Richard Lester‘s Petulia “is essentially about two lonely and bored people desperate to find passion in an increasingly dispassionate world,” writes DVD Savant. “The ’60s-drenched setting is tapped to add shadings of meaning, but it nevertheless remains a backdrop. Indeed, much of Petulia‘s genius stems from such shadings, particularly stylistic flourishes that result in a work of stunning freshness — even nearly 40 years after its theatrical release. This keenly observed art film finds the counterculture of that era being swallowed up and taken over by a nation of overwhelming wealth, commercialism and consumerism. Lester might not have known it at the time, but when he ventured to San Francisco in 1967 to shoot Petulia, he was creating one of the great cinematic time capsules of a watershed period in American society.”
Shane Black, director-writer of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has written “against type by skewering the conventions of noir fiction in a movie that wouldn’t make sense without a comprehensive awareness and palpable appreciation of each and every one of them,” says MCN’s Gary Dretzka. “As such, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang favorably recalls Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye.” Get outta town! If Black’s film had one-fifth of the funky, bumbling neo-noir charm of The Long Goodbye, it would have been far more intoxicating. If nothing else, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang seems totally stoned on how wise-ass clever it is, especially the dialogue. The Long Goodbye never once grabbed you by the lapels and said, “You’re watching a very hip, ahead-of-the-curve film here!” Either you got the unforced charm of it or you didn’t…Altman seemed to be cool either way.
Didn’t make it to Monday’s all-media screening of Adam Sandler‘s Click, but a knowledgable industry friend did, and here’s his verdict: “It’s okay but not that great. I don’t know what to make of the audience reaction because these screenings are so heavily recruited with people off the street, but there wasn’t overwhelming laughter in the press section. It’s a typical downmarket Sandler movie, the kind he does when he’s not being directed by Paul Thomas Anderson or Mike Binder or James L. Brooks. He’s got complete control and his team putting it all together — director Frank Coraci, producer Jack Giarraputo — so it has that mix of over-the-top comedy (Sandler never knows when to stop with this) and schmaltz…broad gross-out comedy that turns on a dime into sentimental slop. Amd I’m sure he and his team and Columbia will be rewarded with great success for this. It’s always interesting to see what Sandler comes up with on his own. This is a competently made film, and Corachi is one of his stable of directors that he hires, and the studio doesn’t want to tell him anything different because he’s so successful. It’s basically about what would you learn if you fast-forwarded through your life, and he definitely lays it on during the last half hour, especially with the prosthetics. It’s a little bit like Ebenezer Scrooge being shown what’s to come by the Ghost of Christmas Future. You laugh at certain parts, but it’s more of a short-film premise than a feature — after a half hour or so it starts to wear down. There’s no even tone throughout this picture…it’s all over the place. And the product placement stuff on behalf of Bed, Bath and Beyond is unbelievable. ”
“[Disney distribution execs] originally expected that Cars would only start to fade once Adam Sandler‘s Click opened in theaters this coming Friday. That teens and young adults would favor that film over ours. But that was okay because we’d still pretty much have the family audience all to ourselves until Superman Returns opened five days later. But to have ticket sales fall off by 43% in our second weekend and to almost lose the top spot to a Jack Black wrestling comedy …nobody here ever saw that coming. This was a film that was initially projected to do over $300 million domestic. Last week, that number got pushed back to $250 million. Today, I’ve got people asking me if I think Cars is actually going to be able to make it to $200 million domestic. And right now, to be honest, I don’t know. I’m hoping that Cars can pull in another $50 or $60 million by next Wednesday. But after Superman Returns opens, we’re officially toast. With Dead Man’s Chest opening 9 days after that, there’s no way that Cars is going to do any significant repeat business this summer. This time around, the competition is just too strong.” — a Disney insider talking to Jim Hill in his “Mousewatch” column.
For those who’ve happened across that Roger Friedman item that passes along bad reports about Michael Mann’s Miami Vice (Universal, 7.28), I have two responses. One, Mann is absolutely incapable — strategically, emotionally, psychologically, physiologically, technologically — of making a bad film. Even if Vice turns out to be one of his lesser efforts, by Mann’s Olympian standards that will still make it an exceptional ride. And two, keep in mind what F.X. Feeney, who’s seen a cut of the film, had to say last week. The film, Feeney claims, “draws on wellsprings of romantic passion that haven’t surfaced this vividly in Mann’s films since Last of the Mohicans. Two kinds of passion are represented — you have a stable relationship between Jamie Foxx (as Tubbs) and Naomie Harris as the fellow undercover cop, who are trying to make love work in the dangerous arena of undercover work, and then you have Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett pursuing a dangerous liason with Gong Li, the wife of a stateless plutocrat who rules in the triborderarea.” The films is about “the psychological cost of working undercover, of leading a life in a mask for months on end, of behaving in terms of ‘impulse without inhibition.’ So Crockett must answer to a spontaneous passion while Tubbs must secure a more traditional, if endangered, one. This balances the Tubbs/Crockett partnership in fresh, unpredictable ways I don’t recall from the series.”
The non-white Hollywood-suit head count is “pretty dismal,” reports L.A. Times industry columnist Patrick Goldstein . “A survey of African American or Latino production executives at a vice president level or higher found one executive at 20th Century Fox, New Line and Paramount, none at Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures. After three days of trying, I couldn’t get an answer out of Disney’s corporate publicity staff, so I’m guessing they’re at zero too. Whenever I would ask studio chiefs for an explanation, there was usually a long, awkward silence.”