“[Simply] making people laugh is the lowest form of humor.” — the late humorist Michael O’Donoghue.Read More »
Longtime Time magazine reporter Jeffrey Ressner has joined the Washington, D.C.-based Politico as its Hollywood corespondent. Obviously the idea will be to report stuff that straddles the interests of the film industry and the governmental/political realm. The kind of thing you might run into on the Huffington Post, only….I was going to say “only different” but maybe it won’t be. Hopefully Ressner won’t file too many stories about gun lobbyists and the like.
I’m not saying this means anything as far as cineastes or animation aficionados are concerned, but a friend spoke to a Hollywood Foreign Press person about having seen Robert Zemeckis‘ Beowulf, and the HFPA guy expressed his feelings by putting his finger in his mouth. Is it fair to even repeat something like this? I don’t want to acknowledge the opinion of an HFPA whore and pass it off as valid, but I heard this from a trusted source and I can’t brush it off. The first Beowulf screenings are happening this weekend.Read More »
CHUD’s Devin Faraci says he’s seen “the” trailer for the monster movie coming from producer J.J. Abrams on 1.18.08. The trailer “lasts 2 minutes and 16 seconds, and will debut in front of Beowulf on 11.16,” he says. Faraci also reports that “the version of the trailer I saw had the title attached at the end, so unless this title card was a temporary placeholder for the real title, this movie is called…wait for it…Cloverfield.”Read More »
I have an explanation as to why Jerry Seinfeld‘s Bee Movie (Dreamamount, 11.2) isn’t all that good or funny, and another about why it simply doesn’t work. The answer to the second question is that deep down it’s a movie about death waiting just around the corner, which is obviously a depressing thought for most of us. But that’s a thematic issue that can wait.
The main problem with Bee Movie is the system under which it was made, which is to say the political conditions. The movie is so Seinfeld-y that it’s clear that the men and women who helped this enormously wealthy and super-famous comedian make the movie indulged in too much kowtowing and boot-licking. They did the “right thing” politically, and they made a bad film as a result.
Writing a good screenplay — including an animated fantasy-comedy...Read More »
Variety‘s Dave McNary wrote yesterday afternoon that the WGA “is probably going to push back its deadline [as] the emerging consensus is that WGA leaders won’t start a strike until next week at the earliest — even though the town’s been fretting in recent days that scribes could walk out at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, when the current contract expires.”
All right, that’s it…no more WGA strike coverage until the strike actually happens, and even then I’m not sure anyone will care very much.
Meanwhile screenwriters Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer have thrown together a one-minute short about some crappy McJobs that striking writers may be taking once the WGA strike kicks in. The short is...Read More »
A friend is raving about a Broadway preview performance he just saw of Aaron Sorkin‘s The Farnsworth Invention, a play about how RCA’s David Sarnoff (Hank Azaria) more or less ripped off the patent rights to an amazing new invention called “electronic television” from young inventor Philo T. Farnsworth (Jimmi Simpson).
Apart from calling the play brilliant and immensely satisfying with superb perform- ances (especially by Simpson), my friend is saying it will translate beautifully into a film, and that Steven Spielberg, one of the play’s producers, is certain to either produce or direct it.
Directed by Des McAnuff, The Farnsworth Invention has been previewing at the Music Box theatre since 10.15, and will open 13 days from now...Read More »
American Gangster is looking at a huge opening weekend and is running 90% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and 79% positive on Metacritic. And yet many of the critics giving it a thumbs-up are saying “yes but…” Plus the rumble around town is that Academy members are feeling the same way. Support is positive but a bit soft. Enjoyment and admiration, but hats aren’t being thown into the air.
If I were running Gangster‘s Oscar campaign, I’d be worried about those lack of hats. The word “but” is so often a decisive factor in life. I love my wife but oh, you kid! Watch out for those “buts.” Those “buts” can sneak up in the middle of the night and kill you.Read More »
For some of us, picking Oscar-race favorites at this stage is about choosing players and films that we truly feel were among the year’s finest. (Like Zodiac, for instance — unquestionably one of the year’s five best entries.) But for others, 75% to 80% of their Oscar prognosticating is about bowing down in front of the throne of this or that big-league distributor. Strictly a show of obeisance before power…no different than the protocol observed among New Guinea headhunters in the presence of this or that tribal chieftain, especially when entering his hut.
Which is why films and filmmakers being promoted by smaller distributors — Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Control, Once, Sam Riley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sidney Lument, etc. — don’t fare as well as they should when it comes to the Gurus of Gold and Buzzmeter choices.Read More »
With the exception of Jerry Seinfeld‘s overly enthusiastic opening & closing remarks for NBC’s “TV Juniors” show, this short about a Bee Movie writers conference (which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival promo event last May) is a lot funnier and cooler than anything in Bee Movie itself. Just sayin’…Read More »
Update: No one has yet seen Charlie Wilson’s War, but the Gurus of Gold consensus so far is that Julia Roberts is a prime Best Supporting Actress contender. The Gurus are voting this way for the usual reasons — i.e., to show obeisance before the power of Roberts’ legend and the economic power of Universal Pictures. (Note: I erred earlier today in thinking that Variety‘s Anne Thompson had herself decided that Roberts in a likely contender in this category. She was in fact quoting from the Gurus of Gold list.)
