In a N.Y. Times story today (5.22) about Michael Moore‘s Sicko, reporter Liza Klaussmann says that TWC honcho Harvey Weinstein, a supporter of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, “tried to persuade Moore to revise the film’s depiction of Mrs. Clinton.”
The story explains that “the early part of the film unrolls as a virtual love letter to Mrs. Clinton, chronicling her efforts as first lady to stage an overhaul of the health care system, but the tone changes as the film proceeds, lumping her among the members of Congress who, Sicko contends, are financially beholden to insurers.”
This more or less concurs with what Moore told Variety interview Peter Bart at an American Pavillion dialogue held yesterday. The story varies slightly in that Moore said Weinstein wanted him to excise the negative stuff about Clinton, but “he respects me as a filmmaker and wouldn’t do that.” Not turn on the full pressure, he meant. Here’s a recording of the chat.
A sloppy writer named Jolly Roger put up an Ain’t It Cool review last Sunday…Sunday!…of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. He basically called it “darker” in the way that the final Star Wars prequel triology was darker than the first two. If the first two Pirate pics “reeled you in as being fun and quirky with skeleton pirates, funny monkeys, waddling Jack, an Octupus man and sword fights,” he says, “this film throws most of those light and colorful perceptions out the window.”
“There has been a cultural shift in Hollywood where the size of a party doesn’t show how much you believe in a movie anymore. A party is not going to sell movie tickets.” — Rob Moore, Paramount worldwide marketing and distribution chief quoted in a N.Y. Times story by Laura M. Holson called “Hollywood Diet: Cutting Back on the Big Parties.”
There is an entire culture of Hollywood party vampires in Los Angeles, New York and — for the time being — Cannes who will definitely feel deflated after reading this story. I know lots and lots of them. They’re all great to chit-chat with, but they never seem to attend all that many screenings at film festivals. Their days are largely about getting up late, lunching at 1 or 2 pm, getting dressed and around 3 or 4 pm, warming up in the early evening and then…three guesses and the first two don’t count.
Free drinks, hors d’oeuvres and buffet dinners for this crowd are like warm virgin’s blood to Christopher Lee in The Horror of Dracula.
New Line Cinema held a press conference yesterday at the swanky Martinez hotel to promote The Golden Compass, a $180 million action- fantasy pic in the vein of….well, you know. It’s another attempt to deliver a heart-touching, visually-dazzling, all-ages family blockbuster, which is no crime. The director is Chris Weisz, and the costars are Daniel Craig (who showed up) and Nicole Kidman (who didn’t).
It’s a screen adaptation of Philip Pullman‘s novel, which is (what else?) the first book in a trilogy called ”His Dark Materials.” It’ll debut in early December. Here’s hoping it’s as good as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which I thought was quite good. I shouldn’t say more, having missed the three footage screenings that New Line presented…sorry.
I left before it was over, and on my way out noticed a certain New Line executive dozing in his back-row seat in the Martinez ballrooom. We’ve all been there, especially those who’ve just arrived from Los Angeles.
Young, Audrey Hepburn-ish style-to-burn lady, waiting in front of the Salle Debussy — Sunday, 5.20.07, 6:25 pm; Ethan Coen, Richard Corliss, Harlan Jacobson at Sunday’s No Country for Old Men press luncheon; last Friday’s Soho House medieval-castle soiree outside of town; L.A. Weekly critic Scott Foundas in the process of recycling press materials; snapped by formidable dp Svetlana Cvenko; dead pig; main staircase at the Grand Palais prior to an 8:30 am screening; ditto prior to an 8:30 am screening.
Forget Gus Van Sant‘s Paranoid Park, an unfocused, meandering and even dreary look at how a Portland skateboarding teenager (Gabe Nevins) doesn’t deal with his complicity in an impulsive accidental homicide. It’s another atmospheric immersion-into-an-exotic- youth-culture piece with a minimalist plot, but nowhere near as striking or stylistically distinguished as Van Sant’s Elephant and Last Days. I’m calling it his first not-very-good film since Gerry. I’m sorry to say this given the respect I have for Gus, but you can’t hit it out of the park every time.
Famed director Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist) caused a stir a day and a half or two days ago at the press conference for Chacun son Cinema, the anthology film comprised of 35 shorts by 35 distinguished directors.
