You have to look askance considering the source, but Life & Style Weekly reported towards the end of the Cannes Film Festival (when I wasn’t paying attention, for two dozen or so reasons) that there’s more trouble on the TomKat front. I don’t usually get into this stuff, but Katie’s reported “you can’t stop me!” quote struck me as mildly funny. Why, I can’t exactly say…but I smirked. The item comes by way of Jeannete Walls‘s MSNBC gossip column.
Newsvine is reporting that Blade Runner fans are going to be hustled by Warner Home Video into purchasing two more DVD versions of Ridley Scott‘s 1982 future-noir. The item isn’t written as clearly as it should be, but it seems to say that Scott’s “director’s cut”, which first appeared on DVD in 1997, is “being restored and remastered for a brief DVD reissue in September.” Four months later, or sometime in December ’06 or January ’07, this version will be “deleted” (i.e., withdrawn from the market) and replaced by a 25th anniversary “final cut”, which Warner Home Video is billing as Scott’s “definitive new version” of the film.
I presume the rights have already been optioned or bought, but here’s an ideal source for a very strong, possibly very commercial and perhaps even award-calibre Ziyi Zhang movie that could be theoretically helmed by Ang Lee or Wong Kar Wai. It’s basically an emotional wartime diary, initially serialized in newspapers and recently published in book form, about a real-life North Vietnamese female doctor named Dang Thuy Tram who was killed at age 27 on a Vietnam battlefield in 1970. Seth Mydans‘s Herald Tribune article doesn’t mention the title (weird), but the diary has become a best-seller in Vietnam, and if the right people produced the movie version it would have a potential to be a major emotional journey for Americans also, partly because of the lingering guilt factor over Vietnam. With the right chops, it could become a critics’ darling, an art-house hit and perhaps even an Oscar contender. Mydans’ article describes it as a tale of “love, loneliness and death on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” [Tram], he reports, “was killed in an American assault after serving in a war zone clinic for more than three years. The combination of revolutionary fervor and the vulnerabilities and self-doubts of a too-sensitive young woman might be called ideology with a human face, reminding readers that it was people like them, trapped in a moment of history, who died on their behalf.” The journey of the diary itself, he writes, “has given it a special postwar symbolism for [the Vietnamese]. It was returned to [Tram’s] family just last year by a former American soldier who recovered it” on the battlefield where she died. I don’t disagree with reader Daniel Zelter‘s view that “after Memoirs of a Geisha, Ziyi’s had enough of faking Asian roles different to her own background. But here’s a brilliant idea — why not have a Vietnamese girl play the part?” I mentioned Ziyi mainly because she resembles Dang Thuy Tram’s photograph (scroll down a bit…it’s there), and of course because she’d presumably sell more tickets than a Vietnamese actress would. That sounds coarse, doesn’t it?
I didn’t get to see all the highly-rated Cannes films, but for what it’s worth I agree completely with L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan’s statement that “perhaps the best of the slighted films [among the Cannes Film Festival award-winners]” was Guillermo del Toro‘s Pan’s Labyrinth. But as del Toro told me last Thursday evening, Labyrinth‘s accomplishment was simply being shown in Cannes, given the snobbish attitudes that have long prevailed about films with fantasy-and-FX elements, and that a possible award was never realistically in the cards. “The winners have already been spoken for,” del Toro declared. Turan, by the way, has made a small error in describing del Toro as “the Mexican writer-director of Chronicles and The Devil’s Backbone .” Del Toro was one of five producers of 2004’s Chronicles (better known as Cronicas), but he wrote and directed 1993’s Chronos, a masterful vampire film that I presume Turan was referring to. I also wonder about a quote in Turan’s piece from Cannes Jury chief Wong Kar Wai, which is that Ken Loach‘s The Wind That Shakes the Barley “was the unanimous choice for the top prize” — i.e., the Palmes d’Or. I share the same view that Hollywood Reporter columnist Anne Thompson expressed last Sunday night: “I suspect that the jury locked over Babel vs. Volver and wound up giving the Palme d’Or to eight-time competition entrant Ken Loach, who had never won the big prize.”
Tracking on The Omen (20th Century Fox, 6.6.06) is expected to uptick this week (as all films do the closer you get to their opening day), but it wasn’t looking very good a week and a half ago. What are the gut attitudes among HE readers? We’ve all seen the trailer and developed a sense of it. Are devil movies over or…? Is there any intrigue in John Moore trying to re-jigger the Richard Donner original (which seems to have been more or less the plan)? How comfortable is everyone with Liev Schreiber playing Gregory Peck, and Julia Styles as Lee Remick? I for one am looking forward to Mia Farrow playing Damian’s nanny-nurturer-enabler…her first villain role, I believe. The more replies, the better.
