Behold the poster for ThinkFilm ‘s Zoo, Robinson Devor‘s “horse-fucking movie” that will show at the Sundance Film Festival. One look and right away you’re reminded of Peter Shaffer”s Equus. Where do I get the feeling that Zoo isn’t quite as pregnant with ideas and metaphor? (Maybe it is.) When I think of a horse schtupping some guy and death resulting from ruptured tissue…gimme a break. Feels on some level like the new cinematic “Piss Christ.”
I’m leaving for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival tomorrow afternoon, and I plan on working it for seven full days — Thursday, 1.18 through the evening of Wednesday, 1.25. The usual three to four films per day, which may work out closer to three than four…figure 24, 25 films in all. I’ve just reviewed the party rundown supplied by an agency friend, and there are 77 parties happening over those seven days. If you attend any more than two or three per day max you’ll be baked in no time, so you need to keep it closer to one or two and even that can be a slog…it’s nuts.
Senator Barack Obama took his first solid step into the Democratic presidential race today by opening “an exploratory committee to raise money and begin building a campaign designed to change our politics,” the N.Y. Times reported today. Obama said he would make a formal declaration February 10th in Illinois. I can’t wait for the bubbas to start showing their colors when he does.
“But I did love producer Lloyd Levin‘s United 93 story: apparently the team of editors desperately trying to cut United 93‘s documentary-like coverage into some kind of shape in just 14 weeks of post-production tried to persuade [director Paul] Greengrass to give them more time. Everyone, in fact, told him to take it. [But Greengrass] insisted that they make the movie in the time they had, and that it would be better for the movie not to overthink it.” — Risky Bizblog’s Anne Thompson.
“In the end, the movie awards were dominated by Paramount — a studio flack even emailed me ‘All Paramount Grand Prix’ (and to a lesser extent Fox and Disney’s Miramax). But it’s the rule rather than the exception for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to be susceptible to studio campaigning (all that attention, all that money, all those perks and freebies, showered on only 85 people who can barely call themselves legitimate journalists). Still, the HFPA wanted to spread around the awards to as many Big Names as possible to glam up the show and NBC’s ratings.” — Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood Daily.
I’ve been writing Miramax pallies about some long-awaited Peter O’Toole face-time when he finally arrives in Los Angeles, following his smashing success on the New York talk-show circuit. (And getting no reply.) The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil has been interested in same, but he reported early this morning that a Miramax rep has told Gold Derby, “Unfortunately, O’Toole flew back to London [last] Saturday. He was exhausted after his crazy press schedule in New York and didn’t have it in him to come here. If we get the Oscar nom, he will come.” Good heavens…he was supposed to fly to L.A. and settle in and chill and take it as it comes. I don’t believe “exhaustion” was the all of it.
Here’s the Film Forum page for Becket‘s one-week booking (1.26 through 2.1), and the MPI/Slowhand Cinema site for the restored film itself. It’s really too bad that there won’t be an opportunity to see Becket (it hits L.A.’s Nuart in early February) in bigger, swankier theatres than those afforded by Landmark Cinemas or the Film Forum — it’s a cerebral “big” movie and really should be seen at the Arclight or at some other spacious, tip-top venue.
One other comment: the “Production Notes” on the Becket site [which was deactivated/shut down yesterday by MPI — brilliant move!] say that “due to massive popular demand by the public and industry alike, Becket is now brought to you by MPI, lovingly and beautifully restored with the help of the Film Foundation and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.” Let’s be clear on one thing — restoration-wise, MPI didn’t do diddly-squat. The restoration was done by Academy guy Mike Pogorzelski and largely funded by the Film Foundation — all MPI has done is make prints and handle the marketing of the theatrical release.
After every major awards show, year after year, the same thought is on everyone’s mind: “Good for this or that film (or this or that creative player) for winning — the voters have spoken. But my God, the final decisions in some respects were so clueless, so behind-the-curve, so old-farty, so off-on-their-own-island.”
I know that Children of Men, United 93, Paul Greengrass, The Lives of Others, Volver and Penelope Cruz (to name but a few) are probably going to get the shaft on Oscar nomination day (1.23), and that’s okay — not the end of the world. It’s just that they could all use the extra attention that nominations always bestow. And it just doesn’t feel right.
