To begin his New Yorker
review of Leaves of Grass, David
Denby has written a diagnosis of what he believes has been
wrong with the choices made star-producer Edward
Norton. Not a question of talent but judgment, he’s
saying. And yet he’s basically saying “move it or lose it.”
“Edward Norton is a good actor and a busy man — a citizen who
concerns himself with solar energy, affordable housing, the Maasai
wilderness, peace in the Middle East, the High Line, the fate of
the Mets’ outfield, and heaven knows what else,” he
writes. “But he’s not quite a movie star, or the actor he could
At least 15
major critics and a few feature writers who’ve posted articles
and reviews about Tim Blake Nelson‘s Leaves of Grass,
a rowdy pot-dealing dramedy about twin brothers (both played by
Ed Norton) with radically different attitudes,
were surprised to learn today that First Look, the film’s
distributor, has pulled the plug on a previously
confirmed opening this Friday in New York and Dallas.
I’m told by 42West that “a buyer has stepped in and
bought the film” with plans to give it a full-on
release “sometime this summer.” A press release about this sudden
turn of events will be released Thursday, the spokesperson
It’s still way curious for such a move to happen within
days (hours almost) of a limited...
There’s a bothersome element in this trailer for The Expendables (Lionsgate, 8.13). I’m talking about Sylvester Stallone‘s cosmetic eye surgery. I’m particularly referring to one or two shots that suggest the use of eyeliner, which gives his appearance — be honest — a slight La Cage Aux Folles quality. Tell me this doesn’t undermine the machismo.
Last night’s 8pm curtain of American Idiot meant I
couldn’t see all of the Clash of the Titans press
screening, which began at 6 pm. But I was mainly interested in the
quality of the faux-3D, which was finessed after the film was shot
in regular 2D. I hate to drop a bomb but what I saw looked
too dark. It might not have been intended to look this
way, but it certainly did at last night’s showing. Which means,
given typical theatrical standards, that it’s likely to be
projected too darkly from Augusta to Anchorage starting on
Clash‘s 3-D doesn’t begin to approach Avatar‘s
3-D presentation levels, and that, in my book, constitutes a
We all know that 3-D films have to be presented with
higher-than-normal brightness levels to compensate for the
darkening effect that 3-D glasses bring to...
Complain all you want about the metaphor of blue-collar losers
succumbing to nihilistic downswirl in American
Idiot, the soon-to-open Green Day musical based
on the 2004
album that Michael Mayer (partnering with
songwriter/frontman Billie Joe
Armstrong) has directed and co-authored. But you must
acknowledge that the intense vigor, bullwhip
discipline and visual-glam audacity that
comprise the presentation of the show are
knockout-level and totally
American Idiot is something to argue about in terms of
its vision and to perhaps feel irked by (a...
Westwood’s famous Village and Bruin theaters are being taken over by Regency as of 4.1, and Mann, their former owner/operator/whatever, is retreating like General Lee’s army. It’s clearly the end of an era for a once-dominant Southern California exhibition chain.
Not so long ago Mann had ten screens in Westwood — the Village, Bruin, Festival, Plaza, Regent, National, and a 4-plex. First the 4-plex went (it’s a Whole Foods now), and then the Regent was taken over by Landmark, and then Mann bailed on the Plaza and National (both have since been demolished), and then the Festival, which is now sitting vacant, collecting dust.
A copy of Scott Z. Burns‘ Contagion —
the basis of Steven Soderbergh‘s forthcoming
deadly-virus movie for Warner Bros. — arrived a little while ago.
I’ve had a chance to skim through it, and it’s scary, all right.
Scary isn’t scary unless it’s believable, and this one is. The tone
is urgent and tense. It feels like something in which the
creepiness will leak through rather than slap you across the
plot follows “an international team of doctors and scientists
brought in by the Center for Disease Control after an outbreak of a
deadly virus,” etc. Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jude Law,
Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow and
It felt necessary to have the Bluray of Sergei Eisenstein‘s Battleship Potemkin sitting on my bookshelf. Knowing it’s there just feels right. Eisenstein is the father of Stanley Kubrick‘s visual sense, and both have strongly influenced my own sense of composition and framing when I’ve taken snaps and videos so Eisenstein feels like family.
I know it’ll be a struggle to persuade my two sons to watch BP. It’s hard enough to get them to watch anything in black-and-white.
The DVD/Bluray of Sam Taylor Wood‘s Nowhere Boy will be purchasable on 5.10, but the Weinstein Co. is delaying its U.S. theatrical debut until 10.8 — six months hence. Here’s my review, posted concurrent with last fall’s London Film Festival premiere. I didn’t hear a peep out of anyone when it played Sundance 2010. “Nowhere Boy‘s somewhat feminized, all-he-needs-is-love story just didn’t turn me on,” I wrote. “I didn’t feel Lennon’s rock ‘n’ roll vitality and virility, and certainly not his rage.”
The new trailer for James Mangold‘s Knight and Day
(20th Century Fox, 6.25) is suggesting that it may be a comedic
Collateral. Tom Cruise‘s Milner (sardonic
violent guy parachuting into the life of an average citizen) is
Vincent again, and Cameron Diaz is Jamie
But will it pay off like Collateral? Will Milner
prove to be an angel of salvation in disguise (as Vincent was for
Max)? Which is to say, will Diaz’s June Havens...
