“I told him he was crazy. I said, ‘You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George.’ You can say things like that to George and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.” Hats off to Frank Darabont for saying this to George Lucas after the legendary Star Wars creator threw out Darabont’s Indiana Jones 4 script. (Cheers also to Darabont for telling MTV.com that he said this.)
“As I travel around, I have never seen a president and a vice president more disliked in more places than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The Bush-Cheney team, by its own hand, has undermined its ability to talk about American principles in a way that foreigners will take seriously. They have moral clarity and no moral authority. Foreigners just have to say ‘Abu Ghraib’ or ‘Guant√É∆í√Ç¬°namo’ and that ends the discussion. It also lets the foreigners off the hook.
“I think Barack Obama has the potential to force a new discussion. For now at least, he has a certain moral authority because of his life story, which makes him harder to dismiss. And while he is a good talker, he strikes me as an even better listener. [And] it seems to me that the strongest case one could make for an Obama presidency right now is rarely articulated: it is his potential to repair the broken relationship between America and the world.
“I believe that what has propelled Obama’s candidacy up to now — more than anything — is that many Americans have projected onto him their hunger for community, their hunger for a president with the voice, instincts and moral authority to make it so much harder for foreigners to be anti-American or for Americans to be anti-one-another.” — N.Y. Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman in today’s [4.18] edition.
I’m working on a Knocked Up response piece as I speak, but it needs to be acknowledged that Seth Rogen is a star. He’s witty and affable with a cool-sounding gravelly voice, he’s a brilliant writer, and he projects an agreeable bullshit-free, smart-stoner persona that goes over gangbusters with men and fairly well with women because they find him puppy-dog cute. He’s pretty much the new John Belushi — just as wily and overfed, but a little more easy-going and a little less manic and over-the-top. But definitely a guy’s guy and funny as hell.
I’m especially keen to see Rogen in The Pineapple Express, a David Gordon Green movie that’s now shooting, from a script by Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It’s about a couple of stoners who get mixed up with a malevolent drug gang, and with Green calling the shots you have to figure it’ll be a bit more dramatic than funny, or certainly a mixture of the two.
But my God, Rogen needs to tighten up and lay off the cheeseburgers and the cheese fajitas. He’s only 25 and he looks 35, easily. (Apatow shares this exact observation via some girl dialogue in Knocked Up.) Rogen doesn’t have to turn himself into Orlando Bloom, but if you’re this roly-poly at age 25 you’re heading for trouble. The way Rogen’s going he’ll be a super-moose by the time he’s 30 and will almost certainly be coping with health issues ten years later. Does he want to be Chris Farley or John Candy?
I’ll always have a black spot in my heart for the first half of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but no more bashing Apatow — he’s done pretty well with this film and deserves respect. Knocked Up stil has that basic believability problem that I mentioned a few weeks ago, and it ignores money issues like the plague, but Apatow has made a 132-minute comedy that just breezes right along and feels like 100 minutes or less. It’s an entirely decent, good-hearted, sometimes very funny movie.
Variety‘s Allison James has finally run a Cannes 2007 advance-buzz piece, and her big lead-graph prediction is that Wong Kar Wai‘s My Blueberry Nights will play the opening-night slot. That’s it? Everyone’s been saying that, and the Cineuropa guys predicted that one over two weeks ago.
If Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men doesn’t play at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, and thus deny Coen-heads the first peek at Javier Bardem’s performance as Chigurh, the ogre-ish hit man, a lot of people will be bitterly disappointed.
The official Cannes festival lineup will be released sometime tomorrow morning in Paris (i.e., Thursday), which will be an hour or two after midnight in Los Angeles tonight. If anyone in the loop wants to shoot me an early blast…
Hollywood Elsewhere is fully expecting to hear that the following English- language titles are in: Todd Haynes‘ I’m Not There, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood, Joel and Ethan Coen‘s No Country for Old Men and Michael Winterbottom‘s A Mighty Heart (i.e., his Daniel Pearl movie). I’m also nurturing this out-of-nowhere notion that Alan Ball‘s Nothing Is Private will be shown. A lot of us would also like to see Michael Moore‘s Sicko and Woody Allen‘s Cassandra’s Dreams.
