“WikiLeaks is America’s Tienanmen. Julian
Assange is the tank guy. We’re all holding our breath to
see if we go all the way.
“While the people on the ‘don’t’ side try to discredit the man,
and what he’s done, the story is still getting out. There are new
revelations every day. As Arianna Huffington has
all it takes is one story to electrify everything. I think in our
gut we know [that] if the process is allowed to go forward, we can
never go back.
“Assange says let’s know all there is to know. Let’s tell the
people who take us to war and destroy countries and kill hundreds
of thousands for profit — no more secrets. We’re not just going to
suspect you’re doing it, we’re going to know. And maybe, if they
know we’ll know, they won’t do it.” —...
It’ll be midnight in Paris in about two hours, so I guess it’s
time to post my usual “the hell with New Year’s Eve” sentiments.
2010 was a very good year movie-wise, and a fairly terrible one
politically. But I have few complaints, and I hope that others are
feeling as good these days, or are feeling at peace. This is the
best era of my life. It’s a good time to be happy. Raise a glass,
hug someone, smile, etc.
That said, there’s nothing fills me with such spiritual
satisfaction as my annual naysaying of...
Stanley Kubrick was one of the reigning
cinematic geniuses of the 20th century, but the defining behavioral
trait of the last 30 years of his life was an increasing tendency
to lead a hermetic, hidden-away life. I’ve long felt that this
isolation made his films seem more and more porcelain and
pristine, and less flesh-and-blood. I mentioned this once
to Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s brother in law, and he
didn’t disagree. “That was the man,” he said. I feel that Kubrick
became a kind of cautionary tale.
I wouldn’t imply that Sofia Coppola has become
an artistic equal of Kubrick’s, but she does know, as Kubrick did,
about fashioning cinematic realms with great care and exactitude,
and so it’s fair, I think, to ask if she’s going down the Kubrick
path in other ways. Indiewire‘s Anne
A few days ago someone inserted an idea that The
Fighter‘s Best Picture headwind has somehow diminished because
it hasn’t done True Grit-level business. Okay, it hasn’t
astonished. But since opening
wide on 12.17 on roughly 2500 theatres, David O.
Russell‘s film had made about $34
million as of 12.29, and boxoffice.com‘s Phil
Contrino is projecting $44 million by
“So I’d say it’s performing on track,” Contrino said this
morning. “If anything, it might be getting hurt by how well
True Grit is doing.”
Do you think it’s doing well in terms of per-screen...
I would have edited out the portion in which I get on the L train, but it should be noted that the elderly bum lying sideways on the seat like a dead seal (i.e., briefly glimpsed) smelled of rank intestinal substances, which is why no one was sitting near him. Thank God the aroma was diluted somewhat by other bodies and scents, but this, ladies and gentleman, is the New York subway system at times. The smellies do what they want.
Tyler and Cameron, the Harvard Connection guys, have spoken to the N.Y. Times. Same old tune, we want more money than what we got…waahhh. “It shouldn’t be that Mark Zuckerberg gets away with behaving that way,” “They didn’t fight fair,” “Mark stole the idea,” “What we agreed to is not what we got,” etc.
1.2.11 N.Y. Times piece on Black Swan, “a
leading candidate for the most misunderstood film of 2010,” and
especially Natalie Portman‘s lead performance
makes for very stirring reading. He seems to really get into the
scheme of it, the duality and the conflict in Darren
Aronfosky‘s melodrama of meltdown.
I’ve been wrestling with Ron Howard‘s The Dilemma for 10
months, or since I first
read an October 2009 draft of Allen Loeb‘s
script, which was initially called Your Cheating Heart,
a.k.a. Untitled Cheating Project. I didn’t agree with the
basic set-up, which is that a semi-mature male in his 40s would be
on the fence about whether to tell his best friend that his wife
may be playing around. Friends always wise each
other up. Anyone who would dither and/or procrastinate about
levelling with a pal is no pal — it’s that simple.
The Dilemma shot last summer in Chicago and is now
about to open on 1.14.14, or two weeks
David Poland isn’t sayingTrue Grit is beginning to pose a strong threat to The
Social Network‘s presumed dominance as a Best Picture
favorite. He isn’t saying it’s elbowed aside The King’s
Speech and/or The Fighter to become TSN‘s
main challenger. He isn’t saying it’s now poised to overtake
TSN. He’s sayingTrue Grit “has muscled its way into the
frontrunner slot to win Best Picture.”
Because, you know, he’s been talking about Grit‘s Best
Picture inevitability for a while now but primarily because the
gnarly Coen brothers western is expected to make
Bertie and Elizabeth: The Reluctant Royals played on Masterpiece Theatre in ’02 and came out on DVD in ’05. It acknowledged Bertie’s speech impediment but didn’t, to judge by reviews and comments, make a big deal of it. It was more about a couple that wasn’t exactly cut out for Buckingham Palace being thrust into it by fate and circumstance. It’s on Netflix Streaming. I suppose this one time I can put aside my dislike of watching films on my Powerbook.
Some kind of ridiculous fever got into the systems of certain
fair-skinned actors of yore when they applied face-paint and
pretended to be ferocious African or Middle-Eastern or Indian
warlord types. I’m thinking of Laurence Olivier as
the Madhi in Khartoum, Herbert Lom as
General Ben Yusuf in El Cid, and Eduardo
Cianelli‘s Thuggee “guru” in Gunga Din.
