No one of any depth or intelligence believes in the theology of New Year’s Eve. The second hand passing the midnight hour on a day that has no particular distinction in the eyes of God or any cosmic authority is no reason to clap, kiss, jump up and down or celebrate anything.Read More »
Million Dollar Baby is easily one of the finest films
of the year and the most likely winner of the ’04 Best Picture
Oscar. Why then have Warner Bros. execs been keeping it hidden from
most of the nation since it opened limited two weeks and two days
Some people I’ve spoken to say they’re playing it smart, but I don’t know.
So far Baby has been showing in New York, Los Angeles,
Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto only…and in precious few
theatres at that. I’ve been telling friends around the country
since I first saw it in late November that it’s the one to see, the
emotional grabber with the art-film pedigree, etc.
But they can’t see it because they live in one of the hundreds of cities where it’s not playing — Danbury, Boston, Houston, Birmingham, Louisville, et. al.
The 96-page printed program for the ’05 Sundance Film Festival arrived in the mail a day or two ago, and I’m already starting to go crazy from all the squinting. Who are the graphic designers of this thing (last year’s program was also an eye-strainer), and what is their compulsion about using pale yellow ink for the credit blocks below each film? You can’t read the names of the actors or the significant creatives unless you’re reading the ’05 program in just the right kind of light, and even then it’s a chore. This is graphic-design sadism at its worst.Read More »
Right now this town is dead, dead, deader-than-dead….Read More »
Hollywood Elsewhere has been hacked twice over the last ten days, and to make sure it never happens again we’re going to buy and install new software for the message board and chat room, a.k.a. Poet’s Corner. Until we do this we’re going to have to shut down this section of the site down for about a week since this is the doorway that hackers (and their most recent creation, called “sanity”) have used to crash their way in. Poet’s Corner will probably be back up and running by the end of next week, or by 1.7.05.Read More »
I’m going right out to rent Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors this evening as a way of paying tribute to the great Jerry Orbach, who died Tuesday night in Manhattan of cancer. Orbach’s performance as Jack Rosenthal, the criminal-class younger brother of Martin Landau’s wishy-washy Judah Rosenthal, is the kind of New Yorker Orbach seemed to actually be — a Bronx-born guy with a touch of the street, who always talked straight and blunt and cut to the chase. I love it when he says to Landau in that Crimes scene in the Jonah’s guest house, “I can’t afford to be….aloof.” Orbach’s Gus Levy in Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City was the same kind of guy, only scrappier and friendlier. Which reminds me: you still can’t get Lumet’s film on DVD.Read More »
If The Shoe Fits
The plot of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (20th
Century Fox, 5.6) is on the complex side, but if you let yourself
think plain like Tom Joad and avoid getting smeared with your own
intellectual whipped cream, it all boils down nicely.
Aside from the upscale distinction of being a Ridley Scott film in the big-canvas Gladiator mode, Heaven is a 12th Century armies-on-horseback movie about Eastern vs. Western forces. You know…one of those Muslim vs. Christian, olive-skinned natives vs. white-guy invader type deals, taking place during the Crusades and set in war-torn Jerusalem.
Orlando Bloom in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.
It’s also one of those pageant-type flicks about a really cute brave guy (Orlando Bloom, as a French blacksmith who eventually comes to be called Balian of Ibelin), and how...Read More »
A guy said this to me (if not in this precise sequence) the
other day. He knows this town and how it’s been evolving, etc. And
in a moment of despair…
“It was going to be Deliverance in the Gobi desert. The script was about character with everyone slowly going insane as the days went on, and when the new plane was built the pilot is reluctant to fly it because the desert crash was his fault and his confidence is shot.
“And he couldn’t be Mel Gibson. If it was Gibson you’d want to see him do it. You’d be waiting for that.
