Reporters I’ve spoken to are saying the Miramax farewell-to-the-past, hello-to-the- future party last Saturday at the Pacific Design Center was some kind of downbeat, desultory affair. It was fine — a spirited, informal, family-type thing. A spunky, slimmed-down Harvey Weinstein said the new company that he and his brother Bob will be launching sometime next fall (after the Disney contract comes to a close in September) will “kick up a lot of dust.” Looking forward….Read More »
You never cared about this stuff, and you really couldn’t care less from wherever you might be now, but I’m profoundly pissed about the Oscar producers not giving you a special tribute reel of your own last night. Pissed and ashamed and a little bit disgusted.
There’s no question you were the most influential actor of the
20th Century. No one had the same impact-grenade effect…nobody.
You’ve been among the deity of reigning pop icons for as long as I
can remember (along with Humphrey Bogart, Elvis Presley,
James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, et. al.), and you’ll still be
there 50 years from now. You rewrote the damn book.
But you were a bad (indifferent?) politician and a bit of a self-loather, and you let your unresolved screwed-up stuff define too much of your life and image over the last 45 or 50 years, and...
As Slate critic David Edelstein claims to have written in his hard-hitting book, When Awards Lie, “Oscars are not about merit blah blah but how the Hollywood establishment blah blah politics blah blah middlebrow blah guilty liberal blah old blah blah Valenti blah no Citizen Kane blah blah no Hitchcock blah blah Gladiator…” Couldn’t have said it better myself.Read More »
Hooray for Palm Pictures for having convinced the MPAA’s ratings appeals board to roll back on that R rating they gave Gunner Palace a few weeks ago, and give it a PG-13 instead. The R rating was all over language. The doc, produced and directed by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, is about grunts doing the day-to-day in Iraq. The title refers to a bombed-out pleasure palace once owned by Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, but occupied by the “gunners” after the U.S. occupation.Read More »
Ben Affleck’s career may be on the ropes, but at least he seems
to get that…and is doing something about it. Like being adaptable
enough to take only $500,000 upfront for playing George Reeves, the
amiable TV actor who shot himself over career problems in 1959, in
Focus Features’ Truth, Justice and the American Way.
This may sound like a bit of a comedown for a guy who used to pocket $12 million or so per film, and who earned a lot more, reportedly, from a back-end revenue deal his agent cut over Pearl Harbor. But not when you take the long view.
Truth — the story of the 1959 death of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on TV in the 1950s — is a modestly proportioned, character- driven period film that has a budget of $20 million (or just under), so everyone — including costars Adrien Brody and Diane...Read More »
Why would a snarling Lionheart like Hunter S. Thompson end it all with a bullet? I feel for his family, and especially the guy’s pain and sorrow, but how could anyone not reflect upon the equation of alcohol, guns and despair upon hearing the news? Obviously Dr. Gonzo didn’t pull the trigger out of a sense of ecstasy over things, but there was a special, thundering energy that pushed him up sheer craggy cliffs and over the top of many plateaus, and throwing that spirit away, even if only a remnant of it had survived at the end of his 67 years on the planet, was harsh and extreme and not the thing to do. Not for the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which I used to carry around with me like a Bible. But then I didn’t get Ernest Hemingway’s suicide either, or Abbie Hoffman’s.Read More »
Hollywood Reporter columnist Anne Thompson, writing under her old L.A. Weekly moniker of “Risky Business,” says that Vanity Fair cover girl Cate Blanchett “certainly…has an edge in the supporting actress category and should grab The Aviator’s one acting Oscar for her brilliant impersonation of Katharine Hepburn.” Whoa, whoa…hold up. Blanchett will win the Oscar because she does a good impersonation? Virginia Madsen’s straight-from-the-heart, soul-stirring performance in Sideways is going to lose out to Blanchett’s fluttery little Hepburn laugh (“Haaah…hahahaha!”) that everybody remembers from Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story?Read More »
We’ll Call You
A couple of months ago I wrote a tough
piece about my disappointment with Steven Soderbergh’s output
over the last three or four years, and then Soderbergh let me have
it at a Sundance party a few weeks later and I heard what he was
saying (or feeling), so here’s something olive-branchy:
Unscripted, a half-hour HBO series that Soderbergh and his Section Eight partner George Clooney have exec produced (with Clooney directing now and then), is the best original thing I’ve seen on the tube in a long, long time.
