And that, in a nutshell, is why they call him Rade “Paycheck” Serbedzija. Respect the man, give him his due. He’s a musician and a jolly fellow with a twinkle in his eye (I’ve met him), but Hollywood keeps casting him as the same Serbo-Croatian-Russian-Slovo-Georgian sadist with a chip on his shoulder. And like his bucks-up Taken 2 costar, Liam “Paycheck” Neeson, he hasn’t the will to say no.
I’ve said before that The Dark Knight Rises needs to be Best Picture nominated for (a) its own satisfactions and (b) as a make-up gesture for the Academy having shamefully declined to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture in ’09. But if it doesn’t get nominated, it won’t be due to any nonsensical associations from the the Aurora tragedy but a growing suspicion that The Dark Knight Rises is a movie that delights Republicans, Wall Street elitists, capitalists and libertarians.
Hardy: “If I was a citizen I’d probably vote for Obama. Who do you like?” Nolan: “You probably don’t want to hear what I think, Tom…no offense. Just do your brute thing.”
If and when liberal Hollywood gets wind of this, they may once again choose to look the other way when it comes to the nominating process. Okay, maybe they’ll extend a little largesse if Romney loses in November but first they need to read Andrew Klavan‘s 7.29 Wall Street Journal piece and think things through.
The Dark Knight Rises “is a bold apologia for free-market capitalism and a graphic depiction of the tyranny and violence inherent in every radical leftist movement from the French Revolution to Occupy Wall Street,” Klavan declares, “and a tribute to those who find redemption in the harsh circumstances of their lives rather than allow those circumstances to mire them in resentment.”
What harsh circumstances are Mitt Romney types, plunder capitalists, the gangsta bankas and the LIBOR criminals enduring exactly, and what kind of redemption are they enjoying other than getting away with everything?
“None of these themes necessarily arises out of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s politics, of which I know nothing,” Klavan writes. “Whatever his politics, he is an artist committed to creating, in Shakespeare’s words, ‘abstract and brief chronicles of the time.’ This is where Mr. Nolan’s honesty comes in.
“There are, after all, no socialist filmmakers in Hollywood. There are only capitalist filmmakers (Michael Moore, for one) who make socialist films. Likewise, none of the coiffed corporate multimillionaires who anchor the network newscasts can honestly support the Occupy movement which, taken to its logical conclusion, would result in their being hanged from lampposts.
“Yet while repeatedly tainting the free-market tea party movement with a racism it doesn’t espouse” — Tea Party scurvies haven’t shown racist colors? — “and linking it to violence it doesn’t commit, many creatives and journalists lend moral support to the socialist ‘occupiers’ –underplaying the widespread vandalism, lawlessness and grotesque anti-Semitism characteristic of their demonstrations.
“The Dark Knight Rises is a stinging, relentless critique of that upside-down and ultimately indefensible worldview.”
Peter Jackson lost HE points when he bowed to Warner Bros. marketing and turned tail on the 48 frame-per-second presentation of The Hobbit at ComicCon. (Which indicates, of course, that he and WB are probably going to limit 48 fps venues when it opens in December and characterize 48 fps as some kind of eccentric “experiment” rather than boldly call it the future of dumbass, Michael Bayo, CG-, fantasy- and action-driven cinema…which is precisely what it is and what Jackson and WB would call it if they were men). Now he’s lost even more points by officially announcing that The Hobbit will be a three-parter. Shameless huckster!
Deadline‘s Mike Fleming has written that he doesn’t “think” Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master (Weinstein Co., 9.14) “will play Telluride, where a lot of Oscar bait pictures screen in an unofficial capacity”…long faces if true! However, Fleming hears that the Toronto Film Festival “is a real possibility before The Weinstein Company opens the film September 21.” Except the commercial debut happens on 9.14. The Telluride letdown was included in a totally expected, almost snooze-worthy confirmation that The Master will debut at the Venice Film Festival.
