More support for the notion that Jude Law isn’t a star, supplied by the fair-minded but candid Anne Thompson. She calls it “The Jude Law Curse”; I said a few days ago it’s more a matter of the wrong roles at the wrong time. Law needs to stop playing hounds, play against his looks and inhabit some kind of coldly perverse villain. The best thing he ever did was the limping photographer-assassin in Road to Perdition; the second best was the freak-out scene in I Heart Huckabees. He has a taste for the weird.
“The movies are a habit, and a big part of us just wants them to be like they were before. Surprise me, we ask, show me something new — but let me recognize it. [The movies are] a business, and if the public likes a personality, you tell the stories that make the personality look good. A mythology develops, a whole set of legends — we call it the star system and the code of genres.
“Of course, the movies are changing. Many of the old rules are crumbling. And there are artists ready to test us in new ways. But as soon as the new ways work, they become institutionalized.
“No one thought The Godfather would do well. It became the most successful film made in 1972. So they let Coppola make The Godfather, Part II. It did far less well, but it’s a better film because in doing part one Coppola had learned new ways of doing a story, and the uneasy possibility that at the end a villain could be left in charge. That was new for a moment. Now everyone does it.” –from David Thomson‘s “The Comfort of Deja Vu,” in the 1.1.07 Guardian.
The 2007 Best Picture contenders will definitely include at least one of three prestige-aroma Iraq/Afghanistan movies: (1) Charlie Wilson’s War (directed by Mike Nichols with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams), which has to do with the Afghan Mujahideen during the 1980s’ Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; (2) Lions for Lambs, the Robert Redford-directed film set in Aghanistan of a more recent time with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep costarring; and (3) the Paul Haggis-directed In The Valley of Elah, about a father (Tommy Lee Jones) looking into the disappearance of his son after his return from Iraq, with James Franco, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon costarring.
The Best Picture Oscar is The Departed‘s to lose at this stage, most likely. Martin Scorsese has it in the bag for Best Director, and the certainty of this call will probably carry the film to Oscar victory. I think. A bit more than perhaps.
The Queen is admired and respected, but it has no headwind. (None that I can sense, at least.)
Dreamgirls will be nominated (I presume) but the little weasel nip-nippers won’t stop nip-nipping with their razor-sharp teeth…despite the fact that I’m okay with several portions of it, plus the fact that I’m hearing that suburban ticket-buyers are having a good time it and “getting their money’s worth,” etc.
Alfonso Cuaron‘s Children of Men is gaining ground — the notion that it may in fact be the Best Picture of the Year has actually caught on here and there — but it will never be nominated because of its overly-realistic (and therefore overly distur- bing) dystopian visions and how these are apparently affecting the Academy conservatives who voted to give Chicago the Best Picture Oscar. You know…that crowd.
Babel was big with the Golden Globers and ought to slip through — it damn well should in my book but that and $1.75 will get you a bus ticket.
Little Miss Sunshine is the only film that everyone loves without reservation, and may therefore be some kind of plucky Dark Horse.
The “too soon” emotional mules who won’t see United 93 may be heavily dug in…or not. (I strongly suspect that they are.)
Letters From Iwo Jima has been dying in its limited run so far, and it will probably continue to die when it expands, which will give those who don’t like its doomed-Japanese-solder gloominess and its all-caves, all-the-time milieu reason to back away.
The ace-level Pan’s Labyrinth, Volver and The Lives of Others — the latter is my choice for the second Best Picture of the Year — have been relegated to the Best Foreign Language Film category, World Trade Center has been out of the game for weeks; ditto Flags of Our Fathers.
For lack of anything else to riff on, David Carr (a.k.a., “the Bagger”) has started the new year off with a little boogie-woogie on the Hickenlooper/JWEgo thing of three or four days ago. It’s cool and all…but the error of tit-for-tatting with Poland was explained to me earlier today, and I’d like to just let it all go. Rise above it, I mean.
“Page Six” is reporting that Jonathan Sedgwick — the late Edie Sedgwick‘s brother — has said in a videotaped interview that his sister told him that she’d gotten pregnant by Bob Dylan, but that the child was aborted by authorities in a mental institution of some kind — Page Six didn’t run the particulars — because “she was so wacked out on drugs [and] because the child would’ve been just strung out…she said that was the saddest moment of her life.” No document substantiation from the mental institution was cited. The London Times is said to be working on a story along these lines — maybe they’ll provide more details. This is all about fueling interest in Factory Girl, of course, but Dylan’s lawyers did threaten to stop distribution of the film because of suspected allegations that Dylan may have considered defamatory, so they opened the can of beans.
Hollywood Reporter editor Gregg Kilday has made the calls and reported that David Koepp wrote the Indy IV screenplay that finally got the stamp of approval from George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford.
Kilday has also passed along a Lucas quote from Empireonline.com that the film’s original conceptual McGuffin (dreamt up by Lucas) “was a little too ‘connected’ for the others…they were afraid of what the critics would think…so we finally went] back to that original McGuffin and took out the offending parts of it and we’ll still use that area of the supernatural to deal with it.’ ” A once-politically incorrect McGuffin that has supernatural aspects — what could this be?
The thrust of this N.Y. Times box-office analysis piece by David Halbfinger, which I read yesterday but was unable to respond to due to the lethargy it inspired, is that audiences always go for movies that seem to promise a fluttery, quaalude-like emotional high — especially when there’s a sense that the usual chaos and uncertainty of life (9/11, Iraq War, increasing global warming) is more acute and/or bothersome than usual.
When Jack Haley, Jr.‘s That’s Entertainment! came out in June 1974, after years of ’60s-style social turmoil plus the ongoing Vietnam War backdrop plus two heavy years of Watergate scandal, the slogan that sold the movie was, “That’s Entertainment — boy, do we need it now!”
The age-old old theory is that mainstream moviegoers are emotional alcoholics in normal times, but if the headlines seem more disturbing than usual their choices tend be more reactionary. Give them a film that promises some kind of agreeable emotional beer-buzz and they’ll probably give it a shot. Give them a movie that smacks of herbal tea, strong coffee, mineral water or some other non-alcoholic ingredient, and chances are they’ll either steer clear or adopt a wait-and-see approach.
“What worked was classic, get-away-from-it-all entertainment,” Rob Moore, Paramount’s marketing and distribution chief, tells Halbfinger “What didn’t was things that were more challenging and esoteric.”
“They showed no appetite for a critique of their eating habits in Fast Food Nation,” Halbfinger writes. They weren’t ready to fly along on United 93, no matter how skilled its expose of homeland insecurity. They didn’t care to see combat or suffer its after-effects in Flags of Our Fathers. And even Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t interest them in touring the ravaged Africa of Blood Diamond.
“While Al Gore‘s prophecies in An Inconvenient Truth produced a respectable $24 million for Paramount, it was the message-movie exception that proved the rule. The big money was to be made making people laugh, cry and squeeze their dates’ arms — not think.”
That said, I don’t blame anyone for avoiding Blood Diamond, although it appears that reviews weren’t the main reason, and I can understand why GenY moviegoers were averse to seeing the boomer-oriented Flags of Our Fathers.