I was told that earlier this week that the review date for
Andrew Dominik‘s The Assassination of Jesse
James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros., 9.21) would be
Tuesday, 9.4 — a curious guideline that didn’t take into account
the imminent unveiling at the Venice Film Festival. The bottom line
is that Variety‘s Todd McCarthy and the
Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt went
with reviews earlier today — a
euphoric rave and a
sneering pan, respectively.
I’m too travel-whipped to tap out an opinion — it’s 11:05 pm and
I’m fading fast — but
Woke at 5 this morning, Toronto plane took off at 7:05, arrived around 2:25 pm, unloaded and unpacked, walked down Bloor and then south from Bloor and Spadina down to Chinatown in search of a SIM card for my European-purchased cell phone (which took a while), discovered to my frustration that European-purchased cell phone bands don’t work in Canada, bought a cheapie cell with a SIM card so I’d have something to work with, sat down for some Chinese, walked around some, walked the dog, etc. Tomorrow is another day.
GreenCine Daily’s summation of
Venice Film Festival reactions to Brian DePalma‘s
Redacted — three yays (from the Hollywood
Reporter‘s Ray Bennett, the Telegraph’s David Grittten and Alternet’s Adam
Howard) and one nay (from Variety‘s Derek Elley) — obviously raises the
want-to-see for Toronto Film Festival folk.
The differences betwen Robert Koehler‘s
Paul Haggis‘s In The Valley of Elah
(Warner Independent, 9.14 and 9.21) and my
own opinion thing-dingie, which I ran last month, aren’t as
profound as they may seem.
The only serious divide is Koehler feeling it’s “too
self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking
in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations” while I believe
it exemplifies the kind of films that never seem to be doing all
that much, but then gradually sneak up on you,
laying groundwork and planting seeds and lighting all kinds of
fires and feelings. Koehler is wrong, but I respect his intellect
To actual Wall Street traders, Gordon Gekko — the suspender-wearing shark played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street — has always been a hero. “That’s his appeal,” says Ed Pressman, producer of a Stephen Schiff-penned sequel called Money Never Sleeps. “Gekko is larger than life. His appetites are large. The audience enjoys a vicarious pleasure of seeing a world they would never be part of. In a funny way Wall Street was like The Godfather — in that the real mob began dressing and behaving like characters in the movie. After Wall Street people started wearing suspenders [braces], like Michael.”
James Mangold‘s 3:10 to Yuma will have a nationwide sneak on Sunday night. The Lionsgate marketers are encouraged by the numbers (they out-pointedShoot ‘Em Up in today’s tracking) but they obviously want to bump things up before next Friday’s (9.7) opening, and they’re convinced they’ve got a word-of-mouther.
“This is the lamest Telluride Film Festival I’ve ever been to,” a guy told me a few minutes ago from the streets of this beautiful Colorado mountain town. “It’s gorgeous up here if you can stand the altitude — it’s 9500 feet above sea level — but where’s the excitement? Where are the Oscar contenders? Where is No Country for Old Men? Where is Atonement? Where is Elah? Where is The Assassination of Jesse James? Where’s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, the Sydney Lumet film? It’s really esoteric. Is this something to do with the tastes of Gary Meyer? They’re going to show 40 minutes of There Will Be Blood…that I’ve heard….but not the whole film.”
Uh-oh….Variety‘s Derek Elley is
all over Ang Lee‘s Lust, Caution from
the Venice Film Festival. (You can trust Elley on this one — no
ethnic or nationalistic loyalities in play.) The Elley quote being
heard ’round the world is a real stinger: “Too much caution
and too little lust squeeze much of the dramatic juice out
of…a 2 and 1/2 -hour period drama that’s a long haul for
relatively few returns.
“Adapted from a short story by the late Eileen
Chang, tale of a patriotic student — who’s willing bait in
a plot to assassinate a high-up Chinese collaborator in
Japanese-held WWII Shanghai — is an immaculately played but
largely bloodless melodrama which takes an
hour-and-a-half to even start revving up its...
Here’s an mp3 of the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number from the Young Frankenstein musical, presumably recorded in Seattle. At first it sounds exactly like the the same bit 1974 Mel Brooks film, then it expands all to hell. I don’t mean in a bad way — I mean extensively.
A major disagreement is shaping up over The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros., 9.21), and it’ll break wide open next Tuesday morning (9.4), which is when the trades and certain web columnists will be running their reviews. (Me included.) I’m a friend of this film — a big one. Two journalists I’ve spoken to this morning (one of them being CHUD’s Devin Faraci) feel the same way. But I’ve also heard that a certain guy hates it. This strikes me as somewhere between deranged and blasphemous by the standards of the Church of the Good Movie Lover. (A friend who attended last Tuesday night’s screening says this guy seemed to be in a state of discomfort as Jesse James unspooled, looking around every so often and eyeballing other viewers as if to say “you’re actually absorbed in this thing?”) Father, forgive anyone who trashes this film without reservation or qualification. Because I won’t.
