The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil wrote
earlier today to ask for a quote about the Best Animated Feature
race as it looks now. His piece
just went up, but here’s my summation in my own words:
Ratatouille is the front-runner but the matter of
Beowulf‘s classification is far more interesting.
I’ve seen most of the 3D Beowulf product reel that
played at Comic-Con, and the digital work has convinced me that
it’s the most out-there and avant-garde-ish animated stuff
I’ve seen in ages — far more so than Richard
Linklater‘s Waking Life or A Scanner
Darkly, and way in front of...
Sixteen minutes of Samuel L. Jacksontalking about a few things — his role as “Champ,” a charismatic, grimy-ass derelict revealed to be a former champion boxer in Resurrecting The Champ and the real-life story behind it, the intriguing success of 1408 (in which he played a relatively small role), the respective failures of Black Snake Moan and Snakes on a Plane, and his refusal to name a favorite among the Presidential candidates because nobody’s saying anything,” or words to that effect. (Recorded at yesterday’s Resurrecting the Champ junket at the Four Seasons hotel.)
Three factual statements: (a) Hilary Clinton has more black supporters than Barack Obama, (b) the archetypal Barack Obama voter “is a 28 year-old white woman with a Masters degree,” as Tucker Carlson said on MSNBC a few minutes ago and (c) there’s a certain portion of the electorate who will never vote for Obama because he’s black. The last statement especially. We all know this deep down, and that the no-way-in-hell voters are not just old-school Jim Crow types with shotguns racks in their pickup trucks. But no one will ever address it, least of all the Obama campaign.
Ingmar Bergman “stopped making motion pictures
in 1982, though he wrote and directed several small films for
writesN.Y. Post columnist John
Podorhetz. “And the truth is, he quit just in time. His
day had passed. After decades of declaring modern life worthless
and offering only suicide as a way out of the nightmarish tangle of
human existence, Bergman had nothing more to
Podhoretz also says that “the critics who described Bergman as
the greatest of film artists were people embarrassed by the
movies. They didn’t admire the medium. They were offended
by its unseriousness, by its capacity to entertain without offering
“Ingmar Bergman had an audience of one aside from himself. The one he always sang about was you. His was one symphony with slight variations — from childhood to old age. (My favorite is obviously Wild Strawberries, aging, I hope with some slight honor). The two warriors have always been life and death, who had deep respect for one another. There is no death unless there is no throbbing life; otherwise you never die because you have never lived.” — Studs Terkel as quoted on Roger Ebert‘s tribute page to Bergman.
The closest contact I ever had with Ingmar
Bergman, so to speak, was a night in 1981 or ’82 when I
talked for a long while with Harriet
Andersson, who had a relationship with Bergman in the
’50s and starred in various Bergman films of that general period
(including Summer With Monika, Sawdust and Tinsel, Through a
Glass Darkly) and later costarred in Fanny and
There was actually a little more than talking going on. There
was enough of an attraction that after 90 minutes or so Andersson
suggested that we could perhaps leave the party (some invitational
soiree on behalf of Swedish filmmakers that was happening in some
cavernous space in Soho or Tribeca) and head uptown and… who
I knew one thing: an attractive middle-aged woman (she was nudging
I’ve been told that a $70 million-plus haul for The Bourne Ultimatum this weekend is out of the question. I’ve been thinking that it might just happen because the word is out that it’s the best action film in many a moon — an instant genre classic — and that it’s not particularly sadistic or even brutal, and that these elements may result in heavier-than- normal patronage from teens, women and family auds. The counter-argument is that Casino Royale opened to $40.8 million and The Bourne Supremacy did $52.5 million “so there’s very little family/four-quadrant element to this, so it virtually can’t jump to those upper numbers,” as one guy put it.
Why were films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porky’s,
American Pie and The Last American Virgin “both
commercially and artistically successful? Because the creators
drew from real-life experiences, and therefore
made movies that reflected the genuine nostalgia they felt for
“These films weren’t made from an assembly line, where a group
of old men sitting around a boardroom tried to come up with
‘shockingly hilarious’ bits to stitch into a sex comedy. These
films — well, except perhaps for Porky’s — had
sincere characters and solid story
construction upon which to hang the naughty bits.”
So says a rant by The Rec
Show’s “Ray” about a
Which director working today is the ultimate anti-Antonioni? A filmmaker who not only expresses an overwhelming indifference to the “haunting nothingness” element woven into the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, but whose films seem to be strenuously arguing with this — films that seem to say over and over that there’s no such thing as spiritual ennui or alienation, and that each and every particle of each and every moment in our lives is filled with vibrancy and connectivity. Or should I ask if there’s any filmmaker at all out there who seems to be at least aware of this age-old current? Or has “nothingness” become so prevalent that alluding to it in any way, shape or form would be regarded by audiences as a big “duhhh”?
