Patton Oswalt is hereafter a God…the George S. Patton of George Lucas haters. This video riff is the single funniest vivisection of the Star Wars prequels ever performed, seen heard…the best. Oswalt starts off by saying that if he could time-travel himself back to 1993, he would…just click on it.
AICN’s Drew McWeeny posted a report this morning about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull crew having “built a reproduction of the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark somewhere in the town of Downey (a totally hellish suburb of L.A. principally known as the childhood home of Richard and Karen Carpenter) and that “they’re staging a sequence there even as you read this.”
McWeeny says he’d “love to see what this warehouse looks like, considering it’s one of the most iconic locations in any of the three movies so far.” Iconic, maybe, but I’ve always seen the Raiders warehouse finale as a real letdown. When I first saw it 26 years ago I said to a girlfriend, “This is how they’re ending it? Some guy driving a forklift? Shitty, dull, nothing. So the Ark has been ignored and buried by the bureaucrats of the FDR administration…big deal.”
HE reader Mr. Gittes said it first a few minutes ago, and it’s probably been said in a lot of other places this morning, but considering the reports from last night’s Austin screening and just for the record (because we’re all sensing that it’s true, especially given the Citizen Kane echoes) …There Will Be Oscars.
Cinematical‘s Scott Weinberg also saw There Will Be Blood last night, and is calling it “a stunning surprise” by way of a “departure” for director Paul Thomas Anderson — a monumental display of evolution that’ll wow the established fans and impress a helluva lot more new ones. This is a dark, compelling and effortlessly engrossing film, one bolstered by a lead performance that ranks among the very best of Daniel Day Lewis‘ impressive career.”
Hold on….”effortlessly engrossing”? Oh, he means on the viewer’s part…fine.
“The film will most often be compared to Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane, so I guess I can get the ball rolling on that particular crutch — but it’s also an apt comparison. Which is not to say that There Will Be Blood will necessarily be dissected and revered 75 years from now, but the stories are certainly similar enough.
“Anderson’s film opens with a long passage of dialogue-free footage: A lone man hacks his way through a mine using a pick-ax and some dynamite. The year is 1898, and Daniel Planview is about to become an oil man. We witness the man’s unwavering resolve as he pulls himself from a vertical shaft after breaking his leg in a fall — and if you think that accomplishment displayed some tenacity…just wait.
“The 160-minute film covers Plainview’s journey from rock-scratcher to oil tycoon as it runs over the course of 29 years. And while it might come as no surprise to learn that Plainview loses more of his soul with every package of professional success, the way in which this potentially predictable story unfolds is nothing short of hypnotic.
“And gosh what a beautiful film to look at. The turn-of-the-century Texas landscape has rarely looked this, well, real, and Anderson paints his canvas with some masterful strokes. The establishing shot that introduces the central town is nothing short of stunning, and there are numerous sequences that simply dazzle the eye. Cinematographer Robert Elswit — a frequent PTA collaborator — should be preparing his ‘it’s an honor just to be nominated’ speech right now.
“And the musical score by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is more than a separate character in the film; it feels more like an aural Greek chorus.”
The Envelope‘s Paul Sheehan has put up a big generous piece showcasing 36 or 37 potential Best Actor nominees, with a separate click-through page and a really nice photo showcasing each would-be nominee. The only weird part is that this isn’t May or June or July — it’s late September and the field has been narrowed down to eight or nine guys, at most, and none of them are Anthony Hopkins in Slipstream! Please!
Due respect to the Envelope-rs, but they need to get with the program. The final quarter is up and rolling, and the finalists are Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Denzel Washington (American Gangster), Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley of Elah), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead), James McAvoy (Atonement), Sam Riley (Control), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), and I’m being generous with two or three of these.
What’s the Envelope’s next move? Running a big piece about the 37 potential Best Actress nominees? It’s fine to run these big-blowjob, give-everyone-a-pat-on-the- back-whether-they-deserve-it-or-not articles if you’re the editor of a Hollywood Reporter special tribute edition and you’re looking to wangle as much advertising as possible, but this is Handicap Season — a time to start thinning out of the herd, not add to it.
