Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus screens at 10 am this morning (100 minutes from now) at the Village Cinemas Andel at Radlicka 3179/1E, which is a few blocks south and across the river. A nice 30 or 40 minute stroll. Maybe hit a cafe on my way back and write something. “Get Alien out of your head first,” says Harry Knowles. “This is something different.”
“Why can’t heroines just be heroines anymore, instead of micromanaged personalities who may as well have the words ‘Role Model’ tattooed across their foreheads? That’s the fate suffered by poor Kristen Stewart as the warrior princess athlete orphan Christ figure Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman. She’s not just Joan of Arc — she’s Joan of Archetypes.” — from a 5.31 review by Movieline‘s Stephanie Zacharek.
“I was writing at a table in a sports bar last night, and there was a group of five sitting nearby — four guys and a lady — who couldn’t stop laughing uproariously. Every time it felt like someone had exploded an aural fart grenade….’hah-hah-hah-hahhhh!’ After a while I got out my watch and started timing their frequency — no lie, the boisterous noise happened about once every 75 or 80 seconds.
“Everybody explodes in laughter from time to time — it’s wonderful when this happens. But people who do it repeatedly and oppressively in a crowded room are, no offense, animals. They’re the equivalent of a guy who sits down at a communal breakfast table (which I’m sitting at right now at the Star hotel) and loudly slurps down a bowl of Raisin Bran.” — “Oppressive Laughter,” 1.18.07.
“I was awakened at 1:45 am by the upstairs party elephants and their usual (i.e., roughly two times per month) thundering weekend stomp-around. Walla-walla, clomping feet, throbbing Latino music, kids running around and shouting, creaking floorboards. They care about nothing but their own inalienable right to party as late and as loudly as they choose. So I did my usual-usual, which was to call the cops. Except this time I filled out a written complaint, requiring the obese pater familias upstairs to appear in court on 9.29.
“It took a little more than an hour for his guests to leave — it’s now 3:15 am. But Jorge the Elephant really doesn’t like his party rights being challenged. 15 minutes ago he stood at the top of the stairs and yelled in my general direction, “Fuck you, Jack! Ya white cracker!” In other words, if I was somewhat darker I might be a little cooler about the building being nearly vibrated to death and nobody in the immediate vicinity being allowed to sleep at 1:30 am. Either way I’m the bad guy.” — “Pachyderm Agonistes,” 9.19.09.
“I’m sitting in a little joint on Second Avenue near 11th Street, trying to do a little work and savor the warm mid-afternoon air. But I can’t. I have to pack up and leave. A group of hysterical shriekers sat down about ten or twelve minutes ago — okay, a shrieking man and a cackling woman accompanied by two hee-hee-ers — and all I want to do is see one of them choke to death on a piece of ham. Or…you know, be garroted by one of the waiters.
“It has to be said again because this trend isn’t ebbing — it’s getting worse. There’s nothing quite as awful to me (and others, I presume) as people who laugh like drunken coyotes or wild orgasm dogs in restaurants. The key component in any display of obnoxious public behavior is being utterly oblivious to the possibility that you might be offending others. Clearly such a thought hasn’t occured to the gang sitting next to me now. It’s almost as if they’re getting off in some Marquis de Sade-ish way by bludgeoning people with their hideous gaiety.
“I for one have never made other people miserable by laughing loudly — not once. I have never howled or shrieked or thrown my head back and made the paint chip and flake off the wall from my ecstatic gales. And if I’m with a large group that is starting to get louder and louder so as to cause discomfort in others, I’ll politely excuse myself.
“My dream job if I wasn’t writing this column would be to join a secret government group modelled on the East German Stasi. Our whole thing would be to go from restaurant to restaurant and surreptitiously video-record offensive shriekers, and then get their info and get into their lives and their tax records and proceed to make them so miserable that they’d be willing to fink on others. And that’s when the fun would start.” — “Worst People in the World,” 4.30.10.
“I’m having a late breakfast at a cafe near my place, and there’s this jabbering Hispanic guy sitting two tables away who’s louder than hell. To be heard by his tablemate he’d need to talk at a level 4 or 5 (which is how I do it — I talk to someone like I’m having a conversation, not like I’m giving a speech in an outdoor arena without a microphone). This guy is talking at a level 8 or 9.
“A couple of Latino guys sitting at the counter are doing the same thing, bellowing from the diaphragm so everyone in the cafe can hear what they’re saying. Except they have to talk even louder because they have to be heard over the first loud guy.
“There’s no way around it — New York Hispanics can sometimes be socially unsubtle people, and they don’t seem to care if people like me are bothered by their patter. It never even occurs. We all act thoughtlessly from time to time, but the mark of a real animal is someone who never considers that he/she might be giving offense.
