In a decently shot-and-cut video conversation, Entertainment Weekly critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum take turns ripping Public Enemies. A guy told me that Owen addresses that claim I made when we discussed it last week — i.e., “it’s an art film!” But the wifi is so shitty up here in Walton that I can’t watch video.
Ariel Levy has written a fair-minded, precisely observed and super-readable profile of Julie & Julia director-writer Nora Ephron in the 7.6.09 issue of The New Yorker . You’ll need a subscription or a daypass (or whatever they call it) to read the full article, but trust me — an excellent read.
That said, I’d be derelict if I didn’t quote the last three paragraphs, which describe this August 7th Sony release, which costars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, as half-transcendent and half-flat.
“I feel bad about what I’m going to do here,” Ariel begins, aping a phrase that Ephron herself used in a scathing profile of former New York Post publisher Dorothy Schiff. “But the truth is, Julie & Julia is not a fair fight.
“For half he film we are in Paris with Julia Child played by Meryl Streep [italics hers]. It is pretty transcendent. For the other half, we are stuck in Long Island City, Queens, with the ‘lowly cubicle worker’ Julie Powell, a character who is immature, self-pitying, and frazzled (which is to say, an average human being). Powell is played by Amy Adams, who is a talented actress, but she is up against the queen herself.
“When Adams, as Julie, is on the screen, it necessarily means that Streep, as Julia, is not, and you come to resent her for this.
“It is possible that the film would not have worked if it were simply a biopic of Julia Child — that it derives its narrative thrust and commercial potential from the interplay between a young woman idolizing and relying upon Child in the more-or-less present and the splendid story of Julia Child’s past. Perhaps Child is able to emerge in this film as an almost mythical creature because she is presented in contrast to a mere mortal.
“But there may be another reason the Julia Child portions of Julie & Julia are so irresistably vivid and the Julie Powell bits feel a little flat. It is possible that Nora Ephron no longer understands half as well what it’s like to be ordinary as she understands being remarkable.
“How would she?”
As you might guess, the kicker works much better if you’ve read the entire piece.
Jim Sheridan‘s long-delayed Brothers, initially regarded as a 12.4.08 release before being bumped into ’09, finally has a trailer up and running. Once upon a time the expectations for this domestic drama were very high, at least for the Sheridan fans among us. I couldn’t wait to see it, but the stalls and duck-outs have persuaded most of us that something must be wrong.
As noted several times before on HE, Brothers is a remake of Susanne Bier‘s 2004 Danish-language original about a younger “bad” brother (Jake Gyllenhaal in Sheridan’s version) stepping into the familial shoes of his older “good” brother (Tobwet Maguire) after the latter disappears during an enemy skirmish in Afghanistan.
Natalie Portman plays the wife-mother whose loyalties shift, or at least adapt to new realities. Sam Shepard plays the gruff and disapproving pater familias, the father of Gyllenhaal and Maguire. David Benioff (The Kite Runner, The 25th Hour) adapted the screenplay.
Sarah Palin‘s decision to resign from the Alaska governorship means she’s done, finito…a political corpse. If you have a job or a responsibility, you don’t walk away. That’s the responsible American way. You do your best and see it through as best you can. Unless…you know, you’re emotionally unbalanced and unable to man up and do the thing. Either way you’ve lost all credibility.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has just said that she’s heard Palin has told friends that “she’s out of politics, period…she doesn’t want to seek elective office.”
My first reaction — hell, everyone’s first reaction — was that nobody resigns from a major political office unless they’ve been pressured or squeezed out. Something clearly “happened.” Perhaps there’s some kind of smoking gun yet to be revealed? Or…this sounds silly and reaching but could Todd Purdum‘s Vanity Fair piece be responsible to some degree?
This from Rolling Stone:
“WTF? Sarah Palin has pulled the plug on her governorship. Before the end of her only term. At an impromptu press conference. At her house. On a Friday. Before the 4th of July. And refuses to answer questions.
“This is not in keeping with a woman with presidential ambitions.
“And certainly not in keeping with a politician who has learned to milk a media frenzy for every last drop (see Letterman, David.)
“No. This has the hallmarks of a politician slinking away before the shit hits the fan.
“Really. If this were some double-bank-shot designed to bolster her presidential standing (as the AP seems to suggest) would Sarah Palin choose to duck out on the first day of a three-day weekend? When the entire American mediaplex is off buying ice for the cooler?
“Another shoe is about to drop, but what is it?
A few days ago I posted a short piece about a letter posted by Carson Reeves‘ Scriptshadow that seemed to come from the Soderbergh side of the fence about the Moneyball shutdown. But that was only the beginning.
Reeves soon after removed this letter after threat of legal action. But an HE reader who’d copied the original letter pasted it into the HE comments section after the Scriptshadow deletion. Which led to my being told by the same people (not Sony legal, apparently) that the letter had to be removed because it was extremely actionable. I didn’t see how or why, but I took it down anyway after talking it over with friends.
