Two details from tonight’s announcement about Universal intending to release Brett Ratner‘s Tower Heist on-demand only three weeks after it opens in theaters on 11.4, or on 11.25. One, the viewing price, according to L.A. Times‘s Ben Fritz, will be $59.99. And two, it will only be offered to Comcast subscribers in Atlanta and Portland. But exhibitors know what this means — the thin end of the wedge.
“Where Tyrannosaur‘s Peter Mullan has previous experience in playing self-destructive types (i.e., My Name Is Joe), Olivia Colman has a dramatic blank slate — and she smashes it. Best known for her Peep Show persona, Colman is the most disarming of presences — an outwardly jolly woman who hides a well of sadness within her. [Director] Paddy Considine‘s punishing close-ups frequently see her friendly veneer wobble; the mask slips, the voice breaks, the eyes well up.
“She gives a heartbreaking performance, swathed in sorrow, free of grandstanding and full of nuance. There’s no doubt it’s worthy of awards. I simply have no idea where it came from – it’s a bit like discovering the guy who plays Super Hans has won the Nobel Peace Prize.” — from Ali’s 10.5 review of Tyrannosaur on theshiznit.co.uk.
My bad for going to a 6 pm screening of London Boulevard and then visiting a little Italian place on West 50th for 90 minutes and not hearing about the death of Steve Jobs until I walked by a bar on Tenth Avenue and saw the ticker-tape news on a TV. Needless to say my life has been made easier, smoother and immeasurably enhanced by the innovations that Jobs and his Apple guys brought to our world. A thousand “thank you’s” on my knees.
I’m sorry that Jobs had only 56 years on the planet, but damned if didn’t take what he had inside him and scatter it all over the world like Johnny Appleseed. He did what he was put here to do. He really lived it.
Update: Sasha Stone has sent me a portion of Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford in 2005. “He’d had surgery and was told his cancer was gone,” she writes. “Six years later he’s dead. Read it, remember it, never forget it, send it to your sons.” Here it is:
“This was the closest I’ve been to facing death,” Jobs said, “and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
“When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
“Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’
“It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
Take this with a grain, but Whatculture‘s Matt Homes is reporting that the title of James Bond #23 may be Skyfall. “Sony recently registered a bunch of URL’s with variations on ‘Bond film-Skyfall’,” he writes, “and with the naming of the film to come imminently, it really does feel like Skyfall is just days away from being announced as the official title.
“You might remember Quantum of Solace‘s name was figured out one day early when websites spotted Sony had taken out the domains Quantum of Solace.” He says that “Sony has ignored our verification emails (it’s been 6 hours since we emailed them), and something definitely seems to be up.”
Once again, a ’50s and early ’60s TV series that currently means absolutely nothing to anyone except aging boomers who watched it on black-and-white Sylvania TVs as kids is being made into a feature film. Variety‘s Jeff Sneider is reporting that Warner Bros. and Robert Downey are trying to assemble a Perry Mason movie with the idea of creating a franchise.
Earth to creators: the heyday of the Perry Mason TV series happened between 50 and 54 years ago. Who under the age of 50 gives a hoot now? And with so many popular cop shows and investigative procedurals on network TV, what’s especially feature-ish about the adventures of a smooth and brilliant attorney a la Raymond Burr? I guess we’ll find out.
Speaking of Burr, I wonder if Downey’s Mason will be straight or gay? The latter would be cool.
The odd part of Sneider’s story reads as follows: “Like the original series of books by Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason will be set in the rough and tumble world of early 1930s Los Angeles.” But the reason that show was popular in the first place was the blending of those Kabuki-like, super-predictable Perry Mason formula plots with the mentality of the convention-seeking, preferring-to-be-unchallenged ’50s TV audience. They belonged to each other. This isn’t a ’30s property — it’s woven into the mindset of the Dwight D. Eisenhower era.
“The producers are currently looking for a writer,” Sneider reports, “whose script will be based on an original story by Robert Downey Jr. and David Gambino. Downey Jr. and Susan Downey will produce with Robert Cort, while Gambino, Eric Hetzel and Joe Horacek will exec produce with Susan Feiles and Chris Darling.
Eight producers isn’t very many by today’s big-studio standards. Couldn’t WB expand the roster to include a few more?
