Last week a serious dolphin lady and longtime friend named
Gini Kopecky-Wallace, whom I’ve known since ’79,
went to see The
Cove (Roadside, 7.31). An off-and-on participant with a
research project studying wild dolphins for more than 20 years,
Kopecky-Wallace writes about dolphins, whales, diving, islands and
oceans any chance she gets. Here’s her review:
It wasn’t an especially dolphin-loving crowd that showed up for
The key sentence in Michael Fleming‘s Varietystory about this morning’s whackings of seven senior Paramount execs is found in the fifth paragraph, to wit: “Not surprisingly, the exiting execs were aligned with [the recently whacked Paramount Film Group president] John Lesher and president of production Brad Weston.”
The whackees are Physical Production chief Georgia Kacandes, senior vp production Ben Cosgrove, exec vp of production Dan Levine, head of casting Gail Levin, Paramount Vantage honcho Guy Stodel, senior vp of visual effects Kim Locasio, and Aimee Shieh, head of Paramount’s New York literary office.
Levine, it is noted, “shepherded” G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the Stephen Sommers-directed CG actioner due on 8.7.
Remember beaming? Sending your info (or a memo or a short message) to another with a touch of a button. It was a big thing eight or ten years ago with owners of Palm Pilot Vs and I-don’t-which-other-handhelds. When it first came in I used to think it was so amazing. No more writing stuff down! But it’s gone now…a vanished technology. Even the Palm Pre doesn’t have it.
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley is now a
comrade-in-arms regarding Lone Scherfig‘s An
Education, which he saw last night and is calling “near
perfect,” a “knock-out” and “something close to a miracle — that
rare occasion when a filmmaker taps into profound truths with the
help of a cast that gets it, the themes surging through every vein,
a driven vehicle of purpose.
“Most of the end-of-year awards talk will surely surround
Carey Mulligan‘s absolutely peerless and
incredibly refined leading performance, as well it should. She
won’t need much of a boost into the Oscar race when people get a
load of what she has to offer here.”
It only took the Minnesota Supreme Court seven and three-quarter
months to hear the arguments, evaluate the data and decide that
Al Franken should be certified as the winner of
that state’s ridiculously prolonged Senate race. May the
scumbag Republicans who goaded Norm Coleman,
Franken’s vanquished Senate race opponent, into contesting this
thing well past the point of rational dispute suffer some form of
The N.Y. Times is
reporting that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty,
whom I suspect has been a secret go-along scumbag in this affair,
“had indicated as late as Monday that he was willing to certify Mr.
Franken as the winner once the state’s highest court decided the
recount and Mr. Coleman’s battle. On CNN on Sunday, Mr. Pawlenty
said: ‘I’m prepared to...
Laugh-out-loud amusing and “outrageous” as it sometimes is,
Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Bruno (Universal,
7.10) — oddly — isn’t all that funny. Certainly
not in a convulsive sense. It is sort of heh-heh funny in a
dry, observational, “is that all there is?” sense… but what’s that?
It’s basically a series of misanthropic “screw you” jokes — 82
minutes worth of effete put-on gags, each one meant to provoke
homophobic reactions to SBC’s flamboyantly gay, blonde-coiffed
Austrian fashion reporter. The point being to “get” the constipated
illiberal, small-minded types by making them look bad.
All I can say is that clips and promotions and put-ons are one
thing, but when you sit down for a movie you expect a
“Is it a sign of impending apocalypse that two terrible
Nia Vardalos movies have been released in one
month?” asks critic
Marshall Fine. “It seemed unlikely that Vardalos
could star in a movie flatter or more desultory than My Life in
Ruins. But she’s outdone herself with I Hate Valentine’s
Day (IFC, 7.3), which she wrote and directed and stars in.
John Corett, Nia Vardalos in I Hate Valentine’s Day
“For good luck, apparently, she cast John
Corbett – her love interest in My Big Fat Greek
Wedding, – as the male lead. But she could have cast anyone
from Brad Pitt to a fencepost and it wouldn’t have
made a difference. The writing is that flavorless, the directing
A friend wrote last night that “there’s a rumor starting that
Eddie Murphy wants to play Michael
Jackson in a biopic.” Patently absurd on more levels than
I’d care to list, I wrote back. He’s too old, for one thing. He
doesn’t remotely resemble Jackson. His voice is all wrong. He isn’t
willowy or feathery or girly enough. “I don’t even know why I’m
pointing this stuff out because it’s one of the silliest casting
ideas I’ve heard in ages,” I concluded.
MSNBC switched over to high-def today, although it won’t show up on all the cable systems until early August. It kicked in with my provider, Century Cable, three days ago. So I tuned in this afternoon — channel 723 instead of the regular analog channel 23 — to see how good it looked, and it looked like hell. All pixellated and degraded — basically an analog image with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio. I know what the real thing looks like. This is crap.
