I heard Black Swan at tonight’s Zeigeld premiere
screening like never before. The big-screen speakers blasted and
Ilyich Tchaikovsky, lifting me up and over and
out…fuhgedaboutit. It was my third viewing of Black
Swan, and I was blown away yet again…over the falls. This film
is a masterwork, a symphony, and 97% of the ticket-buying audience
will never appreciate how great it can sound and feel because
they’ll be seeing it at some shitty-ass megaplex with the sound
turned down so the theatre owner can save on maintenance.
Black Swan star and dead-certain Best Actress nominee
Natalie Portman, director Darren Aronofsky at post-premiere
after-party at Manhattan’s St. Regis Hotel — Tuesday, 11.30, 10:40
Scott Feinberg has just posted a 45-minute interview “with one of the more colorful characters in this year’s awards race, Social Network costar and Best Supporting Actor contender Justin Timberlake. It’s one of his first, if not his first, long-form interview this awards season, and I learned a lot from it about Justin and his performance.”
They do a piece about falling down and they don’t include Vivien Leigh‘s radish scene in Gone With The Wind? The look on that boxer’s face when he gets up doesn’t exactly say “I’m ready to fight again!” It says, “Whoa, I gotta fight that guy again?…shit.” I’m glad for General Motors employees who still have jobs and are feeding their families, but I see that GM logo and something goes cold inside. Top-dog GM executives can rot in hell, no offense.
It’s been one of those frenetic mornings. A lot of calling about something I’ve decided not to run for the time being. Tapping out some rough reactions to True Grit. Some back and forth about the Sundance ’11 condo. And preparing for the two big events of the day — a Kids Are All Right schmooze thing in Chelsea, and then the big Black Swan premiere and after-party tonight. The long and the short is that I have to do a time-out for two or three hours.
Michael Mann has so far made one serious failure, and that was (and is) The Keep. I saw it once 27 years ago, and that was sufficient. And yet some, I realize, feel it’s a little better than that. Not that anyone’s had much of a chance to give it another viewing. The Keep isn’t available on DVD or Bluray, but it’s now available through Netflix Streaming.
Congrats to Winter’s Bone director Debra
Granik and distributor Roadside Attractions for nabbing
two Gotham Awards last night. The grimly realistic Ozarkian drama
that launched Jennifer Lawrence took the Best
Feature and Best Ensemble Performance trophies. And cheers to the
three big honorary award recipients — Black Swan director
Darren Aronofsky (looking very dapper with his
Preston Sturges moustache), Get Low star
Robert Duvall and Conviction star
Taken from balcony behind the stage as honorary award-winner
Robert Duvall was delivering remarks. Notice
Black Swan star Natalie Portman
(excellent evening dress!) and her director Darren
Aronofsky sitting ringside. I...
Irvin Kershner “seemed amused when I told him
that, when I first saw Loving
back when I was in college, I really didn’t care much for it
because I couldn’t relate to its melancholy story about a guy who
was beginning to worry that he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere in
his career – and, worse, in his life – and worried whether it was
already too late to turn back,” Moving Picture Blog‘s
Am I allowed to say…? Naah, forget it. I was going to say while
I found Leslie Neilsen‘s original
Airplane performance amusing, I never laughed. At most I
chuckled. Chortled? Neilsen obviously hasd that deadpan-manner
thing down pat. Tens of millions (including Keith
Olbermann) loved him for that. It made him into a comic
legend in the realm of…well, his own. But let’s not go
A Peggy Siegal luncheon was held today at the
Four Seasons for The Fighter, and particularly for
director David O. Russell, star-producer
Mark Wahlberg and costar Melissa
Leo. After the food and schmooze Russell and I spoke for a half-hour —
here‘s the mp3.
Russell is my kind of whip-smart guy — highly perceptive,
well-read, an adult, a father, and whimsical but in no way
combustible or hair-trigger. His shorter hair, I think, signifies a
new resolve never to be on YouTube ever again.
If it turns out to be true, James Franco‘s Oscar co-hosting gig will probably kill his shot at being a Best Actor nominee for his performance in 127 Hours. Just as Tom Hanks once said “there’s no crying in baseball!,” you can also say “the Oscar telecast host can’t win the Best Actor Oscar! You can’t straddle lanes like that…no! If he’s the co-host, fine. And he’s a Best Actor nominee, fine. But you can’t do both.”
