I’ve completely updated the Oscar Balloon, and I pledge to not let it fall behind ever again. Sometime today (Monday, 8.1), Oscar Balloon will be moving to the right-hand side of the column and out of the bottom of the column space. On top of this portions of it (i.e, one category at a time) will be excerpted in the news ticker. There will also be a tiny link under the HE logo that’ll take you right there.Read More »
Let’s face it, let’s be really honest — there’s a lot of us out there who want to hear the audio track of that videotape that was recording when that grizzly bear killed and ate Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, in October 2003 up in the wilds of Alaska. This ghastly event isn’t heard in Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man (Lions Gate, 8.12), a doc about Treadwell’s devotion to communing with grizzlies, but we do see Herzog listening to it and grimacing and then telling a woman from Treadwell’s family that the tape should be burned. I respect Herzog’s decision not to include it (he said “I didn’t want to make a snuff film”) but c’mon…this is a movie about a guy who loved hanging with grizzlies in their natural habitat, but was paradoxically killed by a bear because the bear got ornery and decided, “Hey, why...Read More »
Wait a minute…Hustle & Flow dropped 50% in its second weekend for a $4 million haul? The big hit of Sundance…one of the very best films of the year so far with a vibe that leaves you in a very spiritual place went down 50%? Don’t misunderstand — Craig Brewer’s film will turn out to be one of Paramount Classics’ biggest hits (figure $25 million domestic when all is said and done) but Hustle should have dropped 25% or 30% this weekend, at most. A 50% drop means people out there are telling their friends, “Yeah, sorta…but not altogether.” And they’re dead wrong…they’re lazy and short-sighted. I’m not an ivory-tower elitist, I spent my childhood in Union County, New Jersey, and I’m now staying in a non-affluent middle-class area of Brooklyn. So I understand the regular-guy thing and am speaking with a certain authority when I say that the people failed this...Read More »
Downfall‘s Oliver Hirschbiegel doing Body Snatchers (or Invasion of…), a remake of a ’70s Phil Kaufman film that was a remake of a landmark ’50s Don Siegel film that was also reworked by Abel Ferrara in ’93….really terrible idea! Even with (or do I mean particularly with?) Nicole Kidman in whatever the lead role will amount to this time. Shooting is apparently set to begin in October.Read More »
I had this horrible idea for a movie this evening…horrible but oddly unshakable. Nobody would ever have the courage to push this with anyone else, but it’s basically Oliver Stone’s 9/11 movie meets Wedding Crashers. Remember Will Ferrell’s character telling Owen Wilson’s character that funerals are better than weddings for scoring? Okay…now remember that brief phenomenon that happened in New York City right after 9/11 called “terror-fucking,” which was about a lot of guys (fireman in particular) going home with a lot of women because everyone wanted to obliterate the horror of what had happened with sex…almost any kind of available sex they could get their hands on? This movie would start with a couple of horndogs (good-time guys like Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s characters) who start to realize two or three days after 9/11 there are some phenomenal opportunities out there, etc. Clearly, the idea of guys...Read More »
Lynn Hirschberg’s Jim Jarmusch profile in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is awfully well-written…it gets Jarmusch like an arrow through the heart. His latest film, Broken Flowers (Focus Features, 8.5), “moves beyond hipster cool to something more like maturity, but the film still maintains Jarmusch’s outsider stance: it is stripped down, closely observed, with an almost dreamlike aura,” Hirschberg remarks early on. “”It’s all so…independent,” Jarmusch comments. ‘I’m so sick of that word. I reach for my revolver when I hear the word ‘quirky.’ Or ‘edgy.’ Those words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them. Anyone who makes a film that is the film they want to make, and it is not defined by marketing analysis or a commercial enterprise, is independent. My movies are kind of made by hand. They’re not polished — they’re sort of built in the garage. It’s more like being an artisan in some way.’”Read More »
Everyone knew Rob Cohen’s Stealth would crap out on opening weekend, and now it’s more or less done that with a $5 million take on Friday. Wedding Crashers topped the $100 million mark while finally beating out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, $6 million to $5.2 million. And exhibitors saw John Singleton’s Four Brothers (Paramount, 8.12) a few days ago and are said to be high on it because “it’s commercial.” That’s a code term for “it’s not going to win any Oscars but it’ll probably sell tickets.”Read More »
My beloved news ticker has been up and running for a few days now, but it needs to be rewritten in a Flash format. Flash, I’ve been told, isn’t as laborious or cumbersome to load and read on an average slightly-older computer. I don’t know jack about any of this, but if anybody out there is a Flash-head and could lend some insight…Read More »
And So It Begins
Once August is here the summer is basically over. Any marketer
will tell you August isn’t the summer — it’s “August.” And that
means contending with the likes of Must Love Dogs, Red
Eye, The Dukes of Hazzard, Deuce Bigalow:
European Gigolo, Four Brothers, Pretty
Persuasion and The 40 Year-Old Virgin already.
