This 5.31 video announces Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Megan Fox‘s replacement on Transformers 3, at the invitation of director Michael Bay. I’ll tell you right now she’s no actress. Her beautiful face has that poised, porcelain look that some models have; her eyes say come-hither but not much else. Rosie makes Fox look like Jo Van Fleet. Nice gams though.
As we began our Sicilian journey it seemed important to visit Forza d’Argo, a small, centuries-old village near Taormina that Francis Coppola used for scenes in The Godfather, Part II. It’s the village that young Vito escapes from while local mafioso are seeking him out. The film conceals the fact that it overlooks the Ionian sea — quite an eyeful.
With 3D Blurays sure to catch on eventually, I’m guessing that sooner or later the first wave of Hollywood’s 3D movies (released between ’53 and ’55) will eventually hit the home market. The 3D version of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M or Murder (which I’ve seen once in a theatre) would be well worth the price. Ditto the 3-D black-and-white version of The Creature From The Black Lagoon. As well as Hondo, Miss Sadie Thompson and Money From Home, the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy.
But I’d especially love to see a 3D version of Gorilla At Large (1954), a hokey thriller about an actor in a gorilla suit (his name was George Barrows) terrorizing Anne Bancroft under a circus tent. Cameron Mitchell, Raymond Burr, Lee J. Cobb and Lee Marvin costarred. It’s one of those so-shamelessly-cheeseball-it’s-mildly-hilarious B flicks. Everyone knows the drill on these.
The question is whether or not distributors decide that transferring half-century-old 3D films, which used a fairly primitive technology that may not be easily transferrable to digital, is achievable without costing an arm and a leg, and whether projected revenues from the home-3D market are deemed sufficient from a business perspective.
The GAL trailer’s golden moment is a line spoken by Cobb: “All I know is there’s a couple of gorillas around here, and one of them’s a killer.”
I’m hoping that I Knew It Was You, Richard Shepard‘s doc about the late John Cazale, is going to air on HBO more than just once — i.e., tomorrow night (6.1) at 8 pm. That’s the only showing I can find on HBO’s site but maybe I’m just too lazy to find the others.
In any event, here’s a review that I posted about 17 months ago:
Richard Shepard‘s I Knew It Was You is a longish short (40 minutes) about the late great John Cazale. He was a brave, talented, funny-looking character actor with a big forehead who didn’t last very long, but left a deep and lasting impression.
Cazale’s masterwork was creating the legendary Fredo — a pathetic but touching figure — in the first two Godfather films. He also played the psychotic, fruit-loopy Sal in Dog Day Afternoon, a surveillance guy named Stan in The Conversation, and another guy named Stan in The Deer Hunter.
And that was it. Five films. A career cut short due to the 42 year-old Cazale dying of cancer right after shooting his Deer Hunter scenes in April 1978. Tough break and horribly sad.
But Cazale is remembered by people who know from great acting, by fans of classic ’70s films, and obviously by his friends and co-workers, most of whom appear in Shepard’s film — onetime girlfriend Meryl Streep, costars Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Gene Hackman; directors Francis Coppola and Sidney Lumet ; and modern admirers Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Brett Ratner (who’s also one of the producers).
I Knew It Was You isn’t what I or anyone else would call a shattering work of game-changing genius. It’s just a straight, honest and eloquent remembrance of a very worthy and gifted man. Neat, trim and clean. Anyone who remembers and treasures the way Cazale made Fredo into one of the saddest and most emotionally vulnerable little men of the modern cinema needs to see this.
Nobody explains why Cazale’s Conversation and Deer Hunter characters had the same name. I’m sure there’s a story behind this.
The way Cazale crumpled down to a curb, hung his head and cried out “Papa! Papa” after Marlon Brando‘s Vito Corleone was shot on a street in Little Italy is, for me, indelible and unforgettable.
Like all great artists, Cazale drew from his own hurt and history and put it right out there. Hiding and pretending and putting on a slick movie-actor front weren’t in his vocabulary. He was a man of respect, loyalty and courage. Think of what he might have done if cancer hadn’t come along.
