Ask anyone — the Sundance Film Festival award that really counts is the Audience Award, and yesterday’s (Saturday, 1.29) winner of that honor was Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow….right on. Another thing you can usually depend upon is that the Sundance jurors will give their dramatic competition Grand Jury prize to a film that a lot of people didn’t get or flat-out didn’t like. This was clearly the case when they give their big trophy to Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue, a romantic triangle drama set in Memphis. At least four times during the festival I was told in no uncertain terms that Blue is highly problematic, dislikable, tiresome, irritating, etc. A sharp industry watcher and good friend agrees with me that Blue had “no buzz” during the festival, and Hollywood Reporter critic Duane Byrge called it “a drab, minor-key melodrama.” I’m not saying the jurors...Read More »
A few days ago Oscar handicapper Pete Hammond said in this column that if Martin Scorsese doesn’t win the Director’s Guild of America “outstanding directorial achievement” award for his direction of The Aviator, “all bets are off.” What he meant was, Scorsese’s chances of winning the Best Director Oscar will be strongly diminished. So I guess it’s fair to say that all bets are indeed off since Clint Eastwood has won this award for his direction of Million Dollar Baby. Congrats, also, to Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni for nabbing the DGA’s best Documentary award for The Story of the Weeping Camel.Read More »
Okay, so maybe a lead story about the intoxicating elements
within a certain woman’s personality isn’t exactly a page-one
topic, but I’m covering the Santa Barbara Film Festival this
weekend and for what it’s worth and what-the-hell, here is
Oscar screenwriting nominee Julie Delpy (for her Before Sunset collaboration with Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke) totally killed at Saturday’s screenwriter’s panel at the Lobero Theatre.
Actress-screenwriter Julie Delpy during Saturday afternoon’s panel discussion, “It Starts With the Script,” at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Delpy is — right now, in my humble opinion — the absolute coolest, wittiest and most radiantly attractive actress around. Her Sunset performance had me half-convinced of this, but...Read More »
Between phone-installation delays, not enough sleep, column-posting problems, visits to medical clincs, computer spyware issues, too much stress and spending a small fortune on taxi fares, all I want is to get the hell out of here. I’ve seen some interesting, at times very affecting films in Park City, and yes, I will try and tap out some thoughts and impressions about some of these tomorrow morning (particularly of The Chumscrubber, which I’m seeing tonight) but after six days of this 6:30 am to 1:30 am routine your seams start to tear.Read More »
Isn’t it ironic that Paul Giamatti is standing side-by-side with fellow Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Jamie Foxx, et. al., on the cover of the current Newsweek (“Oscar Confidential”) and his Oscar nominee status, as of this morning, is no more? It’s the Eisenhower-era members of the Academy who voted against him, I suspect….or rather against Miles, his Sideways character. Giamatti’s deeply touching, occasionally side-splitting performance was one of ’04′s finest, but Academy blue-hairs had no tolerance for Miles’ morose, schlubby, wine-swigging behavior. The death blow, I’m guessing, was over Miles having stolen money from his mother’s bedroom dresser.Read More »
And so begins my eighth and final day in Park City, Utah, and I
can’t think of a common thread or theme that fits the experience.
The days have burned through like a lit dynamite fuse in a Sam
Peckinpah film, only there hasn’t been any kind of explosive finish
and I don’t expect there to be. I’m just looking for a clean
All I want to do today is see two or three more films (Hustle & Flow again, just for fun…and then Heights, This Revolution or Ellie Parker), tap out some final thoughts on Thursday morning, and fly home.
(l. to r.) The Ballad of Jack and Rose costars Paul Dano, Camilla Belle and Ryan McDonald at Newmarket’s Chumscrubber party at the Village at the Lift — Tuesday, 1.26.05, 12:05 am.
