Even Glorious Lives Must End

“Bless Gore Vidal for having exposed liars and hypocrites and monsters, and having made their lives just a bit more awkward or painful. Yes!” — tweeted around 10:40 pm, or about an hour after hearing of the death of Gore Vidal following a screening of Hope Springs.

Vidal worked as a Ben-Hur screenwriter for a long period — post-Karl Tunberg, pre-Christopher Fry. Here’s that famous story about Vidal having suggested to Ben-Hur director William Wyler that Messala’s fierce rage toward Ben-Hur might have been driven by a “lover’s quarrel gone wrong.”

Go All The Way

In this morning’s post about the new Skyfall trailer, I wrote that “the comedic surreal rules that were once used by the Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadunner cartoons have been embraced by the super-action genre.” I was referring to characters falling dozens or hundreds of feet (like Mr. Coyote used to in the cartoons) and somehow not hitting the pavement through this or that escape clause. But there’s one cartoon bit action movies haven’t embraced that I’d really like to see.

I’m speaking of the extended suspended animation rule. That’s the one in which the Coyote will chase the Roadrunner off a very tall mesa or mountaintop, and run right off the edge of a cliff…but without falling. That’s because he doesn’t realize that the cliff has ended and he’s now suspended over a canyon with nothing...

Regional Stereotypes

If this were my map I would throw out Fast Times at Ridgemont High as the fill-in for California (what an insult!…as if California is full of adolescent stoner mallheads), and replace it with either (a) Jacques Tourneur‘s Out Of The Past, which encompasses San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bridgeport and Lake Tahoe (as well as New York and Acapulco), or (b) Karel Reisz‘s Who’ll Stop The Rain, which encompasses Oakland, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

I’d like to see a much bigger map that gets much more specific and which assigns movie titles to particular towns and/or blends their names (like, let’s say, The Wild One and Hollister, California, where the original 1947 motorcycle-gang riot that inspired the 1953 Marlon Brando film).

The Movie Map reminds me of the one that accompanied Joel...

Pass The Cyanide

The first thing that comes to mind is “did Nancy Meyers have something to do with this?” She didn’t. The culprit is director-writer Justin Zackham, author of The Bucket List screenplay and director of Going Greek. Obviously aimed at silver-haired women and all the squares, schmucks and schmoes who love films about characters who have shiny copper pots hanging in their kitchen (i.e., a classic Meyers signature).

Painful dialogue, broad gestures, winking and signalling at the audience from a mile away…what kind of retardo finds this stuff remotely funny?

Robert De Niro is supposed to be better than pretty good in The Silver Linings Playbook so he probably took this one...


It was kind of a good thing in a couple of different ways when Mitt Romney‘s traveling press secretary Rick Gorka told reporters to “kiss my ass” and “shove it.” First, these were the most human-sounding, refreshingly un-scripted statements to come out of the Romney organization in months. Second, Gorka’s anger is an obvious indicator of stress and frustration within the Romney inner circle (i.e., they’re giving it to Gorka and he’s passing it along).

We’d all love it, I suspect, if more Romney camp statements were on this level. Q: “Governor Romney…? A: “Why don’t you drop to your knees and blow me, asshole?” During the end of the 1972 campaign George McGovern told a heckler to “

Don’t Be Fooled

Sam Mendes is a classy, seasoned director who knows from poise and discipline, and it’s clear from the new Skyfall trailer (which I’m the last guy in the world to respond to, due to my time zone) that he’s kicked things up. But boil it down and it’s the same old shit. It’s simply been re-vitalized with Roger Deakins‘ brilliant cinematography and re-energized with Thomas Newman‘s striking orchestral score, and edited with serious pizazz by Stuart Baird, or possibly by some house guy. But calm down already. It’s just a Bond film.

Javier Bardem‘s yellow hair isn’t “bad” or problematic, as some have said — it’s just...

Oscar Poker #86

I don’t know why we can’t seem to record Oscar Poker on Sundays…we’re getting a little bit lazy, slacking off. I include myself in this equation. Aurora aftermath, lingering after-vibe — “Fear is irrational.” We discussed Hope Springs for a minute or two (i.e., could be decent, will make a lot of money, the under-served female audience). I mentioned the box-office prospects of The Campaign, and before you knew it we were into a whole big political thing. Here’s a stand-alone mp3 link.