The Wiki page exposes a pattern to Gardner’s novels: (a) Attorney Perry Mason’s case is introduced; (b) Mason and his crew investigate; (c) Mason’s client is accused of a crime; (d) Further investigations ensue; (e) The trial begins; (f) In a courtroom coup, Mason introduces new evidence and often elicits a confession from the lawbreaker.
I said this yesterday in a comment thread but it needs front-page exposure: “Do you know a motion picture score that is just right and doesn’t try to blatantly touch the heart and stir the soul, but does so all the same? That settles right inside the heart of a film and conveys the essence of the key emotional moments with wonderful subtlety? Mychael Danna‘s Moneyball score.”
Siri is a highly intelligent, HAL-like talking software inside the iPhone 4S. It not only understands sentences and phrases and commands but assesses and reports back to you, like a personal assistant. Will it have different voices? I’m not sure I want my personal Siri to sound like some middle-aged lady at the DMV. I’d rather talk to some guy who sounds like Pee Wee Herman. I’m probably going to have to repeat things to Siri, and I may sometimes lose my temper with it. “Yes, asshole…I just said that!”
Harkness Screens will be previewing a new Digital Screen Checker, a low-cost hand-held digital cinema device for accurately measuring foot lamberts, at ShowEast (10.24 through 10.27 in Miami). There’s a similar device being sold in England. I’d love to have one of these things at the ready for those times when I’ve noticed low screen-light levels, as I did on 9.25.
I saw the first half of Martin Scorsese‘s 208-minute George Harrison doc during the Telluride Film Festival, and was only somewhat impressed. It covered the first 23 or 24 years of Harrison’s life, or ’43 to ’69…and I felt I knew all that going in. But the second half, which I finally saw at a New York Film Festival screening, is highly nourishing and affecting and well worth anyone’s time.
Yes, even for the guys like LexG who are sick to death of boomer-age filmmakers and film executives endlessly making movies about their youth. It’s not unfair for them to feel this way because boomers have been commercially fetishizing their ’60s and ’70s glory days for a long time. But George Harrison: Living In The Material World, which debuts tonight on HBO, is still a very good film. Particularly Part Two.
Because it’s about a journey that anyone who’s done any living at all can relate to, and about a guy who lived a genuinely vibrant spiritual life, and who never self-polluted or self-destructed in the usual rock-star ways.
Well, that’s not true, is it? Harrison died of lung cancer that he attributed to his having been a heavy smoker from the mid ’50s to late ’80s. And he wasn’t exactly the perfect boyfriend or husband. (There were a few infidelities during his marriage to Olivia Harrison.) And he wasn’t the perfect spiritual man either, despite all the songs and talk about chanting and clarity and oneness with Krishna. He had his bacchanalian periods. And he did so with the wonderful luxury of having many, many millions in the bank. It’s not like Harrison was struggling through awful moments of doubt and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane.
But this journey is something to take and share.
The film is entirely worth seeing for a single sequence, in fact. One that’ll make you laugh out loud and break your heart a little. It’s a story that Ringo Starr tells about a chat he had with Harrison in Switzerland two or three months before his death in November ’01. I won’t explain any more than this.
In today’s N.Y. Times review critic Mike Hale noted that Scorsese and Harrison “were two questing minds, raised in Roman Catholic families, who were drawn to Asian philosophies and art and driven to stump for them in the West; two reserved but powerfully controlling and perfectionist artists; two men conscious of their roles as standards keepers and cultural influencers.” So there’s your personal element that exists beyond mere nostalgia and/or reliving the surge of one’s youth.
Scorsese’s doc has no title cards, no narration, no through-line interview as Bob Dylan: No Direction Home had. It just kind of glides along and swirls around and comes together, although I have to say that I found Part One a little slipshod and patch-worky at times. The editor is David Tedeschi, who also cut No Direction Home as well as Scorsese’s Public Speaking, the Fran Lebowitz doc, and Shine a Light, the 2008 Rolling Stones’ concert doc.
Part Two, as you might presume, is about Harrison’s solo career. It starts with the Beatles breakup, the making of All Things Must Pass, the 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh, etc. And then settles into the mid to late ’70s and ’80s, “Crackerbox Palace,” Handmade Films, “Dark Horse,” the Travelling Willburys, the stabbing incident and so on.