Nikki Finke is
reporting that she “just learned that the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts & Sciences has asked James Franco
and Anne Hathaway to host the Academy Awards, and
it ‘looks like’ both young stars have accepted the
“There is always the chance that one or both of them might back
out because of prior commitments and other concerns,” Finke adds,
“But my sources say the host announcement could be made as
soon as this week.”
Excuse me and due respect, but this is close to
ridiculous. These guys would be great for hosting the MTV
Awards, maybe, but they’re not skilled or funny or pizazzy enough
to handle the Oscars. What are the...
TheWrap‘s Steve Pond has passed along positive tweet impressions of Joel and Ethan Coen‘s True Grit, which screened to a select few last week in Los Angeles and also Saturday night here in New York.
I was told two things yesterday about True Grit. One, that it’s a surprisingly emotional film (i.e., surprisingly for the Coen brothers, that is). And two, that while Jeff Bridges‘s Rooster Cogburn performance is crackling and robust, Matt Damon “almost steals the show”in the Glenn Campbell role, and that he’s suddenly looking like a possible Best Supporting Actor nominee.
The Fighter had another triumphant Manhattan showing
last night, and at a good theatre for a change — i.e., Lincoln
Center’s Walter Reade as opposed to the always-crappy-sounding
Lincoln Square. After the lights came up star-producer Mark
Wahlberg, director David O. Russell and
Best Supporting Actress contender Melissa Leo sat
for a q & a. Strong applause greeted the closing credits.
New Yorker critic David Denby was there.
Smart crowd, pretty middle-aged women, etc. It was the
place to be.
Yesterday’s Oscar Poker was just Sasha, Phil Contrino and myself. We got into early True Grit talk, the award-worthiness of Shutter Island, general box-office tallies, Black Swan, spoilers, the diminishing theatre presence in the heartland, and the current leading candidates for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Here’s an independent, non-iTunes link.
The Pursuitist is reporting
that Naked Gun guy Leslie Nielsen, 84,
has died in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The website was reportedly
notified of Nielsen’s passing by his nephew, Doug
Nielsen of Richmond, Virginia. Nielsen passed due to
“complications from pneumonia.” Nielsen’s comic signature was a
classic deadpan response to whatever foolery was put before
Richard Levine‘s Every Day (Image, January 2011) flew under my radar when it played at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival. I heard nothing. IFC.com’s Stephen Saito marginally approved with reservations. I’m only paying attention now because the trailer has popped up. I’m telling myself that any adult-flavored drama that isn’t based on a comic book has to be, on some level, a good thing. But I’m not sensing anything new here.
In an 8.21.10
riff about Criterion’s America Lost and Found: The BBS Story, I said that
“the only keepers” are Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and
The Last Picture Show. But these three look and sound
terrific on Bluray, like pristine celluloid prints straight out of
the lab, and are fully worth the price. Prime shelf space, to have
and to hold.
It supposedly dates you if you admit to playing stickball as a
kid. I don’t know why. It just means that when you were nine or ten
or eleven you pitched some kind of rubber ball at a batter who
stood in front of a concrete wall that had a batter’s box drawn in
chalk, and sometimes with another guy (i.e., the pitcher’s
teammate) fielding occasional flyballs and grounders. I’m bringing
this up because I’m wondering if anyone else ever had a dispute
over what my friends and I used to call the “splatter
When the batter didn’t swing there were always disputes about
whether the pitcher had thrown a strike. I hit upon an idea one day
that involved dipping the worn-down, next-to-no-fuzz tennis ball
that we used into a nearby puddle, or just pouring water over it.
The ball would then make a mark when it hit the wall, making it
indisputable whether or not a strike had been thrown.
Initial reactions to Joel and Ethan Coen‘s True Grit will be posted here and there on Wednesday, 12.1, around 1 pm. I can’t say exactly when or where, but the Scott Rudin-produced western is starting to be shown. I’m told there was a restricted screening (i.e., no Poland, Tapley or Hammond) that happened last Tuesday. (Gasp!) Attendees were sworn to secrecy, etc.
