Let no one doubt that Hollywood Elsewhere is an influential,
shaker-upper column. Not just in terms of influencing the
conversation about Oscar nominees and the Best Picture race. But
also in terms of getting people fired. Or one guy,
at least. Which doesn’t feel very good if the facts are what they
seem. Call me chagrined and somewhat appalled.
I learned a few hours ago that Ivan Infante, a
screenwriter and maker of short films who’s been the most friendly
and recognizable face at West L.A.’s Laser Blazer for nine years, was
canned last Wednesday by owner Ron Dassa, and that
one factor in his termination was a
piece I ran on 7.20 — 11 days ago — about the
Barack Obama has bent over backwards to
Republican swine over the debt reduction fight, and right now he
looks weak as hell to me. He’s the “adult in the room,” yes, but
how I wish he had the courage to be more than just reasonable and
mild-mannered. I think of Obama these days and right away I get
irritated. He’s a moderate conservative, and I thought I was voting
for a guy who would try to be much, much more.
It would be so great if a serious liberal could challenge Obama
in the primaries and give him trouble and speak the truth and let
some light into the room.
I’m saying this with a presumption that Obama will be re-elected
in 2012. As he should be, given the alternatives. He’s a sane,
perceptive and highly intelligent U.S. President. Most voters of
any education or reasonably adult perceptions will almost certainly
choose to keep him for a second term rather than vote in the glib
LexG drove out to the deepest West Valley the other day to
confront Lars Von Trier‘s Melancholia
((Magnolia, 11.11) during its ultra-low-profile, Academy-qualifying
L.A. engagement. I sat on his review for two or three days but here
it finally is. He somehow manages to actually write about the film
without going into his “woe is me, I needs me some white wimmin’
and if I don’t get what I need I’m gonna kill myself” routine. Very
Alexander Skarsgard, Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia.
“Functioning as almost a companion piece to his more outrageous
Antichrist, Lars von Trier‘s Melancholia is an
emotionally audacious movie of two halves. The first depicts the
encroaching mental breakdown of depressed bride Justine...
About 13 months ago I posted an observation
about a tendency
of younger women to project thin little pipsqueak voices and
use mallspeak accents and phrasings in order to sound average and
blend into the crowd. I flashed back to this a few nights ago as I
listened to Cowboys & Aliens star Olivia
Wilde talk to Jimmy Kimmel. She’s
beautiful but her voice has no particular flavor and
Wilde is supposed to be a star in the making but she sounds like
a checkout girl. Her voice is almost stunning in its flatness, and
it makes her sound glib and unexceptional. She opens her mouth
and…that’s it? A woman with a face...
The bloggerati have been salivating all day over the apparently
distinct possibility that the under-performing,
flopping-around-like-a-flounder-on-the-sand Cowboys &
Aliens will come in second for the weekend behind the
horribly vile, reprehensible, apocalypse-summoningSmurfs. I’ve been too settled and soothed in Santa Barbara
to care, but I know that David Poland‘s Cowboys
& Aliens pan is good stuff.
Sunday morning update: Variety‘s
Andrew Stewart is
reporting that reps for Smurfs and Cowboys &
Aliens are both estimating $36.2 million for
the weekend, “leaving no...
Either somebody at Movie City News didn’t get the memo, or David Poland decided to ease up on Islamic Jihad just this once. For the first time in many years Movie City News today linked to a story of mine on Hollywood Elsewhere. It’s been a longstanding policy of Poland’s to ferociously ignore anything I write. My policy, on the other hand, has always been to link to a Poland riff or post an excerpt whenever he writes something cool or nervy (like when he zings Nikki Finke).
I’m a fair-minded Anglo-Saxon Protestant — I don’t do Jihads. I’m presuming I’ll be back on the MCN Shit List after this, but it was nice to see the link.
I drove up to Santa Barbara this morning to attend a screening
of Mike Cahill and Brit Marling‘s
Earth, which opened on 7.22 to mostly positive
reviews. I wrote on
7.19 that while “it’s partly a sci-fi fantasy about the
approach of a second earth, it’s mainly about loss and recovery and
redemption” and as such is one of the year’s most intriguing
indies, particularly for its emotional, skillfully under-written
At today’s lawn luncheon following 11 am Santa Barbara screening of
Another Earth — (l. to r.) costar William Mapother,
star-cowriter-co-producer Brit Marling, Santa Barbara Film...
