On the occasion of its Venice Film Festival showing, Variety‘s David Rooney has gone thumbs-down on Douglas McGrath‘s Infamous, the other Truman Capote-writes-”In Cold Blood” movie from Warner Independent (opening 10.13). “There was an integrity and character- complexity to Bennett Miller ‘s Capote that’s missing from this glossier biopic…none of it rings true…Infamous doesn’t measure up to its predecessor and seems unlikely to echo the attention it received.” But Hollywod Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt thinks it’s pretty damn good. Infamous, he writes early on, “gives you the unique opportunity to see how two sets of filmmakers can take exactly the same story, make extremely tough though different choices in emphasis and tone and achieve brilliant movies.” Go figure. I’ve seen it, but no review until the Toronto Film Festival.Read More »
Variety‘s Phil Gallo starts out telling it straight and true about David Leaf and John Scheinfeld‘s The U.S. vs. John Lennon (Lionsgate, 9.15) in his Venice Film Festival review, but then he begins to equivocate and cottonball. As does the film itself.
Here are my three main arguments with the documentary, which
Lionsgate will release on 9.15 after showings at the Telluride and
Toronto film festivals, along with
(a) The doc does “persuasively chronicle an artist sticking to his guns through activism” as the U.S. government conspired to kick Lennon out of...
From: Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere. To: Dreamamount publicity/ marketing. Re: An open letter about the selling of David Fincher‘s Zodiac (currently set for release on 1.19.07).
Greetings and salutations, guys: I’m writing to ask what the
upside is in not platform-releasing
Zodiac at the end of December, which is what certain
Dreamamount parties are apparently against at this stage. A late
December release, obviously, will put Zodiac into the
derby and make it eligible for whatever possible critic awards and
or Academy nominations that may result. This, obviously, would
fortify the 1.19 general release to some extent.
Not putting Zodiac out as an ’06 platform end-of-December release strikes me as nonsensical, certainly from the standpoint of...
Peter Jackson, the reigning enfant terrible and
anti-Christ of overbaked, overcranked CG movies,
to produce a remake of a well-regarded British World War II
flick called The Dam Busters (1954). Jackson’s King
Kong animator Christian Rivers will direct…an
animator! Obviously there’s a determination to play heavily with
the visual element, or Rivers wouldn’t have the gig.
The original film told the true story of how Britain developed “bouncing bombs” that destroyed German dams during that conflict. “There’s that wonderful mentality of the British during the war,” Jackson told Screen Daily. “That heads-down, persevering, keep-on-plugging-away mentality which is the spirit of Dam Busters.”
Trust me — the spirit of the Jackson-Rivers...
Neil LaBute‘s The Wicker Man, which
Warner Bros. won’t show to the press, is apparently going to be the
biggest peformer this weekend. 72% general
awareness with a 34 definite interest and a first choice of 11.
We’re looking at a four-day weekend (Labor Day holiday is on
Monday, 9.4) so figure somewhere between $15 and $20
Crank will probablycome in second among the newbies — 45 general awareness, 32 definite intrest, first choice 8.
The Illusionst, which I finally saw two or three nights ago and is better than I figured it would be, is going wide. And there’s also Crossover, the decent-looking black basketball movie from Screen Gems.
Samuel Goldwyn’sLassie, a first-rate family-geared film that I saw on DVD last night, could do some real business if it had a more aggressive distributor. The problem is that...
“The movies haven’t been very good the last three or four years, they really haven’t,” author/screenwriter/director Michael Tolkin tells N.Y. Times profiler David Halbfinger. “Everybody knows that. At least that, maybe more. And what [movies] were will never return.
“I don’t think America’s had a good [big] movie made since Abu
Ghraib,” Tolkin continues. “I think [that Iraqi prison-torture
scandal] showed that a generation that had been raised on those
heroic movies was torturing. National myths die, I don’t think they
return. And our national myth is finished, except in a kind
of belligerent way.”
