The latest Lewbowski Fest happened in NYC about ten days ago, on 10.20 and 10.21, and it just hit me: why was there no documentary about this home-grown phenomenon on the just-out The Big Lebowski Universal Home Video DVD (released 10.18)? They issued two different special editions (a regular-regular and an “achiever’s” edition, which cost $34 and change) and obviously spent a good amount of coin promoting them, but they couldn’t cut together a short piece about the Lebowski fans? Will Russell and Scott Shuffitt have been putting on Lebowskifests since ’02, and they’re obviously genuine and repeating. Fox Home Video’s Rocky Horror Picture Show special edition DVD (released in 2000) included a special feature about the fans showing up at...Read More »
Bob Berney’s Picturehouse Films has shelled out $3.75 million to be the distributor of Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, a feature based on Garrison Keillor’s radio show. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly costar. Berney caught the film at a distributor screening in Manhattan last Thursday. (Another screening happened Friday in L.A.) Variety‘s Ian Mohr reports there was a bidding war, hence the nearly four million dollar fee. An impression was passed along by a couple of set-visit articles that Paul Thomas Anderson informally co-directed Prairie Home Companion, as a favor to Altman having to do with insurance issues. Berney told Mohr that the almost-certainly- folksy film would come out between April and June, and that he would sell it in part to “people who don’t go to every movie but will come out if they find something — the underserved older audience.”Read More »
Wow, did you read that undeniably dispiriting excerpt from Maureen Dowd’s forthcoming book in Sunday’s New York Times (“What’s a Modern Girl To Do?”). The book is called “Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), and the subject is how today’s younger women have totally shunned feminism and have reverted back to a 1950s sensibility — catching a man, being demure, letting him pay and going shopping, etc. The subtext, of course, is basically Dowd’s coming to terms with the probable fact that she’s too intimidating to attract a suitably high-powered guy and keep him (i.e., persuade him to propose getting married), and that being a strong, whip-smart professional of a certain age, she’s more or less doomed to live a single life and that’s that. And that feminism has led her to this...Read More »
Gotta love that Bob Berney marketing audacity. Lay it on the
line, sell the movie you have and damn the torpedoes.
I’m referring to Berney’s decision to call a certain heart-warming, Israeli-produced film, which his company, Picturehouse Films, picked up for U.S. distribution a few months ago…a movie that, let’s be honest, very few people other than Orthodox Jews in New York and Florida will want to see no matter what it’s called…a movie that Berney, in his admirably mule-stubborn way, has decided to sell with its orig- inal title, which is…ready?…Ushpizin.
Shuli Rand, star and screenwriter of Ushpizin, enduring a moment of anti-rapture
I would have called it Holy Guests or Bad Company or something like that. Partly because the movie’s about a Jewish Orthodox couple...Read More »
Look at the photo of the bearded, bug-eyed guy wearing a flannel shirt on this Yahoo news site page, and answer the following question honestly. We all need to try and look within, to always try to empathize with what the other guy is going through, etc., but that aside and solely on a visual first-impression basis, does the look in this guy’s eyes freak you out? Just a tiny bit? Does he seem in any way, shape or form like the same guy who stuck a gun in his mouth in that phony mobile beach home in Lethal Weapon 18 years ago? (That freaks me out also…18 years ago?) There’s no question that Mel Gibson, who’s about to start directing Apocalypto in the jungles of Mexico near Veracruz, has gone from being on his own philosphical-religious trip to physically being...Read More »
