The most distinct thing I remember about Sam Peckinpah‘s Cross of Iron, which opened on 5.12.77, is the closing line of Gene Shalit‘s review on the Today show: “Cross of Iron is a movie of bad.” My reaction wasn’t as starkly negative, but I know I never saw it a second time and that I never even thought about getting the UK Bluray. N.Y. Times critic Vincent Canby called it “Mr. Peckinpah’s least interesting, least personal film in years.” It’s been a while, but I don’t recall disliking it as much as Convoy. But it’s since become a favorite of eccentric Peckinpah cultists….right? The first of these may have been Orson Welles, who allegedly got in touch with Peckinpah after seeing it and called it “the finest antiwar film since All Quiet on the Western Front.” Or words to that effect. The only way I could see it again cheaply is to watch a 480p version on Amazon. Maybe.
3:30 pm update: The fabled Miami-to-Key West drive along Route 1 felt like a letdown. After you leave the south-of-Miami mainland (i.e., Homestead) and start your journey south from Key Largo, the downscale tourist vibe starts to seep in.
With the exception of two or three longish, concrete-piling causeways over the water, the Overseas Highway is just a slowish, congested, two-lane graytop with very little to recommend or be intrigued about. Unless, you know, you want gas or some seafood. Most of the time there are no passing lanes, and there are too many traffic light stops. It’s real America, but in a proletariat downmarket sense. At times it almost reminded me of Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis.
The local municipalities are naturally trying to clear the roadside of Hurricane Irma damage — tree limbs and brush, destroyed chunks of foundation concrete, piles of soil and…what am I saying? I’m saying that after a half-hour on the O.H. I was muttering “this is it?” I’ve been hearing about this must-experience route since I was ten or thereabouts, and to realize there’s just not much there — nothing above and beyond the natural longing of local merchants to make money.
No subtle aromas, no yesteryear echoes, no samplings of Bahamian architecture, no “culture.” (Or not much of it.). I was so lethargic that I decided against stopping in Key Largo to see Humphrey Bogart ‘s original African Queen river scow. Maybe on the way back.
Earlier: “It’s 12:35 pm, and we’re two-thirds of the way to Key West. Arriving around…oh, 2 pm or thereabouts. At 6pm we’ll be catching the Key West Film Festival‘s opening-night attraction — Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water. And then a nice after-party somewhere. Unable to attend himself, Guillermo recently taped a special video introduction that speaks specifically to KWFF and the locals who’ve been cleaning up since Irma tore through. Thanks to Fox Searchlight for providing the film.
There’s no such thing as a bad Luca Guadagnino interview, but this one, moderated by Awards Watch‘s Eric Anderson, is more engaging than most. I’m sorry to add that Anderson gets two demerits for posting a photo of Guadagnino that must be at least ten years old (too much hair on top) and for alluding to A Bigger Splash as The Big Splash (Fritz Lang‘s The Big Heat meets Ron Howard‘s Splash).
The trip from Los Angeles to the Key West Film Festival proceeds as planned. It’s 6:52 am, and we’re waiting for an Orlando-to-Miami flight to depart in a few. Instead of taking a Miami-to-Key West shuttle, Team HE will do the scenic drive this time. It should take three or four hours. Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, etc. Warm tropical air, the original African Queen boat, the glistening sea, island to island, no big hurry.
Incidentally: There’s a guy sitting in front of me who keeps shifting his weight and pushing back on his seat and generally acting like an anxious five-year-old. Glaring daggers at the back of his head hasn’t helped.
Listen to the guy identified as Burt Reynolds in this Movie Geeks United podcast. I know what Reynolds sounds like — I know his the purr and the flip of his voice like the back of my hand — and this guy ain’t him. Or more precisely, he ain’t the Reynolds of yore. And yet Reynolds did sound like his own self last year when he visited the Key West Film Festival (which is where I’m flying off to tonight, by the way).
If anyone has the balls to pass along a PDF of Quentin Tarantino’s “not so much Manson as 1969” script, you know how to get in touch. I managed to snag a copy of The Hateful Eight, you’ll recall. A friend: “Been told by two studio sources that execs had to physically go to the WME office to read the script. I highly doubt it’s out there.”
Most clarifying description yet, from Deadline‘s Michael Fleming: “There has been a lot of press that the script focuses on Charles Manson and the murder spree he orchestrated, but I’m told that is akin to calling Inglourious Basterds a movie about Adolf Hitler, when the Nazi leader was only in a scene or two.
“The film will be set in Los Angeles and begin production in mid-2018 for a 2019 release, and it will be an R-rated film, like all Tarantino’s directing efforts. Those who’ve read it said the script has heart and a strong commercial appeal, and if there is a film of Tarantino’s it can be best compared to, it would be Pulp Fiction, which also was set in Los Angeles. The film will carry a budget in the range of Django Unchained.”
This is a really weird Oscar year. I know which films are truly the best, the most well-made, the ones that actually transcend themselves and take you over to the other side…and they’re not necessarily represented among the picks that the Gold Derby-ites and Gurus are currently eyeballing. The know-it-alls are really the guess-it-alls, and they’re choosing some of these films because they come close to fulfilling a kind of vague definition of what an Oscar film could or should be, but at the same time not really. Because it’s a weird year, and by that I mean a weak year.