I’m giving fair warning right now there will be dismay and disappointment if most of the films in the previous graph aren’t announced. I want the Coen, Haynes and Anderson films to show up, at the very least.
Yesterday’s Cineuropa column says that U.S. films which have apparently secured a competition slot include Gus Van Sant‘s Paranoid Park (old news), David Fincher‘s Zodiac (possibly being rescued from the dreaded closing-night berth?) and James Gray‘s We Own the Night, which costars Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix.
James is reporting that Persepolis, a graphic novel-styled animated feature that was press-luncheoned last year by Sony Classics, is getting a berth of some kind, and that Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face may be chosen in the Director’s Fortnight section.
Other promising possibles, she’s suggesting, are Hector Babenco‘s El Pasado, Carlos Reygadas‘ Silent Light (another early Cineuropa pick), Bela Tarr’s L’homme de Londres and Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
A friend claims that the Cineuropa speculators are to be regarded askance. They “emphatically stated that Coppola’s film [i.e., Youth Without Youth] was going, though that’s impossible,” he cautions.
La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard at last night’s screening of Olivier Dahan‘s impassioned biopic at the DGA building (where it was shown as part of the City of Light-City of Angels Film Festival). There was an onstage q & a session after the screening with director Penelope Spheeris (l.) interviewing Dahan (center), Cotillard and producer Alain Goldman (far right). Here’s a recording of a brief interview I did with Cotillard yesterday afternoon at the Four Seasons hotel, and here’s a recording of a portion of the q & a session at the DGA.
It’s not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hearing that a deal for Warren Beatty to portray Richard Nixon in Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon is nearly compete, and they he’ll costar with Michael Sheen (The Queen) as Frost. A guy with some perspective on Beatty’s dealings says “naaah, that’s not gonna happen” so maybe not. And yet people close to the situation are saying it’s pretty much Beatty so let’s see how it pans out.
Richard Nixon (l.); Warren Beatty as Bulworth (r.)
I’m told by another source that Howard offered the Nixon role to Beatty two months ago. This same source tells me that Oliver Stone was interested in Beatty playing the same U.S. President in Nixon before settling on Anthony Hopkins.
If the Beatty-Nixon-Howard things turns out to be true, this has to be one of the most bizarre casting calls I’ve ever heard of. Surreal almost. Beatty is not a chameleon-type actor. His Bugsy showed that he’s pretty good as a swaggering sociopath, but I really don’t see him getting under the skin of a conflicted and constipated hollow man who once described himself in a letter to his mother as “good dog Richard.”
Nixon was the antithesis of smooth and affable — capable of being “friendly” but burdened with a dark-cloud soul and physically ungraceful. Beatty’s lack of physical resemblance to Nixon can be mitigated to some extent with makeup and prosthetics, but Beatty has never distinguished himself as a voice impersonator, and his pipes are definitely higher-pitched than Nixon’s ever were. It just seems weird.
I guess the thinking is that Beatty is bigger box-office than Frank Langella, who currently playing Nixon in previews of Frost/Nixon on the B’way stage. I haven’t seen Langella in the role but he was praised to the heavens when he played Nixon on the London stage. I guess the thinking is that if Hopkins can play Nixon without looking the least bit like him, Beatty can do it for Ron Howard. I suspect that the reaction around town is going to be fairly negative and that Howard may have second thoughts.
A tape of President George Bush thanking the National Rifle Association “for your work to make America safer” was shown to over 3000 NRA members at a gathering in St. Louis last Saturday night, or roughly 40 hours before Monday’s Virginia Tech shooting tragedy. The playing of the Bush tape is reported in this 4.15.07 St. Lous Post-Dispatch story by Aisha Sultan. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was the guest speaker at the NRA convention, which was held at St. Louis’s Edward Jones Dome.
