Why isn’t Paramount Vantage releasing There Will Be Blood photos of this quality online? I’m able to show this one by having taken a snap of a high-gloss invitation to a special mid-November Blood screening that arrived in today’s mail. It’s my absolute favorite image from the film.
This poster certainly does capture Tamara Jenkins‘ The Savages. Not much indication of any pulse-quickening plot elements, a fall-winter vibe, middle-aged brother and sister (Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman) in repose, white-haired dad (Philip Bosco) sitting on the park bench in diapers. It’s a mildly affecting, smartly written, somewhat doleful drama…but don’t let that stop you. Fox Searchlight will release it limited on 11.28.07.
With Todd McCarthy having blown all restraint and prior agreements to hell with with his early-bird review, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley and Thompson on Hollywood‘s Anne Thompson have posted reactions to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood.
I guess you can call me the Last Man Standing because I’m still planning to hold my piece until I see it again in San Francisco on Monday night. I play to actually post my review just before the screening, and then run an audience-reaction thing with audio irecordings of viewers streaming out of the theatre and saying whatever. I’ve also been asking Paramount Vantage publicists about speaking to Anderson at some point during the evening, maybe hooking up before or after, something along those lines. We’ll see what develops.
Calling There Will Be Blood “an obsessive, almost microscopically observed study of an extreme sociopath who determinedly destroys his ties to other human beings,” Variety‘s Todd McCarthy says it “marks a significant departure in the work of Paul Thomas Anderson. Heretofore fixated on his native Los Angeles and most celebrated for his contempo ensemblers, writer-helmer this time branches out with an intense, increasingly insidious character study of a turn-of-the-century central California oil man.
Zeroing in on the soul of a maliciously single-minded entrepeneur “is an odd theme on which to build a big movie, especially in view of the extreme manner in which it ends; one can only guess at Anderson’s personal reasons for dwelling on it with such unremitting fervor. But his commitment to going all the way must be respected in the face of conventional commercial considerations.
Daniel Day-Lewis‘ Daniel Plainview character “is a profoundly anti-social fellow, malevolently so, and There Will Be Blood devotes itself to scratching, peeling and digging away at a man determined to divest himself of his past and everyone associated with it.
“There’s no getting around the fact that this Paramount Vantage/Miramax co-venture reps yet another 2 and 1/2 hour-plus indie-flavored, male-centric American art film, a species that has recently proven difficult to market to more than rarefied audiences. Distribs will have to roll the dice and use hoped-for kudos for the film and its superb star to create the impression of a must-see.
“Officially penning an adaptation for the first time, Anderson turns out to have been inspired very loosely indeed by his source, Upton Sinclair‘s 1927 novel “Oil!” Pic betrays little of the tome’s overview and virtually none of socialist Sinclair’s muckraking instincts. Instead, it is more interested in language, and in the twinned aspects of industry and religion on the landscape of American progress.
“The film’s zealous interest in a man so alienated from his brethren can be alternately read as a work abnormally fascinated by cold, antisocial behavior, or as a deeply humanistic tract on the wages of misanthropy.
“Either way, Anderson has embraced his study of a malign man intimately, as has Day-Lewis, who, as always, seems so completely absorbed in his role that it’s difficult to imagine him emerging between takes as just an actor playing a part. Daniel is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve the unnatural state of becoming an island onto himself, and Day-Lewis makes him his own.
What’s with Todd McCarthy‘s There Will be Blood review being posted ten or fifteen minutes ago on the Variety website instead of next Monday (i.e., concurrent with the Castro theatre screening in San Francisco), which is what the embargo was supposed to be?
I saw Paul Thomas Anderson‘s film with McCarthy on 10.25 (along with Variety‘s Kris Tapley and Anne Thompson), but I’m holding my horses for another four days, like I said I would. It just goes to show what a rough and tumble game the earlybird reviewing game is. A deal is a deal until somebody breaks it or writes their own rules or cuts a new deal with one of the publciists.
I’m guessing that because McCarthy says only admiring and respectful things about this epic-sized film, Paramount Vantage wanted it out as the first word that would “set the tone,” as it were.
American Gangster will probably beat Bee Movie this weekend by at least $5 million, if not more. The Ridley-Denzel-Russell crime drama is tracking at 90,57 and 40 (mostly over-25 males) and should easily tally $40 million.
Jerry Seinfeld‘s Bee Movie is at 84, 40 (very strong “definite interest” for animated film) and 18, which means it’ll definitely crest $30 million and could reach the mid 30s.
New Line has been doing an excellent job of hiding The Martian Child, which is at 48, 27 and 5…a disaster. Fred Claus, opening 11.9, is at 67, 39 and 5 — likely to move up over the next few days. Lions for Lambs is at 59, 20 and 3…flatine. Beowulf (11.16) is at 69, 33 and 5….looking good but not great.
We all love the nerve and passion that led The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil to declare yesterday that Tim Burton‘s Sweeney Todd “will win Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor” and is “a good bet to sweep the Oscars.”
I think I know what led Tom to this point — “voices” (not unlike the ones that spoke to Joan of Arc and Howard Beale) have come to him in the middle of the night and said, “Tom…psst, wake up! It’s looking like a Sweeney Todd sweep could happen…seriously!” I know those voices. They came to me last January and said, “Eddie Murphy doesn’t have it locked for Best Supporting Actor.”