Jim Choma’s Florida-based Zipperfish site doesn’t have an onsite search engine, but a week or so ago there was an inspired animated riff about 50 Cent and Get Rich or Die Tryin’…and now I can’t find it and link to it. Very sharp stuff. Tell you what…watch this thing…a Zipperfish video clip of a newswoman having a Freudian slip moment. Choma (a.k.a. “Walrus”) has a Friday night live-radio talk show on his site, which inspired me to get in touch. Choma then turned me on to Jeff Beard, a tech guy who lives in the same Florida town, and now Beard is helping me launch “Elsewhere Live.”Read More »
Many thanks to the Toronto Star‘s esteemed movie critic and essayist Peter Howell for giving my upcoming internet radio show, “Elsewhere Live,” a mention in yesterday’s (Friday, 10.28) column. That said, I have no choice but to post a slight correction. “Elsewhere Live” — an easily thing to listen to as long as you have Winamp and follow the instructions — will begin on this site on Sunday, 11.20, and not tomorrow night, or Sunday the 30th, as promised by Peter’s item. (I mentioned the 11.20 date in a Wired item posted a couple of days ago.) I could start broadcasting as soon as tomorrow night, but I want to get the bugs out of the system first. Thanks again to Mr. Howell for the support.Read More »
The trailer for Ben Younger’s Prime (Universal, opening today) told you the film would be sitcommy and Nora Ephronish. And the trailer guys lied. (Big surprise!) They sold the set-up — Jewish middle-aged Manhattan therapist (Meryl Streep) realizes that the much younger man that her 37 year-old patient (Uma Thurman) is having an affair with is her 23 year-old son (Bryan Greenberg) — and, of course, ignored what the film is. Prime is, okay, slightly contrived but also an engaging, not boring, socially acute, well-performed New York adult romantic comedy. The issues are not just the difficulties in a hot love affair between a woman nudging 40 and a guy just out of college, but more fundamentally the difficulties in selling a possible long-term relationship with an older blonde shiksa to the younger man’s New York Jewish family. Craft-wise and in terms of the art of hitting the right emotional note in just the right way, Prime...Read More »
If I wanted to just blurt it out and cut to the chase, I could
say that Jarhead (Univ- ersal, 11.4) is nothing. But it’s
not entirely nothing — it’s the fall’s first major what-
the-hell-were-they-thinking? movie, and that ain’t hay. Trust me,
it’s going to send tens of thousands of viewers out of theatres and
into the street next weekend (it’s tracking…it’ll open) asking
themselves this very question.
Based on Anthony Swofford’s first-person account of his experience as a Marine during the 1991 Gulf War, Jarhead was probably pitched to Universal execs as the first GenX war movie…the Nirvana generation’s answer to Full Metal Jacket.
Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrives at U.S. airbase in Saudi Arabia, ready to whoop ass.
It was...Read More »
Anyone who’s seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy (or,
more to the point, has sat through the extended versions on DVD)
knows Peter Jackson has never been into brevity. He couldn’t
operate farther from a less-is-more aesthetic if he tried.
Eye-filling visuals, teary emotionalism, portentousness, sets and costumes that are just so, probing closeups, dialogue scenes that go on longer and are more exacting than necessary…Jackson loves to heap on the syrup.
It should therefore come as no surprise that King Kong, his latest film which Universal will open theatrically on 12.14 (or six and a half weeks from today), is going to run three hours, according to aRead More »
Get ready for “Elsewhere Live,” a twice-weekly live-internet-radio talk show with telephone call-ins and all kinds of blah-dee-blah from yours truly. It’ll start on Sunday, 11.20, and run also on Thursday evening (let’s say at 10 pm EST, 7 pm Pacific). We’re not talking about some Podcast bullshit (although the radio broadcasts will be archived and downloadable). We’re talking about something new here…real throbbing internet radio that you can listen to “live” and call in to, just like any regular-ass radio talk show. And I won’t have screeners!Read More »
