Zaragoza

Warner Bros. refuses to issue The Devils on DVD stateside or on iTunes, but for some reason they’ve released a DVD of Ken Russell‘s film in Spain. Which I don’t get. If it’s bad for the U.S. market, why is it good for the Spaniards?

Strafed

Cinemablend‘s Katey Rich, a sharp reviewer but never a take-no-prisoners Christopher Hitchens type, has torn The Expendables a new one. She’s calling it “a bloated mess, a bunch of guys past their prime punching and kicking each other and pretending its for our benefit, when it’s really just one last self-congratulatory hurrah.

“The giant list of beefy male names is the major draw of The Expendables, but it’s also what kills it. A movie about Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham‘s lead characters kicking ass and taking names in a foreign country might have gone somewhere, but the movie is utterly overstuffed, making room for a Dolph Lundgren vs...

Premature

I was in the upper lobby of AMC’s Lincoln Square the night before last when two ushers started dismantling the Expendables standee. “Whaddaya doin’?” I asked. “Takin’ it down…it’s opening, time to take it down,” he said. If I’d been Sly Stallone I would have said, “Wait…whadda ya mean, take it down? Movie doesn’t open for another two weeks!” But I just watched. “Are you trashin’ the figures?” I asked. I thought I could take Jason Statham back to the apartment and put him in the kitchen. “Naah, just the structure part.”

Slight Russsell Deflation

I regret to report that last night’s Film Society of Lincoln center showing of Ken Russell‘s The Devils — a kickoff of a seven day, nine-film Russell tribute — was a disappointment in some respects. Russell attended with Devils costar Vanessa Redgrave, and it was of course delightful to see them sitting together, and to share in the love. But they showed the wrong version of this 1971 classic, the print was less than mint, projection was substandard, and a befogged Russell offered no hard answers about the Devils controversy.


Legendary director Ken Russell, Vanessa Redgrave following last night’s FSLC screening of The Devils — Friday, 7.30, 9:55 pm.

I’m not faulting the 83 year-old Russell for not being a...

Total Write-Off

Joe Queenan has written a Hollywood ripjob piece for the Wall Street Journal that basically says 2010 is the suckiest movie year since…ever. Maybe or maybe not, or (my view) unsupported by the facts. But the best portion of the piece reads as follows:

“Every year, by tacit agreement with the public, Hollywood is expected to produce at least one surprise hit, one out-of-nowhere dark horse or, in a pinch, one cunningly hyped movie that either exhumes a noted actor from the grave or greases the skids so some solid journeyman can ascend to the ranks of the Oscar Winners of yore.

“The movie doesn’t have to be especially good — Crazy Heart and My Big Fat Greek Wedding certainly weren’t. Nor does it have to be a homegrown product — La Vita e Bella,...

No Citizen Hef

There’s nothing especially wrong with Brigitte Berman‘s Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel (Metaphor, 7.30) except that it’s (a) a half-hour too long, (b) utterly lacking in dramatic judgment, and (c) way too obsequious. It feels or plays like a Playboy-commissioned blowjob documentary intended to glorify Hefner’s rep (which it does) but which is mainly or currently intended for viewing by stockholders and potential investors.

Morgan for King

As initially reported some 40 days ago by “Page Six,” Piers Morgan — a sharp and fairly aggressive British journalist and TV personality — is taking Larry King‘s CNN gig. I’ve never watched Morgan interview anyone of any substance (he always seems to be talking to women who are famous for being famous, who’ve never actually “done” anything) but he seems like he may be a bit nippier than King.

The 45 year-old is a former editor of News of the World (’94 to ’95) and the Daily Mirror (’95 to ’04). His

A Contradiction Finessed

Dinner for Schmucks “is not a great movie, or even a coherent one, but in nearly every scene it draws laughter from an impressively eclectic array of sources, both obvious and new. People fall down, things break, funny accents are used, crazy misunderstandings occur, and an impressively high number of witty, bizarre and outrageous lines are uttered. It is less a full-scale comic feast than a buffet of amusing snacks, and while it does not necessarily exalt or flatter your intelligence, it doesn’t treat you like an idiot, either.” — from A.O. Scott‘s N.Y. Times review.

More Of This

People voted for Barack Obama because they wanted transformation, a house cleaning, religious uplift, fervor. Instead he became Jimmy Carter — moderately progressive, mild accomplishments, turn the other cheek, currying favor with Republican scum, mildly mellow, Bush lite in terms of Afghanistan, etc. What people wanted (and still want) is the kind of moral clarity and righteous hellfire that Rep. Anthony Weiner let go with on the floor of the House yesterday afternoon.

