Sam Raimi‘s Oz The Great and Powerful will apparently begin as a black-and-white film with a 1.37 to 1 aspect ratio — a nice homage to Victor Fleming‘s The Wizard of Oz (’39), which began that way also. (Technically Fleming’s film began with sepia-toned b & w but let’s not quibble.) The Raimi trailer was shown earlier today at Comic-Con.
Hobbit director Peter Jackson has told Geoff Bouncher, of the LA Times‘ Hero Complex, that during the Warner Bros. ComicCon presentation on Saturday (2 to 5:30 pm) inside Hall H, that he won’t be showing the footage in 48 frames per second 3D, which is how it was shown at Cinemacon last April.
This is quite a shock to the system. It strikes me as cowardly, if you want to know. I’m really astonished that Jackson, a man of conviction, is admitting that he and Warner Bros, marketing executives are afraid that reactions among Comic-Con-ers will be as negative as they were in Las Vegas. No balls, boys and girls!
“I think it’s more about protecting the downside,” Jackson told Boucher, “rather than helping the film in any significant way. There is a huge audience waiting to see The Hobbit, and any positive press from Comic-Con will truthfully have little impact on that.
“However, as we saw at CinemaCon earlier this year, with our 48 frames per second presentation, negative bloggers are the ones the mainstream press runs with and quotes from. I decided to screen the Hobbit reel at Comic-Con in 2-D and 24 frames per second, so the focus stays firmly with the content and not the technical stuff. If people want 3-D and 48fps, that choice will be there for them in December.”
I’m sorry but there are names for this kind of thinking and this kind of behavior, and those names are candy-assed and turn-tail. I’m one of those who worshipped the 48 fps footage I saw last April, and I’m really crushed to hear this. Jackson bravely decided to advance the state of cinema with 48 fps, and now he and Warner Bros. marketing execs are cowering like scared rabbits.
I was going to drive down to ComicCon to gauge the reaction to the 48 fps screening but I guess I won’t be going now.
“The state of cinema as most of us know it changed radically when 10 minutes of footage from The Hobbit were shown on the huge screen inside Caesar’s Palace,” I wrote on 4.24.
“48 fps 3D is such a startling and game-changing thing that it’s like the introduction of sound in 1927, CinemaScope in 1953, and high-end 3D with Avatar. I was knocked back in my seat…open-mouthed. This is the most startlingly ‘real’ form of cinema I’ve ever seen, so much so that it isn’t ‘cinema. And there’s the rub.
“It’s like watching super high-def video, or without that filtered, painterly, brushstroke-y, looking-through-a-window feeling that feature films have delivered since forever. On one level what I saw this morning was fucking fantastic, and on another it removed the artistic scrim or membrane that separates the audience from the performers. Which gave a little feeling of “hmmm.”
“The effect is that you’re not really watching a ‘film.’ You’re watching, it seems, high-def video footage that, in an earlier time, might have been shot simultaneously along with the traditionally captured, more cinematic version that would be shown in theatres…or so you would have told yourself as you watched it in 1998 or 2005 or whenever. Except this is now and the high-def, 48 fps footage we saw this morning is it — this is how the movie will actually look.
“Forget the windowpane. You’re right there and it’s breathtaking — no strobing, no flickering, pure fluidity and much more density of information. This makes the action scenes seem more realistic because it looks too real to be tricked up, and the CG stuff looks astonishing for the same reason.
“I believe that henceforth 48 fps will not just become the norm but we’re going to hear calls for up-rezzing classic 24 fps films to 48 fps. Douglas Trumbull has allegedly done such conversions, and I for one would be highly in favor if they caught on. And yet 48 fps kills that classic filtered, strobing effect that we’ve known all our lives. It’s a shocker, all right, and I’m not sure if the industry as a whole is going to be on my side of this.”
To recap a 6.8 riff about Alan Spencer‘s Bullet In The Face, an absurdly ultra-violent IFC TV series…in quotes. Deadline‘s Ray Richmond wrote that the first three episodes are “uproarious and twisted [and] rife with cinematic-level violence and wildly politically incorrect imagery.
