Earlier today MSN’s James Rocchi
posted an opinion piece that basically said corporations, which
are generally sociopathic in nature and care only about profits,
often finance expensive films for…well, sociopathic
“‘Shareholder Cinema,’ as I call it — moviemaking built around
maximum profit first and always — is real,” he says at midpoint.
“Movies have always been good and bad, money-makers or
money-losers, balancing each other out with the invisible hand of
capitalism smoothing out the marketplace. It’s just that, to be
blunt, the way it’s all happening these days seems a little
too calculated, a little too coldly executed, a little too
formulaic. And the decision of what to do, at a studio level, seems
just-posted interview with Amour director Michael Haneke, Gold
Derby‘s Tom O’Neil mentions a comment I
recently shared that Amour can be viewed “as a horror
flick.” Haneke’s reply: “If someone wants to see
this film as a horror film, I’m fine with that. I don’t think of it
like that. To me, the film is a love story.
“It’s a film about the difficulty and pain of watching someone
you love suffer, [and] not being able to do anything about it,”
Haneke explained. “If you see the film as a horror film,
I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve seen Robert
(Paramount, 11.2) and they all agree that it holds the line and
doesn’t mess around. But they also feel it’s a bit somber and even
a downer because it’s just about a drunk (Denzel
Washington) facing a situation from which there’s no good
escape. That doesn’t mean the film doesn’t work or pay off on its
own terms. It does. For what it is, the ending chosen by Zemeckis
and screenwriter John Gatins seems right. But
people were still giving me these looks when I asked them about
“But what about Denzel?,” I said to some of them. “He’s a real
drunk…he really sank into that.” Yeah, but…. “But what?
You don’t think so? It’s one of the best roles he’s ever...
Something about this Hurricane Sandy time-lapse video soothes me out. It was captured yesterday from the N.Y. Times site by Richard Shepherd. I hate the Times policy of refusing to provide easy embed codes so congrats to Shepherd for busting through that. Here‘s the camera. Update: Here’s another one, apparently taken from the Brooklyn side of the East River.
Producer Glenn Zoller has been riding my ass to post this “Fifty Ways to Hate Obama” video, which I frankly don’t agree with. I’ve told Glenn I really don’t think it’s reflective of the current mood or zeitgeist. Obama is not in a down cycle in which people are beating him up left and right. He was during the budget crisis but that was then. I just don’t agree with it.
On the other hand Glenn has been kind enough to give me free shelter at Telluride for the last two years. And the singing is pretty good with pro-level recording. And there are millions of assholes determined to hate Obama no matter what so whatever…fine.
I saw Ron Fricke and Mark
Magidson‘s Samsara the night before
last. It’s a kind of ohm movie…ohhhmmm! A fixed-tripod,
tableau zone-out film without any dialogue or lip movement even,
but a drop-dead beautiful 70mm forehead-smacker.
It premiered over a year ago at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
Fricke has become a Zen master of movies in this vein — he co-shot
Koyaanisqatsi (’82), and directed Chronos (’85)
and Baraka (’92). Oscilloscope opened Samsara in
August, and it might become one of the Best Feature Doc Oscar
But if you get beyond form, it’s something else. A friend asked
me what I really thought of it, and I wrote the following:
If you were Joshua
Jackson, wouldn’t you feel a tiny bit slighted by the art on
this one-sheet for Stephen Frears‘ Lay The
Favorite (Weinstein Co., 12.7)? The poster is clearly
indicating that Jackson (lower right) is professionally known as
Vince Vaughn. Vaughn is allegedly in the film but
it’s hard to spot him in the trailer. Jackson is definitely a
Favorite costar, but the poster is conflicted about that
fact. At war with itself.
Vaughn is in our film, and…wait, who’s the guy on the bottom?
You don’t care and neither do we, frankly. His name is…wait a
minute…Jackson, Josh Jackson. Why did we put him on the poster if
we don’t even know who the hell he is? You tell us. We don’t really
know. It probably has something to do with...