Agreed — Josh Hartnett gives an exceptional,
above-average performance in Resurrecting
The Champ (Yari Film Group, 8.24). He plays an ambitious
sports writer…I don’t want to get into this just yet. (Tomorrow,
the next day…it’s a good film and all in good time.) What I asked
Hartnett about instead was an earlier performance — the best he’s ever
given, if you ask me — in a movie that very few people
saw called Mozart and the Whale.
Resurrecting the Champ star Josh Hartnett in 12th
floor suite in the Four Seasons hotel — Monday, 7.30.07, 3:40
I didn’t actually see it myself. I saw a sweetened-up
Will Elizabeth Guider, a smart Variety veteran, being named editor of The Hollywood Reporter (effectively replacing the departed Cynthia Littleton) make any difference in the fortunes of the second trade? This sorta feels like a status-quo, within-the-perimeter move. Not bold or radical enough to keep Reporter revenues from…I was going to say “sliding even further in this, a declining marketplace for print.” Put it this way: does anyone think the Guider hire is likely to improve matters? Not in the view of Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke, who filed this story late Monday morning.
To judge by his lean appearance, Robert De Niro was several years younger when he filmed this promo spot on behalf of the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s for some kind of profile of the festival that was destined to appear “Tuesday on Fox,” as De Niro says. The funny…no, hilarious part comes when the off-camera director asks him to sell it “with a little more energy” and De Niro goes, “I’m sorry but that was energetic….you don’t know what you’re talking about…sorry…I’m not selling cars, okay?” (Posted recently or six months ago — don’t know the story — on GorillaMask.net.)
An excerpt from a Dick Cavett interview with Ingmar Bergman on a show that originally aired August 2, 1971. Key quote: “It is absolutely impossible for me to work with a producer who would try to tell me what to do. If he tries, I would ask him to go to hell.” Here’s a second excerpt with Persona costar Bibi Andersson taking part.
Judd Apatow and Greg Mottola‘s
easily the sharpest and funniest teen-sex comedy in ages,
has an issue of concern. New tracking is in and it’s not doing all
that well — 26, 25 and 1. For a film that’s
opening in two and a half weeks — Friday, 8.17 — that’s not awful
(things can change) but the marketers have to start
scrambling. The film clearly sells itself, so Sony should
sneak it this weekend. The trailer plays nicely, but it doesn’t
really convey how above-par exceptional this film is. The Bourne Ultimatum, opening this weekend, is running at
91, 56 and 28 — figure a three-day tally in the
$70 to $80 million range. Bratz is 46, 13 and
somewhere between 0 and 1. El Cantante is at 46, 16 and 3.
Hot Rod — 62, 25 and 2...
A South Park episode I happened to catch last night called “Make Love, Not Warcraft” was laugh-out-loud funny and flat-out brilliant. The site says it’s been nominated for a primetime Emmy, which is no surprise. This is one of the most perceptive and subversive takes on the psychology and emotional babycake lives of hard-core gamers I’ve ever seen. I don’t laugh out loud all that much, but I did last night.
This 1964 Bruce Lee interview (which I happened upon this morning on nerve.com) is worth watching for Lee’s expression when he mentions that he majored in philosophy in college. He hesitates for a brief instant before admitting this, and his eyes flick to the side just after.
Tom Snyder cracks have been de rigeur
since the ’70s when Dan Aykroyd began spoofing him
on SNL, but Snyder — who died yesterday from
lukemia at age 71 — always had my absolute respect for a single
interview he did with Sterling Hayden in, I think,
1977 or thereabouts.
That interview, which ought to be on You Tube or at least on DVD,
felt to me like one of the greatest TV chats I’d ever seen because
it was so nakedly confessional. I knew Hayden
slightly in the late ’70s to early ’80s — he was my first
movie-star interview (i.e., on the set of Frank
Pierson‘s King of the Gypsies) and he lived in my
hometown of Wilton, Connecticut — and so I recognized to
some extent how candid he was being with Snyder. I especially
remember Hayden saying on that...
That hooded, black-robed figure with the stern expression and
almost Kabuki-white face paid a visit to Ingmar
Bergman‘s home on the island of Faro last weekend
(or certainly within the last few days). I like to think he would
have been polite about it and knocked on the front door, but one
way or the other he sat by the bed and took the one of the
four or five greatest film directors of the 20th Century
by the hand, and that was more or less that — a final transition
and fade to black.
The man was a genius, a God…a deliverer of pure, chilly clarity
in a muddled and equivocating world. His work was astounding,
penetrating, devastating. Ingmar Bergman made me feel better about
being an occasional misanthrope and down- head and a sometime
depressive than any other artist I’ve ever...