Their performances were campy and racist in a kind of
minstrel-show way, but they were so...
I never said a word about Lance Daly‘s
Kisses after my one
and only posting on 7.7.10, and I’m feeling a little bit bad
about this. I gave it a hug review and then stayed away. That’s
because (a) it has a couple of issues and (b) it had been shot four
years previously and felt a bit dated. But it’s still one of the
most affecting little films I saw all year, and I need to give it a
final air-kiss before pushing on.
Where would The King’s Speech be in the Best Picture race, impressionistically-speaking, without Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger? The entire King’s Speech bandwagon, face it, is more or less depending on Karger’s allegiance. Okay, he’s not the only fellow with his finger in the dyke, but in the wake of Karger’s recent toe-to-toe with Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone it sure seems that way. Karger holds firm, mans up, refuses to turn tail, etc.
It’s no secret that Oscar handicappers have been downgrading the chances of Danny Boyle‘s 127 Hours to earn a Best Picture nomination, largely due to some Academy members refusing to watch the screener due to arm-carving concerns. I believe that if Fox Searchlight had distributed these James Franco holiday gingerbread cookies to press and Academy members, it might have lessened anxiety levels. Seriously. (Thanks to Bill McCuddy for the photo.)
Alonso Duralde‘s 12.28 Movieline piece says that Anton Corbijn‘s The American was “mismarketed.” That implies error when this was a simple case of Focus Features misrepresenting The American to earn decent coin before the word got out that it’s an austere art-house film with almost no action. They lied and made $16,662,333 the first five days. If they’d told the truth they would have made a lot less. Simple.
Earlier today OK magazine critic Phil
Villarreal thanked a Pheonix-based film publicist, Barclay
Communications’ Lindsay Derr, for an invitation to
see a 1.25 screening of The Mechanic (CBS Films 1.28), the
latest action thriller starring Jason Statham. The
invitation, however, says that reviews must be held “until opening
day.” Villarreal felt this was unfair.
I’ve never forgotten a line that Hank Worden‘s cowpuncher
character says about an hour into Red River: “I don’t like
it when things go too good and I don’t like it when things go too
bad….I like ‘em in between.”
Worden was talking about driving a huge cattle herd to market
across rugged country,
but most moviegoers feel the same way. They don’t like films
that are unrealistically happy or silly or dopey, and they don’t
like films that seem oppressively glum and downbeat.
I can’t think of a recent “too happy” film that qualifies, but
the reason for Biutful‘s 71% Rotten Tomatoes
rating, it seems clear, is that a certain percentage of critics
are saying, “It’s obviously very well made and Javier
Bardem is great, but it’s...
Nearly eight months ago I wrote
about Paramount Home Video’s failure to even state an intention to
put out a Shane Bluray. George Stevens‘
classic is one of the jewels in the Paramount crown, and
they’re reluctant to Bluray it, I’m told, because it’ll cost too
much to upgrade the materials, etc. How admirable.
A Shane Buray nonetheless sits at the top of my 2011
wish list, however unlikely this may be. Second-ranked is a Bluray
of Fred Zinneman‘s From Here to Eternity,
which was remastered by Sony’s Grover Crisp in
late ’09 (and shown in Cannes last May) in preparation for a Sony
Home Video Bluray…which has been on the back burner ever since.
Third and fourth are Ben-Hur and Barry
Short of fart gags, the “humor” in this trailer for Paul seems as low and crude as a film like this can possibly get. The bird-eating at the end is the only moderately amusing bit in the whole thing. What an apparent comedown for Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), once a cool indie-minded director and now the manager of a dog pound, leading movie culture down the ladder toward an across-the-board mongrelization of comedy.
Robert Altman‘s McCabe
and Mrs. Miller (’71) was among the 25 films added today
The National Film Registry to its list of “culturally,
historically or aesthetically significant” films. My favorite scene
is when Julie Christie explains the whore business
to Warren Beatty. Closing line: “Now I haven’t got
a lot of time to sit around and talk to a man who’s too dumb to see
a good proposition when it’s put to him. Do we make a deal or don’t
The seven-day period between Christmas and January 2nd is the flattest time of the year. No screenings, nothing going. You can hear a pin drop. And then comes New Year’s Eve (which I always ignore with a passion) and then another blank-out on January 1st, and then the Producers Guild and Writers Guild nominees on January 4th, and then the DGA noms on January 10th. But all this time it gets a little bit harder to write with any feeling about the awards race because people are getting sick of it by this time. They need a break already.
So you focus on January openings, of course, and sometimes that’s fine. Plus whatever you can get into regarding Sundance. And then Sundance finally happens (I’m leaving on the 18th) and you’re alive again big-time. Nine 18-hour hammer days in a row. And then comes the Santa Barbara Film Festival, which lasts until the 4th or 5th of February. And then it’s back into the Oscar race for another 20-something days. And that’s okay because at least it’s ending. And then finally a new slate.
10. True Grit –”I loved every slow, drawn-out,
bourbon-infused, sepia-filled breath of this movie.”
9. The King’s Speech — “‘Stutter Island’ feels a little
stuffy and claustrophobic in places because it’s basically a stage
play, but a brilliant one because Colin Firth‘s
“Bertie,” an heir to the throne who can’t rule a complete sentence,
feels like the world is caving in on him.
8. Winters Bone — “Moral: If you’re going to make
crystal meth, do it in the city. Not the country. The term
dysfunctional family saw this movie and tweeted ‘WTF!?’”