The questions were on the banal side (which is not an altogether uncommon thing during this festival), and Polanski, irked by some especially lame inquiry, lost his temper and lashed out at either the questioner or, according to one version I heard, all the journalists in the room, calling them “losers” and whatnot. He then allegedly urged his fellow directors to leave the dais in a show of solidarity, which they declined to do.
Cut to this morning at the Grand Palais. Just prior to the showing of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Polanski’s short, “Cinema Erotique,” was shown, and a pair of journalists to my right and left — older guys — booed when his name came on the screen. I’m on Mr. Polanski’s side in this squabble. I’ve listened to hundreds upon hundreds of deadbeat questions at round tables and press conferences; I’m surprised that dierctors and celebrities don’t lash out more.
Julian Schnabel‘s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which screened for press at the 8:30 this morning, is a passable attempt to render a beautiful, inwardly-directed portrait about what is truly essential and replenishing in life. But the film is neither of these things, and is nowhere close in terms of poetic resonance and emotional impact to Schnabel’s Before Night Falls (’00). It’s sensitively realized and skillfully made, but it’s a movie about a state of nearly 100% confinement that itself too often feels confining.
Alfred Hitchcock attempted a similar-type experiment when he made Lifeboat, which takes place entirely aboard a lifeboat floating on the Atlantic, and yet he kept audiences involved all through it. Schnabel makes his tale as visually intriguing and ingenious as anyone could have, but he’s locked himself into tight a spot, I fear.
Variety columnist Anne Thompson recently wrote that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is “one of the hottest projects up for sale in Cannes” and that “a lot of distributors are chasing this one.” I don’t think this is the case any longer. The French-language Butterfly is opening in France right after the festival ends, but if I were an American buyer I would steer clear.
An adaptation of the late Jean-Dominique Bauby‘s memoir of the same name, it’s about how the self-satisfied, sophisticated Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) — an Elle editor with a wife three kids and a mistress — is left totally paralyzed after a massive stroke.
Bauby’s condition is called “locked-in syndrome,” which has left him unable to express himself except by blinking his left eye. A much more confining thing, in other words, than poor Chris Reeve‘s condition after breaking his neck
The book was written with the help of a transcriber who recited a frequency- ordered alphabet, waiting until Bauby blinked to indicate the correct letter. Each word reportedly took approximately two minutes to convey, and the book itself took about two hundred thousand blinks to write.
Like the book, Schnabel’s film chronicles Bauby’s sense of day-by-day, minute-by-minute imprisonment and how this condition paradoxically frees him from his previous obsessions and attentions. Schnabel clearly feels that Bauby become a richer, more spiritually fulfilled man after his misfortune, but he didn’t convince me of this. He seems to be saying that we all, in a sense, suffer from locked-in syndrome, and that we need to free our souls and imaginations and so on. That’s definitely a thought worth pondering, but I’d given this matter a lot of thought before sitting down this morning with Butterfly.
Bauby’s book was published on 3.6.97. It was well reviewed and sold 150,000 copies in the first week. But two days after the French version of the book was published, Bauby passed. I don’t think that was such a bad thing, frankly. I’m all for living and fighting until the last, but winking your way through an extremely restricted version of living tests the limits of this positivist philosophy.
The Death Proof press conference is going to happen at 12:30 pm — 45 minutes from now — and I’m thinking of blowing it off. What’s Quentin Tarantino going to say? “Sorry, but self-referential masturbatory cinema is what I do, and who I am. Every guilty, lowdown cinema-watching impulse that you, the audience, harbor within yourselves, I epitomize and celebrate and in fact have made a wild, rollicking career out of.
The press guide listing for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof press conference…
“My movies are about nothing from my own personal, deep-down self because I have no personal, deep-down self except for a love of ’70s and ’80s exploitation fringe cinema, exploitation-level actors and adrenalized Hong Kong action aesthetics, which makes me happy but obviously eludes people who aren’t on my elitist, beyond-hip wavelength. But I’m Mr. King Shit so what do I care?
“I am not about absorbing and translating and reconstituting real-life experience, but resuscitating stylistic imitations of life made by genre filmmakers of two and three decades ago. But hey, nobody does stylistic wank-offs better than me. No one has revived more moribund acting careers, and nobody writes trash- talk dialogue with quite the same zing. And I’m pretty damn good at shooting car chases.” (Which is true.)
…and the press conference listing in today’s daily bulletin. Notice the festival’s willingness to go along with Tarantino’s little joke and announce that director Andrei Zviaguintsev will be in attendance, and not himself.