I first saw Armageddon at an Academy screening in June
of 1998. It gave me a headache because of the machine-gun-like
cutting, which I was later told was a result of a deliberate
Michael Bay strategy of cutting out as many frames
as possible in each scene order to make the film play as fast, hard
and compressed as possible. This information came from
Armageddon screenwriter Jonathan
Hensleigh, who claimed that the film was
“frame-fucked” as a result.
In any event, when I saw Armageddon producer
Jerry Bruckheimer in the lobby after the screening
I did the usual chickenshit industry thing — I
half-lied. I told Jerry that the film “rocked” or felt like “rocket
fuel.” (Which wasn’t a total lie — it did feel like that, sort of.)
As soon as I said this, however, Bruckheimer cocked his head and
gave me a...
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has been asked to both edit and write a new Oscar season bloggy-blog for Variety. This is the “fairly substantial announcement” he’s been promising on his site for the last couple of weeks, the one that will “explain the slow-down of activity here and my absence from this year’s Gurus line-up.”
Yesterday I suggested that standard Gurus of Gold and the Envelope Oscar-season predictions “should be given minor attention until at least the passing of Thanksgiving,” and that the prognosticators should “spend the next seven or eight weeks primarily championing the right movies and the right stuff, and not in some elitist, off-in-their-own-realm Village Voice sense of that term.” In response, The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil is half-seriously suggesting that “the Film Snob Moonies have kidnapped Jeffrey Wells over at Hollywood-Elsewhere.com and put a hex on him.” Go figure. I was mainly saying that for the next eight weeks everyone should double-track — keep on with the blah-blah Academy predictions if they have to (i.e., if O’Neil and David Poland insist), but between now and 12.1 they should mainly push the year’s best according to their own core passions.
The first of two New York Film Festival shorts by the great
Jamie Stuart appeared today on the
Filmmaker website. The short is very “Stuart” (cryptic,
sardonic, superb editing), but I can’t figure what’s being “said.”
The basic suggestion seems to be that Darjeeling Limited
director and co-writer Wes Anderson is some kind of
visitor from from another planet. Stuart seems to convey this, at
least, by showing us a close-up of Anderson’s face (wearing a
pleasant, unguarded expression) while we hear some kind of variant
of 1950s electronic space music.
Then the piece goes back to Stuart’s Brooklyn pad (his
roommates, telephone calls…whatever). The N.Y. Film Festival stuff
Miss Moneypenny has died. Lois Maxwell, 80, who played M’s secretary in fourteen James Bond films starting with Dr. No in ’62, was 35 when she first played the role. Her last Moneypenny was in ’85′s A View to a Kill, when she was 58. She spent 23 years flirting and hinting with 007 to absolutely no avail. The Canadian-born actress died of cancer yesterday, 9.29, near Perth, Australia.
Sheridan‘s remake of Susanne Bier‘s
Brothers, a first-rate, Danish-language 2004 drama,
will costar Tobey
Maguire as the older, responsible, married brother who
goes off to Iraq, Natalie Portman (he said) as
Maguire’s wife, and Jake
Gyllenhaal as the younger fuck-up brother who begins
to fill his brother’s familial duties when Maguire disappears
during a skirmish and is presumed dead.
If your idea of a really great film was Michael
Bay‘s Transformers, don’t even go to Tony
Clayton (Warner Bros., 10.5). It’s just not your speed.
And I’m not even referring to the fact that some theatres will be
asking customers to flash college diplomas before selling them
tickets next weekend, and that people with Masters Degrees will be
given preferential seating. It’s just not violent or mechanical
enough, and there are no jokes about E-Bay and no Shia
LeBouf- type guys running around acting lively and
For a while there I was in trouble myself. I love films like
Michael Clayton — I love their moody efficiency — and even
I missed a couple of things the first time around.
Fred Kaplan has written a moderately
interesting N.Y. Times piece about Ridley Scott‘s
Blade Runner, which has been re-cut and re-stored for the
umpteenth time, and which will play in theatres prior to showing up
on DVD on 12.18 as “The
Final Cut.” The payoff is the narrated slide show about the
origins and influences of this 1982 classic — worth
Letterman: “A hard-boiled egg and an orange? Gee, you can’t go wrong there.” Hilton: “Yeah, but [the jail experience] is over and I don’t want to talk about it any more.” Letterman: “Uh-huh…well, this, this is where you and I differ because this is all I want to talk about.” You might think you’re sick of this but watch this…happened last night. The way she turns on the sniffles when Letterman won’t let up is exactly how this empty vessel got out of jail the first time…before they sent her back.
Two days ago director Wes Anderson
told MTV.com’s Josh Horowitz that work has
begun on a bells-and-whistles Criterion DVD of the great Bottle
Rocket. The only way to see this seminal ’90s film now is on a
bare-bones Sony Home Video DVD that’ came out in December ’98 —
no extras, voice-overs, deleted scenes, nothing.