My God, this is it…it’s here…Albert Brooks’ Looking for Comedy in the Muslim Word, which will hit theatres in January…oh my God, I can’t stand it…all that lovely brown skin, all those thick accents, those awful Ali Baba shoes, that lovely Iranian/Pakistani/what- ever olive-skinned woman whom Brooks hires, etc.Read More »
I know you’re not supposed to ask this and I’m sorry for the sudden loss of producer and Blake Edwards colleague Tony Adams, whom I interviewed in ’81 or thereabouts about one of the Edwards’ films…10 or S.O.B., I forget which…but who dies of a stroke at 52? What happened to the poor guy? How come obits never fill in the blanks?Read More »
In the mid ’50s, before CinemaScope lenses were perfected, everything and everyone looked horizontally distorted. The joke was that actors had the “CinemaScope mumps.” But on widescreen TVs today — in bars, people’s living rooms, electronic media showrooms — the distortion is easily double what the CinemaScope mumps syndrome delivered, and nobody blinks an eye. Across- the-board high-def widescreen TV is being promised by Direct TV and Comcast, etc., but the vast majority of broadcast images are still standard-sized (aspect ratio of 4 x 3, meant to fit your mom and pop’s TV)…and yet!…the idiots who own widescreen TVs are showing everything at the 16 x 9 ratio because they want to get their money’s worth — i.e., I bought a widescreen TV, I want to see widescreen TV! Filling up your 16 x 9 TV screen (like what…a gas tank?) is the single most cretinous visual vogue afoot in...Read More »
Claire Simpson’s editing of The Constant Gardener is a kind of rhapsodic visual dance, and obviously fully deserving of an Oscar nom. It’s hard to define the difference between oppressively heebie-jeebie, ants-in-your-pants film editing..the kind that makes you grit your teeth and makes you feel like you’re swatting invisible flies (like the cutting of the action sequences in Paul Greengraass’s The Bourne Supremacy), and what Simpson and director Fernando Meirelles achieve in Gardener. But one sings and the other doesn’t, and, according to this piece by the Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheigh Crabtree, admiration for Simpson’s editing has been voiced repeatedly by her peers.Read More »
Responses to The Producers (Universal, 12.15) from a couple of readers who’ve gotten in touch have been underwhelming, but reaction among regular folks at research screenings, I’m told, has been fairly ecstatic. The guys who didn’t like it told me the same thing…people were clapping at the end of each song and having a blast. It’s okay to have a good time with broad, brassy obvious entertainments. I guess the only ones who are likely to have problems with this film are…let’s fill in the blank later.Read More »
The IFP is getting an early start on things by announcing its nominations for the 15th Annual Gotham Awards, which will be handed out on 11.30 in New York City. It’s a nice inclusionary gesture to nominate Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane and Miranda July’s You and Me and Everyone We Know as competitors with Brokeback Mountain, Capote and A History of Violence for Best Feature. Ditto Michael Almereyda’s William Eggleston in the Real World against Ballet Russes, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man and Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s Murderball.Read More »
My favorite flip-through book last summer was David Kamp and
“The Rock Snob’s Dictionary” (Broadway Books), an incisive and
tidy sum-up guide about the who, what and wherefores of elitist
And now I’m into “The Film Snob’s Dictionary,” which I scored an advance copy of last week. It’s less of an education than “Rock Snobs” — I’m obviously much more familiar with the turf — but I’m having just as good a time with the knowingness and wit and concise prose style.
