No matter what problems Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise‘s Valkyrie may be grappling with, there is nothing worse than postponing a major film’s release date for the second time and, as MGM and United Artists announced this morning, pushing the opening from October 3rd to February 13th.
I’m sorry to say this but today’s announcement was tantamount to throwing in the towel. MGM and UA have more or less said to the world, “This movie has problems so insurmountable that they can’t be fixed even over the next six and a half to seven months…even with the benefits of extra shooting, even with the opportunity to constantly tweak and refine and even write and shoot an extra scene or two…this film is so not working that the only thing we can do is give it a dump release in mid-February.”
Things may not be as bad as this. I haven’t seen the film. It could be an okay or so-so thing. The point is that MGM and UA have convinced everyone that they’ve got a real stinker on their hands, or something dangerously close to that. They should have stuck to the October release date, come hell or high water.
I’m not saying I agree with any of the smart cracks that have been passed around today, but a smart director-writer wrote me earlier today with the following: “I just heard someone refer to Valkyrie as “Tom Cruise’s The Day The Clown Cried.”
Thanks to Chicago Sun Times blogger Jim Emerson for calling attention to my 3.12.08 “Eclipse of the Hunk” piece, which basically observed that due to the films of Judd Apatow, “marginally unattractive guys — witty stoners, clever fatties, doughy-bodied dorks, thoughtful-sensitive dweebs and bearish oversize guys in their 20s and 30s — can be and in fact are the new ‘romantic leads’ (for lack of a better or more appropriate term) in today’s comedies.”
Of course, Emerson uses the occasion to ridicule me, and of course his talk-backers follow suit. Emerson says I sounded “like a Dixieland racist spouting off about miscegenation in the 1950s…it’s an outrage, a threat to the species!” Exactly. Galumphy Guys becoming the new romantic leads are a threat to the species — they represent an evolutionary downgrade, the beginning of the death of the Cary Grant gene in U.S. males.
I would like Emerson to tell me precisely how the following three graphs are wrong:
“Ten years ago female moviegoers, I believe, would have totally rejected [galumphy romantic leads]. Twenty or thirty years ago mainstream audiences would have walked out of theatres in confusion (if not disgust) if guys who look like Rogen, Segel, Hill or Mintz-Plasse got the girl. If filmmakers had tried to push this concept in movies of the ’40s or ’50s the House Un-American Activites Committee would have held Congressional hearings. If films of this slant had been made in the 1920s or ’30s people would have seen them as tragedies or grotesque oddities in the vein of Todd Browning‘s Freaks.
“When you think about it, the last time Hollywood said to the moviegoing public ‘hold on…guys who look like this can get the pretty girl and in fact do this in the real world’ was 41 years ago, when the short, dweeby-Jewish Dustin Hoffman connected with Katherine Ross and bedded Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (’67).
“Before that landmark Mike Nichols film male romantic leads had all been pretty much cut from the same three cloths — traditional standard-handsome smoothies a la Cary Grant or Rock Hudson or Clark Gable, good-looking troubled moodies like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift or Frank Sinatra, or all-American sunny-personality guys like James Stewart or Van Johnson. Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock was something very new — nice-looking but anxious, neurotic, not tall and of the Hebrew persuasion.”
Have there been any reliable surveys that show definitively that the majority of gay guys are siding with Hillary Clinton? I’ve been sensing this all along but I’ve never seen it proved. If it turns out to be true, the easy or obvious explanation is that gay guys love tough, suffering battle-axe types (Joan Crawford, Eva Peron, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, etc.) — women who’ve been around the rodeo and won’t take no guff. If true, I think it’s deplorable that gay men would go for Clinton because she fits the definition of a certain admired “type.” It’s lazy emotional thinking of the lowest order. I almost regard Gays for Hillary in the same light as Log Cabin Republicans.
Can a case be made for the Curse of the Hawaiian Movie? Not films shot in Hawaii (although these sorta kinda count) as much as ones that take place there. If you remove From Here to Eternity, Blue Crush and Punch Drunk Love from the equation, you’re looking at one problematic, mediocre or flat-out bad movie after another for the last 50 or 60 years. With perhaps a few other exceptions, the general rule is “Hawaii movies = watch out!”
When I saw those hot hula girls in grass skirts handing out leis before a critics’ screening of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I knew it was going to be a problem. (And it was — it’s a lazy comedy about a witty but basically morose man with a big chubby ass and fleshy-milky man-boobs.) The word is that Ben Stiller‘s Tropic Thunder, shot on Kaua’i and the Big Island, may join Eternity and Crush in the exception column. Here’s hoping.
