Ben-Hur Guys

I had intriguing discussions earlier today about the Ben-Hur restoration and Bluray with Warner Bros. mastering vp Ned Price and director Fraser Heston, and I recorded them even. But I have to get over to the New York Film Festival opening-night screening of Carnage and then the after-party at the Harvard Club, so the substantive Ben-Hur filing will have to wait.


Ned Price, vp mastering for Warner Bros. Technical Operations, earlier today at Manhattan’s Essex House — Friday, 9.30, 2:20 pm.

Director Fraser Heston, son of late Ben-Hur star Charlton Heston.

From master film restorationist/preservationist guru Robert Harris on Home...

“Liberal Plantation”

When Herman “the Hermanator” Cain said two days ago that African-American voters vote overwhelmingly liberal due to “brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple,” he was stating a basic fact. Substitute “brainwashing” for “cultural conditioning” and he was describing how most of us are shaped by our native cultures, at least in our youth. There are specific reasons for African-American political allegiances that don’t apply to some of us, but we’re all “brought up” to think and vote in a certain way.

I was conditioned to be a liberal because of the left-liberal views of my parents and the left-liberal values of Westfield, New Jersey, and Wilton, Connecticut, where I was living when I figured out what my cutural and political values were...

Up The Flagpole

In one fell swoop, Hollywood Elsewhere has significantly altered the imbalance between the greedy haves and the desperate have-nots. By going down to Zuccotti Park (Broadway and Liberty Street) this afternoon and taking pictures of the Occupy Wall Street crowd and posting them, I’ve…well, at least helped somewhat. Storm the barricades!

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Certainly These

Jonathan Levine‘s 50/50 and Jeff NicholsTake Shelter are far and away the best new films to see this weekend.

But please understand that 50/50 is not a comedy, despite what Lou Lumenick and others are saying.

I explained it thusly earlier this month: “All mature art is mixture of drama and comedy. Any film that insists on being a drama-drama or a comedy-comedy doesn’t get this. Life is always a mixture of the two, and so naturally 50/50 is flecked or flavored with guy and gallows humor here and there plus one or two anxious-mom jokes and/or chemo jokes and/or jokes about being in denial,...

Zuccotti Park

It doesn’t matter if Occupy Wall Street (which has expanded to Boston and San Francisco and elsewhere) is lacking a specific goal, or if it feels unfocused or futile or whatever. The fact that a miniscule speck of GenY anger is being expressed is at least something. Or…you know, is better than watching Jimmy Kimmel. Any expression of dismay or loathing or rage about the sociopathic stacked-deck, rich-favoring U.S. economy led and exploited by the Wall Street machine gets my vote. That’s why I’m going down there this afternoon…yeah!

My Own Guy

I spoke last night to a guy who caught a research screening of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last Sunday night at Leows’ Lincoln Square (B’way at 68th). And he agrees with Kris Tapley’s guy that Max Von Sydow‘s wordless performance as Thomas Horn‘s grandfather “will certainly get an Oscar nomination, perhaps the award itself.”

And he has a slight dispute with Stu Van Airsdale’s guy about the opening with “falling bodies, crushing thuds, and other vividly horrifying reminders of the initial scene at the World Trade Center.” My guy’s dominant impression is “an obliquely falling body in a white suit. If this wasn’t a 9/11...

Still “Too Soon”?

Movieline‘s Stu Van Airsdale has spoken to a guy who’s allegedly seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and one of his reactions, Van Airsdale writes, is that “the film’s current introduction — which features falling bodies, crushing thuds, and other vividly horrifying reminders of the initial scene at the World Trade Center — was less emotionally affecting than just inappropriate” and “too soon.”

Ten years later is too soon? I got fairly angry with people who were saying this five years ago when United 93 was about to open, but anyone who says this now is taking the post-traumatic thing into obsession. “Too soon!” is the mantra...

For What It’s Worth

I think that the close-up image of Thomas Horn in the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close poster is oddly intriguing. Hands to the face means shock or alarm, but Horn’s eyes are laid-back, almost serene. He could be listening to a lecture by a teacher or watching a TV show or staring at a sleeping cat. An opaque expression in the midst of heavy drama about 9/11 and death and whatever else…cool.

Figure It Out

I always thought that DreamWorks’ decision to open Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse on 12.28 was a little strange to begin with, so switching the opener to Christmas Day feels like a shoulder-shrugger.

