“Film distributors in Israel have decided not to invite film critics to press screenings. They feel bad reviews hurt the film’s financial potential. This has been going on for nearly eight weeks but only recently has attracted trade press coverage. Most critics have rejected the distributors’ offer to be re-invited to screenings if we only push back the publication date of our reviews, and give their movie, their massive-mega-million-dolar blockbuster, ‘one weekend of grace’. The companies are G.G (Globus Group), UIP (Universal. Paramount. Dreamworks), WB. and Forum Film, representing Disney, Miramax, New Line and Sony. It’s been speculated here that this reactionary move was done without the permission of the Hollywood managenent and that upon running that 7.9 item in Variety, the shit — it seems — has hit the fan. It should be noted that in Israel film distributors and exhibitors are one and the same, an issue once investigated by the anti-trust office at the department of finance, but no ruling was ever issued.” —
Yair Raveh, film critic, Film Critic, “Pnai Plus”, Tel Aviv.
Here’s an interesting N.Y. Times piece, written by Elizabeth Hayt, that ran a couple of days ago about sex and seasoned women in movies and books. The primary focus is Laurent Cantet‘s Heading South (Shadow Distribution) and its story of older single women who enjoy sexual vacations with poor younger men in in Haiti in the 1970s. An interesting view on middle-aged female eroticism, but how real is it?
I saw Heading South (or Vers lr Sud) in Toronto last year, and found it above- average, authentically flavored, moderately erotic. It costars Charlotte Rampling, the reigning poster queen for older-woman sexuality (with maybe Isabelle Huppert ranking second), and Karen Young, who played that diligent, somewhat clueless FBI agent on
Hayt’s article also mentions a book called “A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance” by Jane Juska, which is about a woman in her mid 60s who decides she wants to have good sex with a good guy and how she tries to find that guy through singles ads.
All well and good, but the truth is most women of a certain age are extremely gun-shy about intimate relationships, and that even with strong mutual attracton and good vibes all around it takes many, many weeks (and sometimes a few months) to get to a place of receptivity. Frankly? It’s almost more appealing to eat out alone and get some reading done and devote more time to exercise, etc.
Seasoned 40ish women are the greatest, but even after they give you the green- light look (which there’s never any mistaking) you need the spiritual serenity of Sri Krishna and the patience of Job to get going with them. They’ve been through lots of bad relationships in their youth and they don’t want to get hurt, and this, of course, is very human and understandable. Everyone becomes a piece of work after 40, I guess.
They say that many things in life get easier (or at least are easier to understand) as you get older, but running around isn’t one of them.
The summer is a time for indie-sector “mosquito” movies. I’m speaking of movies that you need and want to see, but there’s always something else you have to do first and then it’s suddenly later than you thought it was. But knowing these little films are being screened and the awful guilt you always feel when you realize you could have gone to see this one or that one the night before except you were struggling to finish a piece and you looked up and it was 8:35 pm….it’s very tough. All to explain it’s analagous on some level to being in a swampy area and surrounded by mosquitoes. That’s not to say that the films themselves are mosquitoes — far from it — but the missed-screening guilt that’s always swirling around your head is, on some level, mosquito-like. Thank God for DVD screeners and the willingness of vigilant publciists to send them over by messenger or mail. I’ve managed to see 13 Tzameti, Edmond, The Groomsmen, Mini’s First Time The Oh in Ohio and Time to Leave this way. And I’ve actually gone to theatre screenings of Brothers fo the Head in a screening room (conjoined male twins with their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders throughout the whole film…cool) as well as I Like Killing Flies (ThinkFilm, 8.28), a spunky little Sundance doc about a New York restauratuer that I first saw in ’04, I think.
Clumsy, lightweight, not-very-good summer comedies and romances are standard in any summer, but the ’06 twist is having to call and chase down studio publicists in order to attend screenings of these films. Sometimes publcists show their stinkers at all-media screenings, and sometimes they don’t screen them at all — a trend that kicked in heavily earlier this year. But other times they just screen them quietly. Call and ask to see, let’s say, My Super Ex-Girlfriend and they’ll say “sure” and give you the time and location…but if you don’t call you’ll never hear from them, and you’ll never see that particular film gratis It’s kind of an in-between position. Other films you half-want to see but not really, like Gil Kenan’s Monster House (Columbia, 7.21). I’ve had a couple of shots at seeing it (including an all-media invitation) but not the 3D version, which sounds like more fun. I called about seeing it in this format (there’s only been one 3D press screening so far) but I guess It won’t happen. I don’t think I’ll have a very good time at a film like this but you never know….it could be moderately okay. What am I saying? I don’t know what I’m saying except that once publicists get to know you they decide in advance if you’re going to like a movie or not, and they don’t try very hard to get you to see it…especially if you’re a sourpuss with a modicum of taste.
“Nothing will prepare you for the rampant foolishness” of M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water,” says Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson. “It’s as if on some semiconscious level, Shyamalan, who I do not doubt is a serious and self- serious pop-creative original, is calling his own success into question and daring his audience to gulp down larger and spikier clusters of manure, just to see if they will. Or he’s lost his mind.”