It’s conceivable that Tomas Alfredson‘s
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Focus Features, 11.18) might
play the New York Film Festival following its Venice Film Festival
debut, but it definitely won’t play the Toronto Film
Festival. Deadline‘s Pete
Hammond reminded me this morning that
he reported this four days ago (on 7.26) in his piece about
Oscar-season shufflings. My bad — I focused
that day only on Paramount’s decision not to put Jason
Reitman‘s Young Adult into any of the fall
Last night Politikien‘s
ran comments from Danish director Lars Von
Trier about reports that the now-shuttered Facebook page
belonging to Anders
Behring Breivik, the 32 year-old rightwing terrorist
responsible for the recent Oslo bombing and the 69 murders on the
Norweigan island of Utoya, listed Von
Trier’s Dogville (’03) as Breivik’s third-favorite
(l.) Melancholia and Dogville director Lars von
Trier; (r.) Danish People’s Party figurehead Pia Merete
In Contention‘s Guy Lodgebelieves
right now that The Artist, The Descendants, The Ides of
March, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Tree of Life and
War Horse are the most likely 2011 Best Picture nominees.
Nobody knows anything but I say “no” to The Artist (too
French) and The Tree of Life (too Malicky). My Best
Picture guesstimates: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
(highly affecting emotional current), The Descendants
(quality death-in-a-family film), The Iron Lady
(obligatory British-ruling-class entry), Moneyball
(professional baseball meets Social Network-like
approach), War Horse (poor sad traumatized horse), We
Bought A Zoo (another family film) and possibly The Girl
With The Dragon Tattoo…depending how extreme Fincher...
“The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t
writesN.Y. Times columnist Paul
Krugman in a 7.28 posting. “Republicans have, in effect,
taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and
disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy
concessions they would never have been able to enact through
“And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this
extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward
meeting those Republican demands.
“As I said, it’s not complicated. Yet many people in the
news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this
simple reality. News reports portray the parties as
equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of...
Manhattan-based HE reader Chris attended last night’s
GenArts screening of 30 Minutes or Less (Sony, 8.12)
and came away mildly pleased, calling it a “fun
comedy worth checking out.” But costar Danny
McBride, he says, “proves once again that less is more
with him…he has some funny moments, but also had many parts that
fell flat and were met with near-silence.”
Pic is “loosely based on an unusual bank robbery which occurred
on August 28, 2003 in Erie, Pennsylvania,” says the Wiki page,
“in which pizza delivery man Brian Wells was
killed when a bomb fastened to his neck detonated...
Due respect but I feel it’s a mistake to repeat the same clips in a trailer, even if the idea is to (a) show, (b) reverse-shift and then (c) return and repeat. The same clips of Kate Bosworth are shown twice in the recently posted official trailer for Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs. I’m especially bothered by one at the 28 second and 1:58 mark in which Bosworth talks about “men with guns,” etc. I don’t mean to rag but it doesn’t work.
Could the World War 2 dogfight sequences in this trailer for
George Lucas‘s Red Tail (1.20.12)
look any more fake? What a non-pleasure it’ll be to wallow in
visual values and terms that have nothing to do
with 1940s verisimilitude and everything to do with Lucas wanting
to slick this thing up as much as possible.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence
Howard are the costars.
Yes, guys who stare or noticably glance at women’s breasts in
social or business situations are being gauche. It’s tedious and
tiresome so who wouldn’t agree with the point of this video?
Nobody. But it’s not funny. Not clever enough.
Just lies there.
Surely women are okay with quick darting glances from time to
Over the last few months we’ve seen or learned of four
thoughtful dramas with the word “Better” or “Life” in the title,
and two with the exact same title. Chris
Better Life, a drama about a Mexican immigrant’s struggle
to survive misfortune, has been playing since late June. And
Cedric Kahn‘s A Better
Life, a French-produced drama about economic hardship,
will play at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
Also playing at Toronto will be Ann Hui‘s
Life, which also deals with cultural and economic
hardships and adjustments. And then there was Susanne
“All strong directors are sons of bitches,” John
Ford allegedly said to screenwriter Nunnally
Johnson sometime in the late ’40s or early ’50s. His point
was that Johnson, in Ford’s view, was too much of a nice,
thoughtful, fair-minded guy to cut it as a director. Directors
basically can’t be mellow or gentle or accommodating. They need to
be tough, pugnacious and manipulative mo’fos in
order to get what they want. And if they’re too deferential, they
(l.) Wes Anderson; (r.) John Ford.