All my life I’ve been telling people that Lonely Are The Brave (’62) is one of Kirk Douglas‘s finest films, and that it certainly contains one of his best performances. I told Douglas that when I interviewed him 30-odd years ago in Laredo, Texas, and he agreed with me. And today, director Alex Cox wrote a passionate piece about it in the N.Y. Times (“The Fretful Birth of the New Western“). But have you watched it lately?
I respect Lonely Are The Brave for what it does right. I love the plainness and the simplicity of it. I love Walter Matthau‘s performance as the sheriff who gets what Douglas’s Jack Burns character (or the Burns metaphor) is basically about, and who sympathizes with him. I love the widescreen black-and-white photography. And early on there’s a very well-handled scene between Burns and an ex-girlfriend, played by Gena Rowlands.
But Burns is too much for me these days. He’s such a romantic fool, a stubborn nine year-old, a middle-aged guy who never thinks farther than the next job, the next pretty girl in a bar, the next shot of rye, the well-being of his horse. He’s basically just swaggering around and saying “fuck it…I’m just not one of those guys who thinks practically about anything…fact is, I’m a romantic construct…a metaphor for the last sentimental cowboy battling the encroachments of civilization.”
I still like Lonely Are The Brave, mind. But not as much as I used to.
On 7.28 L.A. Times guy Steven Zeitchik reported that Hollywood writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis and partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt have been hired by Warner Bros. to try and whip together a prequel to Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining.
The idea, says Zeitchik, would be to “focus on what happened before Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) arrived at the Overlook Hotel where Torrance soon descends into violent madness,” blah blah.
That is really, really a dumb-ass idea. If I was running Warner Bros. I would can the person who dreamt it up. And then I would have him/her physically escorted off the lot. Because Jack Torrance was just a failed writer with an off-and-on drinking issue before he was hired as an Overlook caretaker, a guy who accidentally dislocated his son’s shoulder and then promised to stop drinking, etc. He’s a loser. He’s boring. He’s tedious. (Original Shining author Stephen King found Jack in the inner recesses of his own life and personality before he hit it big as a writer.)
If you want to milk The Shining, create a mini-series in which the main characters are cool-sexy-evil ghosts in the same sense that the vampires in True Blood are cool-sexy-evil. Each new episode would be about these long-dead phantoms — two hot girls and two hot guys, say, who come from different periods (the 1890s, the ’20s, the ’40s) and have been haunting the Overlook for decades and getting into all kinds of dark, foul stuff, but mainly into the heads of various guests who stay at the Overlook, as well as various maids and caretakers (including Delbert Grady) and administrators who work there, and making them act out their worst, darkest impulses. Or something like that. But forget Loser Jack.
Incidentally: Danny Lloyd is either a professor of biology at a community college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, or a teacher of sciences in Missouri — or both. He will turn 40 years old on January 1, 2013.
A little while back I floated a notion about Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln (Touchstone, 11.9) being the closing-night attraction at the New York Film Festival on Sunday, 10.14. That would be only three and half weeks before the opening. The media-fed response would certainly get the word-of-mouth rolling if the film is any good. But since I wrote that certain…how to put this?…insect-antennae vibrations are suggesting that Disney might not be interested.
My first thought was that a no-go is pretty much expected. When was the last time a Steven Spielberg film screened at any festival, anywhere? He’s never been a festival-type guy. (Even Schindler’s List didn’t play any festivals.) Spielberg mostly makes popcorn films for the schmoes. His next movie is Robopocalypse. He’s the most successful hack of all time.
I spoke to a journalist pal about this yesterday, and he thinks Disney and Spielberg might be reluctant to have all kinds of Lincoln rebop (reviews, riffs, think pieces) flying around nearly a month before the Presidential election. He was referring to Spielberg having said last year that he doesn’t want Lincoln to be any kind of “political fodder.”
First of all, that’s a questionable position to take on Spielberg’s part. I can see Sony wanting to wait until after the election to open Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty as the film will probably be seen, at least obliquely, as pro-Obama. But it would be a stretch, it seems to me, for even the loony-tune right to claim that telling the story of Abraham Lincoln‘s last few months in office (Emancipation Proclamation through assassination) would somehow cast a favorable metaphorical light upon Barack Obama.
