Toronto Dumps

Since I have to get my Toronto wish list down from 40 to 30 films (to be seen over nine days, starting on 9.9), here are some films I’m thinking of jettisoning. I’m aware of the cruel-sounding nature of this procedure, but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to dump any of these — I want to see everything — but something’s got to go.

Special Presentation Dumps (6): Brighton Rock (d: Rowan Joffe); Cirkus Columbia (d: Danis Tanovic); Henry’s Crime (d: Malcolm Venville); Love Crime (d: Alain Corneau); Stone (d: John Curran); The Whistleblower (d: Larysa Kondracki).

Gala Dumps (5): Barney’s Version (d: Richard J. Lewis);...

“You Lose, I Win”

“Like many changes that are revolutionary, none of Washington’s problems happened overnight. But slow and steady change over many decades — at a rate barely noticeable while it’s happening — produces change that is transformative. In this instance, it’s the kind of evolution that happens inevitably to rich and powerful states, from imperial Rome to Victorian England. The neural network of money, politics, bureaucracy, and values becomes so tautly interconnected that no individual part can be touched or fixed without affecting the whole organism, which reacts defensively.

“And thus a new president, who was elected with 53 percent of the popular vote, and who began office with 80 percent public-approval ratings and large majorities in both houses of Congress, found himself for much of his first year in office in stalemate, pronounced an...


I tried seeing John Scheinfeld‘s Who Is Harry Nilsson? once more a couple of weeks ago, but I could only make it up to the point when he finishes 1971’s Nilsson Schmillson, after which it was all downhill.

I just can’t stand watching people destroy themselves. And yet for some reason these John and Harry pics, taken during their infamous Troubadour fracas on 3.12.74, always bring on the chuckles. Famous and gifted people getting all primitive and sandbox. The baser the emotions, the funnier it seems.

Scheinfeld’s doc opens at the Cinema Village on 9.12, or smack dab in the middle of the...

Blah, Gasbag

Earlier today Movieline reported the Jim Cameron vs. Mark Canton battle over Piranha 3D, which Cameron basically feels is a sleazy and essentially worthless piece of shit.

“I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus,” Cameron said last week, “but Piranha 3D is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip.”

At the beginning of

Five Wrongos

The Guardian‘s Shane Danielson took issue today with a sentiment I posted on 8.13 about the extraordinary clarity in the forthcoming Psycho Bluray (which has already been released in England).

I said I “love being able to see stuff that you weren’t intended to see” — like the pancake makeup on Martin Balsam’s face in a certain closeup — “but which Blu-ray has now revealed.” Danielson says he’d prefer it if Bluray transfers looked less exacting and...

Joe Popcorn Wants Beaver

It’s being widely reported/repeated that a CBS News/Vanity Fair poll has found that three out of four Americans haven’t been turned off by Mel Gibson‘s ugliness, and would probably pay to see him in Jodie Foster‘s The Beaver.

If, that is, Summit had the smarts and chutzpah to release it, which of course they don’t. Because they’re worried about industry consensus and all that. On 7.10 I explained the reasons for ignoring the

Anxiety in the High Country

Anton Corbijn‘s The American (Focus Features, 9.1) is a moderately soothing art piece and an excellent Machete antidote. After you’ve had your blood sausage and micro-waved tacos, The American will feel like a drink of cool mountain water. It’s certainly a tasteful walk (wank?) in the woods. You’ll feel unsullied when it’s over, and gratified that Corbijn and Focus Features respect you, and are not treating you the way Robert Rodriguez treats his fans. This is the other side of the mountain.

Georeg Clooney, Violante Placido in Anton Corbijn’s The American.

And yet there’s something about The American — a lot actually — that feels tastefully repressed and mummified. It’s vaguely Antonioni-ish but at the same time not really because it...

The Rumbling

I’m polishing my review of Anton Corbijn‘s The American, which I saw last night at the AMC 19th Street. But I first need to explain the absurd circumstances it was shown under. This is one of the quietest films I’ve seen in in my life — George Clooney raises his voice slightly once or twice, and nobody ever shouts — but during the entire thing the dialogue was competing with and mostly losing to an unusually loud air-conditioning system in the theatre.


Never Mind

Contrary to what Hitfix‘s Greg Ellwood reported a day or two ago, there will be a press screening of Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter during the Toronto Film Festival. It’ll happen a day before Sunday evening’s public screening at the Elgin (9.12, 9 pm) — on Saturday, 3 pm at the Scotiabank plex.

