Donald Trump speaks to service members of the U.S. Coast Guard during an invitation to play golf at Trump International Golf Course in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. The Trump resort at Mar-a-Lago brought in nearly $23 million last year.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
At a time when House Democrats are battling the president for his tax returns, new disclosures provide some basic information about his finances. For instance: His income was at least in the hundreds of millions last year.
The data come from the president’s latest annual financial disclosure form covering the year 2018. It shows where that income came from. For example, Trump Doral in South Florida, one of his highest-income properties according to the report, provided a nearly 2 percent bump in income last year, up $1.2 million to $76 million.
Meanwhile, income from Mar a Lago, the Palm Beach, Fla., resort Trump frequents on winter weekends away from the White House, fell by nearly 10% from 2017, to $22.7 million last year.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., held steady, at $40.8 million in income for Trump — up slightly from 2017, according to prior disclosures.
These year-to-year shifts indicate that at least some Trump properties have stabilized since sharp drops in revenue between 2016 and 2017. The $22.7 million that Mar-a-Lago took in last year is nearly 40 percent lower than its 2016 income.
And the Trump Doral golf club’s $76 million in income last year is still far below its $115.9 million income Trump reported from 2016.
The disclosures provide a window into the president’s finances, but it’s not a detailed view. Disclosure forms filed to the Office of Government Ethics allow officials to cite many figures in ranges, rather than exact numbers — Trump’s income from a piece of real estate on Wall Street and several others, for example, was “over $5,000,000.”
All told, then, Trump reported income of well over $400 million, but it could have been much higher than that. It’s impossible to accurately compare the president’s overall income from year to year using these forms.
The financial disclosures show the president’s ongoing income from controversial arrangements. When Trump took office, critics raised concerns that Trump properties would provide an avenue for people to essentially buy the president’s favor by frequenting his properties.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has continued to raise ethics red flags. Earlier this year, a government watchdog said that government lawyers ignored the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause in allowing the Trump Organization to continue leasing Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, blocks from the White House.
Presidential financial disclosures do provide some clarity about the president’s assets and income, but they leave many questions about the president’s finances unanswered. House Democrats recently subpoenaed six years of Trump’s tax returns, arguing that this is part of their oversight duties, and that they’d like to know the full extent of his involvement in his businesses.
A member of Huawei’s reception staff walks in the foyer of a building at the company’s Bantian campus in April in Shenzhen, China.
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
A Trump administration decision to restrict the sale of U.S. technology to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei will disrupt global supply chains, say analysts, ramping up pressure on U.S. allies reluctant to join in efforts to shut out Huawei from advanced 5G mobile networks.
The Commerce Department on Wednesday announced it would add Shenzhen, China-based Huawei and its subsidiaries to a U.S. “entity list” — meaning it can keep Huawei from buying U.S. technology if “the sale or transfer would harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”
The listing came the same day President Trump signed an executive order enabling the government to block U.S. firms from buying foreign-made telecom equipment if it is deemed a national security threat — a move also widely viewed as directed at Huawei.
The apparent one-two punch is the administration’s latest in a series of measures against China’s largest telecom equipment company, as the two countries engage in tense trade and technology fights. The decision comes as some European countries consider whether or not to allow Huawei into their 5G systems.
“This is a direct message to Europe about how it should be thinking of the future of its 5G networks,” says Paul Triolo, geotechnology head at political consultancy Eurasia Group. “The U.S. can allow some companies to sell to Huawei while ultimately holding the cards.”
Telecom companies including Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia have been vying with Huawei to set up the world’s first 5G networks, the next generation in mobile data infrastructure.
The new networks are critical to reaching data transmission speeds needed to support future “internet of things” applications, such as driverless cars.
5G’s importance to emerging industries and its reliance on a complex mixture of software and hardware have countries like the U.S. worried that adversaries could easily hack the networks to access user data and divert communication traffic to their own servers.
Statement regarding U.S. Commerce Department’s addition of Huawei on the so-called Entity List pic.twitter.com/XgwS6AXc8G
— Huawei Technologies (@Huawei) May 16, 2019
In a statement, Huawei said it opposed the Commerce Department’s decision, saying it was “in no one’s interest” and would “do economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business.”
Lu Kang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the U.S. should “stop its wrong practices” and should not “abuse export control measures while making ‘national security’ a catch-all phrase.”
Pressure to ban Huawei
The Trump administration has pressured its allies to preemptively ban Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, with limited success.
New Zealand, Australia and Japan have joined the U.S. in freezing out the Chinese company from future 5G plans. But Germany and France have not followed suit. Last month, the U.K. decided to allow Huawei restricted access to its 5G networks, a move first reported by the Daily Telegraph.
Experts say this hard-line strategy of circumscribing Huawei by citing expansive national security concerns signals a convergence with Beijing’s own restrictive cybersecurity and data laws. China has barred foreign companies from building significant market share in data-intensive technology sectors, such as cloud computing and financial services, which is a key sticking point in ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations.
Samm Sacks, a cybersecurity fellow with think tank New America, says the administration’s executive order “is a page from Beijing’s playbook.”
She says looking at Wednesday’s executive order from Trump, “In some places, if you did a blind test with China’s cybersecurity law and tried to guess which is which, it would be hard to tell.”
“We didn’t even know there was this decision”
The announcement that Huawei would be put on the Commerce Department’s entity list took tech companies by surprise and many are now scrambling to figure out what that will mean for their operations. They argue a move to cut off Huawei from American technology sales would further decouple U.S. firms from the global technology supply chain and end an important revenue stream.
The entity listing affects major firms like chipmakers Qualcomm and Intel, which are Huawei suppliers. Even software suppliers like Google would have to apply for explicit Commerce Department permission to update Huawei’s smartphone operating systems, which run on Google Android.
“We didn’t even know there was this decision until members of the press received a statement Wednesday night,” says on industry representative who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Details of how these export controls will work have not been released and it isn’t yet clear whether restrictions on Huawei will cover all American components or only a narrow subset.
If interpreted broadly, the controls on U.S. sales to Huawei could prove the biggest move yet to thwart the Chinese telecom company’s ambitions to build the hardware underpinning its global 5G network.
“It’s very difficult for Huawei to build a 5G base station without U.S. semiconductor technology,” says Brett Simpson, co-founder at Arete Research, a London-based technology research group. He was referring to the thousands of antenna stations that will process 5G bandwidth. Huawei will have to procure parts from U.S. firms like Xilinx, Texas Instruments and Analog Devices, according to Simpson.
There will be less impact on Huawei’s mobile handset business. Last year, Huawei was the world’s second-largest mobile phone supplier by sales after Samsung.
Wary of growing hostility from policymakers in Washington, Huawei has been stockpiling U.S.-made components that go into its cellphones in case the flow of parts from America is disrupted. Analysts believe this strategic reserve of electronic parts could sustain Huawei for another year without new purchases from the U.S.
Meanwhile, memory chips used in Huawei smartphones that are produced by American firms like Micron could be substituted out for South Korean products.
Huawei has also poured significant investment into the development of its own advanced microprocessors through its chip design subsidiary HiSilicon. It runs research and development bases around the world in an effort to wean itself off of high-end U.S. components.
That could allow Huawei to avoid the fate of its domestic rival, Chinese telecom company ZTE. The U.S. ordered a complete halt of U.S. components to ZTE in April 2018, forcing the company to temporarily cease operations before the Trump administration significantly eased the restrictions in July.
SAT test preparation books sit on a shelf at a bookstore in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images
The College Board has been testing a tool that will give the millions of students who take the SATs every year a score measuring their economic hardships and other disadvantages, the nonprofit said Thursday.
The Environmental Context Dashboard includes information about students’ high schools, including the rate of teens who receive free or reduced lunch, and their home life and neighborhoods, such as average family income, educational attainment, housing stability and crime.
The dashboard “shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, which administers the SAT. “It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked.”
The scores won’t be revealed to SAT test-takers, but schools will see the numbers when reviewing college applications.
Fifty colleges and universities, including Yale, Florida State University and Trinity University, took part in a pilot program last year to test what some observers are calling an “adversity score.”
College Board officials say they plan to expand the program to more schools this year and that the tool will be made available for free.
Early results from the pilot show that when an applicant’s socioeconomic profile is considered alongside SAT scores, more lower-income students see acceptance letters from colleges and universities in their mailboxes.
“No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context,” Coleman said in a statement.
The College Board says that after the pilot, admissions officials reported that the tool was most useful when evaluating “borderline” students whose acceptance was a close call.
One school official told the College Board: “It allowed us to rely less on stereotypes, assumptions, or incomplete data and more on hard facts and statistics.”
News about the pilot comes as college admissions officials fret that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up a case that would significantly alter how schools use affirmative action to make campuses more racially diverse.
The new dashboard does not look at race, instead focusing on a student’s “resourcefulness.” Still, some school officials say the tool will result in more racial diversity on college campuses.
Florida State University officials told The Wall Street Journal that the socioeconomic data helped boost nonwhite enrollment to 42% from 37%.
Tiffany Jones, director of higher-education policy at The Education Trust, said she welcomes schools relying less on standardized test scores. Yet she doubts that the new dashboard data will really make college campuses more racially diverse.
“I don’t think this action from College Board of SAT alone will drastically change the opportunities for low-income students and students of color,” Jones told NPR. “You cannot use proxies for race. That’s probably the weakest part of the strategy.”
How race and class figure influence college admissions has been in the spotlight. The college admissions fraud scandal laid bare the extraordinary lengths to which many wealthy parents went in trying to get their children accepted to some of the country’s most selective universities.
And a high-profile lawsuit in which Asian American applicants accuse Harvard University of discrimination by forcing them to clear a higher admissions bar is still paying out in the courts. The case still awaits a judge’s decision.
This isn’t the first time an SAT pilot has tried to factor in socioeconomic data.
Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, helped oversee the SAT in the late-1990s during a similar pilot. Known as the Strivers program, it assigned students a score that included race-based and economic factors.
The backlash from schools, parents and commentators was swift, and the program was quickly killed.
“We got hosed,” Carnevale said. “There was literally a national outcry.”
He said since the College Board’s new gauge does not weigh racial factors, it may prove to be more popular.
NPR education correspondent Cory Turner contributed to this report.
Firefighters have rescued two window washers trapped on the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City Fire Department/Screenshot by NPR
Oklahoma City Fire Department/Screenshot by NPR
Early-morning commuters in Oklahoma City on Wednesday may have caught a harrowing sight: a window-washing basket swinging wildly at the top of the tallest building in the state.
A video posted by the Oklahoma City Fire Department shows the basket, connected to a crane but suspended some 50 floors up from street level, extending and spinning over the street, then flying back toward the building.
“There were two workers in the cradle, and it was swinging violently,” Benny Fulkerson, a spokesperson for the fire department, told reporters. “And it had broken some windows, and it was a very tense and scary situation, obviously, for those two employees who were in that cradle.”
UPDATE | Technical Rescue – Devon Tower | Here is video of the out of control basket as firefighters attempt to control the device. DM pic.twitter.com/IzT65CaHnA
— Oklahoma City Fire (@OKCFD) May 15, 2019
Firefighters arrived on scene and rapidly traveled to the roof of the skyscraper, which is known as the Devon Tower and houses the Devon Energy company.
Deputy Chief Mike Walker was in charge of operations on top of the building. He said the crane that the cradle was attached to had “ceased working,” likely due to high winds.
“Our first priority was to stop the cradle from swaying in the wind as much as it was,” said Walker. In an operation that took about 45 minutes, rescue crews were able to get the crane working and lower the arm, then secure the cradle with ropes and eventually pull it in.
“One of the workers in there was trying to communicate with us, and he was excited. The other one was very calm and just holding on,” Walker added. “They had enough conscious thought about them that they were compliant to instruction. They actually assisted greatly with their own rescue.”
Fulkerson said the two men did not appear to be injured. They were evaluated at the scene by medical personnel and refused further treatment or transport.
Law enforcement closed several streets around the area to protect people from falling debris and they remained closed on Thursday.
“We’re working as quickly and as safely as we can to secure the exterior of the tower, but we believe it is not yet safe to open the nearby streets and park,” Devon Energy said Thursday.
“Work is underway to identify and secure glass and metal that could fall from the tower,” the company said. “The most-concerning piece of debris has been tethered to the interior of the building with clamps and cables. Next steps are to devise and execute a plan to safely remove it.”
