Back from The Seagull and just waking up to Slumdog Millionaire winning big at the British Independent Film Awards, which ended five or six hours ago. Danny Boyle‘s film took the Best Picture and Best Director awards, and star Dev Patel was named Most Promising Newcomer. Steve McQueen‘s Hunger won three also — Best Debut Director award, Best Actor award for Michael Fassbender, and Best Technical Achievement for Sean Bobbitt‘s cinematography.Read More »
Sports writer Pat Jordan‘s interview piece on Wrestler star Mickey Rourke in today’s N.Y. Times Magazine starts out fairly rough. In terms of his interview “performance”, he calls Rourke likable but clumsy, lost in his rap, emotionally insincere. In short Jordan isn’t buying the shpiel, which sets him apart from others who’ve written generally flattering profiles of Mickey-the-Comeback-Kid. A departure from the script.
“You meet Mickey, you can’t help liking him,” Jordan begins. “He rescues abused dogs! He cries a lot: over his stepfather’s supposed abuse; the loss of his brother to cancer and his dogs to old age; the failure of his marriage to the actress Carre Otis. He admits he destroyed...Read More »
“Sober intelligence goes only so far in crafting an effective bigscreen version of the international bestseller The Reader,” says Variety‘s Todd McCarthy. “German author Bernhard Schlink‘s succinct, widely admired 1995 novel uses a late-1950s affair between a former concentration camp guard (Kate Winslet) and a teenager half her age (David Kross) to explore both generations’ difficulty in coming to terms with German war guilt. Stephen Daldry‘s film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.”Read More »
It’s raining and cold — not quite cold enough for snow, but right on the edge — and I have to leave soon for a 3 pm performance of The Seagull. And I can’t find my umbrella. I’ve been waiting to see this for a long time, particularly from anticipation for Kristin Scott Thomas ‘s performance. I last saw The Seagull in the early ’80s with Chris Walken as Trigorin, who’s played in the current production by Peter Sarsgaard.Read More »
In his debut column for the ’08-’09 Oscar-season, N.Y. Times guy David Carr – a.k.a., “the Bagger” — says that “seven or eight films have a shot” at the Best Picture Oscar. “The consensus, in no particular order — well, okay, in a little bit of a hierarchy — includes The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, Milk Doubt and The Reader.”
Uhm, no. Not The Reader. Ixnay on the Eader-ray. (God, that sounds facile! Can you imagine pouring your heart and soul into a film for 18 months and then reading “ixnay on the Eader-ray”?) Sorry but that’s the...Read More »
A Slumdog Millionaire issue has been gnawing away since I fell for it in Toronto nearly three months ago. I was wowed by this film — throttled. The injections of extreme verve and jolt-cola pizazz by director Danny Boyle are impossible to resist or dismiss. But I couldn’t believe in the world of the story, partly due to the fever-like sell going on all through it, and partly due to the undercarriage of the main character, Jamal (who’s mostly played by Dev Patel). And that’s a bit of a nag.
Talk to a Slumdog fan and they’ll probably tell you that the hyperness is part of the enjoyment — you don’t buy it but you love the intensity of the Bollywood-ish ride and particularly where it takes you at the conclusion. Slumdog is a show, but as much as it thrills and excites I feel that a truly...Read More »
Shira Levine‘s Premiere riff about “10 Movies That Made Us Want To Smoke” was, for me, reckless and disgusting. What would the reaction be if someone wrote an article called “10 Junkie Movies That Made Us Want to Shoot Smack”? The piece is also, by my sights, inaccurate. Make that mystifying.
The only mention that hit home for me was her acknowledgement of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. Little-man Bogart was one of the three supreme hustlers of movie-smoking sex along with Robert Mitchum (in all those late ’40s and early ’50s noirs he starred in) and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause...Read More »
The Guardian‘s Simon Hattenstone is calling Benicio Del Toro “Hollywood’s finest mumbler since Marlon Brando. He is never better than when mumbling his lines. Except, possibly, when he has no lines to mumble at all. He loves nothing more than paring a script down to nothing. No one can grunt, wince or wheeze their way through a movie quite like Del Toro.
“Which makes his new film, Che, the perfect vehicle for him. In the movie, to be released in two parts (The Argentine and Guerrilla), Del Toro’s Che Guevara grunts through 253 minutes of action. This is a walking, rarely talking, gun-toting revolutionary wheeze machine. His performance makes Che in turn one of the most boring and most...Read More »
You’d never know it from their website, but I think/trust/have been told that the National Board of Review crew will decide their annual movie awards slate on Wednesday, 12.3 The LA Film Critics Association (LAFCA) site says they’ll announce their choices on Tuesday, 12.9. (Wait, don’t they usually vote on a Saturday? I was expecting them to vote on Saturday, 12.6.) And then the New York Film Critics Circle will vote on Wednesday, 12.10.
