Why, really, would anyone care even a little bit that Vince Vaughn canned his reps at United Talent Agency and his manager Eric Gold, and hired CAA’s Richard Lovett to take their place, as Nikki Finke has reported? I don’t give a damn about any of this. The only thing that could arouse my interest would be if somebody close to the action was quoted as saying “somebody had to pay for the failure of Fred Claus, and it wasn’t going to be Vaughan.” But nobody comes close to saying anything like that, so the hell with it.
Radar columnist Charles Kaiser has written a good piece about Sen. Barack Obama‘s MLK moment in Philadelphia this morning.
“No other presidential candidate in the past 40 years has managed to speak so much truth so eloquently at such a crucial juncture in his campaign as Obama did today,” he began. “And he did it by speaking about race, the most persistent source of hatred among us since America began.
“It turns out that a candidate for president with a white mother and a black father has a capacity that no one else has ever had before: He can articulate an equal understanding of black racism and white racism — and that makes it possible for him to condemn both of them with equal passion.”
The 3.19 N.Y. Times editorial about the speech (“Mr. Obama’s Profile in Courage”) is pretty good also.
“There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs,” it begins. “In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with.
“Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy‘s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.”
Scifi.com’s Mike Szymanski is reporting that the Wachowski Brothers will deliver Ninja Assassin, a new martial-arts movie (Collin Chou and Rain being two of the costars) to be directed by James McTeague, the Wachowski toady who directed V for Vendetta. (Which, to be fair, I liked quite a lot.)
Producer Joel Silver recently told Collider the project is a completely original story, a “full on martial arts movie” about revenge.
Question #1: Can there be any such thing as an “original” martial-arts film, given the mind-numbing repetitiveness of the genre and the absolute guarantee that all martial-arts films will show guys whopping and flooring and foot-kicking each other with incredible moves over and over and over, and nobody ever getting hurt or even momentarily stunned? There can be, of course, martial arts films with new stuff, new tricks and new ways to be visually engaging. But “original”? With a title like Ninja Assassin?
Question #2: Who could have imaged at the beginning of the Wachowski’s career, in that glorious period between the releases of Bound and The Matrix, that they would making the 21st Century equivalent of grindhouse movies for the none-too-cerebrals?
The one-two punch of Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson, absorbed as a single act, is hilarious. It seems very wise of Patterson to have told all. He knows everyone is spent over the Spitzer scandal, and that most people in the press don’t have the energy to do anything but sigh, chuckle or shake their heads.
I’m a sucker for horror comedies, my favorites being Stuart Gordon‘s Re-Animator, the first Dawn of the Dead and, to a lesser extent, Shaun of the Dead. Obviously a guy thing, but funny is funny. I’m therefore susceptible to the remote possibility of Zombie Strippers (Triumph, 4.18) being an agreeable hoot. Remote because it’s almost certainly skanky.
One indication is that the poster has fold lines on it. Is this a Grindhouse imitation thing (i.e., trying to look like a ’70s exploitation film) or did somebody actually scan a poster that had been folded? Either way the art says “low rent.” Another indication is that an e-mailed invitation says it will screen in early April, once. Triumph is…what? Looking to save money?
Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson costar. Englund’s character, a strip-club proprietor, has the following line: “Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Our best stripper is a reanimated corpse, which feeds on the living flesh of the customers, who in turn, reanimate after death, even if they’re just a f***ing head! And you don’t see this as a problem?”
The trailer for Ben Stiller‘s Tropic Thunder is hilarious. It persuades that the film, which Stiller may even be brilliant. Trailers aren’t to be trusted, of course, but this may be an exception. Maybe. I’m now persuaded that two landmark comedies may open in August — this (opening 8.15) and David Gordon Green‘s The Pineapple Express (8.8).
Thunder will almost certainly be a box-office champ. HE reader Judy Barker reports she has friends in Long Beach who went to a sneak [of this film] and the people running things had to show it on two screens to accomodate the crowd. The line was around the block.”