It’s mainly about three hard-luck actors more or less playing themselves (Krista Allen, Bryan Greenberg, Jennifer Hall) and dealing with the usual thespian woes — auditions, rejections, agent relations, more auditions, lost parts, occasional couplings,...Read More »
It’s hard to tell if Gold Derby.com’s Tom O’Neill caved on his support of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator two weeks ago or just a day or two ago, but in any case he’s finally folded his tent and admitted that Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby is the more likely Best Picture Oscar winner. The Gold Derby team (Anne Thompson, Dave Karger, Pete Hammond, Gene Seymour, Thelma Adams, et. al.) is giving Clint’s film 4-to-5 odds to win. I called it for M$B over two months ago (“Game Over”), but I guess I don’t need to point that out.Read More »
As long as we’re doing turnarounds, allow me to offer one of my own (although it’s way too late in the game for it to mean anything): Clint Eastwood delivered a finer thing with M$B than Scorsese did with The Aviator, but it would be really nice all around if Scorsese were to win the Best Director Oscar. I just watched those making-of docs by Laurent Bouzerau on the new two-disc Raging Bull DVD, and even though Scorsese has been off his game for the last decade or so, the greatness of who he once was should be wholeheartedly acknowledged. He was a spellbinding director and (let’s hope and wish and cross our fingers) may be once again.Read More »
Those one-sheets and web ads announcing Gore Verbinski’s The Weather Man (Paramount) as an April 1st release are now officially redundant . The Nic Cage/Michael Caine/Hope Davis drama about a Chicago TV weather man with personal problems galore has been bumped to the fall. The idea, apparently, is that a strong drama with prestige elements will have a better shot in September or October. There’s also some new thought being given to the Weather Man ad campaign image (i.e., Cage with a splattered milk shake dripping from his left shoulder), which obviously suggests comedy.Read More »
A Warner Home Video press release issued a couple of months ago about the upcoming double-disc “special edition” Heat DVD said that disc #2 would offer “11 additional scenes.” Bunk. These “11 additional scenes” amount to less than 10 minutes of deleted footage, and while there’s one scene that lasts a little over two minutes, most of the “additional scenes” are snippets lasting 30 or 40 seconds. A snippet is like a phrase or a sentence, and a scene is like a paragraph. Warner Home Video’s p.r. department should know the difference, and it shouldn’t sell one as being synonymous with the other.Read More »
I always feel better when HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher is up and rolling…kind of rounds out my sense of all being right with the world. Anyway, it preems tonight (Friday, 2.11) at 11 pm. But what to make of the new Robert Evans talk show thing on Sirius? For this to be semi-interesting, Evans would have to be paying attention to what’s doing right now — he’d have to be up on things. The President’s Day debut is on Monday, 2.21, at 6 pm ET. The regular show will play on Saturday. It starts on March 5th, 6 pm.Read More »
“You may recall that in the Matrix trilogy, Keanu Reeves played a haunted, expressionless traveler between metaphysical realms whose mission was to unravel a vast, complicated plot to…well, to do something very bad involving a lot of computer-generated imagery,” New York Times critic A.O. Scott begins in his review of Constantine. “It may therefore not surprise you to learn that Mr. Reeves, in [this film], a new theological thriller from Warner Brothers, plays a haunted, expressionless traveler…but you get the idea. The thing is, this time his character, John Constantine, wears a skinny tie, white shirt and dark suit combination almost exactly like the one worn by Agent Smith, who was Mr. Reeves’s archnemesis in the Matrix pictures. I’m still trying to get my mind around that.”Read More »
There are at least three ways to have a depressing time at the
movies, and one is worth the grief.
You can sit through something shoddy, inept, sub-standard, and do everything you can to flush it out of your system when it’s over. You can also sit through a smooth, studio-funded, well-made enterprise that everyone’s loving and is making money hand over fist, but which you happen to despise with every fibre of your being. (For me, that would be….naaah, I’ve said it too many times before.)
But watching a quality downer can be edifying. (Naturally.) I’m
speaking of a movie that’s totally comfortable with the idea of
bumming you out, because it’s trying to be thoughtful, profound or
in some way affecting. Which saves it from being a bummer.
