I don’t feel an obligation to state what I’m thankful for because the calendar says this is the day to put your feelings on the table. I feel thankful 24/7/365. I’m sorry that some people out there feel entitled to their good fortune, but you can’t teach perspective and humility. And with those words…
The trailer for Martin McDonagh‘s darkly comedic In Bruges. The ’08 Sundance opener stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleason and Ralph Fiennes. The trailer’s from Alliance; Focus Features will open it on 2.8.08. It would be good to see this before leaving for Boston on 11.30. (I’ll be staying there all through December). Only long-leaders are being waved into screenings as we speak.
“The madness…the music…the movie of the holiday season!” Homey, mom’s-apple-pie narration for a G-rated, family-friendly TV promo for Tim Burton‘s Sweeney Todd. No missing Johnny Depp‘s straight razor in the final shot, but otherwise the truth-in-advertising factor is…well, par for the course.
Red Carpet District‘s…I mean, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has dinged Rob Reiner‘s The Bucket List by calling it “a heavy layer of schmaltz that doesn’t settle into anything that feels genuine or ultimately enjoyable, given the potential in front of the camera.”
My God…Reiner dishing schmaltz? Doesn’t calculate. I need to step outside and take a walk and kick this around.
“I’m not going to offer a full pan of the film, because it doesn’t really deserve that,” Tapley goes on. “Its heart is in the right place and it should be a fun film for families to enjoy over the holidays, but give Justin Zackham‘s script over to one of the industry’s many gifted ‘doctors’ and [Reiner] might have ended up with something of substance.
“Morgan Freeman is business as usual. Jack Nicholson touches this or that unique note, but mainly it’s just Jack being Jack. And it isn’t the awards-caliber Jack we wouldn’t have been out of bounds to expect. It’s just not that kind of film. It’s not in [the film’s] DNA to rise above a certain level of mere acceptance. But sometimes that’s enough for a casual moviegoer, and so I’m sure The Bucket List will find an audience.”
You won’t find much debate about Roger Deakins being locked to win the Best Cinematography Oscar (for the combination of No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and In The Valley of Elah). It also seems as if Tony Gilroy is locked to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Michael Clayton (i.e., as a consolation for not winning Best Picture or perhaps not even being nominated), and that Joel and Ethan Coen are locked to win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for capturing the pruned-down essence of Cormac McCarthy in their No Country screenplay. What others are worth mentioning? Ratatouille for Best Animated Feature?
Here are the first, second and third WGA “Speechless” video spots, conceived by George Hickenlooper and Alan Sereboff. WGAW chief Patrick Verrone has given Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke an exclusive internet window as a reward for her ceaseless pro-WGA strike coverage.
Laura Linney, Sean Penn, Harvey Keitel, Holly Hunter
Three new videos will show daily throughout Thanksgiving weekend — morning, afternoon and evening. The ones up so far — the first with Holly Hunter, the second with Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss and third with Sean Penn — are pro-level efforts with very high-quality black-and-white resolution.
Hickenlooper is slated to shoot a spot with Woody Allen soon. For purely selfish reasons let’s hope it goes up before the strike is settled. (I’m predicting a resolution by mid-December, or certainly by Xmas.)
“Speechless” #1: (cast) Hunter, Mahadeo Shivraj, Allyson Sereboff, Ashley Smith, George Hickenlooper. (creative team) Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner. (technical team) Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker, Anthony Marinelli, Clint Bennett.
“Speechless” #2 : (cast) Benjamin, Prentiss. (creative team) George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner. (technical team) Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker, Anthony Marinelli, Clint Bennett.
“Speechless” #3: (cast) Sean Penn. (creative team) George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner. (technical team) Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker, Anthony Marinelli, Clint Bennett.
