Get On Up Is Boseman’s Show

There’s no question that Chadwick Boseman‘s performance as the late soul-funk legend James Brown is the best thing about Tate Taylor‘s Get On Up. The film has other pleasures but Boseman matters most. He was naturally obliged to play it solemn and reserved as Jackie Robinson in 42, but not here. Definitely not here. This is a snappy, raspy, rapscallion submission that never softpedals or seems to be the least bit concerned about whether whitebread types will “like” the character or not. Honestly? Boseman’s Brown is not 100% likable…and that, for me, is where the integrity comes in. Boseman has absolutely earned himself an armchair at the 2014 Best Actor table. By giving himself, monk-like, to Brown’s spirit, history and rambunctious energy, he’s gotten up offa that thing and lit some kind of fuse.


Is St. Vincent Toronto-Bound?

On top of HE’s 26 “hard” picks for the Toronto Film Festival (or 30 if you want to be liberal about it) I’ll probably be adding one more — Ted Melfi and Bill Murray‘s St. Vincent (formerly St. Vincent de Van Nuys), which the Weinstein Co,. is opening on 10.24. The idea is to give the New York-based attitude comedy, which costars Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Naomi Watts, a gala screening during the festival’s first weekend. Earlier today Deadline‘s Michael Fleming wrote that the Weinsteiners were having trouble getting Murray to commit to the Toronto thing, presumably because Harvey sees real potential in a Best Actor campaign for Murray, who was totally shat upon 15 and 1/2 years ago when the Academy didn’t even nominate him for his legendary performance in Wes Anderson‘s Rushmore. And then he lost his expected Lost in Translation Best Actor Oscar to Sean Penn in Mystic River.

The More I Get Into This…

Interstellar‘s trippy space-travel, visiting-Iceland footage is well and good, but, as previously noted, the cloying emotionalism in the scenes between Matthew McConaughey (whom I’ve suddenly tired of) and his teary-eyed kids as they discuss his pending voyage is really starting to grate. And I really don’t think it’s possible to roll with Michael Caine as someone else any more — he’s been imitated to death and every time he opens his mouth you can’t help but think about Rob Brydon. The key image in this brand-new trailer, which was shown for the first time three or four days ago at ComicCon, is what I’m presuming is some kind of visualization of a wormhole. It looks to me like an overhead shot of a looping Santa Monica Freeway off-ramp covered in glowing butterscotch sauce and transposed to space.

Chumps Will Bring Their Kids…Again

This time Ben Stiller gets to play a double role (amiable Larry Daley plus an animal-skin-wearing cro-magnon guy) and there’s a trip to London. All that’s going on here is that everyone has been well compensated…that’s it, that’s the whole deal. The original Night at the Museum (’06) pulled down $250 million domestic and $320 million foreign for a grand tally of $571 million and change. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (’09) earned $177.1 million domestic and $236 million foreign for a total of $411,755,284. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (12.19.14) will probably make…what, $300 million worldwide? The best thing in this whole trailer is teensy-sized Owen Wilson and some other guy getting splashed with monkey urine. “C’mon…that wasn’t necessary!”

Stiller really, really needs to do another dryly humorous, low-key, low-grossing film like Greenberg again. Please.

Won’t Back Down

In a 6.28 piece about the arrival of Zak, an 11 week-old ragdoll kitten, I wrote that occasionally foul-tempered Mouse (a.k.a., “Fatty”) and even good-natured Aura were hissing and very pissed off about this. Well, a month has passed and two things have happened. Aura has calmed down and is more or less okay with Zak, but Mouse has turned foul. He’s impossible. He won’t stop with the growling and the hissing and has more or less turned into a complete asshole. When he’s inside, I mean. He’s warm and friendly when I see him outside but his personality flips over when we’re in the pad because of Zak’s proximity. Mouse won’t sleep or hang out here — he only comes in for food and then growls and hisses and won’t stop kvetching until I let him out. He really hates me for bringing Zak into his realm, and he absolutely refuses to chill about it. But that’s what life asks of us now and then. Bend with the wind, go with the flow. I feel badly that Mouse has become an outside cat — pretty close to feral. No comforts of home, no TV-watching, no lolling around, no purring. I’m thinking of buying him a cat igloo so he can at least sleep in it from time to time. It’s rough. I figured he’d eventually adapt but he just won’t.