From my “Harrison of Liverpool” piece which ran on 7.17:
“Beatle lore-wise, Harrison was regarded early on as the solemn one, the deep spiritual cat (i.e., the last one to leave Maharishi Mahesh Yogi‘s ashram in Indian in late ’67) and to some extent the political commentator and satirist (the lyrics of “Piggies” and “Savoy Truffle“, ‘the Pope owns 51% of General Motors,’ etc.).
“Read this account of George and Patti Boyd Harrison’s brief August 1967 visit to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashubry district, which by that time was the pits.
“I also remember a story in an anonymous groupie tell-all book about a girl giving Harrison a blowjob at a party while he played the ukelele, and after it was over his getting up and saying ‘thanks, luv!’ and leaving the room without asking her name. Funny.
“Harrison died of lung cancer at age 58 on November 29, 2001, in Los Angeles. His Wiki bio says “he was cremated at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River by his close family in a private ceremony according to Hindu tradition. He left almost 100 million pounds in his will.”
Update: Here’s a slam piece by Slate‘s Bill Wyman.
Fox Searchlight acquiring Steve McQueen‘s Shame meant that it would be out sometime in November or December, so yesterday’s FS announcement that the film, which costars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, will open is on 12.2.11 was…well, it was fine but it didn’t exactly quicken my pulse because I knew it was coming.
“Even with a relatively small amount of debt, decent health insurance, and a decent paying job, my family lives month to month. Treading water is the best anyone I know can seem to hope for. I believed I was voting for a president who would rein in Wall St. and reverse Bush’s aggressive foreign policies. What I got was more of the same and worse. I am the 99%.”
If you want to feel fairly good about your job and quality-of-life situation, even if you’re not doing as well as you’d like, spend 10 or 15 minutes reading We Are The 99 Percent. Trust me, you’ll feel very lucky and perhaps even blessed after doing so. This Occupy Wall Street-linked site tells you over and over that there are many, many people out there living lives that are impossible, agonizing…horrific.
All the young people dealing with crushing college-loan debt…awful. And all the people with beyond-debilitating health issues and pulverizing medical costs. How did they get so sick? How do five-year-olds get cancer? Who gets pregnant at age 21 with only part-time work and facing $80K in outstanding student loans? There are young women doing prostitution on the weekends to make ends meet. Life can be terrible.
Yes, life has always been crushing or gruesome for the people who aren’t smart or tough or savvy enough, or who damage themselves with bad food and/or addictions. But this site passes along a sense that many more people out there are having to deal with much harder burdens since the ’08 crash than before.
The bottom line for many Republicans and conservatives is that once they used to say “the world is for the few,” and now they’re saying “the world is for the very few…the 1%, that is. Sorry, U.S. citizens, but that’s the way it is, and we’re fighting tooth-and-nail to protect our security and pleasures and comforts even if it hurts or marginalizes the other 99%. Sorry but that’s Darwinism — we are fitter and sharper and better survivors than you. Things have gotten much tougher out there than ever before for the people who aren’t smart or healthy or sufficiently disciplined or clever or connected enough. We realize that. Fewer resources for more people, and the world is cracking under the strain. It’s getting to be a mad scramble and it’s not pretty but that’s life in the 21st Century. What do you want us to do? Give up our hard-earned wealth so the losers can have it a little bit easier? Life has always been unfair, and we didn’t make it this way. Well, okay, maybe we have but fuck it…we don’t care.”
I write a daily/hourly column about Hollywood and worthwhile movies and Oscar season shenanigans and my life on this beat. I’m not loaded but I do fairly well and the business — wwww.hollywood-elsewhere.com — continues to grow each year. My future is assured as long as I keep doing what I’ve been doing well for the last 20-odd years, particularly since I started writing online and working 14 or 15 hours daily. I’ve worked very hard to get to this place, and it wasn’t easy along the way but it’s really great now. I go to free movies and watch beautiful Blurays and attend lavish parties, and I travel around and go to Europe every May, and I’ve earned the respect and allegiance of a lot of good people. I live in an attractive, fragrant, well-maintained West Hollywood neighborhood. I have two great cats, and I drive an attractive beater and a scooter and a bicycle. I have a great life, all things considered.
But my two brilliant and healthy sons, aged 23 and 21, are looking at a tough situation right now. Very tough. My oldest is working for a cool company but he earns less than minimum wage, and he has to fork over $700 per month to pay back his $160K student loan. Unemployment among the under-25s is something like 20%, if not higher. That’s not good. And the three of us are among the 99%.