Small Portion

Joss Wheedon‘s The Avengers opens in less than four months and Disney marketing chose to limit their Super Bowl spot…oh, I get it. This is a ten-second tease for a trailer that will debut during the game. I still maintain that Wheedon is a lightweight (i.e., moderately talented) clock-puncher and journeyman, and nowhere near the realm of James Cameron or Bryan Singer even. Here’s the most recent trailer.

Life Savers

Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan is a four-CD package of many, many artists signing Bob Dylan songs. The revenue goes to Amnesty International, hence the copy line “this album saves lives.” But my reaction when I saw this poster was that music itself can do this. Regularly, I imagine.

All great art in fact — films, plays, paintings, novels — has the power to lift people out of the doldrums and turn them on and nourish their souls to some degree. Dylan’s music alone made a huge difference to hundreds of thousands in the ’60s, I’m sure...

Keep or Exchange

Earlier today I was buying some regrettably expensive sunglasses at Macy’s at the Beverly Center, and I asked the sales girl to just let me wear them out and to forget the imitation leather case and the cleaning cloth and the plastic carrying bag and the receipt even. I just wanted the glasses.

“Are you sure?,” she said. “Because you’ll need the receipt if you want to return them.”

“I won’t. They’re just sunglasses.”

“You’d be surprised how many people come back and want to return or exchange,” she explained.

“What do they say when they do that?,” I asked. “What…’excuse me but these sunglasses that I bought yesterday don’t seem to be working out’?”

“I’m just saying, people change their minds,” she said.

“It’s like returning a handkerchief. ‘Excuse me but I bought this...

Midsummer Vibe

To me, Universal’s decision to advance the opening of Oliver Stone‘s Savages from 9.28 to 7.6 means (a) they’ve decided it has definite mainstream popcorn potential and (b) they don’t think it fulfills the requirements of a “fall movie” (however you want to define that term) to quite the same degree. I haven’t read the script but it’s basically a drug-dealing movie costarring Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch that’s about saving Blake Lively from Mexican drug cartel kidnappers. Benicio Del Toro, Demian Bichir, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Mia Maestro and Salma Hayek costar.

“Modest…Dinky”

“Even The Artist‘s most vocal detractors — who would likely not be vocal at all about it under normal circumstances — would have to confess that the film is not some bloated sop to the Academy, like so many other major studio productions crafted specifically for year-end consideration,” writes AV Club‘s Scott Tobias.

“Its goals are modest, its pleasures refined — not a whiff of self-importance or middlebrow grandeur, no issues more pressing than a general appreciation of love and the cinema, and certainly no ambition to heal a nation a decade after 9/11 or credit white audiences with a behind-the-back, Ricky Rubio-style assist in ending black oppression.

“And yet the resentment is there...

Scorsese for Beginners

Martin Scorsese, the most gifted, tireless, prolific and devout Movie Catholic director of our time, sat down last night for a longish (160 minutes, give or take) on-stage interview with Leonard Maltin, and it was some kind of beautiful and sublime to take a surface-level nostalgia trip into Martyland and to revel in 40 years of Marty memories, Marty anecdotes and Marty insights.


Murky, not-quite-focused shot of Martin Scorsese taken by yours truly from my seat.

It happened at Santa Barbara’s Arlington theatre from 8:20 pm to 11 pm, more or less, as part of a presentation of the American Riviera award. I sat on the right side, about six or seven rows from the front, right next to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone.

“Surface-level” because a good three-quarters of...

Survival

Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet posted earlier this afternoon about reactions to the ending of Joe Carnahan‘s The Grey, so I thought I’d kick it around also. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Some have reportedly complained about the finale being unclear, but it’s obvious that Liam Neeson gets killed by the wolves. A guy reciting macho poetry to himself (“Once more into the fray…live or die on this day”) as he faces a growling threat is surely toast. Carnahan chooses not to show anything, but its a bit like Gary Cooper anticipating death at the end of For Whom The Bell Tolls, and feeling half terrified and half exhilarated.