“This] is the kind of stuff that may have spooked IFC into turning Bullet into a two-night event rather than a weekly series. The network probably expected something more in the mocking and gentler vein of Spencer’s Sledge. Instead, they got an outrageous bloodfest.”
Terrence Malick‘s Knight of Cups has been filming in Los Angeles since late May. A site that may or may not contain reliable information says that Cups, which costars Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Teresa Palmer, Freida Pinto and Wes Bentley, is filming today near the corner of 3rd St. and Lorraine Blvd and also the intersection of Lucerne Blvd. and 6th Street.
Natalie Portman, Christian Bale during Los Angeles-area filming of scene from Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups.
I’m figuring this is it…the moment! My only chance to snap a photo of Malick, a Thomas Pynchon or J.D. Salinger or Glenn Gould-like figure for the last 30-plus years, at least whenever cameras and people like me are snooping around. I’d like to get close to Malick, or at least watch or wave or something. I’m one of the very few journalists in the history of the world to actually speak with the man (it happened on the phone in October 1995) so I’m thinking I at least need to try and nose around a bit.
Knight of Cups is about Bale, portraying some kind of truth-seeking shape-shifter who drives a Lincoln Continental, kicking around Los Angeles and falling in love or out of love or like or lust or whatever with Natalie Portman or whomever.
The Knight of Cups is part of the Tarot card deck.
“If the card is upright,” the Wiki page says, “it represents change and new excitements, particularly of a romantic nature. It can mean invitations, opportunities, and offers. The Knight of Cups is a person who is a bringer of ideas, opportunities and offers. He is constantly bored, and in constant need of stimulation, but also artistic and refined. He represents a person who is amiable, intelligent, and full of high principles, but a dreamer who can be easily persuaded or discouraged.
“If the card is reversed, it represents unreliability and recklessness. It indicates fraud, false promises and trickery. It represents a person who has trouble discerning when and where the truth ends and lies begin.”
Portman, Bale shooting scene on LA-area beach,
“It’s a good thing Batman dresses in black,” AP reporter-critic Dave Germain wrote yesterday. “[Because] he could be a popular guy on Hollywood’s black-tie circuit come Academy Awards season.”
Oh, bullshit! I mean, okay, maybe Germain is right but I hate that lead about Batman wearing black, etc. That alone has me almost hoping that The Dark Knight Rises will get shut out of Best Pic competish. Because if it doesn’t get nominated, German can then write, “Gee, Batman had his bat-tux all pressed and waiting at Holloway Cleaners, and now he has nowhere to wear it! Not to mention poor, broken-hearted Chris Nolan!”
“The Dark Knight Rises probably has the best chance ever for a superhero film to rise into the best-picture mix at February’s Oscars,” Germain wrote. “The film is the last in a celebrated trilogy that elevated comic-book movies to operatic proportion, and Hollywood likes sending finales out with a lovely door-prize (Peter Jackson‘s first two Lord of the Rings films were Oscar also-rans before the trilogy’s conclusion won best picture).
“It has the weight and scope — and then some — of 2008’s The Dark Knight, the Batman Begins sequel whose snub in the best-picture field helped prod the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to expand the category to more than five nominees.
“And in the snub department, academy voters are not likely to forget that Batman boss Christopher Nolan, one of modern Hollywood’s true innovators, has yet to be nominated for best director. So there could be an ‘oops, sorry about that’ sheepishness among Oscar types working in both Nolan’s and the film’s favor.”
About 18 months ago I posted a ripoff of those Esquire “What I’ve Learned” articles. But it was honest and true and came from a real place. I read it again last night and it’s still tight and clean and spot-on. So I’m re-posting it with six new graphs:
All my life I’ve tried to follow the example of Cary Grant, and this has served me well. Always try to be gracious and gentlemanly. Stay as trim as you can. Be a cheapskate. Try to eat less. Enjoy good wine but stay away from the booze. LSD can be good for the soul if you treat it with respect and keep a copy of the Bhagavad Gita nearby. Don’t go bald.
You must have good wifi everywhere, at all times, forever. Even after death.
