A nicely written, Darjeeling-propelled profile of…well, I’m not sure. It seems to be mainly about Owen Wilson at first, but it’s also called “The Wonder Boys” so obviouslyWes Anderson is meant to be equally favored. Writer John Seabrook has a smooth, fair-minded way of putting things. I prefer the title of the excerpt version running on MSNBC.com — “The Story of O.” (Which is solely about Wilson.) And why doesn’t the Men’s Vogue site provide heavy, quality-sized files of the Annie Leibowitz photos so they don’t look all pixelly and degraded?
Peter Berg‘s The Kingdom “is basically (and disappointingly) a straight-up police procedural/action movie,” says Newsweek‘s David Ansen, “in which a team of FBI agents, champing at the bit to apprehend the killers but hamstrung at every turn by local and international protocol, secretly fly [to Ryadh] from Washington in a race against the clock to stop terrorists” from doing their usual-usual. “As a genre movie, The Kingdom delivers atmosphere, heroic American derring-do and some decent thrills,” but the way to best enjoy it is to “see it as a popcorn cross of The A Team and Alias.”
Fox Home Entertainment’s Steve Feldstein told N.Y. Post critic/blogger Lou Lumenick that “logistical issues” have forced the cancellation of next Monday’s New York Film Festival showing of a restored version of John Ford‘s The Iron Horse (1924). Six days before the showing? The film was scheduled to play at the Venice Film Festival, and this did apparently happen. I called or left messages for FHE publicity, Fox restoration chief Schawn Belston, a Film Society of Lincoln Center publicity rep and two or three restoration specialists for a fuller explanation, and you know the rest.
9.25 Update: Lumenick wrote in hs N.Y. Post blog his morning that he’s “getting the distinct impression” that the reason for the screening’s cancellation “involve[s] the live orchestral accompaniment for Ford’s 1924 silent film, not an easy thing to coordinate.” Lincoln Center Film Society p.r.rep Jeanne Berney still hadn’t gotten back as of 8:30 this morning (11:30 NYC time).
Having read this morning’s riff about my difficulty with the idea of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull beng based “on some creative-bedrock level” upon a ride at Tokyo’s DisneySea theme park, the pic’s screenwriter David Koepp wrote a little while ago to emphasize that Indy 4 “is not based on a theme park ride. Never heard of the ride, never went on the ride, nobody ever talked about the ride.
“Which is not to say that if the ride had swell ideas in it, we wouldn’t have been above pilfering them and smacking them down in a movie, but we didn’t. So don’t call us diseased. We thought up our own story. You still might think it sucks in the end, but at least it’ll be original suckage.”
Just to be clear — I wasn’t presuming that the Crystal Skull screenplay is literally based on the ride, but that it appears, as I put it, to be some kind of “conceptual outgrowth” in the same way that the Pirates of the Caribbean films started out as a theme-park ride.
If Keifer Sutherland winds up doing time for his second DUI conviction (the first was in ’04), then c’est la vie. He could do as much as 60 days, according to a DUI lawyer quoted by People‘s Ken Lee. Jail time is good for the soul. I did two days in L.A. County for unpaid traffic tickets when I was in my 20s, and I came out a better man. (I think.) I at least came out with a newfound affection for the simple joys of being free.
The odious aspect is the way it always takes hours to get sprung after a bust. Sutherland, 40, was popped last night at 1 a.m. after making an illegal U-turn and failing a sobriety test. The cops were probably processing him at the LAPD Hollywood station by 2 a.m., if not sooner. But he wasn’t bailed out until 5:43 a.m., meaning he had to sit in a lit cell for three and a half hours, and probably with no sleep.
Sutherland must have called his attorney (or a friend) when he got there, so why the long wait? Either the cops took their sweet-ass time with the processing (which they often do) or his lawyer was unreachable or asleep. If I were Sutherland I would can that lawyer so fast his head would still be spinning right now.
You’re always reminded who your real friends are when you’ve been pinched. A director-screenwriter went through a similar situation several years ago and he called his agent, who happened to be ICM honcho Jeff Berg. Berg came right down at 1:30 in the morning and bailed him out. Good man.
The Reeler‘s Stu Van Airsdale asks N.Y. Film Festival director Richard Pena to respond to the A.O. Scott rap that the festival “isn’t programmed as much as it is curated,” which, Van Airsdale says, “implies a more abstract, individual mission than institutional mandate.”
Pena replies as follows: “I think of ‘curated’ more in the sense that it gives people the sense of having been carefully selected. And it is. Basically, we have a lot of films to look at, and we have a very small number of slots. We know there’s a point where we have to say, ‘No — we can’t just keep adding on one more film.’ That requires us to make choices.
“Because of that, hopefully the public really feels that this is a festival that is carefully selected. They might disagree violently with our selections, but they feel like somebody has selected these films — that somebody has said, ‘This film and not that film.’ I think that’s a good thing. I think our silent relationship with the public is really important that way. The public expects that we’re an honest festival — that no one can force their way into the New York Film Festival.”
Which raises an interesting question: which major film festivals are most commonly regarded as being subject to political manipulation and are therefore susceptible to this or that producer trying to force their way in? Frankly, I can’t think of a single festival — the New York Film Festival included — that doesn’t grapple with and occasionally give way to (or at least accomodate) political agendas.
Is Pena saying that entrenched relationships, emotional attachments and occasional offerings of olive-branch favoritism aren’t part of the selection process? I’m not sure Pena is in fact making this claim, but if he is then I have to say with due respect, “Bullshit.”
