“I would love to go off and make a picture like Capote or George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck.” — Steven Spielberg mouthing the equivalent of creative crocodile tears to Peter Bart and Peter Guber during a segment of AMC’s “Sunday Morning Shootout” that aired this morning.
Haven’t seen the latest Entertainment Weekly with the story about the most controversial films ever, but good for Nikki Finke having written that while she “has no real problems with EW‘s list, it’s as if only the post-Star Wars prequel generation came up with it.” If, in fact, EW is deliberately skewing its reporting toward a younger demographic (as they seem to be), they’re surrendering whatever cinematic historical authority points they may have accumulated in past years. The story reportedly leaves out Brokeback Mountain, and also blows off (according to Finke) Carnal Knowledge, Easy Rider, Straw Dogs, Apocalypse Now, I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, Dr. Strangelove, Gentlemen’s Agreement, Bad Day at Black Rock, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Midnight Cowboy . “Not to mention the original Manchurian Candidate which after the JFK assassination was withdrawn from circulation for 25 years?,” Finke adds. “Or Song of the South, which is still Disney’s biggest embarrassment for showing “happy slaves” onscreen. And since they’re counting foreign films (Triumph of the Will is included), then where’s L’Age d’Or, for that matter? I could go on and on.” What about Birth of a Nation?
Confusion hovers over the release of David Fincher‘s Zodiac, one of the most highly anticipated dramas of the fall and a personal can’t-wait for yours truly. The IMDB has an 11.22.06 U.S. release date but Coming Soon has it coming out January 19, 2007. There’s also a Robert Downey fan site that’s reporting the release date as 1.19.07. It says that Fincher is doing some reshoots (which Downey is involved in) and will resume filming reshoots sometime in late June. There’s no reason that additional shooting in the mid-summer should cause a film with a skedded late November release to delay opening until January 2007. Something’s wrong. I’ll check with Paramount publicity on Monday morning, but if anyone knows (or has heard) anything, please write in.
“My loyalty never dies,” Anthony Pellicano has told L.A. Times writer Chuck Philips. “You’re not going to see me take the stand against the clients and employees and other people that are going to be testifying against me. I didn’t rat them out. You understand? I am never going to besmirch a client or any other person that I gave my trust to or who gave their trust to me. I’m never going to do that. I am going to be a man until I fall — if, in fact, that happens.” It’s not a hip thing to say in liberal-wank circles, but there are very few people who stand up and refuse to roll when pressed by the law. Say what you will about Pellicano, but he’s part of a fraternity of honor in this respect.
Tropicana Ave. west of Las Vegas Blvd. — Saturday, 6.10.06, 8:50 pm.
(a) Favor costar Isidra Vega, director-writer Eva Aridjis following Saturday afternoon’s screening at Brenden Cinemas adjacent to Palms Hotel — Saturday, 6.10.06, 5:40 pm; (b) Puffy Chair principals Jay Duplass (director-writer-cinematographer), Kathryn Asleton (star), Melissa Parmenter (producer)– Friday, 6.9.06, 7:40 pm; (c) former Sundance publicity chief Patrick Hubley, a nice guy who got married last year and travelled all over the world and seems on some level to have “changed” (in a good existential way); (d) Thanks to Gravity trio Jessica Kavana (director), Amy Greenspun (producer) and Gina Phillips (star-producer); (e) Frontier Hotel marquee on Las Vegas Blvd. — Saturday, 6.10.06, 7:20 pm; (f) One of the big things wrong with Las Vegas is that nobody takes the time to just stop gambling or drinking or chasing girls and and look at desert plants and rocks like this combo — Saturday, 6.10.06, 6:25 pm; (g) Las Vegas firefighting station — Saturday, 6.10.06, 6:40 pm; (h) slots inside the Palms — Saturday, 6.10.06, 6:40 pm; (i) self-explanatory.
A respectful salute for Jam in Winans…the guy who did this “Spin DJ is a God” YouTube video. A fantastic little piece — an exercise in cosmic humanitarian humor and…whatever…a look at the roulette wheel of fate. Winans is talented as shit, and the actor who plays the DJ is great also…a young Joaquin Pheonix.
