I believe his line about refusing to ever leave the Republican party, but not about his having not finally decided who to vote for in the Presidential election. If he’s a diehard Republican than else is there to do except vote for Romney? Why am I even talking about this? He won’t matter until he makes a good film again. Which is highly unlikely.
Michael Tolkin‘s The Rapture will have a one-night engagement at Hollywood’s American Cinematheque on Thursday. It’s a thinking-man’s horror flick, and one of the most chilling and profoundly creepy films ever — a perfect bitchslap directed at Godfreaks and the religious right.
“The Rapture weirded me out on a level that I didn’t fully comprehend at first,” I wrote a year and a half ago. “So much so that I’ve only watched it twice. It’s not what you’d call a ‘pleasant’ film, but it sinks in and spreads a strange malevolent vibe — a profound unease, disquiet — into your system.
“Mimi Rogers hit her absolute career peak playing a telemarketing swinger-turned-convert who (a) sends her daughter to God with a bullet in the head and then (b) tells God to shove it when He/She is levitating Rogers up to Heaven during the finale.
“David Duchovny and Will Patton costarred. I was so taken by Patrick Bauchau‘s performance as a libertine that I sought him out at a party sometime in the late ’90s and wound up interviewing him at his Hollywood home.”
Sasha Stone and I have decided to go our separate ways, and poor Phil Contrino has been left high and dry. I won’t go into details, but Sasha and I have different intrepretations of the classic Phoebe Ephron line (which was later used by her daughter Nora) “everything is copy.” A couple of hours ago I did a solo with Marshall Fine about Life of Pi, generation gaps between critics, Anna Karenina, Manohla Dargis and related topics.
“When candidates debate each other, they should debate each other. In a real debate, the participants engage, they grapple, they get into each other’s hair (metaphorically, of course). Without that clash of ideas and personalities, there’s no point in getting the two sides together on one stage.
“But in the presidential debates over the years, the rules have bizarrely permitted the candidates to ‘debate’ without actually addressing each other. Some have spent the entire night studiously avoiding eye contact.
“Their escape mechanism is the moderator, the one person on stage whom both candidates must address, in a weirdly triangulated conversation, as they work through the questions the moderator poses. So it becomes those questions, and not the candidates’ ideas or personalities, driving the discussion.
“It feels hollow. It feels forced. There’s a simple fix for this: Make these candidates talk to each other.”
“Looper felt to me like a maddening near-miss: It posits an impossible but fascinating-to-imagine relationship — a face-to-face encounter between one’s present and future self, in which each self must account for its betrayal of the other — and then throws away nearly all the dramatic potential that relationship offers. If someone remakes Looper as the movie it could have been in, say, 30 years, will someone from the future please FedEx it back to me?” — from Dana Stevens‘ 9.28 Slate review.
“The biggest disappointment, for me, is that the great haunting concept of an older guy (Bruce Willis) being able to give counsel to his younger, stupider, less wise self (Joseph Gordon Levitt) has been almost completely ignored, and that’s really a shame.” — from my 9.6 review, titled “Looper Dooper.”
Notice I didn’t say this potential was completely ignored; I said it was “almost completely” ignored. It was toyed and fiddled with but not really developed.
Two days ago a Creature From The Black Lagoon 3D Bluray disc, included in Universal’s Classic Monsters Collection box set, put out bad information and caused my expensive Oppo Bluray player to suffer a major freakout.
I popped the disc in and almost immediately my screen was flooded with alien digital data — ugly noise composed of red, blue and white worms — and an awful buzzing sound. I took the disc out but noticed right away that it had temporarily ruined my Oppo’s ability to deliver clean images on other discs. I had to call tech support and switch out the HDMI cables and go to default and lose all my digital download settings. Everything was fixed after about a 45 minute process, but what a mess.
The Oppo doesn’t play 3D, but the Creature disc offers a 2D option. I had just popped in another 3D Bluray, Warner Home Video’s Dial M for Murder, and the menu offered this option. I naturally presumed this would repeat with the Creature 3D Bluray. Nope. I was told by Universal that nobody else has experienced this problem — fine. But why, then, did the Dial M disc play without issue while the Creature disc didn’t?
Today Deadline announced a ceasing of 24/7 coverage (somewhere between a slowdown and a partial shutdown?) “for at least the next week.” This is presumably about Nikki Finke and staff starting to manage an interweaving of its operation with Variety‘s, which Jay Penske is reportedly buying for $30 million. What other explanation makes any sense?
“Youre so way off you’re on another planet,” a friend claims. “Honest. No. Truth. Whatsoever. Even remotely.”
About 21 months ago I wrote excitedly about College Republicans, a “very smartly written, character-rich, darkly humorous” Wes Jones script “about an actual 1973 road trip taken by infamous Bush strategist and Fox News scumbag Karl Rove, then 23, and the late Republican attack dog Lee Atwater, then 22, as they campaigned and dirty-tricked their way across the south in order to get Rove elected chairman of the College Republican National Committee.”
