Holy moley…there goes that idea of a John Mark Karr thriller with Naomi Watts playing Karr, which I mentioned last Tuesday. The D.A.’s office in Boulder, Colorado, announced its decision earlier today not to file criminal charges against Karr in the death of JonBenet Ramsey because his DNA doesn’t match the evidence found at the scene of her death 10 years ago. Amazing. The guy’s a pathetic charlatan. Kick him out of jail, put him on a bus. No TV-movie deals, no rights to his story…over.
Tom Cruise has put together a deal with a group that includes Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins and a chairman of Six Flags, Inc., to finance the overhead costs of Cruise/ Wagner Prods., according to this L.A. Times story by Claire Hoffman.
Six Flags? The Washington Redskins? Do they sound like rock ‘n’ roll Chateau Marmont-type names to anyone? A bunch of opportunistic guys can’t just get together and fund a Hollywood company — it can’t really work unless they can hear the “music” in their own heads…unless they have the right kind of attitude and profile. The right car, the right diet, the right kind of girlfriends or wives, the right wardrobe.
Look at Snyder’s photo — he looks like a guy who likes to eat steak and pasta, and who buys his suits at Men’s Warehouse. White shirt, red tie…gimme a break.
The question, of course, is whether any…hold that thought. Let’s just see what surfaces when the various folks in this financing group are explored as far as their associations are concerned.
When you’re desperate for someone to fund your operation, you’ll take money from a drunk skunk. Cruise’s TVQ rating has reportedly dropped over 40% over the past year and he’s not what he once was. The upside is that this can result in a liberated attitude on Cruise’s part — he could do some of his best work over the next 10 or 15 years because of this devaluation. But the bottom line is that he and Wagner pacted with somebody outside the loop. A deal with the likes of Snyder tells you no one was standing in line to make a deal. Nobody groovy, I mean.
In a dull piece about the culture of box-office reporting and editorializing, Slate‘s Bryan Curtis is calling Exhibitor Relations spokesperson Paul Dergarabedian one of the industry’s “color men… whose job it is to peer at the data and extract larger truths.”
Whoa there, sunshine. Dergarabedian does not extract larger truths from box-office data. He extracts larger homilies and bromides. He’s an extremely dull, water- soluble stats man who would choke on real color. There’s something vaguely anesthetic and Orwellian about Paul Dergarabedian. I’ve seen saying this for five or six years now and nobody ever listens. Journalists writing Sunday box-office stories need to find a guy who talks bluntly and colorfully (someone who talks like a cigar-chomping sports writer from the ’70s), and then toss Dergarabedian’s phone number once and for all.
And box-office assessment is no longer a Sunday routine, by the way. The basic indicators in any box-office weekend are 90% discernible when Friday’s numbers are made available on Saturday morning. I know a guy who’s been giving me figures on Friday night.
Speaking of belligerent assholes and the avoidance of same, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won’t run for President in ’08…but he should. Everybody says it’s too soon for the guy. But he’s 44 years old and JFK ran when he was a year younger (having made his early plans for making a run on the U.S. Presidency when he wasn’t quite 42) so what’s the problem? Obama is thoughtful, reputable, charismatic, learned. And in possession of that inner connectedness that people seem to recognize and respond to. Everyone knew this right after he spoke at the Democratic Convention in the summer of ’04. All I know is, Obama’s got “it” and Hilary doesn’t.
Sherrybaby star Maggie Gyllenhaal, interviewed by New York‘s Emma Rosenblum, addresses that dumb-ass pickle she got into last year by saying the United States was “responsible in some way” for 9/11. “It was just terribly misunderstood,” she explains. “I never said anything like, ‘We deserved this.’ Nothing like that.
“Instead of apologizing, I wrote a little clarification of what I meant. I said that as important as it is to continue to honor all the people who were hurt and killed on 9/11, which was catastrophic, it’s also equally important to be brave and patriotic enough to look at the ways we can change the way we live, in order to help what is undeniably a really bad situation in the world. And I’m proud of having said that.”
I think what she really meant — and I totally agree with her — wasn’t that we need to look at ways of changing the way we “live” (like what…eating Big Macs?) as much as we need to look at how commercially, culturally, politically and militarily the U.S. is impacting foreign cultures and creating all kinds of hate, and we also need to look at the belligerent, reactionary, oil-addicted assholes we’ve voted for and installed in the highest echelons of government.
Jack Nicholson‘s fiendish Irish gangster in Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed “is so evil that he wears a Yankees hat on the streets of Boston. ‘First of all, they wanted me to wear a Red Sox hat,’ Nicholson grumbles, ‘but I said, all things being equal, I don’t want to.” — from Logan Hill‘s chat with Nicholson in the current New York magazine.
I’ve been susceptible to the film-watching perceptions of UCLA prof Howard Suber since the mid ’90s, which is when I first listened to his incisive commentary on the Criterion Collection laser discs of The Graduate, High Noon and Some Like It Hot. Judging solely by how good these audio tracks were, I’m moderately revved about getting a copy of Suber’s “The Power of Film” by mail in a day or two.