Parents Cut Me Off

Mutt-and-Jeff comedies are always a little funnier, I think, when the characters are older than usual unless, of course, they’re playing serious dumbasses, in which case it’s not as funny as it could or should be. But what works, I think, is when one of the characters is in the grip of genuine self-loathing, and yet the kind of self-loathing that’s been pushed so far down that he’s not even aware that it’s there. Jason Bateman and Billy Crudup appear to be in their mid 40s or thereabouts. In ten years we’re going to see comedies about guys in their 50s still trying to grow up and act like adults.

“See Ya In The Next Life”

An excerpt from Glenn Kenny‘s Phaidon/Cahiers Du Cinema’s “Anatomy of an Actor” book about Robert De Niro. Except that…well, the portion I’m interested in is lifted from the N.Y. Times. No biggie. Just saying.

“It was understood [during the shooting of Midnight Run] that Charles Grodin might have some opportunity to improvise. The ‘night boxcar scene,’ as Grodin calls it, was, he said, improvised entirely. The situation begins with Grodin shutting a boxcar door on De Niro’s face in an effort to escape him. De Niro, in the role of Jack Walsh, promptly boards the car from the other side — enraged.

“But, Grodin said of the scene, ‘We knew it had to end with De Niro revealing something personal about himself’ — the history of a wristwatch that has sentimental value. ‘How do you get to that point in a couple of minutes where he’s going to reveal himself? What do you say?’ (more…)

Cahiers du Marginalize

Leaving aside the uninspired-bordering-on-cheeseball cover design of those Cahiers du Cinema “Anatomy Of” profile books (tinted and bendayed closeup of actor/actress’s face with ransom-note lettering on upper-left portion), where does the art director find the arrogance to paste the author’s name in a point-size so small you can’t even read it if the image is reduced? The author worked his or her ass off for two or three or four months to deliver a definitive study of this or that actor, and Cahiers du Cinema’s cover design seems to almost say to the reader, “The writer…okay, we have to put the writer’s name on the cover, fine, but he/she is a minor cog in our mechanism.” What is that, nine- or eight-point bold? Why not make it seven- or six-point? If you’re going to try and diminish the value of the writer, why not go all the way? Why put his/her name on the cover at all? Why not just mention it inside somewhere?

Click here to jump past the Oscar Balloon

Best Picture Contenders (i.e, Presumed High-Pedigree, The Right Stuff): Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman, Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar, J.C. Chandor's A Very Violent Year, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice, Ava Duvernay's Selma, Ridley Scott‘s Exodus: Gods and Kings, David Fincher‘s Gone Girl, Angelina Jolie's Unbroken; Jean Marc Vallee's Wild (i.e., the Reese Witherspoon hiking drama), James Marsh's Theory of Everything, Noah Baumbach's While We're Young, Jeff NicholsMidnight Special, Saul Dibbs' Suite Francaise, Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children.

High-Pedigree YA Adaptation?: Phillip Noyce's The Giver.

Opening in 2014 or 2015?: Sarah Gavron's Suffragette (Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep).

Already Positively Reviewed: Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel (Berlin Film Festival review here), Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher (seen & praised at Cannes); Steve James' Life Itself; Steven Knight's Locke; Lynn Shelton's Laggies, Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood; Mike Leigh‘s Mr. Turner (seen & praised at Cannes); Craig Johnson‘s The Skeleton Twins, Damien Chazelle's Whiplash; Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman (seen & admired in some quarters); David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars.

Some Appraised, Some Not: Maya Forbes' Infinitely Polar Bear, Rupert Goold's True Story (Jonah Hill, James Franco), Noah Baumbach's Untitled Public School Project; Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler, David Gordon Green's Manglehorn, Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, Charlie McDowell‘s The One I Love, Tate Taylor's Get On Up (Chadwick Bozeman as James Brown); Thomas McCarthy's The Cobbler, Theodore Melfi's St. Vincent de Van Nuys, Justin Kurzel's Macbeth, Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man, David Dobkin's The Judge, Untitled Cameron Crowe, Todd HaynesCarol.

