This 10.19 Hollywood Reporter story about the title of Woody Allen‘s next film is, I’m sure, a mistake. Allen would never call anything Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Even for a film that described as a “love letter to Barcelona,” it’s just too awful sounding. Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem costar.
Is Toronto Star critic Peter Howell really sure that Quentin Tarantino is actually going to make Inglorious Bastards, a Dirty Dozen-ish World War II flick with Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, much less deliver it sometime in ’08? He’s been talking about making this film for years and years.
What he seems to do, mainly, is talk about (a) what he’s going to do, (b) what he’s done, or (c) what other filmmakers have done. I realize that every three or four years he gets around to making a film, but I don’t trust Tarantino to deliver a movie on any kind of set schedule at all. That said, it would be great to see Inglorious Bastards sometime in ’09 or ’10, which is probably when Tarantino will get around to it.
Dreams never seem as profound the next morning as they do when they’re running the show in your sleep, but I had a lulu of a dream last night that, if listened to and boldly acted upon, might lead to the resurrection of Wes Anderson‘s career with a single mad sweep of the brush and a sudden screech of tires.
DVD frame-capture from Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend
What Anderson needs to do more than anything else right now is to blow up “Andersonville,” that specially styled, ultra-hermetic world that his films and characters reside in. Being Wes, he naturally needs to do it with style. And the best way to do this, I’m convinced, is to make an arty black comedy about the world coming to an end on the rural two-lane blacktops, highways and freeways of America. Anderson, in short, needs to reimagine and then remake Jean-Luc Godard‘s Weekend.
The original 1967 film, an allegory about the breakdown of civilization illustrated by traffic jams, random violence and bloody car crashes, is regarded by some as Godard’s finest.
I saw shots from Anderson’s Weekend in the dream, and that carefully choreo- graphed, super-manicured visual quality he brings to each and every scene in his films would, I believe, work perfectly with a vision of death, anarchy and twisted metal on the road. The film was fully completed in the dream (I saw it in a small red screening room in Paris, sitting in a large velvet armchair), and it was great viewing.
As I watched Anderson’s camera track along the highway and gaze at the flaming SUVs and scooters and bodies of Bill Murray, Natalie Portman, Anjelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman lying every which way I knew I was seeing a kind of genius. I was awestruck. Only a madman would have made such a film in the wake of The Darjeeling Limited, and I was filled with respect for Anderson’s artistic courage.
I’m not saying Anderson’s Weekend would be commercial or even critically hailed. But after making such a film, Anderson would be free. He would no longer be the guy with the Dalmatian mice and the pet cobras and the velvet curtains and the characters lugging around specially-designed suitcases with all the Kinks and Rolling Stones and Nico songs on the soundtrack.
It is widely agreed by movie cognescenti that Anderson has allowed his films to be consumed by a deadpan mannerist attitude along with a certain style-and-design mania, which Esquire‘s David Walters believes has devolved from a signature into “schtick.” By making movies about “world-weary fellows” with money “who hurl non-sequiturs and charm with endearing peccadilloes and aberrant behavior” in a world-apart realm, he has painted himself into a corner.
Only a radical new turn can free Wes from his effete parlor passions. If not a Weekend remake then something equally nutso. He has to say to his audience (and himself), “To hell with this world I’ve made for myself. I am no longer the maestro of that tweedle-dee symphony. I am a new man on an untravelled path.”
Because of the failure last year of Terry Press‘s aggressive earlybird Dreamgirls push, “several studios are pulling back on the Oscar hype, according to Variety‘s Anne Thompson.
The late-in-the-game entries, of course, will include There Will Be Blood, Charlie Wilson’s War, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — Tim Burton doesn’t make Oscar faves — and The Great Debaters. (There are rumors, Thompson reports, that Debaters will “barely finish” in time for viewing).
I didn’t run this earlier, but despite that dug-in player insisting in a 10.8 posting that Wayne Kramer‘s Crossing Over might possibly be platform-released in December, this isn’t going to happen.