Some are doubting Tom’s vision, of course. These are the non-believers, the John Gielguds and Richard Widmarks of the Oscar-handicap world. (Reference: Otto Preminger‘s Saint Joan.) New York magazine’s “Vulture” guys aren’t saying O’Neil needs to be burned at the stake, but they’ve come out against his vision foursquare.
I’ve heard and read the same encouraging buzz everyone else has. The second biggest impression was that recent screening on the Universal lot that led to a Cinefantastique.com review that called Tim Burton‘s film, in part, “a very satisfying musical horror film. Not a gothic London period tragedy but a classic horror flick in the vein of Phantom of the Opera…[that] occasionally morphs into an out-and-out blood bath.”
My strongest impression is still that publicist telling me a few weeks back that “it’s too bloody” to be an Oscar film, along with my own conviction that Tim Burton doesn’t make Oscar-type films because of his skewed taste, temperament and attitude.
I remain convinced that Burton’s peak period was from the mid ’80s to mid ’90s– a time when he could do no wrong and made films like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Xmas and Ed Wood. The Big Downturn began with Mars Attacks and then bottomed out with Planet of the Apes. Big Fish was going to be the Big Turnaround (David Poland was a big fan) but then the balloon collapsed and then along came Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which many people regarded as the final nail in the coffin of the man who directed Beetlejuice.
In Sunset Boulevard William Holden said that the shoeshine guy across the street “never asked any questions…he’d just look at your heels and know the score.” With Burton all you have to do is look at his jowly, Orson Welles-ian appearance. He used to be this cool effete thin guy with the odd visions and frizzy hair who was ahead of the curve. What happened?
A damp and bedraggled Tom O’Neil strides into the Los Angeles Times building on Spring Street. A security guard watches him approach the elevator bank. Security guard: “Good evening, Mr. O’Neil.” O’Neil: “I must make my witness!” Security Guard: “Sure thing, Mr. O’Neil.”
Universal Pictures isn’t exactly pushing Steven Zaillian‘s screenplay for American Gangster in the Best Original Screenplay category — the decision on these matters is made by the Writers Guild — but the trade ads will reflect this nonetheless, which will blow off any notions that the film is largely based upon Mark Jacobson‘s New York magazine article “The Return of Superfly.”
Likewise, Warner Independent is pushing Paul Haggis‘s script for In the Valley of Elah as a candidate for Best Original screenplay, which will blow off any notions that the film is largely based on Mark Boal’s Playboy magazine piece called “Death and Dishonor” that came out in 2005.
The view seems to be that the scripts for these films involved a lot more dimension, intrigue and detail than was provided by the initial magazine pieces, hence the claims of originality. (Original observation from Kris Tapley‘s Red Carpet District blog on 10.29 and New York magazine’s “Vulture” column on 10.31.)
Director-writer Tony Gilroy has built upon the industry’s admiration and respect for Michael Clayton, his still-in-play corporate thriller with George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and the great Sydney Pollack, and landed a followup gig as the director-writer of Duplicity, a Julia Roberts-Clive Owen thriller for Universal.
Sincere congrats on an excellent career move, but my God…that title. You hear it and without a second’s hesitation your mind says “second tier,” “Netflix,” “seen it before,” “disposable,” etc. I can see the DVD on the shelf at Laser Blazer as I write this. Michael Fleming‘s 10.31 Variety piece says Owen and Roberts will play amorous corporate spies employed by opposing companies “who team up to stage an elaborate con to rip off corporations and steal a valuable product.” I’m sorry, but that sounds a little too much like a Ryan O’Neal-Farrah Fawcett movie from the early ’80s.
Half of the problem will go away if Gilroy just changes the title. Any song or movie title with the letters “ity” at the end suggests roteness, boredom, disengagement. Multiplicity, synchronicity, plasticity, absurdity…all bad.
Because Pixar/Disney’s Ratatouille is said to be the year’s best- reviewed film that has also earned more than $500 million worldwide, Envelope columnist Pete Hammond is floating a fanciful notion that it might end up as a Best Picture Oscar contender.
“In a season of dark, depressing dramas, Ratatouille may seem like an alternative — lighter, more optimistic and audience-pleasing,” Hammond suggests. “Bloodshot, gun-shy academy voters looking for something different might come back to this one after trying out some of the newer films in the awards mix.”
It’s only November 1st and I’m already starting to hate this kind of talk. Hating the flabby mentality behind it, I mean. American Gangster isn’t dark or depressing in the least — it’s a sprawling urban crime drama that never bores and in fact leaves you wanting more at the end. Atonement is very sad, yes, but teh last time I looked sadness wasn’t synonymous with depressing. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is an ancient Greek tragedy set in contemporary Manhattan and a nearby suburb, and it’s impossible for a film as decisively directed and stunningly well-acted as this to be depressing. Charlie Wilson’s War (if it’s good enough to be considered) isn’t in the least bit d & d, to go by the script. No Country for Old Men is a genius-level chase thriller with a powerful theme (i.e., present-tense indecency overcoming the decency of the past) that anyone over the age of 10 will recognize as truthful. And The Kite Runner is a touching and compassionate film about redemption.
If more tea-leaf readers had the cojones and 20/20 vision to stand up and recognize that Zodiac is perhaps the most deserving Best Picture contender of them all (or is certainly one of the stronger ones), I would add that it too is neither dark nor depressing. It is simply too brilliant and above-the-pack to warrant any such terms.
Anyone reading this who’s also whispered to Pete Hammond that too many of the leading Best Picture contenders are dark and depressing is hereby requested to zip it and keep it zipped until the ’07 Oscar race is over and done with. Thanks — your cooperation is much appreciated.