I’ll always feel good about Christmas, although, that said, this Francis Bacon painting felt like an inexplicably right thing to post tonight…no offense.
“Based on matinees already, I’m hearing Dreamgirls could score $5 mil and possibly even $6 mil today (i.e., Monday, 12.25). Many theaters sold out 24 hours before the 12.25 screenings [began] and added a midnight extra to accomodate moviegoers. The target audience had been African- Americans, gays and upscale whites. But now the movie is playing bigger than expected with white audiences in general. Anecdotes are starting to come in of audiences cheering and clapping and crying, which had been happening nightly since 12.15.06 when Dreamgirls opened in only Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome, New York’s Zeigfield, and San Francisco’s Metreon.” — Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke, posting just before 5 pm eastern today.
Susie Woz‘s USA Today article on Dreamgirls costar Jennifer Hudson‘s singing of the anthemic “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (published 12.22) is far, far more interesting when you read it alongside Armond White‘s disparagement of same in the New York Press (published a week or so ago).
Woz sample: “Just about every Broadway musical worth its bugle beads has that one signature tune. The one that brings down the house. The one that eventually drones in doctors’ offices. The one that you know the name of, or the words to, even if you don’t know what show it came from. Then there is And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going) from Dreamgirls.
“Much as when musical whiz kid Michael Bennett staged the Act 1 closer on Broadway back in 1981, the movie version of the glitzy showbiz opera about a ’60s girl group has its seminal spellbinding moment. The volcanic Effie, dismissed by her soul sisters and Curtis, the man she adores, pleads and wails in protest before she ultimately faces the audience alone and dares them not to love her.
“Love her, they do. Even movie audiences regularly break into applause.”
White sample: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going — realistically understood as “The Stalker’s Anthem’ — is the show-stopping number from Dreamgirls in which a woman begs and threatens a man to love her.
“Despite its ostentatious build-up, And I Am Telling You has not entered the Broadway canon: It’s a number white actresses don’t/won’t attempt because it’s culturally stigmatized. The song is so wildly humiliating that it can only be rationalized as a cartoonish black stereotype — the anguish of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin thoughtlessly jumbled and coarsened into a hebephrenic climax.”
The disappointments, for me, are that (a) there isn’t a single line of dialogue on this poster I’m not sick of, and (b) the creators could have thrown in at least four or five half-obscures.
I’ve long felt that the only thoroughly decent Christmas film is the 1951, British-produced, Alistair Sim-starring A Christmas Carol (or Scrooge). Because it feels genuinely Dickensian, for one thing. Everything else I can think of has a problem of one sort of another — forced, tonally one-note, one too many cute kids, oppressively sentimental, etc.
All the films directed by Bob Clark need to be permanently dust-binned, of course, and that necessarily includes A Christmas Story. The older I get the less comfortable I am about sitting down with It’s a Wonderful Life (the town-rallies-round, happy-ever-after finale is just too effusive), although the moment when James Stewart screams out that he wants to live again still gets me. Has there ever been a really superb Xmas film? Nothing’s coming to mind.
The final projected four-day weekend figure for Night at the Museum is $38.5 million. The earnest and mild-mannered Pursuit of Happyness will end up with $20,642,000 in the #2 position. Rocky Balboa, diminishing quickly, will finish at #3 with $17,302,000 (last Wednesday was its best day with earnings of $6.4 million). The Good Shepherd will end up with about $13,943,000 for a fourth-place showing. Eragon, a dead dragon, fell over 60% from last weekend’s tally, taking in $9,560,000. Charlotte’s Web was right behind it with $9,506,00. We Are Marshall, down for the count, will finish with $8,769,000. The Holiday will conclude with $6,838,000, The Nativity Story with $6,497,000 and Happy Feet with $6,207,000.
Hollywood Reporter columnist Anne Thompson did a guest stint on “Ebert & Roeper” last weekend, and the consensus seems to be that Roeper bellowed and bullied her around a bit — and that gracious Anne was perhaps a bit too restrained.
In response, a reader asked this morning if “we can get a thread going on the thoroughly arrogant, pompous, the-more-wrong-I-am-the-louder-I-get, insulting, Disney-thumping Roeper vs. the elegant, thoughtful, trusty Thompson?”
Thompson’s best moment came when Roeper thumbs-upped We Are Marshall and she gave him “a look,” a friend told me this morning.
Thompson gave Children of Men, which she described as a cinephile’s dream and a future classic like Mad Max 2, an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Roeper claimed to like it, but could barely say something substantive about the film except, with her prompting, that it has a great look, but then had to come back with a plug for Caine’s wig’s performance.
Roeper loved The Good Shepherd, while Thomopson gently explained to him what went wrong. She was easy on Night at the Museum, calling it a holiday hit; Roeper said he more or less despised it.
