Sadder Yet

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

Quietly Seething

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 and shape-shifting...

LexG Meets Melancholia

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 commendable.

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...

They Had Voices Then

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 distinction.

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...

Gopher Hole

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-summoning Smurfs. 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...

What Gives?

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.

Earth, Heat, Social Graces

I drove up to Santa Barbara this morning to attend a screening of Mike Cahill and Brit Marling‘s Another 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 quality.

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...

Oh…Sorry, Missed That

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 festivals.

On the other hand Hammond buried his revelation about...

VonTrier, Dogville, Brevik

Last night Politikien‘s Nils Thoren 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 film.

(l.) Melancholia and Dogville director Lars von Trier; (r.) Danish People’s Party figurehead Pia Merete Kjaersgaard.

Von Trier is of...

Best Picture Spitball

In Contention‘s Guy Lodge believes 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. Yes, six.

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...

Media Cultists

“The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated,” writes N.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 legislation.

“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...

McBride Strikes Again

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...

Editing No-No?

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.

Captured at 28-second mark of new Straw Dogs trailer.

Screen grab from trailer at 1 minute, 58-second mark.

World War II Video Game

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.

Lucas has been struggling with this sucker since filming began in March 2009 and reshoots happened in...

Point Taken, Not Funny

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 time...

Enough Of These

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 Weitz‘s A 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 A Simple Life, which also deals with cultural and economic hardships and adjustments. And then there was Susanne Bier‘s

Carnage NYC-Bound, But Whither Tinker?

So the New York Film Festival‘s crack team (Scott Foundas, Rose Kuo, Todd McCarthy, etc.) has landed Roman Polanski‘s Carnage for their opening-night attraction. Meaning there will be no Carnage at the Toronto Film Festival due to NYFF exclusivity terms, although it’ll have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in early September.

Carnage costars Cristoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster with director Roman Polanski.

I’m going to need to catch the NYFF press screening of Carnage post-Toronto, which will be...

Bastards vs. Mellow-heads

“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 won’t last.

(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 Platt‘s...

De-Emphasize All Conventional Monsters

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.

Two, the ludicrous CG alien craft in the