Bleak House is “here to try and provoke sort of a shock to the system, to be stimulated not just by high art or fine art but powerful images of pop art or op art or [those of] a vivid imagination…the lifeblood of the imagination is curiosity [and] when we lose curiosity I think we lose, entirely, inventiveness, and we start becoming old….[so this is] a house that is perhaps not suitable for everyone, but which is perfectly suitable for me.” — Guillermo del Toro.
I haven’t posted this clip from Robert Altman‘s California Split since February 2009. This is the single best scene from that under-appreciated film. I’m trying to think of any comic routine from any 2012 film that has a vibe that’s even close to this. I’ve watched it many times and have never failed to at least break out in a big grin. Which makes it more than just just “funny.” Obviously George Segal‘s laugh is what sells it.
There are reasons why Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky‘s Francine only managed a 63% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and a 62% on Metacritic. 62% or 63% means “not bad but with problems.” Francine is an austere study of a recently released ex-con (the great Melissa Leo) who’s unable to bond with humans and who turns to animals (cats, dogs, hamsters) for intimacy and affection. That’s all it is really. But Leo so disappears into the role that Francine is at least absorbing and at times a little more so.
There’s a brief but rather ballsy nude scene at the very beginning that tells you straight off, “This is not going to be a portrait of a character who will eventually find redemption and happiness.”
I met Leo the other day at the Beverly Hills Montage and spoke with her for 10 or 15 minutes. I’m a longtime fan so it was easy. Everyone is acknowledging that she owns the last few minutes of Flight. She portrays a National Transportation and Safety Board official who cross-examines Denzel Washington‘s secretly alcoholic pilot, and the drip-drip tension is so thick you can cut it with a blade of grass.
I didn’t ask Leo about all the upcoming indie films she’s acted in, and which are now in post-production. She works like there’s no tomorrow. The newbies reportedly include Olympus Has Fallen, Oblivion, A Single Shot, The Butler (in which she’ll play Mamie Eisenhower to Robin Williams‘ Dwight D. Eisenhower), The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and Something in the Water. She’s also slated to costar in Prisoners, I Fought the Law and Over the Wall.
Leo looks and sounds terrific in person — a polar opposite from the sad, congealed person she plays in Francine.
A single eight-day film festival (11.1 through 11.8) showing 16 choice films (among many others) is offering one hell of a feast: A Royal Affair, Beyond The Hills, Central Park Five, Holy Motors, Hitchcock, The Hunt, The Impossible, Kon Tiki, Life of Pi, Post Tenebras Lux, Rise of the Guardians, Reality, Room 237, Rust and Bone, Silver Linings Playbook and West of Memphis. These are the ones I know are worth seeing.
Winfrey’s flaw, of course, is that Dorothy never “meets” the Wicked Witch of the East. Dropping a house on a witch doesn’t constitute a meeting. If you hit and kill a homeless guy with your Lexus while driving on the 405, you haven’t “met” him before taking his life. You’ve simply killed him. To meet him and then kill him you’d have to pull alongside him, roll down your window and shake his hand and say, “I’m going to back up about 300 yards now and then accelerate and run you over — nice to have met you!”
Correctly written: “Transported by cyclone to a surreal landscape, a young girl accidentally kills a female practitioner of black arts and then teams up with three strangers to steal a prized possession from her sister. In so doing they accidentally kill her.”
I’ve been asking the Manhattan-based ABCKO people about receiving a screener of Charlie Is My Darling (out Nov. 6). A few minutes ago they asked what my deadline is. It hit me in a flash that the name of Nikki Finke’s site is old news. “Deadline?,” I responded. “There are no more deadlines. There’s only the constant barrage and the constant keyboard and the constant turnaround. I’m trying to see and respond to your film before it opens. I’m doing 24/7 reporting, commenting, orgasm-reviewing, whatever. There’s only ‘what’s now?’ and ‘what’s next?'”
I have long believed in the minority view that a satirically defaced poster on a New York subway platform wall indicates something. It indicates that in some vague way the pizza-eating hoi polloi are either skeptical or disapproving (on a gut instinctual level) of the film. This photo, posted yesterday afternoon by the Vulture guys, is not that. This simply means that one or more Vulture editors are bigger fans of Skyfall than Lincoln.