“Then the studio said they wanted the Bedouins to come back and attack the plane at the last minute, just as they were trying to lift off. But hold on. If the baddy Bedouins are close enough to regroup and gather their forces they must be within shouting distance of some kind of...Read More »
An interesting theory has surfaced as to why Slate‘s David Edelstein, Salon‘s Charles Taylor and New York Press critic Armond White all hate Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. Ready? They’re all Paulettes — i.e., disciples of the late, legendary film critic Pauline Kael — and Kael had a case against Eastwood in her day, and her acolytes have continued to occasionally channel her from the grave. Kael was four-square against Eastwood’s early films. She famously called Dirty Harry a “fascist” movie, and while Eastwood didn’t direct that film, the label stuck. There’s some juicy stuff in Richard Schickel’s Clint Eastwood biography about that hatred. Indeed, one of the entries in the index is actually titled “animus against Eastwood.” If Edelstein, Taylor or White would like to respond or kick this around in any way, get back to me and we’ll thrash it out in Wednesday’s column.Read More »
A new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (20th Century Fox, May 6) is up and running, and it seems…well, like a class act, certainly, but also damned familiar. It’s Gladiator again with a sword-and-arrow battle in a shadowed, blue-tinted forest and those same CG snowflakes in the air. It’s Alexander again with a massive army on horseback charging across a dusty desert plain. It’s Troy again with Orlando Bloom, playing Balian of Ibelin, a young blacksmith in Jerusalem, helping to defend his besieged city. Let’s hope the Fox marketers can push their way past this, because I want this film to make it. It’s about what we’re doing in Iraq now, of course. That’s a given.Read More »
This has nothing to do with my head space or the concerns of this column, but New York Daily News columnist Lloyd Drive (a.k.a., “The Lowdown”) deserves a round of applause for vowing in his 12.23 column to never again write about Paris Hilton. “If she discovers a cure for cancer, wins the Nobel Peace Prize, launches herself into outer space — or even gets her high- school diploma — I’ll be happy to revisit the issue,” Grove wrote. “But until then, this is the last time you’ll see Paris in Lowdown.”Read More »
All right, everybody calm down: the $68.5 million earned by Universal’s Meet the Fockers since last Wednesday is not an American tragedy. The first weekend is always about marketing, never the film. It’s about people being too lazy to read the reviews or, in this instance, to consider Dustin Hoffman’s referring to the film as “this thing.” (I ran this quote twice.) Always listen to words in passing…they always tell the tale. No one out there loves this film, everyone was disappointed, and it’s the big mega-movie of the moment. Ain’t that America?Read More »
I have to do something about Discland — DVD’s Are Crack. I’ve tried to keep up and can’t, and I need someone to take this column over. Not contribute — run it. Each and every week, covering the new DVD’s. Get in touch…Read More »
Is Oscar-show producer Gil Cates planning any kind of special tribute to the late Marlon Brando for the 2.27 telecast? You’d think this would be a no-brainer (the guy was easily the most influential and iconic actor of the last 55 plus years) and maybe Cates has decided to do the right thing. But Oscar-show editor extraordinaire Chuck Workman (the fast-montage guy who also directed A House on a Hill and the brilliant ’50s doc The Source) hadn’t been told a thing as of 12.26. Mike Shapiro, the guy who usually cuts the Oscar death-tribute reel, wasn’t reachable on Sunday morning (imagine that!) and Cates was in Mexico, but let’s hope Cates is planning a special Brando salute of some kind, as he did for Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn.Read More »
“‘We’re all of us sentenced to solitary confinement…inside our own lonely skins for as long as we live in this earth,’ muses Val, the drifter Brando [played] in Tennessee Williams’ The Fugitive Kind. As a statement of majestic desolation, it seems a fitting epitaph for a man who never quite escaped his own raw presence.” — Daphne Merkin on Brando in the 12.26 New York Times Magazine.Read More »
“What happens now? It’s just too early to tell. I’m at a crossroads. And I feel good. I feel like I’ve got something out of my system. I feel that I achieved a mountain for myself. A mountain. No matter what, I feel very proud of what I’ve written. I’ve achieved something I’ve wanted to achieve all my life. Whether it’s understood or not — maybe there’s a degree of mysticism in the movie that’s meant to be. And maybe it will be understood better over the years. I’m not sure. But I felt moved. I don’t feel the need to do that thing — that big thing. There’s other ways to go. Maybe more to the self, more personal. You know, retreating to where filmmakers in Europe — Truffaut and Fellini — went: inside. And they dramatized themselves. The question is, would the Americans tolerate that? No.” — Oliver Stone to the New York Times A.O. Scott.Read More »
Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset (Warner Independent) has been named the year’s finest film (or the #1 film) by the Village Voice 6th Annual Film Critics Poll. The two-character dialogue piece set in Paris had far and away the highest number of points (564), compared to the 4th place Sideways (381)and the eleventh-place Million Dollar Baby. Great for Linklater, great for his costars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy…great all around.Read More »
I don’t mean to sound like I’m sounding, but an awfully high percentage of the folks queried for the Village Voice Film Critics Poll, although they know their stuff cold and are undeniably brilliant and independent minded…not very many of them seem like average-Joe, salt-of-the-earth, Boston-Red-Sox-fan type guys. Know what I’m saying? A tiny bit snobby and elitist, wouldn’t know what to do or say in a working-class bar, pencils up their butt, etc. Dave Kehr and John Anderson are okay, and David Sterrit’s got a little Aaron Copeland, fanfare-for-the-common-man in him, but how come Matt Zoller Seitz isn’t in the group?Read More »
For the second time during the Xmas holiday, Hollywood Elsewhere
has been hacked. But it’ll all be back to normal within hours,
maybe only two or three.
For the record, this is being written at 3:06 pm Pacific, on Tuesday, 12.28.04.
The most recent Hollywood Elsewhere column (the one that went up on Friday, 12.24) will be restored and back up by 4 or 5 pm Pacific. The rest of the site, including the proper ads (the currently viewable ads are from our server’s last fully-backed up version of the site, dated December 3rd), will be up and rolling in their proper and timely configuration by the end of the day.
I apologize to all concerned for not being fast or vigilant enough to stay ahead of the hackers or, in this instance, the Fanty worm. For what it’s worth, this latest hacking has happened today on hundreds of other sites. I will be doing everything I can do (and spending everything I can) to keep this from happening...
