Rain People

I’d always wanted to see Fred Zinneman‘s A Hatful of Rain on a big wide screen (rather than on a small television set, which is what I saw it on when I was 15) because it’s in black-and-white Scope — my favorite format. So I caught it last night at the Aero, and briefly spoke with star Don Murray (who’s looking very fit and vibrant at age 82) and listened to a q & a with Murray and costar Eva Marie Saint.

Released in 1957 and set mostly in a small lower-Manhattan apartment, A Hatful of Rain is an on-the-nose melodrama about middle-class drug addiction. Murray plays...

Elton and Kiki

I realize, of course, that hundreds of thousands of people who don’t know any better make fools of themselves in karaoke bars on a nightly basis, but I can’t understand why intelligent journos who have a clue would degrade themselves in this fashion. “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s all go to a karaoke bar and prove to drunken strangers that we can’t sing or phrase as well as professionals! And are sometimes flat or off-key!” HE rule #39: if you’re not all that good at something, keep it to yourself.


MSN‘s James Rocchi and Cinema Blend‘s

Mormon Limit

Manhattan-visiting friend: “Just a reminder to call anyone you know who can help you score tickets to The Book of Mormon. I saw it last night, and it’s the real deal. It’s thrilling, and, yes, irreverent, blasphemous and an equal-opportunity offender. But would you expect anything less from Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

“But what’s amazing is their real love and understanding of musical theatre, and the fact that is has a huge palpitating heart at its center. I don’t remember sitting in a Broadway theatre surrounded by a more thrilled audience (which last night included Sting and Sandra Bullock.)

My response: “I called [a producer friend] and he...

Stockwell In A Box

With today’s release (and concurrent critical savaging) of Cat Run, it’s time to once again lament the saga of John Stockwell — an extremely bright, hip and likable guy who started out as an actor in the ’80s (Top Gun) but really found his footing as a director — first with the entirely decent, well-shaped, movingly performed Crazy/Beautiful (’01) and then Blue Crush, one of the best modestly-proportioned surfer movies I’ve ever seen.

Tree Turnaround

While waiting for last night’s 7:30 pm showing of A Hatful of Rain to begin at the Aero, Empire‘s Helen O’Hara tweeted that I owed her an apology for having written last Monday that her 3.28 story about Britain’s Icon planning to open Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life on May 4th, or several days before its expected debut at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, was “probably incorrect.”

Because O’Hara’s story is apparently correct.

Icon’s 5.4 Tree release was confirmed yesterday (or the day before?) on the...

Timing

With the recent dispute between Donald Sutherland and Peter Bart over the filming of that legendary Don’t Look Now sex scene (which Bart has more or less admitted error on by telling The Hollywood Reporter‘s Merle Ginsberg that the scene in question was shot “over four decades ago!”), there’s considerable interest right now in Nicolas Roeg‘s 1973 thriller. Which bodes well for the British Region 2 Bluray that streets on 6.27.11.

Shutter Speeds

In a speech given today at CinemaCon, the exhibition industry’s annual convention in Las Vegas, James Cameron has announced he’ll make Avatar 2 and 3 “with a native frame rate of 48 or 64,” which will deliver fluid motion in the vein of Maxivsion (which Roger Ebert has been promoting for years) or Showscan. Cameron will demonstrate various frame-rate samples tomorrow at the Coliseum theater inside Ceasar’s Palace.

MSN’s James Rocchi tweeted as follows: “James Cameron keeps talking about Avatar 2/3. It’s the only time in history the nerd who wants a sequel nobody else does has the power to do so.”

Not Right

$275 is too much for a seat at a Yankee game. It’s not even outdoors on the first or third-base line where you can smell the dirt and grass — it’s an ambassador club box over the right-field bleachers. They used to charge 25 cents for a bleacher seat in Babe Ruth‘s day. I don’t know what prices were like when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were slamming homers, but I’ll bet they had some relationship to the price of rice…unlike today.

Rewrite

TheWrap‘s Sharon Waxman has reported that there may have been “significant misinformation” about the shooting death of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen last November. Apparently she may have taken three in the arm and two in the back rather than five in the chest…whatever. The feeling here has always been that the official explanation is ridiculous. The late Harold Smith shot Chasen at a Sunset Blvd. stoplight after chasing her along that high-speed avenue on a friggin’ bicycle? It may have happened, but no self-respecting screenwriter would dream up such a scenario for fear of being laughed out of town.

Fincher, Jolie, Cleopatra…?

Last Tuesday Deadline‘s Michael Fleming outlined the latest configuration of Sony’s Cleopatra biopic — Angelina Jolie in the lead, David Fincher possibly directing, Scott Rudin producing from a script by Brian Helgeland (but with a new punch-up writer possibly being sought), based on Stacy Schiff‘s Cleopatra: A Life. An inside source says it’s all “conjecture” at this point, but I’m hearing the project may actually come together.

