It’s two days old (i.e., on par with the Dead Sea Scrolls), but check out this Dave Germain 4.4 AP story about distributors deciding not to show more and more movies — 11 haven’t been advance-screened this year, compared to two that had been hidden from the press at this time in ’05. It’s one of those “this is unfortunately the way things are” stories — a photo of the current malaise over the steady degradation of movie quality. Am I worried about not getting to see stuff? Naaah…you just have to set aside time each day to call your publicist friends and politely badger them into inviting you to this or that. But it’s hard to get the energy up to go to a lot of the advance screenings that are being held. I had to force myself to se On A Clear Day — I could smell the determination of this film to lift my spirits a mile off. We’re in the early April dog days, and every night before leaving for a screening a little voice says to me, “You don’t really want to see this thing…admit it.” You know they’re not going to show you The Benchwarmers or Phat Girlz and any of the other obvious-shite movies, but who wants to see Take The Lead or Hard Candy or Scary Movie 4, even? (The one knockout bit is Craig Bierko doing his Tom Cruise couch-jumping thing, but you have to wait for the end of the film to see it.) The Sentinel (20th Century Fox, 4.21) is one of those Washington, D.C.-based “who’s the real bad guy?” movies in the vein of No Way Out that might not be too bad…it’s obviously one of those heavily-pumped formula jobs…but they’re a little hesitant about screening it earlier than opening week. I’m just waiting for this season to end and for the mid-April festivals (San Francisco, Worldfest), the early summer flicks and the Cannes Film Festival to come into view.
The arrival date of John Connolly‘s “The Sin Eater” (Atria), expected to be a juicy expose about the adventures of indicted Hollywood wire-tapper Anthony Pellicano, will reportedly hit book stores sometime in early 2007. Connolly will also have a reputedly hot piece about Pellicano in an issue of Vanity Fair coming out in, I think, May. But help me out…”The Sin Eater”? Like a guy who eats sin for breakfast? Who eats other people’s sins only to spit it back in their face? It doesn’t mean a guy who eats sin and digests it and then…this is getting gross. The title sticks in your mind, okay, but what the hell does it mean? It reminds me a little bit of the title of that Charles Horman book “The Sunshine Grabber.” How do you grab sunshine? Is sin an edible commodity? Here’s the Wikipedia page on “sin eater.” The first definition comes from olde England, when sin eating was a kind of profession or calling. A sin-eater “would be brought to a dying person’s bedside, and there either he or a relative would place a bit of bread on the breast of the dying…after praying and/or reciting the ritual, he would then remove the bread from the breast and eat it, the act of which would remove the sin from the dying and take it into himself.” How this applies to Anthony Pellicano is escaping me at the moment…maybe it’ll hit me later this evening.
There’s an Associated Press story by the London-based Tariq Panja that just went up saying the fatal shooting of British filmmaker James Miller near the Gaza-Egypt border in May 2003 by an Israeli soldier has been called an act of murder by a British coroner’s jury. But for some weird reason, Panja fails to mention the title of the doc that Miller was shooting at the time, Death in Gaza, which I happened to see on DVD about two or three weeks ago. The story also doesn’t mention that Gaza makes it clear that Miller’s shooting happened at night, in total blackness. Miller’s shooting partner had her camera running when the shots rang out, and this footage is on the DVD. The Israeli soldier who shot Miller in the neck may have been foolish or careless, but how can anyone say Miller was a murder victim in the middle of a war zone in which combatants commonly shoot at other combatants, and especially when the soldier couldn’t see Miller with his own eyes, and at best might have seen a figure with green-tinted night-vision goggles? (I’ve looked through these things at night and that what they allow you to see is never very clear.) Coroner Andrew Reid told the inquest jury at King’s Cross Coroner’s Court that Miller “had either been murdered or was the victim of manslaughter, but that the law drew no distinction,” Panja reports. Brilliant!
A 20-minute preview reel of Oliver Stone‘s World Trade Center (Paramount, 8.11) will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in mid-May. Of course, a good editor can make almost any film look pretty good if all he/she has to do is show a “taster” reel. Columbia once invited the press to see a short reel of Roland Emmerich‘s The Patriot (’00), which was mostly taken from the film’s first act, which was the best part of the film, and pretty much everyone came out saying, “Looks pretty good!” Then everyone saw the full-length version and realized they’d been had. Less than a year later I was shown a taster reel from Charles Shyer‘s Affair of the Necklace (’01), and the costumes and the dialogue and everyone else seemed so quality-level that I came away thinking it might be a close relation of Barry Lyndon. Fooled again! And then Harvey Weinstein and the Miramax hustlers showed that short reel of Gangs of New York at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and once again everyone said, “Great footage…very promising!” And then the movie came out in December ’02 and everyone went, “Hey…what happened?” So we’ve been burned three times now with this hat trick, and I’m frankly suspicious, at this stage, of anyone trying generate heat on a big feature by showing a 20-minute reel. Wouldn’t you be, in my position?