Devon Energy is also planning inspections and repairs of the “crane, cables, and platform that caused the damage.”
Keanu Reeves is back in the over the top John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
The John Wick movies are what you might call coffee-table action films, the kind where a lot of dudes (and ladies, and gender-nonconforming individuals) get thrown through expensive-looking coffee tables.
John Wick was a genuine surprise four-and-a-half years ago, a revenge flick with just enough intrigue around the margins of stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s proprietary “gun fu” melees to make you lean in. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad understood that exposition is a killer as lethal as any character he’d dreamt up.
Keanu Reeves’s retired-assassin antihero was in mourning for his recently deceased wife, because of course he was. But the movie worked better if you thought of him as a creature of pure abstraction, the progeny of a thousand genre films (and a few dozen art-house ones) that had merged, perhaps in some lusciously shot explosion of a video store, and become sentient. As with James Bond, Mr. Wick’s first and last names were spoken aloud too many times by too many different characters for him be believed as a real person within this fiction, though it was sort of sweet how Ian McShane’s character insisted on calling him “Jonathan.”
Its 2017 follow-up gave us more explanation of how this shadow economy of killers operates — too much. And the new John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum ladles on still more, threatening to collapse the whole shebang-bang-bang under the weight of its diminishing-returns world-building.
It all looks amazing, of course. (As on Chapter 2, Stahelski is flying solo here, his partner Leitch having moved on to lesser pastures.) Telephone operators dressed in Prohibition-era clothing — but sleeveless, and with a lot more tattoos — issue kill orders via century-old switchboards, mechanical typewriters, and 1980s green-text CRT computers. Every neon sign in Manhattan admires its reflection in every puddle. And Wick seeks solace in the Tarkovsky Theatre, a ballet/murder conservatory run by Anjelica Huston, who bellows “Art is pain!” while in the foreground of the frame we see a dancer rip off her own toenail.
There’s another new character called The Adjudicator (played by Asia Kate Dillon), who is sort of like the H.R. Department of the Society for Professional Assassins, which is here called the The High Table, because you would not pay $15 to see a movie about the nefarious machinations of Senior Executive Steering Committee.
The Adjudicator cannot abide that some members—specifically McShane and Laurence Fishburne — aided and abetted Wick in the last movie, after he’d been declared, in one of the series other hilariously repeated words, “excommunicado.” He’d broken the Prime Directive of the assassin biz by killing an enemy on the premises of The Continental, the assassin safe-space that has branches in all the world’s most gloriously cinematic cities.
About those exotic locales: Chapter 2 sent Wick to Rome; Chapter 3 sets its entire second act — a spectacular diversion involving new ally Halle Berry and her two exceptionally athletic Malinois (they have their own bulletproof vests!)— in Casablanca. One can’t help but notice that 007 went to both those cities in his most recent adventure, SPECTRE. Which came out in 2015, the same year Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation staged two of its best set pieces in Casablanca and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. shot in Rome. Maybe they’re offering tax breaks.
Though Parabellum picks up just minutes after Chapter 2 ended, with every covert killer in the Big Apple on to Wick’s scent, his motivation has become hopelessly muddled. He’s already avenged his adorable beagle Daisy and retrieved his stolen ’69 Mustang. I suppose it’s just instinct that compels him to try to survive, but he spends a big chunk of this movie — which runs a half-hour longer than the 2014 original — trying to fight his way back into the killers’ guild he was once permitted to leave. (Do we think John Wick ever told his wife that he’d murdered many hundreds of people before they married? Including, famously, three men in a bar with a pencil? Discuss amongst yourselves.)
It’s easy enough, as the film plays, to put these non-trivial dramaturgical questions out of your mind and just revel in Parabellum‘s delirious, gloriously executed bellum. Who brings a knife to a gunfight? John Wick, that’s who. He also brings — to a cite a line from The Matrix, the landmark where Stahelski served as Reeves’ stunt double, that gets reprised here — “Guns. Lots of guns.”