Variety‘s Anne Thompson has a
decidedly negative view of Michael Mann‘s
decision to “immerse the audience” in the 1930s by shooting
Public Enemies in high-definition video. “HD is clear,
harsh, honest” she notes. “It works fine in a contemporary setting
like Collateral or Miami Vice. But when audiences
watch a period film, no matter how authentically recreated, they
aren’t expecting it to look like this.”
Heath Ledger “was always hesitant to be in a
summer blockbuster with the dolls and action figures and everything
else that comes with one of those movies,” the late actor’s friend
and agent, Steven Alexander, tells Peter
Biskind in an
upcoming Vanity Fair. “He was afraid it would define
him and limit his choices.”
Alexander and other confidantes tell Biskind that “one of the
reasons Ledger agreed to do The Dark Knight was that it
would be such a long shoot it would give him an excuse to
turn down other offers. Ledger had a pay-or-play deal on
The Dark Knight — meaning he’d get compensated no matter
what — so he felt he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted
Not every day can be well organized and super-productive. I was going to bang out my Bruno review (the green light is up) but it wouldn’t happen. When the plane doesn’t lift off the ground and it’s suddenly 4:30 pm when it was only noon an hour earlier, you just have to suck it in and try to do better the next day. And now I have to catch a 6 pm screening of Nia Vardalos‘ I Hate Valentine’s Day. And my early-bird DVD seller still doesn’t have Lonely Are The Brave, which streets on 7.7.
There’s just no end to the ick factor in the
Michael Jackson tragedy. Everything that’s being
reported sounds sordid and sad. Or it’s been made up. The
posted a story today about the late pop singer’s ghastly
physical state — appalling — and then TMZ reported that the story
And 95% of the world is repeating the same mantra — “Ignore the
facts, deny the damage, ignore what Michael Jackson became — just
listen to the music and focus only on his
peak-of-popularity years in the ’80s and early ’90s.”
I found it moderately unpleasant to watch Al
Sharpton — Al Sharpton? — and Joe
Denby Delighted: “Michael Mann’s Public Enemies is a
ravishing dream of violent gangster life in the thirties — not a
tough, funny, and, finally, tragic dream like Bonnie and
Clyde but a flowing, velvety fantasia of the
crime wave that mesmerized the nation early in the decade.
“The scowling men in long dark coats and hats, led by the
fashion-plate bandit John Dillinger (Johnny Depp),
march into a grand Midwestern bank with marble floors and brass
railings, take over the place, throw the cash in bags, and make
their getaway, jumping onto the sideboards of flat-topped black
Fords — beautiful cars with curved grilles and rounded headlights
that stand straight up from the cars’ bodies.
“It’s the American poetry of crime. Throughout the movie,
blazing tommy guns emit little...
In recognition of Bernie Madoff having been sentenced to 150 years behind bars, here’s a re-link to that 3.14.09 piece about how I would have escaped and cavorted it if I’d been in Bernie’s shoes. Excerpt: “I’d hire three full-time prostitutes to travel with me, but they’d have to be prostitutes who know how to sail.”
Why didn’t Madoff get 500 years? Or a thousand? I’ve always loved the poetic ring of 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, which is the title of a 1932 Michael Curtiz crime-prison drama with Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. It comes from author Lewis E. Lawes‘s 1932 novel.
I may as well join the crowd and post this HD trailer for Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson‘s The Invention of Lying (Warner Bros., 9.25). Trailers always seem to misrepresent what a film actually is (i.e., how it plays) so you always need to take them with a grain. But the basic impression I’m getting is that TIOL may be a little too on-the-nose — an explicit comic thesis going through the movie motions. But maybe not.
Responding to my recent
praise for Michael Mann‘s Public
Enemies, legendary film critic F.X. Feeney
shared some thoughts earlier this evening, focusing especially on
Mann’s history of writing strong and defiant female
“I’m so glad we agree about Public Enemies,” he began.
“I think it’s a beautiful confluence of everything I ever loved
about Last of the Mohicans and Heat — especially
in its sense of America as a still-embattled
frontier where men and women continuously invent and
re-invent themselves, and protagonists (whether they live within
the law or without it) who are defined by their refusals to
“This is one reason I take exception to Mark
“I respect your love for Public Enemies,” a critic
friend wrote this evening. “I have to say it didn’t bowl me over —
it’s too diffuse, too uncertain on what story it really wanted to
tell. Although, agreed, Marion Cotillard is
terrific and there’s no doubt the film looks wonderful, like every
“But there’s a point here — and maybe a post — in how the
externals of last Thursday’s big NY screening at Leows’ 84th Street
may have critically affected its reception.
