“Be disloyal. It’s your duty to the human race. The human race needs to survive and it’s the loyal man who dies first from anxiety or a bullet or overwork. If you have to earn a living and the price they make you pay is loyalty, be a double agent — and never let either of the two sides know your real name. The same applies to women and God. They both respect a man they don’t own, and they’ll go on raising the price they are willing to offer. Didn’t Christ say that very thing? Was the prodigal son loyal, or the lost shilling or the strayed sheep? — Graham Greene
Kris Tapley informs me that Univeral publicist Jen Chamberlain sent out a press release on 3.7.06 announcing the title change from Flight 93 to United 93. Okay, fine…but I didn’t get it, and it was still being called Flight 93 on the IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and JoBlo earlier today, and Variety ran that story on 3.19 in which they called it Flight 93 and that Google search I mentioned shows that several other sites are still in the old mode, so is everyone suffering from ADD or what?
Here’s a pretty good (i.e., well-written, moderately diverting ) piece about Friends with Money director Nicole Holofcener by critic Carina Chocano. I’ve seen the film, which portrays four Westside L.A. women in terms of their jobs, income and relationships with their men (i.e., mostly husbands), and I certainly recognize some of the characters, character traits and situations. Holofcener is a smart writer, an honest artist and a straight dealer…but there are two things in this film that no one, anywhere, is going to buy. One is Jennifer Aniston playing a poor house cleaner who winds up with a slovenly, poorly-dressed overweight rich guy who tries to chisel her down on her house-cleaning fee…a guy who’s about 75 to 100 pounds heavier than she is, and about 15 inches taller. The other is a scene in which Catherine Keener, playing an unhappily married screenwriter, visits a next-door neighbor who is angry at Keener and husband Jason Isaacs for starting construction on a second-story addition to their home which blocks the neighbor’s view of the city. Earlier in the film Keener and Isaacs agree they’re willing to accept neighbor hostility over this matter, but when Keener visits the neighbor and sees for herself how the second-story addition is a gross visual eyesore from this perspective, she runs out and tries to stop the building and tells all the workers to go home. Uh-huh…an expensive undertaking she’s had months to consider and involves the borrowing of a serious amount of money (probably from a bank) to pay for, and she’s going to shut it down over a matter of neighborly relations. We’re also asked to believe the neighbor wouldn’t have invited Keener over to her home in the early stages (i.e., while the framework was being put up) to make her case. You want to like this film, and you want to go with it…but these obstacles are not the doing of the viewer.
“I, too, just came back from seeing Inside Man and while my audience wasn’t vocal against the United 93 trailer like they were in Arlington Heights, my companion turned to me when it ended, saying, ‘Do you want to see that? I have no desire to see that…eccch!” — Joseph Jones, Tampa.
One of the zombie letters (in response to my observation that there are no Pacific Rim zombies…the phenomenon is strictly East Coast, Caribbean and other Old World areas) came from reader Charlie Hill, who reminded me about that highly regarded Joe Dante/Sam Hamm Showtime film, Homecoming, which aired on the “Masters of Horror” series last 12.2.05. Based on the short story “Death and Suffrage” by Dale Bailey , it runs with the premise of “what if the hundreds of soldiers killed in Iraq were to rise from the dead for the purpose of voting Bush out of office for lying as to why we went over there in the first place.” I never saw this (don’t get Showtime) and it’s not on DVD. How good was it? Does anyone know when it might be available on disc?
“I live in Arlington Heights, Illnois — a fairly affluent, moderately left-leaning suburb — and the audience I saw Inside Man with on Saturday reacted none too well to the United 93 trailer. When the Brokeback Mountain trailers first started playing there was some discomfort but nothing too reactive. But reaction to United 93‘s trailer was downright hostile, with a few people actually yelling, ‘too soon!’ and ‘there’s no reason to see that’ in addition to a lot of perturbed coughing. From listening to people on the way out, there seemed to be a sentiment that this movie is looking to exploit still-fresh 9/11 anger and nobody seemed to want anything to do with it. I don’t know how representative this are of the population as a whole (maybe the righties will buy into it), but I’m not sure audiences are ready for the 9/11 movies coming out this year.” — Kyle Dickinson
Like old habits, movie titles you’ve gotten used to can die hard. Even relatively recent ones, like Universal’s Flight 93, the Paul Greengrass 9/11 thriller that’s opening on Friday, 4.28. Or the former Flight 93, I should say. The old-shoe, boilerplate-sounding Flight 93 of yore…a label I was totally down with.
I was so accustomed to the sound of it that when I linked to the trailer three days ago (on 3.24), I didn’t even notice that Universal had snuck in like a cat burglar on the Cote d’Azur and changed it to United 93.
Wait a minute…is it United 93 or United93? The title art seems to indicate this, but maybe not. You don’t want to get too anal about this stuff.
Here’s my best guess (this being Sunday) as to why Universal did this five weeks before the release date: they suddenly decided there was something thematically appealing in the sound of United 93 because it alludes to the unity of purpose among the passengers who decided to take back the flight from the Al Qeada hijackers.
