Terrific

With close to $30 million earned earned late last night, the problematic Eclipse is expected to pull down $150 million by the end of the July 4th holiday, or by the evening of Monday, July 5th. As Peter O’Toole says to Donald Wolfit in Becket, “I would spit if I were not in God’s house.” Which alludes to my idea about theatres being churches. A stretch, agreed, but it allows me to quote Anouilh.

Cathouse Fail

I feel so dispirited about Taylor Hackford‘s Love Ranch that I haven’t been able to write anything about it. This is primarily because the bluntly phrased dialogue — the most irritating aspect because of its colloquial boilerplate tone, particularly as spoken by Joe Pesci‘s Joe Conforte-ish character — was written by Mark Jacobson, a New York magazine contributor whom I know slightly and have admired for many years.

All I can figure is that (a) Jacobson was asked to dumb it down by Hackford because the latter felt it “right” that the characters speak this way, and Jacobson did so in order to get paid, (b) he gave the dialogue an uneducated Nevada goombah flavor as a perverse exercise of some kind or (c) his dialogue was of a higher pedigree but Hackford urged the actors (especially Pesci) to slop it down and...

Sanchez On The Lam?

TheWrap‘s Hunter Walker has posted a grotesque story about Robert Sanchez, 36 year-old honcho of the recently defunct fanboy site IESB.net, having run for the hills over allegations of sexual misconduct with his step-daughter.

HE mentioned Sanchez twice in ’07 concerning (a) his being involved in a police-supervised sting that recovered Indy 4 photos that had been stolen from Steven Spielberg’s office, and (b) early-bird set photos of Robert Downey, Jr. in his Iron Man outfit that

Word to the Wise

I don’t believe that Francis Coppola was fired off Patton — i.e., relieved of screenwriting duties — solely because his 20th Century Fox bosses didn’t care for the opening speech-to-the-troops scene. (Other factors must have been in play.) But I love his message about how “the things you’re fired for when young are often the same things you’re given awards for later in life.” This bit appears on Patton DVD and Bluray.

Exception

I agree with all but one of the best shot films between ’98 and ’08 named in an American Cinematographer poll. I concur with the celebrating of Amelie, Children of Men, Saving Private Ryan, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, The Dark Knight, Road to Perdition, City of God and American Beauty…but I say “no” to Jeff Cronenweth‘s cinematography of David Fincher‘s Fight Club .

Sorry but I’ve always despised the somewhat murky, underlit look of that film — as if the negative had been soaked in a vat of cappucino mixed with guacamole and string beans. Throughout most of the film Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter‘s skin looks...

Movie Trivia Disputes

I finally tried Vanity Fair‘s Movie Madness Trivia app, and it’s kind of fun because of four factors. One, many of the questions (suggested by VF contributors Peter Biskind, David Kamp, Frank DiGiacomo and Rebecca Keegan) aren’t easy. Two, you have to answer fairly quickly or you lose. Three, you have to prove your mettle before taking all the quizzes (i.e., if you’re too clueless you “stay back” like in high school). And four, the animated “Little Graydon” character gives snappy little replies whether you’re right or wrong.

I did fairly well — well, not too badly — but I also dropped the ball a few times, partly out of ignorance and partly due to the ticking-clock thing making me nervous.

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Sleepovers

What’s wrong with the dialogue in this clip? What’s the particular disturbance, more to the point, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota? Did she bring up the midnight showings of Eclipse to suggest that Elena Kagan is jes’ folks and…what, gets what’s happening in the culture of families these days? Surreal. This assemblage has some funny stuff, though.

Bald Kid With Magic Powers

I don’t want to see Paramount eat it with The Last Airbender (7.1). I have no dog in this fight. And I understand why I wasn’t invited to a screening because they know I hate this stuff going in. But for a movie that cost $150 million to make and is costing a king’s ransom to market, I’m not feeling the molecular current, even though it opens tomorrow. No buzz, nobody’s talking about it, and only two negative Rotten Tomatoes reviews so far.

The Best Man

Everyone’s seen this East of Eden audition clip in which Paul Newman was trying for the role of Aaron, the older brother of Cal (i.e., James Dean‘s role). It’s clear who the more delicate and vulnerable actor is. Newman has that jokey-gruff streetcorner thing down as a covering mechanism while Dean is a bit more open to whatever. He obviously senses this, and so he throws Newman a line he knows will tap him off-balance.

