Paramount has flown a group of devoted Darren Aronofsky acolytes (First Showing‘s Alex Billington, Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci, Slashfilm‘s Peter Sciretta, etc.) down to Mexico City for tonight’s world premiere of Noah. Now, it may be that Noah is a grade-A Aronofsky experience (I’m expecting a good effort, being a longtime Darren fan myself), but if it’s not…well, we’ll see. They’re down there because Paramount figured they’d be reliably supportive and perhaps even good-buzz spreaders, just as Fox Searchlight flew me to Berlin with the knowledge that I’m a Wes Anderson devotee. I’ve been told by a Paramount publicist that the studio won’t be showing Noah for yours truly until the Los Angeles all-media on 3.26 (i.e., two days before it opens commercially) but it’s opening in Mexico on 3.21 so I’ll just drive down to Tijuana and review it from there.
Paramount publicist Tamar Tiefeld and friends-of-Aronofsky Peter Sciretta (far left) and Devin Faraci (far right) visiting Teotihuacan pyramids outside Mexico City a day ago. (Pic from Tamar Tiefeld’s Facebook page.)
Tiefeld and the boys enjoying Mexican grub…drink up, boys! The Margaritas are on Paramount!
Latin American opening dates for Noah
Four months after a Russian-subtitled trailer appeared for Jim Jarmusch‘s Only Lovers Left Alive (Sony Classics, 4.11), an English-language version has finally popped up. This is a very droll, no-laugh-funny vampire movie about middle-aged goth hipster musician types — a nocturnal lifestyle movie that Lou Reed would have loved. (Maybe Jarmusch showed it to him before he died?) After seeing it in Cannes I called it “a perfect William S. Burroughsian hipster mood trip…I sank into it like heroin.” Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright.
Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media have acquired U.S. rights to Yann Demange‘s ’71, a Belfast-set period thriller that everyone was talking about during the Berlin Film festival (and which I reviewed on 2.7.14). But Roadside reportedly plans to open it sometime in 2015, presumably because it doesn’t believe it’s strong enough to compete as a summer counter-programmer or award-season contender. Which seems odd as there’s nothing opaque or arty-farty about ’71 — it’s a chase thriller and a suspense film start to finish.
Alexander Payne and other mature, quality-minded directors will be pleased to hear about a plan by producer Robert Simonds to create a new movie studio dedicated to making $40 million movies with big stars that are aimed at semi-adult audiences — the kind of film that big studios don’t make any more. But Simonds has never been into funding Alexander Payne-type films, and he probably never will be. His new studio will most likely wind up making films with a glossier, more commercial sheen (i.e., Nancy Meyer comedies).
Producer Robert Simonds, Lindsay Lohan in 2005.
I was thinking this morning about Tad Friend’s just-published New Yorker article about the conflict between Noah director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount Pictures about trying to appeal to the Christian community, and the more I kicked it around the more Paramount’s position (i.e., the one more or less voiced in Friend’s article by Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore) seemed reasonable to me. If I was running the show, I too would have tried to assemble a pandering, vaguely dipshitty Christian-friendly version of Noah — a version that would have blatantly kowtowed to Christian values. But — this is important — I would only show it in the hinterland territories where most Christians live.
I would give this version of Noah a special rating — C for Christian. I would then open the real Noah — the Aronofsky version, the artistic-integrity cut that was more or less intended all along and is true to itself and doesn’t pander to simpletons — in the cities and their suburbs and other semi-educated areas.
Christians live on their own planet, they want what they want, and they’ll never come down to earth. I don’t see the problem in making and trying to sell them the kind of cereal that they want to eat. And then you could include both versions on the Bluray/DVD.
That, to me, sounds like a sensible business plan for the film’s release, and one that would totally respect Aronofsky’s vision. From Paramount’s perspective, releasing a C-rated version wouldn’t be any kind of dismissal of the Aronofsky cut. It would simply be a practical acknowledgement that Christians want what they want, and that they don’t care about real filmmaking or artistic intent as much as others do. They want and have always insisted upon having a certain kind of spiritual heroin in their lives, and that’s their game — take it or leave it.
Last week Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman explained its appeal to London journos, who had been shown a teaser reel of the Warner Bros. sci-fi thriller, to wit: “If you love Tom Cruise, you see him giving a genius performance, and if you hate Tom Cruise he dies like 200 times [in this thing]. Here, he is a total coward. The amount of times he squeals in this movie — he’s an amazing squealer! Other movie stars would have been more hesitant about being that vulnerable.”
Of course Cruise is “that vulnerable.” Joel Goodson is now 51 years old (52 on 7.3.14). He looks healthy and is obviously in great shape, but the fact that he more or less looks his age means he can now use that faintly haggard, vaguely weathered look to his acting advantage. If they last long enough, all good-looking actors are in a kind of golden period when they hit their late 40s and 50s. The natural expressiveness that comes with being older (and having acquired a few scars, bruises and regrets along the way) deepens their game.
If they were to remake The Firm (which came out 20 years ago) Cruise could now play Gene Hackman‘s role, the spry but corrupt mafia attorney with a weakness for the ladies. Cruise is roughly where Burt Lancaster was when he was on his last lap as an action star in his early to mid 50s, making The Train and The Professionals and The Scalphunters.
The New Yorker‘s Tad Friend has written a fine, fascinating, first-hand, notepad-and-shoe-leather tale of Darren Aronofsky‘s making and editing of Noah, and the subsequent pushbacks from Paramount executives who have wanted all along, naturally, like all studio guys, to simply maximize profits. The article appeared Sunday night. Required reading, very good stuff, makes you hungry to see Noah, which opens on 3.28. “I don’t give a fuck about the test scores!,” Aronofsky tells Friend. “My films are outside the scores. Ten men in a room trying to come up with their favorite ice cream are going to agree on vanilla. I’m the Rocky Road guy.”