A Few Good Men Or Women

Apparently the 1.66:1 version of George StevensShane, or the basis of the forthcoming Warner Home Video Bluray streeting on June 4th, will be screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival sometime between 4.25 and 4.28. If by that time WHV declines to offer a solution to the Great Shane Bluray Debacle, which ignited when they decided to release the 1.66:1 version rather than a Bluray mastered at the correct 1.37:1 aspect ratio (or at least a double-disc package containing both versions), I will show up with a picket sign outside the Chinese. All alone. Like Alan Ladd riding down to...

Refreshed, Renewed

Visually speaking I’m expecting/hoping to have a new Hollywood Elsewhere up and running by the end of April. The re-design won’t be too radical, but the idea (which I began to think about last year at this time) will be to make HE look more like a 2013 environment with certain bells and whistles and less like a static 2004 website. (HE was launched in late August of 2004, or 8 and 1/2 years ago.) I’m thinking of some kind of ever-changing “what’s up and what’s down” box + a Movie City News-like Twitter box (but I’d have to tweet a lot more to justify this) and maybe a TV column written by I-don’t-know-who.

I don’t want to go crazy with the re-design. I want it to look like the same column except cooler, nervier, zippier. Ideas?

The truth is that I’m afraid of adding a TV columnist because if they don’t post as often as I do and if they...

Feels Crash-y But Maybe Not

After a couple of misses I’ll finally be catching Henry Alex Rubin‘s Disconnect (LD, 4.12) on Tuesday night. A cautionary cyber-ensemble drama that a friend says is good, disciplined, well-ordered. Jason Bateman ( a friend of HE), Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Alexander Skarsgard.

Best & Worst of 2013 So Far

2013 will be 25% over as of midnight tonight. One quarter down, another three to go. The first three months are always underwhelming or worse for anyone with a low tolerance for mediocrity, but there are always a few theatrical and cable/streaming standouts. I’ve got 10 goodies listed plus the year’s worst:

Best of 2013 (in this order): 1. House of Cards (Netflix series that began streaming on 2.1.13, d: David Fincher (first 2 episodes), p: Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Beau Willimon); 2. No (d: Pablo Larrain); 3. Mama (d: Andres Muchietti, p: Guillermo del Toro); 4. Room 237 (d: Rodney Ascher); 5. Side Effects (d: Steven...

Political Pundits Won’t Say It

If Hillary Clinton is going to run for the Presidency in 2016, she’s going to have to look as good as Ronald Reagan did when he ran in 1980 — it’s that simple. Nobody worried about Reagan pushing 70 when he ran against Jimmy Carter (RR turned 69 in early ’80, having been born on 2.6.11) because he looked 55. But Hillary, who will turn 68 when the ’16 campaign begins in late ’15 (she was born on 10.26.47) and 69 just before 2016 election day, looks her age. You can argue that her looks won’t and shouldn’t matter, and you would be wrong. They always do.

On top of which Clinton had a health scare when she

Hypnotic Heist

Danny Boyle‘s Trance (Fox Searchlight, 4.5) is a tricky mind-fuck thriller set in London, but more precisely inside London apartments, office buildings, warehouses and parking garages and sometimes (but not that frequently) on London streets. Every frame of it is carefully chosen and thoughtful and given its proper emphasis, which is what you get when a major-league director like Boyle goes slumming with a genre piece about hypnosis and memory suppression and art thievery and compulsive gambling and obsessive madness…I could go on and on.

If nothing else the ending is clean and thoughtful, and for me this made it all come together. Trance‘s thematic view is that our lives largely consist of what...

Sasha Knows

On May 4th the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold a huge group discussion among its members in three cities — Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco — to discuss the Academy’s future. The idea is that members will spill their gut feelings about what’s wrong with the Oscar race and suggest changes, etc. This’ll definitely be something to cover and kick around, although brutal honesty almost never happens when members of an esteemed organization get together.

I for one believe that Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone has offered two excellent suggestions.

Boiled down, good suggestion #1 is “go back to ten Best Picture nominees.” Here’s how Sasha

Shades of Blonde and Gray

I was so taken by Shannah Laumeister‘s Bert Stern: Original Mad Man that I arranged for a sit-down. She’s very cool and dedicated and candid and good-humored. But for whatever reason she didn’t correct my faulty spelling of her name in my review (i.e., “Shauna”). I would have said something. Maybe she meant to but our chat was so transporting, etc. The Stern doc will have its Manhattan premiere at the Cinema Village on Friday, 4.5.