N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott has taken a fountain pen and more or less stabbed Wes Anderson right through the heart in his Darjeeling Limited review.
He’s calling the film “precious, unstintingly fussy, vain and self-regarding,” and says that the “humanism” of Jean Renoir or Satyajit Ray “lies either beyond [Anderson’s] grasp or outside the range of his interests.
“His stated debt to The River, Renoir’s film about Indian village life, and his use of music from Ray’s films represent both an earnest tribute to those filmmakers and an admission of his own limitations. They were great directors because they extended the capacity of the art form to comprehend the world that exists. He is an intriguing and amusing director because he tirelessly elaborates on a world of his own making.”
And yet Scott also calls Darjeeling “a treasure: an odd, flawed, but nonetheless beautifully handmade object as apt to win affection as to provoke annoyance. You might say that it has sentimental value.”
HE reader Dan Brown saw Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood at Austin’s Fantastic Fest last night, and his first reaction is that Daniel Day Lewis will indeed get an Best Actor Oscar nomination. “The film really belongs to Lewis,” he says. “He commands every frame he’s in and is a pleasure to watch. It’s a great character and he really sinks his teeth into it.”
Which is an apt phrase given that Anderson, who attended the screening and sat for a q & a session afterwards, said “he was thinking of Dracula” when he wrote Lewis’s character.
“The film is an awesome achievement,” says Brown, “and a great step forward for Anderson. A lot of the criticism being directed at Wes Anderson lately does not apply to this Anderson, who is clearly moving in different directions with each new film but still has a strong visual style.
“I know the film won’t be well received by everyone. The two and a half-hour running time might be off-putting for Middle American styrofoams but I was really into the movie right from the start.” The most interesting sounding aspect, he adds, is that “the first 15 to 18 minutes of the film are dialogue-free.”
Brown’s final comment: “I’m betting you’ll like it.”
Variety‘s Marjorie Baumgarten was also there, and has called Anderson’s film “a true American saga — one that rivals Giant and Citizen Kane in our popular lore as origin stories about how we came to be the people we are. In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre it’s not the gold that destroys men’s souls but greed; in There Will Be Blood, the commodity that drives the greed is oil.”
East Coast Journalist to HE: If Viggo Mortensen ain’t a front-runner for Eastern Promises, I don’t know who is.” HE to East-Coast Journalist: He’s not only not a front-runner — he may not even be a contender.
The centerpiece of his performance — a naked knife fight in a bathhouse — isn’t anyone’s idea of transcendent revelation. (Boiled down, it’s just Cronenberg being fetishy. ) The Russian machismo that permeates this film (the knives, tattoos, sneering attitudes towards women) along with the bowls of borscht and all the Russian culture crap makes this film an endurance test of the lowest order. It oozes ickyness through ever pore.
And that turnaround at the end — “I am naught actually slick-snarly Russian gangster with razor-cut hair….I yam actually [spoiler deleted]” — is an act of screenwriting desperation.
The top five Gurus of Gold Best Actress contenders are Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Julie Christie (Away From Her), Keira Knightley (Atonement), Ellen Page (Juno), and Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).
Julie Christie in Away From Her.
The second five (positions #6 through #10) are Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart), Laura Linney (The Savages), Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire), Cate Blanchett again (in I’m Not There), Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson’s War), Marketa Irglova (Once), Jodie Foster (The Brave One) and Charlize Theron (In The Valley of Elah).
Cotillard is a lock. Christie is very probable. Knightley is a maybe (because some believe that her role in Atonement is close to supporting-level). Page is said to have a headwind but I’m not so sure — she’s smart, gutsy and very likable but her Juno performance is basically a force-of-personality thing. A Blanchett nom for Elizabeth: The Golden Age is out of the question because the movie is a joke, but she’s absolutely miraculous as Blonde on Blonde Dylan in I’m Not There. (Harvey, you know what to do.)