Gimme Some Train

I was thinking a day or two ago about how John Frankenheimer‘s The Train (’65) — the last Hollywood-produced action flick shot in black-and-white, and a reminder of how wonderfully alive and detailed monochrome could look — really needs to be remastered for Bluray. Jean Tournier and Walter Wottitz‘s cinematography is lighted and captured to perfection — it’s just heavenly, and I don’t what the hangup is. The last MGM Home Video DVD of The Train was created 13 years ago.

The Train at its proper aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1.

The Train is especially valued by me because of its 1.66 aspect ratio, which the 1.85 fascists….okay, I’ll restrain myself. One hopes that if and when The...

They Paid His Price

And that, in a nutshell, is why they call him Rade “Paycheck” Serbedzija. Respect the man, give him his due. He’s a musician and a jolly fellow with a twinkle in his eye (I’ve met him), but Hollywood keeps casting him as the same Serbo-Croatian-Russian-Slovo-Georgian sadist with a chip on his shoulder. And like his bucks-up Taken 2 costar, Liam “Paycheck” Neeson, he hasn’t the will to say no.

The Dark Right Rises

I’ve said before that The Dark Knight Rises needs to be Best Picture nominated for (a) its own satisfactions and (b) as a make-up gesture for the Academy having shamefully declined to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture in ’09. But if it doesn’t get nominated, it won’t be due to any nonsensical associations from the the Aurora tragedy but a growing suspicion that The Dark Knight Rises is a movie that delights Republicans, Wall Street elitists, capitalists and libertarians.

Hardy: “If I was a citizen I’d probably vote for Obama. Who do you like?” Nolan: “You probably don’t want to hear what I think, Tom…no offense. Just do your brute thing.”

If and when liberal Hollywood gets wind of this, they may once again choose to look the other way when it comes to the nominating...

Back to Disapproval

Peter Jackson lost HE points when he bowed to Warner Bros. marketing and turned tail on the 48 frame-per-second presentation of The Hobbit at ComicCon. (Which indicates, of course, that he and WB are probably going to limit 48 fps venues when it opens in December and characterize 48 fps as some kind of eccentric “experiment” rather than boldly call it the future of dumbass, Michael Bayo, CG-, fantasy- and action-driven cinema…which is precisely what it is and what Jackson and WB would call it if they were men). Now he’s lost even more points by officially announcing that The Hobbit will be a three-parter. Shameless huckster!

Jackson’s positive HE rep is now hanging from a single, spider-like thread — his having produced...

No Master in Telluride?

Deadline‘s Mike Fleming has written that he doesn’t “think” Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master (Weinstein Co., 9.14) “will play Telluride, where a lot of Oscar bait pictures screen in an unofficial capacity”…long faces if true! However, Fleming hears that the Toronto Film Festival “is a real possibility before The Weinstein Company opens the film September 21.” Except the commercial debut happens on 9.14. The Telluride letdown was included in a totally expected, almost snooze-worthy confirmation that The Master will debut at the Venice Film Festival.

Sagging At Seams

All my life I’ve been telling people that Lonely Are The Brave (’62) is one of Kirk Douglas‘s finest films, and that it certainly contains one of his best performances. I told Douglas that when I interviewed him 30-odd years ago in Laredo, Texas, and he agreed with me. And today, director Alex Cox wrote a passionate piece about it in the N.Y. Times (“The Fretful Birth of the New Western“). But have you watched it lately?

I respect Lonely Are The Brave for what it does...

Dumbest Prequel Idea Of All Time

On 7.28 L.A. Times guy Steven Zeitchik reported that Hollywood writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis and partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt have been hired by Warner Bros. to try and whip together a prequel to Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining.

The idea, says Zeitchik, would be to “focus on what happened before Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) arrived at the Overlook Hotel where Torrance soon descends into violent madness,” blah blah.

That is really, really a dumb-ass idea. If I was running Warner Bros. I would can the person who dreamt it...