In Denzel Washington‘s The Great Debaters (Weinstein Co., 12.25), a primarily true period story (set in 1935) about student debaters from the African-American Wiley College in Texas having a climactic match with debaters from Harvard University, the 17 year-old Denzel Whitaker plays James Farmer, the renowned founder of CORE and civil-rights leader who was one of the Wiley debaters.
(l. to r.) Great Debaters costar Denzel Whitaker; James Farmer in the ’40s; in the mid ’60s
Listen to this recording of Farmer, and you can sense his debating skills quite readily. He was only 15 when the Great Debaters story occured, but had a deep James Earl Jones-type voice and an elegant vocabulary as an adult — qualities he presumably had the beginnings of as a youth. Whitaker (no relation to costar Forest Whitaker) has a thinner, far-from-stentorian voice. Farmer stood well over six feet (which he would have also been in ’35, as most 15 year-olds have reached adult height), but Whitaker stands only 5′ 6″. And Whitaker doesn’t resemble the youthful Farmer at all — he looks more like an adolescent Muhammad Ali.
The likable and appealing Whitaker plays Farmer as well as he can, which is to say satisfactorily. I’m not putting him down, and this is not a forecast of a Great Debaters review. But given the qualities of the Real McCoy, it’s hard not to wonder why Washington cast Whitaker in the first place. The result is a bit like watching Chris Rock portray Paul Robeson.
The real “great debaters” — professor Melvin B. Tollson (played by Denzel Washington in the film) stands in the center.
Complaining once again about not being cast in JJ Abrams‘ Star Trek remake, William Shatner has said “how could you not put one of the founding figures into a movie that’s being resurrected?”
Once again, the answer: In Rob Burnett‘s Free Enterprise (’98), Shatner traded in the legend of the stalwart Cpt. Kirk for the persona of an amusingly deranged septugenarian actor. That was nine years ago, and the wackjob routine — a career rejuvenator — has fed into Shatner’s acting (it’s obviously in his Boston Legal character) and pretty much taken over. His cameo time in Abrams’ Star Trek would be primarily regarded as a hoot.
Happy Thanksgiving wishes to N.Y. Post critic/bogger Lou Lumenick and his ninth annual Turkey Awards, despite the bizarre hostility shown to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Brad Pitt didn’t “stink up empty theaters posing and mumbling his way through the title role” — he gave something close to the finest performance of his career. And Andrew Dominik‘s film wasn’t “longer than its title” — it was a time-travel journey so immaculate I never once thought about my watch.
Cheers once more to Warner Brothers for releasing this phenomenal film with all the passion of someone popping quarters into a parking meter. I realize they’ve recently stepped up to the plate with “For Your Consideration” trade ads and a two-disc screener sent to Academy members and elite press, but the initial build-up and theatrical release couldn’t have been less passionate.
Enchanted is #1 by far — did about $8 million yesterday, projecting $41 million over 3 days and $58 million over the full 5-day holiday. This Christmas is #2 — $4 million yesterday, $28 million for 3 days, $38 million for 5 days. Hitman is #3 with $21 million for 3 days, $31 million for 5 days. Beowulf is projecting $18 million for 3 days, $28 million for 5. (“Not very good,” the numbers guy says. “Five-day second weekend should exceed the first three days, but instead it matches it. Cume is now under 70 million, going into post-turkey dead time…not good.”)
I realize that a projected $58 million for Enchanted sounds unlikely given the $8 million opener, but “the kids weren’t there yesterday,” as one guy has explained. $58 million is a crude spitball for now, but this is what I was given by a studio source.
Jerry Seinfeld‘s fifth-place Bee Movie is projecting about $11.9 for three days, $16 for five days — the cume will crest $100 million by weekend’s end. The Mist — $11 for 3, $15 for 5. Fred Claus — $10 for 3, $15 for 5. American Gangster — $11 for 3, $14 for 5. August Rush, $10 and $14. Mr. Magorium, $9 and $12 No Country for Old Men will do about $8 and $11….880 theatres, about $12 grand a print.