Indiewire columnist Anthony Kaufman recently passed along a two-pronged statement from producer Ted Hope about The Hawk Is Dying, the somewhat morose Paul Giamatti movie that opens at Manhattan’s Cinema Village tomorrow (on 3.30). Hope said Hawk is now in better shape than when it played to lousy reviews at Sundance 2006, and that he’s so proud of it that “if you go and aren’t truly glad you went, I will personally refund your money…just send me your ticket stub at This is That in New York…I promise.”
Michael Pitt, Paul Giamatti
I saw the Sundance version of Hawk, and it’s nothing close to the kind of film that might prompt anyone to demand a refund. What it is, or was when I saw it, is a movie that lulls you into a nice meditative calm, and then (if you’re running on less than five hours sleep the night before) slumber. I started thinking about catching a snooze very soon after this film began, and the impulse was at least partly about content. It didn’t seem a huge concern — I’ve become disciplined enough at sleep- ing during festival films that I can make myself wake up every ten minutes just to keep up with the plot.
The Hawk is Dying is basically about delusional losers putzing around. It’s not an embarassment, and I don’t see it hurting Giamatti’s career. We all have to work and pay the bills, and sometimes we work with friends for the wrong reasons, and moviegoers understand this, I think.
Set in the south, Hawk is about an owner of an auto upholstery shop named George (GIamatti) who lives with his grotesquely fat sister and her mentally challenged son Fred (Michael Pitt). George is into training falcons, and the footage of him capturing and training a red-tailed falcon is…uhm, educational. And intended as a metaphor about finding vigor and passion and overcoming the mundane stuff.
But any movie that makes a Giamatti performance seem dull or running on empty is definitely doing something wrong, and Pitt really needs to play an average guy soon. Someone who smiles and wears clean clothes and brushes his teeth and talks in complete sentences. Pitt always plays barely articulate zone cases, and I’m starting to wonder if he can do anything else. And if you add a grotesquely fat character of either gender (even in an unobtrusive supporting role) you’ve got an oh-for-three situation.
“The film truly deserves to be seen on the big screen,” says the indefatigable Hope. “We are woefully close to a time when such films will only be available for download, but this, like many others, truly deserves to be seen with light passing through glorious celluloid. I know you know how crucial the early days of a film release are, so please if you don’t have plans for the end of the month, do all you can to get to Cinema Village (or wherever it is playing near you).
“It captures a tour de force performance by Paul Giamatti, raw and incredibly human. [Director Julian Goldberger’s expressionistic style is so well suited to Harry Crews’ tale (his first novel to make it to the screen), both are reinvented in the process. Ten years ago, this would be a film celebrated by the entire industry, but now that indie means something synonymous with the ‘cinema of quality’ that the French New Wave rebelled against so long ago, it gets marginalized precisely because of the wonderful risks it takes — the same very risks that made me and the great team that worked on it want to collaborate with Julian in the first place.
“I do love the phrase (perhaps slightly ironically) ‘vote with your dollars’, but I do think a ticket here is a vote against a steady diet of Norbits and Wild Hogs,” Hope adds. “I truly struggle every day on how we can make sure there is a business that can work that embraces challenging films, films that dare to aim towards art, that involve risk as part of their design. And of course, the key part is all of us buying tickets.”
The people who run Soho House, a private club in the West Village, see themselves as the keepers of an elite but very delicate environment that can be harmed and/or diluted by photos of the club’s interior. I posted an award-level shot of the dining room in this space on Wednesday afternoon, and I was asked by Soho House management this morning to take it down. This episode plus that throughly-unto-itself Soho House vibe I described the other day (i.e., Londoners trying to keep the rude energy of New York outside while maintaining their idea of a certain clubby corporate serenity within) speaks for itself. I am at peace with never going there again. I think I could live with that very nicely.
