AICN’s Drew McWeeny drove out to Universal a few days ago to see the not-yet-released DVD of Michael Mann‘s slightly longer “director’s cut” of Miami Vice, and while satisfied — pleased — he wasn’t exactly blown away. “I’m glad Universal is putting both the theatrical cut and the unrated alternate cut on disc, because I think they’re both worthwhile. I really liked the film when I saw it, and I think this new cut has some interesting alternative choices, but it doesn’t really change my feelings one way or another. All Mann has done is enhance certain relationships and tighten up a few sequences in subtle ways. It√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s just different…equally as interesting [and] well worth your time.”
“Memories of dreary Sunday school classes come flooding back courtesy of The Nativity Story,” Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote a couple of days ago. “Earnestly Hallmark-worthy to a fault, this stodgy addition to the cinematic religious-revival gravy train offers only a bit of Year One location realism to distinguish it from films of its kind made in the ’50s and early ’60s, though at least then it might have had the advantage of a score by the likes of Miklos Rozsa, Franz Waxman or Alfred Newman. Admirers of [director] Catherine Hardwicke will be particularly surprised that the director of Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown could make something this conventional and unspontaneous.”
By saying yesterday that I hate eating big plates of food because of the way it makes me feel, I didn’t mean to sound unthankful for a lot of things. I’d like to express thanks to the various forces — parental guidance, genetics, fate — for things having worked out for Hollywood Elsewhere as well as they have over the last couple of years. Those of us who are healthy and not too fat or (God forbid) affllicted with terrible diseases can be thankful for these things also. I’m very thankful for all the gifted people in this town and elsewhere who are making excellent films, or at least trying like hell to do so. I’m thankful for something that happened a couple of nights ago, and the idea that serene music sometimes floats down into our laps from time to time. I’m not exactly thankful that I work 14 to 16 hours per day, but on the other hand I am because at least I’m strong and healthy enough to do that. I’m extremely thankful that my laptop is still doing well (it’s three years old and therefore on borrowed time), and that I will soon have enough ad revenue to go out and get a new 17″ widescreen. I’m very thankful that terrible forces haven”t swooped down like Valkyries and destroyed my life (which has happened to thousands in Iraq and Darfur and elsewhere) — I say that knowing that bad things can happen at any time. I’m grateful for a lot of things, but I still won’t eat anything today.
Yesterday The Envelope columnist Patrick Goldstein wrote a toast about four Oscar bloggers — myself, Anne Thompson (Risky Biz blog), David Poland (The Hot Blog) and Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby). I’m thankful for the attention — thanks, Patrick — and especially for the following portion:
“Right now the writers who matter are the Oscar bloggers, who create the buzz studios need to keep their campaigns humming. In years past, the studios controlled the conversation, shaping campaigns with swanky ‘For your consider- ation’ ads. But the internet has changed everything. Just as Daily Kos and other liberal blogs exert a powerful gravitational pull over Democratic Party politics, the blogmeisters have become the key generators of buzz in Oscar campaign- ing.”
Thompson is the only one to receive Patrick’s full approval. He says O’Neil’s cover- age is breathless and campy, he calls Poland a know-it-all, and he zings me twice — for talking too much about clattering silverware screwing up taped interviews and (good God…not again) saying a few weeks ago that I was “very satisfied — I can even say comforted — that I was part of the team that…took down Munich.”
I swore, sighed and wrote Goldstein the following rebuttal: “By your own admission Hollywood Elsewhere has an impact of some kind. It gets into this and that topic, it gets read around town, etc I must have written…what?…six or seven anti-Munich screeds last year. I ran a photo of a ripped Munich billboard that may have done more to hurt that film’s Oscar chances than any piece of writing. And if there can be said to be a ‘team’ that helped to take down Munich — and c’mon, you know that columnists are part of the engine that drives any industry sentiment or current — why is it bad to say I was merely part of the effort?
“Not the leader, not one of the big cheeses, not Gen. Patton, not a major, not a captain, not a lieutenant…just another griping foot soldier trudging along in the ’05 mud and doing what I could to puncture the ego-collossus of Spielberg & the arrogant determinations of Time magazine. What’s so egoistic and boastful about that? If my father said, ‘I was a lieutenant fighting on Iwo Jima, and therefore I was part of the effort that defeated the Japanese on that island’…would that be seen as boastful and out-of-place?”
The harder, blunter version of Brian Helgeland‘s almost eight-year-old Payback is coming out on Paramount Home Video in March ’07, and it’ll also show at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in late January. A good guy gave me a VHS of it a few days ago; I watched some of it this morning. It’s smart and amusing in spurts, and I guess it’s an improvement of sorts…but its not much of one. I found it a little too dour. That’s one way of saying I still prefer John Boorman‘s Point Blank, the 1967 noir classic.
Both are based on Donald Westlake‘s “The Hunter.” Mel Gibson plays the hardball avenger in Helgeland’s version; Lee Marvin played the same guy in Point Blank . But the names…my God. Westlake’s character was called “Parker.” Marvin’s is called “Walker” — good metaphor, self-sufficient traveller, man on a journey — but Gibson’s is called “Porter.” That sounds subservient, timid…the name of an accountant.
I’ve recorded dialogue from a portion of the same scene in both films. The Point Blank version is between Lloyd Bochner‘s Carter and John Vernon‘s Mal Reese; the Payback version is between William Devane ‘s Carter and Gregg Henry‘s Val Resnick (same as Reese). Notice how much more lean and direct the Boor- man version sounds, and how tedious it feels when Henry half-jokes about not knowing Porter’s first name.
It’s hard to put my finger on a simple, pared-down “why”, but this Ben Ratliff piece is one of the best-written impressions of the ongoing Pet Sounds tour — Brian Wilson and his crew stopped at NYC’s Beacon Theatre two nights ago — I’ve ever read, and I’ve read dozens over the past few years.
Tony Scott‘s Deja Vu is a box-office fizzle in relation to cost. Thanksgiving weekend projections put the 3-day earnings at $19,209,000 and the 5-day tally at $27,690,000. It cost a tidy amount (director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer don’t shoot cheap, and Denzel Washington always gets his big fat fee, and they shot on location in post-Katrina New Orleans) and the weekend totals indicate that final domestic theatrical earnings won’t exceed $60 or $70 million. Unless it does really big overseas, it’s basically a bomb .
The other 3-day and 5-day Thanksgiving projections: #1 isHappy Feet (3 day, $45,300,000 — 5-day, $63,000,000…way ahead of Casino Royale and totally cleaning up); #2 is Casino Royale (3-day, $30,741,000 — 5-day, $45,615,000… action-driven Deja Vu cut into business); #3 is Deja Vu; #4 is Borat (3-day, $15,399,000 — 5-day, $21.563,000); #5 is Santa Clause 3 (3-day, $11,455 — 5-day, $21,563,000); #6 is Deck The Halls (3-day, $10,649,000 — 5-day, $15,263,000 …tank), #7 is Tenacious D (3-day, $8,819,000 — 5-day, $12,196,000); #8 is Stranger Than Fiction (3-day, $7,457,000 — 5-day, $10,419,000); #9 is Flushed Away (3-day, $5,305,000 — 5-day is $7,296,000), and #10 is The Fountain ($3-day, $4,758,000 — 5-day, $7,736,000).