After I-forget-how-many-years of announcing, shooting, editing
and promotion (going back to least 2008 if not 1997, depending on
shifting definitions of when it really began), episodes of
Oliver Stone‘s Untold History of the United States will finally start
airing on Showtime on Monday, November 12th, and
will continue…what is it,
eight or ten weeks? Ten, I think.
Screenings of the first three episodes at the 2011 NY Film
Festival were cancelled because they weren’t quite ready. So they
screened instead at the 2012 NY Film Festival, or about
During after-party for this evening’s Arclight screening of Rise of the Guardians (l. to. r): producer Christina Steinberg, director Peter Ramsey and executive producer Guillermo del Toro. The jolly Del Toro regaled everyone with the usual intellectual agility, shared visions, exhortations, insights, witticisms.
35-foot-tall Bond display in Arclight lobby.
Samsara producer Mark Magidson, musical composer Marcello De Francisci following Monday night’s screening at Chinese 6.
Lucasfilm will always be a respected name for post-production services, but it means relatively little if you’re talking about audience-attracting brands or franchises outside of the Star Wars films, and you have to a strenuously unhip person to be excited about seeing another Star Wars flick in this day and age. The series creatively peaked 32 years ago with The Empire Strikes Back, for God’s sake. So can somebody please explain Disney paying $4.05 billion for the company and pledging to make another Star Wars flick by 2015? “Lucasfilm” generated real excitement in the ’80s, but this is now.
I’ve accepted a generous invitation to visit and cover the
2012 Hanoi Film Festival (11.25 through 11.29). I’ll leave a
few days before Thanksgiving to visit
Hue before returning to Hanoi for four days of moviegoing,
interviewing and event-covering. I’m figuring there will have to be
at least four...
“This is one of those movies that depend on your not
thinking much about it; for as soon as you reflect on
what’s happening rather than being swept up in the narrative flow,
there doesn’t seem much to it aside from the skill
with which suspense is maintained despite the fact that you know in
advance how it’s going to turn out.
“Nothing hangs on the way it turns out. Once the deed is
successfully done, there’s really nothing much to
say, and anything that is said seems contrived. That is
the virtue of an entertainment like this; it doesn’t linger
in the memory and provoke afterthoughts. One need not, and
should not, pause for an instant while consuming it. It is a
confection — perhaps that’s the message; everything is confection;
movies, diplomacy, what’s the difference? — and it goes down well,
leaving no aftertaste whatsoever.”...
New York City needs to do more than simply admit error in case
of the wrongly-convicted, wrongly-imprisoned Central
Park Five — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond
Santana, Kharey Wise and Yusef Salaam.
Nine years ago the five filed a federal lawsuit against the city,
seeking $50 million each in damages or $250 million total. “If
anyone deserves to be financially compensated for a perversion of
justice, it’s these guys,” I wrote seven weeks ago.
I came to this conclusion after seeing Ken Burns, Sarah
Burns and David McMahon‘s The Central
Park Five, a PBS-funded doc about the 1989 Central Park Jogger
rape case, at the Telluride Film Festival. Earlier this month the
Gold Derby‘a Tom O’Neil has a “wacky Best Picture race chart” up — a capturing of how Best Picture betting has fared over the last five weeks. Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were the front-runners on 9.23, but now Argo leads with 12 pundits out of 25 picking it to win. Les Miserables, which no one will see until early December, follows with 8. Prediction: the SLP haters will modify their positions after it opens on 11.21.
My initial reaction to the oncoming Hurricane Sandy (posted on Sunday) was that I wished I could be in New York to experience it. I still wish that. I also said it might be another Hurricane Irene and that New Yorkers who were “genuinely worried” struck me as a bit candy-assed. And I shouldn’t have said that. I apologize. I went past the limit. The worst is over now but Frankenstorm turned out to be a really heavy deal.
The house fires in Breezy Point, Queens especially. Just flat-out tragic. I understand and respect the hurt and the fear that Hurricane Sandy has caused. Of course I do. Very bad news for many millions. Very traumatic, unsettling all around. Seven million without power. The Con Ed sub-station explosion on East 14th Street. Hospital evacuations. 14 people dead. At least the worst is over.