As I wrote last week, I think Shyamalan’s sub-conscious game is to get people to write him off and perhaps even deliberately create a huge failure so he can escape from the penitentiary of his Sixth Sense legend and the large expectations that have come from that. Overly, consciously, I’m sure he wants audiences and critics to like Lady in the Water…naturally. But life is always, always about the deep-down stuff.
“This isn’t magical realism, it’s pure magical thinking,” Atkinson continues, with Shyamalan “mystically assuming that any idea or image that pops into his skull will make a shapely tale, no matter how much cock-and-bull logic he has to invent to Gorilla Glue it together. Like all his movies from The Sixth Sense on, Lady pivots on the dawning awareness of a vast cosmic plan, foisted on grieving parents and spouses as a holy scab for their wounds. [And] it’s beginning to chafe as a formula.”
“This is the umpteenth movie I’ve seen this year about guys in their 30s who aren’t quite sure what they want to do with their lives,” Scott Foundas writes about Kevin Smith‘s Clerks 2, “and it’s the only one that strikes a real chord, because it’s neither an exaltation nor a condemnation of slackerdom, but rather just a sweet little fable about how sometimes the life that you think could be so much better is actually pretty damn good already.”
Foundas then offers Smith “a few words of brotherly advice: I said before that you’ve never really left Jersey, and for the most part I mean it as a compliment — like the original, Clerks 2 has a lived-in, blue-collar feel that Hollywood almost never gets right. At the same time, I can’t quite shake the feeling that you haven’t much wanted to set foot outside of your self-created View Askewniverse, even though there’s a great big Mooby’s-less world out there full of stories that could benefit from your telling.”
“If you’d like an apology, I’m glad to apologize,” ABC movie critic Joel Siegel said to Clerks 2 director-writer Kevin Smith on the radio this morning for walking out of a critics screening of Smith’s film.
“And if there’s a second movie I walk out on, I’ll be much quieter.” And then Siegel confessed mid-conversation that he didn’t know he was talking to Smith. It’s pretty funny — give it a listen.
As he explained on View Askew, Smith said he wasn’t steamed about Siegel walking out of the screening as much as theway he did it.
“I can’t fault Siegel for feeling ‘revolted’ by our flick,” Smith wrote. “There is a donkey show in it, and I recognize that brand of whimsy might not be for everybody. Film appreciation is very subjective, and maybe Joel just isn’t into ass-to-mouth conversations.
“However, I can fault him for the manner in which he left the screening. Apparently, rather than quietly exit, Joel…made a big stink about walking out, calling as much attention to himself as possible, and being generally pretty disruptive.
“Roughly forty minutes into the flick, when Randal orders up the third act donkey show, Siegel bellowed to his fellow critics ‘Time to go!’ and ‘This is the first movie I’ve walked out of in 30 fucking years!’ Now, I don’t need Joel Siegel to suck my dick, but shit, man — how about a little common fucking courtesy?”
Houston critic Joe Leydon asked this morning if Siegel also bolted “during that scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin in which characters described a woman having sex with a donkey”? Probably not, I’m thinking, since it was just dialogue. But then Smith, who’s never depicted anything particularly raw or throbbing in his films, doesn’t really “show” anything. In fact, I could imagine someone out there beefing about the Clerks 2 donkey scene not being rude or envelope-pushy enough.
Here‘s what Manhattan publicist and marketing guy Reid Rosefelt has to say about the whole magilla. I agree with him — critics are professionally obliged to see the whole movie. Columnists, on the other hand, can do whatever they want. They can walk out and then write a piece about how proud they were to have done so, or about the soul-stirring joy that comes from any well-motivated bail-out. Or they can run a piece about the best theatres to take a short nap in (i.e., the ones with the most comfortable seats). Or, to shift gears, a columnist can watch a film all the way through and do the usual-usual.
I should have linked yesterday to Claudia Eller‘s L.A. Times account of Nina Jacobson‘s dismissal as Disney production president. Jacobson was told Monday morning by studio chairman Dick Cook “when she called him from the hospital room where her partner was about to deliver their third child. Despite the record-breaking performance of Disney’s current release, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, she was hearing rumors and wanted reassurance that her job was safe. It wasn’t.”
Acknowledging that the timing was bad, Cook said, “I begged to see her face to face and she wanted to talk to me right then. This was not what anybody wanted.” (Of course, we all know that when you’re hearing rumors that your job might be imperiled and you call your boss for reassurance and he/she says, “Come to my office so we can talk,” you’re as good as dead anyway.)
And Nikki Finke is seeing an old-boy sexist angle with Paramount’s Gail Berman and Sony’s Amy Pascal “the only women [reminaing] in positions of real Hollywood power” with Jacobson, Fox 200’s Laura Ziskin, Columbia’s Lisa Henson and Lucy Fisher, Paramount’s Sherry Lansing, Universal’s Stacey Snider and DreamWorks’ Laurie MacDonald having “all left their posts, because of situations where either they jumped or were pushed. ” (Obviously Snider’s move from Universal to Dreamamount was neither a tragedy nor a comedown.)
The result, Finke laments, “is that Hollywood movies are returning to the old days when it was a man’s world.”