“Is this primarily a New York-area thing? Or something that only low-rent Latinos do? I’ve been all around Spain and I’ve rarely noticed this level of conversational obnoxiousness in cafes. Nor did I notice this element when I visited Buenos Aires a few years ago. The Latin men and women I’ve observed in other countries can be spirited and exuberant, of course, but they mostly seem to converse at moderate levels. People with money and/or accomplishment under their belts are always more soft-spoken. You can bet that if you were to go to a cafe with Paul Shenar‘s Alejandro Sosa, the Bolivian drug dealer in Scarface, that he wouldn’t be carrying on like these three nearby donkeys. Does Edward James Olmos bellow in cafes and cause guys like me to complain about him? I seriously doubt it.” — “Loud Latinos,” 6.21.10
A tip of the hat to Sundance Selects/IFC Films for having the good taste and instinct to acquire Lucy Mulloy‘s Una Noche for North American distribution. I knew it was X-factor right away when I caught it at the Tribeca Film Festival on 4.28. “It’s a little raggedy at times, but always straight, fast, urgent and honed down,” I wrote. “It’s not on the level of Fernando Meirelles‘ brilliant City of God but is a contender in that urban realm, for sure. It’s a fine first film, and Mulloy is definitely a director with passion, intelligence and promise.”
IFC’s Arianna Bocco brokered the deal with UTA Independent Film Group and XYZ Films. IFC honcho Jonathan Sehring has called Una Noche “a remarkable first film that vividly takes us into the lives of three teenagers living in Havana looking for a better life. A major director to watch, Mulloy has created a film that is both vibrant and sexy but also powerful.”
Warner Bros. president & COO Alan Horn is the new chairman of Walt Disney Studios, effective June 11. He replaces Rich Ross, who was drop-kicked a few weeks ago over John Carter. Horn will run the whole kit & kaboodle for Disney — production, distribution and marketing for live-action and animated from Disney, Pixar and Marvel plus marketing and distribution for all DreamWorks pics released under Touchstone.
The piece was called “Pink Dress Shirts,” and it ran on 3.31.09: “I knew something was wrong last night when a friend and I walked into Sant Ambreous, a little restaurant at the corner of West 4th Street and Perry Street. It was around 9:30 pm. The atmosphere felt a little too stiff and formal, and they were all too glad to see us.
“Restaurants that have their act together never show excitement when a customer walks in. It’s always a sign of desperation. They need to just smile and keep their zen cool.
“On top of which the waiters wore pink shirts with black ties. Village restaurants should always use waitresses who look like Sylvia Plath and who wear black leotard tops or somewhat tight sweaters, or…whatever, young, sharp-looking guys who may or may not be gay but who look it. But nobody wears ties — what is this, the Radisson in St. Paul?
“Another trouble sign was that the bartender, a young girl from Brazil, spoke with heavily-accented English, and a little too softly. Bartenders always look you in the eye and speak plainly and with confidence, like a banker.
“A voice was telling me to leave right away but we stayed because it was cold out. The voice was actually screaming at me to leave. As Lawrence Tierney‘s gangster character said in Reservoir Dogs, “When you’ve got instinct you don’t need proof.”
“The pasta I ordered was so drenched in oil and garlic that it was almost pasta soup. But the defining death blow was the fact that my friend and I had brought a bag with two pieces of cake (i.e., that pear cake from a couple of nights ago) inside some tin foil, and we wanted to sample it. We’d already spent about $62 dollars and had a relatively decent time, but we were the last people in the place and asked the bartender if we could have a couple of forks. It was the end of the night, we’d spent our money and we just wanted a couple of bites of that Dean & Deluca cake.
“The bartender asked the manager — a guy in his late 40s or early 50s, also wearing a pink shirt and black tie — and a minute later he came up behind us (we were sitting at the bar) and said he couldn’t oblige. ‘We have many fine desserts here,’ he explained. ‘You should try one of them.’ I saw red. I told him I would never return to his place, and that I would do what I can to dissuade others from visiting. Which is what I’m doing right now.
“If it were my restaurant and it was late and a couple that had just ordered a fair amount of food and drink wanted to sample their own dessert…fine. If it was right in the middle of the dinner rush, I might politely decline. But when it’s pushing 11 and your staff is cleaning up and putting chairs on top of tables, what’s the difference?”
I can’t tell if Nick Wrigley or Gary W. Tooze or some other contributor wrote DVD Beaver’s review of Fox Home Video’s new Grapes of Wrath Bluray, but the key statement, for me, is “there is…more information shown in the frame on all 4 sides.” Notice the three telephone poles on the left side of the DVD screen capture (top) of Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) walking along a country road, and then count the poles in the same image from the Bluray below it….four!
