It’s not that unusual for Hollywood hotshots, especially Italians with New York-area backgrounds, to have at least a passing acquaintance with mob culture and, in line with that, an occasional no-big-deal acquaintance with maybe a guy who knows a guy who’s into something. Didn’t Mickey Rourke have some kind of friendly thing going with John Gotti? George Raft was friendly with Bugsy Siegel when young, so their friendship naturally continued when Siegel came out to Hollywood in the early ’40s. Michael Imperioli‘s Christopher Moltisanti character got into the movie business and made Cleaver. In general terms there’s always been a kind of affinity between Hollywood hotshots and wise guys. It’s not advisable to be too friendly with operators of this sort but an occasional friendly phone call….whah?
I’m giving HE’s 2007 Worst Movie of the Year award to Steve Carr‘s Are We Done Yet? The aspect that made it seem more reprehensible than Norbit, Good Luck Chuck, Evan Almighty, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or Daddy Day Camp was, for me, the fear-of-animals humor. The idea that a chipmunk or a squirrel would attack humans like a Jurassic raptor is something that only corpulent shopping-mall zombies would laugh at. Only a person who lives in a realm totally apart from nature (and therefore living in fear of it) would laugh at these asinine gags.
There’s no way around calling Michael Bay‘s Transformers my second most despised ’07 film. The worst single moment of my moviegoing existence this year came when Optimus Prime said “E-Bay” to Shia LeBouf.
I still feel that the ending of 3:10 to Yuma was the most disappointing of the year because I felt so let down by the nuttiness of it, especially after being so satisfied with the second act.
I didn’t feel Rendition was bad enough to rank as one of the very worst. I respected certain aspects of Lions for Lambs — what it tried to do, the daringness of leaning so heavily on mere words, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep‘s performances — so it, too, justifiably, evaded the list. I hated the decision to go big and obvious with the giant tentacles in The Mist, but it was interesting enough in the beginning to avoid inclusion. I didn’t see Sydney White. Good Luck Chuck was pretty damn awful. I’ve become so used to Eddie Murphy‘s abrasive potential that Norbit, strangely, didn’t rub me as negatively as it did others. (I saw it later than most.)
Georgia Rule, Number 23, etc.? It’s open to discussion. Are We Done Yet? aside, I’m not feeling the hate vibes.
In view of today’s Sweeney Todd opening, a partial re-run of my 11.30.07 review: I went to Sweeney Todd (Dreamamount, 12.21) with a guarded attitude. And then it began, and less than two minutes in I knew it was exceptional and perhaps more than that. Ten minutes later I was feeling something growing within me. Surprise turned to admiration turned to amazement. I felt filled up, delighted. I couldn’t believe it…a Tim Burton film that reverses the decline!
All my life I’ve loved — worshipped — what Stephen Sondheim‘s music can do for the human heart. Blend this with a tragic, grand guignol metaphor about how we’re all caught up with some issue of the past — needing on some level to pay the world back for the hurt and the woundings. Add to this Burton’s exquisite visual panache and precision, the drop-dead beautiful, near monochromatic color, the ravishing production design and…pardon me for sounding like a pushover, but this movie pushes over.
At times it melted me like a candle. I was lifted, moved. I was never not aroused. Every frame is a painting and a pageant and a falling tear.
Johnny Depp is fantastic as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street — he has to be a Best Actor candidate as of this moment. Helena Bonham Carter can’t sing very well but she’s great anyway. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower (a major new arrival), Jayne Wisener, Sascha Baron Cohen…everyone fills the bill.
Sweeney Todd is a locked Best Picture contender at this stage. It’s too beautifully made, too full of feeling, too exquisitely performed to shunt aside. But it won’t win because of the blood.
I was lifted, touched, moved, melted…and also showered and sprayed. And I’m sorry for this. If only Burton had held back and focused harder on the metaphor of a man consumed by bitterness, determined to pay back those who ruined his life…if he’d only elected to turn away and not indulge his B-movie director’s fetish for the gushing red vino, as if from a garden hose or a fire hydrant. The film is its own tragedy, in a way. So near and yet so far.
Something very deep-down kicks in when a human being is killed or mutilated or both. It’s horrible and ghastly, and the spirit naturally recoils unless — and this is a very big “unless” — the style and the context turn it around and redefine it in some way.
Al I know for sure is that I was mesmerized. I loved the duets, the look of it, the control, the poise, the ache, the tragedy. This is a major, major film. Way up there. Better, impact-wise than the B’way stage version I saw a couple of years ago with Patti Lupone. The finest big-time movie musical since the under-appreciated Evita, which I feel is Alan Parker‘s best film ever.
So into the top-five slot it goes and let the back-and-forth begin. It almost certainly won’t win the Best Picture Oscar because Burton, intractable mule that he is, allows a gore fetish to override the emotion and the metaphor and the beauty. Okay, perhaps not “override” but he gives too much exposure and power to the plasma. But this is still a masterful work. Heart-stopping, heart-lifting. I came close to tears several times, and I don’t like admitting this stuff because people use it against you later on.
A New York reader caught a research screening of Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon last week near Union Square, and has some generally favorable things to say. Shot only about three months ago, this adaptation of Peter Morgan‘s play about the famous David Frost/Richard Nixon TV interview of 1977 is “a solid, satisfying historical drama….no knockout but it fights a good fight and lands its share of solid punches.
“Frank Langella‘s Nixon is very good,” the guy says. ” Wearing very little make-up (thankfully), his performance is fully felt and fleshed out. His Nixon is competitive and guarded, but Langella makes him sympathetic, a political fighter angling for one last twilight bout without being scrubbed entirely clean of his…uhm…imperfections.”
Universal will be releasing Frost/Nixon sometime in the late summer or early fall…I think. Unless they come to believe that audiences will be sick of the ’08 presidential campaign by then. An instinct is telling me this may be the case and that Frost/Nixon, certain to be commercially limited in any season, will play better in late March or April or perhaps even early May — sometime before the nominating season peaks in the mid to late summer.
“I think Sean Penn is the greatest living American in a certain way, because he’s a man of action. I feel by being a neutralist in this area, in my actual field of endeavor I can be more effective. You do not become militant if you wish to be a successful propagandist. Because all you will do is preach to the choir and further entrench your opposition.” — Jack Nicholson speaking to AP’s profiler Ryan Pearson.