He loved Venus, even if he felt “quipped to death” in a few scenes; she adored O’Toole’s “sunset performance” and called it an “Anglophile’s dream and funny too.” He too thought it was funny, adding that “the average age of the academy voter is, of course, 127.”
Thompson loved The Dead Girl. and Roeper quickly agreed, singling out Mary Beth Hurt‘s performance.
At the conclusion Thompson told Roeper it was fun and she’s been waiting for the chance to give him a hard time for ages. He laughed and dismissively replied, “Get in line.”
“If the New Hampshire Democratic primary were held today, Sen. Barack Obama would be in a statistical dead heat with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to a new Concord Monitor poll. Last month, a Monitor poll showed Clinton trouncing her opponents, with Obama lagging 23 points behind.
“Although Clinton commands considerable support among likely Democratic primary voters, she struggles in general election match-ups, according to the poll. If the contest were held today, both Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani would prevail over Clinton. Obama, in contrast, would eke out a slight win over both Republican candidates. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards is neck-and-neck with the Republicans.
“There are a lot of independents. These are the same people who loathe Bush, loathe the Iraq war,” said Del Ali, president of Research 2000, the Maryland-based nonpartisan polling firm that conducted the poll for the Monitor last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. “But deep down, they don’t like Hillary Clinton.”
Microsoft has had a huge team of highly-paid techies going over Windows Vista for months and months with a fine tooth comb and no apparent issues, but serious flaws have turned up only days after exposing the new operating system to the general software community. The too-familiar lesson is that corporate management somehow always manages to discourage employees from airing and/or candidly examining in-house problems — issues never seem to surface until outsiders have had a looksee.
A 12.25 N.Y. Times story says that Microsoft is facing an early crisis of confidence in the quality of its Windows Vista operating system as computer security researchers and hackers have begun to find potentially serious flaws in the system that was released to corporate customers late last month.
“On 12.15, a Russian programmer posted a description of a flaw that makes it possible to increase a user√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s privileges on all of the company√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s recent operating systems, including Vista. And over the weekend a Silicon Valley computer security firm said it had notified Microsoft that it had also found that flaw, as well as five other vulnerabilities, including one serious error in the software code underlying the company√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s new Internet Explorer 7 browser.
“The browser flaw is particularly troubling because it potentially means that web users could become infected with malicious software simply by visiting a booby-trapped site. That would make it possible for an attacker to inject rogue software into the Vista-based computer, according to executives at Determina, a company based in Redwood City, Calif., that sells software intended to protect against operating system and other vulnerabilities.
“Determina is part of a small industry of companies that routinely pore over the technical details of software applications and operating systems looking for flaws. When flaws in Microsoft products are found they are reported to the software maker, which then produces fixes called patches. Microsoft has built technology into its recent operating systems that makes it possible for the company to fix its software automatically via the internet.”
“You’d have to go back to the old Hollywood studio days to find a year like 2006, when stars’ off-screen personalities so completely overshadowed their movies,” N.Y. Times columnist Caryn James wrote yesterday. A good piece, but while she cites numerous examples of celebs who’ve had to cope with this syndrome (Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, et, al.), she misses a fairly large sitting one sitting smack dab in the middle of an upcoming film — Anthony Minghella‘s Breaking and Entering (Weinstein Co., 1.27.07 wide).
As soon as Jude Law, who plays a married London architect, begins an affair with a Bosnian immigrant (Juliette Binoche), you’re immediately reminded of his tabloid infamy (i.e., sleeping with the nanny, losing fiance Sienna Miller) in the summer of ’05 — and you can’t help but wonder why Law chose this moment in his career to play an infidel, especially on top of having played a hound in Charles Shyer‘s Alfie.
“There are, Mr. Cuaron suggests in Children of Men, different ways of waking up. You can either wake up and close your ears and eyes, or like Theo you can wake up until all your senses are roaring. Early in the film Theo (Clive Owen) and the restlessly moving camera seem very much apart, as Mr. Cuaron keeps a distance from the characters.
“In time, though, the camera comes closer to Theo as he opens his eyes — to a kitten crawling up his leg, to trees rustling in the wind — until, in one of the most astonishing scenes of battle I√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢ve ever seen on film, it is running alongside him, trying to keep pace with a man who has finally found a reason to keep going.” — N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis in today’s edition.
After the music (and this, for me, is the track that will always matter the most), the thing I enjoyed the most about the late James Brown was/is Eddie Murphy’s impression of him. I saw Murphy do this at the Universal Amphitheatre a good 20 years ago, and it’s still a hoot. Today especially. (It also reminded me how much I liked the Murphy of the ’80s. It’s a shame, but that guy died years ago.)
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