I just bought this the other day. Excellent visual and sound values for a 1960 film. But they should have called this western semi-classic The Magnificent Six. Because Robert Vaughn‘s aloof, relentlessly self-regarding gunslinger does nothing throughout the entire film. He talks incessantly about his issues and how he has to prove he’s still got it. But does he even shoot his weapon? He pulls it out, yes, but does he fire? At anyone or anything?
Hollywood Elsewhere is currently sitting in Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport, waiting for a 3:05 pm flight to Albuquerque. Expecting a four-hour drive (6 pm to 10 pm) from AB to Durango, Colorado.
I understand Jack Daniels & ginger ale. I understand vodka and grapefruit juice. I understand boilermarkers. I even understand mixing clam and tomato juice. But beer and clamato? Who would even sample this, much less buy it?
The first thing you see in Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport every time you get off a Southwest flight from LAX/Burbank…every time.
A friend has asked for a quote about the apparent sleeper-hit status of Gavin O’Connor‘s Warrior (Lionsgate, 9.9), and specifically about whether it’ll be getting any award-season action. “Not a chance in the world for Oscar impact,” I answered. “Forget it. It’s a good film, but not that kind of film.
“It’s an emotionally rousing MMA sports flick, very intensely acted and atmospherically believable as far as it goes, but it’s very calculated. You can see and feel the buttons being pushed and the levers being cranked. It’s Gavin O’Connor making another Gavin O’Connor movie. A good one, yes, but straight off the assembly line. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“But as I wrote on 8.2, Tom Hardy is astonishing. He really is the new reigning macho-stud tough guy, the new Schwarzenegger-Stallone-Norris-Van Damme, the charismatic big fuckin’ musclebound ape with the soul of a poet, and British to boot.
People have been talking about Nick Nolte for Best Supporting Actor, I said, but he isn’t given enough material to work with, I feel. “Please forgive me, I’m sorry, lemme be your dad again,” etc. Nolte finds this guy and gives a heartfelt performance, but there’s not enough dimension to the role. Sorry.
Hotshot Connecticut-based columnist Scott Feinberg has just signed on with The Hollywood Reporter to provide awards-season coverage. His deal was only cut a couple of days ago because Feinberg was scrambling yesterday to figure out flights to the Telluride Film Festival. Wait until 72 hours before the start of an influential, very-hard-to-get-to film festival in a remote Rocky Mountain hamlet to buy the pass and get it together? Spend top dollar to arrange transportation and lodging at the very last minute? Only way to roll.
Reviewing from the Venice Film Festival, The Playlist‘s Oliver Lyttleton has given George Clooney‘s The Ides of March a solid B. “We had a blast,” he says. “It’s not as accomplished and impassioned as Good Night and Good Luck, but unlike Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, it’s tonally assured, and unlike Leatherheads, it’s, well, watchable. Very watchable in fact.
“Whether wider audiences enjoy it as much [as I did] remains to be seen. We’re fairly sure that its early annointment as an Oscar front-runner will disappear quickly , but it at least happily confirms that Clooney-the-director is here to stay.
“Ryan Gosling caps off an extraordinary twelve months with another top turn. It really is his show, the film’s riffing on idealism really a feint for a picture about the loss of a soul.
“The script, with Clooney sidekick Grant Heslov rewriting Beau Willimon‘s play Farragut North is, if nothing else, a model of how to open up a piece of theater for the big screen. It’s witty, though lacking the zip of, say, a Sorkin, and, for all its instant messaging and Chris Matthews cameos, oddly old-fashioned, right down to the jazz singer who scores an early scene.
“Clooney makes it work here, thanks undoubtedly to dp Phedon Papamichael (Sideways), who gives a real chill to the Midwestern landscapes, and makes effective use of some Gordon Willis-esque silhouettes — although it should be said that the director overplays his ‘let’s frame the characters in front of the American flag’ a little in places. But it never feels small-scale, and fully embodies the addictive chaos of the campaign trail, something that keeps people like Gosling’s Stephen ‘married to the job,’ and that’s certainly a victory for a film like this.”
From Variety‘s Justin Chang: “Ho-hum insights into the corruption of American politics are treated like staggering revelations in The Ides of March. George Clooney’s fourth feature as a director observes the inner workings of a Democratic presidential campaign through the eyes of a hotshot press secretary who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Something similar could be said of this intriguing but overly portentous drama, which seems far more taken with its own cynicism than most viewers will be.
“Still, despite general-audience aversion to topical cinema, a top cast led by Ryan Gosling and Clooney could swing adult viewers in the Oct. 7 release’s direction.”
“There’s no Scarface 2, no part three, none of that with this picture. There’s just Scarface. And I think there’s something to that.” — Al Pacino during last night’s Scarface Bluray event at L.A.’s Belasco theatre (1050 So. Hill Street).