“We’ve just begun work with the Criterion Collection [people] to
do Bottle Rocket on a new DVD that’s going to have all
kinds of stuff,” Anderson told Horowtiz. “There’s a lot of
The whole idea of MCN’s
Gurus of Gold and The
Envelope prognosticators (who will be assembled in good time)
trying to predict which films and filmmakers will be honored by
Academy nominations next January is a waste of breath,
space and influence. Or at least, it is at this stage of
October and November should be set aside as
ignore-the-Academy months. Or at least about
downplaying suspected Academy beliefs, prejudices,
allegiances and tea leaves. There’s plenty of time for that drool
in December, January and February. And the repetition from stirring
that drool over and over becomes sickening after the New Year. The
nausea sets in every year around that time. Going to Sundance and
getting away from the awards-prediction game is a huge relief in
mid-January. Why? Because Oscar handicapping has...
A producer with no connection to Enchanted,
Kevin Lima‘s part-animated, part live-action
fantasy drama that opens on 11.21, saw it last night at the
Landmark and believes that Amy Adams, who plays a
fairytale princess named Giselle who’s thrust into the harsh
present and needs to adjust her perspective as a result, will
receive an Oscar nomination.
“The movie is a very well-conceived, well-made product
straddling the po-mo Pixar style and the
throwback Walt-era tropes,” the producer says.
“But Adams gives an incredibly complex, detailed
performance that it makes the movie seem almost literary —
there is a scene when her character first feels anger that brings
to mind John Milton. The...
I thought with all the apparent lack of interest in Iraq/
Aghanistan/9.11-type movies that Against All Enemies, a
film based on former terrorism czar Richard
Clarke‘s novel about the failures of the Clinton and Bush
administrations to stop the terrorist plotters who eventually
brought about the 9.11 attacks, was dead. Indeed,
Variety‘s Michael Fleming has
reported that Columbia Pictures, “[which] had been developing
the project, put it into turnaround last month.”
But the guys who run Capitol Films (i.e., the
owners of ThinkFilm) have picked up the project and and are raising
financing, and if and it all comes together Robert
troubledLions for Lambs...
George Hickenlooper (r.) and Paul Thomas Anderson (l.) at the Alamo Draft House in Austin last Thursday night after that already-fabled screening of There Will Be Blood. Hickenlooper had just come from an adjacent-theater screening of Mayor of the Sunset Strip. Sissy Spacekjoined them soon after and, says Hickenlooper, “kept telling me how it was one of the most extraordinary films she had ever seen…she seemed completely blown away by it.” Spacek has been married to Blood‘s production designer Jack Fisk since 1974.
Universal gave The Kingdom a nationwide sneak a weekend or two ago and vigorously plugged it besides, and yet Dwayne Johnson‘s The Game Plan will ace it out this weekend. One estimate has the Sunday-night tallies for The Game Plan at $21,458,000 and $18,029,000 for The Kingdom.
More people simply liked the idea of a comedy over a Riyadh shoot-em-up, I guess, but it’s also hard to dismiss the implications of yet another Middle-East drama underperforming. I thought The Kingdom was going to be the exception to the rule. It’s also time to ask whether Kingdom star Jamie Foxx is an actual movie star who sells tickets. Another factor: The Game Plan snuck last weekend also.
Leonardo DiCaprio as “Roger Ferris” and an obviously chunky Russell Crowe as “Ed Hoffman” during filming of Ridley Scott‘s Body of Lies (Warner Bros.), a Middle East drama that’s been scripted by The Departed‘s William Monahan. It’s about Ferris being after Suleiman, a Muslim terrorist behind a series of car bombings. The title refers to a complex scheme instigated by Ferris in which false information is fed to the bad guys via a dead body of a decoy agent.
Somebody sent me a cpy of the script last spring and now I can’t find it. Anyone have a digital copy?
Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Orphanage
(Picturehouse) “won’t be released until the end of December, and
there will be plenty of [similar-type] films before then —
including the very big budget I Am Legend,” writesNewark Star-Ledger critic/columnist Stephen
Whitty. “But I’m willing to already call this little
Spanish film the best horror movie of the
The Orphanage director Juan Antonio Bayona
following our chat in the Majestic Hotel lounge in Cannes —
Wednesday, 5.23.07, 12:25 pm
“Admittedly, it’s not going to be a big hit with the
blood-and-guts crowd (although there is one gory shock midway
through that left even a Fangoria writer shaken). And its
scares have more...
On the same day that a certain film about three American brothers in India is getting half-trashed, a smaller, possibly less affected film about a single American guy visiting India under professionally strained circumstances — John Jeffcoat‘s Outsourced — has also opened in Manhattan, Austin, San Francisco and various northwestern cities.
It opens in L.A. (and other northern California towns) next week and, of course, no one has told me about any screenings. N.Y. Times critic Matt Zoller Seitz has called it “a wonderful surprise.” I’ve decided to see it entirely because of this photo of Outsourced star Josh Hamilton in the feces-filled Ganges.