Vague Cloud: Stephen Daldry's Trash; Tim Burton‘s Big Eyes; Jon Stewart's Rosewater; David Ayers' Fury; Thomas Vinterberg's Far from the Madding Crowd; Fatih Akin's The Cut; Liv Ullman's Miss Julie; Daniel Espinosa's Child 44; Anton Corbijn's Life; Dylan Kidd's Get A Job; James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour; Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert; Stephen Frears' Untitled Lance Armstrong Project; Alex Garland's Ex Machina, Christian Petzold's Phoenix (likely Telluride); Michael Roskam's The Drop; Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes; Rupert Goold's True Story; John MacLean's Slow West; Michael Cuesta's Kill The Messenger; Justin Kurzel's Macbeth.

Third Tier (i.e., Respectable Megaplex Movies): Matt ReevesDawn of the Planet of the Apes, Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah (seen, praised, successful), Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (huge success), Evan Golderberg and Seth Rogen's The Interview; Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer, Shawn Levy‘s This Is Where I Leave You, Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s 22 Jump Street, Spike Lee's Sweet Blood of Jesus.


Fool Won’t Take The Dough

Michael Egan’s sexual-abuse case against director Bryan Singer has all but collapsed over dumb pride. Egan’s attorney Jeff Herman has apparently washed his hands of the guy because he wouldn’t agree to a $100 grand “take-it-and-shut-up” deal offered and signed late last month by Singer and his attorney Martin Singer. A couple of hours ago Buzzfeed reported that as a result of Egan refusing the deal, the specifics of which are viewable via an apparently legit “Memorandum of Settlement” obtained by Buzzfeed and verified by Herman, Herman’s firm is “in the process of withdrawing from representing Mr. Egan in all his cases and [has] no further comment concerning his matters at this time,” according to a statement given to Buzzfeed.

Way to go, Egan! Your claims again Singer may be truthful but they’ve been portrayed as questionable at the very least, and you’ve already dropped three sexual abuse or exploitation lawsuits against three other guys — producer Gary Goddard and TV execs David Neuman and Garth Ancier — so you’re not exactly looking like a pillar of reliability or stability. The only thing you could have gotten out of this whole mess was a cash payoff and now you’ve apparently blown even that…brilliant.

Willem Dafoe as Gaza Firefighter

I don’t mean to sound aloof or unaffected by the carnage that’s currently engulfing Gaza, but I was startled this morning by Wissam Nassar‘s photo of a firefighter reacting to a huge inferno. It’s included in a 7.29 Times story about Israel’s latest barrage (“Israel Broadens Targets in Gaza Barrage; Power Is Out” by Ben Hubbard and Jodi Rudoren). The photo looks like something out of a Ridley Scott or Oliver Stone film. Composed rather than caught on the fly.

HE’s TIFF Tally Is Now Pushing 30

I’ve already got 21 Toronto Film Festival films on my priority list so there’s not a lot of room to jam in selections from this morning’s announcement of fresh titles. I’my definitely adding four or five but I can’t fool around. I can’t be whimsical or open to exotic experiments. Well, I usually wind up succumbing to precisely those experiments due to occasional scheduling gaps and pocket-drops but for the most part I have to be hard and mean.

I’m definitely adding Michael Winterbottom’s The Face of an Angel because it’s Winterbottom doing a real-life, Italy-based murder tale “inspired by” the Amanda Knox case (i.e., Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Bruhl as journalists looking into the case, Cara Delevingne as the femme fatale). MW’s last real-events recapturing, A Mighty Heart, was quite good. Pic is more or less based on “Angel Face,” a 2010 investigative study.

I’m expecting to catch my second viewing of Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan in Telluride (following my first immersion in Cannes two and a half months ago) so there’s no need for a third go-round in Toronto, but it’s an absolute must-see for anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure.

Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a definite add-on. I’ve been hearing all along that Hartley’s doc is tougher and snarkier than Hilla Medalia’s The Go-Go Boys, which I saw and reviewed in Cannes last May. (Medalia’s doc was produced, I’m told, to counterbalance the expected impact of the Hartley.) I’m also invested as I worked as a Cannon publicity press-kit writer in in ’86, ’87 and early ’88.