The bottom-line is that...Read More »
The N.Y. Times has now jumped into the Band’s Visit vs. Beaufort spat, with the Jerusalem-based Isabel Kershner reporting in a 10.30 story that “unnamed producers” of The Band’s Visit have been quoted as “accusing the makers of Beaufort — and director Joseph Cedar in particular — of having drawn the academy’s attention to the rule about the predominance of English, leading to the disqualification of The Band’s Visit.
After this story appeared in an Israeli newspaper on 10.14, Cedar “was quoted…as acknowledging that his producers had raised the issue with the Israeli academy, but denying any contact with the American one.
Cedar tells Kershner that...Read More »
Having read my clarification on Sunday, 10.28, about some of the maneuvers that may or may not have lead to the disqualification of The Band’s Visit over language issue (i.e., over 50% of the films’ dialogue being in English, according to the Academy’s foreign film committee), the film’s producer Ehud Bleiberg has written to explain his position on the qualification issues.
“One, the team of The Band’s Visit believes that the English dialogue in the film is around 23 to 25 minutes in an 85 minute film and isn’t predominant in the film. The silence, expressions, and music are the predominant elements of the film.
“Two, The English is incorrect a lot of the time, requiring subtitles throughout the entire film.
“Three, In the (Beverly Hills) Academy rule book there is one important rule that says that...Read More »
When this photo was taken in May 1972, Los Angeles was choking in smog (catalytic converters hadn’t been installed) and the traffic situation was considered to be pretty bad, especially during rush hours. Today, 35 years hence, traffic in this town is beyond any reasonable concept of toleration. I remember reading a news story in the mid ’90s that by 2010 the average driving speed in Los Angeles would be 11.2 miles an hour. That’s only two years hence. The situation feels pretty close to that now.
A drive that used to take 30 minutes in the early ’90s now takes at least 45 to 50 minutes, if not an hour. The only way to get around these days is to ride a scooter or a motorcycle. Otherwise you have to surrender to constant confinement. Cars are like little isolation cells that people ride around in,...Read More »
I’d love to know what the one-paragraph synopsis is for Terrence Malick‘s Tree of Life project, if anyone knows and wants to share. Getting a copy of the script would be even better. Heath Ledger and Sean Penn are said to be in talks to star and costar, respectively. River Road Entertainment’s Bill Pohlad will produce with Sarah Green, who helped produce Malick’s The New World.
Does that title scare anyone besides myself? Any title that ends with the words “of life” carries a potential for big trouble. Fountain of Life, Hot Dog of Life, Vacuum Cleaner of Life…they all stink. I’m especially concerned with a suggestion in Gregg Goldstein‘s Hollywood Reporter story that one-third of the film might take place in India.Read More »
In a “Big Picture” column piece based upon Marc Norman‘s “What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting,” a book that came out last week, L.A. TImes guy Patrick Goldstein says Norman “isn’t especially optimistic” about relations between screenwriters and studio execs over the coming years, primarily because “the old studio patriarchs have been replaced by executives who think they’re more in touch with the public taste than most writers.
As Norman puts it, “There’s now a generation of executives who wonder why the writer couldn’t be more like a court stenographer who can just put the...Read More »
Last Friday Variety‘s Todd McCarthy called Jerry Seinfeld‘s Bee Movie (Dreamamount, 11.2) “less than inspired… amiable but no more…short on surprise and originality…content with whimsical notions and mild jokes,” etc. The all-media crowd is finally having a looksee this evening and tomorrow night, myself included.
In his Hollywood Reporter review, Kirk Honeycutt said that “unfortunately, bees just aren’t that funny” and “they aren’t intriguing cartoon creatures. Nor is the odd story Seinfeld and his collaborators dreamed up very inspired. The film labors too hard for its comic moments and never discovers a cartoon logic that will allow bees and humans to interact.”
After all that hard work and all that hoopla at last May’s Cannes Film Festival with Seinfeld flying off the roof in his bee costume on a wire….jeez. The upside is that the family crowd is probably going to go for it big-time.Read More »
The best thing in Andrew Wagner‘s Starting Out in the Evening (Roadside, 11.23) is Frank Langella‘s performance as a sixtyish, once-great novelist named Leonard Schiller who’s retreated into a congealed, emotionally blocked-off place as a defense from the narcotized reality that his writing career has all but shrivelled up and died.
Sixth-floor lobby of the Four Seasons on Friday, 10.19.07, at 11:05 am.