The set pieces are more imaginative and daring than ever. There’s a musicality and wit to the action that only the Mission: Impossible series can equal. Its first fight has Reeves fending off an attack by 7’3″ Philadelphia 76er Boban Marjanovic in the stacks of the New York Public Library. Not long after that, he’s on horseback, fleeing/fighting a squad of motorcyclist assassins in what looks like one long, unbroken shot. There’s a slapsticky showdown where Reeves and two more would-be killers hurl a collection of exotic knives at one another. There’s a geometric inevitablity to these movies that demands they build to a climactic fight in a neon-streaked hall of mirrors, but at least this one features Indonesian martial artists Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. They previously appeared together in The Raid 2, one of the few action pictures I’ve ever seen that’s bloodier than this one.
These characters know Wick by reputation, and they say they’re honored to be fighting him, though they note he’s slowed down a little since he retired. And I haven’t even mentioned Mark Dacascos as Zero, a verbose (for this series) sushi chef/killer who takes over from Common in the last film as Wick’s primary nemesis. He’s a marvelous addition.
Nor have I mentioned the ubiquitous point-blank face-shooting, which gets harder to harder to write off as harmless escapism when real-life gun violence grows ever more prevalent. I won’t try to pretend I didn’t have a swell time watching John Wick: Chapter 3 — Caveat Emptor. Consider this your, watchacallit. Trigger warning.
In Photograph, a street photographer (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) tries to get Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) to pose as his fiancee.
Joe D’Souza/Amazon Studios
Joe D’Souza/Amazon Studios
In Ritesh Batra’s new film, Photograph, a villager scrabbling to make a living on the streets of Mumbai falls for a well-heeled young stranger whom he’s persuaded to pose as his fiancée in order to please his grandmother. That hook is a durable staple of Hollywood and Bollywood movies alike, and both industries leave a strong footprint on Batra’s mildly arthouse love stories. If you’ve seen the director’s genial, if skin-deep 2014 hit The Lunchbox, you’ll know him as a storyteller who’s preoccupied with romance across social and geographical divides.
The Lunchbox, in which a stray food delivery sets up an epistolary romance between a lonely housewife and a testy widowed accountant, was a big hit in Batra’s native India and in the Unites States, where he now lives. And there’s more than a whiff of winning formula straining to repeat itself in Photograph, whichthrows two strangers together across India’s rigid class divide and watches what happens as they haltingly try to reset the rules of non-engagement imposed by family and tradition.
Clocking in at just under two hours, Photograph takes its sweet time ripening a connection that may or may not mature into enduring love. The action — if that’s what you call two people wandering around Mumbai — unfolds with the slow, intimate rhythms of classic Indian cinema, lightly juiced with the goofy high spirits and populist common touch of Bollywood.
At first glance the movie’s heroine, Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), looks like any modern young Indian woman confidently navigating the streets of Mumbai, a teeming jungle where old and new rub boisterously against each other. Though her bourgeois family wants to wrap her in a pink sari and marry her off to the first suitable bidder, Miloni comes casually dressed in t-shirt and jeans, her curly hair cut short. She’s also a celebrity on the city’s billboards, where her head, topped with a ridiculous crown, looms over the crowds on ads for the business accounting school where she’s a star student.
In fact, Miloni’s a quiet introvert whose soulful dark eyes betray yearnings unsatisfied by her comfortable middle-class existence. When a lowly street photographer named Rafi (played by Bollywood star Nawazuddin Siddiqui) tentatively offers Miloni a photo he’s just taken of her at the Gateway to India, a tourist spot where all sorts mingle, she’s at once wary and intrigued.
She’s Hindu and well off; he’s Muslim and dirt-poor. The two come from opposite sides of India’s strict class divide, but they have in common shy, reflective natures, and by accident and design they keep bumping into each other as they crisscross the city. Each has something the other wants. Miloni, we learn, feels more of a kinship with the maidservant (Geetanjali Kulkarni) who sleeps on her floor than she does with her own well-meaning parents. Rafi — who’s desperately trying to pay off family debts so that he can prevent the sale of the village home of his grandmother Dadi (Farrukh Jaffar) — also needs, or thinks he does, a woman to stand in as his betrothed when Dadi visits.
