TMZ is reporting that Brad Renfro, 25, was found dead at his Los Angeles home this morning. No cause determined, but it’s well known that the poor guy had grappled with drug problems (smack being one of the substances) for a long while. The report says Renfro “had been working valiantly to stay clean, especially since [last] summer.”
Renfro had recently completed filming The Informers, a Gregor Jordan film based on a Brett Easton Ellis novel set in the ’80s. His costars were/are Winona Ryder, Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke and Brandon Routh.
Renfro “has had a rough time personally since moving from Tennessee to Los Angeles,” the report says. “His parents split, and we’re told he did not have real guidance from adults as he tried navigating the treacherous movie industry.”
Renfro first splash was in Joel Schumacher‘s The Client (’94), but his breakout role — performance-wise — was in Bryan Singer‘s Apt Pupil (’98), which he shot when he was 15 or thereabouts. His last decent film was Terry Zwigoff‘s Ghost World, which was released six years ago.
“Tuesday, January 15, 2008 — a date that shall live in Academy Awards infamy,” writes L.A. Weekly critic Scott Foundas in a piece titled “How Do You Say ‘Oscar Scandal’ in Romanian?” He’s referring to the shafting earlier today of Cristian Mungiu‘s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by the Academy’s foreign-language committee.
“I’ve had better days,” producer and Foreign Language nominating committee chairman Mark Johnson told Foundas late this afternoon. Referring to a recently instituted two-phase nominating process, Johnson said, “I thought we had made big strides last year, but apparently not big enough.”
When Foundas asked if “further retooling (including the possible involvement of more active Academy members earlier in the nominating process) may lie in the future” — code for 86ing the geriatric fuddy-duds whose aesthetic taste buds have obviously become a problem — Johnson was unambiguous. “That’s what has to be done, because in my mind it can’t continue like this. I don’t believe these choices reflect the Academy at large.”
The BAFTA nominations will be announced tomorrow morning — Wednesday, 1.16 — at 7:40 am London time, or 11:40 pm tonight in Los Angeles. Some kind of announcement ceremony in the vein of the Oscar noms. They’ll be online at www.bafta.org after the lah-dee-dah is finished.
If you’re going to link to a piece in which an EW guest columnist (Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody) complains about what she feels is an unflattering drawing, as Red Carpet District‘s Kris Tapley did this morning, shouldn’t you show readers what she’s on about?
“Direct your gaze, if you will, to the illustration (or ‘illo,’ as they say in the publishing game) in the center of this page,” she writes. “That black-lipped, beady-eyed ghoul is supposed to be me!
“Now, I’m hardly the cutest columnist to occupy this space, but I had no idea I resembled a tubercular Friar Tuck with sperm for eyebrows. You hear that whistling sound? That’s my self-esteem plummeting from ‘obscene” to ”healthy.’ Perhaps this is EW‘s concession to readers who complain that Stephen King’s column isn’t scary.”
The thing that got me right away about the new El Cid DVD (which looks pretty good, by the way — certainly better than the old Criterion laser disc) was the main-title music by Miklos Rozsa. Rozsa’s scores always seemed to carry more punch and soul on their own terms than the films they were meant to enhance. (Here’s a faster-loading mp3 version.)
“R.I.P, dear Sweeney,” writes The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil, having finally accepted that Tim Burton‘s film will not be a Best Picture nominee. “Put your razor away. You reaped your revenge on screen and history will hail Burton’s genius in future years, as many film critics and filmgoers appreciate it now ($41 million so far — $2 million more than Michael Clayton).
“Who knew that the cutthroat Hollywood crowd would turn away so squeamishly from a little cartoonish blood when they spill so much more of the real stuff down studio halls every day? You will have ultimate revenge again, my friend.
“Just not at the Oscars and you are in good company. Other masterworks snubbed for best picture: The African Queen, East of Eden, Psycho, Some Like It Hot, A Star Is Born, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. Oh, yes, and Dreamgirls.”
I hate the obnoxious soundtrack to this little here’s-how-it’s-done video — just turn off the sound entirely. But it shows again how just a few guys with the right digital software can make a big Saving Private Ryan/Longest Day-type movie for a lot less money. Just three actors played hundreds of soldiers, and the digi-vid tools were all consumer-grade.