I never got into what was said in the letter, but MCN’s David Poland has posted an intelligent inquiry piece that addresses asome of the issues rasied by iut, and in so doing he takes a swipe at sites whose reportings about the episode have more or less given Soderbergh the back of their hands.
“Movies die every day,” Poland writes. “Feelings and careers are hurt. (Over 200 people were put out of work unexpectedly by [the Moneyball] cancellation.) But the cheap slaps at Soderbergh are way over the top and as unnecessary as slapping down someone you just fired with gossipy attacks (even if accurate), adding insult to injury. Hollywood treats artists like shit because of money and ego. But there is no excuse for those of us who cover the industry to be equally venal.”
Scriptshadow‘s Carson Reeves today posted a favorable-to-Steven Soderbergh perspective [dead link]the Sony/Moneyball meltdown that sounds — emphasis on that word — fairly knowledgable and well informed. It comes, he says, “from someone very close to the project.”
In a preface Reeves writes that “in real life there are two sides to every story, but in Hollywood there are a dozen [and] it seems that this thing is way more complicated than just ‘your draft/my draft.'”
This latest perspective argues with Reeves’ own view that Sony chief Amy Pascal reacted reasonably to Soderbergh having turned Zallian’s allegedly “solid” Moneyball script “into an incomprehensible mess.”
Martin Ritt‘s Hud (1963) pays off beautifully in the final 60 seconds — actually the last ten or fifteen. Paul Newman‘s fuck-it gesture reflected a strain of nihilism in the culture that hadn’t been acknowledged very much in previous American films, which had always sold a certain tidy morality. I’m trying to think of other films over the last 45-plus years that have ended as coldly and cleanly. I’m not saying they haven’t been made; they’re just not coming to mind.
2012 standee in 2nd floor lobby at AMC 34th Street — Thursday, 7.2.09, 9:05 pm. A depiction of Los Angeles getting walloped by what looks like a combination massive earthquake (with huge rectangular chunks of the city uprooted like a buckled sidewalk) and ocean flooding in the style of When Worlds Collide.
North Bergen Sunset — Wednesday, 7.1.09, 8:20 pm
A lot of man-boobs in this thing, which is always cause for concern if you share my psychology. Otherwise Couples Retreat (Universal, 10.9) feels like a possible return to Wedding Crashers-level humor for Vince Vaughn. The downside is that it also feels a bit like the Hawaiian resort section of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, partly, I suppose, because Kristen Bell costars. Other topliners: Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Ken Jeong, Jason Bateman, Jean Reno, Kristin Davis, John Michael Higgins.
Like everyone else and fool that I am, I thought it might be nice to go somewhere for a night or two over the July 4th weekend. I first thought about Long Beach Island, but every motel owner I spoke to insisted on a three-night minimum. I finally found a nice-looking place called the Drifting Sands that was willing to rent for just Friday night — great. Except they wanted $325.00 for a simple beach-facing room with a TV and a king-sized bed and a cot. That turned me off. If there was a big drought these guys would charge $20 for a gallon of water.
So I forgot about LBI and found a nice little inn in Walton, NY, where my father used to have a cabin on the river (which he bought from Mork & Mindy‘s Pam Dawber). The Walton Inn only charged $75 bills. A little less than a two-hour drive. Leaving tomorrow morning. Stay just one night, I’m thinking, and maybe stop by the Bethel Arts Center, which I didn’t visit during my previous visit to the original Woodstock festival site, on the way back. And then back in Manhattan in time for the fireworks over the Hudson on Saturday night.
This rehearsal video, released a couple of hours ago, obviously shows that MJ was active and energetic 48 hours before the wrong dosage of the wrong drug sent him on his way. It also suggests there was something vaguely Heather Ledger/Jokerish about his facial appearance. I’m looking for a pure embed code without all that CNN copy stuck to the bottom — ugly.
I’ve never seen Erick Zonca‘s Julia, a dysfunctional melodrama with what’s said to be a tour-de-force performance from Tilda Swinton, in part because I was invited to exactly one screening — a lah-lah thing at the Tribeca Grand on 4.30 — that I couldn’t attend. It opened on May 8th in NY and LA and now it’s gone from sight. Except Roger Ebert reviewed it yesterday.
I just called to see if there’s a screener I can look at over the weekend, got a voice mail
The news about the firing of former Paramount Film Group chief John Lesher broke on the afternoon of Friday, 6.19. Four days later Arthur-the-Deadline Hollywood Daily-cartoonist completed a cartoon that depicted Lesher’s fate. Nine days later or 13 days after the whacking — yesterday, in other words — the cartoon appeared on DHD. Worse, it used a future-tense caption — “There Will Be Blood.” Obviously if it had run a day or two before the Lesher firing….whatever. But it’s decently done.