In the spirit of this weakest of weird years, the great James Franco should be Best Actor nominated for his performance in The Disaster Artist. I was slow to understand how good he is, I know, but that’s me sometimes. A tortoise, a snail. Franco won’t win, of course, but he needs to be among the five nominees because this would reflect what we all sense is happening this year, which is that it’s all weird and off-kilter and hard to get a handle on. There are no big Best Picture kapows except for Lady Bird, Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name. Oh, and The Florida Project.
Hollywood Elsewhere attaboy pat-on-the-back prizes: The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Disaster Artist. Holding Our Breath: The Post, Phantom Thread, All The Money In The World.
For a Variety interview called “An Artist Reborn,” Ramin Setoodeh did two interviews with Disaster Artist producer-director and star James Franco. The first happened at Manhattan’s Soho House (29-35 9th Ave.), and a few weeks later they met in Los Angeles for hike to the Griffith Park Observatory.
If so doing Setoodeh elevated his status to that of Esquire and GQ interviewers, who often meet with their subjects two or three times over a month-long period, usually in dramatically different settings.
What if Setoodeh and Franco had met a third time on a sailing voyage between the islands of Kuwaii and Oahu? I guess I’m not used to Variety staffers doing the glammy, hang-out-and-really-get-to-know-each-other-over-a-period-of-a-few-weeks thing.
The only person I ever interviewed twice for the same interview was Robert Altman, right around the time of The Player. Altman was slightly irked when I dropped by the second time: “Whaddaya doin’, writin’ a book here?”
Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has snapped some breathtaking views of Jupiter. From the Mission Juno website: The color-enhanced view captures one of the white ovals in the ‘string of pearls,’ one of eight massive rotating storms at 40 degrees south latitude on the gas giant planet.” Pic was taken on 10.24.17 at 11: 11 am Pacific as Juno performed its ninth close fly-by of Jupiter. The spacecraft was 20,577 miles (33,115 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a latitude of minus 52.96 degrees.” Not to be repetitive, but the problem, as noted on 4.7.17, is that Jupiter is a big nothing…just a ball of fucking gas that maintains a perfectly round shape but so what? You can’t land on it, the Death Star can’t blow it up, it’s a big nothing…what’s the point? Everyone needs to focus on planets you can actually visit.
Poorly thought-out, ill-considered Christopher Plummer statement about Kevin Spacey, conveyed to Vanity Fair: “I think it’s very sad what happened to him. Kevin is such a talented and a terrifically gifted actor, and it’s so sad. It’s such a shame. That’s all I can say, because that’s it.” Plummer is sorry, in short, that Spacey’s talent, which exists in its own realm, will henceforth have a difficult time finding a proper outlet. He’s not expressing sorrow that a predator has met with an unfortunate but just fate. Spacey has been condemned all around; Plummer didn’t need to add to it. Spacey now resides in the kingdom of the cobra and the scorpion. Update: Bryan Cranston is probably saying the wrong thing.
Ridley Scott‘s recent decision to re-cast, re-shoot and re-edit All The Money In The World within 35 or so days (actually less when you consider that 87-year-old Christopher Plummer, Kevin Spacey‘s stellar replacement, won’t begin shooting his scenes in Rome and Wadi Rum, Jordan until 11.20) has to be one of the ballsiest and most heroic moves any director has made in Hollywood history.
Prior to the 11.22 NYC premiere of The Man Who Invented Christmas, Plummer told a Vanity Fair correspondent that the All The Money In the World shoot would begin on Monday, 11.20, and continue for roughly 10 days. I presume that means 10 days straight — who would even consider weekends off with this kind of pressure-cooker situation?
The fact that Scott was pretty much forced into re-casting Spacey’s part as J. Paul Getty while at the same time having to stick to the original 12.22 release date ** is secondary. The point is that Scott became a kind of Charles Lightoller figure after a Spacey torpedo tore into the hull of his ship. Was it Fredrick Neitzche who said “when in danger always move forward,” or did Nick Nolte‘s Ray Hicks character make that up on the spur? Scott decided within hours that he had to become an extraordinary general — re-cast, re-group, fly his troops to Rome and Jordan, finesse the problem, and then fly back to Los Angeles like Odysseus returning to Penelope.
If Scott isn’t nominated for Best Director, the Academy should give him a special Oscar for performing such a herculean feat under the gun, and at age 79 yet. (He turns 80 on 11.30.17.)
I was told the other night by a producer acquaintance that the Christoper Plummer re-shoot and re-edit will cost $8 million and change.
I was also told that in preparing the final edit Scott was forced to cut two scenes that featured costar Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg was unhappy that these scenes were edited out, I’m told, so when he was approached about re-shooting his scenes with Plummer’s J. Paul Getty one of his terms was that the the scenes would be re-inserted. Scott allegedly agreed. I’ve no idea if this story is true or not. It seems odd that Scott would go back on a creative decision in order to please one of his lead actors. I’m just throwing it out there because a guy associated with a reputable film told me that it happened, based on the word of a right guy. Take that with a grain.
** Scott’s hand was forced due to the 10-episode FX series Trust, which tells the same story of John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping in 1973 and the initial refusal of his grandfather (played in this instance by Donald Sutherland) to pay the ransom, set to begin airing in January ’18. Trust is being exec produced by Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and Christian Colson.
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