I’m thinking about this because there’s a film opening fairly soon that belongs in the third...
Here’s a Chris Rock observation from that same Entertainment Weekly/Josh Wolk interview that started all the trouble…or rather, the interview that gave Matt Drudge the opportunity to selectively quote from and ignite all the trouble out of context. Wolk asks Rock if he thinks movies are “better or worse than they used to be?” and Rock answers, “Definitely worse. Studios used to make visions. When a director has control, what you’re seeing on the screen is a vision. Now what you see is a consensus. There’s a big difference. Sideways is a vision. The Day After Tomorrow is a consensus. It’s 30 people agreeing.”Read More »
Give Constantine this much: after who knows how many hundreds of mainstream films over the last 60 or 70 years that have essentially served as advertisements for the existential coolness of sucking in cigarette smoke, here’s a flick in which the hero (Keanu Reeves) is presented as inescapably doomed because he’s been smoking since he was 15. I stopped smoking eons ago, but I’ve gone back to it now and then, and this movie made me feel horrible about this. I can’t remember a more effective anti-smoking argument projected on a big screen.Read More »
How’s this for a Howard Hughes triple bill at the American Cinematheque somewhere down the road? Open with Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, follow up with Edward Dmytryk’s The Carpetbaggers (1964), featuring the always-icy George Peppard as a cold, misogynistic movie mogul-slash-industrialist, a character based on Hughes, and conclude the evening with Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard (1980), mostly about a middle-class American schlub (Paul LeMat) but featuring an inspired Jason Robards cameo perf as a rickety, weather-beaten, half-looney Hughes.Read More »
The mentality of those 77 year-olds who’ve bristled at Oscar Awards emcee Chris Rock’s comments about the show (“It’s a fashion show” that’s “mostly for gay people”) and who are muttering that he’s “not suitable for the job” (according to Hollywood Reporter columnist Martin Grove)…this harumph-y attitude is precisely why the Oscar Awards are seen as going downhill and increasingly irrelevant. Especially now that the specifics of Rock’s comments in the Entertainment Weekly interview (offered here as a link to a Movie City News transcript) make it clear that what Rock actually said (without the quotes taken out of context) are perfectly valid and have been articulated before by others, including George C. Scott 30-something years ago when he called the Oscar show “a meat parade.”Read More »
A non-scientific Newsweek/MSNBC poll has asked readers which super-expensive popcorn movie they’d most like to see in 2005, and right now (Tuesday, 2.15, 9:37 am) the most eagerly awaited (favored by 32% of voters) is George Lucas’s Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox, 5.19). Mike Newell’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (WB, 11.18) is the second most anticipated with 18%, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (WB, 7.15) is third with 11%, and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (Paramount, 6.29) is fourth with 10%. Peter Jackson’s King Kong (Universal, 12.14) got 4%, but it’s early yet. Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard (Paramount, 5.27) gathered a 3% rating…hmmmm.Read More »
“When you say ‘no’ a lot as an actor, you’re going to go broke, and that’s been the hardest thing to go through in the last ten years,” Sideways costar Virginia Madsen says in a recent Guardian interview. Such confessions will not stop junket-press journos from asking actors “what artistic motives led you to play this role?” when the truthful answer, more often than not, is “I have two kids and brutal mortgage payments.” Or “I could have taken this far more interesting role in this indie film, but I’ve become lazily accustomed to my lifestyle and my kids like their I-Pods and their wardrobes, so I took the slightly dumber and shittier role in this big-budget genre film.”Read More »
So Lewis Beale and his New York Times editors plugged me, Variety‘s Pete Hammond, Gold Derby.com’s Tom O’Neill and blogger Emanuel Levy in Sunday’s (2.13) piece about Oscar prognosticators …but they cut Movie City News’ David Poland, which, by anyone’s barometer, makes it an incomplete presentation.Read More »
“There’s a difference in how I vote on my ballot and how I vote in the office pool,” an Academy voter tells Fade In writer Nelson Handel. It would be better if the Oscar awards were only voted upon by peers “but it’ll never happen,” the voter admits. “Everyone enjoys voting, and won’t be dissuaded by the fact they they’re ignorant.” The entire piece, which has been getting a fair amount of attention over the last week or so, can be found here .Read More »
Eucalyptus is the title of a Jocelyn Moorhouse-Fox Searchlight film that was recently put on hold because the script isn’t ready yet. Actually, because star and executive producer Russell Crowe had problems with it. The film, which would have costarred Nicole Kidman, is about “an Australian widower who plants hundreds of eucalyptus trees on his land,” according to a Reuters news story “He tests his daughter’s suitors by making them identify every species. One succeeds, but by then Ellen (Kidman) already has lost her heart to a handsome stranger (Crowe).” I’m sorry, but that sounds like fanciful chick-movie horeshit.Read More »
My most affecting Arthur Miller moment was seeing Death of a Salesman in ’84 on Broadway, with Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman and a 30 year-old, totally-on-fire John Malkovich as Biff. Miller led an amazing life in an incredibly rich and turbulent time, and now, at age 89, he’s no longer among us. Nothing recedes likes success, but rest comes to us all.Read More »
It was being predicted a couple of weeks ago that the February
27th Oscar telecast will be among the lowest-rated in history, if
not the lowest rated. Are we supposed to be concerned? All
right, let’s say we are.