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The 9/11 flight depicted in the film having been operated by United Air Lines is parallel-tangential.
The only other reason I can imagine is that someone realized at the last minute that the public might confuse the Universal feature with the A&E Channel’s Flight 93, which aired last January. But they obviously knew about the A&E movie for months, so why would they react this late in the game?
If nothing else, this last-minute decision is proof that Universal’s management is thinking on its feet.
A few movie sites apparently had the new title art up and running by the end of the week, but the switch came as a bit of a shock when I finally tuned in Saturday morning. West Hollywood detectives paid a visit a few hours later and dusted my hard drive and did their usual poking around, and for a while there they were just as befuddled as I was.
Their best estimate — mine also — is that Flight 93 became United 93 sometime between Sunday, March 19, and Tuesday, March 21.
The grand old IMDB hadn’t gotten the message as of Sunday, 3.26, as you can ascertain by clicking here. (They’ll update sooner or later, but they totally believed in Flight 93 as of 11:25 a.m. Sunday morning.)
Rotten Tomatoes still had it listed as Flight 93 as of Sunday, 3.26, although Scott Weinberg ran a post on Friday, 3.24, saying that Universal has gone with the title change, adding at the same time that the change was “old news.”
JoBlo.com is still calling it Flight 93, and a Google search shows that several other sites are still in the old mode.
A 3.19 story by Variety‘s Ted Johnson referred to Flight 93 but a Nicole LaPorte story that went up Sunday, 3.26 used United 93.
Nobody from Universal publicity told me — no e-mail announcements, no phone calls — but the first IMDB chat board question about the title change was posted on Tuesday, 3.21.
Here’s hoping Universal starts screening United 93 sometime soon so there’ll something to write about. April is looking like an incredibly flat month. Maybe my memory is foggy, but it seems worse than usual.
People like me are going to be reaching for anything to write about, but for the most part will have to make do with acceptables, pretty goods and not-too-bads: The Notorious Bettie Page, Free Zone, The Death of Mr Lazarescu, Hard Candy, Kinky Boots and the limited, all-but-invisible northwest release of Mozart and the Whale.
I’m going to have April visits to Houston’s Worldfest Film festival and the San Francisco Film Festival to distract me, but marquee-wise United 93 is the only film due within the next five weeks that seems to have any kind of major voltage. Am I wrong?
And it won’t just be the movie to discuss. There will be plenty to delve into with the head-in-the-sand types chanting their two basic mantras: (1) “Too soon! No 9/11 movies!” and (2) “Don’t mention the concept of U.S. foreign policy having anything to do with motivating the 9/11 attacks…the attackers were the devil’s emissaries and the U.S. was nothing more than a totally innocent, God-fearing victim of evildoers.”
2006 Cinevegas Film Festival director of programming Trevor Goth and Sundance honcho John Cooper at party last Friday night (3.24) at the Buffalo Club for “the world’s most dangerous film festival,” which unfurls June 9th through 17th. Taken Friday, 3.24, 7:50 pm.
Director John Stockwell (who gave us the respected but somewhat under-appreciated Blue Crush and the very fine crazybeautiful), whom I still regard as the Genx Curtis Hanson despite the misfire of Into the Blue, with the very foxy Olivia Wilde, star of Stockwell’s Turistas, a forthcoming adventure flick set in the Amazon, at Friday’s Cinevegas party. (Stockwell’s Chasing the Whale, a gambling movie to follow in the wake of Hanson’s Lucky Me, will get his cred back up where it belongs.) Friday, 3.24, 8:25 pm.
A nice girl hired to provide eye-candy diversion at Cinevegas party. I got her name but didn’t write it down, and a slightly older French-born woman friend of hers who had my business card and knew how to get in touch didn’t, so that’s that.
Return of anonymous pink lady along with ferociously alluring Amazon blonde hired for same exploitive purpose at Cinevegas party
Desserts laid out for sensual delight of journalists attending last week’s press junket for The Notorious Bettie Page at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
Rae’s diner, the Detroit, Michigan, diner located on West Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles where crafty Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) went for coffee and pie in the opening moments of Tony Scott’s True Romance.
You’re in your too-small coach seat and speechless, eyes aglare and back arched. Reason? A dangling diamondback rattler (as opposed to a dangling participle), four or five inches in front of your face and hissing like any well-motivated serpent, is about to bite down hard.
This, in a nutshell, is New Line’s Snakes on a Plane (8.18). Combined with that hilariously idiotic title, it’s also behind a growing camp following and internet groundswell that appears to be turning this low-rent thriller into the first major movie phenomenon of 2006.
I wasn’t on the boat at first. For the last few months I’ve been going, “Okay, a goof, right…but crap nonetheless.” Nothing has changed on the artistic-estimation side, but suddenly the grass-roots enthusiasm levels are turning it into something else. Everyone’s into it, wants to see it the first weekend. Almost five months to go before the opening date and Snakes on a Plane is already (or so it seems) the new Blair Witch Project.
Go to Snakes on a Blog and you’ll see about 487 different songs, T-shirts, posters, marketing slogans. You can can choose which songs, slogans and posters strike your fancy.
