As a sentimental gesture to one of the late Roy Scheider‘s best performances, this afternoon I bought an old DVD of William Freidkin‘s Sorcerer (’77). It looked much worse than expected. Released by Universal Home Video in November ’98, the disc has muddy sound, a 1.33 to 1 aspect ratio that seems to trim out a fair amount of what was originally shot, and a crudely mastered appearance that’s way too coarse and grainy. I saw Sorcerer at a good theatre when it first came out. The DVD is a desecration.
Some think Sorcerer is a masterpiece. It’s not, but it has a wonderfully intense atmosphere (sweat, mud,humidity, mosquitoes) and more than a few great scenes. The ten-minute-long scene with the two trucks crossing the rope bridge in the rainstorm is worth the price alone. It should be re-mastered and re-issued with a voice-over commentary from Friedkin and a making-of doc, at the very least.
It’s Friday night and the Universal Home Video team has gone home, but maybe a new DVD is in the works. An IMDB chit-chatter wrote last summer that Freidkin said during a visit to the ’07 Munich Film Festival (which did happen) that “he had [recorded] an audio commentary” for a new Sorcerer DVD.
Collider’s Steve Weintraub is reporting that Steven Spielberg has bailed out of directing the Trial of the Chicago 7 movie, but Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke is reporting that Spielberg “has backed off setting an April start date…and won’t finalize a new start date until the Screen Actors Guild and AMPTP agree on a deal,” in part because he feels that Aaron Sorkin‘s script needs more work.
(l. to r.) Steven Spielberg, Abbie Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Smith
I called Spielberg spokesperson Marvin Levy at the start of lunch hour to check on this, but all I got was a message machine. And then Levy didn’t feel obliged to call back. Nice!
I’ve been saying that the marriage of Spielberg and the Chicago 7 story is a bad idea since early January. (Even with a reputedly “great” script by Sorkin and rumors about Will Smith playing Bobby Seale and Sacha Baron Cohen playing Abbie Hoffman, etc.
Finke seems to have a more acurate version of the story. Weintraub says he’s (a) confirmed the Spielberg bail-out with two sources and (b) believes that CHUD’s Devin Faraci having written that Spielberg was the wrong guy to direct it may have been a factor. (Don’t think so!) The movie has been listed on the IMDB as being in pre-production, which of course means nothing.
Interesting timing (if the story’s true) in view of the opening of Brett Morgen‘s Chicago 10, which tells the same story with animation and whatnot, opening just around the corner on 2.29.
Make the Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson. Make the Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson. Make the friggin’ Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson already!
Baird Jones, an event-party guy, a Webster Hall art curator and a former freelance gossip columnist who worked for the N.Y. Daily News‘ Rush & Molloy in the mid ’90s, was found dead last night. I knew and liked him a lot (I especially loved that N.Y. Yankees hat he always wore), and I’m very sorry for his close friends and family right now.
I last talked with Baird in December ’07 at a party he invited me to that was somewhere in the west 20s. I don’t get how a guy in his early 50s (a N.Y. Daily News story says he was 53) dies of natural causes, but we’ll let that go for now. Breaks my heart. Really, really sorry.
Kidding or half-serious, Paul Thomas Anderson let N.Y. Times Oscar blogger David Carr have it right between the eyes last night during a brief chat at a Paramount Vantage party (which I also attended) at a sprawling joint called STK or SKG or DMT….something along those lines.
Carr (a.k.a., “the Bagger”) said something or other about the Best Picture candidates he likes, admitting that There Will Be Blood isn’t quite at the top of his list, and Anderson said, “You know, you don’t know a fucking thing about movies!”
Anderson then said There Will Be Blood “[is] the best movie of the year. Except for maybe Juno. And Clayton. And Atonement. Other than that, it was the best movie of the year.”
When Carr touted the virtues of No Country for Old Men, Anderson said, “You really think No Country for Old Men…that movie was better than ours? C’mon, do you really believe that?”
Australian artist-hustler Vincent Fantauzzo has gotten PageSix.com to help raise the value of a just-completed Heath Ledger painting. Fatauzzo persuaded Ledger to pose not long before the 28 year-old actor accidentally died last month. (People sit for paintings these days? What for?) Ledger’s hair is black because that was part of his appearance in Terry Gilliam‘s Dr. Parnassus, but why does he seem to be wearing dark body makeup, like he’s playing a Sicilian gigolo in an early ’60s film?
“Right now, at this point in history, it is more important to have our first black president than our first woman president,” director Rod Lurie (Nothing But The Truth, Resurrecting The Champ) has written in a 2.22 Huffington Post opinion piece.
Kate Beckinsale, Rod Lurie during filming of Nothing But The Truth
“There have been many nations that have had female leaders. But there are very few, if any, that have elected a member of their ethnic minority to lead them,” Lurie states. “Were we to put Hillary in office, the world would shrug their shoulders and say ‘finally.’ Put in Obama, and we lead by example.