The slate for the 34th Telluride Film Festival
(Friday, 8.31 through Monday, 9.3) has been announced, and while
there are many smart and stirring selections made by men of good
taste, there are also no major pulse-quickeners or
mind-blowers. It’s basically a bunch of Cannes
stuff along with a few Toronto ’07 selections.
The idiosyncratic standouts for myself (if I were attending,
that is) are a Norman Lloyd documentary
(Matthew Sussman‘s Who Is Norman Lloyd?,
a look at Lloyd’s 70 years as an actor-producer-writer) and a
digitally remastered version of Richard Lester‘s
The only thing that could save Telluride ’07 from “meh” status
will be if that rumored-but-later-denied showing of a There
Will Be Blood reel (as part of the Daniel Day
Lewis tribute) turns out to be real.
Halloween is tracking at 83, 40 and 17, which makes it
a candidate for $20 million this weekend, maybe a
bit more. Balls of Fury is running 73, 35 and 10….a likely
$7 or $8 million, certainly not more than $10 million.
Kevin Bacon‘s Death Sentence is looking
low — 40, 31 and 2.
3:10 to Yuma has improved — 43, 32 and 5. And this is
an urban sample, which is significant in that westerns always play
better in shit-kicker territories. Shoot Em Up — the other
big actioner opening on 9.7. — is now lagging behind Yuma
with 38, 32 and 2. Why is it eating Yuma‘s dust at this
stage? Because Shoot ‘Em Up star Clive
Owen “is a very good actor but he’s very cold and he’s not
a star,” a marketing guy said this morning. “No following, doesn’t
Balls of Fury (Rogue, 8.19) opened yesterday on 2810 screens and took in $1,700,000 — that’s $605 a print. If there was any real heat on this film it would have done about double this. Plus it going to start losing to Rob Zombie‘s Halloween on Friday.
Wall Street Journal reporter Thaddeus
wrote yesterday (8.29) that “some” in the real-estate industry
“believe that real-estate swashbuckler Sam Zell,
who is in the process of buying the Tribune Co. (i.e, owner of the
L.A. Times), could sell its properties, including the
Los Angeles Times building.” Zell declined to comment for
the piece, and “most real-estate experts acknowledge that the value
of the Tribune Co.’s real estate is minimal compared with the
company’s overall assets,” Herrick reported.
If I were Zell I would go all Genghis Khan on
the L.A. Times. No one half-complicit in deadwood
dilletante-ism would be safe from my terrible
A four-story building was
blown up and incinerated in Chicago today — at around 2 pm, or
about six hours ago — for a scene in Chris Nolan‘s
The Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie that’s been
shooting in and around Chicago for the last few months. The
demolition/ implosion/explosion happened at the old Brach’s Candy
Factory in western Chicago. The building, vacant for several years,
was dressed to look like “Gotham General Hospital,” blah, blah.
There is nothing in the world more boring that big explosions in
action movies, but the live video footage taken today — here’s
Derek Elley is one of
Variety‘s finest critics — a guy who knows his stuff all
around the race track and the rodeo — but he’s also a British
citizen who’s probably susceptible to feelings of national pride,
and so you can’t fully trust his
rave review of Joe Wright‘s
Atonement, which was shown at the opening-night attraction
at the Venice Film Festival just a few hours ago.
Knightley, McAvoy in Joe
Wrights’ Atonement (Focus Features, 12.25)
I feel, in other words, that the British film industry has been
a nearly moribund thing for so long that you have to process any
seasoned British critic
In the wake of
yesterday’s (8.28) Variety story about Owen
Wilson dropping out of Ben Stiller‘s
now-rolling Tropic Thunder, MTV.com’s Josh
exploring to what extent Wilson’s reported attempted suicide
will affect his other projects. Josh asked me for some comments
this morning and wound up using a couple of them, but here’s the
unexpurgated chat as it unfolded 90 minutes ago.
MTV question: Does this incident jeopardize
Wilson’s standing as a leading man?
HE answer: Owen is far too complex and
interesting and whimsical to be a leading man...
To hear it from a just-out Us
magazine story, the jackal in the
recent-druggy-downfall-of-Owen Wilson saga is none
other than British attitude-humorist Steve Coogan,
the 24 Hour Party People and Around the World in
Eighty Daysstar and costar of Night at the Museum.
