Cosmic Consideration

I would say that God cares about me as much as I care about this or that granule of sand as I walk on the beach in Santa Monica or Florida or Barbados. Do I care about the granule? Not particularly but I value it in a certain context. I respect the place it has in the universe. Do I hate the granule of sand? Of course not. Do I feel affection for it? No, but who would? A microscopic component in the grandest of schemes is hardly worth “caring” about. That’s pretty much how “God” feels about me, no offense.

Hello, Wifi Banshee

Tuesday was one of the most glorious New York City days ever — dry, sunny, blue skies, perfect temps. LAX flight landed at JFK around 8 am, dumped bags at Lex and 51st just before 10 am, had late breakfast with friends at Grammercy Park hotel, moved my stuff over to an Airbnb rental in Fort Greene…and promptly encountered the mother of all dead-zone wifi problems. Agony. I caught a 6 pm screening of What Maisie Knew and then met Jett in F.G. Tomorrow is another day.


Temporary HE headquarters at 128 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Melted To Death

I only just saw this tonight. Happened yesterday. I’ve had nightmares about this. Imagine what the pilots were going through those last few seconds.

Small Is Not Beautiful

Last Friday night N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott essentially said that high-quality, large-screen viewing experiences are always desirable, but what matters most is that viewers have a chance to see the good smaller films (like Jeff NicholsMud) even if it means seeing them under diminished or even semi-crappy conditions — on a 42-inch screen in your living room, say, or on an iPad3. And he’s right. But boy, am I glad I live in a realm that allows me a chance to see films as they’re really meant to be seen.

Seeing new films under the finest technical circumstances has always been a gimme for the industry elite and urban swells. But today the New Diminshment is small screens. iPad3, Macbook Pro and iPhone viewings drain the wonder out of films, but at least films —...

Reigning Website Design Aesthetic

Have you noticed that almost every hotshot entertainment website these days has the same damn look? That look can be described as follows: Acres of white space with large-point-size type with huge boldfaced headlines. All the hip web designers got together on a video conference call about 18 months ago and decided on this. The apparent consensus us that GenY readers don’t want density. They want their websites to look like pre-school children’s books, like The Adventures of Babar and Celeste.

Steely, Resolute, Cigar-Puffing

For serious liberal-minded Hollywood filmmakers of the ’50s and early ’60s, Gen. Curtis LeMay was the gift that kept on giving. Gen. Ennis C. Hawkes in Strategic Air Command, Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove, Gen. James Matoon Scott in Seven Days in May…okay, LeMay gave three times. Am I forgetting another characterization? (Video stolen from Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet, who stole it from someone else.)

Suddenly

I’ve decided to try for standby seating on an LAX-to-JFK red-eye tonight (leaving at 11:30 pm) rather than wait for tomorrow’s ticketed 10:40 am flight. I’ll be able to get more out of Tuesday as well as catch a 6 pm Manhattan screening. There’s no guarantee I’ll get on, of course, but if I check in at 9 or 9:30 pm I’ll have a decent chance. If I wanted to lock in tonight’s flight it would cost me over $400 bills but standby will cost only a nominal fee. If I don’t get on tonight it won’t be the end of the world and tomorrow’s reservation will still stand. So I’m going to be bold and go for it.

11:05 pm update: I’m on the flight.

A Sex Scene? Really?

I felt mezzo-mezzo about Eric Rochand‘s Mobius, which played a few days ago at the Tribeca Film Festival as well as L.A.’s COLCOA fest. Set largely in gauche Monaco, it’s partly a financial espionage drama and partly…actually mostly a romantic relationship drama between Jean Dujardin and Cecile de France as a non-governmental Russian spook and a French-English financial trader. The two twains don’t really blend or cross-pollinate, but Mobius is not a boring or listless film — it’s reasonably engrossing.

The obvious template is Alfred Hitchcock‘s Notorious, but what...

Soderbergh’s Brain

For whatever reason I can’t copy the embed code on this audio file of Steven Soderbergh‘s “State of Cinema” talk last Saturday at the San Francisco Film Festival. So just go to Anne Thompson‘s Indiewire column and give it a listen. Update: Has Thompson’s mp3 been taken down? If so, whoever’s responsible is a dick. And those who insisted on no recordings of any kind last Saturday are dicks also.

Update: Deadline has posted a transcript: http://m.deadline.com/2013/04/steven-soderbergh-state-of-cinema-address/

Danny McBride + William Faulkner?

I’m going to read William Faulkner‘s As I Lay Dying on my 5.3 NYC-to-Berlin flight as preparation for James Franco‘s filmed adaptation, which will play in the Un Certain Regard section. The story is about an ailing family matriarch, Addie Bundren (Beth Grant), on her way out and efforts by her sons and others to honor her request to be buried in the nearby town of Jefferson, Mississippi. Franco has cast Danny McBride in a supporting role, which strikes me as curious given that McBride is renowned for playing brute, snorting, slovenly beasts in comedies. Jim Parrack (True Blood) plays Cash, Addie’s oldest son, and Franco plays Darl, the second oldest. Logan Marshall-Green, Ahna O’Reilly and Tim Blake Nelson also costar.