I laughed at Tilda Swinton‘s line, given to New York‘s Bennett Marcus at last night’s Michael Clayton premiere at the Zeigfeld, that costar George Clooney‘s “very existence is an entire joke on humanity.” Then four or five seconds later I said to myself, “Wait… what?” Forget it. Jokes die when you break them down and send them to study groups.
Those devil horns and that crooked arrow strongly suggest that the ghost of legendary art director Saul Bass created the new one-sheet of ThinkFilm’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. The arrow appears to have been borrowed verbatim from the bent-forearm concept in Bass’s poster for Otto Preminger‘s The Man With The Golden Arm, and what a splendid idea it was.
You need to click on the larger version of ThinkFilm’s poster to read the slogan: “No one was supposed to get hurt.”
Nobody seems to use this kind of high-concept key art in movie posters these days. Congratulations to ThinkFilm honcho Mark Urman for getting creative as well as paying tribute. 1:52 pm update: Urman just told me he went to Devil director Sidney Lumet and said “I want something Saul Bass-y…something simple and strong with lots of room for review quotes in newspaper ads. Sidney agreed and we had the L.A.-based ad agency Cold Open do the renderings.”
I don’t want to get too referenced, but the shape of the letters forming the title of the Lumet film are vaguely similar to the letters in Bass’s poster for Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse. This next one is a stretch, but it also recalls a title design created for a not-very-good 1961 action drama with Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra called The Devil at 4 O’Clock. [Thanks to HE’s “Burma Shave” for pointing out the Devil art.]
key art from Saul Bass poster for The Man With the Golden Arm; title design for The Devil at 4 O’Clock
In a just-up posting on the Filmmaker site, Nick Dawson speaks to Andrew Dominik, director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which Dominik describes as ” a big beast of a film.” He epxlains that “there’s all kinds of westerns. Revisionist westerns, acid westerns, Nicholas Ray-type neurotic westerns, John Ford westerns, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. We thought of it more like that kind of a movie, like Pat Garrett. [It’s a] western as a Greek curse.”
Barry Lyndon was also a big influence, Dominik says.
“It’s been a weird rollercoaster ride because last week we got a batch of reviews that came in,” he comments. “One was Andrew Sarris saying it was a masterpiece, and then we had People magazine saying the same thing. We thought, ‘Fuck, this is going to be great! We’ve got highbrow and lowbrow!’ (Hear that, Leah Rosen? You’re not writing for the intellectual elite.) “And it really looked good. And then the New York Times and L.A. Times came out and just slated it.
“So it’s been really interesting, because I think the critical response to the movie has been really polarized. It’s not universally liked, not by any stretch of the imagination, and those that dislike it really don’t like it! [laughs] So I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. I remember when Raging Bull came out, the Variety review was warning exhibitors not to book the picture, so when the Variety review for us came out and it was really good, part of me was like, ‘Fuck, maybe I’ve done something wrong…’
“But when do films really shake out, when do we really know if they’re important or not? It’s probably not in their initial release. But by the same token, the first time I saw Raging Bull, I knew it was one of the great, great films and I felt the same way about Barry Lyndon, which I saw when I was 12. I thought it was really strange and slow and so unusual, but it affected me hugely. But I think the critical weighing in on it has only come together very recently.
“I even went and saw a screening of it at the end of last year at the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences] here [in L.A.], and my feeling sitting there in the theater was that most people were sitting there feeling like it was good for them to be there.”
For fifteen years and counting, the spiritual dead weight around the neck of the Indiana Jones franchise has been producer George Lucas. The lameness of Lucas’s creative vision was made abundantly clear by the Stars Wars prequels — no argument, a settled issue. It’s also commonly known that Lucas was the principal naysayer in turning down idea after idea and script after script for the fourth Indy film — a process that tore through the entire eight years of the Bill Clinton administration and two-thirds of the reign of George W. Bush.
But it bears repeating once more that the script Lucas finally signed off on, a Steven Spielberg idea crafted and polished by David Koepp called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is on some creative-bedrock level based upon a theme park ride. The ride, an attraction at Tokyo’s DisneySea theme park, is called “Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull.”
I’m sorry but it just seems diseased — I was going to say “debased” but I held back — that after going through a passel of seasoned writers (Jeffrey Boam, M. Night Shyamalan, Jeff Nathanson, Frank Darabont plus two reported consultations with Tom Stoppard and Stephen Gaghan) for fifteen years, the script they finally decided upon is a conceptual outgrowth of a theme-park ride. A story drawn from the same kind of opportunistic well, in other words, as the Pirates of the Caribbean films. How can any semblance of thunder and wonder come out of something like this?
I’m trying to stifle my crabby attitude about this thing. For years I’ve regarded Koepp as a crafty, above-average writer, and I’m sure he’s given the script hell. I loved the wit-humor in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Spielberg’s brilliant choreographing of some of the action scenes (the River Pheonix opener on the train, the Venice speedboat sequence, the big Nazi castle, the dirigible scene). But I can’t shake this mantra out of my head: Lucas, theme-park ride…Lucas, theme-park ride….Lucas, theme-park ride.
After thinking this through the legend of Tyler Nelson, the hapless jerk who killed his acting career by spilling some Indy 4 plot points to his hometown newspaper in Oklahoma, the Edmond Sun, seems a tad less shameful.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, currently filming under Lucas and director Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford, Shia Lebouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and Karen Allen, will open on 5.22.08.