I was reminded
yesterday what a tough mo’fo Wes Anderson is
when I asked him via email if he had a comment about Polly
A thoroughly adolescent, borderline-retarded thought flashed
through my head a while ago, to wit: I’d be far more interested in
seeing Guillermo Del Toro‘s
Pacific Rim if it was re-titled Pacific Rim Job.
A joke for sixth-graders, okay, but I felt an agreeable surge when
it hit me. Yes! Better title! But why?
In fact my reasons for entertaining this dopey-sounding thought
are entirely reasonable.
One, a consensus is building in the blogosphere that Joe
Cornish‘s Attack The Block has exposed the utter
worthlessness of spending mountains of money on CG monsters by
reminding us that it’s the victims of the monsters
(their lives, issues, thematic currents, fears) are what matter
most, and in fact are the only things that matter.
I’m guessing that Crazy, Stupid, Love and Cowboys
& Aliens will sell the most tickets this weekend, but the
two best openers — easily, hands down — are from County Galway,
Ireland and the
Morden neighborhood in southern London. I’m speaking of
John Michael McDonagh‘s The Guard,
which I’ve praised
two or three times in recent weeks, and Joe
It’s fairly common knowledge that the key movers and shakers in
turning Wes Anderson and Owen
Wilson‘s Bottle Rocket (’96) into a “go” feature
were the late Polly Platt, producer-screenwriter
L.M. Kit Carson and concert promoter and Woodstock
’69 maestro Michael Lang. In the wake of Platt’s
death, I thought I’d re-tell the story one more time for the
record. I discussed it with Carson today, and heard from Anderson
online. Lang didn’t get back.
(l. to r.) The late Polly Platt, Wes Anderson, L.M. Kit Carson,
Bottle Rocket was green-lighted because Carson slipped
This could be semi-passable. Or good, even. My insect antennae are sensing Eddie Murphy‘s funniest performance since Bowfinger, or at least the potential of that. Maybe. It’s also nice to see that Gabby Sidibe has scored a post-Precious gig.
Dan McCarthy‘s abstract, sepia-toned one-sheet for Paddy Considine‘s Tyrannosaur (Strand Releasing, November) tells you it’s some kind of austere art film. It’s obviously striking but it conveys nothing of the tone of compassion and forgiveness that slips into the narrative during Act 2 and especially Act 3. The suggestion is mainly that someone or something ferocious will bite someone’s head off. And that’s only about a quarter…okay, a third of the whole pie.
Meanwhile Strand continues to not post a YouTube trailer, despite assurances passed along to this columnist on 6.15 (or about five weeks ago) that a trailer was “being finalized.” The film opens in the UK and Ireland in mid-October. Ten or eleven weeks from the UK opening and there’s no trailer? Who opens a film this way?
Facing north from the 8th floor of the Beverly Wilshire hotel — Thursday, 7.28, 9:55 am.
The Beverly Wilshire hotel in 1958, or around the time that Michael Corleone was dealing with Hyman Roth and his “Sicilian messenger boy” Johnny Ola and Fredo’s betrayal and the Kefauver Senate hearings on organized crime, etc.
Ward Bond to John Wayne in Rio Bravo: “That’s all you got?”
Intuitive currents made it clear a long time ago that I’ll
probably be getting my hate-on for Gary Ross‘s
Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 3.23). This will obviously change
if it’s any good, but somehow and some way I just “know” this film
is trouble. A primitive, walloping
Rollerball-meets-Girlfight youth-market flick —
that’s what I’m seeing in my thought dreams. Ross
(Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) could make it come out
right…maybe. But any movie based on a book classified as
“young adult science fiction” — that in itself is a stopper.
I also suspect that any movie that gets an early
Entertainment Weekly cover is probably indicative
The Ides of March is an adaptation of Farragut North, a good play about political operatives that I saw performed a couple of years ago at the Geffen with Chris Pine and Chris Noth. Ryan Gosling and Phillip Seymour Hoffman play these parts, respectively, in the film. George Clooney‘s presidential candidate was created for the film.
AICN’s Capone and a few other goonies recently met with
Harrison Ford in Montana to discuss Cowboys
& Aliens, and the following exchange was part of it:
Q: “There’s a lot of talk about nostalgia and
bringing a sense of nostalgia to movies currently for an audience.
Jon [Favreau] mentioned earlier
that they had envisioned a scene where Daniel
Craig‘s character jumps on one of the alien spacecrafts as
sort of a similar moment to that Vick Armstrong
stunt in [an Indiana Jones film] where he jumps on the tank. I was
wondering if there is also a sense of nostalgia for action
adventure that drew you to this film as well?