I believe his line about refusing to ever leave the Republican party, but not about his having not finally decided who to vote for in the Presidential election. If he’s a diehard Republican than else is there to do except vote for Romney? Why am I even talking about this? He won’t matter until he makes a good film again. Which is highly unlikely.


Michael Tolkin‘s The Rapture will have a one-night engagement at Hollywood’s American Cinematheque on Thursday. It’s a thinking-man’s horror flick, and one of the most chilling and profoundly creepy films ever — a perfect bitchslap directed at Godfreaks and the religious right.

The Rapture weirded me out on a level that I didn’t fully comprehend at first,” I wrote a year and a half ago. “So much so that I’ve only watched it twice. It’s not what you’d call a ‘pleasant’ film, but it sinks in and spreads...

Oscar Poker #94

Sasha Stone and I have decided to go our separate ways, and poor Phil Contrino has been left high and dry. I won’t go into details, but Sasha and I have different intrepretations of the classic Phoebe Ephron line (which was later used by her daughter Nora) “everything is copy.” A couple of hours ago I did a solo with Marshall Fine about Life of Pi, generation gaps between critics, Anna Karenina, Manohla Dargis and related topics.


“When candidates debate each other, they should debate each other. In a real debate, the participants engage, they grapple, they get into each other’s hair (metaphorically, of course). Without that clash of ideas and personalities, there’s no point in getting the two sides together on one stage.

“But in the presidential debates over the years, the rules have bizarrely permitted the candidates to ‘debate’ without actually addressing each other. Some have spent the entire night studiously avoiding eye contact.

“Their escape mechanism is the moderator, the one person on stage whom both candidates must address, in a weirdly triangulated conversation, as they work through the questions the moderator poses. So it becomes those questions, and not the candidates’ ideas or personalities, driving the discussion.

“It feels hollow. It feels forced. There’s a simple fix for this: Make these candidates talk to each other.”


Looper felt to me like a maddening near-miss: It posits an impossible but fascinating-to-imagine relationship — a face-to-face encounter between one’s present and future self, in which each self must account for its betrayal of the other — and then throws away nearly all the dramatic potential that relationship offers. If someone remakes Looper as the movie it could have been in, say, 30 years, will someone from the future please FedEx it back to me?” — from Dana Stevens9.28 Slate review.

“The biggest disappointment, for me, is that the great haunting concept of an older guy (Bruce Willis) being able to give counsel to his younger, stupider, less wise self (Joseph Gordon Levitt) has been...

Creature Wounds Oppo

Two days ago a Creature From The Black Lagoon 3D Bluray disc, included in Universal’s Classic Monsters Collection box set, put out bad information and caused my expensive Oppo Bluray player to suffer a major freakout.

I popped the disc in and almost immediately my screen was flooded with alien digital data — ugly noise composed of red, blue and white worms — and an awful buzzing sound. I took the disc out but noticed right away that it had temporarily ruined my Oppo’s ability to deliver clean images on other discs. I had to call tech support and switch out the HDMI cables and go...

Imminent Killing Of Lion Cubs

Today Deadline announced a ceasing of 24/7 coverage (somewhere between a slowdown and a partial shutdown?) “for at least the next week.” This is presumably about Nikki Finke and staff starting to manage an interweaving of its operation with Variety‘s, which Jay Penske is reportedly buying for $30 million. What other explanation makes any sense?

“Youre so way off you’re on another planet,” a friend claims. “Honest. No. Truth. Whatsoever. Even remotely.”

Whither Republicans?

About 21 months ago I wrote excitedly about College Republicans, a “very smartly written, character-rich, darkly humorous” Wes Jones script “about an actual 1973 road trip taken by infamous Bush strategist and Fox News scumbag Karl Rove, then 23, and the late Republican attack dog Lee Atwater, then 22, as they campaigned and dirty-tricked their way across the south in order to get Rove elected chairman of the College Republican National Committee.”

I described it as “another Due Date mixed with politics…an origin story about the wily and colorful beginnings of two scoundrels who made their bones as the architects of rightwing attack-and-subvert politics — guys who not only put two Bushes into the White House but...

“Faith” Is Mildly Irritating

Yesterday’s discussion of Life of Pi led to discussions of this or that spiritual orientation, and one or two mentions of “faith.” Faith is for gamblers. It’s standing next to a closed door and proclaiming a belief in something profound being on the other side of it. That’s where most Christians are at. Christianity is a child’s way of processing the Great Altogether. Because it’s all knowable. No mystery about it. Cut yourself loose, sail into the mystic and let it all happen…”a cleansing moment of clarity.”