I prefer organic reality. I can usually smell digital manipulation and the odor, for me, isn’t appealing. But this video does makes you believe that more and more indie low-ballers are going to find it within their power to make films that will look and sound nearly as high-grade as studio product, and once they can get themselves a delivery system that will shoot their stuff over high-speed internet connections and right into TVs, they’ll be playing on a relatively level playing field with the big distributors, which means that the power that the big guys have had all these decades is sure to gradually diminish.
If a deal between the Director Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Televison Producers is indeed “imminent” — a term used in a 1.15 story by Hollywood Reporter‘s Carl DiOrio, and perhaps referring to next week, which is when the next negotiating session is set to take place — will the Writers Guild negotiators take this deal also, which will bring the strike to an end?
DiOrio wrote that “Hollywood has the collective sense that the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) will quickly hammer out a new contract to replace the pact set to expire June 30.”
Doesn’t the Apple TV idea — digitally providing movies straight to the tube via a high-speed internet connection — open things up considerably? The whole world, I mean? DVD and Blu-Ray are now looking at the end of the road. In ten years or so (perhaps sooner) it’ll all be digital downloads straight to your television. WGA and DGA members now receive penny-ante payments from the number of DVDs sold to retailers…right? Shouldn’t everyone be looking at rates based on digital downloads on this or that film? Won’t this be the basic commercial magilla sooner or later?
It’ll all come down to how insultingly low a revenue percentage will the AMPTP offer the WGA. Probably something between 1% and 2%, I’m guessing. If the DGA takes something along these lines, the WGA will have to go with this also…no?
Yesterday at the Macworld Expo Apple honcho Steve Jobs announced a decision to jump into online movie rentals with Apple TV. All six major distributors will provide flicks to service subscribers, sending them via high-speed internet right into the the living-room tube. The films won’t be downloadable, however, until 30 days after they’re released on DVD.
“With Apple TV, you don√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t need a computer to rent digital movies — you rent them directly from your TV,” the website reads. “The completely redesigned Apple TV interface makes it easy to browse, rent, and watch movies from every major Hollywood studio. Best of all, you get instant movie gratification. Without losing your spot on the sofa.”
One of the biggest outrages in the history of the Academy’s foreign film committee — a scandal fed by deficient taste and myopic, mule-like obstinacy — has just happened with the release of the nine-film short list that doesn’t include Cristian Mungiu‘s widely hailed 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. The people who pushed for this decision need to be identified and, with all charity and compassion, expelled from this group for life. What will it take? Torches and pitchforks at the corner of Wilshire and La Peer at 8 pm this evening?
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days star Anamaria Marinca
The foreign-committee nominators were in no way obliged to salute this landmark film as their absolute favorite, but to not even put it on the short list (much less include it among the five nominees, from which the winner of the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar would be chosen) is intolerable and inexcusable. This is truly a Day of Infamy. I’m not trying to be Franklin D. Roosevelt here, but these people have embarassed themselves and the Academy and reflected on the industry as a whole…it’s laughable.
A “name” player associated with the foreign branch shared the following a few minutes ago: “I’m embarassed. I think it’s humiliating and unfair, and I’m shocked…shocked at this omission.”
Among other prizes, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the ’07 European Film Awards’ Best Picture prize, the ’07 Cannes Palme d’Or, and it was named Best Foreign Film by the National Society of Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Toronto Film Critics Association. It also won the Bronze Horse For Best Film and Best Actress from the Stockholm Film Festival 2007.
The films chosen for the nine-film short list are the following: The Counterfeiters, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, Days of Darkness, Beaufort,, The Unknown, Mongol, Katyn, 12 and The Trap. Yes, that’s right — Persepolis, the French entry, also got the boot, and so did Juan Antonio Bayona‘s absolutely brilliant The Orphanage.
Laura Vasilu, Vlad Ivanov
Somewhere between 300 and 400 people voted for the nine films. Exaggerating only slightly, a veteran marketer described the foreign film branch this morning as “all retired, their median age is 75, a lot of them are on walkers and they have very conservative tastes.”