An attentive and loving world-builder, Batra carries us between their disparate milieux, with most of the movie’s amiable humor emanating from within the ramshackle space in a cavernous structure that Rafi shares with other migrant workers from his village, and where his grandmother bunks down without complaint. Love blooms in the cracks between Rafi and Miloni’s worlds. So, too, does nostalgia: In one lovely scene shot in a woozy haze of light, the reticent photographer, who still addresses his beloved as “Madam,” goes in search of a favorite Cola drink that’s no longer sold, and finds a lone old man brewing one bottle at a time.
Bonding cheerfully with the putative bride, Dadi will turn out to be a lot wiser and less hidebound than her loving grandson gives her credit for. Tradition must be shed, yet what follows is more an accommodation than a rebellion. Photograph suspends itself, as only a movie can, between cheerful endorsement of mix-and-match modernity and inchoate longing for a gussied-up past that at least one of the lovebirds never actually experienced. That is cake both had and eaten, and in India’s current stridently divisive world, and ours, the sweetly conciliatory and hopeful fantasy is welcome.
Anthony (Tom Burke) and Julie (Honor Swinton Burne) navigate a toxic romance in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir.
Nearly every piece of The Souvenir is a scrap of writer-director Joanna Hogg’s own life, and yet this intriguing film feels distant. Hogg’s confessional memoir draws you in, while her clinical style pushes you away.
A few details have been changed. The protagonist, a 24-year-old London film student, is called Julie, not Joanna. But she’s played by Honor Swinton Byrne, the filmmaker’s goddaughter. And the actress’ on-screen mother is her actual one, Tilda Swinton, who was Hogg’s boarding-school classmate more than 40 years ago. They’re almost as close to the events as the director herself.
Hogg does little to place the story in time, although Britons of a certain age (and well-informed Anglophiles) will pick up some hints. The post-punk songs heard at parties in Julie’s Knightsbridge flat — actually, her wealthy parents’ in-town place — are from mostly the early 1980s.
Later, the action is tied to a specific date, when Julie hears an explosion at the grand Victorian building across the street from her home. It’s the Dec. 17, 1983 IRA bombing of Harrod’s department store, although no one in the film ever specifies that. The Souvenir is as keen on mystery as intimacy.
Julie is pitching a movie set in Sunderland, an economically depressed shipbuilding city that is, in every way, far from her own life. In the process, she meets Anthony (Tom Burke), a junior Foreign Office bureaucrat who’s about a decade older.
Anthony is smart, cultured, and a bit arrogant. He takes Julie to the Wallace Collection, a venerable London house museum, to see the Fragonard painting that lends the movie its title. It’s a portrait of a young woman (named Julie, by some accounts) who’s enchanted by the letter she’s just received from her beau.
Soon, Anthony has moved in with Julie.
The man has expensive tastes, but is always short of money. Julie — or, rather, her parents — is a steady source of cash. One evening, several of Anthony’s friends come to dinner. Among them is an opinionated filmmaker (played by actual filmmaker Richard Ayoade) who tells Julie just what Anthony’s problem is.
A less naive girlfriend would have already figured it out for herself. And a more assured one would banish Anthony long before he finally departs the storyline.
Julie has little excuse for her cluelessness, but viewers do. Hogg doesn’t explain much, aside from the occasional winking song cue. (Sunderland elicits Robert Wyatt’s “Shipbuilding,” and Julie and Anthony’s romance commences to Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”). The director seems to prefer that viewers share Julie’s bewilderment.
Shot almost entirely on sets, The Souvenir achieves a distinctive mix of naturalism and stylization. Hogg mostly uses a fixed-position camera, and rarely employs close-ups. The lighting is as dim and inconsistent as in real life, and the dialogue terse and prosaic, but with flashes of bombast. There’s no incidental music to heighten emotion, and little emotion to heighten.
The movie’s title doesn’t arrive till the end (in the Souvenir typeface, another inside joke). It’s followed by a teaser for The Souvenir: Part II, which is not a gag. Hogg is indeed working on the next chapter in Julie’s life.
Perhaps the director’s alter ego will become a more vibrant character than the tentative young woman of this film, who often hides behind a still or film camera. The most indelible moment in The Souvenir belongs not to Julie but to her mum, charged with conveying some bad news. What she says, and the crisply discreet way she says it, is devastating.