I can’t find a stand-out money quote, but Peter Rainer‘s Bloomberg.com piece about Richard Dreyfuss is well phrased and fully felt. Four months from turning 60, Dreyfuss used to be an essential player who was sent all the best scripts early on. He deserves a lot better than what he’s getting today. I’m sure he was glad to be hired to play a loaded gay guy in The Poseidon Adventure, but it felt to me like a minor insult.
For some unfathomable, better-left-unexplored reason I went to an L.A. Film Festival screening a few hours ago of a newly colorized version of 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), which will come out on DVD on 7.31.07. I came out with the bitter knowledge that I’d just pissed away 90 minutes of my time on this planet because I liked the movie when I was a kid (i.e., when I had no taste) and because I was curious how good or bad this newly colorized verison might be.
The colorizing, personally supervised by stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, looks like an attempt to imitate over-saturated 1950s-style color and as such isn’t half bad, but of course all colorizing makeovers are bad regardless of the care and skill involved. (The upside is that the DVD will reportedly include the original black-and-white version in both 1.33 to and 1.85.)
The film itself gets more ludicrous each time I watch it. It’s hard to know where to begin because every single aspect of this film is amateurishly, sometimes comically “off” in one way or another. I can only surmise that the director, Nathan Juran, was some kind of shameless, talentless, low-budget monster-movie stooge.
Each and every line of Christopher Knopf and Robert Creighton Williams‘ dialogue is somewhere between painful and inept. Each and every actor (William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia, Tito Vuolo, et. al.) seems to doing parodies of clueless, stiff-necked 1950s-style line deliveries. The creature — an ugly green reptile with big whiskers and the arms and torso of a gay body builder down at Gold’s Gym– has no genitalia or waste-disposal orifices. Taylor’s character (i.e, “almost a doctor”) runs down a dirt road in Sicily to attend to an emergency situation wearing black high heels. An American child actor (Bart Braverman) pretends to be a Sicilian kid by imitating Robert Blake‘s Mexican lottery salesboy accent in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
William Hopper, Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause
And one thing about the colorizing is plain stupid. Hopper, the son of columnist Hedda Hopper, had prematurely white-gray hair in the ’50s and never attempted to hide this. It’s unmistakably gray (mixed in with some black) in his performance as Natalie Wood’s pissy dad in Rebel Without a Cause, and yet the 20 Million Miles to Earth colorizing team decided to make his hair light-brown sandy. Not quite on the level of some technician’s decision in the mid ’90s to make Frank Sinatra‘s eyes brown in a colorized version of Suddenly! (1954), but pretty close.
Whoa, whoa…the iPhone doesn’t have a replacable battery? N.Y. Times “Talking Business ” columnist Joe Nocera was jerked awake by the following passage in David Pogue‘s early-bird review of the device, to wit: “Apple says the [iPhone] battery starts to lose capacity after 300 to 400 charges. Eventually, you’ll have to send the phone to Apple for battery replacement, much as you do now with an iPod, for a fee.”
“That couldn’t be, could it?,” the mind-boggled Nocera asks. “Did Apple really expect people to mail their iPhones to Apple HQ and wait for the company to return it with a new battery? It was bad enough that the company did that with the iPod — but a cellphone? Cellphones have become a critical part of daily life, something we can barely do without for an hour, much less days at a time. Surely, Mr. Jobs realized that.
“When you do what I do for a living, this sort of question is usually pretty easy to clear up. You ring up a company spokesman, and get an answer. But at Apple, where according to Silicon Valley lore even the janitors have to sign nondisclosure agreements, there is no such thing as a straightforward answer. There is only spin.
“‘Apple will service every battery that needs to be replaced in an environmentally friendly matter,’ said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman. He went on: ‘With up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of Internet use, 7 hours of video playback or 24 hours of audio playback and more than 10 days of standby time, iPhone’s battery life is longer than any other smartphone.’
“This response didn’t even attempt to answer the question I’d asked him, which was how Apple planned to service its batteries. But never mind. This is another Apple innovation: the robotic spokesman, who says only what he’s been programmed to say.