Mia Farrow and her son Ronan, in their capacity as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, are accusing Steven Spielberg of indirectly aiding and abetting the genocide in Darfur by cuddling up to Beijing government in his upcoming capacity as a 2008 Olympics visual pageant organizer.
“Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur’s genocide?,” Farrow wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal. “Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games? Do the various television sponsors around the world want to share in that shame?
“Because they will. Unless, of course, all of them add their singularly well-positioned voices to the growing calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter in Darfur.”
The news that Dreamgirls Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson has been cast as Forest Whitaker‘s daughter in Winged Creatures, which Hollywood Wiretap’s Pete Hammond reported exclusively earlier today, is supposed to quicken our pulses. I’m stilll trying to understand why this film is called Winged Creatures. (Sorry, but I naturally flashed back to Larry Cohen‘s Q — a film about the winged serpent called Quetzlcoatl.)
Winged Creatures is about a group of disparate people who are commonly affected by a “tragic shooting” in a diner. Question: has there ever been such a thing as a benevolent, easy-going, positive-minded or good-time shooting? Aren’t all shootings, including the shootings of animals, inherently tragic?
Other Winged costars are Jackie Earl Haley (playing another abused/abusive, fucked-up guy), Guy Pearce, Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Embeth Daviditz and Josh Hutcherson. The director is Rowan Woods (the somewhat dull Little Fish); the producer is Robert Salerno (Babel).
“Sources” — i.e., more than one person — have told Radar‘s Jeff Bercovici that George Clooney, who got into some kind of hostile shoving or fisticuffs with David O. Russell during the filming of Three Kings, was somehow involved in circulating those Russell vs. Lily Tomlin I Heart Huckabee video clips that got around a week or so ago.
Stan Rosenfield, Clooney’s p.r. guy, told Bercovici that it’s a bullshit rumor, but the Radar guy is speculating — emphasis on the “s” word — that a sound mixer named Edward Tise (who worked on Three Kings, Good Night and Good Luck and I Heart Huckabees) may have overly sent the video around at Clooney’s behest. Question: why did the person who sent the videos around wait until just recently to make his/her move, when the videos were making the rounds of the talent agencies last fall?)
I fell by last night’s Sopranos premiere (i.e., a screening of the final season’s first two episodes) at the Radio City Music Hall. After it was over, I mean (around 9:40 pm), and as the after-party was about to begin. Fox News entertainment reporter and all-around good guy Bill McCuddy offered to take me inside as his plus-one, but it was mainly a cast-and-crew party, there was a huge, slow-moving line waiting near 50th Street and Sixth Avenue to get in, and it looked like too much of a zoo.
Just after last night’s Sopranos premiere at the Radio City Music Hall — Tuesday, 3.27.06, 9:43 pm
In his usual smiling, smart-assed way, McCuddy said that he was happy with what he saw (“Tony dies in the first episode,” etc.), and a guy standing next to him (presumably a friend, shorter, wearing a nice suit) felt the same.
N.Y. Daily News critic David Bianculli has written that “the first two hours of this final cycle are really good — alternately funny, dramatic, poignant and surprising — but they’re all mostly tease. After last year’s season of simmering, this mixture has to boil — fast. Even the most fervent and forgiving fans of the HBO series (and I count myself among them) have to start looking at the clock and stop excusing every scene as merely a foundation for the Big Ending.”
“Mike Binder‘s an interesting filmmaker,” AICN’s Drew McWeeny wrote two days ago. “As far as I can tell, he’s not chasing any trends. He’s not trying to make the next giantsupermegablock- buster. He’s just a guy who seems to be honing a personal voice, film after film, getting better as he does. He’s never become a hipster fave like Wes Anderson or [Paul Thomas Anderson], and he’s never achieved the pop culture significance of Woody Allen in the early days.
“But he manages to keep getting funding and he manages to keep making fairly personal films the way he wants to. I admire that. And, in a happy coincidence, I also like his movie.”
