This ad is some kind of ultimate expression of bland, flashy wankery. Eff this ad and double-eff Skyfall. Heineken can eff itself on its own steam. The spot uses jizz-cutting and idiotic CG flim-flammery (the guy not spilling those three idiotic Heineken bottles on a silver tray) instead of style and class and cool. The lean and super-cool Dr. No aesthetic is reflected with the brief appearance of Joseph Wiseman, but the rest of the ad shits on its memory. If Daniel Craig wore his hair any shorter his head would be shaved.
Michael Hoffman‘s Gambit opens in England in November, and the plan is to open it stateside…when? Obviously something is very, very wrong. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Cloris Leachman, Anna Skellern, Tom Courtenay. Scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen.
E.T. used to be unassailable. Or so it seemed, at least, in the early days. It was a kids movie about a kid world, and suffused with an under-ten sensibility. I remember when just publicists and press and their friends were onto it in the weeks before the June 1982 opening — it was this little E.T. club. But I look at clips now and it seems so wretchedly calculating. The E.T.-wearing-the-wig scene is intolerable. Now, honestly, I wonder if I can even stand to watch the 30th Anniversary Bluray.
I wrote an Us magazine cover story about E.T., called “E.T.’s Tiny Heroes.” I distinctly remember sitting down in a Manhattan hotel room with my cassette recorder and interviewing Henry Thomas, 10, Drew Barrymore, 7, and Robert McNaughton, 15. And I remember being told by my Us editor, Stephen Schaefer, that a decision had been made by Universal publicists and magazine editors alike to concentrate on Henry and Drew and downplay poor Robert. “But he’s so good in the film!,” I remember replying. That may be true, I was told, but he’s too old and not cute enough — the story will be about Henry and Drew.
McNaughton is now 45 years old. The following appears in his Wiki bio: “As of 2002, MacNaughton had given up acting and worked as a mail handler in Phoenix, Arizona where he and his girlfriend lived with their son, Noah. Robert transferred to the NJ Bulk Mail Center in Jersey City as of 2011. On July 2nd, 2012 he married the actress Bianca Hunter in New York City.”
I appears that Flicker Alley’s Smilebox Bluray of This Is Cinerama! (streeting on 9.25) makes the same mistake that Warner Home Video’s 2008 Smile box Bluray of How The West Was Won did — it delivers a rousing simulation of the original Cinerama presentation, but without the seam lines. And that’s bad because the seam lines are crucial in re-appreciating what Cinerama was in the ’50s and ’60s.
Here’s how I put it four years ago in a review of the How The West Was Won Bluray:
“Most DVD/Blu-ray reviewers are calling it a vast improvement over the way How The West Was Won looked on previously released discs, which had the vertical seams showing and the imperfect blending of the three frames plain as hell. But it’s an improvement only in the most bland cosmetic sense. It’s basically a digital reconstitution that erases what watching Cinerama films was really like.
“The old Cinerama seams are not something to avoid but to savor. Or at least accept. They were what they were, Cinerama was what it was, and the process shouldn’t be ‘upgraded’ on Blu-ray and DVD to the point that it doesn’t resemble what it originally loked like. Audiences in 1963 had to cope with these faint visual divides, and this is how present-day audiences should see How The West Was Won also. Clean up the dirt and sharpen the image, fine, but erasing the seams is the same kind of vandalism as the colorization of black-and-white films.
“On top of which the right, center and left images were never perfectly aligned, and I say roll with that also. The process was imperfect and so what? The old Cinerama technicians did the best they could with what they had to work with, and their work should be left alone and respected for what it was.”
Disney marketers have accepted a closing-night slot for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln at the 2012 AFIFest. This is all about “be careful” and playing it close to the chest. It would have been different if they’d decided on the AFI’s opening-night slot or, better yet, the closing-night slot of the New York Film Festival on 10.14. The latter would have said “we invite your reactions because we love this film and have great confidence in it…yeah!” But the 11.8 slot at the AFIFest, a day before it opens commercially, is basically about caution.
It basically says “the AFIfest hoopla will help a little bit, fine, but we can’t risk a big wave of critical reactions. We feel fantastic about Daniel Day Lewis‘s performance, his voice choice notwithstanding, but we’d rather have this film open on the strength of our three big names — DDL, Abraham Lincoln and Steven Spielberg.”
Fox Searchlight has apparently decided that Anthony Hopkins‘ performance as Sir Alfred in Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock is good enough to be in the Best Actor race. They announced today that the film, a kind of dramedy about the making of Psycho, will open on 11.23.12. That’ll be almost a month to the day fter the debut airing of HBO’s The Girl, a dark side of the coiner that portrays Hitch as a sexually predatory genius.
