Seth Rogen, James Franco — Saturday, 1.29, 9:55 pm.

Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, King’s Speech screenwriter David Seidler — Saturday, 1.29, 10:45 am.

Some guy I don’t recognize (sorry), Seidler, Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt (hat, dark greenish-gray military shirt).

Santa Barbara Film Festival “cancer bear” (signed by celebrities).

Needed That

For whatever reason, watching this clip an hour ago just lifted me out of my King’s Speech melancholia. I’ve been living with it for six days now. It’s been like a chest cold only worse. Now, suddenly, I feel like there’s oxygen in my system again. Go figure.

Clayton Guilt

Every time I re-watch my Bluray of Tony Gilroy‘s Michael Clayton, which seems a bit more masterful each time, I feel a little bit worse about not being more enthusiastic when it first came out 40 months ago. I didn’t put enough feeling into my riffs about it. Calling it “never boring,” “a tense adult thriller about some unsettled and anxious people” and “as seasoned and authentic as this kind of thing can be” didn’t get it. I held back and over-qualified. And I’m sorry.

Flying Above The Plains

John Barry‘s Oscar-winning Out of Africa score was his masterpiece, I think. And this orchestral, overture-like version of Barry’s Born Free theme is much more moving than the pop song that everyone knows. Something about the vastness of Africa obviously moved Barry, and this, I think, should be his legacy.

Nolan at the Crossroads

Last night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival Chris Nolan tribute was fine. Nolan was gracious and charming in his usual curt-but-frank sort of way, and moderator Pete Hammond asked lively and intelligent questions. And it was cool when Leonardo DiCaprio (wearing a super-short 1930s haircut for Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar, which starts shooting on 2.5) stepped out to present the Modern Master award.

Modern Master award recipient Christopher Nolan (l.), moderator Pete Hammond (r.) at Santa Barbara’s Arlington theatre — Sunday, 1.30, 8:40 pm.

The after-party happened at some ESPN tin-shack honky tonk-type joint on lower State Street. I’m sorry but I’m not very big on places that have...

Yeah, I Get It

The King’s Speech has won SAG’s Best Ensemble award, thus triple-confirming the inevitable Best Picture win. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Actually they probably do know what they do and don’t give a shit about the judgment of history.

Fences, Borders

In today’s N.Y. Times, A.O. Scott has lamented with good reason “the peculiar and growing irrelevance of world cinema in American movie culture, which the Academy Awards help to perpetuate.” Diminishing education standards have surely fed into this. American backwater types have long regarded foreign-language films as too challenging or not comforting enough, but I’ve been sensing gradually lessening interest levels even among urbans over the last 20 or 25 years.

“There are certainly examples from the last decade of subtitled films, Oscar-nominated or not, that have achieved some measure of popularity,” Scott writes. “But these successes seem more and more like...


No one cares about Henry Cavill being handed the big role in Zack Snyder‘s Superman: Man of Steel — nobody. The film will sell tickets when it opens and the Comic-Con fools will do their usual-usual and not a bird will stir in the trees. I agree with Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet that Snyder’s statement (“I am honored to be a part of [Superman’s] return…I also join Warner Bros., Legendary and the producers in saying how excited we are” about this) indicates that hiring Cavill wasn’t entirely his decision.

Franco’s Big Save

Last night’s James Franco tribute at the Santa Barbara Film Festival started out badly due to Franco arriving on stage almost exactly an hour late, apparently due to an Oscar rehearsal session running late. But after he finally sat down with interviewer Leonard Maltin, Franco was so Zen and relaxed and articulate in a kind of shoulder-shrugging way that he wound up seeming like the coolest, most spiritually together guest this festival has ever hosted.

He just didn’t try to “turn on the charm” or project or win anyone over. He just sat there and smiled or smirked when the mood struck and just let it all happen, man…whatever. Well, not “whatever” but a kind of...

Big Wrongo

The Santa Barbara News-Press website is apparently too lame to link to its own front-page stories, so I’ll just summarize a portion of Ted Mills‘ 1.30 article about yesterday’s SBIFF screenwriters panel at the Lobero theatre. Mills mis-characterizes a question I asked of The King’s Speech screenwriter David Seidler and mis-leads about the facts behind it, so I need to straighten this out.

Mills reports that my “stunner” of a question “asked Seidler to respond to charges from from Christopher Hitchens [in a 1.24 Slate article] that The King’s Speech glorifies a monarch who was anti-Semitic.”