This is an old refrain, but everyone needs to start treating the
Oscar telecast as merely the end of the road — a
moderately exciting, amusing, occasionally touching, usually
harmless, sometimes irksome, sometimes gratifying ceremony in which
certain heavy-predicted favorites have their night in the sun. And
that’s all it is — just a televised finale. We all
know it’s not the destination that counts as much as the quality of
the journey, so act accordingly.
So people need to invest a bit more in the season as a
whole, and at the risk of alienating Oscar advertisers,
start talking more about week-to-week personal passions and what
the critics groups and the bloggers and the ubers and early
adopters are saying, and endeavor as much as possible to (and I
mean no harm or disrespect) ignore
the deadwood and just stop talking about...
Marriages between filmmakers are tinderboxes. They’re never long for this world, especially if the husband is a director-screenwriter-producer and the wife is an actress, and double especially when they make films together. Jointly-created films are like children, and if the film fails to ignite commercially and/or boost the career of the wife, the parents will start to blame themselves. Most talented actresses are intensely ambitious and no day at the beach to begin with, and this will only intensify if you put them in a movie that doesn’t take off or make them seem as mesmerizing or pistol-hot or Meryl Streep-ish as they feel is their due. It becomes even worse, obviously, if the husband has an issue or two of his own, which is not unusual among director-writer-producers. On top of which infidelity is so easy on that level.
For years I’ve been lamenting the “CinemaScope
mumps” distortion syndrome — that face-broadening,
weight-adding effect that resulted from the use of anamorphic
CinemaScope lenses from ’53 through ’59 or ’60. It would be heaven
if someone could figure a way to horizontally compress these films
so that it would all look right. There’s a fundamental feeling of
being cheated out of the correct proportions that were captured but
not represented by those
Everyone was tweeting last night about the Munk debate in
Toronto between Tony Blair and
Christopher Hitchens over the contribution of
religion to the world’s ills and/or comforts. I myself was driving
back from Gulalala to San Francisco, and am now searching around
for an online digital replay. Before the debate Hitchens sat down
with Toronto Globe & Mail‘s editorial board editor
John Geiger for a
general discussion about same. Here is segment
#2 and segment #3.
First a persuasive
dismissive review from the New Yorker‘s
Anthony Lane, and now a follow-up
from N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis.
Tell me how this doesn’t translate into some level of
difficulty for The King’s Speech. And, unlike
Lane, Dargis doesn’t even tumble for Colin
Firth and Geoffrey Rush‘s performances —
she likes Guy Pearce‘s King Edward VIII
“Like many entertainments of this pop-historical type, The
King’s Speechwears history lightly no matter
how heavy the crown,” she
“Great meals fade upon reflection — everything else gains,” a
of the past once said. But has Inception gained? I
know it upticked between viewing #1 (which frustrated due to shitty
sound at a non-IMAX showing at Manhattan’s Lincoln Square) and
viewing #2 (a very high-quality IMAX screening at San Francisco’s
Metreon with knockout sound). But since then Inception has
kind of settled down and levelled out. It’s one of the most
thrilling mind-fuck movies of all time, but I’m just not that into
seeing it again on Bluray. Go figure.
TheWrap‘s Steve Pond has not only written one of the most depressing Oscar-season columns I’ve read over the past several weeks, but one of the most infuriating. The simple acknowledging of idiot-wind opinions held by those legendary “older conservative Academy members” gives them a kind of legitimacy, and that they don’t deserve this. Oh, and only 200 people showing up to see 127 Hours is merely another example of arm-carve anxiety. Everyone knows it’s out there. I brought my 127 Hours screener to my Thanksgiving sleep-over house in Gualala, and nobody even asked about it, much less popped it into the DVD player.
This morning I was admiring the catchy eyesore appeal of
Bones Roadhouse in downtown Gualala. The flames in the sign
tell you they’re into charbroiled beef — very distinctive, guys.
Not mention the “great ocean views.” And the loud brownish rust
color of the exterior accented by those Indian red window frames is
startling. This is the downside of American free enterprise — i.e.,
people with atrocious taste being allowed to not only design their
own storefronts but pollute the...