You know what I’d like to see? A movie about the making of Strangers on a Train, which marked a comeback for Hitch. In my mind he went into a kind of slump with The Paradine Case. He rebounded in a technical sense with Rope, but then he slumped right back with Stage Fright and Under Capricorn. Strangers on a Train was his big resurgence and the start of his best decade.
Hitchcock costars Scarlett Johnasson as Janet Leigh, Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, Toni Collette as Peggy Robertson and James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins. Michael Wincott as Ed Gein, Paul Schackman as Bernard Herrmann, Josh Yeo as John Gavin and Richard Chassler as Martin Balsam.
I read a version of the Hitchcock script eons ago, and it’s just a good, steady procedural — this happened and then that happened and then this happened. It will rise or fall on the performances, and not just Hopklins’ but Helen Mirren’s, I’m guessing.
I wrote the following on March 1, 2012: “If I was casting Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock, I would never choose the buxom, thick-lipped Scarlet Johansson to play the thin-lipped, somewhat rigid-mannered Janet Leigh.
“There’s a reason Leigh was a star from the early ’50s to early ’60s — it was a generally uptight, conformist, buttoned-down era, and Leigh’s cautious look and vibe fit right into that. She wasn’t Anna Magnani or Sophia Loren or Gloria Grahame. She was large-boobed, but she was basically Miss (or Mrs.) White Picket Fence. Her face didn’t move a muscle in The Vikings.
“And if Johansson had been time-machined back to the early ’50s she would have never made it as a big-league actress. At best she would have been the tart, the cigarette girl — Barbara Nichols in Sweet Smell of Success. Conversely Leigh probably wouldn’t have found much success if she’d begun in the mid to late ’90s. Correct and cautious wouldn’t have made it in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky blowjob era.”
Anybody who gives any shit to Trouble With The Curve (Warner Bros., 9.21) is a sourpuss who needs to hit the showers. This is not a great Eastwood film, but it’s an entirely decent second-tier thing that completely pays off during the last 15 minutes. Who else is making old-fashioned, tripod-mounted, one-scene-follows-another movies with plain-spoken characters that are actually about stuff that counts? This film is a classic 1957 Chevy with a well-tuned engine and brand-new radials and no GPS and an AM radio with no auxiliary plug-in — take it or leave it.
If the name “Sandy Koufax” doesn’t mean anything to you, you’re going to have trouble with Trouble With The Curve, okay? Just being straight with you.
You can’t put down Eastwood movies (even if this one has been directed, very smoothly and confidently and almost certainly with Clint overseeing, by Robert Lorenz) for their relaxed Eastwoodish pacing and right-over-the-plate writing and their emphasis on values. That’s what they do, man. It’s a brand, a consistency.
Trouble With The Curve is a baseball movie that totally sides with the savvy scouts and their gut instincts and derides the computer stats analysts — it’s anti-Moneyball in spades. And it’s a fairy tale, of course — I didn’t believe any of it in a real-world sense except for the parts that show Clint’s character getting stiffer and crankier and a little less able to fend for himself, but I went with it because it’s Clint’s World and because the ending works with a great final line. As I was walking out I was even starting to forgive Clint for being a Romney supporter. Well, not really “forgive” — I was trying to figure out ways to overlook it.
Clint gets to do his snarly older-guy thing as Atlanta Braves baseball scout Gus Lobel. Gus is starting to be regarded by the front-office guys as too old and bent-over for the game (i.e., refuses to work with a computer) . Plus he needs to forget about driving because his eyes are failing. Pete (John Goodman) does what he can to protect Gus from soulless GenX operator Tom Silver (Mathew Lillard) but Gus’s forthcoming trip to scout hitters and pitchers in North Carolina is basically “move it or lose it.” Pete persuades Gus’s attorney daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to tag along to make sure he’s okay. In N.C. they hook up with Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former pitcher whom Gus supported and encouraged and now a scout for another team. And yaddah yaddah.
I have to admit I was a little concerned for the first two thirds or so. Trouble ambles along in a relaxed and steady fashion but it’s almost entirely about character and old age closing in and Gus’s relationship with Mickey and Mickey’s gradual romantic thing with Johnny. All well and good, I was telling myself, but where’s the actual story? Nothing’s really happening. And then something happens at the end and it all kicks into place.
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley was right the other day when he said this is Amy Adams’ film. It is. Her Mickey performance is straight and settled down, never actor-ish, in the zone and just right. Between this and her Master performance she has to be the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress.
“Trouble With the Curve is either an off-speed pitch that just catches the edge of the strike zone or a bloop single lofted into right field. The runner is safe. The movie is too. Crack open a peanut and flag down the beer guy.” — from A.O. Scott‘s 9.20 N.Y. Times review.