“After seeing the film, it became clear to us that War Horse is something audiences should be able to see when they’re together with their families on Christmas Day,” DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan told EW‘s Anthony Breznican. “They have the time to see multiple movies during the holidays, and we want to be one of their choices when they are most available.”

And the reason for the previous determination that War Horse shouldn’t be a Christmas holiday option was what again?

Marking Time

In a 9.29 piece called “Generation Next: The Realignment,” Marshall Fine makes various calls about where certain actors are in their careers, sinking- or rising-wise. Most of Fine’s assessments are no-brainers, but I’m wondering if HE readers generally agree or not.

Assertion #1: “Larry Crowne marked Tom Hanks, who is now 55, as a star who can no longer open a movie. [He] isn’t a star who is attractive to the demographic — the 18-to-34 crowd — that crowns box-office stars. And the audience that is interested in Hanks — i.e., those closer to his own age — aren’t rushing out to see movies on their opening weekend.” Wells response: Larry Crowne fizzled because it wasn’t good enough.

Assertion #2: Hanks “had...

Respecting Mr. Krim

For about 40 years Arthur Krim (1910 – 1994), the distinguished chairman of United Artists and then Orion Pictures from the early ’50s to early ’90s, put out a run of quality-level, award-winning films that eclipses the record of Harvey Weinstein in terms of Oscar nominations and awards.

On top of which the soft-spoken Krim never took a producing credit and because of that “he was trusted by talent,” a former confidante says.

Under Krim’s guidance and final approval a long healthy run of Academy Award-winning productions as The African Queen, Marty, The Apartment, West Side Story, Tom Jones, In The Heat of the Night, Midnight Cowboy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Amadeus, Platoon and The Silence of the...

“Procedural”

In an interview posted today (9.29), Empire‘s Helen O’Hara quotes Steven Spielberg saying a couple of things about Lincoln, which begins shooting in October. Spielberg begins by explaining that the source material, Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s Team Of Rivals, “is much too big a book to be a movie, so the Lincoln story only takes place in the last few months of his Presidency and life.

“I was interested in how he ended the war through all the efforts of his generals…but more importantly how he passed the 13th Amendment into constitutional law. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war powers act and could have been struck down by any court after the war...

Farhadi On Stage

It took me a while to upload this clip from yesterday’s New York Film Festival press conference with A Separation director-writer-producer Asghar Farhadi, moderated by NYFF honcho Scott Foundas.

During a Telluride Film Festival chat Tilda Swinton mentioned her admiration of Farhadi’s About Elly. A questioner at yesterday’s press conference brought it up also. I’ve never seen it so I obviously need to man up and buy the DVD on Amazon.

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Salute to Walter Tevis

A little less than a month ago Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern mentioned an alleged fact to myself and a few others at a Telluride Film Festival dinner. He said that the colloquial term “loser” was first coined in Walter Tevis‘s 1959 book “The Hustler.” It caught on in a bigger way two years later when Robert Rossen‘s The Hustler, an adaptation of Tevis’s book, opened.

The line was spoken at the end of Act One by George C. Scott, referring to Paul Newman‘s Eddie Felson: “Stick with this...

Born To Lose

Five’ll get you ten A.O. Scott decided to do a “Critics Picks” assessment of Karel Riesz and James Toback‘s The Gambler (’74) when he heard about the reported Paramount remake that became briefly notorious when Toback, who based his script partly on his gambling-addicted life, complained that no one from Paramount had given him so much as a courtesy call. If the remake happens, Martin Scorsese might direct with Leonardo DiCaprio in the James Caan role.

Woe Unto Ye, O Warner Bros.!

Deadline‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that the new life-of-Moses movie, which Warner Bros. is allegedly trying to get Steven Spielberg to direct (yecch!), is “not a remake of the 1956 Cecile B. DeMille-directed The Ten Commandments.” And yet it covers “Moses from birth to death” including “his awakening to the plight of the Hebrew slaves that led Moses’ struggle against the Pharaoh for their freedom out of Egypt, the Burning Bush, the Ten Plagues, the daring escape across the Red Sea, receiving the Ten Commandments, and delivery to Israel.” Which is precisely what the DeMille film covers, so what’ll different about this one, Mike, besides less corny dialogue? We all know the answer: better visual FX.