After trying for nearly a week to get hold of an mp3 file of Bobby Kennedy‘s “mindless menace of violence” speech that’s heard during the final moments of Bobby — it easily constitutes the most moving portion of Emilio Estevez‘s film– I discovered today that it’s the final track on the original motion picture soundtrack. Thanks to the Weinsten Co. publicist who sent it over today. It’s hard to hear the words with the music mixed in, but give it a listen — it really sinks in.
Once again, an upcoming longish movie with a moody, curiously textured canvas that’s trying to deliver something other than the usual boilerplate ingredients (in this case something Malicky or Peckinpah-ish or Leone-like, or perhaps all three) is being punished for this commercial transgression while studio execs are stalling the release while they work on pressuring the filmmaker(s) to trim scenes and/or otherwise give it a significant re-think.
The offender (and I realize I’m already sounding redundant, given the two recent items posted over the last few days) is Andrew Dominik‘s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Of the two AICN reviews posted earlier today, both say the film is too long or it’s in trouble because of this. Okay, so length is an issue. But why is a film that was originally going to be released two months ago sitting in release-date limbo if the ony thing at stake is the running time? It takes months and months to work out the problems? Since when?
These AICN reactions don’t make it sound as if the film is in deep trouble — they make it sound like it probably won’t sell a lot of tickets and that Jeff Robinov and other Warner Bros. execs are fretting about a potential commercial bomb and that they’re doing what all studio executives do what they have an ambitious problem movie (like Columbia did last year with All The King’s Men) — delaying the release date and postponing the inevitable.
“This is not your average western,” one AICN guy said. “This film is very dark with Brad Pitt playing his darkest character since [the killer in] Kalifornia. Brad Pitt doesn”t use a lot of words in his performance, it’s all looks and internal turmoil, he is truly mesmerizing in this performance, showing a more mature actor then we have seen before.
“He is matched perfectly by Casey Affleck who is finally used to his full potential as Robert Ford. Affleck plays him as a very vulnerable, fragile young man with a thirst for recognition. Hopefully this performance might break Casey out of his brother”s shadow. The rest of the cast is superb with a funny and odd performance by Sam Rockwell.
“The cinematography is excellent. Roger Deakins turns in some of the best work of his career. He brings a dream-like quality to the images that gives the film a fable-like quality. It”s this quality that separates this film from [many] other westerns [and gives it similarities to] Sam Peckinpah”s under-rated “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.” It has to do with living up to ones own myth and also how far a person will go to be famous.
“But I see one serious problem with this film. A major studio made it. This isn”t a film for everyone. It isn’t “Tombstone or any kind of action-packed western. It”s a very emotional film. The action that does happen is quick and realistic much like a Sergio Leone film. This is a film for my father, a person who grew up on westerns and loves them. It has more in common with art-house [fare] and this might make it a tough sell for the studio.
“Another problem is that the version I saw the other night Is easily three hours in length. That can make any studio nervous and I”m afraid the studio will start cutting the film up in hopes of getting a bigger audience. This film needs the three hours, much like Sergio Leone”s westerns (which were notoriously edited by the studios) this film is about anticipation and scope. I wouldn”t be surprised if they cut this film up but I beg the studio not to.
“Basically I hope everyone gets to see this film in its current cut. This is the kind of film that will probably be passed over in theatres but will get a lot of reconsideration over time and will one day be seen as the truly great film [that] it is.”
The other guy says that “at two hours and 50 minutes, it’s just too damn long.
“The first act of the film does a wonderful job introducing us to Jesse James with voice over, abstract shots, and beautiful scenery, something out of a Terrence Malick film. We are introduced to Jesse and his gang as they complete one of their last train robberies, a sequence that works very well.
“Then the film crawls into the second act and keeps crawling for way too long. The dynamic between James and Ford, played wonderfully by Casey Affleck, is interesting and sets up some very nice sequences in the film. But the film strays too much from the identity crisis of Ford and the career crisis of James and meanders through beautiful scenery and locations, picking up bit characters and abstract storylines, as we wait for the main story to get back on track.
“The assassination is a fantastic sequence [but] the aftermath sort of drags, but it’s such a relief to actually have some story elements working [and thus] the minor flaws of the third act are ignored.
“The film is very character-driven by James and Ford with the last frame of the film a wonderful portrait of a man who has reached the end of his path [and is]still searching for identity and meaning behind it all.
“The film looks amazing and the performances are there, if they shave a good 50 minutes off the film the pacing would work better [and keep] the story moving. I can’t say I recommend the film as it is. I hope they cut it down before it’s released.”
Here’s a site that lets you futz around with music and images from Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fountain…okay. Obviously a kind of promotional “Hail Mary” pass but fine. Clearly, curiously, not enough people are getting into this film. It has only a 50% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating. I told Aronofsky when I saw it late last summer than anyone who’s taken LSD or mescaline should definitely be receptive to it. Not to be overly simplistic, but could some of the difficulty come down to the fact that not enough people out there are sufficiently “experienced”? (Well….I am.) Those on the fence may want to at least consider Devin Faraci‘s CHUD rave.