Despite Writers Guild members having authorized a strike to begin as early as 11.1, N.Y. Times guy Michael Cieply is reporting that “bargainers for both sides this week felt their way toward something missing from their stalled talks: the kind of unofficial conversations that [have] led to deals in the past.”
Times reporter Brooks Barnes, meanwhile, is re-stating the received wisdom that moviegoers “would not feel any immediate impact” from a strike “because studios work a year or more in advance and have been stockpiling scripts to shoot in case writers walk the picket line.”
There’s even an upside, Barnes reports, in that “some big franchise films, like the Transformers sequel, are likely to be delayed.” Good! Less suffering on my end, I mean. (Selfish as that sounds.) Sitting through the first hour of Transformers last summer was pure unmitigated hell. I was at Laser Blazer three or four days ago and they were showing the Transformers DVD on four or five monitors. The amplified voice of Optimus Prime was literally giving me indigestion.
Barnes add that “fans could suffer [from the strike] later on as films pushed earlier into production surface with poor results in 2009.”
Francis Coppola‘s Youth Without Youth, the legendary director’s first flick since The Rainmaker, showed before the public a few hours ago at the Rome Film Festival to “mixed reactions,” according to an AP/ Herald Tribune story just posted.
Bruno Ganz, Tim Roth in Francis Coppola‘s Youth Without Youth
Variety‘s Jay Weissberg, having posted his review at 11:32 Pacific time, says “not just fans of Francis Ford Coppola will be disappointed by the mishmash plotting and stilted script of Youth Without Youth, the masterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first helming effort in 10 years.
“Overly talky tale spans the mid-20th century, following an elderly professor whose miraculous return to youth offers the chance to complete his magnum opus and rediscover lost love. Attempting to harness multiple genres, pic is brought down by ponderous dialogue (much of it dubbed) and an inability to connect with its characters.”
At the festival’s press screening, Coppola reportedly “asked people to take their time and see it more than once,” the story says.
A 10.20 AP/Fox News story says Bill Maher helped security guys remove a shouter during last night’s taping of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, and that the incident went out live on the east coast and was repeated during the Pacific time zone feed. The tape obviously shows this, but also Maher shouting down two other hecklers. (All three were contending that the 9/11 WTC disaster was a controlled explosion.) Maher said that the experience made him, at that particular moment, want to vote for Rudy Giuliani.
Posted 14 months ago, this is one of the most emotionally satisfying payback scenes I’ve ever witnessed, and that includes the thousands of movies I’ve seen since I was three or four. I kept hoping this brave and valiant Bambi would try to finish the guy off by goring him in the neck with his antlers.
A younger married couple I know slightly used to drive a four-door sedan. Then she got pregnant, the baby came and before you knew it they were suddenly driving a big, black gas-guzzling SUV. They bought this fat humungous tank, of course, to fortify a sense of security for the baby’s sake. But I’ll bet anything it was the wife, the primary nest-tender and security freak in any relationship, who pushed for it.
Some guys will buy SUVs to compensate for having a small penis or to feel like an all-around tough guy, but sales are primarily driven, I believe, by “security moms”. Now when I see young mothers carrying babies around in those organic cotton slings I think, “There goes a global warming advocate, doing her small part to bring about the death of the planet in the name of baby love.”
Last Thursday’s tracking was correct in that 30 Days of Night, the Josh Hartnett vampire film, is the weekend’s #1 film with a projected $15,580,000. (A slightly brawnier $18 to $20 million was expected by handicappers.) Tyler Perry’s Why Did I get Married? dropped 44% for a second-place showing and an estimated $11,880,000. The Game Plan, a Middle American feel-good movie that refuses to go away, will earn $8,041,000 by Sunday night.