Jolie gave the best performance of her life as Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart, but the quick box-office death of this film (which shouldn’t matter) seems to matter to some. Linney is excellent in The Savages, but the movie’s a grim sit. Paramount/DreamWorks won’t let me see Things We Lost in the Fire so I don’t know about Berry. Julia Roberts has too small a role in Charlie Wilson’s War to qualify. Marketa Irglova is fresh and lovely in Once, but she’s not in the game. Foster gives a full-of-feeling performance in The Brave One but I don’t think it’ll happen (in part because the shoot-em-up story is too ’70s, in part because the ending was too much, in part because the movie fizzled). For my money Charlize Theron is better in Elah than she was in North Country, but that doesn’t cut any ice with the people who are determined to keep this film down and tied up in a burlap bag.
Somebody said it last summer (maybe Poland): Each movie is its own little war.
The top five Gurus of Gold Best Actor contenders are Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley of Elah), James McAvoy (Atonement), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild).
Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood
The vulnerable wildebeests at this stage seem to be Depp and Hirsch — the former because of growing presumptions that Sweeney Todd will be regarded as being too bloody to be a Best Picture contender, and that the fiendish slitter of all those throats may get pulled down along with the film, and the latter because of the sentiments of that producer I heard from earlier today, which, I’ve been told, have been voiced by others.
Lewis’s chances are obviously undefined until people start seeing and reacting to There Will be Blood. I’m pretty sure that Jones and McAvoy are locks.
Two guys may wind up taking Hirsch and Depp’s place — American Gangster‘s Denzel Washington and Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead‘s Philip Seymour Hoffman. They both kill in their respective roles as a Harlem-based, Al Capone-styled heroin wholesaler and a drug-dependent, morally downswirling businessman who hatches a plot to rob his parents’ jewelry store.
The guy who should be in the top five, no question, is Control‘s Sam Riley. I don’t care if anyone knows him or how new he is to the business. His performance as late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis is astoundingly well-calibrated. The fact that Riley never seems to be “acting” is the genius-level ingredient. And yet not one Golden Guru voted for him, and they should be ashamed of themselves for blowing him off in so total a fashion. I mean it — each and every Guru needs to go outside, light a cigarette (even if they don’t smoke), take a 20-minute walk and ask them- selves why they failed to even mention one of the absolute finest performances of the year by an actor of either gender. I’m sorry, but this falls under the heading of “dereliction of duty.” For this oversight alone, this team needs to be regarded as the Gurus of Shame.
The Guru’s second five are Denzel, Eastern Promises‘ Viggo Mortensen (forget it), the Charlie Wilson’s War star Tom Hanks (conceivably), Michael Clayton‘s George Clooney (he got his Oscar for Syriana…won’t happen) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly‘s Mathieu Almalric (an Oscar for a guy blinking his left eyelash?).
What’s so disturbing about Chris Matthews saying the following about Fred Thompson? “Can you smell the English Leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man’s shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of — a little bit of cigar smoke? You know, whatever.”
I think it’s hilarious — it’s like great dialogue from a smart movie. Not Paddy Chayefsky as much as…I can’t think of which screenwriter’s stuff sounds like this precisely, but I love it. Sounds like a real guy talking.
Speaking of Chayefsky: “He had at that time perhaps an hour to live, although prompt treatment would have saved his life. As a staff doctor he was seen without preliminaries. His vital signs were taken, including an electrocardiagram which revealed occasional ventricular premature contractions. An intern took his history, and then he was promptly, simply…forgotten to death.
“Simply mislaid. Mislaid among the broken wrists, the chest pains, the scalp lacerations. The man whose fingers were crushed in a taxi door. The infant with a skin rash. The child swiped by a car. The old lady mugged in a subway. The dere- lict beaten by sailors. The teenage suicide. The paranoids, drunks, asthmatics. The rapes, the sceptic abortions…the overdosed addicts, the fractures, hemmorhages, concussions, boils, abrasions. The colonic cancers, the cardiac arrests…the whole wounded madhouse of our times.”