I’ve seen four Cinevegas movies so far — Paul Dinello ‘s Strangers with Candy on Friday night, and then John Maringouin‘s Running Stumbled, Eva Aridjis‘s The Favor and Gregory Berkin and Jack Sheehan‘s Skin City on Saturday. The Aradjis film, a low-budget domestic drama about a nice, dweeby middle-aged guy taking a stab at fatherhood with the son of a deceased girlfriend, is the only one that passed muster. It feels, at times, a little too plain and earnest in the manner of an ABC afterschool special (that ancient series never stops getting evoked), but it has a pared-down simplicity and a corresponding emotional directness that worked (for me). Next time out Aradjis needs to add a bit more texture and stylistic pizazz. Strangers with Candy is a John Waters-influenced over-the-top hipster-degenerate comedy of manners…a kind of film that works for a certain type of audience (i.e., people who get off on feeling hip in a facile way) but which leave guys like me going, “Hmmm.” Thinkfilm will be releasing this sometimes amusing comedy, which first showed at Sundance 2005, on 6.28 (limited). The less said about Running Stumbled, the better. Most of us (I hope, I trust) have a breaking point when it comes to watching grainy video footage of aging, sickly, potty-mouthed low-lifes hanging around their stinky ranch home and drawling and smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette. The doc is obviously about buried trauma, but I couldn’t stand it after an hour or so. (The smell of those stinky Marlboros began to make me sick.) Skin City is strictly a Vegas chamber-of-commerce film, made by and intended for the locals. It’s supposed to be a cautionary piece about the Vegas sex industry having an unhealthy influence on the culture, and perhaps even getting to the point where it may be discouraging tourism. (Laughable.) It’s basically not hip or smart enough — the graphics and the tone and the attitudes of the talking heads combine in a perfect storm of mediocrity. The movie lacks irony, humor and is more than a little dull. And to think I saw this thing instead of The Squishy Chair, which is what I’ve been calling the Duplass Brothers’ The Puffy Chair . (I can’t seem to make myself remember the latter.) I was about to see The Puffy Chair when I saw Cinetic’s John Sloss sitting in the audience prior to the Skin City showing, and I wondered, “Why is Sloss at this thing?” An instinct told me to stay and watch it (maybe Sloss knows somethign I don’t) so I did….mistake! Today there’s an Outlaw Cinema Panel (at 1 pm), a debating-society film called Thanks to Gravity, Abel Ferrara‘s Mary, and two film I don’t know much about — G.I. Jesus and 5 UP and 2 Down.
I ran into critic, author, screenwriter and Cinevegas juror F.X. Feeney yesterday morning at a Palms Casino diner at the ungodly (by Las Vegas standards) hour of 8:15 am. We got into this and that, but mainly focused on the topics of Michael Mann and Miami Vice (Universal, 7.28)…and for good reason.
Feeney has seen a rough cut of Miami Vice as part of his research for the writing of the upcoming Taschen book on Mann, a massive 192-page visual/intellectual-orgasm coffee-table book that will hit bookstores sometime in early to mid August. (Feeney has also written a Taschen book about Roman Polanski.) Feeney says that it’s “unfortunate” that Miami Vice is saddled with that TV series title, since the geographical heart of the film occurs in a lawless triangle in South America at the nexus of the borders of Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil — an area in which all kinds international crime…not just drugs but kidnapping, arms dealing, human trafficking…goes on. I pressed Feeney about the heart of the film, and he said Miami Vice essentially turns on a wrenching emotional-ethical conflict about Colin Farrell ‘s Sonny Crockett, who’s working undercover in this criminal triangle area, being in love with Gong Li‘s Isabella, the Chinese-Cuban wife of an arms and drugs trafficker, and Crockett facing an obvious conflict in order to do his job. Feeney says that Jamie Foxx‘s Tubbs character has more screen time than Farrell, but emphasized that this view (again) is based on having seen a rough cut.
Michael Madsen had complained to the BBC’s Chris Vallance about how “there seems to be this driving force to tear down everything that’s a little old.” He was referring to a plan by the Union 76 company to destroy the Union 76 ball signs at the gas stations, which are being re-designed as flattened wafer-like signs. “These are things that were landmarks, it’s a symbol that I remember from childhood,” Madsen said. “What’s the point of smashing them and putting up flat signs?” Vallance explains that “in Madsen’s view Los Angeles’ increasingly bland environment is representative of a process of thoughtless modernization that is taking over the movies [also], and that ‘everything is just getting completely homogenized’.” This is an accurate reading of what’s been happening in Los Angeles for a long time — destroy the old drive-in theatres, destroy any remnants of commercial kitsch from the ’40s and ’50s…anything stylistically distinctive that doesn’t reflect the here-and-now. Mainstream movies have also been losing character and distinctiveness for the last 25 years or so. This is not a disputed view — anyone with a heart and soul and a brain knows this — and yet a certain columnist linked to the Madsen/Vallance/BCC article with the words “Michael Madson (sic) Wants To Save 76 Balls.”