Robert Downey‘s performance alone is a take-it-the-banker. It feels like a good guess to put him into the Oscar Balloon for Best Supporting Actor. The ’08 Balloon is nothing but b.s. spitballing at this stage so why not? It could happen if the film is good enough. Possibly. Especially if you consider his being ignored off last year for his Zodiac performance as San Francisco Chronicle journalist Paul Avery.
The Tropic Thunder cast toplines Stiller, Jack Black, Downey, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Steve Coogan, Bill Hader and Nick Nolte.
I can’t find an embedded code for the trailer (yet). If anyone has a location, please send.
I’m too vested to be trusted, but Sen. Barack Obama didn’t just hit an oratorical home run a little while ago in Philadelphia. He hit the ball above the bleachers and into the electric scoreboard…wham. Sparks flew, people applauded, the news commentators were awed. It was a brilliant, historic, uncommonly frank speech about racial divides and attitudes, and what might be different. He said all the necessary things about the excessive hate steam of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and particularly the choice between adhering to old habits and resentments and choosing to move beyond all the crap. It was personal, straight, profound and clear as a bell.
“The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society,” he said. “It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country — a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen — is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation.”
Andrew Sullivan wrote a very moving reaction right after Obama finished.
The hate and suspicions and negative spinning will continue from the people with a need to live in those places and to disparage others in order to advance their agendas. This country seethes with fear and ignorance and stupidity, and there will never be a shortage of people eager to stir these ingredients in the big steel kettle and bring out their rancid aroma. All I know is that I heard a sermon this morning more than a speech, that was wise and concise and truthful and penetrating. It was on the level of Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, no question. The refrain was “not this time.” Here’s a N.Y. Times link with a copy of the speech.
The best part of the speech: “For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle, as we did in the OJ trial. Or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina. Or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
“We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.”
For those HE readers who can’t let it go, please write in and complain once again that you don’t like posts that aren’t about movies. Please do that. Show your colors.
The death of Anthony Minghella, who succumbed to a hemmorhage in London a little less than twelve hours ago, comes as a huge shock. He was only 54, and had decades to go. Sincere condolences to his family, friends (especially his partner Sydney Pollack), colleagues and fans.
Minghella’s spokesperson Leslee Dart called this morning to explain that Minghella didn’t die of a brain hemmorhage, which a spokesperson stated in London and was reported by Variety. She said she didn’t know any other specifics about the hemmorhage. Minghella “had been diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils, and had an operation to remove [cancerous elements]. The doctors were very optimistic, it had been caught it in plenty of time and he was recovering as expected. And then this happened.”
Minghella had perhaps the gentlest and most serene temperament of all the big-time directors I’ve known and dealt with. When I expressed reservations about Cold Mountain after catching an early screening, Minghella wanted to sit down and discuss them. We did that, and it was a completely agreeable, painless and at times even amusing conversation. I was amazed and delighted by this, and pretty much fell in love with him at that moment.
Minghella adopted the same attitude when I had problems with Breaking and Entering. He spoke to me at a Peggy Siegal party in New York, and asked me to watch it a second time. I told him I would, and I did. Minghella was always smiling, always a soft-spoken diplomat, eternally thoughtful and sensitive.
What a sad morning this is for me. I’m also dealing with my sister Laura having died last night in Connecticut from cancer, about a half hour before Minghella’s departure.
Minghella left the planet at 5 a.m. this morning (last night around 9 pm Pacific time) at Charing Cross Hospital in London, “where he had undergone a routine operation on his neck,” according to Variety‘s Adam Daltrey and Ali Jaafar.
Minghella “most recently directed the BBC/HBO telepic No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, based on Alexander McCall Smith‘s novel set in Botswana, which is due to premiere March 23 on BBC1,” Variety says.
Minghella’s films include the Oscar-winning The English Patient, Breaking and Entering, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr Ripley and Truly Madly Deeply. He was the chairman of the British Film Institute until recently. Variety says he was “scheduled to shoot a segment” for the anthology New York, I Love You.
A presidential candidacy on the line, a major speech about prejudicial reservations and voter trust tied to a religious history. Obviously not a full parallel to Barack Obama‘s make-or-break speech this morning about Reverend Wright and racial matters (a divisive radical priest and credibility issues were not part of the 1960 situation), but close enough to mention.