I’ve been noticing guys over the last three or four months wearing “Wolverine”-type sideburns. This is a pretty awful style thing, assuming it’s caught on in some kind of bona fide way. (Has it?). I suppose there’s a kind of rad distinction in being willing to look like a Hugh Jackman X-Men wannabe. I’m assuming right now it’s an urban blue-state thing, but maybe not. Has anyone seen Wolverine chops in rural Utah?
In celebration of today’s three-years-sober anniversary of Jason Mewes, the Marlon Brando of suburban stoner “attitude” comedians, Clerks 2 director-writer Kevin Smith looks back at their decades-long friendship, with a focus on Mewes’ past drug addiction. Smith says it’s “turned into something kinda cool” becaise he’s “been getting tons of feedback from folks who can identify with it because people in their lives (or they themselves) have been through similar struggles.” Here’s the Wednesday, 4.5 installment..the last one is due today.
I’m very sorry to report the death of the very witty film critic and entertainment reporter John Voland, 47, who died in his sleep from a heart attack on Monday, April 3rd. Voland had most recently worked as a writer-consultant in the video-game world. He was a staff reporter and reviewer at the L.A. Times from ’85 to ’88, pop music editor at the Houston Post from ’89 to ’90, senior film reporter and critic at the Hollywood Reporter from ’90 to ’92, did various freelance gigs in the mid ’90s (LA Style, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire), and had a staff position at Variety from ’97 to ’98. I hadn’t run into John for a good ten years, but he was a very sharp dude…always with a sharp quip or observation. He’s survived by his ex-wife, the publicist Bonnie Voland , and their daughter Hayley, 14, along with his mom, Jean, and brother Mark.
The reported decision by Cannes Film Festival bigwigs to screen Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox, 5.26) seems a bit odd. Nobody knows how this third X-Men film will play, but everyone has had their suspicions since Fox hired Ratner to direct it. Are there any cinematic standards at all being sought by Cannes programmers these days, or can any big-studio tentpoler be shown as long as it’s been offered and big stars have agreed to walk up the red carpet and the European distributor needs the hoopla?
The first tracking figures are in on United 93 (Universal, 4.28), the Paul Greengrass 9/11 film that’s been catching the wrong kind of heat due to stories about negative reactions to the trailer, and it has a very high “definitely not interested” figure — 14%. The “definitely not interested” responses “are usually 2% to 3% to 4%…usually in the case of a slasher film or a very skewed teenage film,” a marketing veteran explains. “This is much higher…one of the highest I’ve ever seen.” The public’s general awareness of United 93 is 32% — two thirds of those polled don’t even know about it — and 22% are saying they have “definite interest” in seeing it. How can anyone walking around and going online and paying at least some attention to life’s unfolding drama have not even heard ofUnited 93 by this stage, especially with all the attention it’s been getting in print publications like Newsweek and the New York Times ? Easy. Two-thirds of the public is more or less living in a fog. Statistics usually show that most people never hear about a film until the ads start running on the tube.
Derek Elley is reporting that Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German (Warner Bros.), his black-and-white, presumably Third Man-ish, post-World War II Berlin drama with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, may not be ready to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. That’s a shame from my perspective. I was really looking forward to seeing it there. Probable translation: either Soderbergh (who has a co-editing credit on the IMDB under the name of “Mary Ann Bernard“) and his editor David Kirchner aren’t entirely happy with the current edit, or Warner Bros. distrib execs aren’t entirely blown away by it, and there are the usual concerns about possibly tainting German‘s rep by showing a version that’s not quite “there.” So the conservatives are saying why not play it safe and give the editing a little more time and show the film at September’s Toronto Film Festival instead? (If German turns up in Cannes after all, great…and I will humbly apologize for running this imagined scenario.)
Good for Nicole Kidman, Blossom Films and her new first-look deal at 20th Century Fox, but the three films she currently has in development sound awfully mainstream, and two sound like sexy spritzy formula stuff….tripe for the girl who reads Cosmopolitan. There’s an adaptation of The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz (who shared screenplay credit on Legally Blonde…this should give you a hint) and a “Bourne Supremacy -style” spy thriller written by Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith ) which will star Kidman as a female assassin….good God. (Nothing including worldwide nausea seems to get in the way of Hollywood’s fascination with professional assassins, a totally exhausted mainstream cliche if there ever was one.) No clues regarding Headhunters, written by writer-director Jez Butterworth (Birthday Girl), but obviously the underlying thinking behind the mission of Blossom Films is something along the lines of “this is a girls-only company, and we like sexy giggly glamour. Let’s stay away from anything too reflective of day-to-day life, and let’s keep the scripts breezy and commercial, and above all let’s try to help Nicole make lots of money. She’s already got her Oscar so we don’t need to mine anything too serious, and besides she’s pushing 40 and we all know what that means.” Per Saari, who previously worked for Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises, will run Blossom out of an office on the Fox lot.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »