“In Jean Luc Godard‘s ‘return to zero’ film Le Gai Savoir, a pretty woman is shown reading a poem in front of a wall adorned with large images of Batman, the Hulk and Spiderman. Four decades ago none of those mutated heroes were well known outside culture mongers and kids reading comics. Flash forward to the present and those iconic images are what sell current movies. In fact they’re all present this summer if you replace Peter Parker with Bruce Banner. Name a filmmaker working now with a film that has a single frame that identifies the zeitgeist of 2048.” — HE reader Michael Bergeron.
I know one thing about Pat Dollard and his Young Americans footage (i.e., taken during his adventures in Iraq), which is that it’s taken way too long to show up in some format — TV series, feature doc, whatever. And I’m past believing it’s because entertainment-industry liberals aren’t being helpful because he’s an eccentric rightie who’s pro-war. Anything that takes this long to be put before the public has something wrong with it. I tried reaching him once and he couldn’t be bothered…hah!Read More »
“Critics of ultra-violent video games will not be the only ones watching carefully as the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto series is released tomorrow,” writes the Guardian‘s Bobbie Johnson. This because “the suits in Hollywood are anxious that it may dent the profits of their summer blockbusters.
“Grand Theft Auto IV, the latest in the 18-rated crime
series, which sees players take on the role of eastern European
tough guy Niko Bellic, is expected to break sales records.
Millions of fans of the GTA series worldwide are expected to shell
out about 40 quid each for the game, making it one of the biggest
moneyspinners in the industry.
“The latest instalment is likely to sell 6 million copies in its first week of release, which...
Iron Man (Paramount, 5.2) boasts a perfect Robert Downey performance and delivers some moderately satisfying summer-movie highs in a right-down-the- middle sort of way, but it’s been over-praised. It does a lot more clomping around than dancing or shuffling, and we’ve all had enough clomp to last a lifetime. This movie doesn’t deserve a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94% from the regulars and an 88% from the elites. It’s more a B-plus type of thing. Which is not a put-down.
Iron Man is fine as far as it goes, but too often I felt underwhelmed. I was never twitching in agony, but the advance word had suggested it might lift me out of my chair. Forget it. I sat there with my legs crossed going “uh-huh,...Read More »
Last night I finally saw Recount (HBO, debuting 5.25), and I feel no hesitancy whatsoever in calling it totally crackerjack — a throughly engaging, first-rate political drama that gets you off. It’s also fair to use the word “brilliant,” I think. It’s no small feat to make a gripping film that’s mostly about a bunch of middle-aged political operatives bickering and maneuvering over vote counts, media statements, lawsuits, court decisions, dimpled chads and all that jazz. But director Jay Roach and first-time screenwriter Danny Strong have done this.
This despite the fact that in a flash-forward sense it’s telling an essentially grim tale about how the George Bush forces managed to finagle things in their favor at the...Read More »
“Lawrence of Latin America,” my Huffington Post article about Steven Soderbergh‘s two forthcoming films about Ernesto “Che” Guevara, went up a few minutes ago. I’ve said some of the same things in previous postings, but here are two taster graphs anyway:
“If you love epic-styled movies you’ve certainly seen and loved Lawrence of Arabia, which also means you’ve been influenced by the great win-lose Lawrence theme. The first half of David Lean‘s Oscar-winning 1962 film is mostly about climbing the mountain — the dream, the struggle and the rush of an enigmatic hero fighting and winning an underdog battle. The second half is about...Read More »
Nicole Kidman is intending to star in a Dusty Springfield biopic (’60s music, manic perfectionist streak, lesbian longings, drugs and booze, early death) being written by Michael Cunningham. Great, but there’s a side issue. It isn’t mentioned in this New York “Vulture” piece, but it seems too coincidental for this project to be announced two and a half months after a play about Springfield called “Stay Forever: The Life and Music of Dusty Springfield,” played for three weeks last February (2.7 through 2.24) at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Many industry people caught this show. CSI‘s William...Read More »
After he finishes Mary, Queen of Scots, Phillip Noyce will probably direct The Art of Making Money, a DreamWorks project about Art Williams, a real-life Chicago counterfeiter who printed more than $10 million in fake bills, etc. The guy is currently doing time for this. Screenwriter Frank Baldwin is adapting Jason Kersten‘s Rolling Stone 2005 profile of Williams.