A web journalist interviewed me last week about the way Jesse Eisenberg, whose latest film is Holy Rollers, seems to play the same guy all the time. That led me to conclude that this isn’t just true for Eisenberg but also Michael Cera and Jay Baruchel. They’re the leading lights of this spindly-Jewish aesthetic, I think — the smart-sensitive nerd triumvirate of 21st Century cinema.
(l. to r.) Jesse Eisenberg, Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera
They tend to play the same kind of thin, hesitant, cerebral types. Always susceptible to romantic delirium at the drop of a hat. Always with a girl who’s a little bit (or a whole lot) hotter than they deserve to be with, or could hope to be with in real life. They could easily step into each other’s roles. Same manner, similar neck size, height and weight, similar phrasings and dress styles.
They’ve all been deballed and almost girlified down, these guys. The culture has told them “this is how we need you to be.” Or rather girls have said this — girls who prefer soft and open and sincere to “manly,” whatever that amounts to these days. For most under-30 women, I suspect, old-school manly means not being emotionally reachable or accomodating — crusty, a touch of the hard-boiled, strong but lacking empathy.
If a 1963 incarnation of Steve McQueen was to return to earth, he wouldn’t have much luck with Kristen Stewart, I bet. She’d probably roll her eyes and chuckle and mutter “hah…whoa…a little too distant and hung up on himself.” (Megan Fox might fuck him though.)
However much men might talk about their admiration for McQueen and leaf through coffee-table books of his black-and-white photographs, they know his routine is more or less outmoded. Entombed even. Ditto the Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Bruce Willis, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman models. All gone from the landscape, except as an opportunity for a spoof or satire of some kind.
Which is how Willis’s John McClane was played in Live Free or Die Hard. As a hide-bound geezer, clinging to the macho code for dear life. Justin Long, whose persona isn’t quite as distinct as Eisenberg-Cera-Baruchel and therefore hasn’t caught on in the same way, played an approximation of today’s male — bright and alert and courageous as far as it goes, but divorced from the mentality and the culture that produced McLane types in the mid to late 20th Century, and using his Obama-generation attitude to poke at Willis’s pretension.
The Expendables is being marketed, I think, in a semi-satirical vein. As a hyper-violent old-school goof. That was how Stallone’s last Rambo film was processed, or so it seemed when I saw it in Santa Barbara a couple of years ago.
The young Dustin Hoffman would fit right in with Eisenberg and those guys, I suppose. I think that’s why Hoffman took the David Sumner role in Sam Peckinpah‘s Straw Dogs — to show that he had more going on than just that smart, sensitive, internalized short-guy thing, to show he had the stuff to beat a guy to death with a golf club and feel good about it afterwards.
Could Eisenberg, Barchel or Cera have sold this quality in Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs remake, if Lurie had chosen to precisely duplicate Hoffman’s mathematician character? (Which he hasn’t, by the way.) I seriously doubt it.
I asked Jett about the Dweeb Pack, and he said they’re analagous to the anti-machismo, no-power-chords strain in today’s indie rock, which is about as far away from basic Lou Reed guitar, bass and drums rock as you can get. I realize (having been instructed by HE readers) that plenty of indie rockers play solid-beat, live-percussion, jangly-twangy rock, but the stuff I’ve heard on my sons’ iPhones seems so cut off from 20th Century blues-rock traditions — girlish, aerie-fairie, kind of whoo-hoo-heeyo — that it makes me wince at times.
There’s a fundamental disconnect factor at the heart of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Universal, 8.13) that no one I’ve read has mentioned, so I guess I’ll have to. Why do fans of comic-book adaptations always seem so undiscriminating, so willing to unconditionally embrace despite distinct warning signs telling them to hold up a sec? Because this issue is about as big and broad as a barn door.
Directed and co-written by Edgar Wright (in and of himself a slight problem due to the broad-stroke animality of Hot Fuzz) and based, of course, on Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s six-part comic book series, Scott Pilgrim is about the title character, a sensitive, bass-playing dweeb portrayed by Michael Cera, grappling with seven angry ex-boyfriends of a would-be girlfriend named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
As I understand it, the exes are all friggin’ furious that Ramona’s pleasures are no longer accessible and are fiercely resentful of any replacement, even though they themselves comprise an awful long conga line to start with.
