Celebrating Mr. Gere

Roadside threw a luncheon today for Arbitrage star and possible Best Actor nominee Richard Gere at Pizzeria Mozza (641 N. Highland Avenue). Gere delivers one of his career-best performances in Nicolas Jarecki‘s film, but yes, the Best Actor field is very crowded this year. But the equation is (a) Gere is exceptional in Arbitrage plus (b) he’s also been humping it hard and long and honorably for 35 years now, so give it up for the guy.

Arbitrage star Richard Gere at Pizzeria Mozza — Friday, 11.30, 12:55 pm.

For some reason Robert Pattinson showed up toward the end of the luncheon. I’m taller than he is. He has a kind face and a warm smile, but his eyes kinda blank out when...

Please Watch Us

A passel of “welcome back from Vietnam” screeners sitting on my dining-room table when I got in just before noon. No Les Miz although I’ve been told it would be here, or that it’s been mailed at least.

See What I Mean?

Tokyo is an architecturally dull, dull town. This section (a couple of miles east of downtown) looks a lot like Cleveland or Joliet, only less cultured. There are some city streets you can gaze at from inside a passing train and say “wow, look at that!” or “hey, that’s cool.” You can sense the history and the flavor and the intrigue. No such luck with Tokyo.

Milky Soup

The misty rain and dense fog covering Los Angeles delayed the landing of my flight from Tokyo…so? I’m now in a cab on La Cienega, thinking once again of that Charles Bukowski line about how “the stink of L.A. gets into your bones.” I was lucky enough to chat with Bukowski for 90 minutes or so when I was writing the press notes for Barbet Schroeder‘s adaptation of Barfly. His spirit lives on at Hollywood Elsewhere, as far as it goes. Back then it was Bukowski; today it’s Bomowski.

We’re Right, Rest of World Is Wrong

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday “to upgrade Palestine to a nonmember observer state of the United Nations, a triumph for Palestinian diplomacy and a sharp rebuke to the United States and Israel,” says a N.Y. Times report. The naysayers were the U.S. , Israel, the Czech Republic, Panama and an assortment of nickle-and-dime Pacific Island nations. The vote passed 138-9 with 41 abstentions.

Prediction: NYFCC Will Embrace ZDT

I’m sitting here stranded in Tokyo and doing my best to deny it. And I’m really hating the puerile Japanese daytime TV programming that I’m watching. This culture is drunk on helium emotions and attitudes. They’re like six year olds. But all the way from Tokyo I can almost smell what will happen Monday morning when the New York Film Critics Circle vote for Best Picture, and I haven’t even seen Zero Dark Thirty so what do I know? But I think they’ll go for it nonetheless.

I think the NYFCC’ers will want to go hard and real as a swing away from the intense emotionality of Les Miserables, and the consensus is that Zero Dark Thirty is sharp and hard and austere. It also contains an allegedly stirring lead performance by Jessica Chastain, who may even beat out Silver LiningsJennifer Lawrence…maybe...

Gone In Eight

It’s now 9:15 am Tokyo time on Friday (or 4:15 pm LA time on Thursday), and the sooner I’m out of here the better. My Narita-to-LAX flight leaves at 5:10 pm (or 12:10 am LA time on Friday). The flight arrives at 9:50 am or nine and a half hours after departing. That’s funny as last week’s LAX-to-Honolulu flight was six hours and Honolulu-to-Tokyo was eight hours so I thought Tokyo-to-LA might be 12 hours or thereabouts. I hate being stuck in a fuselage for lengthy periods but I guess nine and a half hours isn’t so awful.

I go right to a Richard Gere Armitage lunch at 12:30 pm on Friday, and then back for a nap and then off to a 6 pm screening of The Hobbit in 48 fps on the Warner lot. (For me 48 fps is The Hobbit as I’m not invested in Tolkien realms in the slightest.) And then I’m doing Zero Dark Thirty screenings on Saturday and Sunday...

Good Stuff

This Hollywood Reporter Directors’ Roundtable is worth an hour of your time. Talk to certain pulse-takers and they’ll tell you Tom Hooper and Les Miserables are about to experience a turn in the road. David O. Russell is kicking it now like never before. Nobody knows what’s coming from Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, but I can guess. Ang Lee has the “job very well done but no Oscar take-home” vote. Ben Affleck wants to rally back to where he and Argo were six weeks ago. Gus Van Sant‘s Promised Land…no comment until I see it.

The people who write the embed codes for Brightcove are truly incompetent because their codes always cause problems when I paste them down.

Softly‘s Finally Here

Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly is opening Friday (11.30) with an 87% Rotten Tomatoes rating. All Boston-area crime flicks based on George V. Higgins source material are worth the price, but this one is noteworthy for a rightwing political theme that says Obama’s hope-and-change stump speech of the ’08 campaign was bullshit. Here’s my 5.22.12 Cannes Film Festival review:

“Surprisingly, Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly isn’t your father’s tough-talkin’ George V. Higgins gritty...

Murmuring Nolan

Last night the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Comment Selects and Scott Foundas hosted “An Evening With Christopher Nolan.” Which was basically an award-season promotion for Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises under the guise of a career-review conversation. HE’s Manhattan correspondent Clayton Loulan attended and took snaps and recorded the conversation. Problematically, I would add, as you can barely hear what’s being said without headphones.

Scott Foundas, Chris Nolan following last night’s FSLC discussion.

Thanks But I’ll Pass

I can’t write an authoritative stinging indictment of Tokyo because I’ve only experienced a bit of it. I’ve only been here eight hours and I haven’t wandered outside of the Shibuya and Shinjuku districts. But I’m hugely unimpressed so far. I shouldn’t even be saying this but Tokyo strikes me as corporate and arid and car-friendly and full of delights for rich people. It’s a bigger, chillier, smoggier Houston with sushi and noodles and taller buildings and more stylishly dressed women. It’s titanic and rich and sprawling and so what?

It was all but burned to the ground in 1945 thanks to Curtis LeMay so the buildings are all less than 50 or 60 years old, and it just...

Tokyo Beckons

With my flight to Tokyo leaving at midnight, HE’s gracious host Nguyen Mai invited me to a farewell lunch today at Le Tonkin, an elegant, French colonial-style gourmet restaurant in Hanoi’s French quarter. Joining us were actor

All Quiet on Quang Tri Front

Yesterday afternoon I saw Nguyen Huu Muoi‘s Scent of Burning Grass, a highly emotional antiwar film that is Vietnam’s official 2012 submission for the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar. It’s basically a Vietnamese All Quiet on the Western Front about four North Vietnamese lads suffering the horrors of the Quang Tri battle of 1972, which was almost entirely a North Vietnamese vs. South Vietnamese face-off. It may be based on the personal experience of screenwriter Nhuan Cam Hoang, although this is just a guess.

I was affected by the depictions of suffering because I’ve never seen a Vietnamese-perspective drama about the Vietnam War, and because it reminded me once again (as if I needed...

Better This Way

Watch both Love Is All You Need trailers and tell me the German-dubbed version isn’t preferable. The half-English, half-Danish version, as Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet wrote, has Pierce Brosnan “playing an Englishman living in Denmark running around speaking English while everyone else is speaking Danish and they clearly understand him and he understands them, so why aren’t they all speaking the same language?”


Benghazi Bullshit

Thomas E. Ricks “is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post…he currently writes on defense topics, has a blog at ForeignPolicy.com” and basically knows whereof he speaks.