This is obviously a ballsy finale because it defies conventional expectations about...

Wilder Connection

By prior arrangement a cat sitter is living in my apartment until next Sunday so I won’t be able to watch these five Blurays (not to mention Amazon-purchased Blurays of The Apartment and Cleopatra) for a while. So from my room at the Hotel Santa Barbara I’ve been looking to experience these Blurays by proxy, and John Nolte‘s Big Hollywood piece on The Apartment Bluray is the best I’ve come across so far.

This is the only time in my life that I’ve felt

Pulls Me Back In

What world-famous director could Slate‘s Bill Wyman be talking about? Excerpts: (a) “He can’t do comedy”; (b) “He has a surprisingly weak record when it comes to eliciting great performances”; (c) “He never commits to a worldview that doesn’t ultimately have a sunny patina”; (d) “The scares, the drama, the emotional ups and downs [in his films] feel hackneyed and even mannered”; (e) “His lack of interest in narrative coherence is one of his hallmarks“; and (f) His career has ultimately become “an arc of failed promise.”

Tired Blood

I didn’t file last night about the SAG winners because (a) I genuinely love and worship great filmmaking and revel in the celebration of same, and therefore (b) I don’t care at all whether Pleasing But Overpraised Movie #1 (i.e., The Artist) now has a slight chance of losing the Best Picture Oscar to Pleasing but Overpraised Movie #2 (i.e., The Help).

The Spirit of 2011 (as represented by the final Oscar favorites) is virulently opposed to the Spirit of 1999 — I know that much. The two-headed Artist/Help shrek gollum isn’t fit to shine the boots of Election, Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, The Insider, American Beauty, The Matrix, etc.

The final indignity came when SAG gave its Best Actor prize to The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin over The...

Happy Times

I’ve heard all the tales about certain old-time Hollywood stars preferring same-sex encounters that everyone else has. Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Cole Porter, Montgomery Clift, Randolph Scott, George Cukor, etc. But I’d never heard, frankly, that Walter Pidgeon and Spencer Tracy played in this pool, and I never knew that Vivien Leigh may have been somewhat lezzy.


(l. to r.) Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Walter Pidgeon, Spencer Tracy.

There are many such stories, in any case, in a new Old Hollywood tell-all book called “

Facial Roughage

I realized during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that not wearing facial stubble is no longer an option for lead actors. Obedience was demanded and every single actor in every single film I saw in Park City complied. And we the ticket-buyers are probably stuck with glistening follicles for the next 10 to 15 years. Or longer. Fashion dictates, monkeys salute and no one resists. Probably because of surveys like this one.

Oscar Poker Blues

Today’s Oscar Poker podcast touched on the somewhat surprising success of The Grey, the underwhelming response to Haywire (which I find deeply depressing) and the blah-blah-blah-blah Oscar season as things now stand. It was a threesome today — myself, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino. Here’s a stand-alone mp3 link.

Toss It Around

If I was the Hollywood Reporter editor in charge of dreaming up headlines for the magazine, I’d have a problem with “Being Brad Pitt.” It’s kinda lame and generic sounding, like something Interview might use. HE alternate #1: “NOT GONNA WIN…and That’s Cool.” HE alternate #2: “RICH SCRAGGLY BEARDO & The Performance of His Career.” HE alternate #3: “LONG TIME COMING: Brad Pitt’s Career High.”

Fate and Circumstance

Last night’s DGA Award win by The Artist‘s Michel Hazanavicius took the wind out of my sails. The last hope of the anti-Artist crowd was a surprise win by Hugo‘s Martin Scorsese, and now that’s dashed. I don’t know if I even want to watch tonight’s SAG awards. It’s certainly possible that The Artist will win Best Ensemble, and that’ll be one more stone in the bucket.