“Newspapers, which increased rates for movie advertising as other categories fell apart after the dot-com bust, may be partly to blame for the prospect of a paperless movie industry. ‘I know everyone is trying to make it come true because the cost of print ads could be considered extortion in some jurisdictions,’ said Mark Cuban, who founded 2929 Entertainment, which produces, distributes and exhibits a variety of films. ‘Every distributor wants to find the best promotional mix away from traditional media and get a far greater bang for their buck,” Mr. Cuban said.” — from David Carr‘s N.Y. Times piece about two and a half topics — the changing movie-marketing landscape, the ongoing animus between big-wheel distributors and film critics (and how distribs circumventing critics is becoming an increasingly common tactic), and how critics (especially print critics) are dropping more and more off viewer radar screens these days.
“This is not a movie that is likely to draw many people who don’t agree with its premise,” writes Time‘s Karen Tumulty in her piece that pays a certain attention to Al Gore‘s An Inconvenient Truth, but is more taken with the ex-Vice President’s newfound movie-celebrity aura that came from his promoting Truth at the Cannes Film Festival last week. The above quote essentially passes along the notion that the incontrovertible evidence that global warming has reached a very critical stage is (here we go again) a debatable premise. This is appalling irresponsible horseshit on Tumulty’s and Time‘s part, and a prime example of how mainstream corporate-owned media, in the name of being “fair” and “balanced” and airing both sides of an issue, spins the Big Lie. As long as equivocating fence-sitters keep saying that global warming is debatable and that there’s another way to look at it (i.e., the proverbial Bush-Cheney view that we don’t want to go off half-cocked, that we’ve got fat incomes to consider, that there’s time to sort things out without radically changing course, that things aren’t as bad as Gore and the greenheads say), the carbon alcoholics who are dug into their denial foxholes about their energy-consuming lifestyles will have a rationale to cling to. As Gore says in the film, scientific journals are unanimous about global warming, but when you read mainstream media the fudging kicks in. Nice work, guys. Keep it up.
When the news is sluggish and the domestic releases don’t feel all that exciting, run an evergreen piece. This one, amusing and well-reported and written by Newsweek ‘s Devin Gordon, is about what an expensive cumbersome pain-in-the-neck movie premieres have become in the eyes of studio publicists and talent-reppers. I knew that “a perfectly serviceable premiere can be arranged for about $100,000” but not that “most cost at least three times that.” The piece echoes the mixed, not wondrously happy emotions voiced in that Variety piece I linked to yesterday that asked whether the big-studio Cannes premieres were worth it. But who really wants to see premieres go away? As Gordon’s piece indicates, the talent would feel dissed if the studio didn’t throw one in honor of their new film. Besides, the industry generally loves them for their ritualistic aspects. I know a lot of women in Los Angeles who would feel lost at sea and without much to do with their lives if there were no premieres to haunt every week.
There’s a passage from Adam Gopnik‘s New Yorker piece about David Andress‘s “The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) that got my blood going more than all of Sofia Coppola‘s Marie-Antoinette did. Cannes ’06 is history and I’d normally leave this appallingly self-centered film alone, considering the October release date in the States and all, but Marie-Antoinette is playing in Paris right now, and all those metro posters have a way of seeping into your bloodstream. “It was the secret flight of the King’s family from their palace in Paris to Varennes on the night of June 22, 1791, that precipitated the Terror,” Gopnik writes. “The weak and well-meaning King Louis XVI” — Jason Schwartzman in Coppola’s film — “got talked into fleeing toward the border of the Austrian Netherlands, where loyalist troops waited. Andress places some of the blame for this folly on the queen, Marie-Antoinette, who, true to her popular reputation, could not accept that things had changed or see that a monarchy non-absolute in power would be better off in the long run. The King’s flight was a galvanizing event for the revolutionary radicals in Paris; it at once vindicated their fears and justified their excesses.” It occurred to me as I read Gopnik’s piece that Coppola’s film might have have had at least some sense of dramatic urgency or historical fibre if she’d structured it as a flashback thing that begins and ends with Marie-Antoinette in prison, awaiting her execution and having little to do but think back to the balmy Versailles days, when life was odd and constricted and regulated, and yet tranquil.
Strolling across Place Clichy on Sunday evening — 5.28.06, 9:55 pm.
And (a) Le Divette du Moulin on rue Lepic — Sunday, 5.28.06, 5:50 pm; (b) Doudingue, a cool little restaurant on the corner to the left, sitting in a centrally located portion of Montmartre’s rue Durantin — Sunday, 5.28.06, 6:30 pm; (c) Near entrance to the metro at Place Clichy — Sunday, 5.28.06, 9:45 pm; (d) Four of five blocks north of Gare du Lyon — Monday, 5.29.06, 9:25 am; (e) arched stone entranceway to a courtyard like a million others in Paris…except that this one seemed different; (f) rue d’Abesses — Sunday, 5.28, 6:15 pm.
“It’s a shame,” a studio exec told Variety‘s Nicole Laporte and Ian Mohr in a story about the peril of screening big-studio films at the Cannes Film Festival. “Cannes is a way to get so much exposure in one weekend and accumulate good will in the media. You work for this your whole life, and then the critics make it so awful.”