And this means that out of lethargy or some kind of psychological avoidance pattern people like myself are shifting into a September frame of mind (Toronto Film Festival!), which will quickly feed into October and the dawning of Oscar season. And none too soon.
Matthew Macfadyen, Keira Knightley in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice
I’ve seen 23 films so far this year that I’d call somewhere between very good and exceptional, and out of...Read More »
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello have been cast in Oliver Stone’s 9/11 flick as the wives of the two Port Authority guys, Sgt. John McLoughlin and Officer William J. Jimeno, who were the last to be pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena (last in Million Dollar Baby) are playing McLouglin and Jimeno, respectively. I know this sounds cold, but I still don’t get what the big human-interest angle is in this thing. Being the last guy to be pulled out of the rubble on that horrible day is more dramatic or emotionally meaningful than, say, being the second-to-last or third-to-last or the first? I still say Pasquale Buzzelli’s story is far more intriguing. I explained it all in a column that ran last March.Read More »
Chris Columbus’s Rent (Columbia, 11.11) is already being dismissed as damaged goods. In a recent Oscar prediction chart David Poland asks, “How can something less than a decade old feel so passe already?” (Uhhm, because it deals with one or two characters dying from AIDS and because medical breakthroughs since the mid ’90s have made AIDS a survivable affliction?) Plus in a recent Entertainment Weekly Oscar forecast piece, Dave Karger warned than Rent might not get awards traction if it winds up feeling like a “dated” stage show. Now, maybe Rent works and maybe it doesn’t, but the early dissing isn’t just about AIDS cocktails. It’s partly due to many journalists despising Chris Columbus, Rent‘s director, because he always sentimentalizes and sugar-coats his films. (In weighing a possible Best Director nomination...Read More »
So the reason the ’06 Oscar schedule is a week later than last year’s — the Oscar show is happening on 3.5.06 rather than late February — is because the Academy didn’t want to compete with the closing ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics, which is set for 2.26? Does anyone apart from the families of the Olympic athletes really care that much about a closing ceremony? I really don’t get this.Read More »
I listed my Aristocrats favorites in Wednesday’s lead piece — Gilbert Gottfried, Kevin Pollak-as-Walken, Martin Mull-kiki, and the South Park telling. But I just realized I totally forgot to mention the bit when Andy Dick explains the meaning of “rusty trombone.” I never knew what it meant before — now I can’t think about it without smirking. This film is truly diseased.Read More »
Some people have been writing and tell me that the news ticker, which just went up last Friday, has been gumming up and/or freezing their computers. This is because the original program driving the ticker was slow and clunky and from Romania. We’ve just installed a new all-American version that may be easier and smoother to contend with….I hope. We’re also looking around for ways to rewrite this news-ticker program with Flash, which may be even easier for everyone to process. Anyone out there know about writing Flash programs who’d be willing to help out?Read More »
Gilbert Stood Tall
There are two things you need to know about Penn Gillette and
Paul Provenza’s The Aristocrats (ThinkFilm, 7.29 limited).
One, it’s quite funny but not in the usual way — it makes you laugh
and also say at the same time, “Am I really laughing at this?” And
two, you need to see it not just for the humor, but for the journey
it takes you on.
There’s a quote made famous by the late Michael O’Donoghue that says “making people laugh is the lowest form of humor.” This is one of the few films I’ve seen that actually seems to get what O’Donoghue was on about.
Gilbert Gottfried, not just one of the stars of The Aristocrats but...
There’s a movie — a Showtime or an HBO movie, I’m thinking — in the story of Silvia Johnson, an indiscreet Colorado woman of 40 who just pled guilty to various charges for having schtupped a bunch of local teenage boys. A news story says she threw a series of weekly parties between October ’03 and October ’04 in which she gave drugs and alcohol to eight of the boys and had sex with five of them. Enabling young guys to get high is stupid and irresponsible for any adult, but what’s wrong with a little sexual healing? If only I’d known someone like Johnson when I was 14 or 15, I would have been a much happier lad. Courtney Love would be great in the role, but Meg Ryan would be better.Read More »
It’s 97 blazing degrees on the streets of Manhattan today. We might as well be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s so hot you can break an egg and spill it on the sidewalk and it would sizzle, I swear. The air on some of the subway platforms feels like something out of a blast furnace. At least it’s better than last week’s climate, which was muggy like a rain forest’s. There was a soppy thickness to the air…you needed a machete to cut through it.Read More »
The just-up trailer for Rob Reiner’s Rumor Has it (Warner Bros., 12.9) looks like a typically conservative big-studio soother. It feels smart (i.e., alert), inviting, easy-going. The content, it suggests, will be that of a politely randy sex-and relationships comedy. And I have to admit it looks like the film will be fairly funny in the usual-usual sense….maybe.Read More »