We Are The Cheese

Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey has told L.A. Times reporter Steven Zeitchik that the reason he changed Toronto’s policy vis a vis the Telluride Film Festival was because of the intense “hothouse” press coverage of first-anywhere Telluride screenings. In other words, he changed TIFF’s policy because of Telluride snap judgments and predictions by the likes of Zeitchik, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, myself, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg and Todd McCarthy, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley and Greg Ellwood, N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and Eric Kohn, Variety‘s Scott Foundas and Justin Chang and maybe…what, five or ten others if that? MCN’s David Poland used to cover Telluride but when was the last time he showed? Last year Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan covered only Toronto (or so I recall). Who else? Will Toronto Star critic Pete Howell come to Telluride this year? Has Grantland‘s Mark Harris (“It’s September, for God’s sake!”) ever attended?

Argo director/star Ben Affleck, Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy at 2012 Telluride Film Festival picnic.

Marion Cotillard, Hollywood Reporter award-season columnist Scott Feinberg at Sony Pictures Classics lunch during 2012 Telluride Film Festival.

In other words, the elite award-season blogging mafia takes the temperature of Telluride and lights the initial fuse…blows the trumpet, sets the bar, guides the conversation, launches certain films and puts others on hold, says what goes, starts things off, rides the horse through town and says “the British are coming!”, etc.


ScarJo Is No Action Star

Obviously Luc Besson‘s Lucy sold a shitload of tickets last weekend, taking down nearly $44 million, which is certainly a kind of feather in the cap of Scarlet Johansson. Her Lucy character, a drug-enhanced superwoman, is the third super-formidable she’s played over the past four years — a woman who beats the shit out of or kills male opponents (or victims) like it’s nothing. The other two characters, of course, are Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, whom she’s played in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Laura-the-zoned-out-alien in Under The Skin. If you add Johansson’s mesmerizing voice-performance in Her as Samantha, a kind of ghost in the software with an enormous, constantly evolving intellect, it’s clear she and her agent have forged a new hotshit ScarJo identity — a woman of unearthly powers and confidence whom you don’t want to mess with and perhaps not even talk to unless…you know, you have super-powers that match hers.

But ScarJo is not — repeat, not — an action star. Someone applied that term within the last two or three days and it’s just not selling. She’s been playing some kick-ass, super-powerful women, yes, but without the slightest real-world authority. Whupass Scarlett is an act, a marketing idea — a feminist conceit or some kind of tip-of-the-hat gesture to women who crave power and control over their lives, and that’s fine. But I’m not actually buying it for a second because for one thing she’s just too small to be an action star. I talked to her once at a party (I mentioned I was looking to try a little opium for old time’s sake, and she said it didn’t sound like the impossible dream), and she’s only about 5′ 3″ or thereabouts. No way. She just doesn’t look tough enough. (more…)

Nine Years Later

After watching this 3 minute and 23 second-long trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller‘s Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For (Dimension, 8.22), it’s hard not to ask yourself “what do I need to see the full-length version for? What could the trailer be holding back on?” Miller’s misogynist sexual fantasies (several grizzled, 50-and-older tough hombres enjoying the attentions of four 30-something, lingerie-clad madonna-whore femme fatales) served in glistening black-and-white in a realm entirely defined by broadly rendered noir cliches. Two exceptions among the guys: the 30-something Joseph Gordon Levitt and the 40-something Josh Brolin. Don’t forget that Miller is an arch-conservative. I loved the rich monochrome images in the ’05 original but this just seems like a rehash…sorry.

One-Time Opportunity?

I’ll be attending a special Fox lot screening tomorrow night of the director’s cut of James Cameron‘s Aliens (’86), which Cameron has said is the absolute go-to. For whatever reason Fox Home Video, which is hosting the screening, has chosen not to reveal their decision to show the 154-minute cut (which was first assembled in 1992 for VHS and laser disc and then was refined again for Bluray in 2010) rather than the 137-minute theatrical version. This is a fairly big deal as I’ve never seen the longer version in a first-rate theatre. I, presuming that the longer Aliens has been shown theatrically here and there, but to my knowledge not in my orbit. (I’m not counting any screenings that may have happened at the New Beverly as that place does not offer state-of-the-art projection, to put it mildly.)


