The Rabbi Says

And The Winner Is columnist Scott Feinberg reported yesterday that “over the past few days, several L.A.-based rabbis — either on their own initiative or at someone else’s urging — have written articles in which they describe Inglourious Basterds as a modern-day retelling of the story of Purim, the Jewish holiday which began Sunday and continues through today, and urging people to vote for it on their Oscar ballots (which are due on Tuesday — i.e., tomorrow).

Not What It Was

Remember the excitement that accompanied Robert Harris and James Katz‘s 1991 restoration of Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick‘s Spartacus? Called the “most extensive film restoration in history, painstakingly reconstructed from decades-old negative and color separation prints, at a cost of nearly $1 million,” etc.? The sumptuous detail of a large costume epic (set in Biblical times but not the least bit Biblical in story or theme) shot in Super Technirama 70 and all that?

It’s now nearly 20 years later and guess what? The

Color of Wimpitude

Who doesn’t despise President Obama‘s stated dreamscape belief in the notion of bipartisan support for health care reform, or more particularly the fantasy of Republicans having the slightest interest in allowing the less-well-offs to receive comprehensive health care at more affordable rates?

Apart from the general venality of Republican positions on this matter, there’s nothing quite as contemptible as the inability of Democrats to achieve what they claim they want to achieve by whatever means necessary. Everyone loathes ineffectualness and flaccidity.

One-Hander

This is almost a Shutter Island-type shot — gothic vibe, moonlight, ominous clouds — and I took it without thinking the other night. I love this kind of accident.

The day I took this my little 12 megapixel Canon Digital Elph cracked open, leaving me no option but to return to Best Buy for a replacement. To my surprise they’d just gotten in a brand-new 14 megapixel model called the SD1400 IS. It takes noticably cleaner video than the other one, or so it seems. It’s still only 720p, of course. Two or three years hence these little guys will have 1080p, and then we’ll be cooking.

Not Following

Martin Scorsese‘s Shutter Island was the top ticket seller yesterday ($6.7 million) for a second weekend in a row. I have one question — why? It’s laboriously over-shot and over-saturated. Why would anyone recommend it to a friend with any enthusiasm? Is it the word “island” that’s attracting people? Cop Out (Warner Bros.) is second with $5.9 million, and The Crazies (Overture) is third with $5.9 million.

Hathaway’s Big Score?

To hear it from a trusted research-screening informant, Anne Hathaway‘s performance as Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Parkinson’s-afflicted love interest in Ed Zwick‘s Love and Other Drugs is “wonderful, really wonderful…she knocks it out of the park.” Plus their love affair, he says, is portrayed in strongly compelling terms. Resulting, he reports, in significant deep-down feeling plus some heavy love scenes with ample nudity.


Love and Other Drugs costars Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway.

My concern here is with Zwick, a problem director who’s always emotionally overplayed this or that aspect of his films. But my informant, who saw the film last week at Pasadena’s Pacific Paseo, is, in my judgment, a sharp and reliable observer with...

Mustard Balloon

Just a reminder that the mustard-background 2010 Oscar Balloon is now up and open for additions and refinements. (Sitting just above the ’09 Balloon.) As things stand now there are 19 films that…well, who knows which will earn Best Picture consideration? But a decent percentage certainly appear formidable. Plus I’ve listed another 17 or 18 that seem to have been made with some degree of X-factor exceptionalism. The game starts now.

Pathetic

Several midtown restaurants, coffee shops and delis closed late this afternoon to allow their employees to get home safely due to inclement weather. I for one am consumed with disgust. Remember that line in the Rolling Stones‘ “Shattered” that went “to live in this town you must be tough tough tough tough tough tough tough”? No longer. People who went home early today are babies. They probably lack the character to feel ashamed of themselves so let me invoke it on their behalf.

What kind of a flabby-bellied managerial mentality decides that wind gusts, falling snow, smallish snow drifts and annoying slush puddles are exceptional threats to pedestrians? I’m sorry but this is a measure of the backbone and resilience of the mainstream work force, or lack of I should say. I’m sure it was mainly middle-aged and older women...

Tattoo You

I’m mostly cool with Niels Arden Oplev‘s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Danish-Swedish thriller that’s finally opening in the U.S. on 3.19. I have a slight beef, however, with the over-hypers, particularly the views of a friend, Jeffrey Ressner, that I recently posted.


