It Can’t Happen Here…Or Can It?

It’s absurd, I realize, to speculate or fantasize about the absolute finest film of 2012 actually winning the Best Picture Oscar…ridiculous! The best films don’t win the Oscar, dummy — the most popular ones do. And yet Zero Dark Thirty is turning into a highly popular film with $75 million tallied + 9/11 families expressing their support + Leon Panetta giving it a thumbs-up + Martin Sheen going “homina-homina-homina…I’ve changed my mind!” + the Stalinist haters having been marginalized by common sense and routed by public scorn. Tables turnin’, cut down to size, how ya like me now?

Down To The Sea in Ships

The never-say-die Lincoln crowd among the Gurus of Gold (i.e., those who are still projecting a Best Picture Oscar win despite the writing on the wall and the flagrant Argo aroma) are (a) Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, (b) L.A. Times guy Mark Olsen, (c) Toronto Star‘s Pete Howell, (d) MCN’s David Poland, and (e) Award Daily‘s Sasha Stone.

Man In A Cage

I tweeted the following last night during John Horn‘s on-stage interview with Quentin Tarantino at the Santa Barbara Film Festival: “On one level, the Horn-Tarantino discussion is somewhat interesting because it’s been almost entirely about QT’s writing process.” And, I would have added, because Tarantino’s answers were typically candid and amusing and occasionally profane.

I don’t want to under-convey my admiration for Tarantino’s standard schpiel. Give him a microphone and he’s a chuckling, rollicking one-man band.

“But on another level,” I tweeted, “hearing Tarantino go on and on about how smug and confident and cocksure he is about his creative process is quite...

“Uhm…I…Uhm…I Didn’t Actually….”

Martin Sheen, previously known as Cpt. Willard as well as a strong critic of the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, has flip-flopped on this concern, according to an article posted late this afternoon by N.Y. Times reporter Michael Cieply.

Okay, not “flip-flopped,” exactly. Sheen just wasn’t paying attention to begin with.

“Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Mr. Sheen said that through his own mistake, the actors David Clennon and Ed Asner had included Sheen in their opposition to what they saw as the film’s tolerance of torture,” Cieply reported. “‘It’s my own...

Who’s The Culprit?

Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond The Pines (Focus Features, 3.29) has its fans, but it’s bizarre that Focus, a first-class distributor that has shown excellent marketing taste, would approve a poster as bad as this one. There’s something wildly off-balance about it. The three heads (Eva Mendes, Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper ) are too close to the top. The credit block is jammed in close below and too far north. And too much space is given to the dusky sky in the image that lies below (i.e., Gosling on his chopper).

From my 9.8.12 review: “I hate movies about blue-collar knockabouts and greasy low-lifes and teenage louts who constantly smoke cigarettes. The more a character smokes cigarettes the dumber and more doomed and less engaging...

Queer Block

You might presume that Jules Stewart, a script supervisor since ’88, landed the gig to direct K-11, a jailhouse melodrama, because she’s the mother of Kristen Stewart. And you might be half-right. But this Breaking Glass release, which opens limited (NY, LA, Denver, Phoenix, Philly) on 3.15, looks interesting in a gnarly sort of way. Stewart also wrote the script.

In So Many Words

“The message of Dror Moreh‘s The Gatekeepers, formed from the collective wisdom of the six living former Shin Bet leaders, is this: The occupation is immoral and, perhaps more important, ineffective. Israel should withdraw from the West Bank as it did from the Gaza Strip in 2005. And the prospect of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict diminishes daily, threatening the future of Israel as a Jewish democracy.” — from Jodi Rudoren‘s 1.25 N.Y. Times piece, titled “Most Israelis Are Not Listening.”

Wall of Death

Is this not the greatest big wave shot ever taken? If not it’ll do until the greatest gets here. It was shot two days ago — Monday, 1.28 — off Praia do Norte beach in Nazare, Portgual, as U.S. surfer Garrett McNamara rode a wave reported to be 100 feet tall. In so doing McNamara beat his previous record of riding a 78-footer in the same spot in November 2011.

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Clash of Aspect Ratio Titans

Yesterday Bob Furmanek politely declined my aspect-ratio podcast invitation, but he suggested that I get in touch with Jack Theakston, organizer-producer of Capitolfest (August 9th, 10th and 11th in Rome, New York) as well as an archivist, an AMIA member and Furmanek’s associate and partner in aspect ratio research. So I did, and Jack and I kicked it around for about an hour this morning. It’s a knowledgable and stimulating discussion. Recommended.

For faster loading here’s Part One and Part Two.

Six Characters In Search Of The Next Thing

Last night’s Virtuosos Award Ceremony at the Santa Barbara Film Festival honored six actors who delivered noteworthy 2012 performances — Ginger & Rosa‘s Elle Fanning, Compliance co-star Ann Dowd , The IntouchablesOmar Sy, Perks of Being a Wallflower‘s Ezra Miller, Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s Quvenzhane Wallis and Les MiserablesEddie Redmayne.


Ginger and Rosa star Elle Fanning during last night’s Virtuoso Ceremony.

Fanning felt like a surprise to me because she conversed with emcee Dave Karger in a bubbly, giggly, teenage-girlish way. And all this time I’ve been under the impression that she’s old for her age. I know that...

The Shape We’re In

Recently resigned Arizona Congressperson Gabby Giffords delivered the opening statement at today’s Senate gun hearings. Nothing I could write could add to the import of this clip. I can’t imagine a more profound argument against the rank evil of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA gun lobby.

Quentin Tarantino is being honored at Santa Barbara Film Festival this evening. If and when he takes questions, I will ask the following: “If you were presented with a Lars Von Trier-styled filmmaking exercise in which you had to write a film that didn’t use flip, cynical, grindhouse-style, cartoon-panel...

Highway Blues

The kids doing the “drifting” here [go to jump] are assholes, but this is about another form of highway obstruction. I hate it when you’re doing 70 mph on a crowded road when all of a sudden traffic slows and then comes to a halt. Not because of an accident or road construction or the road merging with another. No reason — everything just stops. Then you’re nudging along at 5 or 10 mph, and then a few minutes later traffic starts up and then you’re going 70 again. Why the slowdown? Nobody knows. I really hate it when that happens.
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Sneider Goes Down

Almost three weeks ago Variety reporter Jeff Sneider got angry about publicist Kelly Bush having supplied an exclusive production story — i.e., Christopher Nolan deciding to direct Interstellar, a Paramount project based on his brother Jonathan’s script — to the Hollywood Reporter‘s Kim Masters instead of himself. Masters filed her story about Interstellar on Wednesday, 1.9, at 6:44 pm, and Sneider filed a terse follow-up version at 6:55 pm.

Sneider expressed harsh words about this to a certain party during Sundance, and somebody complained about Sneider to Variety owner Jay Penske,...

Podcast Invitations

I’m hereby offering to debate Bob Furmanek and/or Pete Apruzzese and/or C.C. Baxter — anyone who believes in cleavering ’50s and ’60s films down to 1.78 or 1.85 when there’s a full-frame aspect ratio to work with — in a podcast format within a day or so. I’m talking about The Mother of All Aspect-Ratio Battles in an audio format. 30 to 45 minutes. Get in touch and we’ll figure it out.

I’d also like to do a four-way podcast debate between, on one side, myself and at least one other ardent supporter of Zero Dark Thirty and, on the opposing side, two Stalinist scolds who supported the takedown effort and felt it was right and proper to tarnish the film’s rep as having endorsed torture, etc.