Rum and Stoli?

FilmDistrict’s decision to open Bruce Robinson‘s The Rum Diary, an apparently troubled adaptation of the Hunter Thompson book with Johnny Depp in the lead role, on 10.28 is well and good. FilmDistrict co-founder Graham King has said he’s “extremely proud to bring this novel to film and to honor Hunter’s legacy”…hah!

But let’s not forget that the film may be opening tomorrow (3.31) in Moscow, according to a longstanding IMDB listing. And if it is, let’s hope someone is there to review it. I mentioned on 2.5 that I’d love to fly to Moscow for the occasion, but you have to live within certain limits.

Haines Is Gone

In my head, Farley Granger has always been and always will be “Guy Haines,” the anxious, darting-eyed, pinch-mannered tennis player in Alfred Hitchcock‘s Strangers on a Train (’51). The 85 year-old actor, also known for his performance as an anxious, darting-eyed, pinch-mannered gay murder accomplice in Hitchcock’s Rope, passed on 3.27, but for some reason the news is only just breaking now.

Granger copped a long time ago to being openly bisexual or mostly gay or what-have-you.

Here’s an amusing portion from his Wiki bio:...

New Life Forms

Remember that ComicCon 2010 buzz about Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski being “the new James Cameron“? After Tron made the rounds he began to look like the new Peter Hyams. And now Kosinki’s latest project, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic graphic novelly action-quest thing called Oblivion, has been scuttled by Disney.

Kosinski, 36, will bounce back and may even make something good some day, but it’s entirely possible that he won’t. He’s one of the gamer/comic-book generation directors (Battle LA‘s Jonathan Liebesman, 35, is another) and I just don’t trust these guys. At all. Their heads are all about...

Imaginative Marketing

If you’ve ever looked at slapped-together covers for bootleg DVDs, you know that the pirates who put them out sometimes create their own cover art based on generic but reality-divorced concepts of what will appeal to Average Joes. So when boots of The Tree of Life begin to show up on the streets of Tijuana and Beijing and Manila, it’s not inconceivable that the jacket art might look something like this. (Jacket design by Mark Frenden.)

Be Prepared

I don’t know what exhibitors and distributors felt about Terrence Malick‘s Badlands or Days of Heaven or The Thin Red Line or The New World when they first saw them, but I’ll guess they weren’t swooning. Exhibitor and distributor types are always bitching about art films, and that’s the only kind of movie Malick makes so he and they are natural-born adversaries. Industry guys have always hated ambitious cinema — Francis Coppola once told me about exhibitors complaining about how dark and gloomy The Godfather was — so their views need to be taken with a grain.

I was reminded of this mindset by a producer pal when I told him yesterday that a journalist friend, quoting a US distribution source, had told me that a group of foreign distributor-investors saw Malick’s The Tree of Life almost exactly a year ago (i.e., March 2010) and felt...

Shame Persists

Early last May I ran a complaint piece about Paramount Home Video’s failure to punch out a Shane Bluray. It’s my responsibility, I feel, to bitch about this until they finally give in and agree to fund the proper restoring and remastering of George Stevens1953 classic. An off-the-lot source says it’ll be a moderately expensive project, which is mainly why Paramount has been stalling for so long. Except Shane is one of the respected jewels in the studio crown, and what monarch would allow one of its legacy symbols to lose its shine?

Shane is one of the most beautiful color films shot during the big-studio era, but if...

(Slap, Slap) “Now Gimmee The Key!”

Robert Aldrich‘s Kiss Me Deadly (Criterion Bluray, 6.21) is pure black-and-white splendor. You can can take or leave the plot/dialogue/theme, but you can’t ignore the magnificent visual capturings of mid ’50s Los Angeles. All those downtown locations that are gone now plus Ralph Meeker/Mike Hammer’s still-standing apartment building (10401 Wilshire Blvd, NW corner of Wilshire and Beverly Glen and the Hollywood Athletic Club (6525 W. Sunset Blvd.), where Hammer finds the black box with the bright light inside.

Wolf Man

I’m not a coffee snob, but I’ve owned a couple of cappuccino machines and been to dozens of European cafes and have acquired a mature understanding, I believe, of what makes a really good cup. Imagine my surprise, then, when it hit me two or three weeks ago that this kind of instant coffee is really delightful — rich, rounded, full-bodied.

I Wish

This is the raptor seen in one of the micro-squares on that one-sheet for Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life. Would it be out of line to ask for a poster for a screaming Sean Penn and Brad Pitt being chased by a raptor, Jurassic Park-style? If anyone has the Photoshop ability and the time….well, obviously many people do. But do they give enough of a damn to work on it and send it along?