Running a link to material as dusty and creaky as this is pretty close to unpardonable, but this YouTube video of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s visit to the Jon Stewart show is truly fascinating. Cohen’s natural British accent is mesmerizing…in a very relaxed and affable way. He’s witty as shit. On top of which (and for some reason I find this extra-surprising) his hair is thinning. For me, it revives the whole Borat thing because now there’s an engaging real-life guy behind the mask. (The James Lipton story is hilarious, by the way.) Cohen needs to try a different Borat p.r. mode and do some follow-up interviews as himself. It adds to the intrigue. Everyone’s sick of his in-character routine — time to shift gears.
The coming weekend looks like another Borat crowning, although I don’t yet have an exact screen count tally. The other significant trackers are Casino Royale (85, 39. 10), Deja Vu (78, 31, 7), Stranger Than Fiction (68, 37. 7) and Bobby (60, 37, 3). For numerous reasons, the excellent Babel (52, 25, 5) is in the same awareness-and-definite interest ballpark as Ridley Scott’s A Good Year (51,18, 4).
All I was trying to do was get to Josh Horowitz‘s story about Judd Apatow declaring that Borat should be an Oscar Best Picture contender, but the MTV.com’s site is way too layered and complicated and show-offy. Way too much stuff that needs to load before getting to the story. Wells to MTV.com webmaster(s) — please let guys like me access Horowitz’s material without trying to saturate my head with all of your empty-ass, sub-literate “whoa, dude” audio-visual bullshit .
The best Borat news of the week — banned in Russia. “The film contains material that some viewers may consider offensive to certain nationalities and religions,” Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography minister Yury Vasyuchkov has explained to local press.
Variety‘s Moscow correspondent Tom Birchenough has reported that the ban “is likely the first time that a non-pornographic movie has been banned [in Russia]…plenty of hard-core porn movies succeed in being licensed by the agency.”
Local distributor Gemini had intended to give Borat “a medium-range release” starting on 11.30. Gemini spokesperson Alexander Kovalenko told Birchenough he was still considering whether to [try and] release the film. The story said that distributors “have the option to appeal the licensing decision √É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Ç¨¬ù though it would likely prove a fruitless task [in this instance].”
Condolences to the friends and family of Ed Bradley, the legendary, steady-eyed 60 Minutes correspondent who died, according to Variety, sometime earlier today at age 65. He was felled by lukemia, which he’d been reportedly coping with for some time. The Variety obit says Bradley won 19 Emmys during his career at CBS, which began in 1971 when he joined as a stringer in the Paris bureau…[he] was transferred to Saigon the year after and was wounded covering the war in Cambodia.” It also says that “after the semi-retirement of Mike Wallace in 2005, Bradley became the longest-serving full-time 60 Minutes correspondent (he started in 1980) and was the first to introduce himself after the ticking stopwatch, an honor known as the first ‘I’m.'” A long time ago a friend regaled me with details about a hot affair he’d had with the late Jessica Savitch sometime in the ’70s. For some reason I always saw Bradley as an exceptional news guy after hearing this — a man with a certain spiritual specialness who had the taste buds of a good hound.
I wasn’t invited to Wednesday night’s Westwood screening of Casino Royale (a kind of punishment, I presume, for having dissed Sony’s magnetic fall trio — Marie Antoinette, Stranger Than Fiction, Running With Scissors — with too much vigor) but Variety‘s Todd McCarthy attended, and he obviously sped home and speed-wrote his rave review and had it posted hours later.
And he’s made two encouraging proclamations — Daniel Craig is the studliest, most Ian Fleming-esque Bond since Sean Connery, and that the film’s low-tech, somewhat underproduced quality is very agreeable thing. For 007 purists, at least.
“Casino Royale is the first Bond in a while that’s not over-produced and is all the better for it [with] the fabled series” having been “invigorated by going back to basics,” McCarthy declares. “It’s comparatively low-tech, with the intense fights mostly conducted up close and personally, the killings accomplished by hand or gun, and without an invisible car in evidence.”
Moreoever, “there can be little argument that Craig comes closer to Ian Fleming’s original conception of this exceptionally long-lived male fantasy figure than anyone since early Connery. Casino Royale sees Bond himself recharged with fresh toughness and arrogance, along with balancing hints of sadism and humanity.
Bond, he writes, “is more of a lone wolf” this time out. “Craig’s upper-body hunkiness and mildly squashed facial features giving him the air of a boxer; 007’s got a frequently remarked upon ego, which can cause him to recklessly overreach and botch things, and the limited witticisms function naturally within the characters’ interchanges.
The notorious gonad-squeezing, scrotum-tugging scene is a stand-out, apparently. “Constrained nude to a bottomed-out chair, Bond is tortured as Mads Mikkelsen‘s Le Chiffre repeatedly launches a hard-tipped rope upon his nemesis’ most sensitive area, and Craig once and for all claims the character as his own by virtue of the supremely cocky defiance with which he taunts Le Chiffre even in vulnerable extremis.”
On top of which the dialogue, says Mccarthy, “requires Bond to acknowledge his mistakes and reflect on the soul-killing nature of his job, [and therefore delivers a] self-searching [that’s] unimaginable in the more fanciful Bond universes inhabited by Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore.”