I haven’t done any serious Sundance digging, but there’s one film I’ve consistently heard is awfully good, and I’m not saying this because it was written by Michael Arndt, a guy I happened to swap apartments with last summer. It’s called Little Miss Sunshine, it’s a “heart” movie about a dysfunctional family, and it costars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin (the little girl who said “there’s a monster outside my window…can I have a glass of water?” in Signs) and Paul Dano. It’s a Premier selection, and the best of these are usually slotted on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights. Sunshine‘s first showing is on Friday at 6 pm — absolute prime time.
Here’s to the fearless Don Murphy, a laser-brained, seriously tough-nut producer I’ve known since about ’94 (when he was producing Natural-Born Killers with his then-partner Jane Hamsher)…a guy who won’t take ‘no’…a guy who once tore into me because I had the absolute temerity to ring up Vincent Gallo and later Ed Sanders because I was interested in the progress of a possible Murphy-produced Charles Manson movie…a guy who once said to me, “You…are…my…bitch!” They’re just words and they hit the floor like drops of water off a duck’s ass. Murphy is one of the coolest hard-core hombres in town, and he comes off pretty well in this profile by Hollywood Reporter columnist Anne Thompson.
I should have posted this Friday (1.13), but it’s weird reading the piece by the Wall Street Journal‘s Jon Weinbach about the “other” Munich movie called Sword of Gideon — a 1986 HBO cable movie — that’s about the same thing (i.e., an Israeli assassin’s sense of gathering guilt over helping to kill several conspirators who helped perpetrate the 1972 Munich Olympic games massacre) and more-or-less based on the same 1984 book “Vengeance,” by Canadian author George Jonas. Weinbach makes this sound like a big revelation, to wit: “Now here’s something else to add to the discussion: It turns out there was a cable-TV movie made 20 years ago about…,” blah, blah. And it seems kinda weird from this corner because I brought this up front- and-center in a column piece that ran on 3.9.05.
“Between the wide-angled planes of her cheekbones, [Claire Danes‘] features are large and mobile — more chunky than delicate — and expressive in a way that at times seems out of her conscious control,” begins a 1.15 New York Times profile by Dana Stevens. “On the day we meet in a crepe place in SoHo, around the corner from the loft she shares with the actor Billy Crudup, Ms. Danes’s face looks, by moments — and I mean this in the nicest way — almost like that of an eager, curious animal.”
From an admiring but somewhat brash, straight-from-the- shoulder profile of Philip Seymour Hoffman by David Edel- stein in the 1.15 New York Times. Interesting Hoffman quote: “There are certain jobs, in certain environments, when I’m not as scared. So, therefore, I am who I am, which I think is a pretty decent person. But if I’m struggling, if I feel like I’m falling short, I’m incredibly hard on myself. And when you’re in front of a camera and in front of people, that’s a very vulnerable place to be. I can become difficult. But I’m not demanding. I’m not the guy who’s not coming out of his trailer. I’m definitely the guy [who] will start to swear very loudly at myself.”
Poor Shelley Winters, who died yesterday at the age of 86 years and 4 months, was always feisty and frank. I sat right next to her at a 1983 Cannon Films press luncheon for Over the Brooklyn Bridge (held prior to shooting), and as producer Menahem Golan got up and began making a speech, Winters squinted her eyes and said to pretty much everyone at our table, “Don’t like him… nope, don’t like him.” I met her again in 1997 at the Silver Spoon, a breakfast place in West Hollywood, and she told me I reminded her of an old boyfriend from New York. The IMDB bio has this passage about a visit she paid to Johnny Carson’s Tonight show in July 1972: “[Winters] grew
tired of [fellow guest] Oliver Reed’s attitude towards women…and after Shelley told Reed what she thought of his opinions, she left the set. The show continued with Reed still going on about women to Carson. Shortly after Winters appeared from stage left, carrying a champagne bucket of ice and water. She surprised Reed by dumping it over his head. Reed was furious over this and tried to attack her but [production assistants] intervened. The show broke for a commercial break, and when it resumed both actors were gone.”
Here’s a totally hilarious trail of Roger Friedman Fox 411 quotes about how it’s all going downhill in terms of prospective awards and healthy box-office for Brokeback Mountain, starting on December 9th and moving right up to January 13th. Scroll to the bottom of the page…it’s a scream. (Thanks to N.Y. Daily News guy Wayman Wong for this.)
“I just read your Wired comment about James Franco with Tristan and Isolde not catching a break, and I couldn’t agree more about his being a fine actor. His work on Freaks and Geeks (the most perceptive show about high school to ever air) was wonderful. It’s unfortunate that so many people only know him as Peter Parker’s bitch from the Spider-Man films.” — Jesse Perry, Nashville, Tenn.
Brokeback Mountain, playing in just over 700 theatres as of yesterday, will reach $32 million or thereabouts by the end of the four-day weekend. I’m presuming that Focus Features will expand big-time after Monday’s night’s expected Best Picture win at the Golden Globes awards. One marketing expert is forecasting a $60 million haul by the end of the theatrical run, but I don’t know…if it wins the Best Picture Oscar on March 5th it’ll get a new surge and probably stay in theatres until April, and it could go a lot higher. Ain’t no reins on this one.
The box-office positions could switch between now and Monday night, but it appears that Hoodwinked, the animated Weinstein Co. release, is going to nudge its way into being the #1 film over the Martin Luther King holiday. Analysts are projecting a 4-day take of $16,900,000 over the second-place The Chronicles of Narnia with a projected $16,340,000. Hoodwinked “is not burn- ing up the pea patch,” a marketing veteran commented, “but it’s the first kids picture to hit the market since Narnia.” Some anal- ysts were speculating that Glory Road, the Jerry Bruckheimer forumula sports flick about a black Southern college basketball team in the ’60s, might be the winner because of the MLK holiday, but the current expectation is that it’ll come in just under Narnia with $16,280,000. Hostel is looking at $12,350,000 for the holiday weekend, Fun with Dick and Jane should do about $10,400,000, King Kong about $8,809,000, and Tristan and Isolde about $8,760,000. Poor James Franco…a really fine actor, can’t catch a break.
Here’s a very fine beat-by-beat description of “Diana,” that short-film sequence in Rodrigo Garcia’s Nine Lives that I got all jazzed about in one of my October columns…the one that happens in the supermarket between Robin Wright Penn and Jason Isaacs. The description (accompanied in Sunday’s edition by similar riffs by A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis) is by the New York Times‘ Stephen Holden. I’m guessing that 97% of the people reading this never saw Nine Lives. Well, it’ll be out on DVD on 2.14.06…just four weeks from now.