Now, we all know about the occasional wacked-out ex-boyfirend who can’t let it go. I had a brief thing with an extremely dishy lady in the ’80s who was dealing at the time with an unstable ex. So unstable, in fact, that when I visited her one night he called up and then came over and rang the bell (she told me to ignore him) and then started pacing back and forth on the front lawn, calling out to her and talking to himself and generally creating a pathetic spectacle. So I know whereof I speak. Girls sometimes choose badly, some guys can’t handle rejection, and sometimes you have to put up your dukes.
It did occur to me as this psychodrama was unfolding, of course, that anyone with a looney-tunes ex might be a little screwy themselves, or perhaps be a little dishonest or manipulative or flaky. You are who you go out with. This episode wasn’t enough to put me off (she was beautiful and curvaceous and breathtaking in bed), but it did give pause. I know that if she’d had two ex-boyfriends knocking on the door I would have said “wow, this is really weird” and “something isn’t right.” And if she’d had three guys pleading for forgiveness and restitution I would have said “okay, she obviously likes guys fighting for her affections” and taken a hike.
O’Malley was obviously resorting to comic exaggeration by giving Ramona seven angry ex-boyfriends, but even if you scale that number back to three or four it still means that Scott Pilgrim hasn’t a lick of common sense. Even guys in the fifth or sixth grade know that a girl who always has a bunch of guys swarming around her is trouble. (I certainly knew this by the time I was eleven or twelve.) And therefore Scott is a fool. He doesn’t understand that any woman with seven fulminating exes is almost certainly suspect on some level — a narcissist, a power-tripper, a Scarlett O’Hara.
So after watching the Scott Pilgrim trailer you’re left with the question, “Do I want to hang with a guy this stupid for 110 minutes?” And the answer, of course, is fuck no. And I mean especially if he’s played by Cera. Give me a break with that guy already. I was sensing he might be over almost two years ago (i.e., in September ’08), and I think that view has since gotten some traction.
The first news that I read upon arrival at JFK was Guillermo del Toro‘s decision to abandon The Hobbit…yes! I realize it’s a major heartbreaker for the guy, obviously, but I’ve long regretted his commitment to this project per my staunch belief that nothing of any profound value can result from any kind of Peter Jackson collaboration.
Guillermo is his own man, of course, with his creative hand always decisively in place, but I’m convinced that somehow or some way the hand of Jackson would have made the watching of the two-part Hobbit a laborious, forehead-smacking experience. For people like me, at least. And now that grim prospect has been erased.
I’m sorry for Guillermo and his team — they must be shattered — but I must be honest and confess my gut reaction. Hallelujah!
In a 5.30 statement posted at theonering.net, Del Toro said he had to leave due to “the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules [which] have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project.”
This statement sidesteps the real reason which, boiled down, is a prolonged delay in locking in a start date due to lack of production funds, chiefly caused by MGM, the co-producer of The Hobbit (along with New Line), being financially strapped and up for sale and all that mishegoss. MGM’s latest James Bond film also fell victim to this situation, forcing director Sam Mendes to walk.
The Wrap‘s Jeff Sneider reported that Del Toro “will continue to co-write the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s classic novel.” Will? The scripts for the two-part film (slated to be released in December 2012 and December 2013) haven’t yet been fully written?
“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming The Hobbit, I am faced with the hardest decision of my life”, Del Toro said in the statement. “After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures.
“I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wlsh the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.”
I was (and am) very pleased with the Easy Rider Bluray that I bought a few months ago. It looks rich and alive and intensely celluloid-y (which is starting to become a welcome distinction). Under-30s who haven’t had the pleasure need to see it this way. The Bluray reminds (or instructs) that this 1969 film is not a dimissable (as David Thomson recently implied) but something that knows itself and the culture from whence it sprung, and which works according to its own mantra and ticker.
Last night EW’s Owen Gleiberman wrote arrestingly about Easy Rider’s director, Dennis Hopper, who died yesterday morning.