The more free food and drink you consume, the better you’re doing in life. Free movies, free trips, goodie bags, etc. Paying for things always feels bad.
Newbie #1: You’ve got to start giving your kids a little more space when they hit 13 or 14. That’s when it’s time for them to start living the chaotic life of a teenager, and sooner or later that means taking flight and leaving the nest and telling their parents that they’ll be okay on their own, and that they want to experience stuff on their own and sometimes trip and stumble on their own. Because a kid needs to find his/her footing. At a certain point you’re doing them no favors by holding their hand and wrapping them in their favorite blankie.
Newbie #2: There’s nothing like a disappointing Bluray of an older film (i.e., one that looks no better than a DVD of the same movie that came out 8 or 10 years ago) to make your day feel like shit. If a movie doesn’t look better on Bluray, what’s the point? I’ll tell you what the point is. The point is to satisfy the grain monks.
Newbie #3: If you want to know about aridity and pointlessness and dark fates, just sit in an outdoor cafe on Beverly Drive and watch all the nouveau-riche Middle-Eastern mamas with way too much eye makeup and sparkly glitter sewn into their jeans walk by with their three-year-old daughters, who are already wearing their own Beverly Hills bling. It just gives you the worst feeling to see this.
It’s a good thing to own a baseball mitt, and every so often to have a catch with someone on a big green lawn. Preferably when the later-afternoon light is just starting to mellow down. And it’s okay to groan like John McEnroe when you throw the ball.
Newbie #4: Never, ever wear gray cross-training shoes, and think about disassociating yourself from people who own a pair. Especially guys who have milky hairless legs.
You don’t need an education that will set you back $150,000 and keep you in debt for over 20 years if you have curiosity. That’s what John Huston used to say, and is what Owen Wilson believes right now.
You really do need to know everything about something and something about everything. And if you don’t know something you just have to be curious about it. Easy.
Newbie #5: Whatever you think you want to eat, eat half of that. And everything you ate as a kid is history — meatloaf sandwiches, mashed potatoes with butter and gravy, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ice cream with chocolate syrup, Nestle’s Quik. Forget all that.
Newbie #6: When I was ten I thought of 21 year-olds as cool studly swaggerers and men of at least some consequence. These days 21 year-olds are commonly regarded as having the character and fortitude of 13 year-olds. “He’s just a 21 year-old kid, don’t expect too much,” etc. And the disease is spreading. In an email I received a few months ago, a 60ish mom referred to her 42 year-old son as a “good kid.”
When all the right things are aligned (talent, tune, purpose, spirit), there are few things in life more transporting than electric guitar and bass and drums. Forget the vocals.
People have an unmistakable gleam in their eye when they’re 18 or 19 and about to start college. A gleam that says, “Holy shit, I can’t wait…all this stuff to savor, all these things to learn, all these places to see.” By the time most people have hit 43, that gleam has been diminished if not snuffed out. That’s what I saw at my 25th high-school reunion. No more adventures, thank you. I’ve got my deal more or less worked out and I love my wife and my kids and my weekend routine, and we go to Mexico or the Caribbean once a year. But about 5% of the people at that reunion still had that gleam. Thank God for that.
People spend way too much time sitting around with friends and blah-blahing about next to nothing in bars and restaurants. It feels good to do this — I get that — but the less time you spend shooting spurious shit with fair-weather friends, the better.
Life is nothing without travel to exotic places that other Americans don’t go to because the hotels aren’t swanky enough.
Woody Allen and Rod Stewart were right. Some people are just lucky and don’t have to sweat it that much. Their genes and heritage have paved a path. Life is unfair. But if things go too easily or too well for anyone too early, they always seem to suffer on some level. It’s best to come into the really good stuff when you get a bit older.
Don Corleone had the parenting thing all figured out. He said that “a man who doesn’t spend time with his children can never be a real man.” You also have to be able to roll around and laugh and play dopey kid games, especially with toddlers. If you can’t let that side of yourself out, or if you can’t find it, then you’re a kind of prisoner.