One of the main reasons big-studio movies always feel appealing is because of the way they’ve been shot, or, more precisely, the way they’ve been lighted. The dp for Rumor Has It is Peter Deming (The Jacket, I Heart Huckabees), and he has totally followed the standard drill by making all the actors in this trailer (Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Mark Ruffalo, Shirley MacLaine, etc.) look movie-star exquisite. Perfectly dressed, just the right hint of a golden-amber glow on their skin, every hair follicle arranged just so, etc. Nobody ever talks about this, but the superficially sensual composition in these films is why they tend to sell many more tickets to the hoi polloi than sometimes more provocatively photographed indie films. Average folks respond to the vibe of these damn things because they provide a certain sense of visual Tupperware tidiness by way of Victoria’s Secret…a sense of middle-class security…a visual massage effect by way of the carefully calibrated photography.Read More »
Slamdance co-founder Dan Mirvish, a good guy and the director of the indie musical Open House, “recently” fell and broke his leg and busted his shoulder, according to a story on Film Threat. Does “recently” mean he had the accident a week ago…in early July…what? Sorry Dan’s going through this — I don’t like to hear about anyone wincing in pain. There are addresses in the Film Threat story for sending Mirvish a get-well note or a can of sliced pineapples or whatever.Read More »
The Hollywood Elsewhere news ticker went “live” as of roughly 4:30 pm today, and is now up and running! Congratulations and deepest thanks to the great Jim Stanley for hanging in there and making it work the way it was always supposed to. Thanks also to the creator of the software, a guy from Romania named Adamus Capuano. The speed of the copy is slightly faster on Internet Explorer than on Firefox (which I abruptly switched to last night) or Netscape, and the copy prematurely stops feeding on these two browsers as well as Safari, but we’ll be refining things and also adding new RSS feeds as we go along, etc. It looks pretty damn good for now.Read More »
Sorry to jump into this so late, but The Island‘s lousy opening weekend wasn’t a “disaster” ($12.1 million at theatres…a pathetic $3876 per site) as much as totally pre-ordained. It was never really alive and in the game, and everyone knew this all along. Tracking figures were never very good, and once the word got around after the 7.13 nationwide sneak that it was more or less another THX 1138 or Logan’s Run…forget it. Everything was tried, loads of TV ad money was spent, and the dogs just didn’t want to eat the dog food.Read More »
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s second-weekend take was $27.5 million, a 51% dip from its opening weekend total. That means more than a few who’ve seen it came out of the theatre in a moderately unhappy frame of mind. The second-weekend total of Wedding Crashers, however, was down a mere 24% for a fresh haul of $25.7 million…a lot higher than I predicted on Friday. Happening!Read More »
What’s the rumble about Must Love Dogs, the John Cusack-Diane Lane romance that snuck last night? Variety‘s Justin Chang praised Cusack’s performance but called the film “middling.” His lead graph begins, “To properly appreciate Must Love Dogs, one must first love John Cusack…thesp’s maverick turn steals the show.” James Watson, non-pro from Tallahassee, wrote in this afternoon and said pic “wasn’t half bad. The theatre sold out with mostly 30 to 40 year-old women in the audience, and it played extremely well with them. I found it mildly diverting, although it did have a few laugh-out-loud moments. Lane and Cusack have reasonably good chemistry together. Within the constraints of the summer romance meet-cute genre, it’s definitely well above average.”Read More »
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott…together again? That’s what I hear, but that’s all I’ve heard.Read More »
You’ve got to keep on your toes if you’re doing an online anything, and especially a gossip column. Take Radar‘s “Paris Review”, which is written by Julie Bloom and Derek De Koff. In Friday’s 7.22 posting they ran a multiple-choice quiz that led with a question about Paris Latsis’ obsession with fiance Paris Hilton, and which included a photo of the couple calling them “the future Mr. and Mrs. Latsis.” Very soon afterwards the Star‘s website ran a story saying the wedding’s off and Paris has flown home from Greece, etc. I don’t know if the Star has it right and I personally don’t give a shit about any of this, but if you were Bloom and De Koff wouldn’t you want to check this out and possibly shuffle your copy around if required, just so it looks like…you know, you’re on top of it? There are no “weekends off” in journalism…not any more.Read More »
So the Hollywood Elsewhere team is trying to install a travelling news-ticker thing at the very top of the column, but we’re having trouble with a software that looked very cool at first but has since developed some problems. Are there any software designers out there with a solid reliable news-ticker software that can handle RSS feeds from different sites, maintain the same look and speed on different browsers, and generally be steady and consistent all the way around the block? If you can fill the bill, I’ll not only buy it from you — I’ll tell everyone else how good it is on the site.Read More »
Variety‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that the “official” title of Steven Spielberg’s currently-rolling feature about Israel’s revenge on the Palestinians behind the 1972 Munich killing of Israeli athletes is Munich…or at least that the cover page of Tony Kushner’s script “starts” with this word. Fleming repeats the general concern about the film leaning too heavily on a book about the Israeli operation called “Vengeance,” because the book’s veracity “has been widely questioned.” Look…I figured this whole thing out in a piece than ran on March 9th. Read it over and tell me if it doesn’t make sense. The bottom line is that Munich will be Spielberg’s second major-league...Read More »