All right, stop right there. I never uttered the term...

Mourn With Us

I’m of two minds about this afternoon’s Irish Wake at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, otherwise known as the Santa Barbara Film Festival Blogger’s Panel (4 to 5:30 pm, 1130 State Street). On one hand I’d like as many people as possible to come because it’ll feel like a less miserable thing with friends offering hugs. On the other hand the only way to get through it might be to bring a quart of Jack Daniels and pass it around. Either way you don’t want the panelists to outnumber the audience.

Because the only thing anyone will want to talk about is last night’s impact grenade — i.e., The King’s Speech‘s Tom Hooper winning the DGA award for feature directing, and thereby all but settling the Best Picture race. It’ll basically be an occasion for...

Three Zucks

I’m thinking that the last time SNL presented this kind of prince-and-the-pauper, Real McCoy-meets-doppleganger thing was when John Belushi and Joe Cocker sang side by side. I’ve looked for the clip for over 20 minutes and can’t find the clip anywhere. Anyone?

After The Fall

Here are some quotes I’ve read over the last 12 or 13 hours since the news broke that Tom Hooper has won the DGA award for best feature directing, and thus more or less confirming a forthcoming Best Picture Oscar win by The King’s Speech.

(l. to r.) DGA nominees Tom Hooper, David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Chris Nolan and David Fincher at last night’s event.

“Being in the room last night for the DGA Awards, I can tell you the audience was stunned over the Hooper win…Kathryn Bigelow (who read the winner) was visibly shocked…one of the other directors (not Fincher) couldn’t contain himself and let out a howl of laughter. Having been to a lot of these award shows this season a bit…I’m sure all of the directors want to win themselves, but get the...

Game Over

Devotees of eternal cinematic Movie Godz justice are tonight contemplating the drinking of hemlock, the inhaling of lethal gas and leaping from high cliffs. For Tom Hooper, a highly talented, handsome, intelligent and quite likable fellow who directed a very commendable 1993 film called The King’s Speech, has won the DGA award for feature film directing…and when I heard this news about 80 minutes ago, I folded. My face turned ashen gray and I died a little inside. Because I knew then and there that the Best Picture Oscar race was all but over. The King’s Speech will almost certainly win and The Social Network will lose.

As satisfying and well-wrought as The King’s Speech is in the realm of old-fashioned, emotionally reassuring cinema, this is an Oscar night that will live in infamy...

Bening’s Big Night

Last night’s Annette Bening tribute at the Santa Barbara Film Festival (i.e., a bestowing of the American Riviera Award at the Arlington theatre) was a pleasure — good conversation between Bening and SBIFF festival chief Roger Durling, a toney film-clip reel that Durling had personally supervised in editing, a gracious award-presenting speech from Kevin Costner and a pace that moved right along.

An elegant after-party was held at the sprawling Montecito estate of SBIFF board of director honcho Jeff Barbakow and his wife Sharon. Anne Thompson, Dana Harris and I...


A friend with a migraine is sleeping it off in my Santa Barbara hotel room, so I went down to a Starbucks at the corner of State and Cota to do some filing. I saw an empty table with a cup of latte-or-whatever sitting on top of it, but no one in either chair. I figured the person who’d ordered was in the bathroom. The general rule, of course, is that single customers can save a chair but not a whole table, which are frequently shared. So I sat down in one of the chairs and plugged in the computer, etc.

Knock-knock. Some tall guy outside who was talking on his cell phone was tapping on the window next to the table and gesturing at the coffee cup. I grinned and gestured as if to say, “Yes, that’s your coffee and your chair, but you don’t own the table, pal….sorry.” He rapped on the window again, more sharply this time, emphasizing that the coffee cup meant that he has hunkies and does in fact own the table, including both...

Throw All Bums Out

Why stop with Egypt? Let the revolutionary wildfire spread across borders and continents and into conference rooms. Get rid of every greedy, corrupted and insensitive top dog in every country, city, corporation and poorly-managed Walmart. Cleanse the world of all snakes and dogs in one great tidal backwash. Obviously I’m joking, but why can’t the fever just spread up and down the Nile and out into the Mediterranean and across the oceans? The idea is thrilling.

Yesterday morning the conventional wisdom was that either that (a) Mubarak, his family and associates leave Cairo in a helicopter in the wee hours, or (b) Cairo will become another Tiananmen Square. Now the word is that Cairo cops...