Tolkin sat for this interview, which was published on Wednesday, 8.30, to plug his new book, “
Joseph Stefano, who wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and co-created the ’60s sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits, died on 8.25 at age 84. He was a very bright guy and fun to talk to. (I did a phoner with him six or seven years ago.) When you have a chance watch the 90-minute “Making of Psycho” doc on Universal Home Video’s most recent Psycho DVD — Stefano is interviewed extensively, and it’s obvious from the get-go that he’s a bright, affable, agreeable sort.Read More »
E-Film Critic’s Erik Childress has another
piece out, this one called “The Whores of
Summer and the Embargoes They Break.” It’s hard to
subscribe to strict black-and-white concepts of ethical
shilly-shallying for film critics. Everyone has a remnant
of dried jizz on his/her coatsleeve. Nobody is 100% pure. Not even
“Rabbi Dave’ Poland.
I guess Childress’ point is that some people whore out too much. They cross the line like Saddam Hussein crossed the line, and here’s Childress dropping bombs and delivering shock-and-awe. I’m not saying everyone is a whore, but I think it was Bob Dylan who once wrote, “Show me someone who’s not a parasite and I’ll say a prayer for him.”
Here’s Childress’s list of “The Ten Dumbest Blurbs Said...
As Lewis Beale pointed out this morning, the author of Glenn Ford‘s N.Y. Times obit, Richard Severo, failed to mention Ford’s role in Fritz Lang‘s The Big Heat (’53) — a significant listing on its own, but also a major career-accelerator for Ford. Severo and his editors also left out Delmer Daves ‘ 3:10 To Yuma (’57), an above-average Ford film that received some attention earlier this year after it was reported that Walk the Line director James Mangold was intending to remake it, first with Tom Cruise and then with Russell Crowe playing Ford’s bad-guy role. These are fairly significant omissions, Times guys!Read More »
Glenn Ford died today at age 90, and I’m sorry. A good life he had. But let’s be honest and admit the basic facts. Ford broke through with Gilda (1946), but his face and manner seemed a bit too young and smooth back then — he lacked character. He had taken some on by the time he starred in Fritz Lang ‘s The Big Heat (1953), and from then until the mid ’60s he was “Glenn Ford”.
Then his career eased down and stayed that way until the end 40
years later. He worked through the ’70s and sporadically in the
’80s, but Ford never aged or devel- oped into my idea of an
especially rich or dynamic man — he didn’t ripen. Ford was always a
reasonable middle type fellow. Being fierce and volcanic was never
in his quill.
He conveyed steeliness and repression at times, but Ford was...
This is several days late (a bit dusty even), but a colleague heard someone say last night that the happiest person about the Tom-Cruise- leaving-Paramount mucky-muck has to be Mel Gibson…back under the radar!Read More »
Roger Friedman reported earlier today that that two guys funding Tom Cruise‘s producton company, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Virginia home builder Dwight W. Schar, are Republicans supporters who give money to Bush-Cheney. Which underlines the obvious reading of this situation, which is that Cruise has gone outside the liberal Hollywood fold to fund C/W Prods. Snyder looks like a rightie with his fleshy overfed face and that white-shirt-and-red-tie combo, which no self-respecting Hollywood creative collaborator would be caught dead in.Read More »
“Chinatown it ain’t, not in any
says Variety critic Todd McCarthy
about Brian De Palma‘s The Black Dahlia,
which had its big world premiere several hours ago at the Venice
“Based on James Ellroy‘s estimable fictional account of what was, for 47 years, Los Angeles’ most notorious unsolved murder, this lushly rendered noir finds De Palma in fine visual fettle as he pulls off at least three characteristically eye-popping set pieces while trying, with mixed success, to keep some pretty cockeyed plotlines under control. A literally ripping good yarn is [ultimately] undercut by some lackluster performances and late-inning overripe melodrama.”
Hollywood Reporter critic...
All right, hold up on those no-one-cares-
sentiments. It’s running a 92% positive
rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a
critic I respect told me a couple of hours ago that he
“bawled like a baby” when he saw it a few days
Could this G-rated British programmer be made of the actual right stuff? You can’t blame me for presuming that this modest little film, opening 9.1 via the Samuel Goldywn Co., was just a run-of-the-mill family flick featuring auto-pilot paycheck performances by costars Peter O’Toole and Samantha Morton. Has anyone ever seen The Magic of Lassie (1978) with Jimmy Stewart? Stewart sang a song over the opening credits, and I haven’t forgotten that. It was horrible.
