Still Water

In Matt ReevesLet Me In, 13 year-old Chloe Moretz gives a deeply affecting award-calibre performance as an emotionally conflicted 300 year-old vampire named Abby, and she does it almost entirely with her eyes. She’s Jodie Foster in 1975 only more so, and has really earned consideration as a Best Actress nominee. Catching this emotional puppy-love vampire pic for the second time convinced me. As did Moretz’s appearance this evening at the School of Visual Arts Theatre — she’s got poise, smarts, the whole package.

Calm Down

“If the over-60 Academy members fail to note that The Social Network is a brilliant, whippersnapper Citizen Kane-level movie about the Realm of the Now (and the Very Recent) that addresses CLASSIC THEMES, what am I supposed to do about it? Send them a complimentary month’s supply of Depends?

“I’ll tell you what SHOULD be done about it. All past-it, over-the-hill geezers should be COMPASSIONATELY EXPELLED FROM THE ACADEMY. This is not a put-down or a putsch or a purge. It’s just that when a genuinely good movie comes along and people are too thick to at least show respect and acknowledge that it’s doing several things right, then there’s only one thing to do and that’s to cut them off. Because all they’re doing is STANDING IN THE WAY.

“What did George S. Patton (George C. Scott) do when he found a mule obstructing his troops in Italy? He shot the mule and had him thrown over...

Doesn’t Calculate

Having seen Secretariat, I really don’t get where the alleged faith-based Christian marketing angle fits in. The film is aimed at family audiences– it has a square and conservative vibe — and director Randall Wallace is something of a rightie, I’m told, but there’s nothing in the story/screenplay that proclaims Christian or conservative values per se. I saw that vein in The Blind Side but it’s simply not in Secretariat.

Thematically it’s a quasi-feminist thing, being about Diane Lane‘s Penny Chenery defying her husband (who wants her to stay at home and raise the kids and cook) and brother (who wants her to sell the horse farm) in order to nurture and bring along her horse, Secretariat, to a Triple Crown victory. The tone is little like The Adventures of...

Wounds

Two seconds after glancing at this ad for The Freebie (Phase 4, 9.17) my eyes went right for those red sores or chicken-pox spots on Dax Shepard‘s upper right arm, right above the tattoo. “What’re those…self-applied needle marks?” I asked myself. “Or pimples? Who has pimples on their upper arm? The movie’s about a couple who decide to give each other permission to play around for a single night, so why introduce an element of bacteriological infection on the husband’s arm? How could this possibly boost the want-to-see?”

Betty Anne Brockovich

In Contention‘s Kristopher Tapley has seen Tony Goldwyn‘s Conviction (Fox Seatchlight, 10.15), and said yesterday that he “liked it.” Okay. I saw it myself the night before last, but I have to say it didn’t exactly wind me up. It’s one of those films that you just want to pat on the head and smile at and offer best wishes to and leave well enough alone.

Conviction is a stacked deck of uplift cards that’s based on a true-lfe story and made in the vein or spirit of Steven Soderbergh‘s Erin Brockovich, but it just isn’t that snappy or well-written or forcefully acted or all that well constructed...

50something

Okay, so Melville Shavelson was no Sam Fuller or Budd Boetticher or Nicholas Ray. But the sight of a spry and relatively trim James Cagney prancing and tapping around on a big banquet table, and with very few edits to interrupt the action, feels cool right now. (Even with the deeply irritating Pentagon clown Bob Hope huffing and puffing alongside.) Call it a Thursday afternoon mood-pocket thing.

Dibs

Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, Get Low star Robert Duvall, Focus Features chief James Schamus and Conviction star Hilary Swank will be specially tributed at the Gotham Independent Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on 11.29. Which sorta kinda sounds like they’ve already decided to give Black Swan the top Gotham award for best feature…no? Maybe not. And maybe Duvall hasn’t been selected to win the best actor prize.

Shotgun

Limo guy Steve Coppick drove Tony Curtis around once, and says he “was one of the warmest and nicest celebs I’ve come across over the years. At first I didn’t think it was going to be, as that day the company I was with was stretched thin for sedans so they had decided to upgrade Curtis to a stretch. He walked out a little past the pick-up time, and I knew from the body language he wasn’t in a good mood. I had the back door open, but he just glanced inside.

“‘I ain’t gettin’ in there…I’m not dead yet!’ he said, very serious.

“I explained that he was being treated and why. Instantly he softened and asked, ‘Can I ride up front with you?’

“So after clearing out my bag and other things, off we went with Curtis playing with the radio until he found a hip-hop (!) station and then settled in for the ride to visit a private gallery up behind the...

“Where it’s always balmy…”

A statement from Falco Ink’s Janice Roland and Shannon Treusch about the passing of their patron saint: “Tony Curtis was a true talent. We are sorry to hear of his passing. When we started Falco Ink 13 years ago we tipped our hat to Curtis’s role as press agent Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success. When Curtis heard of this company through Jeffrey Wells, he contacted us and we began a friendship that continued through the years. We felt honored to know Tony, a true inspiration to us all.”