And then, 18 hours later, around mid-afternoon on Friday,...Read More »
I haven’t got time to think things through or make what I’m
tapping out here sound as good as it ought to, and it pains me to
just put stuff up without refinements, but…
The most satisfying Sundance films I’ve seen over the last four days, in this order, are: Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow, Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek (which I wrote about last Friday), and Craig Lucas’ The Dying Gaul (angrier and more bitter than it needs to be, but is nonetheless a fully felt, precisely crafted piece about denial and betrayal, a superb psychological suspense drama and a nicely tuned Hollywood backstabber).
Sculpture of Dying Gaul, created in 230 B.C., residing today in Rome’s Capitoline Museum, and a thematic motif in Craig Lucas’s film of the same name.
The other A-listers are Sebastian Cordero’s...Read More »
I’ll be banging out a Monday column, of course, but why not run
some photos I took on Friday and Saturday right now (i.e., Sunday
Sunday’s big festival news is the enormous response to Craig Brewer’s astounding and immensely satisfying Hustle & Flow after an 8:30 pm screening Saturday night at the Park City Racquet Club, along with this morning’s announcement that the film has been acquired for $9 million by MTV/Paramount.
Part of the Hustle & Flow posse after Saturday night’s screening at the Park City Racquet Club: (l. to r.) Terrence Howard, producer Stephanie Allain, costar Taryn Manning, director-writer Craig Brewer — 1.22.05, 10:45 pm.
The MTV execs went home around 4 ayem, but the deal closed at roughly 5:30 am this morning, partly as a result of a certain Paramount...Read More »
Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow, so far the one absolute knockout of the ’05 Sundance Film Festival, was acquired for theatrical distribution Saturday night by MTV/Paramount for $9 million. The total fee is actually $16 million for a 3-picture deal that will cover two other films to be produced and directed by Flow producer John Singleton for $3.5 million each. Paramount publicist Nancy Kirkpatrick called to say that Paramount’s newly-installed chief Brad Grey, marketing head Rob Friedman and production president Donald De Line saw it in Los Angeles on Saturday night while Viacom co-president and COO Tom Freston was catching it at the same time at the Park City Racquet Club. Freston was obviously in town to close a deal with Singleton and his Hustle & Flow producing partner Stephanie Allain and their UTA reps. Everybody had to be keenly interested in Hustle & Flow after Saturday’s levitational screening, but...Read More »
I talked to a critic last night (i.e., Saturday) who acknowledged that Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow is obviously well-liked by the Sundance audience so far and is “the first movie to break through” so far. However, an opinion was also confided that it’s basically “bullshit” and “straight out of 1930s Warner Bros. formula.” I’m sorry but this critic (a very smart fellow) has never been more wrong. I know what it feels like when a Sundance movie has gone through the roof. Okay…mountain-air syndrome, right? But I know when a movie is working on all six cylinders (notice I didn’t say eight cylinders…there’s a qualification here) and is achieving ace-level delivery in terms of atmospheric grit, soul, craft, emotion and superb acting, and Hustle & Flow is definitely one of these. Will it play to white audiences as well as black? Will it in fact “play...Read More »
“I’ve seen 10 Sundance films in the last two days,” an exhibitor
friend confides, “and the the highlight so far, unquetionably, has
been Steve Buscemi’s Lonesome Jim, which is one of the
most beautiful odes to a pathetic human life ever put to screen.
It’s a breakthrough vehicle for star Casey Affleck.
“The only thing the film has against it is a horribly cheap look as a result of being shot on shit-level video. It might have been the projection at the press screening but given that most things in there have been projected digitally, I somehow doubt it. Try and check it out (although, thinking about it further, you might really hate it).”
“I thought Marcos Siega’s Pretty Persuasion was PRETTY FUCKING HIDEOUS. Trying so hard to be another Election/Heathers/To Die For — truly awful characters and a terrible, try-too-hard script. Performances were actually okay but...
