N.Y. Times media columnist David Carr has tapped out an interesting zeitgeist-snapshot piece about how and why the N.Y. Post decided to endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.
“Tabloids thrive on heat,” he states. “They love a running story, but they also get bored easily. Col Allan, the editor of the Post, is someone who lives and dies by understanding the moment. And it is his opinion, and that of [owner Rupert] Murdoch, that this moment does not belong to the Clintons.
“In its purest form, the Post functions as a kind of mood ring and mirrors the public√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s lack of enthusiasm for a package presidency that has Bill Clinton in campaign mode again. The Post has lost its appetite for Mrs. Clinton for the same reason that they lost interest in Paris Hilton: that wasn√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t the story their readers wanted.”
By hiring Joe Johnston, a respected high-grade hack, to take over the direction of The Wolfman in the wake of Mark Romanek‘s sudden departure, producers Scott Stuber and Mary Parent have essentially announced to the industry and to fans that they’re playing it “safe” and that no one should expect anything more than a slick, proficient, hack-level popcorn movie. Perhaps on the level of Mike Nichols‘ Wolf (which I liked until the end), and perhaps not. But definitely in focus! And with great special effects!
The plus in this equation is star Benicio del Toro, who always upgrades. The downside is the script, which allegedly needs work but can’t be worked on until the WGA strike ends, which may be presently.
Johnston’s two best films — Jumanji and October Sky — came out in ’95 and ’99. The notion of Johnston being a hefty-paycheck, Spielberg-aspiring slick operator began to take over with his direction of Jurassic Park III (’01) and Hidalgo (’04). No one despises Johnston — he’s “fine” — but he brings a slight nod-off, good-enough factor to the project.
The truly ballsy move would have been for Stuber and Parent to hire John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), the godfather of the modern ravenous biped genre.
A Michael Bay self-parody ad (Koala bears meet George Miller‘s The Road Warrior) made with the cooperation of Michael Bay) for the Australian Commonweath Bank. Except the ad doesn’t mention the word “Commonwealth” so…I don’t get it.
The piece begins with the Koala bear action ad and then cuts to an American ad agency’s creative team (with Bay in attendance) showing it to the Commonwealth guys. Bay used “a lot of his own money” to make the ad,” an agency guy explains. Bay, faintly beaming with pride, adds that “seven helicopters” were used. The client is unimpressed, doesn’t get it either. End of spot.
N.Y. Post critic/columnist Lou Lumenick is reporting exclusively that the Tribeca Film Festival “is cutting prices for this year’s edition, running from April 23 to May 4, after complaints about a 50 percent price hike for most tickets in 2007.
“Most evening and weekend tickets will cost $15, down from $18 last year, and the festival is introducing six- and 10-ticket packages that bring the admission price down to $12.50 apiece,” he reports. “The charge for most weekday and midnight screenings is dropping from $14 to $8, with a 10-ticket package for $64. A few gala screenings and special events will continue to carry a $25 ticket price.”
In late March ’07 Lumenick, Indiewire‘s Eugene Hernandez and myself (among others) groaned about the ticket-price hikes.
“It’s clear Tribeca has seriously lost its focus and become the cinematic equivalent of a street bazaar,” Lumenick wrote at the time. “The festival’s decision to boost most ticket prices by a whopping 50 percent from last year — most evening screenings now cost $18, a few as much as $25 — indicates a leadership that is increasingly out of touch with New Yorkers.
On 3.30 I wrote that “the TFF, launched on the spirit of downtown recovery from 9.11.01, now has a new rep — the nation’s most avaricious and money-grubbing film festival.”
“The lure of Matthew McConaughey shirtless for extended stretches doubtless has some marketing value, but after that, Fool’s Gold offers small compensation — a listless romantic comedy that, almost out of desperation, turns a little more violent than necessary near the end, ” writes Variety‘s Brian Lowry in a 2.4 review.
“Treasure hunting has certainly worked for the National Treasure franchise, and an earlier McConaughey-Kate Hudson pairing enjoyed some success. Still, after however many doubloons can be hauled up from the utterly review-proof, it’s hard to envision Warner Bros. separating too many fools from their money.”
Cause for guarded optimism or more poll smoke? Sen. Barack Obama has apparently (a) nudged into a slight lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in California in a Zogby-C-SPAN/ Reuters poll out today, and (b) is holding a one-point edge over Clinton in California in a 2.3 Rasmussen poll.
On top of which (c) the same Reuters poll is reporting a nationwide dead heat between the two Democratic candidates; (d) Gallup is saying the same thing; (e) ditto a CBS/N.Y. Times poll; (f) a Pew Research Center survey conducted from 1.30 to 2.2 states that 41% of registered voters have said they dislike the idea of Bill Clinton being back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, if and when Sen. Hillary Clinton is elected president (with 34 percent of voters having affirmed the same view last October); and (g) Maria Shriver, the wife of California’s Republican governor, announced for Obama earlier today.