“We are viewed by the world as a quasi-racist state in which we allow natural disasters to obliterate our minority community, in which our penal system is designed to treat blacks unfairly, and in which we let the medical and educational systems in our ghettos fester to the level of some third-world countries.
“The election of Obama will say as much about the American people as it does about Obama himself — that our Declaration of Independence means what it says in its opening lines, that being the world’s greatest nation means that we offer the world’s greatest opportunities.
“It is no shock that, with the exception of Great Britain, polls in every European nation favor Obama over Clinton. And don’t tell me that what the world thinks doesn’t matter. Because how the dollar performs overseas matters. Our ability to form military alliances matters. How we team up economically and scientifically with China matters.
“Simply put, the issues that afflict blacks are in more urgent need of our attention than those (very real) issues that matter to women.”
“The problem was he hired a bunch of art house executives, and now he’s tired of making money-losing films,” a source told Nikki Finke yesterday about Sidney Kimmel, whose production and distribution company has reigned supreme at the art of losing tens of millions at the box office. A lot of people lose money or have bad luck, but the guys at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment have shown a special gift.
The biggest Sidney Kimmel wipeouts have been Talk To Me (which I knew would be dead meat the moment I heard the synopsis and that Don Cheadle would star), Death At A Funeral (instant small potatoes), Lars And The Real Girl (nobody’s going to pay to see a movie about a pudgy, flannel-shirt-wearing dweeb from the hinterlands who falls for a love doll…forget it!) and The Kite Runner (a respectable, well acted, very decently made film that everyone knew would tank due to the story being set in Afghanistan, which Average Joe moviegoers seem averse to in any way, shape or form).
If Sidney Kimmel had come to me and asked whether he should fund or distribute the films listed above, I almost certainly would have told him, depending on the investment levels and other particulars, to put his money in real estate. I’m not saying I could have found the right scripts or selected guaranteed money-makers for distribution, but I definitely could have saved him from the agonies above.
Anyway, the poor guy is “cutting back, changing his bank terms, and probably allowing his distribution deal with MGM to expire,” Finke reported, but is “not planning on shuttering his film company, Kimmel insists he’ll go to Cannes with Charlie Kaufman‘s Synecdoche, New York (which is in post) and go forward with the Jennifer Aniston starrer Management (which opens in September). And he maintains he won’t be shuttering Sidney Kimmel Entertainment or even changing execs. But he does say he will become more integral in selecting the movies financed though ‘not playing god.'”
He’s staying with the same team? Forget it. Kimmel is done.
“The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists” — a seemingly well-reported, fair-minded article about John McCain by the Washington Post‘s Michael Shear and Jeff Birnbaum. It essentially backs up the underlying point of yesterday’s highly controversial N.Y. Times piece without mentioning Vicky Iseman.
Very early in the presidential race (sometime in winter months of ’07), I finally decided I wasn’t going to be cheering on Hillary Clinton‘s campaign because of a gut instinct call. I remember reading a piece about the all-time favorite films of the candidates, and Hillary was quoted as saying (or so I recall) that hers was Gone With The Wind. Another article said her choice was Casablanca.
That tore it for me. I love both Casablanca and Gone With the Wind for the usual reasons. I relate to Rick Blaine’s feelings of bitterness and cynicism in the beginning, and I admire his selfless heroism at the finale. And I fully agree with GWTW‘s theme about how brass and gumption gets you through life’s gulleys and thunderstorms better than goodness and generosity.
If I’m right about Clinton having chosen GWTW, it’s not hard to figure why. She obviously sees herself as a tough operator who’s taken the hits and soldiered through. But GWTW isn’t a hip enough selection. It’s a chump call. So is Casablanca.
If Clinton had said, say, that Jules Dassin‘s Rififi was her all-time fave, I would have melted on the spot. Or if she’d chosen a 1950s Douglas Sirk film — I would have at least respected that. (And so would Dave Kehr!) But choosing Gone With the Wind or Casablanca told me she either had timid taste or no taste at all, and had just gone with a politically safe choice because it’s been the lazy choice of millions of MOR film lovers for decades.
My ideal presidential candidate would choose…I don’t know, Juggernaut? Duck Soup? Anything by Michael Mann? The Professionals? La Strada? Tom Jones? Dr. Strangelove? Au Hasard Balthazar? The Apartment? The Hospital? The Bad and the Beautiful? The Train?
And by the way, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer saying that his all-time fave was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a bad call. I’ll never look at Blitzer the same way again.
I got started on this jag after reading a Reuters story that just went up about how Gone With the Wind is still the #1 all-time favorite. The story doesn’t give age groups or income levels or anything specific, but what a bummer — what an affirmation of mediocrity in the American soul.