“I will tell you right now — Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar,” Good German star George Clooney has told the Associated Press about his costar. “She’s the best actor working today. Not actress — she’s an actor. Intimidating, in a way, to work with an actor that good.”
“Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed clocks in at two and a half hours, yet it’s two and a half hours of jabber and jolt, and [with] enough color for ten crime pictures. It works smashingly. There’s no mercy — not even for the audience. William Monahan‘s dialogue is Mamet-speak played at Alvin and the Chipmunks speed with a broad Boston accent.
“While characters spit yahmuthahfuckedme expletives into one another’s faces (along with peculiar citations of Shakespeare, Freud, and James Joyce), Scorsese and his fab house editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, drive the action brusquely. They can hardly sit still in the present; they leap around in time, splintering a moment into its antecedent and aftermath. They chuck in random splattery head shootings and bashings — like demitasses of espresso in the middle of a long road trip.” — from David Edelstein ‘s review, the best-written about this film yet, in New York magazine.
The wheel is turning, turning. All the top critics are creaming all over this thing. Maybe this Boston crime movie about nothing especially rich or dimensional except for its own brilliant moves is a Best Picture finalist waiting to happen — it’s got a 100% rating so far on Rotten Tomatoes and a 93% rating on Metacritic.
As every knows, Grindhouse (Weinstein Co., 4.07) will be two high-style wank-off movies in one — Robert Rodriguez‘s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof. Two guys who are capable of much, much more slumming by making a couple of B movies in quotes. Point is, this thing became more interesting since the stories started getting around last summer about Rodriguez disassembling and losing his focus during the shooting of Death Planet because he was so emotionally shattered over getting divorced from his wife and producer, Elizabeth Avellan.
This freakout — a couple of guys I’ve spoken to have used the antiquated term “nervous breakdown”, which is a leftover from the ’50s and ’60s — didn’t detonate the movie, but it came close. “It was touch and go, but they got through it,” a guy tells me. And I gather some exta costs were incurred, whcih always happens when a film isn’t made in a perfectly ordered and coordinated way.
Rodriguez is “a traditional Hispanic Catholic male,” a friend says, “who depended on Elizabeth to nurture, support and protect him..and when that marriage fell apart [after some 16 years of togetherness], he lost it.”
The intrigue for me is, does an artist need to have to have a smooth, happy, secure, well-ordered personal life to do good work? Maybe this is necessary for some people, but I don’t know that this is vital for everyone. This sounds a bit cold, but I’m thinking that Planet Terror will probably be a more layered thing to watch now, given what’s happened. In the same sense that Douglas Trumbull‘s Brain- storm (’83) became unavoidably more intriguing with everyone knowing that costar Natalie Wood had drowned not long after it was made.
I did some reporting in ’99 about other Neos who might have starred in The Matrix (Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith), and I never heard squat about Kevin Costner being offered the part so take this Guardian story (or this aspect of it) with a grain. Richard Burton would have been sublime as Brutus in Joseph L. Manckiewicz‘s 1953 production of Julius Caesar (which is out on DVD on 11.7) Julia Roberts blew it big-time by turning down Gwynneth Paltrow‘s role in Shakespeare in Love. Warren Beatty would have been perfect as Hubbell Gardiner (the role that Robert Redford finally took) in The Way We Were. Ben Affleck back-dooring Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain?….in ’97, maybe, but too old for the part in 2005. There’s something extremely weird about the idea of Jimmy Cagney in green tights as Robin Hood. And whoever wanted to see Chevy Chase whacking off in the shower in American Beauty, in Kevin Spacey‘s Lester part, needs to be found and punished.
The Oregonian‘s film critic Shawn Levy has written a piece about how October is a great old time for film festivals in his neck of the woods. He chooses to mention three — the Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Oct. 6-15), the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (Oct. 6-8) and the Local Sightings Film Festival (Oct. 6-11) — but he can’t afford any space for the poor little Bend Film Festival (Oct. 12-16) — an indie-attitude shebang happening in Bend, Oregon, a nice little town a bit south of Redmond.
Late Monday afternoon/Yom Kippur update: Levy has written to explain he was only covering first-week-in-October festivals in his piece and will cover Bend big-time next weekend. I’m going to be part of the Bend Film Festival as a juror starting a week from Thursday. (I’ve been trying to watch the submitted films on DVD over the last two weeks…don’t ask.) MCN contributor Ray Pride will also be juror-ing there. I wouldn’t even be going if Levy, a Bend Film Festival fan along with Gus Van Sant and John Waters, hadn’t recommended my services to the organizers in the first place.
William J. Mann, the respected author of “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn” (Holt & Co.), describes Katharine Hepburn‘s “lifelong affection for women,” as Janet Maslin puts it in her N.Y. Times book review, as “the elephant in the room.”