Dogs High-Fived

Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs — a movie that Screen Gems likes so much that it won’t release it until September 2011 — has gotten a boost from an Ain’t It Cool contributor called “Le Stephanois,” who caught Lurie’s melodrama at a recent Syracuse University screening. I’m impressed by this because (a) Mr. Rififi writes well and (b) claims to prefer Lurie’s remake to Sam Peckinpah‘s 1971 original.


Straw Dogs local bad guys (l. to r.) Billy Lush, Drew Powell, Rhys Coiro and Alexander Skarsgard

“It’s hard for me to recall a remake that has drawn as much ire as [Lurie’s] Straw Dogs, which seemingly everyone (at least everyone on...

Missing

I was searching this morning for my March 2000 Tony Curtis interview, which was written during my Reel.com period (’99 to ’02). Not only has the Curtis piece disappeared, but the whole Reel.com archive (when the column was called Hollywood Confidential) has vanished along with it. A Site Called Fred had archived my 300-or-so columns, but now they’ve apparently dumped them. Three years of work down the toilet…great.

Tony Curtis

The legendary Tony Curtis — the nervy, blunt-spoken Bronx street guy who had a great movie-star run from 1952 to 1968 or thereabouts — died of a heart attack last night about 9:25 Pacific, or just after midnight here. He was 85, and had lived a hell of a life — about 16 years at the top, and then a long active sunset that lasted 42 years. He was a decent painter, a raconteur, a legendary poon hound in his day (“I fucked Yvonne DeCarlo!) and an excellent guy to hang and shoot the shit with.

Stillman In Gear

“In two weeks I’m starting Whit Stillman‘s new film, called Damsels in Distress,” Greta Gerwig has told WWD. “I play a girl named Violet who runs a suicide-prevention center at a liberal arts college. She prevents suicides through the powers of 1930s song-and-dance numbers. So it’s a very dark comedy. I’m not really worried about my indie cred. I don’t think there’s any danger of me going, ‘I only do franchises now.'”

I ran my first “return of Whit Stillman” piece on 12.13 09, basing it on a screening of Metropolitan at 92YTribeca.

Explain This

Fandango is reporting that as of 11 am today, The Social Network ticket sales accounted for only 32% of the total. This doesn’t indicate an opening in the mid to high 20s, which is what I’ve been hearing over the last three or four days, but closer to the low 20s.

“If it was selling 50% to 60% of the total right now, we’d be looking at the mid to high 20s,” an analyst just told me. “But a lot of openings have been mild recently. Wall Street 2 only did $19 million or thereabouts, so I wouldn’t forecast too high a figure for Social Network — I’d pull back a bit.”

I know, I know — how can a movie with this much media hype and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating be looking at a weekend tally of this size? Answer: the lowbrow sector...

Stomach for Loneliness

As totally expected, and as I predicted on 9.25, N.Y. Press critic Armond White has panned The Social Network.

The Social Network “is simply Hollywood’s way, post-Obama, of sanctioning Harvard’s ‘masters of the universe’ mystique,” he writes. “It’s an attempt at glorifying a contemporary aristocracy-cumplutocracy through flattery of Zuckerberg and his ilk. Like one of those fake-smart, middlebrow TV shows, the speciousness of The Social Network is disguised by topicality. It’s really a movie excusing Hollywood ruthlessness.

“Here’s the truth: Citizen Kane was not about a brat’s betrayal, but about...

Foreign Frontrunners

I need help in trying to identify the submitted Best Foreign Language hopefuls that have a decent chance of being included on the short list. I know Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Biutiful has to be on it…c’mon. And that star Javier Bardem (winner of Best Actor prize in Cannes) should be included among the Best Actor hopefuls, and that it ought to qualify for Best Screenplay, Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto), Musical Score (Gustvao Santaolalla) and Editing (Stephen Mirrione).

After that I’m more or less lost. Adrift. Looking for guidance. Because I really don’t know very much.

Possible frontrunners: Rachid Bouchareb‘s Outside The Law (Algeria), Danis Tanovic‘s Cirkus Columbia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Susanne Bier‘s In A Better World...

Penn’s End

By the time I interviewed Arthur Penn in 1981, during a press junket for Four Friends, he was over. Let’s face it — he had about a 15 year period (’61 to ’76) when he was really crackling. He had a great start doing live TV in the ’50s, and kept his hand in as far as it went after The Missouri Breaks, his last half-decent film. And now he’s passed on.

My favorite Penn film after the classic Bonnie and...

Fire in the Mind

Scott Brown‘s Wired piece about The Social Network backstory is catchy and well-written, etc., but the real grabber is the art — i.e., the illustrations by Martin Ansin. (Thanks to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone for the tip.)

I was chuckling yesterday about that “Mark Zuckerberg: Creator of Facebook” comic book, but if the illustrations in this Bluewater Productions comic are as good as Ansin’s, (and if the writing was as punchy as it should be), I think I’d buy it.

Lurid Tag Lines!

The idea is for HE readers to come up with overly emphatic 1950s-era tag lines — shock! shame! defiance! never before in Hollywood history! — for present-tense films like Let Me In, The Social Network, Wall Street 2, The Town, Easy A, Case 39, Due Date, Nowhere Boy, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, etc. If you don’t know the shot with these films then please don’t submit. (Original idea inspired by this Film Experience riff about tag lines for 1950s Susan Hayward films.)