I’m going to try and tap out WIRED stuff as much as I can between screenings. Whatever’s happened, whatever shaking…and let me just say, sitting here in the Intel room at the Yarrow, that there’s nothing quite so awful to listen to as the sound of forced gaiety. It sounds anxious, desperate-to-please, and bordering on panic.Read More »
I’m still at the Intel room at the Yarrow, and an hour ago I was shut out of seeing Warner Indepdedent’s The Jacket, which started at 2:30 pm. It’s some kind of Gulf War-driven time-travel nightmare psychodrama, and the advance talk has been pretty good. I guess you have to arrive at Yarrow press screenings a good 20 to 30 minutes before or forget it. It costars Adrien Brody, Kiera Knightley, Daniel Craig, Kris Kristofferson and Kelly Lynch. My next film (hopefully) is David LaChappelle’s Rize, but it’s screening at the dreaded Library, and that’s always a hassle.Read More »
Sick at Sundance
I started to fall ill Wednesday evening — coughing, congestion —
and I felt sicker all day Thursday. I did a lot of sleeping, drank
a lot of water. And on top of this, I discovered Wednesday night
that the phone in the condo I’m staying in has been shut off, so
there’s been no internet (and the phone won’t be turned back on
until Friday morning…great).
But at least I managed to drop by the Sundance Film Festival headquarters Thursday morning to pick up my press pass, along with three ‘loaner’ tapes of Sundance flicks. I went back to the condo (right behind the Radisson Hotel) and watched them between naps. One sucked, but two were quite good.
Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek, which has been picked up by Dimension, is dark as shit, but it’s a knockout. It’s going to be a sizable hit when it opens...Read More »
I came to chortle at Inside Deep Throat and, to be
honest, maybe feel a tiny bit excited by it…but I came away feeling
leveled-out, sobered-up, un-randy.
Sobered up doesn’t mean bummed, which is how I pretty much felt after seeing Deep Throat itself. It was such a shitty movie…so cheesy, stupid, clueless. But it made raunch seem hip for that five- or ten-minute period in `72 or ’73 with the New York Times-propagated concept of “porno chic.”
Okay, there was something cool and, of course, basically harmless about middle-class couples, single women and other atypical patrons lining up in front of porn theatres to see this film way back when…brazen, liberating, vaguely revolutionary…but from today’s perspective there’s something about it that seems a bit odious.
What did Fear of...Read More »
A 1.19.05 item in the New York Post‘s “Page Six” column read, “Don’t assume that Golden Globes winners will walk off with Oscars next month. The idea that the Globes are still “a major influencer of the Oscar nominations or final outcome is an embarrassment,” declares movie writer David Poland, “much the same as so many Americans believing that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for 9/11.” Hollywood columnist Jeffrey Wells agrees, noting that the Globes, which are given out by the laughably dilettantish Hollywood Foreign Press Association, “really don’t count anymore. They’re a distraction at best, and are at the beginning of a stage in their evolution in which they’re going to be seen as a bigger and broader object of mockery as the years wear on.” Wells denounces “the dopey idea that 80-something international correspondents, many of a somewhat dubious or shaky reputation, are any kind of harbingers of the sentiments of nearly 6,000 Academy voters.”Read More »
I’ll have more to say about the Golden Globe awards on Wednesday, but aside from the surprise of Leonardo DiCaprio winning the Best Actor trophy (a fiercely committed actor who, as Howard Hughes, goes for broke, but still looks like a kid playing dress-up) and The Aviator itself winning for Best Drama, which frankly surprised me, the underlying feeling is that the Golden Globes really don’t count any more…not really. They’re a distraction at best, and are at the beginning of a stage in their evolution in which they’re going to be seen as a bigger and broader object of mockery as the years wear on. The dopey idea that 80-something international correspondents, many of a somewhat dubious or shaky reputation, are any kind of harbingers of the sentiments of nearly 6000 Academy voters has never seemed more pronounced. As David Poland wrote last night, the idea of “the Globes as a major influencer of the Oscar nominations or final outcome is an embarrassment, much the same as so many Americans believing that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for 9/11. Some ideas belong on the periphery.”Read More »
