For what it’s worth, Frank Langella seems a little more Nixon-like in this than he did in the Broadway play, which required broader strokes and playing to the upper balcony. (On top of which his size — Langella is a big man — couldn’t be disguised on stage, but it can here.) Michael Sheen, also, naturally, seems to be using more subtlety in his performance as David Frost.
But you know what I’m also feeling? That the name-level supporting players — Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfadyen — are going to deliver first-rate snap, edge, smarts. We know Langella and Sheen are going to score, but the second bananas are going to bring it home.
Old news, happened five days ago, etc., but let no one say Bill Murray lacks that quietly confident machismo thing — perhaps churning within (who knows?) but dry, calm, self-amused. Grace under pressure. But whatever happened to jumping on your own and pulling your own ripcord? It’s a bit pussy-ish to jump with a guy on your back…no?
Yesterday Variety‘s Anne Thompson did some good spade work in uncovering what really happened between Warner Bros., Tom Cruise and The 28th Amendment. Alluded to by L.A. Times reporter Rachel Abramowitz, yes, but not as specifically as Thompson explains. What it all boiled down to was that Cruise wanted to play a beleagured U.S. president fighting a shadow cabal or the reins of power, and WB basically said nope, can’t do it, won’t fly. As Thompson says at the very end of the piece, “Wow.”
Those Robert Harris-supervised restorations of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II will be shown theatrically starting on 9.12 at New York’s Film Forum, with concurrent bookings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s all a plug for the 9.23 DVD/Blu-ray release of these two (plus The Godfather, Part III, which no one cares about). Harris did his usual first-rate work under the direction of Francis Coppola and the legendary Gordon Willis.
T-shirt worn by waitress at special screening of Harris-restored Godfather on the Warner Bros. lot several months ago.
“Two nights ago, Fox News aired the first of two presidential candidate documentaries called ‘Character and Conduct.’ First up [was] Barack Obama, whose documentary pretends really hard that it’s not full of stereotypes and insinuations. Couldn’t stomach it Monday evening? We’ve got it for you in a minute.” — from a video-piece introduction by the 23/6 guys, posted today. [Thanks to Jett, who linked to this today in one of his first postings for The Beef.]
The people who will make Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney, 10.3) a hit when it opens are are not “bad,” but their support of this film, which I see as a metaphor for the shopping-mall plasticity and icky phoniness that has taken over this country’s middle-class culture, will signify a kind of spiritual tragedy in this country. Just as you can look at, say, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and say, yup, on some level that was America in 1937, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is a kind of reflection of us.
Because the indications are that this movie is the worst. The trailers are giving me a kind of celluloid Cancun vibe, and I’ve been to Cancun and seen the dead expressions in the faces of the people staying in those awful swanky hotels, so don’t tell me.
I used to take my young boys to every crappy kiddie movie that came along back in the ’90s, and so I obviously get why today’s parents will be doing the same with Chihuahua. It’s just a movie and who cares…right? But the grotesque attitude and sensibility behind this film, to judge by the trailers, is wretched and stupefying. A spiritually healthy country — one with its head and heart in the right place, and its communal soul connected to something other than the latest cheap consumer high — would pay it little mind. And here I am sounding like a grouch for saying this.
But there’s another grouch who will benefit, I strongly suspect, from the people who will love this film, and I mean John McCain. Fairly or unfairly, delusional or dead-on, I have come to believe that the mentality that supports McCain draws water from the same well that will “heart” Beverly Hills Chihuahua. You have to be a little bit dumb and lame of spirit to not be appalled by the Chihuahua trailers, just as I believe that a significant slice of McCain’s support (though obviously not all of it) is coming from the easygoing, sandals-and-white-socks-wearing clueless class.
The racial-minded, low-information, 55-and-over whites who react to media-cycle spasms and shift allegiances at the drop of a hat are moving away from the skinny mulatto guy and shifting towards the old white guy. It may as well be faced. The election could go the wrong way, and the wrong people — led by a curmudgeonly old coot who doesn’t know from computers and gets details wrong left and right and who will surely bog us down in the muck of the Middle East and add an attitude of smug belligerence to foreign policy, and who will surely allow the climate-change situation to worsen, and who will almost certainly serve only one term — could take hold of the reins next January.
The latest Zogby-Reuters poll suggests it could happen. The last best chance this country has to turn things around could be lost, and the sentiments of the dug-in rural dumb-asses could indeed turn the tide. Barack Obama has the older women and men against him and isn’t making the headway that he should, and people like me are seriously scared. It could even be over as we speak, as N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd has sardonically suggested. I feel grim as hell. Especially if the feared Bradley Effect means than Obama may lose 5% of his lead in the polls (if he has such a lead come Election Day) when people actually go into the voting booths.