Ultimate Fanboy Wank

14 or 15 years ago I came up with an idea for one big lollapalooza super-parody of all CG superhero/disaster/monster/zombie films. A movie that would hit you with everything — tidal waves and earthquakes and an asteroid slamming into earth, and thousand-year-old zombies being awoken by the rumbling as well as dinosaurs — dinosaurs battling zombies! — and vampires and wolf men and slithering CG serpents, and each and every world-famous landmark being destroyed (including the Egyptian pyramids) while zombies eat Frankenstein alive and Dracula has his head bitten off by a T-Rex. And then Rodan swoops down upon an airborne Air Force One and carries it (and the U.S. President) off to a hidden super cave in Southern Japan. Godzilla and King Kong join forces to stomp on the big-mother Alien. And then another big-ass meteor (bigger than the first one…a planet killer) slams into the southern Pacific Ocean, causing further onslaughts of super tidal waves and earthquakes, and soon everything and everyone is just flattened and covered with rubble and burned all to hell. It always takes the world a while to catch up but between Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and an apparently imaginary King Kong vs. Godzilla project, people are finally saying to each other, “Wow, yes…of course!”

He Who Sees With His Eyes Is Blind

Mosab Hassan Yousef‘s “Son of Hamas” was published five years ago, but the current Israel-vs.-Hamas hostilities led to an appearance on CNN on 7.24. A recent touchstone is The Green Prince, an admired documentary about Yousef’s Middle Eastern melodrama that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and which is echoed or reflected in the much-hailed Bethlehem and Omar. What Yousef is saying is nothing new but the CNN interview got my attention because he emphasized that Hamas’ true agenda is not just the destruction of Israel but the creation of an international militant Islamic state. Israel’s oppression of Palestinians created the agony — they authored it. At the same time I’ve been thinking about what a Godsend it would be (and I know this is a terrible way to look at things) if every radical Islamic nutter could be pushed into a huge cave in the desert and then covered up with sand. For me, the brutal ISIS murders in Iraq are what broke the camel’s back.



Phillip Seymour Hoffman: “No one else can do this but her.” Julianne Moore: “Do you think she’ll be able to handle it?” PSH: “We need [her] to unite these people out there…she’s the face industry volume…they’ll follow her.” Katniss, Katniss, Katniss, Katniss…will you lead us in revolution, Katniss? With your medieval bow and arrow that you use to hunt raccoons? Young lad: “Are you fighting, Katniss? Are you here fight with us?” Katniss: “Uhyahm. I will.” What a load of stinking horseshit. And they don’t even have the decency to finish it with this film — they have to drag it out into two parts. Because the Lionsgate stockholders, like Johnny Rocco in Key Largo, “want more.”

In Darkest Africa

What I really like about this Jungle Wakudoki Toyota ad, produced by the Dentsu Aegis ad agency, is the feeling you get that everyone (including the gorilla) was on mescaline when it was shot. I also love the decision to use an exact facsimile of the gorilla suit worn in 20th Century Fox’s Gorilla At Large (’54)

HE’s Long Decade

I launched Hollywood Elsewhere sometime around August 20, 2004. Maybe a day or two earlier but it was right around there. I’m not much for taking bows as a rule. The 15th anniversary of this column on Mr. Showbiz happened last October and I didn’t say boo. But I’m nonetheless trying to think of some way to celebrate HE’s tenth anniversary without sounding, you know, blowhardy. It’s been a bitch but I’m very proud of having hung in and toughed it out and…well, succeeded. (I was going to say “survived with some measure of comfort” but I’ve done better than that.) The multiple-posts-per-day format began around April 2006; before that I was posting a twice-weekly column plus a forum (“Wired”) for rat-a-tat-tat items. WordPress informs that I’ve written 27,000 posts since the beginning, but that doesn’t add up if you average something like five stories per day x 365 days x ten years, which comes to 18,000 and change. I’m posting this because while I printed out some of the earliest columns I’m trying to find records of its appearance online, and so far I’m coming up blank. I’ll probably make serious hay about this when the actual anniversary rolls around.