My personal turnaround happened when I heard this Snakes on a Plane talkin’ acoustic folk riff this morning. Then it all clicked into place. Not too strident or emphatic. A perfect laid-back attitude.
And nobody at New Line Cinema, which is opening Snakes on a Plane on August 18, has had much to do with this…not really. It’s all come from out there.
To the best of my knowledge, no one in Real People Land is composing and recording Da Vinci Code or Mission Impossible 3 songs, and why the hell would they?
Why exactly has this one-third goof, one-third “piece of shit” genre film (i.e., not an out-and-out bad movie but one that plays with the idea of being one), and one-third horror flick been adopted by a home-grown marketing movement?
Probably because it’s easy to get and to laugh at it. (The more I say that title out loud, the more genius-level it sounds.) And because it’s easy to pass around the goofy humor online.
I only know that Regular Joe’s out there are embracing the damn thing and celebrating the jerk-off attitude way before the opening.
Directed by David R. Ellis (Cellular — he also worked as a stunt man and actor for years) and written by Sebastian Gutierrez, David Loucka and John Heffernan, Snakes is about an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) escorting a captive witness to a court date, and then suddenly has to deal with a planeload of poisonous snakes that have been put there by Cale Boyter’s assistant…excuse me, a bad guy who doesn’t want the witness to talk.
Jackson has at least two money lines — “I’ve had it with these snakes!” and “I want these motherfucking snakes off the plane!”
FBI agent Samuel L. Jackson (l.) and a passenger obviously concerned with some nearby movement
I admit it — my first reaction was to shake my head and wonder what was wrong with Jackson’s judgment, or that of his agent. Now he looks like some kind of genius, or at the very least one very lucky mo-fo.
The phenomenon that has lifted Snakes, an exploitation B-movie if there ever was one, out of the realm of derision and into that of a pop legend is extremely rare. This one, in fact, is damn near close to unique.
As Borys Kit put it in his 3.23 Hollywood Reporter story, “Intense fan reaction to movies most often is associated with titles that have established themselves in other media, such as comic book movies or fantasy novels, before making their way to the screen. Or it becomes attached to surprise hits, like the original Star Wars, that develop massive cult followings [after] they are released.”
On one hand, New Line seems to be on top of what’s happening due to their decision to shoot five extra days of photography earlier this month on “the Lot” (i.e., across the street from Jones) in order to make the film into a hard R — more sex, nudity, graphic violence. They know what they have and they’re cranking it up some.
A New Line source told me this morning that they’ve added, for one example, a shot of “a guy being bitten by a snake on his Johnson.” How does that happen exactly? He’s taking a leak or…? “Mile-High Club,” he answered.
We both agreed that if the movie tips too much into self-parody, the fun of it will dissipate after 20 or 30 minutes. Nobody wants to see Airplane. It has to sit right on the edge between serious horror and wink-wink. Too much in either direction and the conceit falls apart.
We also noted that on the cyber-marketing side, New Line Cinema — ostensibly Ground Zero or Snakes Central — seems to be behind its own curve. Their official website isn’t even up and rolling yet — all it is is a title card and some ominous-bad-stuff-about-to-happen music.
And if you ask me, their 8.18 release date — five months from now — is a mistake at this stage. No movie company can orchestrate what’s happening with Snakes right now, and it’s folly to think that the present energy levels will keep up for another 19 or 20 weeks.
If New Line’s distribution chief Russell Schwartz is smart, he’ll push Snakes into theatres sometime in late May or at least sometime in June — strike when the iron is hot!
My New Line source says “there’s a heavy debate about this going on right now. Some want to stay with August because that gives you a couple of weeks free and clear…the competition isn’t too bad then. But others want to go sooner, for obvious reasons.”
A New York journalist friend wrote this morning and said, “I don’t get it…it sounds so terrible (the movie, I mean).” And I replied that terribleness is part of the friggin’ point. It’s about everyone being in on the joke…about the beginnings of a Rocky Horror coast-to-coast toga party.
If it turns out to be half as good as some of the promotion ideas have been so far, and if it doesn’t end up with too much of a self-mocking attitude, Snakes on a Plane could turn into one of the great communal theatre experiences of 2006.
Did anyone at Showest, the exhibitor convention that just happened in Las Vegas a while back, even mention this? (If so, I didn’t read about it.)
I’m serious…this is not a DVD thing. Everyone is going to have to go to a theatre with their friends and bark like seals at the jokes and the shrieks and fangs-sink- ing-into-penis moments.
I’m hoping it’ll be like the vibe at the Rivoli theatre in 1985 when I was working at New Line (as a publicist, believe it or not) and we all went to see Reanimator on opening night. That show was one of the best movie-theatre highs I’ve ever sampled…the kind of rave experience that high and low types can enjoy from the same place.
Turns out that Snakes on a Plane tune I liked so much was sung by Neil Cicierega. He wrote this evening and asked me to link to his www.lemondemon.com site, except it’s been shut down due to bandwidth overages. He also passed along “live journal post” whatchamacallit.