Update: The press screening schedule for the New York Film Festival was sent out this afternoon, and Hereafter — part of the 2010 slate — wasn’t on it.

McGuane and Rancho Deluxe

Another no-laugh-funny “comedy”, although I grin every time I think back on it. Director Frank Perry really knew how to convey that lackadaisical ’70s thing — casually hip and born to swagger. Every character was a “character” in this film. Eccentric, imaginative, unsettled, peculiar. (Megan Fox would fit right in if somebody were to try an exact remake.) Those muttering scenes between Harry Dean Stanton (Curt) and Richard Bright (Burt) were classic. I would have films like this again.

“Crispin Glover Weird”

Diablo Cody‘s 8.29 Red Band Trailer interview is with Megan Fox. It gets pretty good when they talk about how shallow and predatory many journalists have become. (A brief transcript follows the video.) I love Cody’s observation that Fox has a skewed sensibility and that press people don’t know how to handle beauty mixed with perversity. Fox’s handicap, I feel, is her thin and reedy voice. It doesn’t suggest rivers of soul or passion. Beep-beep-beepity-beep-beep-beepity-beep.

Long and Lingering

“We wanted to do a movie in the vein of the ’70s foreign films that influenced so many great filmmakers today,” George Clooney recently told L.A. Times reporter John Horn for a piece that ran yesterday. “We felt if we kept the budget low, that the outside influences (like a studio) would be minimal and we were lucky that Focus was on board with the concept from the beginning.”

“On board”? As in believing in Clooney and director Anton Corbijn‘s vision, embracing it, standing behind it, and giving the marketing effort the old college try? Focus Features marketers have run ads and TV spots and decided to open it in 200 theatres, but they’ve all but abandoned any attempt to sell it with interviews. Clooney has done almost nothing, and Corbijn hasn’t even come to...

Clooney vs. Trejo

Even if Anton Corbijn’s The American was a straight-ahead popcorn thriller, Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete would kick its box-office ass regardless. I don’t know what The American will be specifically, but it seems to be a truffles and foie gras and elite bullets type of film whereas Machete is strictly a Taco Bell meal with boobs, blood sauce, bikinis and severed limbs, and a side order of pro-Mexican immigrant, anti-racist-cracker politics to keep it spicy.

It’s not a slur to say that Machete is aimed at a typical twelve-year-old mentality. For me, the political satire and anti-yahoo stance makes it...

The New MCN

The first thing I noticed about the new Movie City News redesign, which looks relatively decent (or at least better than before, being more balanced), is a preponderance of robin’s egg blue. The typeface, the MCN Tweety-bird, the MCN Twitter box, the bars…light blue all around. Plus some light violet. It reminds me of the colors and the vibe in a little boy’s bedroom.

The idea is to convey a certain spirituality or placidity or something. It’s all right or isn’t a “problem,” per se, but it doesn’t feel like a sale. It needs to man up on some level. A little red or orange, maybe.

The second thing I noticed is that Hollywood Elsewhere’s status has been upgraded. After being linked and referred to by MCN for several years as a “gossip,” I’m now included on...

Thirteen, To Be Exact

With a list of 29 contenders, Scott Feinberg is figuring 2010 is the best year ever for documentaries. The list of serious award contenders is much shorter, of course. The Tillman Story, Restrepo, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Countdown to Zero, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Smash His Camera, Waking Sleeping Beauty, Tabloid, Inside Job, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Freakonomics and two Feinberg didn’t mention — Werner Herzog‘s 3D cave-painting doc, and Thom Zimny‘s Bruce Springsteen doc, The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘?


What’s up with Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter slated for only one public screening at the Toronto Film Festival (Visa Elgin, Sunday, 9.12 at 9 pm) and, according to Hitfix’s Gregory Ellwood, no scheduled press screenings at all? What’s the point of bringing a serious film by a respected, brand-name director to a big festival like Toronto and then taking steps to limit access?

Mr. Cranky

I have some nagging Toronto Film Festival questions about wifi. In my estimation TIFF has always been the least press-friendly festival in terms of wifi press lounges that are close to screening rooms, certainly compared to Cannes which has two wifi rooms inside the Palais. And from what I can gather so far things haven’t changed much.

No one will tell me, for example, if the TIFF Bell Lightbox will have any kind of wifi press room with desks and chairs and free cappucino, like the Palais does. Or, failing that, if the Lightbox will at least have accessible wifi for journalists wanting to file from somewhere within.

There will be a media lounge at the TIFF headquarters at the Hyatt...