Bert Stern: Original Mad Man director Shannah Laumeister

Laugh Riot

Sony doesn’t screen movies like The Evil Dead (4.5) for guys like me…is that it? Because…what, I’m not that big on roaring chainsaws plunging into screaming mouths? Do I need to man up and expand my cinematic vistas? All I know is that if Lou Taylor Pucci is in a film there’s a good chance I won’t like it. It’s not fair, it’s cruel, it’s heartless but years of experience have taught me about the Curse of Pucci. I’d like to have my mind changed about this. I really would.

I’ve also learned to regard any positive or semi-positive review written by Variety‘s...

Mess Around

This Universal late-summer release (8.2) looks like reasonably efficient escapism. My only concern that the last U.S.-made film by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur was Contraband, which was my idea of dogshit. Denzel Washington is looking a little slimmer than he did in his last four or five films, which is good. He was looking pretty blimpy in Flight. Note: I posted this hours ago and for whatever reason it vanished.

Wells to Scorsese About Shane

Dear Marty,

We’ve never technically met but we did a phoner while you were cutting Casino. It was for an Entertaiment Weekly piece I was working on about a restoration of The Wild Bunch. This is the same email I’ve sent you via the Film Foundation email address. I’m double-posting out of concern that it might not get through with your editing of Wolf of Wall Street demanding all your time and attention.

You may not have heard about the great Shane Bluray brouhaha by now so I’ll just summarize. Warner Home Video has licensed the rights from Paramount for a Shane Bluray that was prepared by George Stevens, Jr. and, I’m told, the folks at Technicolor. As you probably know Shane was shot by George Stevens and dp Loyal Griggs between July and mid-October 1951 with...

We Will Fatten You

When guys start getting domestic with a live-in girlfriend or wife or a steady lady food always plays a big part in their life together and is often a major emotional expression of her part. (Unless he’s the big foodie.) Constant access to delicious meals and snacks is one of life’s genuine priveleges and pleasures, and a really nice way of showing and accepting love. But I’ve come to believe that many women have an under-agenda in constantly serving great meals, and that is to put weight on their significant others.

I’m not saying that foodie women are consciously plotting or scheming to fatten up their boyfriends and husbands. They’re first and foremost showing love and being creative and spreading warm vibes and doing a really nice thing. But beyond all that I believe they’re at least secretly or subliminally at peace with their boyfriends of husbands putting on a few pounds because a slightly...

Eat It, Joe

Channing Tatum’s agent to Paramount: “The only way he’s in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is if he gets killed within 20 minutes.” Paramount to Tatum’s agent: “20 minutes? We were thinking more like 35 or 40. A supporting role, not a cameo.” Tatum’s agent: “Dead in 20 or we walk.”Paramount: “We might go for 30. C’mon, dude — we’re paying a lot of money here.” Tatum’s agent: “Would you like me to make it 15?.”

I wasn’t invited to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount figured why bother?)...

When Good People Make So-So Films

Assembling a top-grade team doesn’t mean the film will be any kind of great shakes. Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Wrong Man (1956), a moderately interesting but mostly dull and plodding procedural, is but one example. Hitch directing a script co-written by the great Maxwell Anderson. A stellar cast topped by Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle and Harold J. Stone. Shot by the esteemed Robert Burks, edited by George Tomasini and scored by Bernard Herrmann. And audiences went “wait…what?”

Today’s Hollywood Elsewhere assignment is to name other duds or under-performers on which on the very best people worked — the most talented, the highest paid, the most respected. All that potential and swagger and….phfffft.

Griffiths Ascends

The great Richard Griffiths, known to the popcorn-eating masses as mean Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films but whom I loved for his legendary History Boys performance as Hector the lecherous professor (which I saw in New York in ’06), has died at age 65.

He died of complications following heart surgery, but let’s face it — he died from the backwash of being too fat. But what an aroma of engagement and crackling intelligence he had (or seemed to have). What a wonderfully alert and alive and richly educated mind, or at least what a splendid ability he had to convey this in...