Girl With The Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev, star Noomi Rapace — Wednesday, 2.24, 5:55 pm at Manhattan’s Park Regency hotel.

Ressner called it “the best movie of the year thus far…in the same vein of gripping genre genius as Let The Right One...

Break for Bigelow

I saw this 60 Minutes/Kathryn Bigelow teaser at Awards Daily and copied the code– big deal. Leslie Stahl and crew shot most of her piece during the Santa Barbara Film Festival. This is almost the only Hurt Locker uptick after all the “get the front-runner” potshots that happened this week — i.e., the Nicolas Chartier thing, Martha Nochimson‘s dig at Bigelow for not being a womanly-enough filmmaker, and the military authenticity nip-nips.

...

Nature Speaks

Getting drowned, mauled and chomped to death by a killer whale is a horrible way to go, so my sympathies to the friends and family of the late Dawn Brancheau, 40, who suffered this grisly fate two days ago at a SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.


The late Dawn Brancheau

But — yup, here comes the thing that you’re not supposed to say — the instant I read this I said to myself, “This is a captive animal getting some payback…an inmate letting a prison guard have it across the chops on behalf of tens of thousands of killer whales and dolphins who’ve been forced to perform at sea parks.”

More Alice Letdown

The following xerox of Todd McCarthy‘s Alice in Wonderland review is for anyone and everyone, of course, but it’s particularly aimed at the HE reader/twerp known as Wrecktem, who earlier today (a) said that my alleged meme about how “‘this movie is going to be a disaster’ is a bust”; and (b) suggested that “the UK “exhibitor Wells supposedly talked to about this film should be banned from this industry for life for lying about the quality of the film.”

Here’s McCarthy’s mostly dismissive assessment:

“‘You’ve lost your muchness,’...

Greenberg Face-time

Greenberg director-writer Noah Baumbach‘s LA-to-NY flight was cancelled by the blizzard, so he did his round-table interviews at this morning’s Greenberg junket at the Waldorf Astoria hotel via Skype and a portable speaker. Baumbach’s confinement to a Macbook Pro screen reminded me of the Martian leader inside the glass bowl (i.e., “the sum of all intelligence”) in William Cameron MenziesInvaders From Mars, and the two publicists who carried Baumbach into the room were like the three-fingered Martian goons.


I’ll post my video of a portion of the Baumbach chat later tonight — my YouTube upload...

Numbers

Neither Kevin Smith‘s Cop Out nor The Crazies are going to make box-office history this weekend, but both will do nicely, reasonably, decently. Ditto Alice in Wonderland (3.5)…actually, this looks like a better-than-decent performer. The film that appears to be in trouble is Paul Greengrass‘s Green Zone, which opens on 3.12 and has only tepid definite interest numbers — 36 and 38 among younger and older males, and 21 and 29 among younger and older females.

Strong Survive

Wells to 42West: “I’m determined to attend your Waldorf Astoria Greenberg junket despite the blizzardtopia outside, but I’m just checking to see if you guys are having second thoughts. Damn the torpedos?” 42West to Wells: “The junket is on!”

Which means I need to be at the Waldorf by 9:00 am or so. I have no rubber boots, but don’t get me wrong — I love a good blizzard. But all the material I was meaning to post yesterday afternoon (but didn’t due to that horrendous video upload problem) is delayed until early this afternoon.

Again

In a Huffington Post-ed AP interview, Mo’Nique is asked about “a lot of talk about you not showing up early on to promote Precious because you were worried about money.” And she replies as follows:

“Well, when they say Mo’Nique was worried about money, I wasn’t worried about money. Mo’Nique has a talk show that comes on five nights a week and she tapes six times a week for that talk show. And yes, when I leave my home, I leave my home and get paid to leave my home, so I wasn’t worried about money. They simply said, ‘You know, well Mo’Nique we can’t pay you to do that.’ [And] we said, ‘OK, baby. Well, then, that’s not something we can do.’ Because, when I leave out, why ever would I go do something for free when I can go and do something and bring money back home to my family?”