The story says that Wilson’s troubles are due in part to “Owen
hanging out [with] the wrong people again,” and that “at least two
sources blame Coogan,” who’s described as “the party boy rehab
“I went through it with Steve,” Courtney Love
has told Us about her relationship with Coogan, which
ended in 2006. “I was just out of rehab, and he was right there
with the drugs. I tried to warn Owen. I tried to warn his...
75% of the Rotten Tomatoes gang hates, hates, hatesBalls of Fury. Let’s all get together and sledgehammer
this one to death before it gets rolling. The
Metacritic rating is 42% positive, but that ‘s because of three
critics who give it a thumbs-up — the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer‘s Andy Spletzer, the
N.Y. Daily News‘ Elizabeth Weitzman and
the Hollywood Reporter‘s Shari Linden.
(They’re entitled — there’s no one “right” way to regard a film —
but henceforth they’re going to be watched for further
It would be cruel to hope for Dan
Fogler‘s film career to be stopped in...
DVD Journal, the anonymously-written DVD-connoisseur website that launched in August 1997, has closed up shop. I read the nameless editor’s statement (posted yesterday) about what’s going on, only he doesn’t really say anything. There’s an acknowledgement that the DVD market share is going down and that this may have something to do with ad revenues or the moon’s orbit or whatever, but he definitely has trouble with the concept of just spitting it out. Real men put their cards on the table. If anyone really knows why these guys are dimming the lights, please advise.
One director Neil Jordan captures
Jodie Foster in such a way as to “accentuate her
petite stature, her lithe frame, her thin arms constantly bared
from the shoulders. When [Foster's character] walks the streets at
night or strides purposefully onto a subway platform, she seems to
be descending, wraith-like, into the abyss; yet
her ferocity can also give way, without warning, to vulnerability
and panic, especially when events begin to spiral out of her
“Even at her most ruthless, Foster never cedes her grip on the
viewer’s concern — but then, neither did Charles
Bronson in Death Wish. Jordan neither subverts
the pleasures of seeing lone-ranger justice onscreen, as
David Cronenberg did in A History of
Violence, nor panders overtly to the audience’s baser
So there’s this 8.26 New Zealand Herald piece about Peter
Jackson‘s Crossing the Line, a 15-minute World
War I movie that was shot last April in just a few days. Fine —
soldiers in a trench, guys yelling orders, fixed bayonets,
biplanes, machine guns….”yaaahhhh!”
But the article doesn’t make clear what it is exactly that makes
Jim Jannard‘s “Red
One” — used...
I sat down for lunch yesterday with Shoot ‘Em Up
director-writer Michael Davis, and the restaurant
— the Boulevard Lounge at the Beverly Wilshire hotel — was so
clattery and wallah-wallah that my Olympus digital recorder was
overwhelmed. (I’m constitutionally incapable of buying one of those
clip-mikes that discriminates against ambient noise.) But at least
I got a free lunch out of it, and a chance to talk again with Davis
— a genuinely nice guy, and a Steven Spielberg
look-alike if I ever saw one — about the whole up-and-down.
Shoot Em Up director-writer Michael Davis at Boulevard
— Monday, 8.27.07, 2:15 pm
“The exhibition situation has changed far more dramatically than the audience or the films themselves,” ThinkFilm’s Mark Urman has toldVillage Voice reporter Anthony Kaufman. “Manhattan is scandalously under-screened, and the rate at which theaters playing specialty films are renovated and created is far behind the rate they’ve been dying. I’ve had films thrown out of theaters making $8,000 to $9,000 in a weekend…and that’s heartbreaking.” As Kaufman reports, $8 to $9 grand “is a sizable gross, in line with Hairspray‘s stellar opening-weekend per-theater average. “
Presumably someone out there has a recent draft of Mikko
Alanne‘s script of Pinkville, which director
Oliver Stone will make into a film sometime early
next year for United Artists. It seems like an astute move for
Stone to not only revisit his own Vietnam combat experience as well
as the turf of Platoon, his greatest screen triumph, but
to also reflect on the Iraq War experience by looking back at
another time when U.S. troops were frequently seen as the bad guys
when it came to dealings with civilians.
I realize that Pinkville will not be focusing on
Calley, the Army Lieutenant who became a poster boy
for G.I. atrocity-committers during the Vietnam War after news of
the My Lai massacre — the slaughter by U.S. troops of 500
Wilson was expected to show up in Hawaii to start work on
DreamWorks’ Tropic Thunder, which costars Ben
Stiller, Bill Hader and Jack Black, and
then shoot a comedy in January with Jennifer
Aniston called Marley & Me. Studio
spokespersons didn’t say anything about anything when Siegel asked
if Wilson would still be acting in these films.