In an article
running today, L.A. Times guy John
listed four likely Telluride Film Festival selections that I
haven’t yet posted, to wit:
(a) Adrienne Shelly‘s Waitress , with Kerri Russell as a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south who falls into an affair with a visitor as an attempt to get out of her situation and redefine her life; (b) Susanne Bier‘s After the Wedding (sure to be strong and absorbing in the vein of Bier’s...
“All of [the] power is lying in the last third of the
movie, and you’re slowly ratcheting up the tension along
the way,” Wicker Man director-writer Neil
LaBute has told Coming
Soon’s Edward Douglas. “You have to be very
patient and say that I’m making a movie that people can watch and
enjoy, but it’s not something that’s going to keep rattling
the cage every few minutes. It’s just something that’s
constantly twisting, twisting itself so that you’re very caught up
“It’s knowing the genre, knowing how you want to approach that and how you want to surprise with it. You set up situations that look like very familiar ones where audiences are like, ‘I know what’s going to happen.’ You’re going to get close to that girl and then her...
The more Martin Scorsese‘s stock as a great
American auteur has plummeted, the more he’s focused his energies
on celebrating cinema culture by doing interviews
and providing commentaries for DVDs. I realize, of course, that
Marty is one of this country’s most devoted, impassioned and
knowledgable cineastes, and that he’s probably done more than any
other working director to preserve and restore great films and hail
But deep down I think he’s investing in his cinematic-historian thing as compensation for the lack of genuine electric current in his strivings as a narrative filmmaker.
Let’s face it — the two best films Scorsese has made since Goodfellas have been docs — My Voyage in Italy and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. When I think these days of the Marty I love and truly respect, I think of the guy who directed the...
I sifted through my DVD screeners last night trying to find my
copy of Al Franken:
And God Spoke (Balcony, 9.13), the Chris
Hegedus-Nick Doob doc about Franken’s political
adventures over the last two or three years . The doc
became a bit of a hot news item yesterday thanks
to the censorious instincts of right-wing harridan Ann
Coulter, as this Anthony
Kaufman/Indiewire item explains.
My intent was to find that debate scene between Franken and Coulter taped at Hartford’s Connecticut Forum on 5.14.04. It’s being cut from the final release print because Coulter and/or moderator Steve Roberts (most likely the former) won’t sign a...
We all run into films every so often that seem exceptional in a deep-down way. And not just in a particular-personal vein but smacking of some kind of profound life-lesson and/or greatness of theme that seems to reach out and strike a universal chord. Or they deliver an emotional connection that seems to reflect our commonality in some rich and resonant fashion. And yet — here’s the rub and the shock — much or most of the world doesn’t agree. Almost everyone you know and nearly every other critic seems bored, unmoved, mocking, snide.
And it just throws you into a funk. What’s going on here? I know this film nails it — why isn’t this more widely recognized? There are some who fell heavily for Phillip Kaufman‘s Quills, Gus Van Sant‘s Finding Forrester and Steven Soderbergh‘s Solaris…and they must have felt terrible when the world pretty much sneered and turned its back. Maybe we can hear some stories along these lines. Everybody’s got one or two or three.
With Roger Michell‘s Venus (Miramax., 12.15) now slated to play Telluride this weekend as well as Toronto, and all the talk about Peter O’Toole giving one of his career-best performances, you’d think the film would have its own website by now. But there’s nothing. Miramax needs to get the lead out. (And apologies for the fatigue that resulted in Harvey Weinstein being ID’d last night as the Venus distributor.)
