As a way of challenging HE talk-backers who screamed in defiance in response to my two There Will Be Blood/”I drink your milkshake” postings last Friday (enough! it’s jumped the shark! we can’t stand it any more!), here’s a column posted today (2.12) by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson on the same topic. And they admit that they only began to get wind of the milkshake thing a week ago! So give us a break! For Mr. and Mrs. America, this milkshake branding is a relatively new thing. There’s no room for snide elitist judgments on this site. (Kidding!)
Standard Operating Procedure, Errol Morris‘ first film since his Oscar-winning The Fog Of War, has been zip-gunned by Variety critic Todd McCarthy in a 2.12 Berlin Film Festival review.
“If the medicine’s going to taste as bad as it does in Standard Operating Procedure, it had better be really good for you,” McCarthy begins. “But despite the coup of landing candid interviews with several of the Americans most intimately involved in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Morris’ doc adds relatively little insight to the public understanding of wayward military behavior more incisively analyzed in Taxi to the Dark Side.
“Helmer’s status and heavyweight subject matter will stir attention running up to April 18 domestic release, but the film is such a grind to sit through that a B.O. fate similar to that of other Iraq-themed releases seems inescapable. Smallscreen and home-format prospects are better.”
This columnist is hereby saluting Steven Spielberg for announcing he won’t participate in Beijing’s Summer Olympic Games as an artistic adviser, citing the lack of progress in ending the genocide in Darfur. A respectful salute is extended also to Mia Farrow, whose guilt-tripping of Spielberg last March led to the dawning of his political conscience in this matter.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to formally announce the end of my involvement as one of the overseas artistic advisers to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games,” Spielberg said in a statement released today and reported at 2:23 pm by Variety‘s Ted Johnson.
“I have made repeated efforts to encourage the Chinese government to use its unique influence to bring safety and stability to the Darfur region of Sudan,” Spielberg wrote. “Although some progress has been made …the situation continues to worsen and the violence continues to accelerate.”
20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros on Friday, 2.8.08 over The Watchmen, claiming they have the rights to develop, produce, and distribute a film based on the D.C. Comics property. Here’s a PDF file of the paperwork. The Zack Snyder adaptation is due for release in March 2009. Why did Fox wait until the film was up and rolling?
Definitely Maybe, opening tomorrow, is tracking at 53, 25 and 3. The big opener this weekend will be Jumper, which is running at 70, 42 and 20. Demographics are strongly male. The Spiderwick Chronicles will get a shot on Friday from the Indy 4 trailer, but otherwise the tracking is 69, 23 and 6. Step Up 2 the Streets is at 67, 32 and 7.
2.22 openers: Be Kind Rewind at 40, 32 and 2. Charlie Bartlett at 25, 20 and 1. Vantage Point at 59, 38 and 7. Witless Protection at 38, 15 and 0 2.29 openers: The Other Boleyn Girl at 27, 22 and 2. Penelope at 26, 16 and 0. Semi Pro at 53, 31 and 4.
A Chandler-esque noir in the vein of Miller’s Crossing, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union will be the next Coen brothers film to be shot. (The comedic Burn After Reading is in the can and coming out later this year.) Based on the Michael Chabon novel and set in an imaginary Alaska that’s “been turned into a homeland for Jewish refugees displaced after the second world war, following the collapse of Israel, etc. A Guardian story about the project claims that the book’s plot suggests that the “murder victim may well have been the Messiah.”
Yesterday’s news but these conflicting-message videos need to be posted for future reference. Exhibit #1: MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann saying in an editorial rant last September that “in pimping General David Petraeus,” blah blah. Exhibit #2: Olbermann apologizing profusely for David Shuster‘s having used the same term in a question about the Clinton campaign’s use of Chelsea Clinton as a political emissary.
Vantage Point (Sony, 2.22), a possibly well-crafted Rashomon-type thriller, opens in ten days with a shot at some decent business. Monday’s tracking has it at 59, 38 and 7, but that should bump up. But I’m not hearing about any screenings from anyone (not even an all-media screening) so…you tell me. I called Sony publicity this morning to ask what’s up. I’ll tell you what’s up. “Silencio” is what’s up.
The trailer has an intense, mad-camera jolt quality but there seems to be something…I don’t know, facile and tricky-feeling about it. Something about the sell seems to say “paycheck.” I’d like to feel differently and just go with this thing and have a good time, but Sony is sending out signals that would give anyone pause. The stars are Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver.
Update: As several regional screenings are being reported here, I presume the Sony folks are just being their usual lovable selves as far as Los Angeles viewings are concerned.