The currents flowing between Will Smith and Charlize Theron in Hancock “are reminiscent of the heat generated by Gable and Harlow, say, or Bogart and Bacall. It turns out that there’s a bond between these two (which I won’t reveal), and the rest of the movie, which includes some superb comic invention as well as scarily turbulent scenes, grows out of it. Hancock suggests new visual directions and emotional tonalities for pop. It’s by far the most enjoyable big movie of the summer.” — from David Denby‘s New Yorker review, dated 7.7.08.
I’ve been sitting on this recording of Rob Reiner talking last Thursday to Pete Hammond during the L.A. Film Festival. It’s well worth it for the story he tells toward the end about Albert Brooks doing a mime bit on Johnny Carson‘s Tonight show back in the late ’70s or early ’80s, and a lesson Reiner learned about how funny is funny even if the audience doesn’t laugh. Because they will eventually.
From a new Vanity Fair spread about Hollywood’s New Wave. I know two of these guys — Amanda Seyfried, 22, co-star (along with Meryl Streep) of Mamma Mia!, and Kristen Stewart of Into the Wild, Adventureland and What Just Happened?. But I’m just not that into Emma Roberts (Wild Child) or Blake Lively (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). Okay, I haven’t heard of them.
“If Michael Moore, Oliver Stone or, God forbid, some effete French director had crafted a feature film that was a thinly disguised political broadside portraying Americans as recumbent tubbos who moved around on sliding barcaloungers with built-in video screens and soft drinks always at the ready, don’t you think there’d be some sort of notice taken?”
So asks Hitsville’s Bill Wyman, the former arts editor for NPR and Salon. His point is that Pixar has done exactly this with WALL*E and that reviewers have barely acknowledged it. Many who have admitted that WALL*E has this social criticism aspect have done so in a vague pussyfoot fashion. The only ones who have stood up Gary Cooper-style and called a spade a spade, says Wyman, are N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott and myself and…I think that’s it. (In Wyman’s piece, I mean. Variety‘s Todd McCarthy and Cinematicals’s James Rocchi also took note.)
“What was rarely analyzed in the reviews is that the earth is deserted because a Wal-Mart-like company called Buy n’ Large has filled it up with trash, and the departed humans, expanded to Big Gulp size, are contentedly gorging themselves amid the comforts of a flying Club Med, where they slide around on those carts, on which they watch TV continuously without even having to sit up completely,” Wyman writes. “While some of the better reviewers mention the beglotted humanoid forms, I found it odd that most mainstream reviewers didn’t bother to point out what the film was saying.
“I’m no film theorist, but I think what director Andrew Stanton is trying to tell us is that we humans eat so much and limit our movements to such a degree that we will soon become immobile whales unable to focus past the video screens permanently affixed in front of our field of vision.
“And not subtextually, either; as my friend Michael Sragow says about such obvious material in films, ‘It’s not subtext — it’s text text.’
One day after Bill Clinton‘s “Obama needs to kiss my ass before I’ll enthusiastically campaign for him” quote was picked up by news services, Clinton and Barack Obama talked on the phone and had a “terrific” conversation, according to this Nedra Pickler AP story filed an hour or so ago.
OBAMA: All right, Bill. How do we do this?
CLINTON: Well, are you ready to kiss my ass on Main Street?
CLINTON: I mean, that would work.
OBAMA: I’ve got a campaign to win, Bill. I need your help. You don’t like me, I can take you or leave you personally and who gives a shit? What do you want?
CLINTON: I want my reputation back. I was Elvis, the first black president. And I want a speech from you that pays tribute to that and puts all that race-monger, race-card player stuff to bed. I want it dead and buried. Like it never happened.
OBAMA: People respect you, Bill. I respect you as far as it goes. No need to dwell on the past.
CLINTON: I want my name back.
OBAMA: You made your bed, Bill. You, not me. I don’t control the press any more than you do. Everyone says you hurt Hillary’s campaign as much as help it. Probably more hurt. You’ve made yourself look emotionally petulant and hair-trigger with this kiss-my-ass thing, which tarnishes your rep. Not presidential, not dignified.