Way It Is

In a 7.30 piece called “Lure of The Dark Side for Bright Young Things,” The Independent‘s Tom Teodorczuk explores the syndrome of younger big-name actors (Kristen Stewart, Amanda Seyried, Robert Pattinson, Zac Efron, Amber Heard, Emma Roberts) making low-budget indie flicks alongside tentpole blockbusters.

The pattern, of course, is that the mob that pays to see these actors in tentpole flicks usually avoids their indie-ish outings. It’s not the stars they’re interested in as much as the moods and colors and exhilarations that big movies tend to deliver. Name-brand stars matter to some extent when appearing in...

Down With Low

It’s perfectly allowable to take shots at Get Low and thereby lower its Rotten Tomatoes rating to 88 and Metacritic rating to 78. But I’m having trouble comprehending how any critic could say to himself or herself, “Wow, this film really deserves to be slammed and I’m going to tear it a new asshole.” I know that feeling and the qualities that tend to motivate it, and, trust me, Get Low doesn’t deal those kind of cards.


(l. to r.) Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Robert Duvall in Aaron Schneider’s Get Low

Aaron Schneider‘s period drama is one of those laid-back fable movies — not quite “real” but carefully done and honestly rendered as far as it goes and therefore real...

Seal of Approval

I got stuck on a story late yesterday afternoon and consequently missed my last shot at seeing Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Universal, 8.13) for free. Okay, maybe I half-wanted to miss it due to serious concerns about sitting through another default, deadpan, deer-in-the-headlights Michael Cera performance.


Michael Cera (l.), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (second from left) and the cast of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (including Allison Pill, second from right).

It’s gotten to the point where the very thought of Cera and that annoying look on his face — a look that says (a) “Uhhm, do I want to be here?,” (b) “My mind is slightly blown but I’m also kinda bored at the same time,” (c) “Whoa, she’s kinda hot” and (d) “It’s not easy being the...

Leo Bailing on Mel?

MTV.com is reporting that Radar Online has posted a non-attributable quote from a source close to Leonardo DiCaprio saying there’s “not a chance” that Leo will star in Mel Gibson‘s untitled Viking movie, for obvious reasons.

Oh…

Okay, Biutiful may not be a Sony Classics movie after all, I heard today. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but don’t bet the farm. Sometimes the winds shift.

A Few Arrows More

A forthcoming Bluray combo-pack of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (Universal Home Video, 9.21) will include a director’s cut running 156 minutes, or 15 minutes longer than the 141-minute theatrical version. The question, of course, is whether the extra length will make it a stronger film or just another case of directorial indulgence or lost “darlings.” Scott’s longer version of Kingdom of Heaven was, of course, far superior to the theatrical cut, so here’s hoping.

Venice Blahs?

The only officially announced Venice Film Festival selections that seem even vaguely pulse-quickening are Juian Schnabel‘s Miral, Vincent Gallo‘s Promises Written in Water (nice title), Tom Tykwer‘s Three, Ben Affleck‘s The Town (out of competition), Casey Affleck‘s I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix (ditto), Martin Scorsese and Kent JonesA Letter to Elia (ditto), and John Turturro‘s Passione (ditto).

Believe It

This recently released trailer for Titanic 2: Electric Boogaloo is not a mash-up. It’s selling an actual, honest-to-God, straight-to-DVD movie about a second Titanic hitting a second iceberg. The stars are Bruce Davison and Brooke Burns. Okay, I’m kidding about the Boogaloo but everything else is genuine. Really.

Curious Call

According to DVD Beaver’s Gary Tooze, Criterion’s forthcoming Bluray of Terry Zwigoff‘s Crumb “has bright colors, heavy grain and looks far more film-like than either of the previous Sony DVDs (1999 and 2006 Special Edition). However, I don’t know that it is a film that benefits extensively from the move to Bluray 1080p.”

Wells translation: Who’s running the show over there? They take a funky little film like Crumb and Bluray it? Why?

Back to Tooze: “Although saying that, it is true that much of the comic art and...

Tussaud’s Lookalike Bridges

On the left, a 31 or 32 year-old Jeff Bridges in a scene from Tron (’82). On the right, a CG plastic-surgery version of “young” Bridges in the forthcoming Tron Legacy. The latter was achieved by youthing down the present-day Bridges, 60, with digital scrubs and touchups. Except the result doesn’t really look like Bridges. It looks like a cross between a celebrity lookalike and a Bridges dummy you might find inside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It’s a lazy effort.


Jeff Bridges in Tron; 60 year-old Bridges de-aged through CG scrub-down in Tron Legacy.

Imagine how cool it would have been if Bridges had been convincingly youthified — if the 31 or 32-year-old version had literally been brought back to life. For...