Yes, Obama is hated and defamed today as much as A. Lincoln was hated and defamed, and yes, they both came from lawyering and a legislative background in Illinois, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was the first humanist piece of legislation to affect the status of African Americans, etc. A friend notes that “they were both raised, to a degree, by single parents. And they are both governing the country at its most divided. And they do seem to be similar types of people, both severely criticized and underestimated.” But I still don’t see it. That was then and this is now…y’know? Different magillas.
In any case, Spielberg’s determination to keep the film out of the Presidential election discussion seemed safe enough when Lincoln was presumed to be a December release. Even with the usual pre-release buzz, which usually starts a couple of weeks before opening and sometimes (depending on when it’s been advance-screened, and who for) three or four weeks before, the media wouldn’t have gotten into Lincoln until mid-November if it had been slated for a mid- or even an early-December release.
But then came Disney’s recent decision to open it on November 9th, or three days after the election on Tuesday, November 6th. They obviously want the movie (and especially Daniel Day Lewis‘s performance as the 16th President) to be part of the Oscar conversation sooner rather than later. And on top of satisfying Spielberg’s requirement, they’ve probably decided for whatever reason that the film will play better commercially in the immediate aftermath of the election as well before the Thanksgiving and Xmas holidays. (They also want to avoid the post-Thanksgiving and early December “dead zone,” when older viewers rarely go to movies in significant numbers.)
But the 11.9 release means that Lincoln will be in the air a good two or three weeks before the election, and that will bleed into Spielberg’s concern about keeping the film away from Obama-vs.-Romney.
Unless Disney intends to open Lincoln without any advance media screenings or audience previews of any kind (i.e., in the style of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho), the film will start to be buzzed and tweeted about in mid to late October. Screenings will happen for the Josh Horowitz– and Dave Karger-level media, and somehow and some way the word will get out. It always does. Anyone paying attention will be aware of it. The alleged quality of it and particularly the alleged calibre of Lewis’s performance will be kicked around. Whatever Obama-esque echoes or allusions it might contain will be discussed, not just on Twitter but in regular print articles and preview pieces (i.e., the kind that are usually pulled out of writers’ and editors’ asses).
The only way this won’t happen, as I said, is if Disney and Spielberg decide to play it according to total Moscow rules and not show Lincoln to anyone at all under ANY circumstances prior to 11.9…but what are the odds of that happening?
My early thoughts about a theoretical NYFF closing-night screening went as follows: if they’re going to allow the conversation about Lincoln to begin two or three weeks before it opens, where or what is the possible downside in showing it to the NYFF crowd and the New York media on 10.14 — a mere three and a half weeks before 11.9? Pre-release conversation will be happening anyway to some extent. It always gets around. If Disney and Spielberg have the goods then they have the goods — it can’t possibly be a harmful thing to let people know that Lincoln is (let’s use our fertile imaginations) a very special, moving, possibly austere, high-calibre historical drama.
Unless, of course, Lincoln is Amistad by way of War Horse — unless it’s some kind of treacly, commercial, family-friendly, emotionally shameless “Spielberg film” in the worst sense of that term.
So if Disney is in fact averse to a NYFF closing-night venue (and I’ve only detected a hint of their position, which is to say no facts), then I would say they’ve got their reasons for playing it close to the chest. They’re probably figuring it’s best to (a) sell the broad strokes, (b) put out the poster, (c) put out the teaser in early to mid September, (d) issue the first trailer in early to mid October, (e) show it to only a very few media types in early to mid October and (f) to the general media in late October or early November and then (g) cross their fingers and hope for the best.
There’s something bothersome if not oppressive about listening to three or four women sitting in the apartment next door as they laugh uproariously about anything and everything….”hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!” We’re talking one shrieking, gut-busting laugh after another, almost as if their lives depend on meeting a strict requirement that everything they say or think or hear must be wildly hilarious.