Tapley Venice Pushback

Three days ago In Contention‘s Kris Tapley threw a few derisive swipes in my direction on Twitter. My offense was having written that the 2014 Venice Film Festival selections seemed “interesting and well-chosen as far as they go, but where are the sexy, award-season attractions? Or at least a surprise or two that no one saw coming? You need a little pop-pop-fizz-fizz with your kale salad and steamed carrots or the troops will get bored.” Here are the three Tapley tweets that took issue with this plus a little clarification from yours truly:

Tapley Tweet #1: “Not everything is a glitzy fucking gala with a hot-ticket after-party for you to go and be a sycophant. There’s a whole world out there.” Wells reply: “Kris can unzip his tuxedo slacks and piss-spray all he wants, but apart from the choice of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman as the opener and perhaps Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, the 2014 Venice selections seem to exude a certain kind of engaging, presumably intelligent but probably-not-world-class quality — distinctive, nicely done, mildly intriguing, possibly second-tier-ish. Kris knows that and still he calls me — me! — a red-carpet sycophant type. He knows as well as I do what kind of aromas that the two Al Pacino films (David Gordon Green‘s Manglehorn and Barry Levinson‘s The Humbling) are putting out. Tapley has just as good of an idea or gut instinct as I do about Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way, Michael Almereyda‘s Cymbeline, Andrew Nicoll‘s Good Kill, Abel Ferrara‘s Pasolini, etc. Venice is the kickoff of ‘the game’ and Kris knows that. He knows that Venice has premiered many, many ‘game’ films before, and he knows that the qualities that tend to get films into the game in the first place often tend to translate more often than not into riveting, first-rate or at least highly noteworthy cinema.”


Most Dismissive Moonlight Pan Of All

From Andrew O’Hehir‘s Salon review of Woody Allen‘s Magic in the Moonlight: “Every so-called plot twist is telegraphed in advance, the chemistry between Emma Stone and Colin Firth is negligible (although they both look terrific in period evening wear), and the cast of fine actors around them is arranged as types rather than individuals: Hamish Linklater as the insipid rich boy in love with Sophie, Jacki Weaver as the credulous old biddy, Eileen Atkins (bringing a hint of life to the dismal proceedings) as Stanley’s onetime bohemian aunt. But those things, even the zero-wattage romance, aren’t as fatal as the first-draft quality of the script and the lethargy of the direction.”

That’s been a hallmark of Allen’s films for some time now, hasn’t it? A first-draft feeling to the script and a lack of innovative pizazz in the shooting and cutting? Didn’t Blue Jasmine, Midnight in Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and even Match Point feel this way also? I’ve been bitching about this all along and it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone, least of all Allen. The DNA that goes into his brand is not going to change. Who goes to a Woody Allen film these days expecting to savor the push-pull engagement that was palpable in his ’70s, ’80s and ’90s films? Older artists tend to be less reflexive, no? They’re not absorbing as much as much as they did when they were younger and “in the game,” as it were. Their arteries tend to harden. (more…)

32 Years Later, A Sequel to Best Dystopian Action Thriller Ever

George Miller‘s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (’85) had that Tina Turner song, but it wasn’t the sequel that fans of Miller’s Mad Max (’79) and The Road Warrior (’82) really wanted. It’s possible that Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros., 5.15.15) might be what the faithful have been looking for all along. Rockin’ dystopian kick-ass actioners weren’t much of a thing when Mad Max opened 35 years ago. The Road Warrior (called Mad Max 2 outside of the U.S,) was the first big hit in this realm. Just as George Romeo never successfully expanded his repertoire beyond his zombie films, Miller has never really broken free of his Australian wasteland savage-madness films.

Man of Bulk

Are you going to tell me that the Henry Cavill who starred in Man of Steel showed up today at ComicCon? Photos can add weight, I realize, so the below photo (taken during Cavill’s appearance in Hall H) may be “fibbing” to some extent, but it looks to me like Cavill has nearly become Ernest Borgnine in Bad Day at Black Rock (’55). Let me guess — the plot of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which began shooting two months ago, involves Superman getting depressed and turning to drink and trans-fat foods…something like that.

(l.) Henry Cavill in Man of Steel; (r.) during an appearance today (Saturday, 7.26) at ComicCon.