Eclipsed

I saw David Slade‘s Eclipse (Summit, 6.30) at last night”s Manhattan all-media screening. Whoo, boy. The first wave of Eclipse commenters who said it’s better than New Moon didn’t lie — it is. Somewhat. But it’s still not good enough to matter. It’s a slow, boring, unimaginative, tediously written slog and is not — repeat, not — better than the first Twilight film.

It’s not “organic” in the slightest, as Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson recently said. It’s about a bunch of young actors with bad wigs...

Enzyme Blockage

Some younger actors just can’t find their way into the zen of talk-show banter. They try to go with it, but they can’t find the groove. All I know is that every time Kristen Stewart goes on Late Night with David Letterman, something goes wrong. And what’s with that wolf-dog and those yellow eyes?

Comfort Blanket

In a 6.27 interview with the Telegraph‘s Tom Teodorczuk, I was asked to explain reasons for the success of Toy Story 3. One of them, I said, is that the film “is a love letter to how Americans like to see themselves. Toy Story 3 is all about the constants we’d like to have in our lives — loyalty, love, standing by our friends, and caring for those close to us. It’s telling us what we want to believe in ourselves whether it’s true or not. It’s delivering in a very persuasive and cool way an agreeable, comforting myth about who we are.”

Black Olives and Anchovies

If I was George Hickenlooper, I would somehow find the dough to shoot some footage of Kevin Spacey‘s Jack Abramoff working in a Baltimore pizza parlor, and use it as a bookend device. It would make an already snappy and mordantly funny film just a little bit better. For what it’s worth, I like Bagman as a title better than Casino Jack.

To Say The Least

If you were Emma Watson and you had the pick of the litter, would you choose George Craig, a skinny, so-so looking musician (notice how the camera never gives him a close-up) with a not-very-catchy voice and a 1965 Mersey Beat haircut? And then costar in a nothing-special music video to promote his band, One Night Only, and their song, “Say You Don’t Want It”? Never sleep with a lesser — always go lateral or better. Or at least find a bird with similar feathers.

It’s Over

Wait a minute…what? I’ve been reading report after report about how the feds approved box-office futures last Monday and it was all good to go, and then wham — it was revealed this morning that Cantor Fitzgerald, the chief proponent of box-office futures along with Media Derivatives, is folding the futures tent in the face of a “likely government ban on such trading.”

L.A. Times staffer Ben Fritz reports that “with financial reform legislation that would outlaw trading in box-office futures headed toward final passage, the company is giving up on its plans, said Richard Jaycobs, the executive heading the effort for Cantor...

Reason and Principle

Elena Kagan‘s rep as a brilliant and exacting legal mind preceded yesterday’s appearance at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and now she has shown herself to be political and gracious and gentle-mannered. It’s also clear that she’s dropped a few pounds and has let her hair grow out so she looks a little less dykey — smart moves. And I love her Zabar’s accent.

Not Welcome

I’m hearing that the People’s Republic of China has a really big problem with Phillip Noyce‘s Salt (Sony, 7.23). Not one of those “scenes must be removed before your film is allowed to play in China” problems, but a “sorry, but no amount of edits will satisfy us” problem. Meaning that Salt is apparently cinema non grata in that country until further notice — no theatrical bookings, no DVDs, no Blurays.

Which, of course, means a huge opportunity for Chinese video pirates and a huge potential loss for Sony Pictures.

I don’t know anything beyond this nugget. What is it about Salt that China finds so objectionable? It’s about a possible covert operative (played by Angelina Jolie ) — a kind of Odd Woman Out whom everyone suspects is some kind of sociopath or double-agent ne’er -do-well, or is...

And They’re Off

One of the three big tracking companies has Salt running just a teeny tiny bit behind Inception in terms of the usual categories — awareness, unaided awareness, definite interest, first choice and top-three-choices. Inception is opening a week earlier than Salt, of course, and has been marketing fairly steadily while Salt is just turning the heat on.

Right now Inception is at 56 awareness vs. Salt‘s 54, except Salt‘s unaided awareness is at 3 vs. Inception‘s 2. Salt has a 46 definite interest vs. a 47 for Inception. Salt has a 5 first choice vs. Inception‘s 6. And they’re both sitting at 15 among the top three choices.

One significant factor, it appears, is that Salt‘s definite interest is in the strong 40s among older and younger men and women. (The Angie factor, of course.) I’m...