With Apple taking the position that the battery replacement issue was not something it needed to share with reporters — much less buyers of the iPhone — I went elsewhere in search of answers. I talked to design experts, battery wonks, technology geeks, and Mr. Mossberg of The Journal, the dean of technology reviewers.
“One thing I wanted to know was why Apple had made a cellphone without a removable battery in the first place; it seemed like such an extreme act of consumer unfriendliness. If the iPod was any guide, batteries were inevitably going to run down. With most cellphones, when the battery has problems, you take it to a store, buy a new battery, let the salesman pop it in, and start using it again. Why wasn’t Apple willing to do that?
“It is about assured obsolescence,” said Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, a technology consulting firm. “That is why they don’t have a replaceable battery in the iPod. But the problem here is that the iPhone will run out of battery life before the two-year service contract runs out.”
Two particular-interest quotes are contained in Michael Ceiply and Mark Landler‘s N.Y. Times piece (Saturday, 6.30) about the standoff/ contretemps between Tom Cruise and German military officials over their opposition to Cruise playing Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the German Army officer who led a plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944, in Bryan Singer‘s soon-to-shoot Valkyrie.
Quote #1 is from German journalist Josef Joffe: “Stauffenberg for Germans is like Jefferson and Lincoln, motherhood, and apple pie all rolled into one. Germany is a country of established churches, and so Scientology is viewed as a cult and, worse, totalitarian and exploitative. A professing Scientologist in the role of Stauffenberg is like casting Judas as Jesus. It is secular blasphemy.”
Quote #2 is Singer saying “frankly, I was not aware of the issue of Scientology here in Germany.” What’s the point of saying this, even if it’s true? It makes Singer look clueless, which is he’s never been and never will be. Official German animus towards Scientology has been a fairly well-reported position for several years. Here’s a January 2002 BBC report stating that Cruise “has been lobbying officials in Germany over the country’s strong stance against Scientology.” It’s not credible of Singer or any purportedly aware industry person to claim ignorance of this issue, particularly one who’s about to make a film with Cruise in Germany.
Ratatouille, the weekend’s #1 film, is projected to tally $48,406,000, having earned $16,075,000 on Friday. Yes, that makes it the softest Pixar opening since 1988’s A Bug’s Life, but that’s to be expected with such a relatively exotic and sophisticated subject (the travails of a French rat who wants to be a chef). But it’s going to show legs once people see it and talk it up.
Live Free or Die Hard did a little over $10 million last night — figure $30.8 million for the weekend and a five-day cume of $45.8 milliion — hjgher than expected.
Evan Almighty will do $15,947, 000, which is a 49% drop from last weekend. It cost $200 million-plus and it’s not going to make $100 million at this rate. The likelihood is that it’ll come in closer to $80 or $85 million all in.
1408 will earn $11 million this weekend, down 40% from last weekend’s debut. Not bad
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer will end up with $8,188,000 — why do people keep going to this thing? Knocked Up will come in sixth with $7,450,000. Oceans 13 is seventh with a projected $5,995,000. Pirates 3 will be eighth with $4,775,000. Evening will be ninth with $3,918,000 and $4000 a print — not going anywhere.
Sicko is tenth with a projected $3,916,000, or .just under 9000 a print. I’m told that the Weinsteiners were looking for $6 or $7 million. They just need to build this thing and circulate the word.
The second week of A Mighty Heart will bring it about $1,607,000, off 55% La Vie en Rose is still doing pretty well with over $7 million now — good for subtitled film You Kill Me did about 156,000 last night.
“The studios are so dependent on pre-existing brands, they’re not allowing anything new into the pipeline. They want to know what was the video game or what was the comic book. It’s shortsighted. But what’s being missed is the next generation of new stuff. Because nostalgia is creative death.” — Transformers producer Tom DeSanto, speaking to N.Y. Times reporter David Halbfinger.
Halbfinger mentions that DeSanto’s partner, Don Murphy, is “widely reviled by executives at Paramount and DreamWorks for allowing his personal website (donmurphy.net) to be used by Transformers fans to attack the two studios, and the movie√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s lead producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, in vicious personal terms. (They called him Scorponok, after one of the evil robot characters in the movie.)”
Here’s a portion of a poem that an anonymous poster left on Murphy’s site last March:
“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!”