Landmark Latecomers

I went to the Landmark last night to see Anton Corbijn‘s A Most Wanted Man for the second time. It’s a subtle, finely tuned thing. It was satisfying to note that the clues and indications seemed easier to spot this time. In yesterday’s review I called it “one of those films you want to see twice to scan for whatever clues may have been revealed early on but which you, the all-but-clueless or perhaps not-smart-enough viewer, missed the first time.” I did notice that the sound at the Landmark seemed sharper and more precise than at the Wilshire Screening Room, where I first caught it. What sounded murky or muttering at the Wilshire was clear and discernible at the Landmark.

I was given a complimentary ticket and therefore didn’t have a chance to choose my own seat. I got there in the middle of the trailers and was shown to my seat, which was in the middle of a crowded row of 70something bluehairs. I didn’t want to sit there but the row in front was half empty. So I stood and waited for latecomers to arrive, figuring that at least a couple of seats would be available five or ten minutes after the film began. I waited five minutes (the show was scheduled to start at 7:10 pm) and sure enough, two or three people arrived. Four empty seats left. I waited another five and nobody else showed. At 7:20 pm I took a seat on the aisle and settled in.


Chris Pratt Is Like Anyone Else

MacleansBarry Hertz called to chat the other day about Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt, whose performance as a catcher-turned-insecure-first-baseman in Moneyball was a standout in that Bennett Miller film, and who occupied the vibe of a genuine Navy Seal in Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty. We all need to pay the bills and cover our kids’ education, but let’s hope that Pratt…oh, hell, he’s going for the dough and that’s that.

Hooray for Harris

From one ComicCon hater to another (or at least someone who parks his car in the general vicinity of my garage, at least as far as sharing a deep-seated loathing for fanboy CG-driven fantasy fare is concerned)…thank you! It’ll take many generations, but when the Eloi finally emerge as the dominant global species historians will look back and say, “It all began with the ComicCon mentality.” Here’s a reply to one of Harris’s claims.

Does Hunky Hemsworth Have The Look and Manner Of A Hacker?

It was announced today at ComicCon that Michael Mann‘s Blackhat (formerly Cyber), a thriller about cyber-terrorism with Chris Hemsworth, will open platform-style later this year in order to qualify for award-season honors. Mann and Hemsworth unveiled the first footage of Blackhat in Hall H. Deadline‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that Blackhatmay qualify for the Oscars this year in a strategy much like Lone Survivor this past awards season.” If they follow the LS playbook it’ll open just after Christmas. The wide opening will be 1.16.05. The trailer “looks big-scale and sensational…Mann at his best,” Fleming enthused.

Hemsworth offered this quote roughly a year ago: “I just finished [Blackhat]. It’s based in the world of cyber-terrorism….a sort of cat-and-mouse international heist-thriller. Basically, something similar to the Chicago Board of Trade is hacked into and it sets off a chain of events around the world, affecting the stock market. The code that was used to hack into it…my character had written it years before and he happens to be in prison for cyber crime. He is pulled out and offered a deal if he works with a joint task force of the FBI and the Chinese government in trying to track this guy down. It starts off in Chicago and ends up in Kuala Lumpur, in Hong Kong and in Jakarta.” (more…)

Proof Is In Pudding

A new Interstellar trailer was screened at ComicCon yesterday. Perhaps it reflects what director and co-writer Chris Nolan said was his basic goal in creating this futuristic sci-fi drama, which was “to recapture some of the sense of wonder about the cosmos that he felt as a boy,” according to Hero Complex‘s Josh Rottenberg. Nolan added that “the biggest influence on the film was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.” Maybe so, but the earlier trailer (i.e., the one that popped two months ago when everyone was in Cannes) doesn’t begin to even approach the slightest trace of cosmic Kubrickian splendor. Did I get any kind of space-vibe? Yeah — it reminded me of footage from Ron Howard‘s Apollo 13.

I took another look at trailer #1 this morning and I wasn’t going for it. On top of which I’ve read plot descriptions calling McConaughey’s character a “widowed dad.” I’m sorry but something in me says “watch it” when I hear that term. I don’t trust any writer or filmmaker who decides that “widowed” is more likable or sympathetic than “divorced”. On top of which I’m sensing other indications of emotional calculation. Perhaps a whiff or two of sentimentality. On top of which I’m suddenly feeling, for no reason I can make sense of, a little McConaughey-ed out. (more…)