Rupert Everett, a resident of London’s Bloomsbury district, is bonding with about 1000 neighbors to try and keep a new Starbucks from opening. He calls the Starbucks chain a cultural “cancer”, an arguable, far-from-startling observation. The worldwide corporate cancer that is Starbucks, The Gap, McDonalds, TGIFs, Kentucky Fried Chicken and all the other internationally known food, drink, clothing and hotel brands have penetrated almost every city I’ve been to. The tourist areas, I mean. Good for Everett and the fighters of the world trying to keep neighborhoods organic and unblemished. By the way: Chuck Palahniuk didn’t write about blowing up Starbucks outlets in his “Fight Club” book but they were definitely targets in David Fincher ‘s film version.
I’ve been writing this morning’s stuff from a hospital room. I had hoped that the minor infection from a dirty exacto-knife stabbing in my left palm (I mentioned this a couple of days ago, although the item seems to have strangely disappeared) would be suppressed by oral antibiotic medication. But it morphed into a systemic poisoning situation sometime on Thursday.
Dreary, mildly depressing hospital room — Saturday, 8.19, 9:45 am; far worse than a coach-level breakfast you might be served, say, on a New York to-London red-eye, and no warmer than room temperature.
It had turned my hand into a puffy bear claw by the time Thursday’s Snakes on a Plane screening was letting out. By yesterday afternoon (i.e., Friday) the infection had spread into my forearm — red streaks appeared like interstate highways on a road map — and all the way up to my left shoulder by dinner hour.
So I checked into a hospital and they hooked me up to regular (every five or six hours) antibiotic intravenous drips. The worst of it had passed by this morning, thank fortune, but if I’d been stuck out in the desert somewhere and beyond of the reach of good medicine…
The trailer for Phillip Noyce‘s Catch a Fire (Focus Features, 10.27), which I had the pleasure of catching in rough-cut form a while back, and is another expression of a relatively recent, somewhat grittier aesthetic for a director once known for his expert helming of early to mid ’90s big-studio thrillers like Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.
Like The Quiet American and Rabbit-Proof Fence, Fire feels half exacting and half instinctual, which is a very tricky thing to pull off. It’s a South African political drama based on the true story of Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke), an Average Joe laborer who became radicalized under the boot of apartheid in the early 1980s. And it feels like a South African film in the best possible sense of that term, like something discovered and written and made there by a native (or by someone very good at assimilating)…by someone who knows what the land smells like in the summer as you’re standing in some outlying area in the early evening.
Catch a Fire will play the Toronto Film Festival and I don’t know where else.
Amid fears of an economic downturn or some kind of card-shuffling realignment that will ultimately result in less dough being thrown around and fewer vacation homes being purchased, a lot of producers and studio execs are complaining that movie-making is becoming more and more brand-driven, marketing-driven, non-creative, etc. In this Laura Holson N.Y. Times piece, I mean. And they’re right — things are vaguely shitty, but they’ve been moving in this direction for years.
Producer Leonard Goldberg, for one, believes that Hollywood “will adapt as it did when silent movies became talkies, and three decades ago, when the VCR was perceived as a threat,” Holson reports, adding that Goldberg “has no sympathy for those who do nothing but complain. ‘Let them get a real job,’ he said. ‘They get paid a lot. They go to great parties. They fly around in jets, not only for business reasons, but for personal things, too. I think there are worse jobs to have.'”
The Snakes under-performance aside, the projected weekend tallies for the other biggies are as follows: Talladega Nights wll do about $12,700,000 as of Sunday night, down about 43% from last weekend. The third-place World Trade Center will do about $10,763,000, off about a 43% drop — a half-decent hold. (It’s up to about $45 million domestic so far.) Accepted will do about $10,520,000. Step Up, off 51% from last weekend, will end up with $10,008,700. Little Miss Sunshine has spread out to about 700 situations and will do about $4,823,000 by Sunday night — about $7000 a print.
Five demerits each to Box Office Guru, Coming Soon and EW for predicting Snakes on a Plane‘s weekend grosses in the $30 million range ($28 million, $30.8 million and $31 million respectively) when one Saturday morning prognosis is eyeballing a Sunday-night figure of $15,322,000. New Line’s airborne reptile thriller took in $6,257,000 on Friday, but that figure includes the Thursday night showings also. A dip is expected today (the hard-cores went to see Snakes on Thursday and Friday nights — R-rated, young-male fare always drops off on Saturday) so there’s a chance it may total out a bit south of $15 million. The Hot Button predicted $22 million, H’wood Reporter said “lows 20s to low 30s” and Box Office Mojo predicted $24 million — and they all have to stay after class and clean the blackboards. Yesterday I wrote that with Snakes playing in roughly 2555 theatres, “Variety‘s forecast of a weekend total in the mid to high teens seems more likely than a Sunday-night tally in the 20s, much less the 30s. I still say mid teens.”