I spilled the beans about Kris Tapley‘s Oscar-season Variety blog last Sunday, but Variety editors needed two days of contract-affirming, conference-calling and lotus-position meditation before officially confirming it last night. The blog will be called Red Carpet District. The story says Tapley will continue to tap out In Contention stuff also….really? With a lot less fervor and regularity, I would think.
Click on this Dylan online promo (i.e., intended to persuade you to buy the Dylan Collector’s Edition CD that came out yesterday) — it lets you type your own thoughts onto the flash cards. I just did it myself — the Hollywood Elsewhere philosophy of hourly composition and soul-baring.
Russell Crowe has written a letter to Moving Picture Blog’s Joe Leydon correcting a passage in his Cowboys and Indians profile of the actor that referred to “the 100-acre spread [Crowe] maintains five hours from Sydney, along the coastal flats of New South Wales, where he raises Brangus cattle.”
Not quite, Leydon is embarrassed to admit. “My property,” Crowe wrote, “is now 1360 acres in the main block — with 180 acres of grain land down the river one way and 360 acres of finishing land down the valley the other way.
“[And] we aren’t what you would call coastal flats, being some 18 to 20 miles inland from the ocean at about 109′ above sea level.
“Over time what we do on the farm has been refined. We now run a herd of 500 breeders and bulls, having gone into straight Angus about five years ago. We haven’t achieved full certification yet but we follow an organic regime. This month we are turning off about 250kg of restaurant cuts. It’s not a lot, but it’s all hand raised, home range 150 day grain-fed or true home-range beef, and it tastes great.”
Crowe not only sounds like an intelligent, well-informed rancher who knows his stuff and cares about doing things right. He’s also an eloquent writer. Seriously — I love the way he says “down the river one way” and then “down the valley the other way.” He could have gotten all anal and written “east” or “southeast” and broken it all down by the square acre, but he said it like someone who knows what he knows and that’s that. Not pretentious in the manner of some city slicker trying to sound like he’s not that, but plain and true in a Cormac McCarthy vein.
I love it when hard-working guys talk this way. How far’s the wagon train? “I’d say it’s nearer than further.” How far’s the diner? “It’s down the road a piece.” Where do the Griner brothers live? “They live over that way.”
Rich 60-ish men huffing and puffing about power and territoriality is boring, but Paramount has given the DreamWorks trio an olive branch — a DreamWorks-Paramount label called DW/Par, which doesn’t sound as good as Dreamamount — in order to keep Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg from abandoning their Paramount deal over resentment that they haven’t been given sufficient credit for generating a string of B.O. successes this year, blah, blah. The new label is is a symbol of Paramount’s resolve to correct that oversight.
Jim Sheridan told me that Natalie Portman is playing the wife in Brothers, his remake of Susanne Bier’s Danish-language ’04 film, when I ran into him last Saturday at a CVS pharmacy in West Hollywood, and I ran the news the following day (Sun.). But it became a repeatable, quotable story only when Variety‘s Tatiana Siegel posts her story about same at 8 pm last night. Uh-huh.
Update: A hard drive with over 2,000 images from still photographer David James‘ work from the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was recently stolen and offered for sale to news outlets, but IESB’s Robert Sanchez reported last night that “the alleged thief was apprehended [yesterday afternoon] at the Standard — the still-happening Sunset Strip hotel that caters to an under-40 clientele — around 4:00pm PST.
“The thief was apprehended by LAPD and the FBI with the help of a member of the online press that had been offered the stolen property. An undercover sting operation was set in motion Monday night with the help of the unnamed member of the online press.”
A Paramount publicist told me yesterday that the actual number of stolen stills was closer to 2500.
The guy who first told me abouit this yesterday said that “the thieves are apparently trying to sell the stolen photos to various websites and other outlets.” He knew this, he said, “because a friend of mine sent me some of the sample photos the thieves were trying to sell him (which are pretty great…Cate Blanchett in full villain mode and Indy cracking the whip).”
Sometimes you can just smell the readiness in a critic or a columnist to take a film down. They can’t do this, of course, unless the film “cooperates” — i.e., is at least a little bit bad — but you can always sense an itchy trigger finger. Good critics and columnists always try to be receptive to whatever moves and grooves a movie has to offer, but you can always tell when they’ve strapped on their belts and are twirling their pistols and waiting, just waiting. Ask any publicist.
A professional always keeps ’em holstered unless there’s no choice, but there’s something in human nature that can’t help savoring the action before it happens, and I mean “if” and “when.”
I knew for a fact that several Crash and Paul Haggis haters out there were ready to draw on In The Valley of Elah last summer, and the obliging Haggis gave them just enough reason to pull (i.e., the flag at the end, the Annie Lennox song) and they all opened up.
