It’s odd that the front cover of the Italian Bluray of Il Grande Lebowski says “un film di Joel Coen.” What about co-director Ethan? Typos are ubiquitous but how did this find such prominent placement? The IMDB says Joel and Ethan co-directed, and everybody knows the score regardless.
Some kind of ridiculous fever got into the systems of certain fair-skinned actors of yore when they applied face-paint and pretended to be ferocious African or Middle-Eastern or Indian warlord types. I’m thinking of Laurence Olivier as the Madhi in Khartoum, Herbert Lom as General Ben Yusuf in El Cid, and Eduardo Cianelli‘s Thuggee “guru” in Gunga Din.
Their performances were campy and racist in a kind of minstrel-show way, but they were so outlandish their performances went beyond the mere chewing of scenery. They didn’t inhabit the realms of excess and absurdity — they feasted on them. They made demonic possession almost into a form of comedy…but not quite.
Many of today’s boomer-aged neocons probably received their first images of aggressive Islamic fundamentalist wackjobbery from Olivier and Lom’s brown-skinned messengers of Allah.
I’m not sure when white actors began to think better of playing African or Middle-Eastern guys, but I think it was sometime in the late ’70s. The last time a major actor dared to pull it off was when Sean Connery played Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion (’75). I do recall that Alec Guiness‘s portrayal of an Indian wise man named Godbole in A Passage to India (’84) was seen as fairly ridiculous.
I never said a word about Lance Daly‘s Kisses after my one and only posting on 7.7.10, and I’m feeling a little bit bad about this. I gave it a hug review and then stayed away. That’s because (a) it has a couple of issues and (b) it had been shot four years previously and felt a bit dated. But it’s still one of the most affecting little films I saw all year, and I need to give it a final air-kiss before pushing on.
Kisses is an Irish kids-on-the-run film — an affecting, natural-vibey “little romance” blended with adventure and dream-music and innocence-meets-bravery moments.
For my money the barely pubescent leads, Shane Curry and Kelly O’Neill (10 or 11 during shooting) gave the most unaffected and emotionally sincere performances of unhappy kids I’d seen in a long, long while. The shooting and cutting are mostly lean and down to the bone (except during the occasional seizure of the “cutes”). And Daly’s going from black-and-white to sepia-toned color to full color and back to monochrome again is…okay, obviously the old Wizard of Oz playbook, but for my money Daly makes it work all over again.
Kisses is very worth seeing, definitely above average, among the best I’ve seen this year and thank God for the occasional subtitles. (There’s really no understanding the Dublin accents without them.)
“It may seem too inside-baseball to go off on this,” I wrote last summer, “but it does feel a bit funny to call Kisses a 2010 film considering it was shot between late ’06 and ’07, premiered at Telluride and Toronto almost two years ago, is regarded by the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes as a 2008 film, and played theatrically in England last summer.
“For whatever reason I missed Kisses at Toronto’s ’08 festival. I don’t even remember hearing about this occasionally twee but natural-vibey Irish kids-on-the-run film, but whatever — Oscilloscope Laboratories saw it, got it and acquired it for theatrical. And then sat on it for the better part of two years.
“Kisses scored an 83% positive when it opened in England in the summer of ’09, but still no Oscilloscope action. It’s finally beginning a city-by-city break on 7.16 and good for that, but — I know I shouldn’t be harping on this so much — the time-passage element makes it’s hard to feel the full-on jazz.
“Curry and O’Neill were 10 or 11 at the time, and are now 14 or 15 and several inches taller, I was told after last night’s screening. Jett commented as we were leaving that the roller-wheel sneakers the kids buy at a Dublin mall during the film’s second act were happening about four or five years ago, but no longer.
“It’s stuff like this that slightly ages a film, sometimes in ways you can spot and sometimes in ways that you can’t; it also underlines a point I made a year or two ago that you need to get a film into commercial circulation no later than 18 months after filming, and preferably within a year. There has to be a feeling that the audiences seeing a film at a given point in time are sniffing the same cultural pollen that the filmmakers did when they did principal photography. I mean, this film was shot well before anyone was even starting to talk about Barack Obama being a semi-credible candidate for the Democratic nomination.”
Kisses is available on Netflix streaming, but not, as far as I can discover, Amazon.
Where would The King’s Speech be in the Best Picture race, impressionistically-speaking, without Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger? The entire King’s Speech bandwagon, face it, is more or less depending on Karger’s allegiance. Okay, he’s not the only fellow with his finger in the dyke, but in the wake of Karger’s recent toe-to-toe with Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone it sure seems that way. Karger holds firm, mans up, refuses to turn tail, etc.