9.29 L.A. Times essay, critic Kenneth Turan
seems to be writing about Once from a slightly different
angle — i.e., how come it took so long for this exquisite little
film to get picked up? — than
the one I went with yesterday, which was basically “how come
more Average Joes haven’t paid to see it?” But he gets around to
the exact same thing at the conclusion.
“After watching Evan Almighty, I noticed that the
exiting audience — pale, wan and harrowed — were collectively
singing the post-movie equivalent of the lamentations of Jeremiah,
emitting cries not unlike those of the sorely tested Job or the
benighted citizens of plague-fatigued Egypt, and
generally cursing His Holy Name with every obscenity in the
“All the Big Questions popped rapidly into my mind: ‘Why does God
inflict Bad Movies on Good People?’ and more pertinently, ‘How can
we know for certain that God is good if he permitted this
piece of dung to reach our screens?’
“Certainly Evan Almighty (‘a laugh-drought of biblical
proportions,’ one critic called it) performed a breathtaking
miracle by making Steve Carell unfunny, but the
film should have believers and nonbelievers alike down on their
Edward Norton participated in a Hulk dog-and-pony show in front of 6500 Comic-Conners
yesterday along with costar Liv Tyler, Hulk director
Louis Leterrier, and producers Avi
Arad and Gale Anne Hurd. It had to have
felt a little forced. Norton simply isn’t part of the tribe —
doesn’t talk geek, look geek….the genes and the attendant
belief systems simply weren’t passed along by his parents
— and no amount of good-sport promo whoring can change that fact.
reporting by MTV.com’s Larry Carroll.)
“And heah, out of the oven…the chicken and the peahs….very nice…sort of a French thing….a little pepper on the top….400 degrees…one hour….these peahs are very nice, very tasty…they’ve gotten kinda candied …pehrfect with the chicken…they go very well togetheah.” — Christopher Walkencooking what looks like a delicious upright chicken along with six or eight sweetened pears. Walken’s a serious foodie, but it’s hard to watch this video without wondering when the punchline’s coming, even though you realize there probably won’t be one. And you’d be right.
We’ve all chewed on the notion of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and maybe Neal Moritz co-writing a Green Hornet movie in which Rogen will play the title role as well as his alter ego, the “debonair newspaper publisher” Britt Reid. But what can be made of this report from Coming Soon’s Edward Douglas about a Comic-Con Superbad q & a in which Rogen “stated very clearly that the movie is ‘not a comedy, it’s an action movie.’”
Is there anyone in the world who believes Rogen & Co. won’t be tweaking the material for at least some laughs? Playing it straight doesn’t seem to be Rogen’s repertoire, or am I missing something? And who, for that matter, is going to buy him as any kind of butt-kicker? With that beer, nachos and chili-dog physique of his?
I watched the Bee Movie footage
at the Cannes Film Festival, I listened to Jerry
Seinfeld do a funny
riff about it, and it all seemed fine. I said on the day of the
Cannes thing that “I’m half into it…I like ‘silly’
if the movie really goes for it whole-hog.” But this one-sheet is
just…what is it? It’s dull and smug like
cereal-box art. It seems afraid to say or do anything that might
define the movie in some specific attitudinal way, and thereby
persuade some of us to actually sit up and take notice.
A hundred years hence, film historians will look back at the
epic-quest CG fantasy fanboy-adventure genre
(Arthurian comic-book fables, other-worldly milieus, mind-blowing
visuals, Joseph Campbell-esque heroes in their
20s, constant insinuations and threats from all-powerful
reptilian villians, relentless physical combat or
sword-fight scenes, gah-gah finales) and be absolutely
agog that tens of millions went to these films over and
over again for decades (geek culture has sprayed shorts over these
films since Star Wars opened 30 years ago) without making
a peep about how oppressively similar they were
from year to year, decade to decade.
There’s a funny caption that needs to go with this photo, which accompanies Michael Cieply‘s readable but slightly ho-hum Comic-Con story in the 7.27 N.Y. Times. Who would’ve thought when Jabba the Hut first appeared in Return of the Jedi 24 years ago that he would gradually become an icon of…naahh, not today.
The high-def trailer for Susanne Bier‘s Things We Lost in the Fire (Dreamamount, 10.26). It’s a working-through-tragedy story about the best friend of a dead guy — a dad who had a wife and two or three kids — slowly edging into intimacy of one form or another (perhaps not sexual) with his widow. One viewing and you can tell that Benicio del Toro (i.e., the best friend) is giving one of his most appealing performances — his most accessible since Traffic. Halle Berry is the widow; David Duchovny is the deceased ex.