The current wars

As for us, we’re off to the movies tonight while we still can. This is from our dummkopf premier:

“It is unacceptable that families anywhere in our state can, just because they want this to be over, pretend that it is,” he said.

“It is pretty clear that behind closed doors … they are not practising social distancing.”

According to the hysterics at the Oz – the headline reads “hotspot state threatens to stall nation’s coronavirus recovery” – the number of active cases in Victoria is 121 [not deaths but active cases] out of a population of 6.5 million.

Meanwhile we are off to see The Current War while we are still permitted to use electricity – proper social distancing will, however, be observed:

Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse — the greatest inventors of the industrial age — engage in a battle of technology and ideas that will determine whose electrical system will power the new century. Backed by J.P. Morgan, Edison dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan. But Westinghouse, aided by Nikola Tesla, sees fatal flaws in Edison’s direct current design. Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on risky and dangerous alternating current.

Oh my goodness, AC turns out to be “risky and dangerous”. Why weren’t we told?

AND NOW HAVING SEEN THE FILM: Normally they say before some movie about some historic event that it is “based on true events” or something like that. This one went even further into the realm of whimsy by saying that it had been “inspired by” actual events. No point in throwing in spoilers although I do provide some kind of judgement at the end. For the most part, though, I will give some of the backstory via an article about how the movie was put together: How Martin Scorsese Saved ‘Current War’ From Harvey Weinstein.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon finally gets to release his version of his long-in-the-making “The Current War.”

The film, about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, was originally set to be distributed by the Weinstein Company after Harvey Weinstein recut it, much to Gomez-Rejon’s chagrin. To make matters worse, Weinstein premiered the movie at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017.

“It was incredibly painful,” Gomez-Rejon tells Variety. “Because you go up on stage and you’re representing the cast and crew who took this journey with you, and you know deep down in your heart that you haven’t been allowed to give your best. Or you give your best under those conditions and it’s not good enough.”

The film was almost shelved when the Weinstein Company shuttered following sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein.

But on Monday night in New York City at AMC Lincoln Square, Gomez-Rejon premiered “The Current War: Director’s Cut.” “I wasn’t sure the film would ever come out, which was heartbreaking,” the film’s screenwriter Michael Mitnik said….

According to Gomez-Rejon, the most important edit has been a reworking of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Edison, whose fierce fight against Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to ensure the supremacy of DC electric power was softened in Weinstein’s cut.

“I unapologetically let Benedict’s portrayal of Edison go to the dark side, instead of trying to make him likable,” Gomez-Rejon said. “I think you have to trust an audience. And because we let him do that, his portrayal juxtaposed with the work that Michael Shannon does, builds authentic tension. Now you have a movie that’s worthy of that title.”

Spoiler alert: I don’t know if this can be said any longer, but I think I might have preferred the original cut. The film is essentially a face-off between Edison and Westinghouse, with one the good guy and the other the villain. Also could have emphasised just a bit more how creative entrepreneurial geniuses make the world we inhabit. I could also have done without the 21st century neglected-wife theme. And the jumble of events was really irritating – I recalled in a vague sort of way most of them but the crude use of these events to emphasise modern ideologies was a real downer for me. But should you see it? My wife did think it was beautifully filmed. The present version is 30% at Rotten Tomatoes but we both happily watched it to the end (but it was also the first film we’d seen in three months). The 2017 version was 60% for critics and 79% for the audience. The “director’s cut” is not necessarily an improvement.

Anyway, very pleased to be back at the movies, Dopey Dan notwithstanding.

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