I’ll admit I’ve been looking to draw on Tim Burton‘s Sweeney Todd, in part because I’ve been down on Burton for years and partly because David Poland said five or six months ago that Johnny Deep was a preemptive Best Actor contender, but Stephen Sondheim changed all that when he told Roger Friedman that the film is relatively short and that “it’s not the stage musical.” Now, who knows?
And when you read Jeremy Smith‘s 10.2.07 CHUD piece you can just tell that he and Poland are out there on Boot Hill’s Main Street, kicking at the dust and ready to pull if provoked. They can taste the action like like a hungry suburbanite can taste the burgers sizzling on the grill at a backyard barbecue.
Why anyone would be out to get Paul Thomas Anderson is beyond me. And of course, Smith and Poland may both say I’m full of shit and that they have no such notion. But talk to any filmmaker who knows the lay of the land, and they’ll tell you exactly which critics have always been out to get them. A lot of directors have said this to me over the years, and they’re not all crazy. Directors don’t get to be directors without knowing something about human nature.
“I know you don’t delve into music too much, but if you’re at all interested, you should check out the Bruce Springsteen album that comes out today, Magic. It relates a little bit to what you’ve been talking about regarding the Iraq-oriented films. He has made an album that at first obliquely and, at the very end, overtly gets into the tragedy of the war and the deception behind it (which even the title alludes to).
“And he’s done it in the form of his first record with the E Street Band that sounds like the most classic E Street Band album since Born in the USA 23 years ago.
“In other words, he’s candy-coated a bitter pill that speaks to the truth of America today — brilliantly, uncompromisingly, and entertainingly. It’s the best album I’ve heard in at least a decade, and I think it takes about a dozen listens (I’m probably on about my 50th) to really realize what he’s achieved. Now, if someone could figure out a way to make a film that pulled off that same balance.” — from Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Willman.
Ju-osh wrote yesterday about how he and his girlfriend “watched Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fountain the other night, and we both liked it a lot. But we agreed that the ‘optimal’ (for lack of a better word) time to see this film would be in the days/weeks following the death of a loved one. In that fragile, often illogical, emotional state, the Rorschach-ish imagery and dialogue would mean that much more, and possibly do quite a bit to help provide some glimmer of hope to the bereaved.
“What I was hoping was, would you consider asking your readers to list other movies that they would recommend to someone dealing with a recent death? Having a list like this available in advance would be a hell of a lot easier than having to ask for one when the need is actually there.”
This is going to seem pat or shallow, but the movies people want to see after someone close had died are ones that persuade you that life on planet Earth is just a passage and that other realms and wonders await. Warren Beatty and Buck Henry‘s Heaven Can Wait is a very good film in this respect because it’s all about order, rules, continuance and reincarnation. Worlds without end.
When Julie Christie‘s face slightly stiffens as she’s speaking to Beatty’s “Tom Jarret” on the L.A. Coliseum playing field and she goes, “You’re the quarterback,” every childhood notion you’ve ever considered about fate, rebirth and destiny just uncorks and washes all through.
I always told my kids that right after you die you become a baby again, only you don’t remember the life you’ve just left. If only it were so.
A reporter from Investors Business Daily who’s been assigned to write a profile piece on Sydney Poitier asked this morning for a quote. I thought about it for five seconds and tapped this out: “Starting in the mid to late ’60s with the advent of political militancy among African Americans, Sidney Poitier began to be dissed in certain circles as a kind of house nigger. His offense was having handsomely profited from playing black guys that white audiences were comfortable with at the time, guys who were handsome, dignified and totally unthreatening.
“But look at those performances today — the ones in The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Pressure Point, To Sir With Love, In The Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner — and they’re all convincing and solid and clear and centered. Poitier is an excellent actor, and I have to say I was very touched when he had his moment at the Oscars two or three years ago. Touched because I knew he deserved the applause, and because I realized at that moment that he’s one of the ultimate Men of Dignity.”
But then the reporter didn’t get back with a thanks or no thanks or anything, so I figured I’d just run it myself.
“I know you have issues with Christianity,” a reader wrote this morning, “but given your admiration for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, I thought you might be interested in this appraisal by Catholic critic (and screenwriting-workshop coach) Barbara Nicolosi, who greatly admires it.”
Roman citizens enjoying the show in Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Sign of the Cross
I don’t have issues with Christianity. I have issues with right-wing Christians, particularly the kind focused on in Tony Kaye‘s abortion documentary Lake of Fire. The Romans may not have thrown Christians to the lions in ancient times (as famously depicted in Cecil B. DeMIlle‘s Sign of the Cross and Chester Erskine‘s Androcles and the Lion) and if they did do this it was terribly wrong. People should be free to worship freely, and having your throat torn open by a lion with bad breath is a ghastly way to die.
That said, I think I partly understand why the Romans were so motivated.