“The Film Snob’s Dictionary” won’t be out until February ’06 (to tie in with seasonal Oscar frenzy), but I don’t think I’m blurbing it too early...Read More »
Just to be clear, I don’t hate March of the Penguins. It’s a fairly soulful and well-made film. What I don’t like…what I couldn’t stand as I saw the French-language version..was the tediousness of all that trekking across the frozen wastelands, and all the sitting around. If I were a penguin I would end it all. I would jump into the water in hopes of being eaten by a killer whale. George Clooney knows what I’m talking about.Read More »
Variety‘s Justin Chang is calling Gore Verbinksi’s The Weather Man (Paramount, 10.28) “one of the biggest downers to emerge from a major studio in recent memory…an overbearingly glum look at a Chicago celebrity combing through the emotional wreckage of his life.” This view has been understood by Paramount for some time, and is one reason why they put off opening it earlier this year. (The theory apparently being that gloomy films play better in the fall.) “Aiming for an Alexander Payne-style synthesis of wry comedy and unflinching character study,” Chang continues, “pic has been made with the utmost sincerity, but the frankly lugubrious material and barely compensating spasms of humor are all but impossible to warm to, spelling an uncertain B.O. forecast for Paramount.” I saw The Weather Man several months ago...Read More »
Funny The Legend of Zorro review by Variety‘s Brian Lowry…but how is it that I knew this period actioner would be “bigger, louder and considerably less charming than its predecessor” before reading Lowry or anyone else? I must be gifted with a sixth sense. The Martin Campbell-directed sequel (Columbia, 10.28) “gets by mostly on dazzling stunt work and the pleasure of seeing its dashing and glamorous leads back in cape and gown,” says Lowry. “But the firm hand [Campbell] exhibited on the first go-round is shakier here, as the opening hour flits all over and hits some curiously flat patches. Only in the second half does the movie settle in a bit. A quartet of writers contributed to the script, and it certainly has the feel of work by committee. And while there are again welcome moments of humor, some are pitched so broadly it’s easy to wonder if this is supposed to be a sequel to Zorro or Blazing Saddles.”Read More »
What a bummer year for George Clooney…seriously. I was thinking about this from time to time last weekend. Head pain, thoughts of suicide, short-term memory loss, and then his dog was killed by a rattlesnake…Jesus. It started with Clooney filming a scene in Syriana (Warner Bros., 11.23) in which he “was taped to a chair and getting beaten up and we did quite a few takes. The chair was kicked over and I hit my head. I tore my dura, which is the wrap around my spine which holds in spinal fluid. But it’s not my back, it’s my brain. I basically bruised my brain. It’s bouncing around my head because it’s not supported by the spinal fluid.” The scene in which Clooney’s chair is kicked over will presumably be in Stephen Gaghan’s film. (Jeffrey Hunter’s eye was damaged from flying sand during the filming of an Omaha Beach combat scene in The Longest Day, and the moment of injury stayed in the film.) Hey, shouldn’t WB be showing Syriana now? It’s less than four weeks away.Read More »
Performances that stay with you. Cinematography (by Roger Deakins) to die for. Waiting for Godot in the sand. All geared up and cranked up and no one to shoot. The hip journos — the ones I’ve spoken to who are sharp and fair-minded enough to get the unique character of it, not to mention the sublime quality of presentation — are liking and admiring Sam Mendes’ Jarhead (Universal, 11.4).Read More »
I’ve somehow missed what Jack Malvern of the London Times Online is reporting in advance of the London Film Festival debut of March of the Penguins, which is that U.S. conservative commentators have embraced the Warner Independent release as a monogamy and right-to-life metaphor. Rightie film critic Michael Medved says it √¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢√É‚Äû√É¬∫most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing.” Uhm, okay. Sacrifice and child-rearing, fine…but forget monogamy. Penguins creator Luc Jacquet says that penguins are far less monogamous than people. “If you want an example of monogamy, penguins are not a good choice,” Jacquet told Malvern. “The divorce rate in emperor penguins is 80 to 90 per cent each year. After they see the chick is okay, most of them divorce. They change every year.”Read More »
Apologies for ducking out of sight since late Friday. I don’t believe in days off. Mentally, that is. But some inexorable force demanded a two-and-a-half-day shutdown & that was that.Read More »
You can bid a sad Oscar farewell to Sean Penn, Willie Stark,
Patty Clarkson, Mike Medavoy and director-writer Steven Zallian…at
least as far as the ’05 race is concerned.
All The King’s Men, a southern political melodrama about the corruption of a home-grown politician in the mode of Louisiana Senator Huey P. Long, has been pulled from its 12.16 release date, which has been scheduled for several months now.
Sean Penn in Steven Zallian’s All The King’s Men
ATKM will probably open in late ’06, according to
Medavoy, the film’s producer and head of the Sony-based Pheonix
Medavoy told me Thursday afternoon that “we’re just not ready” to release All The King’s Men by 12.16.
“And although I’m personally not happy that we...