Nikki Finke is reporting that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Disney, 5.25) (a) hasn’t yet wrapped its CGI work, (b) has so far cost more than $300 million, and (c) it “is said to be at least as long as Pirates 2…and [is] probably longer “because director Gore Verbinski had to tie up all the stories and wanted to use as much footage as he could,” an insider told Finke.
That’s just one “insider,” of course, and very possibly one with an axe to grind against Verbinski, but has there ever been a serious-minded director (i.e., one with any sense of self-discipline and a corresponding respect for the audience) in Hollywood history who decided to “use as much footage as he could”?
Finke adds that “internet rumors” are saying that POTC: AWE is clocking in at 2 hours, 45 minutes. Actually, that unsubstantiated FilmJerk posting said 170 minutes, or 2 hours and 50 minutes.
That Cinema Blend rumor about Tom Hanks agreeing to play Professor Robert Langdon again in Angels & Demons is correct; ditto that Hanks is getting paid a whopping salary. But filming on Angels & Demons won’t be starting in July, as the Blend story suggested, because Ron Howard‘s film version of Frost/Nixon, based on the acclaimed play by Peter Morgan, will absolutely begin shooting in August (i.e., four months hence) and be in theatres by the early fall of ’08.
This is rock-solid fact. No maybe-ass cocktail chatter. Take it to the bank.
Angels and Demons, meanwhile, will roll film in February ’08 and be in theatres by sometime in December of that year. Obviously the next eighteen months will be quite a time for Howard, shooting two films back-to-back and releasing them within three or four months of each other. A smart film for people of taste and refinement that will presumably make a profit, and a less-sophisticated film for people who read airport fiction that will make hundreds of millions.
Howard is doing Frost/Nixon being he loves the play, but I’ll bet he also sees it as a karma balancer and a creative-image counterweight. The pundits and critics would kill him if he were going to confine himself to just making Angels and Demons, a sequel to the profitable but widely despised The Da Vinci Code. His producing and directing a film version of a highly respected play like Frost/Nixon will dissuade media types from bringing up past grudges. Now they’ll say, “Aaaah, give him a pass.”
Frost/Nixon focuses on the backstage machinations behind the legendary series of interviews that British TV personality David Frost did with ex-President Richard Nixon in ’75. Frank Langella played Nixon during the plays’s London run and is reprising that role in the the soon-to-open B’way version. Michael Sheen — Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen — played Frost in London and costars in the New York presentation.
Howard has surely decided who to cast in Frost/Nixon but “no firm offers” have been sent along to anyone’s agent thus far. (I’ve been told that Sheen will almost certainly get the Frost part, but I wonder if Howard, who likes to work with big movie stars, will use Langella.
A witness to the mayhem at Virginia Tech yesterday was hiding with others in a room behind some kind of locked or barricaded door, according to one news story I read, and he said that the gunman tried to push his way in and couldn’t, and (according to one news report) that he then tried to shoot his way in — two or three rounds were fired at the door handle or lock mechanism — but couldn’t.
That, I said to myself, is something that screenwriters of Hollywood action thrillers and horror films have never depicted, and in fact have chosen never to depict. The psychopathic Hollywood killer is always omnipotent, and can never be stopped from killing his victims by a locked or barricaded door…not ever. He always knows where the would-be victim is hiding, he’s always a step or two ahead of the game, and he’s always waiting for the would-be victim in any hiding place and ready to go “boo.”
This is what is ineffective — inept — about too many Hollywood thrillers. They don’t respect reality and the fact that sometimes a simple locked door saves your life. Not very exciting, perhaps, but do you think the people who were shuddering and praying to God behind that locked door yesterday were bored as Cho Seung-Hui tried to shoot his way in?