I can’t say I “liked” the character but I was moved by the undercurrents that Langella is able to suggest exist within. At first Schiller is a guy whose...Read More »
In an interview with Control star Sam Riley, L.A. Times/Envelope guy Mark Olsen says, “I hate to bring this up, but the fact that you and Alexandra Maria Lara, who plays Ian’s mistress Annik Honore, are now a couple in real life, in a strange way, puts a positive, romantic ending on a story that doesn’t have a lot of uplift.”
To which Riley responds,. “From what I’ve heard from Anton [Corbijn], Annik, the real Annik, is very moved by the fact we’re a couple. I think she likes the way that given a second time round — their story — there was a different outcome.”Read More »
The Criterion Collection’s DVD of Terrence Malick‘s Days of Heaven, one of the most visually breathtaking and exquisitely transferred films of the 21st Century, was released seven days ago. But you’d never know this landmark DVD even exists to go by Dave Kehr‘s N.Y. Times DVD column, which ignored its release last week and again today.
In today’s column Kehr writes about Anchor Bay’s Mario Bava collection and Warner Home Video’s Barbara Stanwyck Signature Collection; last week he wrote about a DVD of Sergei...Read More »
When I say I hate “dumb comedies,” I’m referring to comedies that pander to the mentality (if that’s not too sophisticated a word to use in this context) of simian-level moviegoers who love films like Balls of Fury. But if a comedy conveys the attitude and world-view of characters who are really and truly idiotic (and can’t help it or don’t care that they’re so afflicted), then I collapse into helpless spasms. I love stupidity, but only the kind that’s earnest and convincing.
Parts of Dumb and Dumber are hilarious to me. Ditto Bill Pullman‘s “dumbest guy in the world” character in Ruthless People. I worship The Music Box, that classic Laurel and Hardy short about trying to deliver a piano in a big wooden crate. That moment in...Read More »
Memo from Universal marketing to American moviegoers: How would you like to see a sexy, sophisticated film about a smooth and tuxedoed Tom Hanks romancing the rich and super-fetching Julia Roberts over champagne and caviar while the man in the middle — the cerebral, schlumpy, moustachioed Phillip Seymour Hoffman — looks on apprehensively and wonders where the bathroom is so he can go take a leak while these two pitch woo as they conspire against the Soviet empire?
New Universal one-sheet for Charlie Wilson’s War, which is being previewed exclusively by Coming Soon.net
We’re just kidding about the Soviet empire, heh-heh. What Soviet...Read More »
Leaving aside OTX’s suggestion that Hollywood distributors need to cough up for a more specific and intensive marketing survey system, there’s a bothersome sentence in Michael Cieply‘s 10.28 N.Y. Times piece about Hollywood’s flooded market for serious prestige dramas.
Cieply writes that “you can’t blame a potential customer who can’t see the difference between In the Valley of Elah from Warner Independent Pictures and Grace Is Gone from the Weinstein Company. Both are about dead Iraq veterans.” Correction: knuckle-draggers who haven’t yet mastered the art of going online and reading about upcoming films might be confused, but I don’t see...Read More »
The Film Experience/Naked Gold Man blogger Nathan R. says there’s an apparent shortage of potential Best Supporting Actress candidates. I don’t see what he’s talking about — there are at least seven strong candidates right now.
Nathan is figuring Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (likely), Jennifer Jason Leigh in Margot at the Wedding (doubtful), Jennifer Connelly in Reservation Road (forget it), Leslie Mann in Knocked Up (a reach), Marisa Tomei in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (definitely) Kelly Macdonald in No Country For Old Men (a good suggestion — McDonald has a small role but she wrings exceptional feleing and presence), Cate Blanchett‘s “Bob Dylan”...Read More »
Having seen about a half hour’s worth of New Line’s The Golden Compass, Fox 411′s Roger Friedman said today “it will be the big holiday smash hit for which Hollywood is so desperate, without a doubt. It’s full of fantastic animals, all busy shape-shifting, talking and clawing their way to the front of the screen. From what I’ve seen, not only kids but adults too will want to go back and see The Golden Compass a second time for the menagerie alone.”
Is Friedman saying that even special-effects-hating, CG-animal-despising movie columnists who felt tortured by the Lord of the Rings series will want to go back and see it a second time, etc.? Having liked The Lion,...Read More »
The most likely reason that J.J. Abrams doesn’t want William Shatner in the new Star Trek movie (despite having hired Leonard Nimoy to make an appearance as Spock) isn’t hard to figure. Ever since playing an amusingly wackjob version of himself in Robert Burnett‘s Free Enterprise nine years ago, Shatner has basically been a self-satirizing comic figure — the older eccentric actor who doesn’t realize (and wouldn’t care if he did realize) that he’s completely insane. This persona has paid off for Shatner in numerous ways, but one of the offshoots of the nutter persona has been the surrendering of the authority and heroic gravitas that he once had when his name and face were synonymous with Cpt. James Kirk.Read More »