A Few Years…Maybe

BBC News has announced that Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Wood, 42, is engaged to Aaron Johnson, 19, who does a decent job of playing the lead role of John Lennon in the film. I wouldn’t make it legal if I were Johnson — I’d just cruise along and see where it all goes. No guy should get married at this age. I just asked a ladyfriend about this; she says “younger boys like older women because older women know what they want in the sack, and a lot of younger girls don’t.”

Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Wood in a pose for a current issue of Bazaar.

Halloween Connecticut

Backyard grove behind home on Indian Hill Road, Wilton, Connecticut — 10.31.09, 6:10 pm.

10.31.09, 6:15 pm

Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, 138 Montrose Ave, Brooklyn, NY. Four years ago I was so scared about my summer advertising income — always a spotty thing — that I, a lifelong anti-Catholic, went to this church on a Sunday morning in early June and asked for divine intervention. I think it helped.

How It Works

In a recently posted riff called “The Rules of Ten,” MCN’s David Poland says two things about Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker. (1) “Among the fifteen or fewer serious contenders for [Best Picture] nomination, it will certainly be amongst the best five, by most standards of quality.” (2) “In years past…a movie like The Hurt Locker would have a very hard road, no matter how good it is, because of its lackluster box office run.”

In other words, he seems to be saying that a standard Academy rule-of-thumb — i.e., if a great or near-great film hasn’t made a hefty pile of dough, it is automatically degraded as a potential awards contender — doesn’t apply as much this year. Is that what he’s saying? I’m not quite sure.

Either way you...

Saturday Numbers

In the view of Steve Mason, the weekend’s #1 film — Michael Jackson’s This Is It — is a shortfaller due to $8 million earned yesterday and a likely 5-day cume of $33.2 million by Sunday night.

That’s well short of the $31.5 million earned over the first three days by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (Disney) in February ’08. That film earned a little more than $65 million by the end of its run. So is Mason saying that This Is It won’t make it to that figure? His point seems to be that the potential business indicated by the Jackson...

Glass Half Empty?

“When Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Sid Ganis announced the expansion of the best picture category to 10 nominations back in June, everyone was talking about J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek being the kind of movie that might benefit from a wider field,” writes Variety‘s Glenn Whipp. “Critics liked it; audiences loved it: It was the type of sturdy popcorn movie that, if nominated, might give the awards telecast a ratings boost — or, at least, stem further viewer erosion.

“Now, as Oscar season kicks into gear, nobody is talking about Star Trek much anymore. And, as audiences and Academy members have seen most of the Oscar contenders, a vague sense of discomfort hangs over Hollywood as some naysayers wonder how they might possibly fill out a ballot...

Nirvana in Lyon

“Anyone can formulate a personal version of heaven — an aerie of angels, a tropical getaway, a cloister with 72 virgins, a sports bar with unlimited beer and bigscreen, or an ethereal place where you could mingle and chat with everyone from Socrates to Groucho Marx,” Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote in a 10.22 column. “Last week I discovered the closest approximation of paradise I can imagine for the hardcore film buff at the Grand Lyon Film Festival in the center of France.

(l. to r.) Clint Eastwood, Cecile de France, Bertrand Tavernier, Therry Fremaux.

“This six-day event was defined by three...

Back In The Ring?

As I hear it, Kirk JonesEverybody’s Fine (Miramax, 12.4), an About Schmidt-type family drama that will be reviewed following its AFIFest premiere on 11.3, isn’t necessarily a Best Picture candidate, but Robert De Niro, playing a dad looking to reconnect with his grown kids, could snag some consideration as a Best Actor candidate.

“It’s a low-key performance, which actors will like — understated — and he hasn’t been Oscar-nominated since Cape Fear, which was 16 or 17 years ago,” says a guy who’s seen it. “He more or less sells it with two scenes — a meltdown moment during a plane flight and an emotional scene at a hospital.”

Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Melissa Leo (in a very small role as a truck driver) costar.

Positive Identification

Every so often an actor or actress you haven’t noticed before will just catch your eye. It helps if they can act, of course, but movie cameras just like certain people. And right away you’re thinking you’d like them to stick around. For me, this happened when Ophelia Lovibond came on-screen in Sam Taylor-Wood‘s Nowhere Man. I should have made some noise about her in my 10.29 review but I didn’t know her name. (The press notes weren’t much help.)

Nowhere Boy costar Ophelia Lovibond at last night’s London premiere

She’s in two scenes with Aaron Johnson (who plays John Lennon), one of them an outdoor quickie sex scene. Lovibond — curious name...