There’s a clip in the trailer for Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbatos’ Inside Deep Throat Inside Deep Throat (Universal, 2.11) quoting a guy involved with the distribution of this infamous 1972 porn film saying, “We have so much cash, we don’t even count it — we weigh it!” This alone supports my long-held suspicion that this will be one very cool documentary…fascinating, hilarious, whatever.Read More »
With Miramax’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein only two or three weeks away from signing final divorce papers with Disney, there’s a rumble (about two or three weeks old, apparently) about Mouse execs offering Warner Independent Pictures chief Mark Gill the job of running Miramax after the brothers depart. It’s a flakey rumor, apparently…but not entirely flakey, as as the Miramax gig (presuming Gill has even discussed it) might carry a certain allure, given WIP’s so-far mixed track record. As he was just starting the WIP gig in August ’03, Gill told the Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Galloway, “The biggest pitfall is if you choose and market the wrong movies — then you’re dead. The second danger would be to find yourself working for people who are not fully committed, [but] I am not worried about that. They are willing to give this (division) that fullness of time — three or four years, to be sure, and maybe more. I know I have got three years (contractually) to make it work — and I intend to do it in a third of that time.”Read More »
To the list of presumed front-runners for the Best Foreign Film Oscar(Cronicas, Downfall, Les Choristes, The Sea Inside, House of Flying Daggers), I’m told I should add Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday, a South African drama about a struggling AIDS-afflicted couple with a young daughter. (“Yesterday” is the name of the mother character, played by Leleti Khumalo.) I missed seeing it on Friday night (1.14) because the screening coincided with my son’s flight to Boston from Long Beach Airport. HBO had something to do with making (or financing) it, although they aren’t mentioned on the IMDB, but I’m told the film may open theatrically in February.Read More »
There’s this extremely weird, slightly satiric, observational fly-on-the-wall piece by Christian Moerk in Sunday’s New York Times about the first meeting between Paramount Pictures’ recently hired film division chairman and chief executive Brad Grey and the studio’s “entire senior-executive phalanx” in an executive boardroom last January 6th. There’s no angle or point to it — it’s not some thoughtfully considered New Yorker or New York Observer-type thing. It just says to the reader, “Our guy was told about this big meeting, and here are the details he was given…ten days after the fact.” The three funniest bits are (a) Moerk’s stating for the record that Grey “declined to comment for this article,” (b) reporting that Grey is “likely to focus on completing titles like Charlotte’s...Read More »
Those heading to the Sundance Film Festival next week will be
messing up hugely if they don’t catch Cronicas, a creepy
investigation piece and a penetrating morality tale about a tabloid
TV news team on the trail of a serial child killer.
It’s the first serious high-performance film I’ve seen this year, and if there’s any justice in the world it’ll be among the five Best Foreign Film Oscar nominees that are being announced on 1.25, along with Downfall, Les Choristes, The Sea Inside and House of Flying Daggers.
Go-getter tabloid-show reporter John Leguizamo (r.) during a jailhouse interview scene with manslaughter suspect Damian Alcazar.