“Watch Easy Rider today, and you’ll see that every glinting panoramic shot, every toked-up dialogue rhythm, every situation and jagged dramatic back-alley dovetails as only the work of a born filmmaker can. Hopper, who was in his late teens when he made his screen debut in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), came of age in the outwardly strait-laced, buttoned-down Hollywood of the 1950s, but as a compatriot of the moody, emotionally voluptuous (and bisexual) James Dean , he was already writing the first chapter of the revolution that was to come.
“When he got the chance to make Easy Rider, he poured a decade’s worth of desire, liberation, nihilism, despair and hunger into it, and the freedom of the movie is there in every image. It’s there in the air of discovery that the characters breathe. As an artist, Hopper showed the instinctive sophistication to portray himself and Peter Fonda, the two scruffed-out hippie-biker antiheroes, not just as crusaders but as tragicomic fools.
“I first saw Easy Rider when I was 11 (it was the first adult movie I ever snuck into), and the end of the movie — that falling-away roadside-crash helicopter’s-eye death shot that you realize has already been glimpsed in an acid hallucination — spooked and possessed me like nothing I had ever seen. This wasn’t just a trendy youth-drug-culture movie. It was filmmaking on drugs.”
I got into Amsterdam airport a half-hour ago and went right to my favorite spot — a cool-climate, Jetsons-designed multi-media internet lounge with great wifi and all kinds of desks and chairs and drinks at a nearby bar. It’s beautiful — nirvana for someone like myself. I’ve seen an operation like this in Zurich and maybe one or two other European cities, but I don’t know of any U.S. airport that has anything remotely like it.
A greeting for passengers on their way into the departure terminal at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
It feels mildly irksome that Paramount Home Video has never to my knowledge stated an intention to issue a Bluray of George Stevens‘ Shane. Wouldn’t this fit almost anyone’s definition of a no-brainer? It’s all but de rigueur for major studios to give their classic titles Bluray upgrades, so it seems odd that one as beautiful-looking as Shane would be sitting on the sidelines.
It’s been almost seven years since Paramount Home Video’s Shane DVD, which was fine for what it was. But it’s time to step up and do this film proud and give a nice angel erection to George Stevens, who no doubt has been wondering from whatever realm or region why Paramount hasn’t yet bit the bullet on this thing.
The Bluray format (coupled with an exacting, first-rate remastering, of course) would dramatically enhance if not do wonders for Loyal Griggs‘ legendary capturings of this iconic 1953 western. To my eyes Griggs’ richly-hued color lensings — he shot The Buccaneer, The Ten Commandments, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, White Christmas — were on the level of Jack Cardiff‘s.
This morning I asked Paramount restoration/remastering guy Ron Smith (who supervised the superb work on Paramount’s recently-released African Queen Bluray) if a Shane Bluray was at least in the planning stages. Guys like Smith are told to never say “boo” to guys like me without corporate publicity’s approval, but I wanted to at least put this on the table.
At the end of a thoughtful assessment of Sergio Leone‘s “Man With No Name” trilogy, L.A. Times contributor Sam Adams says that the new MGM Bluray versions (available Tuesday, 6.1) are afflicted with the Patton/Spartacus virus.
“[Featuring] exemplary audio commentaries by biographer Christopher Frayling, the ‘Man With No Name’ set duplicates earlier editions in terms of features, giving the images a high-definition upgrade that is something of a mixed bag,” he writes.
“To minimize natural film grain, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is rendered mushy and plastic at times. [And] the re-recorded surround-sound on all three movies is an overactive mess, panning dialogue into the side speakers in a fashion that has more to do with showing off than serving the film. (The discs include the original mono as well, although they default to the new soundtrack.)
“It’s unfortunate that the Good, Bad disc includes only the questionably ‘restored’ version of the film, with newly recorded dialogue and scenes that Leone himself cut for release, but some judicious reprogramming can take care of that.”
The Special Relationship…ah, yes. An “entertaining period piece” and a pleasurable trio of performances, it is widely agreed, from Dennis Quaid (Bill Clinton), Michael Sheen (Tony Blair) and Hope Davis (Hillary Clinton). I won’t be seeing it until tomorrow night, when I arrive back home, so if anyone’s had the pleasure, please share.