Women always let you know within seconds if you’re “in” — i.e., if they like you enough to go to bed with you. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. At all. There are 117 different things you can do or say that will change their mind, and if you can think of 75 of these things in advance you’re a genius. But women always flash that initial green light within seconds of meeting you. Not minutes. Seconds.
Sports-watching is obviously about spiritual nourishment, a ritual that feeds you with feelings and values that you believe are good for your soul. But guys who watch sports in a weekly regimented way are living in a secular and, to some extent, prohibitive realm. I’m not saying that realm isn’t a good place to dwell in many respects, but it does shut stuff out. Remember how Ray Liotta talked in Goodfellas about how he and Robert De Niro and their wives always hung out and shared Sunday dinners and went on vacations together, year after year? That’s what sports guys are like. A sports guy hasn’t really turned the key in the lock of life until he can say to himself, “Yeah, I used to be an ESPN guy but now I [fill in the blank].”
“Bad luck. That’s all it is. I pray in your life you will never find it runs in streaks. Streaks. I pray it misses you. That’s all I want to say.”
People I knew who partied hard in their late teens and into their early to mid 20s — the real animals, I mean — have all tended to end up in bad and depleted places. Some of them are dead or close to it. You have to rein that shit in or it’ll take you down. I almost succumbed to it myself.
A computer is like a person. You have to turn it off two or three times a week and let it rest. I knew that instinctually when I first starting working with them, but then I talked to a tech guy who told me it’s better to just leave them on and let them “sleep.” Jerk.
People who are still hanging out with a posse by the time they hit 35 are emotional infants. And posse people who throw their heads back and laugh loudly in restaurants and bars to the point of obnoxious shrieking, over and over while others are sitting near them and having to listen to them bust a gut like jackals, are truly repellent.
Friends will not save you. Girlfriends and wives will not save you. Your mother and/or your father will not save you. You have to save you. I’ve known an awful lot of guys (myself included) who’ve spent their 20s looking for some form of salvation from some combination of the above.
But life without a few supportive friends (i.e., those who’ve decided to embrace and accept you, asshole-ish tendencies and all, and have never changed their minds) and quality-level girlfriends or wives isn’t much of a life. Dogs and cats also tend to round things out.
Oh, to live in a world without stupidity and ignorance and religions. I don’t believe that right-wing Christians (who constitute the vast majority of the flock) should be thrown to the lions, but I certainly understand the thinking of the Romans who felt that way.
Woody Allen was also right about unstable kamikaze women being the best in bed. But nine times out of ten you’ll go crazy yourself if you settle down with them to any degree, so you have to be practical and choose someone sane and stable with good partnership qualities, and that, sad to say, tends to mean (and I truly wish it were otherwise) that sex with long-term partners never compares to insanity sex with nutty women in parking lots and closets and bathrooms and parks.
You have to be able to know and sing all the harmonic parts in all the Beatles songs. You have to know them cold. If someone wakes you up at 4 am, you have to be able to sing the low-harmony stuff without thinking about it. “Some day when I’m lonely, wishing you weren’t so far away” and “we’ll go all night long,” etc.
When I was approaching 30 I remember feeling unnerved when I read this statement: “Whatever you are at 30, you’re going to be a lot more of.” Whoa. But the guy who said that was presuming that most 30 year-olds have come into themselves by tasting a certain amount of success and failure, and have more or less decided what they really want and how to play it, and that the remaining 40 or 50 or 60 years will involve occasional dips and turns and rainstorms but will basically be a matter of “steady as she goes.” Well, it’s not like that. Sometimes you don’t hear the perfect music until you’re 40-plus. Certainly the new threshold for maturity is 40 these days. That’s when you really have to stop living off your weekly poker game with your homies (not to mention video games and skiing trips and Sunday football parties) and start exploring other realms.
Very few straight-male friendships last for more than a couple of decades. Sooner or later paths diverge. Guys don’t break up with each other. They just gradually diverge and call less and less and then stop calling except for special occasions, and then that starts to fritter away. Actually, I take that back. I’ve known one straight guy who actually broke up with me.
People never tell the truth about themselves at parties.