Are you going to tell me that most American righties are not largely xenophobic (a polite term for racist) when it comes to emerging multicultural trends, the biggest metaphor for which is President Barack Obama? Are you going to tell me that righties are not about trying to defend, preserve and advance white Christian culture? That a lot of them don’t long for a return to the rule of white men, and to the white-bread Wonder Years / Happy Days culture that boomer-aged righties grew up with? Obviously it’s completely reasonable to suggest that a Cheerios ad featuring an inter-racial family will probably freak some righties out. And yet MSNBC felt obliged to apologize for a tweet that said this. Because there a lot of belligerent rightwing bigmouths on Twitter who screamed bloody murder. Rightie mouthpieces know what to say. They have their uniform scripts. They’re full of shit but when has that ever stopped them?
Starting this afternoon and for the subsequent five days I’ll be based at the Santa Barbara Film Festival (1.30 thru 2.9). But I’ll only be covering about 40% of Roger Durling‘s Oscar-angled shindig due to an overlap with the Berlin Film Festival, which I’ll be attending for the first time, largely due to an invitation from Fox Searchlight to cover the world premiere of Wes Anderson‘s Grand Budapest Hotel (which opens stateside on 3.7). The price is that I’ll be missing most of the good Santa Barbara tributes — Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Bruce Dern, the Before trilogy guys (Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy). But I’ll catch Mission Blue, the SBIFF’s opening night film, and the David O. Russell and Cate Blanchett tributes and the Producers and Womens’ panels on Saturday.
“Cinerama, an independent movie theater in Rotterdam, asked me to make a poster for the upcoming [booking of] The Wolf Of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese.” — Clemens Den Exter, who invites all interested parties to write him at email@example.com “for questions about ordering one of these posters.”
Before the Academy’s board of governors voted to rescind the original song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” (music by Bruce Broughton, lyric by Dennis Spiegel), I had paid no attention to the same-titled film that the song is attached to. That’s mostly because it isn’t slated to formally “open” until June 14, and yet it had a half-ass opening in nine cities last September. (Which is how the song qualified for Oscar contention.) And yet Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic haven’t acknowledged its existence.
It pains me to say this but George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men (Sony, 2.7) is a write-down. It doesn’t work. It ambles and rambles and tries for a mixture of soft-shoe charm and solemn pathos, but it never lights the oven or lifts off the ground or whatever creative-engagement metaphor you prefer. It breaks my heart to say this. I went into yesterday morning’s screening with an attitude of “if this thing works even a little bit, I’m going to try to give it a pass or at least be as kind as possible.” I feel emotionally bonded with this film, you see, because of my visit to the set last May and that loose-shoe piece that I posted about it on 7.1. Clooney approved the visit and was gracious and cool during my four-hour hang-out, and I feel like I owe him a little kindness. But I can’t cut Monuments Men a break. I’d like to but I can’t.
Yesterday Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and TheWrap‘s Steve Pond reported on a firm “either-or” declaration by Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey, to wit: if producers/distributors henceforth unveil their Oscar-bait films at the Telluride Film Festival, they can’t show them during the first four days of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival (9.4 thru 9.14). How will producers/distributors respond? I’d be hugely surprised if they decide to blow off Telluride, which is easily the more preferred venue for award-season kickoffs.
Anyone who knows the game will tell you that Toronto is the Chicago stockyards — an overcrowded, market-driven clusterfuck — while Telluride is a serene haven of refined taste and film-nerd worship — the ideal launch for any film that needs the right people to see it and embrace it (or at least thoughtfully kick it around) and begin the conversation.
Toronto’s “uh-oh” bell sounded last August when the reps of J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost, Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis and Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska decided to preemptively cast their lot with Telluride and sidestep Toronto. Bailey didn’t have to threaten them by withdrawing TIFF slots during the first four days — they decided to ignore Toronto altogether. This initiated what I called “a relatively new fall-festival phenomenon — the Oscar-contending, Telluride-preferring, Toronto-blowoff movie.”