Battsek Goes Down

Miramax president Daniel Battsek, a good man, has been given the boot. As part of a late September announcement about streamlining/downsizing the company, Disney management stated that Battsek would “continue to oversee all aspects of creative, development, production and business and legal affairs” out of New York. Nikki Finke is reporting that Miramax’s NY office will now be closed, and that the whole operation will now move to the Disney lot.

A studio spokesperson told L.A. Times reporter...

Creepy Vibes? Naaah.

I’m sorry but I’ve never found locations in and of themselves to be remotely scary. I don’t even find them unsettling. It”s interesting when you can sense the aura around certain places — the White House, Ground Zero, Dealey Plaza in Dallas — but that’s a long way from scary. It’s fascinating to stand in areas and buildings that have been used in famous movies (like Mission San Juan Batista near Hollister) but again, no spooks.


Wednesday, 10.28, 6:55 pm — 23rd Street near Eighth Avenue.

Condolence flowers received yesterday from a kind person over the death of my brother Tony about ten days ago. Lovely and soothing. They’ll die too, of course, so I wanted to capture them while still fresh.

Wednesday, 10.28, 6:45 pm.

Cottonball Obama Doc

Amy Rice and Alicia SamsBy The People: The Election of Barack Obama will finally debut on HBO on Tuesday, 11.3 — precisely 365 days after the ’08 Presidential election came to an end. I reviewed the film in early August after catching a showing at the Sunshine Cinemas, and there wasn’t any way to be kind or charitable. It’s a political chick flick with no edge — butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth. And it’s way too easy in its depiction of Hillary Clinton ‘s campaign.

I began by calling it “a fairly bloodless portrait of one of the most fascinating, breathtaking, sometimes ugly, occasionally transcendent, up-and-down racial-tinderbox elections in our nation’s history. It’s up-close and somewhat...

Conflicted Work, Malleable Fable

I don’t know what I was doing when this Matt Zoller Seitz video essay about Elia Kazan ‘s On The Waterfront went up almost a month ago. The more-or-less conventional view is that the story of Terry Malloy vs. Johnny Friendly is “a rat’s fantasy” or “a stoolie’s defense.” Seitz argues otherwise, or at least that a fairer, more perceptive reading is somewhere in the middle.

Kazan’s rep has long been tarnished by his cooperation with the House Un-American...

As Bennett Goes…

Hollywood Reporter critic Ray Bennett, not exactly known for his no-holds-barred contrary opinions, shocked the film industry yesterday by calling Sam Taylor-Wood‘s Nowhere Boy, which had its premiere last night in London, a “passable look at the early life of John Lennon…quite a dull film.” If Bennett, who gave a pass to Amelia and Momma Mia!, can’t find a way to bend over for this film, it suggests that the U.S. critical consensus might be an issue down the road.

The British critics loved it. Of course, they usually roll over for British-produced films so you need to take their Nowhere Boy views with a grain of salt. Here’s the Telegraph guy,

Seeking Oscar Host

With Hugh Jackman stating he’s not interested in hosting the 2010 Oscars, and the show’s new producers (Bill Mechanic, Adam Shankman) presumably aware that drawing younger viewers is a priority, let me repeat a truism voiced two years ago by Manhattan ad exec Shari Anne Brill, to wit: “Younger viewers live their lives pushing the envelope, breaking rules and bending rules. As long as the Oscars are perceived to have a certain rigidity, they’re not going to be relatable to young people.”

In other words, don’t hire another setttled smoothie. You don’t want your next host performing a 75 year-old Fred Astaire tune in evening finery — you want Ben Stiller and Owen...

Good Morning, Zombies

No thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz for not sending me his latest video essay, a Zombie 101 tutorial; I had to hunt it down on Movie City News. One presumes he was inspired by the success of Zombieland. I know that George Romero‘s latest, Survival of the Dead, is still looking for distribution, and is showing next at the American Film Market.

Oscar Poll Reboot

L.A.Times/Gold Derby columnist Tom O’Neil has recalculated his Best Picture Oscar prediction poll with input from 16 pundits. Only The Hurt Locker and Invictus are supported by the whole crew. Precious and Up in the Air got 15 votes, two blew off Up and three blew off Nine. Ten voted for An Education and Avatar. And four have now joined me in supporting A Serious Man — O’Neil, Robert Osborne, Steve Pond and Peter Travers.