnolia, so much so that when the camera is fancifully swooping around when the needle drops in this one, it feels like out and out thievery). Oh, and swoop it does - particularly in the ice skating sequences which are filmed from a Raging Bull-like distance, following Robbie’s stunt double (and at times, for the tough stuff, a CGI enhanced stunt double at that) around while superimposing Robbie’s face in ways that are just not there yet. Sometimes her facial expression will be turned slightly differently than the rest of her head, or there will be a digital blur that is wholly unnatural, or, in its better moments, just imparts a general sense that something is wrong. These skate routines in particular so badly want to be the very well-edited and executed ballet dancing from Black Swan, but ice skating, even when vertically obscured by a totally unnecessary and counterproductive CinemaScope ratio, is even more difficult to fake just right - and this film never makes it look anything if not difficult to fake, particularly when trying to downplay Margot Robbie’s too tall, too lithe figure.

Robbie is up to the task and does a largely excellent job with the material. There’s a lot to dig into, and while it’s got to be tough to make someone with such distinctive mannerisms feel emotionally real, as Harding loses her braces and ages into early adulthood, she really does an uncannily excellent job of portraying her in a way that feels all her own. Allison Janney is the one getting most of the buzz, but her characterization is mostly betrayed by the writing - her character alternates between emotionally neglectful and cruel and having so goddamn many jokey one-liners that it feels much less human and more showy than Robbie’s portrayal of Harding. I’d prefer to see Robbie get the awards attention for this if I had to choose between the two, but this whole film just feels like such minor work from a writing and filmmaking perspective that maybe both get snubbed. It’s... good more than it is bad, in its over-ambitious and tonally messy way, but it’s hard not to be left wondering whether there’s much of an audience for it, even in a very weak year for prestige fare. Are 2017 moviegoers yearning for a snappy retelling of Tonya Harding’s life story the way they were tuning in for OJ Simpson content last year? I’m not convinced they are.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#11 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:07 am

I recall this and the Amy Fisher story being the two dominating tabloid stories of the time - I didn't know anyone who was yearning to hear either even then, but the audience must have been there because they were everywhere. (Jesus, I think every major network even had their own Amy Fisher movie running at the same time.)

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#12 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:08 pm

In a year where Big Little Lies did such a gut-wrenchingly great job of portraying domestic violence, I'm not sure how solid the audience is for a film about the 1990s made in the 2010s that feels like a film made in the 1990s about the 1970s, that (like Goodfellas, to some degree) treats domestic violence and mayhem like it's just part of a crazy whirlwind of "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a figure skater." Gillespie and Steven Rogers presumably are out there talking about the great deal of respect and empathy they have for Harding (if I had to guess), and there are a few moments where the film decides to wag its finger at the viewer to varying levels of success, but I, Tonya has a very old fashioned approach to playing up very dark and sad content for a steamroller of cheap laughs. I'm not sure that making a montage in which your main character is being hit in the face repeatedly and slammed against shattering mirrors feel tonally like Anchorman's character intros is necessarily the wisest decision when you're constructing a film for audiences in 2017. The entire thing feels like it's of another era in a way that films that actually are of another era can get away with, but maybe a middling biopic about a story that might have totally run its course (the film even winds up making that argument in its epilogue!) is not going to light the box office on fire.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#13 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:11 pm

hearthesilence wrote:I recall this and the Amy Fisher story being the two dominating tabloid stories of the time - I didn't know anyone who was yearning to hear either even then, but the audience must have been there because they were everywhere. (Jesus, I think every major network even had their own Amy Fisher movie running at the same time.)
Then the OJ coverage took over completely. You might have heard one or two things about the Nancy/Tonya thing by the end of 94 but they weren't given nearly as much notice as it was when it happened.

One movie I kind of remember seeing bits and pieces of around that time was HBO's The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom. Looking it up on Letterboxd it's kind of funny that it came out a year before the shit hit the fan on this.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#14 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:16 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:Then the OJ coverage took over completely.
Also something wisely touched on in the epilogue that seems to undermine the film's very reason for existing! Not to mention Bobby Cannavale's character mentioning in the film's intro that Hard Copy wound up being one-upped by, uh, every journalism outlet in the country. I'd say I even sort of liked this film, but it is somehow in bad taste and much too quaint simultaneously.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#15 Post by knives » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:24 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
hearthesilence wrote:I recall this and the Amy Fisher story being the two dominating tabloid stories of the time - I didn't know anyone who was yearning to hear either even then, but the audience must have been there because they were everywhere. (Jesus, I think every major network even had their own Amy Fisher movie running at the same time.)
Then the OJ coverage took over completely. You might have heard one or two things about the Nancy/Tonya thing by the end of 94 but they weren't given nearly as much notice as it was when it happened.