I described it as “another Due Date mixed with politics…an origin story about the wily and colorful beginnings of two scoundrels who made their bones as the architects of rightwing attack-and-subvert politics — guys who not only put two Bushes into the White House but injected a vicious and reprehensible strain into American politics that not only thrives today but has metastasized.
It seemed to me like a natural for Todd Phillips to direct. The idea at the time (or so I understood) was for Shia LeBeouf and Paul Dano to play Rove and Atwater. The project had some heat in late 2010, but I’m presuming it died because an idea crept in that College Republicans would be processed as an overly partisan satire that wouldn’t play with the yahoos. If anyone knows what really happened, please inform.
College Republicans is “funny and entertaining,” I wrote, “and the Atwater character is a likable good-old-boy, part snake and part horndog, and Rove is a brilliant but snarly schemer who believes in Machiavelli and getting revenge. And it’s got rowdy episodes and wild shenanigans (sexual seduction, colorful language, sudden fisticuffs, rummaging through garbage cans, being chased by dogs and cops and hopping over fences) and a scrappy and suspenseful third-act climax that works in the same way that hundreds of other films have worked — i.e., everything comes to a head and the characters fulfill their fate.”
Yesterday’s discussion of Life of Pi led to discussions of this or that spiritual orientation, and one or two mentions of “faith.” Faith is for gamblers. It’s standing next to a closed door and proclaiming a belief in something profound being on the other side of it. That’s where most Christians are at. Christianity is a child’s way of processing the Great Altogether. Because it’s all knowable. No mystery about it. Cut yourself loose, sail into the mystic and let it all happen…”a cleansing moment of clarity.”
“I’m imbued, Max. I’m imbued with some special spirit. It’s not a religious feeling at all. It’s a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I’d been plugged into some great electromagnetic field. I feel connected to all living things. To flowers, birds, all the animals of the world. And even to some great, unseen, living force. What I think the Hindus call prana. I’ve never felt more orderly in my life. It is a shattering and beautiful sensation. It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and…oh, of such loveliness.”
Yesterday was an “all hail Life of Pi” day (especially for guys like Glenn Kenny), but Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn nailed it when he said Pi “seems destined for the Hugo slot” in the Best Picture race. Which means it’ll end up as a marginal contender and a respectable also-ran. Esteemed director, luscious painterly 3D, kid/family appeal (as indicated by the Bambi-level, non-existent PG suggestions of animal killings and flesh devourings), a certain spiritual current with a nice little ending.
Strip it down to basics and Pi is a highly respectable eye-candy achievement that really isn’t all that great but is certainly attaboy-ish in this or that respect, especially if you want to be obliging or comme ci comme ca in your initial review.
I respected the intent and certainly admired aspects of Life of Pi but I wasn’t floored. Boil it all down and it’s a modest little parable — a doodle, really — that’s not so much painted with CG as smothered with the stuff, like chocolate syrup obliterating the creamy hues in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. MCN’s David Poland doesn’t see any “there” there, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley is respectful but not over the moon about it (he called it “messy“), and Hollywood Reporter awards columnist Scott Feinberg sees it mainly as a tech contender.
So just calm down and consider the joint message of Kohn, Wells, Poland, Tapley and Feinberg. Everyone is just being polite and alpha-smiley right now because it came into the NYFF yesterday with all the attendant hoopla and hosannahs with a nice after-party at the Harvard Club …it’s so beautiful to look at! And let’s not forget the visuals!
I was listening to Anne Thompson talk yesterday about how she choked up during the moment when the Bengal Tiger (a.k.a. “Richard Parker”) put his head on Pi’s lap…what? That moment was a wank — a bizarre negation of the natural order and nature of things for no discernible purpose except to emotionally “get” viewers like Anne. For me it was checkout time. Big tigers (even starved and exhausted ones) will always want to eat you, eternally and forever, and the only way they’ll ever abandon this instinct is when fanciful writers and filmmakers decide they want to add a certain “awww” factor.
Once the cosmic beatific smiles and alpha-politeness vibes and back-patting instincts calm down and the next movie comes along and then the next one and the next one and it all gets tossed around in a big salad bowl and the Glenn Kenny and Sasha Stone and Ed Douglas types have shot their rhetorical wads and run out of breath, people will see Life of Pi for what it is — respectfully but without great amounts of love — and rank it accordingly.
Yes, Life of Pi is more substantial film than Hugo — the spiritual current will be seen as at least semi-alluring or even semi-profound by almost everyone — but it’s basically the same kind of tree with the same kind of trimmings.
If you’ve seen the extremely sad Amour it’s nice to think that costars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva were once beaming with youth. Riva, born in 1927, was 31 when she played a French actress disengaging from an affair with a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) in Alain Resnais‘s Hiroshima Mon Amour (’59). Three years earlier Trintignant, born in 1930, had popped through opposite Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim‘s And God Created Woman (’56).
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