Lewis Miller‘s Suddenly (’54) has
always been a second-rate melodrama about an attempted
assassination of a U.S. President by three psycho goonies (one
played by Frank Sinatra). Many crappy-looking
public domain VHS and DVD versions have appeared over the years,
a better looking Bluray version came out two weeks ago from HD
Cinema. DVD Beaver’s Gary W. Toozepraises
says it “actually supports some of the film’s grain structure” and
it “seems the best of the digital editions.”
1.85 screen capture from one of the cheesy DVD versions of
Last week I finally caught Julian Jarrold‘s
Girl on HBO. It seemed all right — not terrible, not
difficult to watch — but I was bored for the most part, such that I
couldn’t push out a review for this column. It may be at least a
somewhat accurate portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock‘s
cruel and creepy obsession with Tippi Hedren, the
cool, brittle-mannered actress he chose to star in The
Birds and Marnie.
But The Girl is a tired tale about icky, tedious
It’s a modest, low-budgety, visually perfunctory thing that
contains a skillful, well-tuned...
The Presidential campaign might be “functionally
over” (as MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell just
said an hour ago) as of right now, due to
Frankenstorm. The storm will rule between now and Wednesday or
Thursday. So there’ll basically be some campaigning Friday through
Monday — four days. Before that Obama gets to be the nation’s
leader overseeing the vast recovery efforts and Shallow Mitt can’t
afford to appear to care more about his election chances than the
welfare and safety of hurricane victims.
Some meteorologists believe there is a clear relationship
between Frankenstorm and reduced Arctic sea ice caused by
human-driven climate change. In plainer reductionist
language, the proponents of climate-change denial, which are
largely collected under the Republican umbrella, are not wholly
responsible but are almost certainly partly
responsible for the Hurricane Sandy catastrophe now
2011 Mitt Romney statement in which he took a dim view of
FEMA (Federal Emergency
Management Agency) and stated the disaster relief should be handled
by the states and the private sector will almost certainly
circulate around over the next two or three days. With
Frankenstorm looming, will Joe and Jane Dumbass take note and
draw lines between the dots?
“The Romney campaign said early Monday morning that Romney stood
behind a statement first made during a 2011 Republican debate, in
which Romney said that the Federal Emergency Management
Agency should be disbanded, and its powers either
One minor correction: It’s Ayn Rand, not Ann Rand. (Ayn rhymes with fine.) Otherwise, terrific. There are two Joss Whedons in my head. The guy who put this up today and made a little Shakespeare film that I haven’t bothered to see. (Sorry.) And the guy who directed The Avengers and produced and co-wrote Cabin In The Woods.
This morning I asked the friendly 20something blonde behind the Union Hotel desk who she’s voting for. “Who am I voting for?,” she said. “I’m kind of undecided. I’m taking a political science class right now, but I’m undecided. My father wants me to vote for Romney.” What’s he got to do with it?, I said. It’s your vote, your call. She smiled and said, “It’s just that he’s told me over and over that I’d better vote for Romney or else. So as far as he’s concerned I’m voting for Romney.” So in other words millions of rural women (wives, daughters, employees) who just want to get along are being browbeaten into voting for the bad guys by domineering alpha males.
Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg has posted an interview with The Gatekeepers director Dror Moreh. “A riveting documentary about Israel’s anti-terrorism organization, Shin Bet, told by former directors of the program over the last 40-odd years,” Jett Wellswrote on 9.3 from Telluride. “It’s amazing the kind of access Moreh got [as doc] really sheds light on how even the biggest war hawks in Israel’s government feel how assassinations are ultimately pointless and/or self-defeating.”
Last night HE reader Warren Acose alerted me to Taschen’s The James Bond Archives. “The Ingmar Bergman Archives were apparently a financial failure (according to Taschen losing $100,000), and the Almodovar Archives may not have done much better,” he wrote, “so they’re going with a purely commercial entry. I’m still excited about it and it can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $115.00.”