As I did on 1.27, L.A. Times contributor (and Christian Science Monitor critic) Peter Rainer saw Sylvester Stallone‘s Rambo with a mostly male paying audience, and detected an unusual current in the raucous whoops and yaw-haws that greeted every over-the-top killing.
“Could Rambo be the Tony Bennett of the new movie generation?,” Rainer asks. “His retro-ness has become his pedigree. Of course, in both his Rocky and Rambo incarnations, Stallone has always been blatantly retro. The Rocky movies draw heavily on Depression-era tropes; the Rambo narratives are positively primeval. (With his no-tech skills and half-Indian blood, Rambo is as elemental as Tarzan, if not as talkative.)
“Unlike other aging stars (such as Bruce Willis) attempting to revive their action franchises, Stallone, in Rambo, doesn’t try to tamp down the toll of the years. (He didn’t in Rocky Balboa either, which accounted for its sweetness and may have been the key to its commercial success.) Stallone is a bit like the latter-day John Wayne, who also put his gruff weariness on display.
“But Wayne, in films such as Rooster Cogburn, consciously cartoonized his own image, while Stallone in his Rambo mode is still playing it straight. And this squareness may be one reason why his audience still finds him authentic — a classic.”
Opening Friday in 1977 theatres, the lightweight rom-com Over My Dead Body has made only $4,600,000 — not much to crow about. Obviously the concept, the marketing and the appeal of the two leads, Eva Longoria and Paul Rudd, didn’t cut it with Joe Average. The fact that it managed only a 13% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and an even worse 8% among top critics) undboutedly had something to do with the D.O.A. reception. Jeff Lowell’s film appears to be the worst of the year so far. Disputes?
Yesterday morning’s $22.9 million projection for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour was too conversative. Disney’s 3-D special-event film will take in $29 million as of late tonight, from just 683 theaters. Variety‘s Pamela McClintock is calling this the biggest haul of any film playing over Super Bowl weekend, including Titanic.
The Envelope’s Tom O’Neil has run a list of classic films that weren’t honored with a Best Picture nomination. Point made, but the odd thing (for me, anyway) is that O’Neil didn’t include Zodiac and yet he did include A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. If I was the Absolute Mussolini Dictator of Hollywood, I wouldn’t nominate that Steven Spielberg film for Best Picture with a gun at my back.
O’Neil’s shaft list includes Adam’s Rib, Aliens, Arthur (exception!), Being John Malkovich, Being There, The Big Slee, The Birds, Blade Runner, Blood Simple, Blue Velvet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (exception!), Brief Encounter, Carrie (exception!), Casino, Central Station, The China Syndrome, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Cool Hand Luke, Days of Heaven, Days of Wine and Roses, Do the Right Thing, Dreamgirls (exception!), Duck Soup, East of Eden, Election, A Fish Called Wanda, Gilda, Harold and Maude, Hud, In Cold Blood, Leaving Las Vegas, The Lion King, A Little Princess (exception!), The Manchurian Candidate, Manhattan, The Matrix, Mean Streets, Meet Me in St. Louis,, Melvin and Howard, Memento, The Misfits, Modern Times, Murder on the Orient Express, North by Northwest, Notorious, The Opposite of Sex, Out of Sight, Paper Moon, Peggy Sue Got Married, The People vs. Larry Flynt,, Philadelphia, The Player, Pleasantville, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Ran, Rear Window, Rebel Without a Cause, Rosemary’s Baby, Saturday Night Fever, The Searchers, The Seventh Seal,, Singin’ in the Rain, Spartacus, Strangers on a Train, The Stunt Man, Suddenly, Last Summer (exception!), Sullivan’s Travels, Sweeney Todd, Thelma and Louise, The Third Man, To Have and Have No (exception!), A Touch of Evil, Toy Story, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Truman Show (exception…hated it!), The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Victor/Victoria (exception!), Viva Zapata, The Way We Were, When Harry Met Sally, The Wild Bunch, Wild Strawberries, A Woman Under the Influence, The World According to Garp (exception!) and You Can Count on Me.
Democrats cheering the possibility of an Obama-Clinton (or Clinton-Obama) dream ticket during last Thursday’s Kodak debate “didn’t seem to know that in Hollywood, couples who have chemistry on screen often don’t like each other off screen, and ones who are involved off screen often don’t have any chemistry on screen,” N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote today. “And so it is with Barack and Hillary. Thursday night was not the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Just a beautiful, dare we say, fairy tale.”
The last seven graphs, an account of a testy face-off Obama and Clinton had on 12.13.07, otherwise known as “the tarmac moment,” make for informative reading, and are not in the least bit flattering to Clinton, a one-eyed jack if there ever was one when it comes to televised debates. Just read it.