Two and a half weeks until Oscar night, and the only question is whether George Clooney will beat Paul Giamatti for Best Supporting Actor. It’ll be Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture, and Ang Lee for Best Director, Capote‘s Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Actor (although it should ideally be a tie between Hoffman and Heath Ledger), Walk the Line‘s Reese Witherspoon for Best Actress, Cinderella Man‘s Giamatti and Syriana‘s Clooney neck and neck, The Constant Gardener Rachel Weisz winning for Best Supporting Actress, Crash‘s Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco for Best Original Screenplay, Brokeback Mountain‘s Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay, Gavin Hood‘s Tsotsi for Best Foreign Language Film (anti-Palestinian potshots have killed the chances of Paradise Now ); Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride ought to win the Best Animated Feature, but watch the majority give it to Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit; Brokeback Mountain‘s Gustavo Santaolalla ought to win for
Best Original Score (please, please don’t give it John “Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl” Williams); “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” for Hustle & Flow deserves to win for Best Original Song (as an overall tribute to the film).
I’ve never really looked at what Steven Soderbergh‘s The Good German (Warner Bros., early-mid fall ’06) actually is (or seems to be), and then along comes Garth Franklin and Dark Horizons with a short profile. It’s been directed by Soderbergh from a script by Paul Attanasio (and based on Joseph Kanon’s novel), with a cast including George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges and Jack Thompson. It’s a risky romance drama set in the bombed-out ruins of post-WWII Berlin, and it’s going to be a modest thing…perhaps an engrossing and well-made modest thing, but modest all the same with everyone wearing 1947 haircuts. U.S. Army war correspondent Jake Geismar (Clooney) is putting the blocks to former girlfriend Lena Brandt (Blanchett) while she tries to hook up with her missing husband Emil (Christian Oliver) so they can get out of Berlin and…I don’t know what. (Move to New Jersey? Buy a ranch in Northern California?) But Emil is the object of a manhunt by both the American and Russian armies, and “intrigue mounts as Jake tries to uncover the secrets Lena may be hiding in her desperation to get herself and her husband out of Berlin,” etc., etc. Tully (Tobey Maguire), a soldier in the American army motor pool assigned to drive Jake around Berlin, has black market connections that may be Lena’s way out — or lead them all into even darker territory. See what I mean?
This is almost the best review I’ve seen anywhere of Firewall. I don’t know who “Jeremy and Clint” are (the site says they’ve “been selectively reviewing films for a decade”), but I’d like to hear from them about each and every film henceforth. (This strip on Brokeback Mountain is less to my liking, but it makes a couple of fair/astute points.) Seriously…this is good stuff.
The N.Y. Times‘ David Carr (a.k.a., “the Bagger”) is sounding alarmed about the unwashed multitudes not turning up in sufficient numbers to see the four Best Picture nominees still in theatres — Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night, and Good Luck and Capote . The import of this will be low ratings for the Oscar telecast, disappointing ad revenues for ABC and a generally bad impact upon the reputation of the Oscar Awards. Let me say this about that (as John F. Kennedy used to say): Fuck the ratings, fuck ABC’s ad revenue worries, fuck the unwashed multitudes for continuing to be relatively unmotivated about seeing Capote and all the other deserving Best Picture nominees, and — last but not least — downsize the Oscar show and put it on cable if need be because the culture is devolving, centers of cultivation are shrinking, and quality movies are simply no longer mass-market attractions. (Unless, that is, the ending of a quality film makes people cry and the word gets around about this.) This is the world we live in and the way it regrettably is. Deal with it, work with it and please stop kvetching about the lack of across-the-board support. If you’re serving elegant cuisine at a not-very-expensive restaurant that critics and people with taste have been salivating over, do you go out on the street and say, “This is a disaster!…all those people eating at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and Carl’s Jr. aren’t coming to sample our dishes. What are we doing wrong? Our legitimacy is at stake!”
This isn’t secret information (it’s on the IMDB), but a Turkish reader named Nedim Bali is reminding me that Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, the Rambo-ish anti-American action film that’s become a huge hit in Turkey, Austria and Germany, began life a TV series (minus the “I” word), and that Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia guest-starred opposite Necati Sasmaz, the star of the film as well as the series, in the final episode. Garcia played a mafia head and Stone played his wife. Bali says he’s heard/read they were paid $500,000 each for one day’s work. “It’s interesting that everyone keeps mentioning B-stars like Billy Zane and Gary Busey being in the film, but no one talks about these major stars involved practically in the same franchise,” Bali writes.
Indian film director T. Rajeevnath is today wearing a clown face and a dunce cap because he’s reportedly interested in casting Paris Hilton as the star of a new film about Mother Teresa, which he reportedly plans to shoot in English in West Bengal. Accurately or inaccurately, fairly or unfairly, the poor schmuck has been quoted as saying that his “agents in California have contacted Paris Hilton” about this proposal, and that he’s interested because he was “impressed when he heard the hotel heiress had refused to strip for Playboy magazine.” Rajeevnath has a background as a sane and honorable film artist, so go figure.