Downtime Agony

I’ve been totally jammed on video upload issues. I’m getting instant error messages when I try to upload on both YouTube and Vimeo. The response from the online help staff, of course, has been less than instantaneous. It’s been pure throbbing hell for the last three hours or so, and nothing posted the whole time. Now I’m down to calling freelance whiz kids for assistance. Delightful.

No Bruno

During a 2.18 conversation with Oscar telecast co-producer Adam Shankman, Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross was informed that the original request for a host was Sasha Baron-Cohen, but this was shot down by the Academy elders. “Too much of a wild card,” Shankman explained.

The Story That Wasn’t There

Let me explain what the Hurt Locker-related, Nicolas Chartier wildcat e-mail non-story is all about…okay? A certain party saw a chance to somehow hurt The Hurt Locker‘s chances of taking the Best Picture Oscar, and thought that creating a little hoo-hah out of a relatively minor e-mail blunder might help in that regard.

In short it’s a typical “do whatever you can to take down or damage the front-runner” maneuver — no more than that. Except it’s a non-starter.

On 2.19 (i.e., last Friday), one solitary guy with politically clueless instincts sent out an e-mail to friends and colleagues in the Academy...

Apologies

I have to leave to do a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo interview and then a screening of Kevin Smith’s Cop Out. Apologies for the black-blanket effect that the Crazy Heart skin ad has been having on some browsers. It’s fine on Firefox and Safari but apparently Internet Explorer users have had difficulty. Is this pretty much the case?

Heavens!

Who cares if Nell Minnow — a.k.a., “Movie Mom” at belief.net — has a problem with the red-band Kickass trailer that features costar Chloe Moretz and other under-age actors going all potty-mouth? Where is the intrigue or value in lamenting the effect of redband trailers upon American youths? Most younger teenagers would laugh in derision if they read this article…hello?

N.Y. Times reporter Brooks Barnes posted an article about this on 2.23. (It’s in today’s edition.) It’s extremely curious to see a piece in a world-class newspaper giving voice to concerns of people who don’t...

RFK Again

Nikki Finke‘s story about Matt Damon being attached to a Robert F. Kennedy biopic (based on a 2002 Evan Thomas biography) is a bit of a “meh.” I’d expect Damon to match Steven Culp‘s performance in Roger Donaldson‘s Thirteen Days, at least. But I’m not sure what this would come to.

(more…)

New West

The Coen Bros. obviously wouldn’t have chosen Hailee Steinfeld to play Mattie Ross in their True Grit remake if they didn’t think she had the necessary spunk, piss and vinegar. Or if they weren’t convinced that she’ll make their beautiful Old West dialogue sing just right. But surely they understand, being wise fellows, that genetically she’s about as Zane Grey as an iPad.


(l.) Hailee Steinfeld; (r.) Ethan, Joel Coen.

Steinfeld is fetching, all right, but in a radiant and (to me) almost dazzling-JAP sort of way — she’d be right at home on the slopes at Aspen. Whereas old photographs of wimmin of the Old West show they mostly had a hard-scrubbed, Plane Jane, almost beaten-down look. Perhaps a bit more...

Who Loves Ya?

The usual Peggy Siegal-invited elites attended tonight’s Monkey Bar party to celebrate The Hurt Locker: The Shooting Script (Newmarket Press) — screenplay by Mark Boal, introduction by Kathryn Bigelow. The gathering was hosted by Bigelow and literary agent David Kuhn.


Hurt Locker screenwriter-producer Mark Boal — Tuesday, 2.23, 8:35 pm.

Intrepid N.Y. Times “Carpetbagger” Melena Ryzik, Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow — Tuesday, 2.23, 8:45 pm.

L’Eclisse

On 12.1.09 Hollywood Reporter columnist Roger Friedman wrote about Howard Lutnick‘s money-betting box-office site known as The Cantor Exchange, or CX. When officially launched on or about 4.20.10, anyone (DZ included) will be able to wager real money and potentially make real money on Hollywood box-office predictions. The site says it expects to receive final regulatory approval less than two months from now. Why, then, am I feeling so indifferent about this? Because the Movie Godz don’t approve — that’s why. Ditto the ghosts of Manny Farber, Frank Nugent, Otis Ferguson, Pauline Kael, Dwight McDonald and Andre Bazin.