All I want for Christmas is a quality-transfer DVD of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, with any extras they can throw in with it…commentaries, making-of doc, Robert Mitchum interview, anything. That’s all I want…and that’s not much to ask for.Read More »
Notice to marketing guys and trailer editors: if you cut together 50 or 60 snips from a film and shoot them out machine-gun style, like 90% of the trailers do these days, you can make a film seem interesting or sexy or whatever. Except this trick has used so often it’s not interesting any more. To me, rapid-fire machine-gun cuts in trailers are a coded message that says, “Watch out, this film may have something to hide.”Read More »
There are sad films and depressing films. Sad movies make you hurt in a good way…a basically gloomy feeling that nonetheless doesn’t feel oppressive, and comes with an emotional anchor that puts you in touch with some aspect of your past. Depressing movies make you feel like you don’t want to feel anything. They make you irritated, skittish, cynical. In short, the final act of Million Dollar Baby isn’t depressing but sad. Unless, of course, you’re one of those who doesn’t distinguish between the two.Read More »
Everyone’s telling me that Meet the Fockers (Universal, 12.22) is funny, agreeable, harmless, etc. (I missed the all-media screening and my Universal p.r. pals had no other options.) But now Dustin Hoffman’s “thing” quote is boomerang-ing back in the from of these two remarks by the L.A. Weekly‘s David Chute: (1) Fockers, he says, is “a big-budget Dharma & Greg episode with toilet jokes,” and (2) “the desperation is occasionally leavened by the charms of the star cast: Robert De Niro, for example, does incredulous disgust better than anyone on Earth, and entire sequences here are choreographed to inspire his slow burn. In the next installment he should play a movie critic.”Read More »
It’s time to weed out the weaker sisters among the Best Actress candidates, and they are…sorry to say this and I mean no offense…Vera Drake‘s Imelda Staunton and Being Julia‘s Annette Bening. Staunton gives a two-note performance in that Mike Leigh film — loving, easygoing Vera before she gets busted, and freaked-out, zombie-like Vera after the bust. Not good enough! Bening is pretty good as the grande dame of the 1938 British stage…okay, very good, but the film is undeniably weak, and Bening is resultantly fading and that’s a fact. The topliners are three: Million Dollar Baby‘s Hilary Swank, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s Kate Winslet, and Maria Full of Grace‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno. And totally forget Kill Bill‘s Uma Thurman….get outta here!Read More »
The “remains to be seen” New York Times gremlin has struck again, this time in Charles McGrath’s story about boxing movies and applied — oddly, curiously — to Million Dollar Baby , which makes people weep and seems like a sure-fire hit. “Boxing still looms largest as a subject for literary types and for filmmakers paying homage to the past,” McGrath comments. “Like Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby may turn out to be an elegy for a kind of movie they almost don’t make anymore,” adding in another portion of the article that “how this will play with audiences, as opposed to the critics, remains to be seen.” What?Read More »
I seem to only write about things I’m seriously excited or angry about in the WIRED space. Well, here’s an exception! It’s Saturday morning and the holiday shutdown is taking effect as we speak. Time to roll out those evergreen stories and maybe start choosing my picks for Oscar Balloon ’05.Read More »
Nutters vs. Nutters
Two days ago I ran a 2004 sum-up piece about the year’s best and
worst, but I may have spoken too soon. That same day a completely
riveting documentary arrived in the mail from Telluride Film
Festival director Tom Luddy, who told me the next day that it might
be “the most important film of 2004.” And he may be right. At least
in a political vein.
It’s called The Power of Nightmares. It’s written and produced by the BBC-funded documentarian Adam Curtis, who also made the brilliant four-hour doc The Century of the Self. I raved about this knockout film a year and a half ago after seeing it at the `03 San Francisco Film Festival, and now here we go again. Curtis has a sharp mind and a fresh way of seeing things, and is putting a lot more on the table than just flashy provocation.
My friend Anne Thompson, who has done many favors for me, has been brought aboard The Hollywood Reporter as deputy film editor by her old bro, film editor Gregg Kilday. She officially starts on Jan. 17th. The money is good and she gets medical and dental and why not, right? Reporter cool, job cool, everything cool….maybe even John Travolta’s next film, which wasn’t written by Scott Frank for reasons I don’t need to go into at this time.Read More »
Somehow I missed this quote from Colin Farrell about his costarring with Jamie Foxx in the Michael Mann-scripted and directed Miami Vice, which will begin shooting in April for Universal. (A friend of a guy I know has been offered a job on the shoot.) Why do another TV adaptation so soon after S.W.A.T.? “I’d do anything to work with Michael Mann,” he answered. “And the script is great. The worst thing about the project is the title, but as a piece in and of itself it’s brilliant…[It] goes deep into the undercover world. It’s Mann doing his heavy and tough stuff, with the kind of great dialogue you saw in Heat and Collateral.” Does anyone have a copy of the script? Strictly on the q.t., of course.Read More »
And I know I asked about getting a look at this before, but does anyone have a copy of Sam Mendes’ Jarhead?Read More »