That plot line in Ridley Scott‘s ’70s-era American Gangster — i.e, heroin smuggled in soldiers bodybags from Vietnam — was first seen in a 1985 episode of Miami Vice with Gordon Liddy as the drug dealer. It was called “Back in the World,” which first aired on 12.6.85. The director was Don Johnson; the writer was Terry McDonnell. The guest stars were Bob Balaban (Ira Stone), Iman (Dakotah), G. Gordon Liddy (Capt. Real Estate), Patti D’Arbanville (Mrs. Stone), Susan Hatfield (Mrs. Real Estate) and Gary Cox (Harold). Plotline: A journalist that Crockett knew in Vietnam is ready to break a story about ‘The Sergeant”– a shadowy legend thought to have shipped heroin stateside in body bags. Information from www.tv.com — here’s another site with the same information. Liddy also apeared on another 1986 episode — here’s the info. Thanks to readers Neil Harvey, Amir Hanif and Zac Freiesleben for helping out.
Whoops…should have read this clumsily written Borys Kit Hollywood Reporter story more carefully. I linked to it yesterday in a riff about Michael Bay and Friday the 13th, but it’s a producing deal, not a directing one. (The end of the fourth graph in the Kit story says that “no director is attached to the project.”) But my original thesis that Bay is making a bad career move still holds, since he’ll next be directing Transformers: The Movie, a Jerry Bruckheimer-style take on the Amblin’ family flicks from the ’80s. The man is in trouble. He needs to get away from popcorn movies and direct something like (seriously) Betrayal. (And why is Betrayal still not on DVD, by the way?)
I didn’t mention this in the earlier riff [02/14/2006, 1:48 PM] about John Scheinfeld‘s Who is Harry Nilsson? doc, but I was reminded of it this morning. Not only did Nilsson not write “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me”, but he also didn’t write “Without You”. A BBC site says the song was actually the work of British band Badfinger, specifically Pete Ham and Tom Evans. A desperate plea to a departing lover, ‘Without You’ is lent added poignancy by the knowledge that its writers eventually committed suicide, ground down by dodgy business dealings and the pressures of the music biz. Nilsson’s version appeared on his 1971 album Nilsson Schmilson, and was a huge hit around the world although Ham and Evans hardly saw a penny of the proceeds.”
“Entertainment Weekly hates me. They’ve hated me since they’ve been a magazine. Fuck ’em…and you can go and tell them that,” Bruce Willis said last Sunday (yeah, I know…three days ago is old news) during a press conference for 16 Blocks (Warner Bros., 3.3). Willis was asked why EW hates him. “Because I’m a threat to them. Why does anybody hate anybody? Because they have some beef. Who cares? They can all blow me.” I once wrote a News & Notes piece for EW about Willis and various troubles that happened during the shooting of Striking Distance (1993). My sources were impeccable and their info was basically that Willis was the primary cause of the difficulties, but the piece was given a final rewrite in New York that added an an extra-snide tone. Anyway, Willis found me in the phone book and called to complain. The guy was hurt…there was anguish in his voice. I couldn’t hint who my sources were and I couldn’t talk about the rewrite (which I thought was a bit harsh), and it was a difficult conversation. This episode — 12 and 1/2 years ago — was the first indication I had that Willis had very little love for EW and was not the kind to just sit there and take it.
Being a celebrity-relationship reporter is a repellent way to make a living. I never touched it when I worked at People in the mid to late ’90s, but there was something faintly odorous wafting out of the offices back then (and this was years before the celeb-chasing magazines turned uniformly icky and vapid in the Bonnie Fuller mode). Nonetheless the willingness of Life & Style to stick its neck out over the “Imminent Death of TomKat” story has a certain head-turning quality. My immediate response was “Already?” If this story is even half-true (and I’m not saying or presuming that it is), somebody in this relationship is in a highly frustrated, unstable, erratic state of mind. There’s what everybody presumes or believes to be true (the highly questionable raison d’etre of TomKat, the horrid implications of those Scientology minders tagging along behind Katie Holmes when she goes anywhere, etc.), and then there’s the what’s-the-hurry? factor. If you have a partnership that you’ve invested yourself in (for whatever reason, and whatever the likelihood that normal run-of-the-mill hetero coupling is part of the deal) and a baby is on the way, you need to calm down, start planning, dig in and take life seriously. You don’t quit the thing eight or nine months later…unless you’re insane. The Life & Style story was heatedly denied by reps for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and its veracity was even challenged by Gawker. The mag quotes “insiders” saying the couple’s relationship has come to an end but that Tom and Katie “plan to keep up the charade of a romance until after their baby’s birth this spring.” Another source says Tom and Katie “both agreed that the marriage wouldn’t work and they wanted to end it before they learned to hate each other.” Furthermore, a representative for Life & Style magazine has said, “We stand 100 percent behind our story.” Good God.