In the early to mid 1930s, back when Irving Thalberg had something to say about the way this town was being run, the Oscars were intended as a classy promotion for the studio’s higher-quality films.
The industry was saying to the public, “Enjoy your westerns and
your Wallace Beery movies, but keep in mind that every so often the
movie industry tries to make films of lasting value, and we’d
appreciate your support in these efforts.”
That concept went into the toilet a long time ago, largely due to the interlocking rules of TV ratings and advertising revenues.
People are said to be scared because the Golden Globes...
David Poland has written about Martin Scorsese’s tribute to the spirit that propelled Howard Hughes: “Better than any of the other movies nominated, The Aviator offers a look at us…at the power of outrageous daring…not just of one man, but of a culture that shouts our aspirations across the globe.” To which I must reply, “Better than any of the other movies nominated, The Aviator offers a look at our willingness to swallow rankly phony CG images that violate any sense of organic, first-hand reality…that promote the negligible effect of CG sequences that blatantly announcing themselves as such…all to celebrate not just a single willful man, but a culture that shouts our aspirations across the globe.”Read More »
The obiter dicta (i.e., words in passing) in Brian Lowry’s recently posted Variety review of Constantine (Warner Bros., 2.18) sounds somewhat predictable: “Pic does win a few points for style if not substance.” The opening graph, though, has a strong alliterative punch: “Keanu Reeves’ latest man-in-black fantasy is slightly better than The Matrix sequels, which is tantamount to damnation with faint praise. Casting its star as a chain-smoking exorcist — someone who’s literally been to hell and back — this adaptation of the graphic novel “Hellblazer” blazes few new trails and bogs down in a confusing narrative muddle. Atmospheric and noirish in the manner of a poor man’s Blade Runner, pic possesses powerful imagery but lacks feature-length substance and will need a bountiful harvest of opening-weekend souls before a stench resembling brimstone dowses its box office flame.”Read More »
When a movie is working with an audience, you can feel it.
I’m not talking about an opinion. You’re there and people are beaming and laughing and giving standing ovations when it’s over, and you can sense it coming out of every pore in the room. Guys like Variety‘s Robert Koehler can pooh-pooh all they want and it doesn’t matter — a hit is a hit is a hit.
This is the bottom-line deal with Paul Reiser’s The Thing About My Folks, an above-average, surprisingly effective father-son relationship film that I saw last Friday night at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Paul Reiser and Peter Falk in The Thing About My Folks.
I don’t like films that try to jerk you around and make you feel primary emotions, or ones that play the “square card” too heavily, like My Big Fat...Read More »
I’m a little concerned about Cate Blanchett winning the Best Supporting Actress trophy at the SAG Awards last night. Did she beat out Virginia Madsen (far and away the most deserving contender, as almost all the critics’ groups have proclaimed) because the SAG membership had some kind of collective understanding that the ensemble acting award would go to the cast of Sideways? Or does a majority of the Academy’s largest branch really and truly believe that Blanchett’s performance as Kate Hepburn (undeniably rich, but relatively narrow in scope and clearly lacking in terms of emotional/spiritual depth) is more worthy than Madsen’s? Or is this some kind of oddball, turned-around thing about people wanting to pay some kind of tribute to The Aviator? I don’t get it.Read More »