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.

  • MAGGA

    What is it about Tom Hooper that makes him feel so incredibly unsympathetic and off-putting? I’ve never punched anyone, but it’s strange that the strongest temptation to do so in my life has been a competent film director giving thank-you speeches on tv. He’s certainly not the only over-appreciated director in the world. Why do I dislike him so much? Am I the only one who feels this way?

  • bobbyperu

    Missing is Kathryn Bigelow and her movie stands way above Sulver Limings, Promised Land even Argo.

  • trimmer

    bobbyperu, I’m seeing ZDT tonight and you have just upped my anticipation for it.

  • JD

    Tarantino seems to be going through a dark phase. Either that or he’s totally incompatible with his fellow directors. He really seems to be on the brink of losing his shit, particularly when sandwiched between two of the most Zen directors working today. And yes, Tom Hooper’s highly punchable.

  • Rashad

    JD, have you ever seen Tarantino speak before? He’s far more subdued here than he normally is.

  • JD

    I’m not talking about his volume, Rashad, I’m talking about the scary looks on his face and a few moments where he loses his cool.

  • http://www.stage32.com RB

    Hey Jeff…What’s this turn in the road for Hooper? Les Mis backlash beginning?

  • bobbyperu

    Trimmer,

    I saw it last night and it’s a rock-solid procedural that really delivers the goods as an examination of the war on terror and how the CIA often has dirty hands (waterboarding, torture) in a “means justify the end” situation to snuffing out al-Qaeda… If the film is accurate, I was surprised to learn the details (all apparently first-person accounts in a screenplay that is more investigative journalism than manufactured drama) of how we found Bin Laden and how one woman put it all together based on hunches and fragments and rolling up her sleeves for a decade. Even when the raid went down, no one felt confident that she was correct in her unwavering assessment that she was “100 percent sure” exactly who was hiding in that Pakistani compound.

    It’s a movie about our times more than any other movie this year (which, I think, will count for something in the coming weeks); about a character who is obsessed like a missile (she is given next to zero back story or details other than how she drives the investigation), scouring the Middle East for bread crumbs that would eventually unravel the payload; and about a woman in a man’s world who knows exactly how to navigate the alpha-male heavyweights without trepidation, from skeptical Navy Seals to Panetta himself (well-played by James Gandolfini). In my view a major piece of cinema with a screenplay not interested in frills or melodrama, only in its All the President’s Men-esque procedural — more than enough.

    Chastain is very challenged by what Boal has given her — never once do we see her outside of “work” and are never given a glimpse of her home, car, relationships, family, nada — yet she takes this pared down character and layers it with intensity, like a laser. The final shot is, frankly, magnificent, and the line that precedes us tell us everything we need to know about the personal toll the years have taken on her.

    I hate to make this a Chastain vs. Lawrence thing as so many pundits are now doing, but there’s really no comparison in the characters. The drive and need and want and determination and balls Chastain’s Maya character exhibits through every twist and turn floored me, even though we are required to “go to” and find the character rather than having her reach out to us. Additionally, there is something real and powerful at stake here for Maya that goes far beyond her professional advancement, and that is her drive to rid the world of evil.

    To me, that goes a lot farther than helping a guy redeem himself through a dance contest, as much as I do LOVE Silver Linings.

  • Gabriel

    “David O. Russell is kicking it now like never before.”

    Considering that he basically disavows I HEART HUCKABEES around the 18:30 mark, the “it” in your sentence would have to be my nuts. Fucking devastating. I have plans to see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK tonight and my enthusiasm is at an all-time low.

  • Mr. F.

    “Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land…no comment until I see it.”

    Uh.. when has THAT ever stopped you before?!

  • Actually…

    bobby, thank you for the excellent review, better than most written here.

  • Soma

    This one and the actresses were the best this year. The worst was the one with all the actors…no one was game to really open up. The writers were dull as well. The Brit who moderates needs to calm down with cutting people off.

  • Paul

    Agreed that the moderator needs to have a better sense of timing with interjecting.

    And Tarantino’s aggressive thinking about his peers and the industry in general always surprises me, even though it shouldn’t after all this time.

  • Gideon

    That is a well-written review (by BobbyPeru), and I’m eager to see ZDT, but to me the drive to “rid the world of evil” sounds simplistic and rather dull as a theme (or character motivation)… not saying that’s what ZDT is about, necessarily, as I haven’t seen it yet, but that line makes me cringe a little.

    Conversely, the concept of emotionally wounded people helping each other to heal and find meaning seems like an important, resonant theme to me. Different strokes, I guess.

  • trimmer

    Thanks for the review, bobbyperu. I want to know as little as possible before I see ZDT so I’ll read your review afterwards.

  • bobbyperu

    Gideon-

    Thanks… That’s my interpretation of her overarching goal — the film is about more than just her pursuit.

    And I do love Silver Linings and concur that the theme you note in an important one — I saw this much, much more in Bradley Cooper’s character than in Lawrence’s Tiffany. There were moments in the picture that rang slightly false, at least for me — for example, can we stop being dazzled by how Lawrence “takes down” DeNiro in her big scene to WHY she would have a clue about all of the sports stats and WHY she would have assembled such into such a count rebuttal to an attack from DeNiro that she never saw cing in the first place? Or how about her reaction to Julia Stiles and John Oryiz at the dance contest when she realizes they have brought along Cooper’s ex-wife? Without hem having prior knowledge of her feelings (we assume) she cries and exclaims, “You are killing me!!!” Huh? The movie has not established her emotionality to a sufficient degree, at least not her feelings about Cooper, for such a reaction to make sense to either of the other characters.

    Little things like this, and they are little, keep her character from being fully convincing and dimensional.

  • bobbyperu

    Apologies for the shitty mistakes in my post above — iPhone keypad is too damned small and I am a lazy proofer…

  • bobbyperu

    CORRECTED:

    And I do love Silver Linings and concur that the theme you note in an important one — I saw this much, much more in Bradley Cooper’s character than in Lawrence’s Tiffany. There were moments in the picture that rang slightly false, at least for me — for example, can we stop being dazzled by how Lawrence “takes down” DeNiro in her big scene and ask instead WHY she would have a clue about all of the sports stats and WHY she would have assembled them into such a cogent rebuttal to an attack from DeNiro that she never saw coming in the first place? Or how about her reaction to Julia Stiles and John Ortiz at the dance contest when she realizes they have brought along Cooper’s ex-wife? Without them having prior knowledge of her feelings for Cooper (we assume) she cries and exclaims, “You are fucking killing me!!!” Huh? The movie has not established her emotionality to a sufficient degree, her wants and needs, or at least not her feelings about Cooper, for such a reaction to make sense to either of the other characters.

    None of this is a reflection of her touching performance but to me it does make the character a bit fanciful to say the least.

  • bradzp

    Re: Tom Hooper. I work in the the UK Film Industry. First hand experience, I can tell you no one likes Tom
    hooper. His in-house reputation is vile, utterly toxic. He is not a nice man. Actually, tell a lie… ONE person likes him. In locations. But there are stories, jaw dropping stories of rudeness and spite. His publicist is clearly otherworldly to keep this from the press. I must add, I’m a fan of his work. Not the man.

  • C.C. Baxter

    “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.”

    Which “pulse-takers” are these. Are you referring to that fella that runs Hollywood Elsewhere?

  • Alobar

    Nice review and writing, bobbyperu…

  • bobbyperu

    Thanks Alobar — I do appreciate it.