Chronicas shouldn’t be missed, partly for the impact of the drama itself (which holds onto its ethical focus from beginning to end,...Read More »
You can toss out the concept of Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, which has been described in some circles as a genre hybrid of comedy/musical/thriller/science-fiction or, in somewhat plainer terms, as a big social-political satire….you can forget any ideas of it coming out in ’05, despite my having listed Tales in Wednesday’s column as a hot-ticket due sometime later this year. Too bad, but there’s no way it’ll be out before ’06. But if you want a little taste now (and I highly recommend this), click here .Read More »
Two more connections between those sound-alike Sundance movies, Thumbsucker and The Chumscrubber. One, they were both produced by Bob Yari, a former real-estate guy who now heads a company called the Yari Film Group. And two, they both costar 19 year-old Lou Pucci. Thumbsucker, which costars Tilda Swinton and Keanu Reeves, was shot almost a year before Chumscrubber, which stars Jamie Bell, Camilla Belle (also the costar of The Ballad of Jack and Rose), Ralph Fiennes, Rory Culkin, and Glenn Close. There’s also a Park City at Midnight film called Ass-Muncher….kidding!Read More »
Liam Neeson as Abraham Lincoln? Perfect…not just because of the facial and body-type similarities, but also a look of kindliness in Neeson’s eyes that I’ve noticed in those two or three Matthew Brady portraits of Lincoln. Variety is reporting that Steven Spielberg has begun talks with Neeson to play Lincoln in a film based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Uniter: The Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which will be published next fall. The plan is for the biopic to start production in January ’06.Read More »
It would be highly unlikely, not to mention beside the point, if Kearns or Spielberg were to touch upon the recently-raised issue of the younger Abe Lincoln’s alleged bisexuality, as explored by C. A. Tripp’s controversial book, “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln.” The focus of the Spielberg film, after all, will be the middle-aged Lincoln’s grappling with the Civil War. In any event, Lincoln biographer and respected historian Gore Vidal discusses Tripp’s work and the evidence about Lincoln’s friendships with Joshua Speed, A.Y. Ellis and fellow lawyer Henry Whitney in a current posting on Vanity Fair‘s website.Read More »
And speaking of Neeson, it seems slightly odd to see him happily grinning alongside his Phantom Menace costars on the cover of the current Vanity Fair, considering the stories that went around in ’99 that the one-two punch of acting in front of green-screen digital backgrounds in that George Lucas film plus the same experience on Jan de Bont’s The Haunting led Neeson to briefly consider quitting acting…or so it was reported at the time.Read More »
After directing films for no other studio but Warner Bros. for
28 years straight (i.e., except for Columbia’s Absolute
Power), Clint Eastwood will briefly jump ship when he makes
his next movie — a time-shifting father-son World War II flick
called Flags of Our Fathers — for DreamWorks this
The film will be based on James Bradley and Ron Powers’ book of the same name, which was published in 2000. It recounts the sometimes tragic tales of the six Marines who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi (*) on February 23, 1945, during the American forces’ battle for Iwo Jima against Japanese occupiers.
In less than a month’s time (from 2.19.45 to 3.10.45), more than
22,000 Japanese soldiers and 5,391 U.S. Marines were killed, with
an additional 17,400 Americans suffering wounds.
One of the six...
With the Golden Globes happening this Sunday (1.16), an oddsmaker for Tom O’Neill’s GoldDerby.com named David Scott is asserting that Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator is a 6-to-5 favorite to win the Best Drama trophy. This implies, of course, that the Howard Hughes biopic is also slightly more favored to take the Best Picture Oscar than other contenders. I have two words for the east-coast contingent that seriously believes in the Marty/Aviator mythology — Miramax kool-aid. (Is that three words?) Truly, the delusion behind this prediction reminds me of Jonestown. Now, it may be that Scorsese will take the Best Director prize this Sunday (maybe)…but that’s because this once-towering filmmaker has been denied Oscar recognition for so many years and should have won the Best Director Oscar for Raging Bull 23 years ago, not because The Aviator is a shatteringly good film or anything along those lines…...Read More »
Got another gig for a clever trust-fund journalist looking to build a rep. I need a 20-something man/woman to author a Hollywood Elsewhere column that almost totally rips off Defamer…same attitude, style, tone, brevity…only a bit different. And I need someone to run it — write it, grab and crop photos, do headlines, publish it from their home/office, etc. I have no shame about ripping off other sites and columns, as long as you don’t totally copy them. Get in touch and we’ll talk.Read More »