Why does Michelle Pfeiffer never take part in these tributes? She never records commentary tracks or is interviewed in any looking-back video essays…nothing. Her performance as the snotty trophy wife Elvira wasn’t Lysistrata-level, but for what it was she delivered quite well. And Scarface certainly boosted her profile and made her known to the multitudes. So why the attitude?
There are several minor first-act irritants, by the way, that popped through during yesterday’s viewing of the Bluray. One, the dubbing of the senior immigration official in scene #1 (by Charles Durning, no less) is horribly mixed in that it sounds like dubbing — it stands completely apart from the other soundtrack elements. Two, when the actor playing Emilio Rebenga (Roberto Contreras) is being tormented by cries of “Rebenga!” and “libertad!” before his assassination in the Cuban detention center, he puts up his hands and seems to stupidly mouth at one point, “No, not me…please be nice…don’t kill me!” Three, as Pacino complains to Steven Bauer about working at that Little Havana food stand, he hold out his hands and goes, “lookadat…fuckin’ onions!” Onions aren’t made of acid — they don’t leave stains.
There are at least ten or fifteen other things in this film that bother me. I could do 2000 words on this but I have a plane to catch and things to do before I leave in three hours.
The Scarface Bluray (Universal Home Video, 9.6) is edge-enhanced, all right, but it’s a better-looking home video rendering than I’ve ever seen before. Sharper, more vibrant, more detailed. Yes, it looks like two-thirds celluloid and one-third video game. Okay, maybe 75-25. But that, to me, is mostly okay, because it really looks good.
Particularly the well-lit outdoor scenes. Plus the hair texture and beard follicles. The sweat beads on Pacino’s face during the Little Havana dishwash scene. The shimmer of Michelle Pfeiffer‘s dress in the first nightclub scene. But the darker scenes inside Lopez Motors and the Havana Club? Not so much. And if you put your face up to the screen, the whole thing is actually pretty grainy. It leads me to doubt if Universal Home Video used the very best core elements they could find. I can’t help suspecting that if Criterion had done this, it would look a little handsomer.
I captured the death of Frank Lopez and Mel Burstin scene on my video camera, but for some reason YouTube disabled the embedding.
The one bothersome thing (and this more than anything else told me that it’s really a true capturing of the original 1983 version that showed in theatres) is the shot of the big Tony and Elvira painting inside the Montana mansion. I stood right next to that painting back in the summer of ’82 when I snuck onto the Universal lot and slipped onto the huge Scarface sound stage that held a portion of Montana’s mansion, including the upstairs office, the big red staircase and little pool. It was a high-quality oil painting, and the Bluray doesn’t capture that quality at all. The image has all kinds of digital noise all over it. Too bad.
Similar to Joel Schumacher‘s Trespass, that Nic Cage-Nicole Kidman hostage thriller, Michael Brandt‘s The Double — an espionage thriller starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace — is another another nearly-straight-to-DVD release. It’s opening in roughly 100 theaters nationwide on 9.23 before hitting disc. Image Entertainment is distributing.
Jim Field Smith‘s Butter will play the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, of course, but you never know if it’ll appear somewhere else first. I’ve been avoiding reading about it, to be honest. I mean, a little-girl orphan in Iowa (Yara Shahidi) with a natural butter-carving talent entering an annual butter-carving competition? Going up against the ambitious wife (Jennifer Garner) of the reigning champion (Ty Burrell)?
I know we’re not supposed to judge a movie by its synopsis, but still…
I was going to embed A.O. Scott‘s Critics Picks’ essay about Nicholas Ray’s In A Lonely Place, but the N.Y. Times tech guys, as usual, haven’t posted this video on YouTube yet. So the hell with it. Instead, in honor of the forthcoming Criterion Bluray of Wes Anderson‘s Rushmore, here’s Scott’s essay about that, posted two years and two months ago.
I only suffered once through Return of the Jedi (although I’ve watched pieces of it since on laser disc and DVD), but I remember the finale pretty clearly, and I’ll bet at least $1000 that the version I saw at Loew’s Astor Plaza in June 1983 didn’t have Darth Vader going “noooo!…no!” when the Emperor is zapping Luke at the climax.
I haven’t seen the forthcoming Jedi Bluray, and for all I know the clip below (a portion of the original mixed with an alleged audio recording from the Bluray Jedi ) is a phony. So let’s hold off for now. But if the Bluray does have the “noooo!,” watch out.
“It’s hard to believe this because Vader crying ‘Noooo!’ was one of the most widely derided aspects of Revenge of the Sith,” explains Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci . “It’s easy to believe because George Lucas is so out of touch and loves the idea of on-the-nose symmetry between the two trilogies.
“What is purported to be an audio recording of the scene has hit the web, and someone has timed it to the original scene in Jedi so that you can get a sense of how this supposedly works. I’ve embedded that below. It’s actually two ‘No’s, and it doesn’t sound exactly like the one from Sith, but similar.”