Mel Gibson isn’t Mel Gibson any more. The last time “that guy” appeared in a film was What Women Want. Since the Malibu DUI arrest he’s gotten too heavy and thin of hair to be an attractive box-office draw. To me he’ll always be the bearded wacko in the flannel shirt with a shave. The upside is that Edge of Darkness, an adaptation of a six-hour BBC miniseries, has been written by the great William Monaghan (The Departed) and the very competent Martin Campbell.Read More »
I worked for three hours this morning on a piece about Steven Soderbergh‘s Che Guevara films, The Argentine and Guerilla, for another website, hence my silence. It feels like a funny thing to write something longish (1700 words) and send it off and then…wait. I’ve become accustomed to instant gratification.Read More »
Come the fall Steven Soderbergh will direct The Girlfriend Experience — a 14-day quickie about “the world of prostitution from the vantage point of a $10,000-a- night call girl” (according to Variety‘s Michael Fleming). This will probably be one of Soderbergh’s interesting sidelight films, most likely. Soderbergh, who “gets” women, hasn’t mined this turf enough.
But it’s a 2929 Entertainment whatsis movie (Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner, HD Net) so let’s keep things in perspective. I say this as a huge fan of Bubble, by the way. As far as I’m concerned Bubble was Soderbergh’s big comeback film after being in a slump for God knows how many years. Soderbergh will direct The Informant with Matt Damon for Warner Bros. before doing the Girlfriend thing,
As Defamer’s sum-up points out, Jon Cusack‘s War, Inc. has gone into the tank after showing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Reviews from N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick, Spoutblog‘s Karina Longworth and the Hollywood Reporter‘s Frank Sheck are viewable for all to see. But HE reader Joseph Kay has something interesting to say besides.
Jon Cusack, Joan Cusack in War,...
Hollywood Chicago‘s Adam Fendleman is pointing to an ugly, cell-phone video of the new Dark Knight trailer — shot in a theatre with reddish tints and all the crappy ambient noise that you always get with these things. An official, much better looking version of this trailer will be viewable this Sunday.
The best thing about the trailer is Heath Ledger‘s voice. He’s speaking in a kind of raspy Midwestern twang. Nothing at all that sounds the least bit Ennnis del Mar-ish.
“With all that’s gone down between Washington and Hollywood,
it’s a shame that politicians still don’t trust their showbiz
Jeff Ressner notes,
observing that “for the most part, D.C. treats L.A. as a gigantic
ATM machine and the movie business as a means to pick up campaign
cool points — while trying to keep potentially radioactive
celebrities at arm’s length.
“But as candidates exploit moguls and movie stars for cash and cachet, they often reject creative assistance from the artists and executives at Hollywood’s dream factories.”
Like — hello? — Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris? A director who has knocked out brilliant ad spots for years, and arguably put together
Barack Obama has finally
thrown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus.
A friend said Obama needs to throw Wright under the iron wheels of
a subway train — which I think he’s now done. Less than an hour ago
Obama said he was
“angry,” “outraged,” “saddened” and “appalled” by “the
spectacle that we saw yesterday,” describing at one point some
remarks Wright said last weekend as “ridiculous.”
“At a certain point when a person contradicts what you believe fundamentally, and then he questions...
The Cannes Film Festival has officially announced that Fernando Meirelles‘ Blindness (Miramax, 9.12) will open the festival on Wednesday, 5.15. Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal costar.
Gwynneth Paltow during shooting of Two Lovers
On top of which a third French film — Laurent
Cantet‘s Entre Les Murs, with Francois
Begaudeau — has been added to the Competition:
An American film has also been added to the Competition slate: James Gray‘s Two Lovers, a Brooklyn-set romantic drama about a guy (River Phoenix) torn between the good woman his parents wish he would marry and his beautiful but volatile new neighbor (Gwynneth...
Fantasy Moguls’ Steve Mason is projecting Iron Man, which I saw earlier this evening, to earn $8 million Thursday night and $103 million over the weekend for an $111 million total. Made of Honor, the counter-programmed, female-angled wedding movie with Patrick Dempsey, is looking at a decent $15 to $18 million.
Paramount publicists made the media wait in line to get into Iron Man at the Arclight this evening. Not unheard of, certainly not an outrage…but it doesn’t happen very often.
An over-examined subject, agreed, but The Australian‘s
Eddie Cockrell has nonetheless
interviewed yours truly, USA Today and Talk Cinema’s
Harlan Jacobson, and Hopscotch Films’ co-owner
Troy Lum about the uniform snubbing in this
country of all the Iraq War movies. And he’s done a good job of
mapping it all out in very precise detail. The
piece ran two days ago.