Two days ago a Daily Beast article by Curb Your Enthusiasm exec producer and documentarian Robert Weide (Woody Allen: A Documentary) appeared about the Woody Allen vs. Mia Farrow legal brouhaha of 20-plus years ago. I finally read it last night. Weide’s piece throws contrary light upon recent post-Golden Globe awards tweets by Mia and her son Ronan Farrow that re-accused Allen of having once had inappropriate contact with the now 28 year-old Malone (formerly Dylan) Farrow when she was seven. In so doing Weide’s article challenges Maureen Orth‘s November 2013 Vanity Fair piece about the incident and the investigation that followed. Conclude what you want, but Weide’s piece strikes me as a thorough, exacting, highly intelligent and fair-minded assessment of the whole unfortunate magilla.
I don’t know the particulars but I’ve just been informed by publicist Alan Meier that Red Granite‘s Joey McFarland and Riza Aziz, producers of The Wolf of Wall Street (along with Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Emma Tillinger Koskoff), are confirming that the forthcoming Wolf Bluray/DVD will not contain a four-hour director’s cut version, and that the film will be released on home video precisely as it was seen in theaters.
Why did a 1.27 Daily Mail story by James Desborough say otherwise? Why did McFarland and Aziz allegedly convey to Desborough, during an “exclusive” chat at last weekend’s Directors Guild of America awards, that a four-hour version was in the cards? Possible explanations: (a) Desborough made the story up out of whole cloth, (b) McFarland-Aziz were speaking wishfully and presumptuously, (c) McFarland-Aziz lied through their teeth for the sheer perverse thrill of it, or (d) flesh-colored humanoid aliens from the planet Trafalmadore pretended to be McFarland-Aziz and told Desborough a lie for the sheer perverse thrill of it.
Right out of the effing blue, Tom Sherak — the former AMPAS president, Revolution Studios honcho and 20th Century Fox distribution chief — has died of prostate cancer at age 68. Earnest condolences and hugs to all who knew and worked with and loved him. Tom was a brilliant player, a wise strategist, a consummate diplomat. He knew the ropes and always told the truth if you asked for it. He was kind and genuine and straight. I’m very, very sorry to hear this. A shock, a wallop.
Tom came out to my film class (i.e., Hot-Shot Movies) in ’96 to talk about The Crucible and marketing movies, and the audience loved him because he sounded like an unpretentious regular-type guy. A subscriber who attended that night told me that Sherak “was really cool because he talked like Joe Pesci…he didn’t talk like some smooth know-it-all.”
In ’94 or thereabouts Sherak inadvertently gave me a tough but valuable assessment of my phone manner. I was a reporter for Entertainment Weekly and the L.A. Times Syndicate at the time, and I sometimes tended to be a little pushy with my questions. At the end of one chat we said our goodbyes and then for some reason I didn’t hang up right away. Sherak didn’t either. I heard his assistant say something about my pushy manner, and Tom said, “I know, I know — he doesn’t listen.” Wow! That hurt my feelings but guess what? I listened. From that moment I resolved to turn down the aggression and adopt the manner of a priest in a confessional. From then on I was determined that no one would ever again say I’m a pushy asshole. So thank you, Tom, for helping me to be a slightly better journalist and perhaps a better person.
A little more than 11 years ago Variety‘s Pete Hammond wrote a somewhat dismissive piece about the Oscar blogging hotshots of ’02 — The Hot Button‘s David Poland, Oscar Watch‘s Sasha Stone, Movie Poop Shoot‘s Jeffrey Wells, the L.A. Times-affiliated Gold Derby, Fox.com‘s Roger Friedman.
Several of these articles, which could be condensed as “dead-tree media reporter looks askance at online whippersnappers,” popped up in those early days, but Hammond’s was one of the first. The beef was that the authors of these sites didn’t sound enough like John Horn or Claudia Eller or Gregg Kilday or Bernie Weinraub. They offered too much scattershot opinion and personality and weren’t objective enough.
“Oscar prognosticators on the web are multiplying as fast as studio remakes, but does anyone actually pay attention to these self-styled experts?,” it began. “Welcome to the new world of cyber-Oscar and the tangled web he is weaving, where one day Chicago is the picture to beat and the next day it’s ‘fading fast,’ all before it even hits theaters.
“Objectivity clearly isn’t the goal for these site hosts, who freely mix personal opinions with plants from publicists and filmmakers.