New York Post critic Lou Lumenick pays a visit to the last operating grindhouse in the New York City area. It’s a greasy dump called the Fair Theatre, “a successor to the tradition of the crumbling, grimy showplaces that used to line both sides of 42nd Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, located on a shabby stretch of Astoria Boulevard near La Guardia Airport.”
Lumenick hopped on the M60 bus and actually visited this place — alone, unarmed, no security escort.
“There appears to be more activity in neighboring rooms,” he writes. “One was showing straight porno, the other gay porno. The latter, I am told, is equipped with private booths for patrons’ use.
“When I begin asking the ticket-taker questions, he summons an assistant manager who said he needed to check with his lawyer. He later told me he was advised not to talk about the theater ‘because of the lawsuit.'”
An inside operator who’s enjoyed a certain perspective on the making of Transformers (Dreamamount, 7.4.07), the forthcoming Michael Bay fantasy-actioner, feels it’s “loads of crap” and “not fit for a barge.” These and other opinions were amusingly conveyed in a Transformer wrap poem that was posted last night on a certain website, and then taken down. A journalist friend copied and and sent it along before the erasure. The Beowulfian account lies three graphs hence.
Merd bombs of this sort never factor into the film’s commercial reception. Older guys taking potshots at a super-expensive pre-pubescent fanboy action FX flick is almost a badge of honor. It’s certainly a matter of very limited consequence in the greater scheme.
What does anyone really expect from Transformers anyway? It’s based on a damn Hasbro toy line (my kids were into Transformers in the early to mid ’90s), so what could possibly manifest beyond a sense of high-robot uber-coolness and a blitz- kreig of hot-lead “Bay-os” (a term coined by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, accor- ding to Variety‘s Dade Hayes, that refers to “automatic weapon fire, rumbling car engines, sweaty military dialogue”).
Before reading it, however, you need to know the players — Bay, DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (allegedly alluded to as “Skorponok”), producers Don Murphy and Tom SeSantos, and DreamWorks production chief Adam Goodman. Anyway, here goes…
TRANSFORMERS WRAP POEM
The film is a wrap?
Wow, how about that!
It’s still loads of crap.
And the Stooges swallow this pap?
Murphy and Desanto lead the cheerleader charge
While Skorponok takes credit by and large.
The fact is today
There is nothing okay
The content of the film’s not fit for a barge.
Let your sugary friend answer the clamor
All you sweet kiddles want in on the drama?
The trouble beginning to end
Is named A-D-A-M Goodman
New studio head Snider
Decided him to fire
But then in a Hail Mary pass
Goodman kissed the right piece of ass
“Do not fire me, no do not please”
The chubby young Goodman said on his knees
I can do something you don’t want to do
I can control Michael Bay just for you.
New studio head Snider
Knew he’s a liar
But decided to stay out of the mess
“Sure Mr. Chubwon, you control Bay-san
And keep this boy’s movie shit off my dress”
Then dumb Mr. Goodman
As only a dunce can
Proceeded to hide in the sand
For the first time in history
It was a complete mystery
How one director had ALL of the power!!!!!!
The film is what it is and that’s all that it is
Most trufans will want to take a long whiz
And though valiant and Brave Tom Ian and Don slaved
Fact is Goodman gave the keys to the Kingdom to Bayed.
If you hate the dumb story
And realize the characters are a worry
And wonder how Bay could screwup so bad
Remember the missive that Sugarboy brought you
It wasn’t just Michael but Goodman too!
Obviously the operator feels very strongly that Transformers could have been something better (better? “better”?) than what has apparently resulted under Bay’s transforming influence. What a lot of bitch-steam over nothing. The more profound malady, as I’ve said two or three times since the days of Pearl Harbor, is that Bay could be a much more influential and widely-respected top-tier director (his chops are second-to-none) if he only had the vision thing…if he only had the willingness (ability?) to grow a soul, or at least direct a script that has one in abundance without Bay-ing it down.