I have a theoretical equation in mind. How much more on-target would the Oscar show be if, say, the blue-hairs who haven’t really been in the game for the last 15 or 20 or 30 years had, let’s say, half a vote, and the active members — people caught up in the rough-and-tumble of the present tense, people half-familiar with cyber-space, etc. — kept their full votes?
Can’t happen, won’t happen….but the unhip, out-of-touch element is definitely sapping the vitality of the enterprise. Deadwood almost always gets purged in other groups and organizations — why not the Academy?
The Golden Globes awards confirmed two things: (a) there will be no sweeping victory by anyone or anything come Oscar night, and (b) the Globes are getting a bit staid and tidy — almost Oscarish in their decorum. Once upon an ass-time the Globes were regarded as a kind of alcoholic, loosey-goosey fuck-all thing, but there was almost no snap or rudeness or exhilaration in any of it. No real verve, raunch…no extraordinary pocket-drop eloquence… the pulse refused to race or even swerve. The winners, the speeches and the patter were almost all mid-tempo; ditto the parties.
The stuffed-shirt Oscars are going to be even more so, of course. (If only Sarah Silverman was set to host the show along with the Spirits!) The idea of getting out of town tomorrow night and starting in with the Sundance Film Festival , which I’ve done almost no preparation for, suddenly feels like some kind of fresh-water antidote. Clean out the detritus, bring in the ’07….up and away.
The best part of my evening was sitting in a plush Beverly Hilton hotel room as I watched the show live-time, and then attending the Paramount after-party. Lots of warmth, affection and contentment — only one discordant note involving a big-name actor and a big-time producer that I’m not going to relay in detail, but seemed indicative of an extremely strange bend in the personality of the actor.
The only bolt moment for me was when Babel took the Best Drama trophy — deserved, no question, but a surprise because the spirit voices were constantly saying Departed, Departed, Departed over the last few days. (Maybe I need to get down with different spirits.)
Paramount Pictures chairman/CEO Brad Grey, Warren Beatty
If it hadn’t been for the “balls” motif in two speeches — Sacha Baron Cohen‘s acceptance and Tom Hanks‘ tribute to Warren Beatty — and the occasional flubs (Eddie Murphy almost forgetting DreamWorks topper Stacey Snider‘s name, Jamie Foxx relaying the outdated information that Dreamgirls was playing on 800 screens), I would have been bored silly.
After the Paramount party the coolest place to be was the Beverly Hilton lobby. It was the nexus that everyone passed through on their way to and from the various soirees — passing along info on where they’d been, were going, how crowded the last bash was, etc. Plus there was no music to get in the way of conversation, and no-drink-in-the-hand felt like the right thing.
The Little Miss Sunshine team captains — co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, screenwriter Michael Arndt — were lobby-hanging when I happened to walk by. Easy-time vibes all around. (I firmly believe that the Best Picture Oscar race is between LMS, The Departed and maybe The Queen.) We laughed about the pork-pie hat item I wrote a few days ago, etc.
Exterior of the Paramount after-party
I don’t know that Dreamgirls has a new lease on life exactly, but I presume last night’s Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy win will give it a shot at the box-office, and that’s good. (Babel, also, will presumably benefit from its win in the Drama category.) As one player was heard to say, “If Dreamgirls hadn’t won last night, we would have been fucked…the wolves would have all ganged up on the gazelle…snarling neck holds, But that didn’t happen, thank God.”
By the way: before the show started I saw a SWAT guy on the roof of the Beverly Hilton with what looked like a high-powered rifle with a scope.
A respectful nod to Hollywood Wiretap‘s Pete Hammond for making nearly all the right Golden Globe calls last Thursday, including a Babel win in the Best Motion Picture, Drama category, which surprised me: “A somewhat shaky and timid consensus for the Globes seems to call for a Babel Drama win and Dreamgirls Comedy or Musical win,” he wrote, “with Martin Scorsese taking Director and Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jennifer Hudson certain to win acting awards.” He also called the Forest Whitaker and Clint Eastwood/Letters From Iwo Jima wins.
A Scott Bowles/USA Today theory by way of Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger — Academy voters may be starting to get sick of the big winners thus far — doesn’t seem to actually apply except in the case of Forest Whitaker, last night’s Golden Globe Best Actor champ. The notion that IVenus contender Peter O’Toole‘s late surge could theoretically unseat him is given some weight. But Helen Mirren and Martin Scorsese (if you don’t know their categories by now…) are about as locked as they could possibly be.