“After 42 years of pontificating at UCLA and years of trying to distill what I’ve learned down into one short book, I’m now facing the same kind of problem that independent filmmakers face: how do you get people to even be aware that your work exists?”, Suber said in an e-mail a while back. Wait a minute…short book? The Amazon page says it’s 456 pages. I guess it’s one of those short-seeming books composed of zippy prose and brisk chapters.
I’ll be happy to do my part to spread the word, certain as I am that it’ll have a lot of tastiness and good humor, and knowing that Francis Coppola and David Koepp have logrolled the following respective comments: (a) “Suber’s understanding of film storytelling fills the pages of this wise, liberating book, with much of it is surprisingly contrary to what ‘everyone knows.'” and (b) “What Artistotle did for drama, Suber has now done for film. This is a profound and succint book that is miraculously fun to read.”
I especially love this comment from Howard: “The book is written for people like you who are so overwhelmed they do their reading in life’s most sacred moments, like the three minutes before falling asleep, standing in security lines at airports, and sitting on the toilet.” Aahh…film appreciation for the john!
Paris, Je t’aime, which screened in Cannes three months ago and will show again at the Toronto Film Festival, is a lot more than interesting. It’s an anthology film with serious rhyme, reason, poetry and nocturnal fairy dust. It drags only once or twice, and is otherwise a cut or two above anything I’ve ever seen in this vein. It moves right along and is well-sprung and yet, surprisingly, it found no distributor out of Cannes. (John Sloss‘s Cinetic Media was handling sales before and will do so again in Toronto.)
Margo Martindale in Alexander Payne’s “14th arronsidment” segment in ,em>Paris Je’taime; and an exuberant Paris metro moment from Tom Tykwer’s “Faubourg Saint-Denis” segment with Natalie Portman.
The idea is that each arrondisement in Paris gets its own short film, so there are 20 altogether. And the very best short, titled “14th arrondisement”, is directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways). It’s about an American tourist (Margo Martindale) visiting Paris all alone, and not having the greatest time with her poor command of French and tedious American accent and no one to talk to. But her Parisian sojourn suddenly kicks in at the end while she’s sitting in a park — suddenly she “gets it” — and we’re left with one of the more affecting spiritual residues that any film has shared in recent memory.
The other 19 directors are Olivier Assayas (“Quartier des Enfants Rouges”), Frederic Auburtin (“Quartier Latin”), Gurinder Chadha (“Quais de Seine”), Sylvain Chomet (“Tour Eiffel”), Joel and Ethan Coen (“Tuileries”), Isabel Coixet (“Bastille”), Wes Craven (“Pere-Lachaise”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Parc Monceau”), Gerard Depardieu (“Quartier Latin”), Christopher Doyle (“Porte de Choisy”), Richard LaGravenese (“Pigalle”), Vincenzo Natali (“Quartier de la Madeleine”), Bruno Podalydes (“Montmartre”), Walter Salles (“Loin du 16eme”), Oliver Schmitz (“Place des Fetes”), Nobuhiro Suwa (“Place des Victoires”), Daniel Thomas (“Loin du 16eme”) and Tom Tykwer (“Faubourg Saint-Denis”).
The second and third best shorts, I feel, are Tom Tykwer’s “Faubourg Saint-Denis” with Natalie Portman and Kathy Li’s “Porte de Choisy” with director Barbet Schroeder. A guy in Cannes told me that the Coen brothers segment is one of the best also but I don’t agree — it’s just okay. And watch for Mr. Payne’s cameo performance in Wes Craven‘s short. (I won’t say who or what he plays.)
A newly expanded site for Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed (Warner Bros., 10.6) launched last week , and here it is. I still don’t understand this film not showing at Toronto, even if it’s more or less a straight genre crime flick. How can it not be at least some kind of medium- grade festival-level thing with the once-masterful Scorsese at the helm? There’s absolutely nothing disreputable about a good genre film if it’s good.
Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! The judgments of two seasoned pros are producing another Toronto Film Festival trouble alarm, this one concerning Ridley Scott‘s A Good Year. It’s been described all along as a Ridley Lite flick about a London financial shark (Russell Crowe) growing a soul and falling in love as a result of owning, visiting and working on a vineyard in the south of France.
Lightly spirited and whimsical doesn’t seem to be Crowe’s forte, agreed, but one plugged-in journo says the problem is with the film itself. Another disagrees, saying that A Good Year is “a painfully obvious (and failing) attempt by Crowe to show he’s funny after a year of looking weird and hostile.”
I don’t like hearing this and I’m trying to figure some way to deny it or somehow brush it aside. I like Ridley Lite moves (Matchstick Men, Someone to Watch Over Me) and there’s no question about Scott being an immaculate craftsman so I don’t get it.
And there are also expressions of concern being voiced over the Toronto Film Festival’s opening night film, the Journals of Knud Rasmussen. Based, as you might presume, on the journals of 1920s Danish ethnographer Knud Rasmussen and directed by Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk , it’s been described as a portrayal an Innuit shaman and his daughter and about the ravages of change. A Canadian know-it-all is calling it “possibly the most incomprehensible show opener in the history of TIFF…the hix in the stix are gonna hate it.”