Explanation #1: “Iraq war movies have all been guilt-trippers about an ongoing conflict, whereas the Vietnam movies were all made after the last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy.” Explanation #2: “There have been no surreal, eye-popping, epic-scaled Iraq war movies along the lines of Apocalypse...
“Yet Segel’s flaccid member looks pathetic and laughable, especially because it’s attached to a body that is doughy and pallid. It can’t seriously be accused of being capable of anything, let alone of breaking a taboo. So obviously devoid of sexual intent, it symbolizes not so much his character’s abject emotional condition at his girlfriend’s rejection of him, but the sorry state of masculinity in American movies today.” — from still another galumph rant, this one by London Times‘ staffer Christopher Goodwin in yesterday’s issue. Straight out of the HE playbook. He gets it, all right.Read More »
My political-junkie hunger suddenly faded last week. The get-Obama ugliness being generated by the Clinton campaign, the Republican attack dogs, the Reagan Democrats and the media chattering class has begun to act on my soul like Zyklon B. I’m finding myself starting to just tune it all out. For the time being, at least. After following this damn race for God knows how many months I’m starting to feel physically sick at some of things being kicked around. MSNNC’s Chris Matthews began one of his shows last week by asking “is race a factor?” He actually said this in so many words.Read More »
Iron Man gripe #1 from New Yorker critic David Denby: “Without a continuous infusion of visual poetry, digital spectacle quickly burns through one’s sense of awe.” Gripe #2: “There’s a slightly depressed, going-through-the-motions feel to the entire show.” Gripe #3: “Apart from Downey’s private sense of amusement, the kidding lacks conviction.”
Illustration by John Ritter
The only tactical advantage to seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in Cannes on 5.18 is that critics there will have a jump on those seeing it stateside by perhaps as little as seven or eight hours.
The Cannes press screening will happen at 8:30 am with reviews going up an hour or so after it ends at 10:35 am — make that 11:30 am to 12 noon, Cote d’Azur time. That’s 6:30 am to 7 am New York time, and 3:30 am to 4 am L.A. time. If U.S. domestic screenings happen in the evening, the word from Cannes will be exclusive for two-thirds of a day, give or take. Obviously less so if they happen in the afternoon. I’m hearing that U.S. screenings may begin around noon or 1 pm in the east.Read More »
One of the best critics in the business, Matt Zoller Seitz, who’s recently been doing freelance reviews for the N.Y. Times, has decided to bail on the profession in order to be a filmmaker. His comments about this decision suggest he also wants to absorb life in less neurotic, more open-pored terms. You know…a little of that Frank Capra-esque, final-ten-minutes-of-It’s a Wonderful Life quality from time to time.Read More »
I was confused by two Amazon.com statistics regarding Fox Home Video’s 5.13 DVD release of Raoul Walsh‘s The Big Trail (1930). This staid, somewhat cornball John Wayne wagon-train western is immensely watchable due to its being the first Hollywood film to be shot and released in a 70mm widescreen format (which was called “Fox Grandeur”). The problem is that Amazon says the aspect ration is 1.85 when the true aspect ratio is 2.1 to 1. And the running time is given as 212 minutes despite the actual length (according to packaging) being 122 minutes.
Take no notice of the IMDB listing stating that the film’s varying running times are 125 min (35 mm version) and 158...Read More »
Gothamist writer John Del Signore has
interview with Elliot Gould to discuss
Richard Ledes‘ The
Caller, a Tribeca Film Festival pick in which Gould
costars with Frank Langella and Laura
“I spoke with Jack Nicholson and told him I didn’t want to see The Bucket List,” Gould tells Del Signore. “I’m not a big fan of Rob Reiner. I respect Rob Reiner to some degree but, you know, Rob Reiner, whatever. I just didn’t want to see The Bucket List. It seemed so formulaic to me.
“But I told Jack I saw it anyway and I loved it. He was pleased to hear that and...
Given persistent speculation about the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading being destined to play at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival (9.4 to 9.13), it comes as no surprise that it’s now been chosen to open the 65th Venice Film Festival on 8.27. It’s a standard tactic for fall films with a modicum of class to do the old Lido-Toronto two-step prior to their commercial debut. Focus Features will open Burn stateside on 9.12. It will preem in the U.K. on 9.5.
When is Focus going to release a decent assortment of stills from Burn After Reading? I’m getting sick of looking at this popcorn still over and over.