What I don’t understand is why did the person who mastered the previous DVD crop the image in the first place? There are four telephone poles in this shot, so why not show four telephone poles? What kind of professional would say to him or herself, “You know something? Three telephones poles are enough. Who needs four? What difference does it make? Eff the fourth pole!”
The review states that “the 1080p better shows the contrast with layering that brings out the strong density of the source. Significant amounts of detail are now visible that were black masses on the SD-DVD. The Grapes of Wrath has plenty of sequences shot in very low lighting and these greatly benefit from being rendered via the Blu-ray transfer. Fox’s dual-layering with high bitrate has provided a dramatically brighter and richer video presentation.”
In short, added visual info turns me on as much higher resolution, greater detail and “surprising depth,” etc.
So Ed Norton is the chief bad guy, eh? This looks better than fairly good. Renner has never underwhelmed (I thought he was more interesting — readable — than Tom Cruise in MI:4: Ghost Protocol) and he has the physical chops down. I don’t see any problems except that it feels like The Bourne Ultimatum again. Which is what the trailer guys want you to think, of course. Same but different.
Will director Tony Gilroy tumble for the good old reliable Paul Greengrass shakycam? Director of photography Robert Elswit shot Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, The Town, Salt, Ghost Protocol — can’t go wrong there. John Gilroy (Michael Clayton) is editing. This is going to be just fine.
On 5.17 an IMDB person professing to be a non-vested civilian said he/she saw Legacy in Woodland Hills and wrote the following: “This movie occurs concurrently with Ultimatum so you may want to rewatch that before going. There is a lot of reference to what happens in the previous movies that you may be lost if you can’t follow along. Opening credits say it’s 2007. They are tracking Bourne when they decide to off all nine program participants. It is because of Bourne’s ridiculousness that he’s caused that they decide to off everyone and create the ‘Larx project’. Aaron Cross (Renner) is one of the ‘nine’ they decide to off. This is why it’s the ‘Bourne Legacy’. His actions have caused the dismantling of the program.
“Amazing scenes when they are in Rachel Weisz‘s character’s house. Will rent it when it comes out just to watch those scenes again! Jeremy Renner is pitch perfect. Endearing, funny, and tough.”
“There is no Matt Damon cameo (it isn’t needed…honestly).”
I used to spot a hot girl in a crowd and feel the hunger and delectation, like I was looking at ice cream. Like ten million other guys hanging around bars, offices, parties, barbecues and baseball games at the exact same moment. (Girls would occasionally gave me the same look, of course, sometimes in a more direct way than I’d feel comfortable putting out.) Nowadays I spot a hot girl and I still see the ice cream, but ten seconds later it melts and I just see the vulnerability, and I think what a shame it’ll be if she hooks up with a creep.
But if we happen to chat and she seems a little boring or vain or insufficiently informed, the compassion starts to ebb a bit.
On 1.21.12 I reviewed Rodrigo Cortez‘s Red Lights (Millenium, 7.13) at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s about a pair of investigators, Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who specialize in debunking bogus paranormal claims. Weaver is persuaded there’s no such animal as a ghost or messages from the after-life or anything along those lines — it’s all about theatre and seducing the gullible.
“The story gradually builds into an epic confrontation between the Weaver forces and Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro), perhaps the greatest paranormal performer or hoodwinker of all time…or is he?
“The first 40 minutes are devoted to exploring Weaver’s literal and rational-minded reasons for being a skeptic, and a little about her own personal background involving a comatose son. And then something happens that I shouldn’t divulge, but when that thing happens the tone set by Weaver’s rationality is thrown out the window and the film devolves into a kind of emotional madhouse with ‘boo!’ jolts thrown in from time to time, plus a lot of raging emotion and red herrings that don’t lead anywhere and plot threads that aren’t developed and/or are abandoned.
“It just goes nuts, this film. A kind of ComicCon idiot gene takes over. I was saying to myself, ‘What happened here? This thing was smart, absorbing and moving along pretty good fora while and then wham…a cheesy cheap-shock virus invaded and it went south.'”
In the view of Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy, Snow White and the Huntsman (Universal, 6.1) “is a film of moments, of arresting visuals, marked seriousness, sometimes surprising imagination and with nothing on its mind, really, except to provide the conventional reassurance of installing a rightful royal on the throne.
“It’s also a film in which you can’t help but behold and compare the contrasting beauty of two of the most exceptional looking women on the screen today, Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron. Director Rupert Sanders studies both of them closely and from many angles, with Stewart nearly always maintaining her ethereal air clenched by angst and determination and Theron expressing a will and mercilessness to rival any despot. Despite the narrow ranges their roles require, both command one’s attention throughout.
“Required in their own ways to be gaze-worthy, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin bear up in far more constricted parts.”
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