Most Important Oscar Change

Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg has posted five suggestions for the Academy to consider when they have their “unprecedented, all-members meeting” on Saturday, May 4th. The one I agree with the most is about reducing deadwood and expanding the membership:

“(3) Address the demographics of the membership. The Academy should address widespread and not unmerited concern about the diversity of its membership, or lack thereof: a recent LA Times study revealed it is 94% white, 77% male and 86% over the age of 50). This has a lot to do with why more conservative films triumph over more daring films (Crash d. Brokeback Mountain, The King’s Speech d. The Social Network, etc.), some films of...

Two Ways To Go

Sometime during the Cannes Film Festival (5.15 through 5.26) I’m going to wheedle my way into a market screening of Randall Miller‘s CBGB. Exchange CEO Brian O’Shea announced today he’s acquired int’l rights to this saga of the famed Lower East Side punk-rock club and of founder Hilly Kristal (Alan Rickman). You know Rickman will be tasty but the film will have to get it right in terms of that rank and tattered Bowery & Bleecker atmosphere, particularly as manifested from the mid ’70s to early ’80s.

Two things worry me…no, three. One, there was a male supporting player in Miller’s Bottleshock, which began in the late ’60s or early ’70s, who wore an atrocious hippie-hair wig. That...

“The Machine Learns Nothing”

Pro Video Coalition‘s Eric Escobar has posted a summary of yesterday’s “state of cinema” speech by Steven Soderbergh, delivered at the Kabuki Cinemas under the aegis of the San Francisco Int’l Film Festival. Reporting has apparently been scant due to Soderbergh having requested that no one record video or audio or even take pictures…Jesus.

At one point Soderbergh delivered the following observation, according to Escobar: “Executives Don’t Get Punished But Filmmakers Do: When a film bombs, it’s the fault of the filmmakers. There is no turnover in the executive offices, and the artists are just replaced with new artists and the machine learns...

Big Plotz

Was anyone dumb enough to pay to see Big Wedding this weekend? I wouldn’t watch it with a knife at my back. Any film with a 10% or lower Rotten Tomatoes rating deserves special mention, but the stink was spreading on this one weeks ago. Is Robert DeNiro back to being the once-phenomenal-but-now-diminished actor who will take any paycheck role that comes along, or is he still coasting on that Silver Linings Playbook good will? The latter, right? Give him a pass. But if he keeps this shit up, it’s back to the doghouse.

Churned Mud

So Reese Witherspoon‘s cowardly decision to bail on talk-show appearances earlier this week to promote Mud didn’t hurt the film’s commercial performance. Jeff Nichols‘ well-reviewed rural drama earned $2.1 million on 363 screens, which translates as a $6022 average. Surely a smattering of HE readers have seen it by now. Have critics been over-praising (98% Rotten Tomatoes) or are they on the money? Reactions, please.

Fatty On The Mend

Mouse is perfectly fine. Last Friday the Laurel Pet Hospital staff shaved him, removed the abcess, stitched him up, etc. Antibiotic administered. Four liquid painkillers swallowed. That’s a little drainage tube that’s coming out Monday or Tuesday. Right as rain.

“Wankin’ Banker Assholes”

This clip should be used for a re-edit of Charles Ferguson‘s Oscar-winning Inside Job (’10). Everyone in that film is so brilliant and urbane and measured in their analyses. This Irish guy just spits it out plain and true. Thanks to Moving Picture Blog‘s Joe Leydon for passing it along.

Leydon comments: “This was sent to me by a former shipmate of my late father, Michael Leydon. This guy sure as hell sounds like him. I visited [my dad] in Liverpool (where he spent his retirement...

Strapping Muslim Socialist

Of course I’m posting this 12 hours later than everyone else did last night. What do you expect? This is Hollywood Elsewhere. I have to kick things around and let them settle down to the bedrock before I pass them along. Best line: “Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?” Best staged bit: Daniel Day Lewis starring in Steven Spielberg‘s Obama.

Drop-Dead Beautiful

I’ve just sent the following to George Stevens, Jr. regarding last night’s levitational Shane screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival: “George — I just want to extend a crisp, respectful salute and heartfelt congratulations for a magnificent digital restoration job on Shane, which I saw last night on the big screen at the Chinese in glorious 1.37. Chapin Cutler of Boston LIght & Sound (whom I spoke to in the booth yesterday afternoon) was overseeing the digital projection. It was drop-to-your-knees — the most beautiful rendering I’ve ever seen of this 1953 classic. It was like seeing it new and fresh all over again. It was almost like being there on the set. The detail was to die for.


Poster from