“I’m imbued, Max. I’m imbued with some special spirit. It’s not a religious feeling at all. It’s a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I’d been plugged into some...

Just So We’re Clear

Yesterday was an “all hail Life of Pi” day (especially for guys like Glenn Kenny), but Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn nailed it when he said Pi “seems destined for the Hugo slot” in the Best Picture race. Which means it’ll end up as a marginal contender and a respectable also-ran. Esteemed director, luscious painterly 3D, kid/family appeal (as indicated by the Bambi-level, non-existent PG suggestions of animal killings and flesh devourings), a certain spiritual current with a nice little ending.

Strip it down to basics and Pi is a highly respectable eye-candy achievement that really isn’t all that great but is certainly attaboy-ish in this or that respect, especially if you want to be obliging or comme ci comme ca in your initial review...

That’s It?

All day long I’ve been hearing about the Arizona suicide guy, and what a terrible thing it was for Fox viewers to have witnessed a real suicide on live TV, and how a mortified Shepard Smith profusely apologized for exposing viewers to such horror. But viewers only saw a long-lens helicopter shot of a guy apparently shooting himself in the noggin and then pitching forward, but with no evident gore or cranial blowout of any kind.

For all the camera was...

NYFF Pi Chatter

It’s so lazy for the Film Society of Lincoln Center camera guy to just hold on a single master shot and refuse to slowly zoom in on faces from time time. If they wanted to do it right they would have a second camera down near the stage to do another set of closeups.

Take It Easy…God

I don’t want to get in the way of praise for Ang Lee‘s Life Of Pi but these Life of Pi tweets are, I feel, a fair representation of the “easy lay” aesthetic. Joanna Langfield‘s tweet about Pi being “astounding” and Lee having “accomplished the impossible” strikes me as giddy and untempered, to say the very least. Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas calling it “a guaranteed Best Picture nominee” might be accurate, but to call it “equal parts Slumdog, Benjamin Button and Titanic” is way too jizzy and geeky. I’ll buy Eric Kohn‘s analysis — “I’m no Oscar pundit, but Pi seems destined for the Hugo slot: F/X-driven, sentimentally involving, respected director” — but that’s as far as I can go.

Head Held High

Earlier today Deadline‘s Mike Fleming reported that Fox Searchlight is “courting” Natalie Portman to play Jackie Kennedy in a film about the former First Lady’s ordeal in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. The project, Jackie, began life as a 2010 script by Noah Oppenheim, which I read and discussed on 4.15.10.

Jackie was originally going to be a Darren Aronofsky film with his then-wife Rachel Weisz as Jackie, but that went south when they broke up. “Portman likes the script,” Fleming writes, “but her participation will depend on who the director is.” No shit?

Here’s what I wrote two and a half years ago:


Pi Oh My

A standard Zen 101 question is “why does the bird fly?” If your answer is “because that is the way for him…it’s his gift, his burden, his calling, his joy…the bird flies because he must,” you’ll probably have a place in your heart for Ang Lee‘s Life Of Pi. But if your reply is “what’s he gonna do, ride a Harley Davidson?,” then you might have issues with this 11.21 20th Century Fox release, which will have its world premiere tonight at the New York Film Festival.

Just as Anthony Minghella‘s Cold Mountain was described by the smart-asses as “a movie about a man walking through the woods” and Martin Scorsese‘s The Age of Innocence was...

Amour Again

Michael Haneke‘s Amour really gains when you know what it is and what’s coming and when. It’s a masterwork, all right, but it’s no picnic. Everyone in Jimmy Stewart #23 filed out like zombies after it was over, like they’d been gut-punched into submission. Except they hadn’t been. Amour is about nothing if not compassion and tenderness.

My first viewing in Cannes was the first handshake and the first gulp, the first “oh, no” and “good God, I’m sorry.” Last night’s screening was about getting to know Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Rivas a little bit better, and settling in with their sadness more in the way of a neighbor than an observer.

I think it’s probably too rough...

Lobby Art

This, quite naturally, is hanging in the lobby of the Sony building adjacent to the Overland gate. (I took this on my way into my second viewing of Michael Haneke‘s Amour.) It reminded me that Sony marketing has to come out with a really good trailer for Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s hit-sqaud drama before long. Sometime in mid-October, if not before. Because the teaser that broke in early August was somewhere between so-so and not that great.