I for one could never really imagine Hepburn making love with a man…not Spencer Tracy, not Charlie Allnut, not Rossano Brazzi. Whatever and whomever she let into her life and heart, hetero mambo never seemed part of the deep-down picture. And you can always sense these things, to some extent. Not everyone was readable, but many were. You could always detect on some level the inclinations of Montgomery Clift, James Dean, et. al. And there was never any missing the fact that Frank Sinatra was straight.
Maslin writes that “from [Hepburn’s] early friend Laura Harding, who described herself as ‘Miss Hepburn’s husband,’ to Phyllis Wilbourn, a companion of 40 years about whom Hepburn said, ‘Phyllis and I are one,’ women figure prominently in Mr. Mann’s thinking. [But] his goal here is less to detect lesbian relationships than to reiterate how greatly Hepburn’s public and private identities diverged.”
A couple of years ago Leonardo DiCaprio confided to a friend that he’ll occasionally catch a film at the grungy-ass Beverly Cinema, a repertory house I haven’t gone to since the late ’80s because of the gummy-sticky syrup on the floor that sticks to the soles of your shoes — photo taken Sunday, 10.1.06…but maybe they’ve cleaned up the floors since, and apparently they’ve installed a relatively new sound and projection system; (a) Alpine near Broadway in Chinatown — Sunday, 10.1.06, 9:55 pm; (b) object d’art in front of Pacific Design Center — Saturday, 9.30.06, 9:25 pm; (c) Little Childen costar Patrick Wilson during Toronto Film Festival — he plays a daydreamy married guy…a guy only half imbedded in his own life, and looking to be 15 again…and is, I feel, really and truly exceptional in the role, as good as his celebrated costar Kate Winslet; (d) Taco joint on eastern Melrose, a mile or so west of downtown.
I’m well aware that providing a link to this shot of an Italian magazine cover is in bad taste, but I’d never happened across this photo before last weekend. It’s from a link sitting on the Diana Princess of Wales Wikipedia page, and with The Queen having just opened in New York and opening this weekend in Los Angeles, I’m guessing others might want to have a quick peek.
I was going to write “separated at birth” or some other smart crack, but it really boils down to a certain ad agency affinity for ominous pre-thunderstorm clouds as portents of heavy-osity — a minor zeitgeist current that briefly affected a couple of graphic designers a few months ago.
Tom Tykwer‘s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Dreamamount, 12.27), which isn’t expected to blow anyone’s socks off on these shores, has now brought in $47.3 million in Europe, with $28.4 million in Germany alone. It opens Wednesday in France. Here’s a U.K. teaser-trailer and the German teaser/final trailer.
On The Huffington Post, Liberal democratic activist and blogger Bob Geiger wrote yesterday that “while some would say we need additional evidence that the Iraq war is prosecuted by a bunch of Republican liars as much as we need more proof that disgraced GOP Congressman Mark Foley is a pervert, it’s still important that everyone catch [last night’s] 60 Minutes to see “State of Denial” author Bob Woodward [explain] in agonizing detail how George W. Bush and the Republican party have lied to the American people on the level of violence in Iraq and, in particular, the intensity of attacks against U.S. troops.
“Woodward details that, no matter what nonsense Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld spew daily about how great things are going in Iraq, it has indeed gone to hell in a hand basket and will get worse, not better, in 2007.
“The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,'” Woodward told 60 Minutes interviewer Mike Wallace last night . “Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know.”
“The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn’t know? The American public,” said Woodward.
Aaaah, but does the public really want to know? And what would they do if they did, doped into submission and docile as zoo animals as most of them are? There has long been a determination among millions of red-state Americans to interpret all pessimistic-realistic reporting about Iraq as the ravings of lefty Bush haters, and so the hard truths get tuned out.
And let’s not forget the mainstream American news media and its longstanding reluctance to hit hard enough and uncover enough about the Iraq situation. Why does it seem that documentary filmmakers like Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes), Michael Tucker and Petra Eppelin (The Prisoner, , Gunner Palace), Patricia Foulkrod (The Ground Truth) and Michael Moore (Farenheit 9/11) seem to tell it more plainly and persuasively than news media types in their daily/weekly reportings?
There’s an answer to this question — a fundamental answer, I believe — and it’s right there in Robert Kane Pappas‘ documentary called Orwell Rolls In His Grave.
“U.K. directors have such great faces. All those fags and Guinesses.” — Jamie Stuart commenting on the walrus-bulldog features of The Queen director Stephen Frears in his latest video mini-doc from the 44th New York Film Festival. (Some, I’m presuming, have never seen a British kitchen-sink movie or been to England, and therefore don’t know that “fags” is a slang term for cigarettes.)