CLINTON: But here we are and you want my help. That’s where we are right now.
OBAMA: I’m not going to get into the way you and Hillary played your cards with the rust-belt voters.
CLINTON: I want to move on the way you want to move on. I have a price, is all. Nothing is for free. Everybody wants what they want. You want what you want, but to get that you need to give me what I want. Or you may not get what you want.
OBAMA: I’ll speak about you with respect and admiration, but I’m not going to go back to the campaign and say what happened didn’t happen. Let’s stand on common ground and go from there. That I’ll do.
CLINTON: Then we need to try again. I want an apology or I stay home. I want to be who I was before you and Hillary got into it last fall. Particularly the guy I was before last January. Before we started campaigning in Iowa.
OBAMA: You’re deluded.
CLINTON: And you can kiss my ass.
OBAMA: Okay, let’s take a break. Try again next week.
Drew McWeeny‘s combo-review piece on The Dark Knight and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, posted this morning at 7:38 am, is too sprawling and wind-baggy. He’s a first-rate writer but it wore me down. That said, here’s the best graph in the whole piece — a tribute to Aaron Eckhart‘s Harvey Dent performance in the Chris Nolan film.
Eckhart “deserves some praise as well for the way he brings Dent to life, and for finding a way to play earnest without becoming overbearing,” Drew says. “Dent’s a more difficult role than the Joker in many ways because there aren’t as many big emotions you can play. He’s a decent, upstanding man who believes in doing things right, in prosecuting criminals instead of fighting them on a street level, and little by little, he’s actually making a difference.
Eckhart, in short, “gives the guy an inner life, just enough quirk to make him seem human, so that when the inevitable tragedy (which really is awful as laid out in the film) occurs, it’s not a simple on-off cartoonish lurch into violence for Dent. We feel it. We believe it. Dent’s physical trauma may be exaggerated, but the emotional side of it is pitch-perfect. And his work as Two-Face is just sad and angry. He’s nothing like the Joker. Hell, I’m not even sure I’d call him a villain.”
It is a profoundly good and nourishing thing to find love and peace with a partner, and so here’s to David Poland having apparently tied the knot in Bermuda over the weekend. Mazel Tov and best wishes! A good thing to do for a fellow in his mid 40s. And may his first child be a masculine child. Poland is good with kids; I’ve seen him in action.
When I was sick with possible blood poisoning a year and a half or two years ago Poland left a “get well” phone message, so it seemed okay and symmetrical to send him a “congratulations and good for you” e-mail a few months ago when I heard he was moving in a marital direction. Poland being Poland, he ignored it. Nice yellow tie, though.
An hour-long chat with Hellboy II director Guillermo del Toro at the Four Seasons early Sunday evening, from roughly 6 to 7 pm.
We talked a little bit about the film, but mainly we discussed The Hobbit (the first part will be more Guillermo, the second more Tolkien/Jackson), the creation of “Bleak House” (his creative hideaway studio he built about five blocks away from the regular family home), his amazing 12 year-old daughter, relations with his father, the conservative tendencies and judgments of video-game producers, his admiration for the “Shadow of the Collossus” video game (engaging storyline, super-intelligent game play), the current doings of Cha Cha Cha, a discussion of “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” etc.
He’s one of the gentlest, kindest and most brilliant guys I’ve ever known. If you don’t know him, listen to the whole hour and it’ll serve as a kind of introduction. I shot a whole video of our chat but it was visually dull and not worth transferring to mp4 so I dumped it.
Last night Collider‘s Steve Weintraub was fuming that Variety‘s Diane Garrett and her editors didn’t credit him for breaking a story “last week” that Legendary Pictures is developing some kind of sequel/prequel to 300 that Frank Miller is writing, Zack Snyder will direct and Warner Bros. will distribute.
Garrett posted Sunday night that “another 300 has been rumored from the start, but last week Snyder and the original producing team stoked a frenzy online when they talked about it at the Saturn Awards.” The online frenzy, says Weintraub, stemmed entirely from his reporting that came from the 300 producers as well as Snyder.
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