It’s no secret that Oscar handicappers have been downgrading the chances of Danny Boyle‘s 127 Hours to earn a Best Picture nomination, largely due to some Academy members refusing to watch the screener due to arm-carving concerns. I believe that if Fox Searchlight had distributed these James Franco holiday gingerbread cookies to press and Academy members, it might have lessened anxiety levels. Seriously. (Thanks to Bill McCuddy for the photo.)
Alonso Duralde‘s 12.28 Movieline piece says that Anton Corbijn‘s The American was “mismarketed.” That implies error when this was a simple case of Focus Features misrepresenting The American to earn decent coin before the word got out that it’s an austere art-house film with almost no action. They lied and made $16,662,333 the first five days. If they’d told the truth they would have made a lot less. Simple.
Earlier today OK magazine critic Phil Villarreal thanked a Pheonix-based film publicist, Barclay Communications’ Lindsay Derr, for an invitation to see a 1.25 screening of The Mechanic (CBS Films 1.28), the latest action thriller starring Jason Statham. The invitation, however, says that reviews must be held “until opening day.” Villarreal felt this was unfair.
His objection was due to the fact that Arizona Republic critic Bill Goodykoontz, a top Gannett critic whose reviews appear in papers around the country, always reviews Friday openers on Wednesday. “If I go to the screening I will post my review Wednesday, 1.26, because that’s when Goodykoontz will post his review,” Villerreal replied, “[because] I will not respect an embargo that’s different for different people. If this isn’t okay let me know and I will not attend the screening.”
Derr’s response: “That is not okay so I will have to ask that you not attend the screening.”
Villarreal is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and has joined the Online Film Critics Society. He says he’s determined that he will post his reviews “once Goodykoontz has posted his, since he is the biggest dog in my corner of the country. That policy seems to be okay with Allied [another Arizona-based publicity outfit] for the time being, but it’s apparently not good enough for Barclay.”
I’ve never forgotten a line that Hank Worden‘s cowpuncher character says about an hour into Red River: “I don’t like it when things go too good and I don’t like it when things go too bad….I like ’em in between.”
Worden was talking about driving a huge cattle herd to market across rugged country,
but most moviegoers feel the same way. They don’t like films that are unrealistically happy or silly or dopey, and they don’t like films that seem oppressively glum and downbeat.
I can’t think of a recent “too happy” film that qualifies, but the reason for Biutful‘s 71% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it seems clear, is that a certain percentage of critics are saying, “It’s obviously very well made and Javier Bardem is great, but it’s just too gloomy, dammit, and I won’t have that…I want a few more rays of sunshine in my dramas, thank you.”
What they’re saying, in effect, is one of two things about their own life experience. Either they don’t believe that bad luck comes in streaks for some people, particularly those who lack sufficient funds or cushions, or they know that this happens but they just don’t want to go there. I’m a big fan of Biutiful but even I feel that the downish stuff is a bit much toward the end, but I know things can get that way (i.e., I’ve tasted bad runs in my own past) so I went with it.
Nearly eight months ago I wrote about Paramount Home Video’s failure to even state an intention to put out a Shane Bluray. George Stevens‘ 1953 classic is one of the jewels in the Paramount crown, and they’re reluctant to Bluray it, I’m told, because it’ll cost too much to upgrade the materials, etc. How admirable.
A Shane Buray nonetheless sits at the top of my 2011 wish list, however unlikely this may be. Second-ranked is a Bluray of Fred Zinneman‘s From Here to Eternity, which was remastered by Sony’s Grover Crisp in late ’09 (and shown in Cannes last May) in preparation for a Sony Home Video Bluray…which has been on the back burner ever since. Third and fourth are Ben-Hur and Barry Lyndon Blurays from Warner Home Video, which I understand are definitely in the pipeline.
Divorced from reality as this may sound, I’d also love to see a Bluray of The Bridges at Toko-Ri (’54) because of Loyal Griggs‘ exquisite, extra-ripe color photography.
Two years ago I wished for Paramount Home Video Blurays of To Catch A Thief and The Ten Commandments (both shot in VistaVision) and one of George Pal’s War of the Worlds (’53). And I’m still craving a Bluray of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks (also in VistaVision, obviously requiring a restoration and a strategy that will remove it from public domain). Paramount’s absentee landlord reputation, of course, makes this unlikely.
My other 2011 Bluray hopes/expectations: Sweet Smell of Success, The Empire Strikes Back, The Birds, Taxi Driver, Chinatown, Citizen Kane, Lolita, Blow Up, Red River, Pulp Fiction. It’s been reported over and over that Lawrence of Arabia won’t come out until 2012. Here’s an Amazon wish list.
Short of fart gags, the “humor” in this trailer for Paul seems as low and crude as a film like this can possibly get. The bird-eating at the end is the only moderately amusing bit in the whole thing. What an apparent comedown for Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), once a cool indie-minded director and now the manager of a dog pound, leading movie culture down the ladder toward an across-the-board mongrelization of comedy.