One movie I kind of remember seeing bits and pieces of around that time was HBO's The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom. Looking it up on Letterboxd it's kind of funny that it came out a year before the shit hit the fan on this.
And directed by the underrated Michael Ritchie if I remember correctly.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#16 Post by Dead or Deader » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:28 pm

I find it puzzling that Craig Gillespie wanted to emulate the Scorsese-synchonized soundtrack scored to popular music, yet according to mfunk it's composed of hit singles from the 70's. The authentic route would have to played up the songs that fit the era of the film, which would lean towards more grunge then poppy progressive rock. Not that every film should just played to the music of the era, when you have a bio-pic that taking it's cues from other acclaimed filmmakers it's better to understand how Scorsese utilize the music to accompany the wise guys of his picture.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#17 Post by knives » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:39 pm

There's also tons of great or at least amusingly appropriate poppy stuff from the '90s since grunge sounds inappropriate for the tone of the film. Just look at Clueless.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:16 pm

knives wrote:There's also tons of great or at least amusingly appropriate poppy stuff from the '90s since grunge sounds inappropriate for the tone of the film. Just look at Clueless.
In I, Tonya, you mean? There really isn't.
Dead or Deader wrote:I find it puzzling that Craig Gillespie wanted to emulate the Scorsese-synchonized soundtrack scored to popular music, yet according to mfunk it's composed of hit singles from the 70's. The authentic route would have to played up the songs that fit the era of the film, which would lean towards more grunge then poppy progressive rock. Not that every film should just played to the music of the era, when you have a bio-pic that taking it's cues from other acclaimed filmmakers it's better to understand how Scorsese utilize the music to accompany the wise guys of his picture.
It's because he's clearly a much more limited filmmaker who spends much of this film trying his damnedest to emulate better ones, hitting tonal and technical potholes along the way.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#19 Post by swo17 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:19 pm

He's just saying that there are lots of great '90s songs to choose from.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#20 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:21 pm

Absolutely. Although I think going too far in that direction would betray the characterization of Harding. That being said, much is made of her not-traditional-enough music choices for her routines in the film - why not just score the film with those?

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#21 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:32 pm

That's one thing I admired about Wolf of Wall Street is that at least Scorsese recognized he couldn't draw much from the classic rock well at all that time around.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#22 Post by MoonlitKnight » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:13 am

hearthesilence wrote:I recall this and the Amy Fisher story being the two dominating tabloid stories of the time - I didn't know anyone who was yearning to hear either even then, but the audience must have been there because they were everywhere. (Jesus, I think every major network even had their own Amy Fisher movie running at the same time.)
Add the Lorena Bobbitt story to the mix and you've got Weird Al's "Headline News." :wink:

I've heard some people claim Robbie being "too pretty" to play Tonya Harding. I'm not sure how relevant that claim is in the context of the movie, having not yet seen it, but I can't help but think such a point may be valid from a superficial standpoint. :-k

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#23 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:29 am

It's true. I might be moon-eyed for Margot Robbie to an unreasonable degree, but I don't know if that can solely account for how strange she is for the part at times. She's nearly a half a foot too tall, already looks mature for her age (to be playing someone from their teen years onward is unusual for most actresses in their mid-to-late twenties, but especially when there's been debate about whether their stated age is factual), and is too visibly lissome to be believable as Harding. Tonya Harding was short, steely, and had a strong frame (especially upper legs) when compared to even her peers in the sport, let alone delicate Australian bombshells. It's funny to see her with the actress playing Nancy Kerrigan at one point and having Kerrigan look tiny next to her, when the real-life Kerrigan is at least three inches taller than Harding.

Throughout the film you are faced with dialogue that does not manifest itself visually - Jeff Gillooly calls Harding beautiful on their first date, and we're asked by voice-over to accept that it is the first time someone ever called Robbie's Harding anything approaching such an adjective. At one point Harding states that she's "not in shape," to which her coach responds "well, pear is a shape" while Robbie is wearing a form-fitting coat and a diner waitress outfit, looking slimmer, perhaps, than she does at any other point in the film. It is just a very odd fit, but perhaps it will work for people the way that Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s inaccurate high-pitched rasp somehow still couldn't break anyone's spell during The People vs. OJ Simpson. Robbie gives about as great a performance as one could ask for considering the odd casting and the mediocre filmmaking.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#24 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:33 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:but perhaps it will work for people the way that Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s inaccurate high-pitched rasp somehow still couldn't break anyone's spell during The People vs. OJ Simpson
John Travolta's accent as Robert Shapiro was more distracting. Everyone in that cast did great things though. I think Gooding was good at capturing the desperation that sometimes reeked of sociopathy, that would have overcome something like his voice.

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Re: I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

#25 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:11 pm

OJ has a booming, very deep voice - Gooding sounds like he's recovering from throat surgery.

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