Hollywood Reporter guy John Defore was
also at the Austin Draft House last night, and he’s
written that the fans of There Will be Blood director
Paul Thomas Anderson “might not know what to do
with this picture, which has none of the attention-grabbing
flourishes of earlier films — no hailstorms of frogs or
deus ex machina pianos here.
“The closest it gets to self-conscious showiness is its
closing scene, a confrontation as memorably
strange as the fireworks-popping, ‘Jessie’s Girl”-belting drug deal
in Boogie Nights. Its setting is as visually spare (a
highlight of Jack Fisk‘s brilliant production
design) as the other was decadent and cluttered, and eventually the
scene makes good on the title’s promise...
Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster
(Universal, 11.2) is, of course, naturally… hello?…an
absolute Best Picture contender because it’s a
straight, robust, high-velocity crime saga in the grand New York
movie tradition of ’70s and ’80s Sidney Lumet.
Which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is a very cool
and vogue-ish thing to be churning out right now, and not for
This is not a first-rate cops-and-dealers drama
by the director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and
Black Hawk Down as much as a wonderfully focused and
flavorful time-machine ride back to the gritty-stinky Abe
Beame-Ed Koch world of Serpico, Prince of the
City and The French Connection...
This account of
a snippy confrontation adjacent to the red-carpet for last
night’s premere of Ang Lee‘s Lust, Caution
is the best piece of writing that The Reeler‘s Stu
Van Airsdale has ever posted. Great stuff. More of this,
Tang Wei, Ang Lee at last night’s Lust, Caution
“No sooner had Lust, Caution star Tang Wei blown me and
my decimated ego off then I felt a nudge at my right. That’s
common, really; the carpet’s a claustrophobe’s nightmare, this time
with seven writers squeezed into a space made for four (a portion
of which was blocked by a security guard, further compromising the
area). But no one complains; it won’t get you...
In this N.Y. Times video piece, Darjeeling LimitedWes Anderson discusses how he threw a scene
together, partly, as it happened, in the dark.
I know things look bad for Wes right now. Critically
Darjeeling seems to be faring roughly the same as The
Life Aquatic, only the patience of the pulse-takers has worn
thin. The film has a fairly crummy 50% rating
from the Rotten Tomatoes cream-of-the-crop right now, it will
almost certainly die commercially, the sharks are circling and I’m
told that Wes’s attorneys are negotiating right now with industry
prosecutors to keep him out movie jail.
But things will turn. They always do for hard-working people of
faith. Wes is too smart and clever not to paddle his way out of
this. He’s a gifted...
Patton Oswalt is hereafter
a God…the George S. Patton of George
Lucas haters. This
video riff is the single funniest vivisection of the Star
Wars prequels ever performed, seen heard…the best. Oswalt
starts off by saying that if he could time-travel himself back to
1993, he would…just
AICN’s Drew McWeeny posted a report this morning
about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal
Skull crew having “built a reproduction of the warehouse from
the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark somewhere in the town
of Downey (a totally hellish suburb of L.A. principally known as
the childhood home of Richard and Karen
Carpenter) and that “they’re staging a sequence there even
as you read this.”
McWeeny says he’d “love to see what this warehouse looks like,
considering it’s one of the most iconic locations
in any of the three movies so far.” Iconic, maybe, but I’ve always
seen the Raiders warehouse finale as a real letdown. When
I first saw it 26 years ago I said to a...
HE reader Mr. Gittes said it first a few minutes ago, and it’s probably been said in a lot of other places this morning, but considering the reports from last night’s Austin screening and just for the record (because we’re all sensing that it’s true, especially given the Citizen Kane echoes) …There Will Be Oscars.
Cinematical‘s Scott Weinberg also
sawThere Will Be Blood last night, and is calling it
“a stunning surprise” by way of a “departure” for
director Paul Thomas Anderson — a monumental
display of evolution that’ll wow the established fans and impress a
helluva lot more new ones. This is a dark, compelling and
effortlessly engrossing film, one bolstered by a
lead performance that ranks among the very best of Daniel
Day Lewis‘ impressive career.”
Hold on….”effortlessly engrossing”? Oh, he means on the viewer’s
“The film will most often be compared to Orson
Welles‘ Citizen Kane, so I guess I can get the
ball rolling on that particular crutch...
The Envelope‘s Paul Sheehan has put up
big generous piece showcasing 36 or 37 potential Best Actor
nominees, with a separate click-through page and a really nice
photo showcasing each would-be nominee. The only weird part is that
this isn’t May or June or July — it’s late September and the field
has been narrowed down to eight or nine guys, at most, and none of
them are Anthony Hopkins in Slipstream!
Due respect to the Envelope-rs, but they need to get
with the program. The final quarter is up and rolling, and the
finalists are Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be
Blood), Denzel Washington (American
Gangster), Tommy Lee Jones (In The