Peter O’Toole, Jodie Whittaker in Roger Michell’s Venus (Miramax, 12.15)
This coming Friday is something like a Labor Day clearance sale with The Wicker Man, Crank, and Idiocracy — all opening on 9.1 — not screening for the press, and in the case of Lassie, barely screening for the press. (Nobody cares one way or the other.) Crossover , the basketball movie from Screen Gems, is screening this week. And of course, Kirby Dick‘s This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated has been screened a lot since debuting at Sundance last January. I called around today and tried to at least arrange to see The Wicker Man this coming Thuirsday night (there’s some kind of radio promoton fan showing somewhere) but Warner Bros. publicists won’t assist. Director Neil Labute is having a Thursday-night pally screeing in Manhattan. How bad can it be?Read More »
Christopher Smith‘s Severance (Magnolia, 3.07) , a reputedly witty horror-thriller, shot to the top of my Toronto must-see list earlier today when I found out it’s being screened at this weekend’s Telluride Film Festival. I don’t know when a horror film of any kind last played Tellruride, but obviously it wouldn’t have been accepted if it hadn’t been two or three cuts above the norm.
“Personally I think that horror comedy is veyr hard to do really
well,” says a buyer who saw it at Cannes last May, “but I think
Smith really nails it. And it’s intelligent to boot.”
I’m told that if you’re a fan of Dilbert and “Dilbert humor”, you’ll enjoy...
Kazu Workman of Crescenta, California, has passed along a review of the Ridley/Russell ‘s A Good Year, posted by Kellvin Chavez from Latino Review, And okay, all right…A Good Year may not be Oscar-caliber but at least there’s a notion afloat that it gives fans of quality acting and gorgeous cinematography something to look forward to.Read More »
A persuasive argument piece by MSNBC’s
Sarah Bunting that Steve Carell
deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in
Little Miss Sunshine…hail to that. (He and Alan
Arkin have been topping the list of Best Supporting Actor
possibles in the Oscar Balloon since last spring.)
But the thing you really want to look at on the same page is that MSNBC slide show of Oscar bait movies …hah! The banner copy says that “Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed will take on Clint Eastwood‘s Flags of Our Fathers“…hah!! (Which is the reason why Warner Bros. isn’t bringing The Departed to Toronto — because it’s such a tangy Oscar contender.)
Of the eleven films listed by MSNBC as likely Oscar bait, exactly four are rock-solid...
“I’m very confused personally,” actress Karen Young, 47, says to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Ron Dicker. “I feel like I was in this generation of women who were supposed to take care of ourselves, supposed to be totally self-sufficient and even support a husband. There was a lot of talk about being that way, and I don’t think it actually transpired. We kept our names, but that was about it.” — from Dicker’s 8.27 profile of Young.
I met Young at last year’s Toronto Film Festival when her latest film, Laurent Cantet‘s Heading South (Vers le sud),was first being shown. She’s also pretty good in Factotum, but me Young will always beRead More »
For some reason I never watched “How Scarface Got His Groove Back“, this trailer mash-up from editor Steve Kenny, when it surfaced last June. It’s not bad except for Brendan Raher‘s narration. He sounds too much like the guy who lives across the hall who just broke up with his girlfriend — trailer narrators always sound a little bit like slick Martians. (Editor’s Note: I came upon this Trailer Mash site — all trailer mashes, all the time — becuase David Poland linked to it this morning. That means Poland owns all links to this site in perpetuity.)Read More »
I know there are dozens of folks out there with Photoshop skills who can throw together a decent likeness of what Heath Ledger will look like as The Joker in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight. A guy sent me a version today that didn’t quite make it, but it put the hook in. I know this is doable & not difficult. I’ll post the best one and provide all links, etc.Read More »
The new one-sheet for Asger Leth and Milos Loncarevic’s Ghosts of Cite Soleil, which will show next week at Telluride and then Toronto. The exec producers are George Hickenlooper and Cary Woods.
Holy moley…there goes that idea of a John Mark Karr thriller with Naomi Watts playing Karr, which I mentioned last Tuesday. The D.A.’s office in Boulder, Colorado, announced its decision earlier today not to file criminal charges against Karr in the death of JonBenet Ramsey because his DNA doesn’t match the evidence found at the scene of her death 10 years ago. Amazing. The guy’s a pathetic charlatan. Kick him out of jail, put him on a bus. No TV-movie deals, no rights to his story…over.Read More »