Roadside threw a luncheon today for Arbitrage star and
possible Best Actor nominee Richard Gere at
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Linings‘ Jennifer
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 GereArmitage
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 isThe 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...
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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...
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 Brevetwrote, 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?”
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.
Occasionally Criterion jacket-cover art will convey an
alternate-universe take on a
well-known film that half convinces you that you haven’t quite
absorbed everything the film has to offer, even though you’ve seen
it 15 or 20 times. The white birds (which have to be seagulls and
not pigeons) are an interesting invention. Their presence suggests
that Elia Kazan‘s
1954 Oscar-winner was directed by Vittorio De
Sica or Roberto Rossellini.
The goodies: (a) new 4K digital restoration,
Vietnamese actress Hai Yen (a.k.a., Do Thi Hai Yen), star of Phillip Noyce’s The Quiet American and more recently Story of Pao (’05), Adrift (’08) and Floating Lives (’10). I joined Hai Yen, her husband Calvin Lam and daughter-in-law Crystal Lam for a chat this afternoon on the outdoor terrace of Hanoi’s Hotel Metropole, a world-class establishment where Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, George H. W. Bush and Francois Mitterrand have stayed.
In a Variety “Actors on Actors” piece, Kenneth Branagh has called Keira Knightley‘s Anna Karenina performance “breathtaking…her effervescence of spirit is tangible and irresistible. Her whole being seems to blaze with a ferocity that is mesmerizing.
“This is Knightley as we have never seen her before so completely: a mature woman who is also impulsive, troubled, deceitful, sexual, passionate, heartbroken. Everything about her work here sears and scorches itself into the memory. This is an actress of subtlety and delicacy fulfilling her potential in a performance that comes from the depths. Like the novel itself, her work in the role is at once elegant and wild and compelling at every moment. A classic.”
Congrats to the winners of the just-concluded IFC Gotham Awards. Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom won Best Picture, and Beasts of the Southern Wild helmer Ben Zeitlin took the breakthrough director award as well as the inaugural Bingham Ray Award. Jared Leto‘s Artifact won the best film audience trophy, David France‘s How To Survive A Plague was given the Gotham Award for Best Documentary, and Terence Nance won the Best Film Not Playing at the Theater Near You prize for An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, David O. Russell and Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll were given career tributes.
As anyone might have predicted, the Gold Derby-ites (a.k.a., the
tumbled for Les Miserables, pushing it ahead of
Argo and Silver Linings to lead the Best Picture
Oscar race. I had Les Miz at the top back in mid-October
but Pete Hammond and Peter
Travers, among others, have now ditched Argo for
Tom Hooper‘s period operetta. Argo is now
the proverbial ex-girlfriend — hurt, abandoned.
A friend’s wife has said that Les Miz ranks at the top
of her personal weep-o-meter, and that’s often the
name of the game when it comes to calibrating Best Picture winners.
The usual deal when I visit and cover a regional film festival is balancing the necessity of respectfully attending and reviewing certain screenings and events with having to cover the general waterfront in the column (Zero Dark Thirty surge, coming Les Miz kickback) and going nuts in the usual hair-pulling way. What else is new?
The truth (of which I am not especially proud) is that yesterday I was a derelict guest of the Hanoi Film Festival and that all I did, really, was attend a nice festival party at a penthouse suite atop a big, swanky, Vegas-styled hotel. Apart form filing, I mean, and taking a two-hour walk in the old quarter. And that’s not much. After last night’s event I walked back to the hotel in the rain — about a 3 kilometer trek.
“In Liz and Dick, an actor who has been through several
rings of hell — and may not, for all I know, have gotten back yet —
portrays someone who went through something similar. Put another
way, one of the most impulsively, spontaneously emotional
actresses of our time portrays a similar performer.
“For all the differences in their circumstances,
accomplishments, and worlds — Lindsay Lohan‘s
performance (not her impersonation) is thrillingly
immediate, not a composition of interpretive pieces but an
incontrovertible, full-spectrum presence, even if the mirror itself
is broken and some shards of character are still missing from
view.” — New Yorker/”Front Row” columnist Richard
Brody in an
The Zero Dark Thirty aesthetic integrity train has left
the station and has
begun to share and confide. I’m not interested in
producer-screenwriter Mark Boal‘s feelings of
bafflement at the “surreal and
bizarre” Republican attacks on the film, and it’s
a given that Kathryn Bigelow‘s replication of the
attack on the Osama bin Laden compound would be
super-scrupulous. What I want to hear about is their decision to
avoid the conventional emotionalism that most directors and writers
would have gone for in telling this story because it “gets” people.
This I respect enormously.
A current or ex-pothead parent cannot tell his kids to abstain. He/she hasn’t the authority. But he/she can tell them it’s a complete no-go as a steady lifestyle component, and that it’s almost guaranteed that daily or frequent turning on results in a lack of drive, ambition and discipline to some extent. In this sense pot is almost a worse thing to get down with than booze because boozers, at least, tend to perform better professionally.
“It’s an odd thing realizing that you’re seeing a movie that is
a step above most of what you have seen in the commercial cinema
this year,” MCN’s David Poland
wrote last night. “My pulse gets faster, I start being a little
hyper-vigilant, even though I don’t take notes in movies — at least
the first time through — and I start hoping, beat after beat, scene
after scene, that the high won’t disappear.
“And that’s what I felt from the very first minutes of Zero
Dark Thirty tonight.
“Kathryn Bigelow & Mark
Boal are in a kind of sync that is rare in the
history of cinema. Boal has raised the bar on the output
of Bigelow’s master-level visual skill by giving her material to