If I were Obama I would swallow my pride and self-emasculate by choosing the hateful, hollow and thoroughly demonic Hillary Clinton as his vice-president. Then, at least, he’d have a real scrapper on his team, and he’d pull in a good portion of the resentful Hillary hold-outs, and his numbers would kick up. It’s hard to suggest this with a straight face, but at least, then, he’d have a decent shot at winning. And isn’t that better than losing to the white-haired guy and ushering in the same old instincts and syndromes that have taken this country down?
A major turning of the page — an historic cultural turnover, a generational changing of the guard — would happen with an Obama victory. I wish there was some way to analogize this without comparing Team Obama — a fairly unradical bunch with moderately progressive ideas and intentions — to 20th Century communists, but the fact is that the “reds” in this country — dominated by the insufficiently educated rurals over 55 — are opposed to Obama in much the same way that the counter-revolutionary “white” Russians were opposed to the Bolsheviks, the conservative, plantation-owning Cubans were opposed to Castro, and the friends and allies of Chang Kai Shek were opposed to and tried to undermine the Chinese Communists after they took over in 1949.
In each case the Russian, Cuban and Chinese socialists went after the counter-revolutionaries like gardeners go after crab grass and dandelions, and it wasn’t pretty. Acts of political vengeance never are. All I can say is that as horrible as any act of political repression is and always will be, there’s a part of me that at least understands why the Russians, Cubans and Communists Chinese acted as they did. Because I despise the American “reds” as a cultural pestilence. They stand for and support everything that is regressive, selfish, racist, shallow, corpulent and hee-hawish in this country. They are the Chihuahua-embracers, the WALL*E tele-tubbies — and God save us if their boy wins.
It certainly is exciting trying to calculate if Tropic Thunder will hold on to its #1 slot this weekend minus the Beijing Olympics competition, or whether Jason Statham‘s Death Race, which no one with a smidgen of taste, education or discernment cares about seeing, might nudge ahead by a million or so.
Followed, almost certainly, by The Dark Knight in third place with $9 or $10 million, with the $500 million mark now in sight. The Ana Faris comedy The House Bunny — why is there a “The” in that tile? — will probably be fourth with $7 or $8 million. The pink being used in the one-sheets and trailers is a signal to shallow under-25s females who are jones-ing for another Legally Blonde-type experience. Life is all about blondness, charm, heart, empathy, being loved and desired and going “oop-boop-bee-doop.”
Fox’s The Rocker, getting little traction despite (or because of?) Office star Rainn Wilson, will be fifth.
Directed and written by Darren Grodksy and Danny Jacobs, Humboldt County (Magnolia, 9.26) is an eccentric comedy about a failed medical student (Jeremy Strong), his new girlfriend (Fairuza Balk) and a community of eccentric pot-growers (or pot users or whatever) in northern California. Peter Bogdanovich, Frances Conroy and Brad Dourif costar.
A dull and poorly focused shot of the new Body of Lies billboard in Times Square, posted by some guy at Reel Suave. It looks like it was taken with a cell-phone camera. If I’d been there with my Canon I’d have gotten something. I am the Times Square billboard-photographing Zen master when I’m there.
I thought that basic primer articles about the RED digital camera happened a couple of years ago and now we’re on to bigger and better things. Nonetheless, here’s an 8.18 Wired aticle by Michael Behar that reads like one of those “hey, have you heard about this?” run-downs. There must be something new about it that I’m missing.
I’ve seen a Red Cam up close and it didn’t have this metal insect look with the extensions and doohickeys.
“It’s the first digital movie camera that matches the detail and richness of analog film,” Behar writes, by “recording motion in a whopping 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution — 4K in filmmaker lingo — and 2,304 of vertical.
“For comparison, hi-def digital movies like Sin City and the Star Wars prequels top out at 1,920 by 1,080, just like your HDTV. (There’s also a slightly higher-resolution option called 2K that reaches 2,048 lines by 1,080.) Film doesn’t have pixels, but the industry-standard 35-millimeter stock has a visual resolution roughly equivalent to 4K.
“And that’s what makes the Red so exciting: It delivers all the dazzle of analog, but it’s easier to use and cheaper — by orders of magnitude — than a film camera. In other words, Jim Jannard‘s creation threatens to make 35mm movie film obsolete.”