Readers of the Seattle weekly formerly known as The Weekly in the early ’80s or the noughts, or of Entertainment Weekly or The Oregonian in the ’90s, or, most recently, of City Arts will recall the cockeyed wit and eclectic erudition of Tim Appelo, who worked for all of them—and for Amazon, back when it had staff rather than reader reviewers, and for Harriet Bullitt’s Pacific Northwest magazine. Appelo does tend to see greener grass in the next media pasture, but he may have found his bliss at the Hollywood Reporter, where he’s been reporting on the movie culture for the past couple months—“sipping Veuve Clicquot with Leonardo DiCaprio high in the Hollywood Hills by a pool wherein the word ‘inception’ flutters like a liquid flag of light.” Or so he says. But getting too close to the industry beast can be deflating. "I also got a blow to the auteur theory when I praised Coppola’s brilliantly conceived helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now. ‘Oh yeah?’ said a guy. ‘I was there when Francis couldn’t think of a beginning, so he reached into a trash can and fished around for strips of b-roll film of the helicopters.’”
Appelo writes a THR blog called The Race, handicapping the scramble for Oscars, Globes, and other awards. That might seem an invidious beat—aren’t all comparisons odious, and isn’t Movieland especially lousy with them? But it becomes a springboard for the sort of darting aperçues and unexpected connections that are Appelo’s specialty. Who else would tie Jean-Luc Godard and Mad Mel Gibson together in the same essay? Well, they are both contentious, irascible masters of their art—and star examples of the auteur theory.