I’m rooting for a Revolutionary Road upset over Slumdog Millionaire from either LAFCA or NYFCC. Not because I’m against Danny Boyle‘s film in any way. I just think Sam Mendes‘ film needs a little advance traction to get rolling with the L.A. pueriles who are saying they don’t care for it because it’s too...Read More »
That 11.27 projection about Twilight making $55 million over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday and $37.5 million for the three-day weekend came from a solid estimator, but Twilight‘s business fell off after Wednesday and now it’s going to come in second to Four Christmases with a significantly smaller take. Here are the latest numbers:
The three-day on Four Chistmases is $31.5 million, and the five day will be $46.5 milllion. Twilight is looking at a three-day total of 27.4. million, off 61% from last weekend’s three-day total. The five-day projection is for $40.5 million. The new long-range expectation is $150 million, give or take.
The third-place Bolt is looking at $26.4 and...Read More »
There’s an obvious note of African-American machismo in Barack Obama ‘s recent comments to Barbara Walters about not wanting to get a “yappy girly” dog. He said he wanted a “big rambunctious dog.” This sounded like a reference to a golden retriever or lab or Irish setter, but his comment reminded me that I’ve never once seen an African-American guy walking a dog on a city street that wasn’t just large, but also fearsome-looking. Pit bulls, bulldogs, dobermans…that line of country. Tell me I’m mistaken.Read More »
The more I think about it, the Documentary Short List omission that’s growing more and more in terms of unjustness (and I’m sorry for not thinking of this right off the top) is the one for Gonzalo Arijon‘s Stranded, which opened theatrically last month.
In my heart the emotional import of this film is second only to James Marsh‘s Man on Wire. It was omitted, I’m guessing, for the usual...Read More »
The chief differences between Tom Tykwer‘s The International (Sony/Columbia, 2.13) and Tony Gilroy‘s Duplicity (Universal, 3.20), the two early ’09 urban thrillers that star Clive Owen, seem to be (a) Gilroy’s is a bit lighter and more caper-ish, (b) Tykwer’s is a bit heavier, darker, apparently toying with a Parallax View vibe, and (c) Owen looks a tiny bit heavier in the Tykwer than in the Gilroy, in which he needed to look hot and buff for his romantic scenes with Julia Roberts.Read More »
We all know about the disappearance of Sean Penn from Wayne Kramer‘s much-delayed Crossing Over (Weinstein Co., 2.9.09). Penn shot a couple of scenes as immigration cop Chris Farrell in the Weinstein Co. drama, but he’s not in the trailer and his name is missing from the credit block. What gives? Why the hell would Kramer cut Penn, a major name actor, out of this Traffic-like drama about the problems of immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship? Because his acting sucked?
(l. to r.) Crossing Over director Wayne Kramer, Harvey Weinstein, Harrison Ford, producer Frank Marshall, Bryan Lourd
I...Read More »
MGM marketing vp Mike Vollman has replied to the Newark Star Ledger‘s Stephen J. Whitty about the latter’s 11.26 piece called “Valkyrie Surrenders,” in which Whitty posted what seemed like a logical interpretation of MGM’s decision not to show the Bryan Singer-Tom Cruise World War II thriller in time for possible critics awards contention (or for consideration by National Board of Review) by not screening it for junket journalists until December 12th, or to regular critics until December 15th.
“We have a great, strong, commercial movie and are quite proud of it,” says Vollman. “It is also the type of movie that will be deserved of intelligent critical analysis.
“What it...Read More »
Whatever happened to He’s Just Not Into You (New Line/Warner, 2.6.09)? If you’d asked me over Thanksgiving Day dinner, I would have said “uhmm, I think it came out last spring and died…right?” It actually won’t see the light of a digital projector lamp for nearly two and a half months.Read More »
“Our customers have an enormous interest in our newspaper on Sunday; have almost no interest on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday and Friday, they’re more interested; and Saturday might as well be in the desert.” — swashbuckling Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell speaking to Conde Nast Portfolio‘s editor-in-chief Joanne Lipman in a q & a that went up on 11.24.
