“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.”
It’s not the pompadour wig or the glittery wardrobe or the piano-playing. That stuff’s easy. The big challenge facing Michael Douglas in his portrayal of Wladziu Valentino Liberace in Steven Soderbergh‘s Behind The Candelabra is getting the speaking voice right.
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...
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
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
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
Painful dialogue, broad gestures, winking and signalling at the
audience from a mile away…what kind of retardo finds this stuff
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
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 “
Sam Mendes is a classy, seasoned director who
knows from poise and discipline, and it’s clear from the new
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
Javier Bardem‘s yellow hair isn’t “bad” or
problematic, as some have said — it’s just...
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.
I was thinking a day or two ago about how John
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
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...
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.
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
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
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...
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.
I’m half-persuaded…okay, 33% persuaded that this Judd Apatow-sanctioned, “Bear Blitzer”-created Girls spoof could actually be a series. The same generational lethargy and cultural aesthetic applies all around, right?
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
I respect Lonely Are The Brave for what it does...
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
A little while back I floated a notion about Steven
Spielberg‘s Lincoln (Touchstone, 11.9) being the
closing-night attraction at the New York Film Festival on Sunday,
10.14. That would be only three and half weeks before the opening.
The media-fed response would certainly get the word-of-mouth
rolling if the film is any good. But since I wrote that certain…how
to put this?…insect-antennae vibrations are suggesting that Disney
might not be interested.
My first thought was that a no-go is pretty much
expected. When was the last time a Steven Spielberg film
screened at any festival,
anywhere? He’s never been a festival-type guy.
(Even Schindler’s List didn’t play any festivals.)
Spielberg mostly makes popcorn films for the schmoes. His next
There’s something bothersome if not oppressive about listening
to three or four women sitting in the apartment next door as they
laugh uproariously about anything and
everything….”hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!” We’re talking one shrieking,
gut-busting laugh after another, almost as if their lives depend on
meeting a strict requirement that everything they say or think or
hear must be wildly hilarious.
Oh God, that’s so
Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah! Hyper-cranked! That’s funnier than what we
just laughed about five minutes ago! No, no, wait….THAT’s funnier
still! Why does it sound like anxiety laughter on some level, or
panic laughter? Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!
After a half-hour of this I could just scream.
Or shoot heroin into my veins. Okay, not really but you get the
Yesterday I wrote
about my plans to visit
Monument Valley late next week (i.e., Thursday & Friday
with a fly-home on Saturday afternoon). A journalist friend who’s
been there more than once wrote last night with this stirring
recollection and recommendation.
Henry Fonda in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine
“Well, it’s about time. Monument Valley is one of the wonders of
the world. Drive around to different parts of it. Go out in the
middle of the...
Last year I became incensed that Strand Releasing was too cheap
to book LA screenings for Paddy Considine‘s
Tyrannosaur, and so I asked
HE readers for donations and raised enough to pay for three or
four screenings. Now I’m wondering if Side by Side, the
upcoming and very worthwhile doc about the great transiation from
celluloid to digital, also needs a little HE charity work. Because
I’m feeling those anemic vibes again.
Side by Side‘s distributor, Tribeca Film, and IDPR, the
p.r. firm hired to promote it, haven’t booked any L.A. or N.Y.
screenings yet, and it opens in LA and NY in about three and four
weeks, respectively. (The VOD debut is 8.22.)
Film isn’t entirely gone from the movie-production landscape,
but anyone who thinks it’s not on the verge of obsolescence has a
needle in his/her arm. The realization that digital movies and
digital projection are completely capable of and in fact destined
to kick film out of the room for good has only settled in within
the last three or four years. And as recently as 12 or 14 years ago
digital was seen a joke that only the DOGMA guys and various
no-account indie directors were working with.
So we’ve all been witness to a major technological
revolution, and it really needs to be fully pondered and
studied from this and that angle. It’s too seismic and
seminal to ignore.
Posted on 8.25.06:
“When I was living in my cockroach-infested,
struggling-young-journalist Soho pad in the late ’70s, there were
Jean Michel Basquiat SAMO graffiti pieces painted all over Soho
and the Bowery. SAMO (i.e., ‘same old shit’) was Basquiat’s
graffiti alter-ego, and I remember being a bit disappointed when I
met Basquiat himself on a street corner (or was it inside a store?)
in ’78 or ’79 and he told me it was pronounced ‘same-oh’. I
I got more enjoyment out of this three-cubs-in-a-dumpster video (which is roughly two days old) than anything in the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics. I’ve always been a cross between a “watch the highlights after it’s all over” type of guy and a “watch the story of this or that Olympic athlete in a touching movie five or ten years later” type of guy.