“As I’m sure you know, the Manhattan screening was a
clusterfuck — long lines, not enough seats, etc.
Several major critics were heard loudly
complaining about all of this, and while this is petty
shit and shouldn’t influence any pro’s opinion — I remember giving
raves to movies I saw sitting on the floor of the Eccles...
The L.A. Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
went to Cyrus Nowrasteh‘s The Stoning of
Soraya M. — a valuable selling point. (I respected
and admired it but couldn’t get past the horrific subject
matter.) The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte‘s Soul Power. And
Eva Norvind‘s Born Without won the
Audience Award for Best International Feature.
The Target Filmmaker Narrative Award — the confusing moniker for
the jury award — went to Sam Fleischner and
Ben Chace‘s Wah Do Dem (What They
Do), which I didn’t see and which no one told me to see and
which no one told me anything about during...
This portion of a paragraph from a
two-day-old Patrick Goldstein column made me blink: “When they
weren’t dancing, Brett Ratner and Michael
Jackson would watch movies together. [Ratner] says they
must’ve watched the original version of Willie Wonka and the
Chocolate Factory50 times over the years.”
Ratner is exaggerating, of course, but still. Speaking as someone
who’s watched some great films as many as 25 or 30 times (like
by Northwest, say), the idea of anyone eagerly watching
that 1971 film more than four or five times seems awfully strange.
It’s good but not that good.
Why hasn’t Warner Home Video come out with at least a seasonal
release date for the
Variety‘s Pamela McClintock is
reporting that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has
earned an estimated domestic haul of $201.2
million domestic, a result of business at 4,234 theaters.
This is the biggest five-day haul ever after The Dark
Knight. Pic’s worldwide total through Sunday was $387
million, one of the best global debuts of all time.
Excuse me but I need to go slit my wrists now.
The good news is that The Hurt Locker had a great
opening also. The three-day estimate is $144,000,
which came from playing at four theaters for a per-theater average
of $36,000. Some were guessing a $30k-per-screen
average based on Friday’s business. As Coming Soon’s Ed
However Michael Mann‘s Public Enemies
winds up faring commercially and critically, Marion
Cotillard‘s performance as Billie Frechette, the
girlfriend of Johnny Depp‘s John Dillinger, is an
award-quality nail-down. No dramatic actress in
recent memory has conveyed as much intestinal steel, and it’s all
in her eyes. In each of her scenes they have a
straight-from-the-shoulder, no b.s. quality. Every time you look at
those watery French peepers and think, “God she’s beautiful,” a
subsequent thought happens a split second later: “Man, she’s
Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies
Even when Cotillard visibly melts at the end when
Stephen Lang‘s G-man character delivers the final
line (in what is easily the most...
I’m feeling a certain hesitancy about the fate of Public
Enemies because of what I heard from a couple of critics after
last Thursday night’s screening. (Others felt it was brilliant,
which is also my
view.) Like I said before, the critics and moviegoers who like
their meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans are going to have
problems with it. Public Enemies is a first-rate cops and
robbers 1930s time-trip highdef-video art movie,
but it ain’t meatloaf and it sure as hell ain’t McDonald’s. It’s a
dish of almond praline semifreddo with grappa-poached apricots. Yes
— a high falutin’ dessert, as in scrumptious. And then there’s that
I must have stuck my head into a couple of dozen bars, restaurants and clothing stores yesterday, and there were very few that weren’t playing tracks from Thriller. Clothing stores especially. “Billie Jean” in particular. And not once did I hear “Will You Be There?” It’s a little drippy here and there, but I’ve always felt this was Michael Jackson‘s best song. As much as I deplored who and what Jackson became over the last 16 years of his life, this song makes me put all that aside. I love the central melody and particularly the rhythm track — clap-clap, clap-pa-clap-clap.
I’m thinking I might do the odd thing and not sit here all day and write column stories. I’ve been telling myself I need to visit the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Met before it closes in August, and I’m thinking this is the day. I’ve worshipped his paintings nearly all my life, starting with my first viewing of Last Tango in Paris.
An important tenet of auteurism is that the best films are
always driven by an intimate connection between the director and
the lead character. Alfred Hitchcock and
James Stewart‘s Scotty Ferguson in
Vertigo, Martin Scorsese and
Harvey Keitel‘s Charlie in Mean Streets,
etc. And it doesn’t really matter if the director admits to (or is
even aware of) self-portraiture. Never trust the artist — trust the
It hit me last night as I was preparing my questions for last
night’s q & a with Hurt Locker director
Kathryn Bigelow that there’s a certain kinship
between herself and Jeremy Renner‘s Sgt. James
character — a guy who lives for the thrill of a super-intense job
(i.e., bomb defusing) and who isn’t much good at day-to-day