“I haven’t figured out how to cash in a Pulitzer Prize. There was a day when a newspaper put ‘Winner of Pulitzer Prize’ on the front page, and people flocked to read the Pulitzer Prize story. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that that’s the case today. But I also think that there are scale issues. In other words, I think that if the goal is a Pulitzer, it’s in the wrong place. In other...Read More »
The first locale in this recently posted trailer for Tony Gilroy‘s Duplicity (Universal, 3.20.09) is the Pantheon in Rome, rendered in that familiar bleachy-hazy late afternoon light. A good place to be, sit, hang, reflect, etc. I was too lazy to read the script but now, queer as I am for this tourist haven, I really like this movie. Even if most of it takes place stateside. What am I saying? Nothing. Post-Thanksgiving Day crazies.Read More »
I wrote down the weekend projections on a yellow pad as they were told to me over the phone, but then the banshees of the Fifth Dimension flew in and took the pad away. But I remember one thing clearly. Twilight is the #1 ass-kicker of the Thanksgiving holiday with about $37.5 million expected for the upcoming 3-day weekend and $55 million projected for the entire five days.Read More »
Roger Ebert has posted one of the most persuasive, alarming, and best-written laments about the death of serious print film criticism, and the cancerous spread of trashy celebrity gossip-mongering. It’s Thanksgiving Day, we’ve got the time — here’s the whole article. Read it as the glory that was newsprint Rome burns to the ground.
“A newspaper film critic is like a canary in a coal mine. When one croaks, get the hell out. The lengthening toll of former film critics acts as a poster child for the self-destruction of American newspapers, which once hoped to be more like the New York Times and now yearn to become more like the National Enquirer. We used to be the town crier. Now we are the neighborhood gossip.... Read More »
In the view of N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, Sean Penn “outdoes himself” in Milk, “playing a character different from any he has portrayed before. [But] this is less a matter of sexuality — there is no longer much novelty in a straight actor’s ‘playing gay’ — than of temperament.
“Unlike, say, Jimmy Markum, Mr. Penn’s brooding ex-convict in Clint Eastwood‘s Mystic River, Harvey Milk is an extrovert and an ironist, a man whose expansive, sometimes sloppy self-presentation camouflages an incisive mind and a ferociously stubborn will.
“All of this Mr. Penn captures effortlessly through voice and gesture, but what is most arresting is the sense he conveys of Milk’s fundamental...Read More »
As shallow and Hollywood-centric as this may sound, I’m wondering (as others have since yesterday) if the Mumbai terrorist attacks will have any effect on Academy voter thinking regarding Best Picture contender Slumdog Millionaire, which is set in Mumbai and does an excellent (and at times almost too persistent) job of capturing the chaotic sociological and temperamental stew of Mumbai (particuarly the social caste system) over the last 20-plus years.
I suspect the attacks will have either no effect or perhaps (cynical as this sounds) help the film a little bit because the horrible news pushes all kinds of how, why and what-the-hell? questions into everyone’s head, and Slumdog Millionaire is now a kind of touchstone — a movie at the center of the hurricane, although not one that touches even slightly on the subject of Muslim militancy.
Slumdog is a Dickensian fable that portrays, yes, hard times and much cruelty but also projects an optimistic fantasy that couldn’t contrast more strongly with the mindset and tactics of the Muslim wackjobs who yesterday shot and bombed that town all to hell.Read More »
“What are your thoughts on Twilight having a Titanic-type hold on the hearts and minds of the 2008 American teen girl?,” a Manhattan friend wrote this morning. “Look at its numbers — it made $6 million on Tuesday, obviously not falling off the cliff. I realize this is an extended holiday weekend and all that, but still the similarities are kind of striking — doomed romance (in that death has consumed the boy and may eventually consume the girl), relative unknowns in the leads, just enough action for the guys to remain happy. I can see substantial business (and repeat business) through Christmas. What could it earn by the end of the run?”Read More »
Clint Eastwood has been composing and performing music — melodies simple and clean, always with a catchy hook — for the soundtracks of his films for a long time. But now he’s apparently composed and sung a song for Grand Torino. The computer I’m on right now was made by slave-wage Koreans in 1997 so I can’t listen and check, but there’s said to be an mp3 of Eastwood’s performance on this filmdrunk page.Read More »
The Newark Star Ledger‘s Stephen J. Whitty has concluded the obvious regarding the MGM team’s decision to keep Bryan Singer‘s Valkyrie out of possible critics awards contention (or for consideration by National Board of Review) by not screening it for junket journalists until December 12th, or to regular critics until December 15th.
Why does MGM continue to send out these distress signals? This is a movie made by the formidable Bryan Singer, Tom Cruise and Chris McQuarrie, for heaven’s sake. I’ve read an early draft of the script — it’s servicable, gripping, efficient as far as it goes. And yet MGM keeps telling everyone that something must be wrong.
The screening dates “seem timely, you might think, considering the film...Read More »
My mother lives in a sleepy compound called The Watermark, an old folks home located in the boonies of Southbury, Connecticut. It’s great to see her, of course, but I’m in wireless hell every time I visit. The AT&T aircard gets only one bar, and that gives me nothing. One bar only on the iPhone also — it’s awful. Even the wifi at the local hotel a mile away isn’t working. It’s like it’s 1994 up here. It’s Devil’s Island. One of the worst black holes I’ve encountered in this country.Read More »