Oh God, that’s so funny….aaaaah-hah-hah-hah-hah!….noooohh! Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah! Hyper-cranked! That’s funnier than what we just laughed about five minutes ago! No, no, wait….THAT’s funnier still! Why does it sound like anxiety laughter on some level, or panic laughter? Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!
After a half-hour of this I could just scream. Or shoot heroin into my veins. Okay, not really but you get the drift.
I had the same reaction while sitting in a press lounge at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Here’s what I wrote:
“A little part of me — okay, one that I don’t admire and probably shouldn’t acknowledge — wants to go up to one of these groups, bend over and say in a very quiet voice, ‘I’m sorry, guys, it’s obviously none of my business…but did you know that the stuff you say in conversation doesn’t always have to be funny? And that you don’t have to laugh uproariously all the time? You can just sit there and chill down and be heavy-cat Zen types. You could even be silent for a bit and read about the jet that splashed into the Hudson yesterday. Oh, I’m sorry — not funny enough, right?”
Yesterday I wrote about my plans to visit Monument Valley late next week (i.e., Thursday & Friday with a fly-home on Saturday afternoon). A journalist friend who’s been there more than once wrote last night with this stirring recollection and recommendation.
Henry Fonda in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine
“Well, it’s about time. Monument Valley is one of the wonders of the world. Drive around to different parts of it. Go out in the middle of the place toward dusk, look at the stars beginning to reveal themselves and just be quiet, listen to the wind or whatever there is to hear, knowing it’s the way it looked and sounded a million years ago. Nowhere I’ve been on all the continents of the world seems so timeless to me or makes you feel like such a transient thing compared to it. Big mountains can boast that, but this is a place you’re in, not staring up at.
“I’ve been there seven or eight times, beginning in the ’70s when I did a cover story for American Film on the Gouldings, who were still around then, documenting how they went into the Valley in the ’20s, ran a trading post, how Harry went to Hollywood in the late ’30s when the Navajos and Hopis were in such dire shape that Harry hoped he could lure a production out there to bring in a few bucks. He sat in Walter Wanger‘s office for two or three days until he finally got a meeting, resulting in Stagecoach, which wasn’t the first film shot there but was the big one that was needed. John Ford and Co. had just started shooting Cheyenne Autumn there in November ’63 when they heard about JFK.
“I haven’t been in a few years and I hear some of the commercial stuff the local tribes have done is pretty tacky, but go get your picture taken at John Ford Point and, on the other side of the highway, you can drive around on your own. Behind Gouldings tucked in amongst some bluffs is a weird trailer park/medical center (run by a religious group, the Mennonites, I think), that’s so incongruous that it makes for some good photos. If things are still running to form, 80% of the visitors will be from foreign countries; Americans are utterly ignorant of it and where it is. Back in the ’70s the majority were Italians and French, then the Japanese in the ’80s, last time I was there it was at least 50% Russians. I’d be curious to know what it’s like now.
“It seems you’re booked to go through Las Vegas, but the best way to get there is to take the overnight train from LA to Flagstaff, getting in around 6 or 7 a.m., then renting a car and driving up.
“When you’re done, definitely drive north of the Valley and make a left toward the Goosenecks (it’s on maps); it’s an astonishing natural formation where the Colorado River twists around like goosenecks or a snake several times. You look down on it from several hundred feet above, very worth it. Not a bad idea to then go up a little further to Mexican Hat, the first town north of the valley, about 25 miles. Unless they’ve removed them, there are some great photos in the Gouldings gift shop of Harry and his wife and Ford & Co. at work. The food sucks. Navajo fried bread, forget it. It’s a good place to be dry, no booze on reservations.
“One of the freakiest experiences I ever had was driving up out of the valley with my father, who was a military pilot, and being buzzed (at no more than about 750 feet) by a B-52 shooting right over the buttes. Heart-stopping. Go and contemplate our tiny place in the universe and breath it in.”
This Vanity Fair story by Buzz Bissinger is also pretty good.