The fourth-place Michael Clayton (easily one of the best films now playing, along with Things We Lost in the Fire and Gone Baby Gone) will do about $7,419, 000 — off 32% from last weekend. Gone Baby Gone will be fifth with $5,897,000…no action. The Comebacks (which you have to be a real moron to want to see, given Joe Leydon‘s Variety review) will be sixth with $5,769,000.
We Own The Night will be seventh with $5,728,000. The 3D reissue of Tim Burton‘s A Nightmare Before Christmas will take in $5,549,000 for an eighth-place showing. Gavin Hood‘s Rendition is a complete wipeout with a projected $4,118,000 for the weekend in 2250 theatres. The Heartbreak Kid will do about $4,006,000 — this will put it at $32 million currently and a projected $40 million gross all in.
Things We Lost in the Fire, which contains Benicio del Toro‘s finest performance ever and one of the greatest performances of the 21st Century, is looking at a projected $1,519,000 for the weekend in 1142 theatres, or $1300 a print. (If the dogs won’t eat the dog food you can’t stop them.) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a corpse — projected earnings of $572,000 or $1900 per theatre. Terry George‘s Reservation Road will take in $2900 a print in 13 theatres.
And Anton Corbijn‘s Control is expected to take in $36,000 this weekend in two theatres (Film Forum and Nuart).
An 11.17 Hollywood Reporter piece by Gail Schiller went up yesterday about the blanket refusal of most American moviegoers to patronize any film vaguely related to 9/11 or the Middle East conflict. Even a first-rate whodunit procedural like In The Valley of Elah, highlighted by superb performances and set entirely in Tennessee and New Mexico….even that got the bum’s rush.
Will audiences regard Grace is Gone (Weinstein Co., 12.5) as a sand movie in sheep’s clothing?
The “leave us aloners” (no sand, no dark-eyed characters of any Middle Eastern heritage…we just want to be entertained) are, of course, the same group who wouldn’t see United 93 (i.e., the “too sooners”) last year.
“One of the biggest challenges beyond the topicality of these different [Middle East] movies is their sheer number,” New Line marketing chief Chris Carlisle told Schiller. “It becomes a muddle for the consumer.”
That’s a polite way of putting it. Allow me to put it more bluntly. To a one-track mind looking to avoid even a hint of darkness or complexity, a folded newspaper is a muddle. 90% of the American moviegoing public goes to movies in order to find a cinematic quaalude — a film that will give them a kind of fluttery high and make them go “aaah.” If a movie seems to be offering anything other than some form of positive primal experience (i.e., something that offers big laughs or thrills or which affirms basic yearnings or values), it’s got problems.
“Rendition is very different,” Carlisle explains. “Despite its Middle East backdrop, it doesn’t take place in Iraq. We played up our cast and the thriller aspects of the story line. This film is an engaging, entertaining and emotional story, and that’s where we focused our campaign.” Forget it, Chris. The “leave us aloners” are like deer in the forest picking up the scent of humans in hunting jackets. They can smell a terrorist flick a mile away, and they don’t want to know from distinctions.
We are smack dab in the Age of the Mass-Market Ostrich.
Brian De Palma‘s Redacted (Magnolia, 11.16) is facing a double whammy — it’s a sand movie with some of the most amateurishly awful performances in the history of commercial cinema.
Will the “leave us aloners” blow off the Weinstein Co.’s Grace is Gone also? Do deer tend to hightail it when they hear the crack of twigs 500 yards off? This is a touching Middle American family drama about dealing with grief, plain and simple. It uses spare brushstrokes to tell a spare story. The great John Cusack plays a Bush-supporting dad who finds it next to impossible to tell his two daughters that their soldier mother has been killed in Iraq. The Weinsteiners moved the release date from 10.5 to 12.7, hoping this might make a difference.
“Any time you deal with the current war situation anywhere in the Middle East, you risk U.S. audiences just glazing over,” Picturehouse president Bob Berney told Schiller. “They look at movies as an escape and they want to be entertained.”