Before he became a successful director, a friend asked the late Hal Ashby for a secret tip about how to get an actress to emotionally deliver in a restrained but full-on way. Ashby said, “Tell her to do a scene with every last thing she’s got — scream, cry, pound the floor, no holds barred, pull out the stops. And when she’s done doing that, say to her “okay, now do it again only this time give me nothing. Shut yourself down and be a zombie.” And the residue of the wild take will still be there, and the zombie take will be just right.”
Let me get this straight: The man who sang Heroin, Venus In Furs, Perfect Day, Sweet Jane, Dirty Blvd. and I’m Waitin’ For My Man, and who recorded Metal Machine Music, The Bells and Berlin, is hawking an iPhone app called “Lou Zoom.”
Marshall Fine has calledTim Blake Nelson‘s Leaves of Grass a
“textbook example of a promising movie that takes a wrong turn from
which it never recovers. Starting well, building good will,
assembling a solid farce framework, Nelson’s script suddenly
abandons all the comedic promises it makes in the
first half and turns into a blood-drenched and sadistic action
“It’s like grafting the last half of Death Wish on to a
stoner comedy (which, come...
20 days ago a Wall Street Journal article by
Tokyo-based correspondent Yuka Hayashi
reported that The Cove‘s capturing of the Best Feature
Documentary Oscar “could give the film an audience its makers had
wanted to reach: ordinary moviegoers in Japan. The
movie has had only a single viewing, at the Tokyo International
Film Festival [last] October, and hasn’t yet been distributed in
commercial theaters in Japan because of objections from the town it
It further reports that “Japanese theaters have stayed away from
The Cove because of protest from Taiji, a fishing town of
3,800 people in Western Japan that bills itself as the ‘birthplace
of Japan’s commercial whaling.’ The town’s officials requested the
film’s Japanese distributor to drop it, saying it was...
The front page of last Friday’s USA Today featured a small banner that called DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon a “3-D Pixar film.” I make mistakes like this from time to time, but I fix them within minutes. What this suggests is that the quality of page-editing and page-proofing at USA Today is slipping due to the general cost-cutting and downscaling that has afflicted print publications everywhere.
Nearly 26 months ago I debunked
a then-current rumor about a DVD of Ken Russell‘s
The Devils — a visually luscious, insanely
flamboyant period melodrama about political persecution —
coming out on 5.20.08 via WHV Direct. WHV
spokesperson Ronnee Sass called her company’s
brief online announcement a “mistake” but said “the title may make
an appearance down the road.” Well…?
HE respectfully requests the honorable George
Feltenstein to please reveal when, if ever, this perverse
but astonishing film — which the religious right would absolutely
despise and throw a shit-fit over if they were hip enough to watch
it in the first place, which of course they’re not —...
Variety‘s Brian Lowry is
calling the 3D Clash of the Titans “pretty flat,”
claiming that the “technical upgrade doesn’t improve the
clunky mythological underpinnings. Result feels
mostly like a very expensive kids’ pic.
“While some critics feel personal relationships [with
filmmakers] don’t affect what they write, that’s not been my
writesL.A. Times film critic Kenneth
Turan. “I’ve even found that meeting filmmakers in the
course of writing stories from film festivals, though helpful in
understanding creative decisions, can be problematic for reviewing.
It’s not that you change your opinion of the film from black to
white, it’s that friendship can make you take a little off
your fastball, so to speak — make it harder to be as
blisteringly candid as you ought to be.
L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan; Exploding Girl
My initial reactions to the just-revealed official poster for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival are as follows: (a) “I like the monochrome-plus-neon blue, but it doesn’t exactly dazzle. Lacks pizazz. Juliette Binoche‘s expression is supposed to exude serenity or whatever, but it seems sedate and complacent.” (b) “Binoche is the 2010 poster girl because…? Oh, I get it. Because French photographer Brigitte Lacombe asked her. Fine.” (c) “Binoche’s black slacks seem a bit long — should have been finessed by a tailor.”
HE reader Andy Smith had the best reaction: “It looks like an ad for Binoche hosting SNL. Or, you know, one of those commercial-break cards they sometimes show during a broadcast.”
A “full” trailer for Chris Morris‘ Four
Lionsappeared on 3.26.
The film still has no U.S. distributor, and one reason (apart from
the obvious primary one) may be that eternal bugaboo known as
indecipherable lower-class British accents. As Film Drunk
puts it, perhaps it’s “just too British. Get it, guv? It’s
funny cuz da blokes is just standin’ roun’ lookin at each ovvaz ow
awkward loikes, innit. An’ den da lorrie droivah fell off da lift
an’ ruined da bobby’s jumpah!”
Glenn wrote that I was “dying to throw a gratuitous insult at
the ‘dweebs’ and ‘monks’ who value those Martin/Lewis films, but
[am] also a little mindful of coming off like a closet Eloi. So
[Wells] yokes the enthusiasm to...
“The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal. The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. Yup, we need a Nope — a nun who is pope.” — N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd in her 3.27 Sunday column.
I’m online every day for too many hours on end, nosing around
for anything/everything, and so I naturally missed the
3.24 debut of this lesson in contrasts. Which is brought down
by repetition. (Alternate Boehner spews would have helped.) And
which romanticizes a bill that “in lieu of a public option,
delivers 32 million newly insured Americans to private insurers,”
as Frank Richnotes
in Sunday’s N.Y. Times.