There’s something about the laid-back island vibe that gets into the blood of filmmakers and makes them lazy or unfocused or whatever. Obviously it hasn’t happened each and every time (Point Break and the first two Jurassic Park films make the grade), but dozens of good people have fallen victim.
Moving backwards from Forgetting Sarah Silverman, HE’s list of Bad or Fairly Bad Hawaiian Movies: (1) 50 First Dates, (2) Along Came Polly, (3) The Big Bounce, (4) Lilo and Stitch, (5) The Time Machine, (6) Dragonfly, (7) Jurassic Park III, (8) Windtalkers, (9) Pearl Harbor, (10) Six Days, Seven Nights, (11) Godzilla, (12) Sphere, (13) Mighty Joe Young, (14) Waterworld, (15) North, (16) Exit to Eden, (17) Surf Ninjas of the South China Sea, (18) North Shore, (19) Farewell to the King, (20) Karate Kid II, (21) Black Widow, (22) The Day the World Ended, (23) Final Countdown, (24) The Deep, (25) Islands in the Stream, (26) Midway, (27) The Hawaiians, (28) Tora Tora Tora, (29) Bikinis in Paradise, (30) Paradise, Hawaiian Style, (31) None But the Brave, (32) In Harm’s Way, (33) Ride the Wild Surf, (34) Diamond Head, (35) Donovan’s Reef, (36) Girls Girls Girls, (37) Gidget Goes Hawaiian, (38) Blue Hawaii, (30) The Devil at Four O’Clock, (31) The Wackiest Ship in the Army, (32) Big Jim McLain and (33) Bird of Paradise.
Turtle Bay Inn on Oahu’s North Shore — a resort that’s been permanently maligned by Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Grass will never grow under the feet of Turner Classic Movies when it comes to tributes to just-deceased actors. The programmers probably started calling each other late Saturday night after hearing of Charlton Heston‘s death, and they had a date — Friday, April 11th — and a lineup locked by this morning if not sometime yesterday. But they chose to show The Hawaiians (’70) along with The Buccaneer, Ben-Hur, Khartoum and Major Dundee.
All actors wind up costarring in mediocrities like The Hawaiians from time to time, but their biggest nightmare as they pocket the paycheck is that, God forbid, TCM might show one or more of them as part of a televised tribute after they die. At least TCM isn’t showing Diamond Head (’63), an even worse Hawaii-set film which Heston starred.
The following point was brought up by Bill Maher and a few columnists last week, but the ignorance or tunnel vision that was in effect during last week’s Martin Luther King tributes wasn’t, by my sights, widely acknowledged. It can’t hurt to point it out again.
Overlooked in all the pious and rotely kowtowing speeches heard on the 40th anniversary of King’s murder (the ones by Hillary Clinton and John McCain struck me this way especially) is the fact that during the last two or three years of his life (’65 to ’68), King said a lot of the same things — damning indictments of U.S. warfare, calling the waging of war in Vietnam evil, predicting God’s vengeance, etc. — that Rev. Jeremiah Wright said in the pulpit on that revolving tape loop.
But none of the speechifiers wanted to go there last Wednesday. Because Clinton, McCain and others hadn’t the slightest interest in remembering some of what the deified King actually believed and said, particularly during the last year of his life. They just want to salute the up-with-people platitudes — the safe stuff — from the early to mid ’60s.
As Gary Yonge said a week ago on commondreams.org., “Wright is no King. His delivery is too shrill, his demeanour too hectoring, his message insufficiently unifying. Nonetheless, Wright and King come from the same tradition of militant religious leadership that has been a hallmark of black political life for well over a century. Under slavery and then segregation, the church was one of the few places that African-Americans could gather and organize autonomously — giving primacy, for better and for worse, to the pulpit and the preacher in black politics.
“It is unlikely King would have fared any better on YouTube or the blogosphere than Wright did,” Yonge goes on. “King, like Wright, was excoriated for opposing the ‘senseless and unjust war’ in Vietnam. ‘The reaction was like a torrent of hate and venom,’ recalled one of his aides, Andrew Young. ‘As a Nobel prizewinner we expected people not to agree with it, but to take it seriously. We didn’t get that. We got an emotional outburst attacking his right to have an opinion.”
“A few months before he died, King told parishioners at his church in Montgomery, Alabama: ‘We are criminals in that war…we’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place.’ And how would God deal with an unrepentant America? ‘And if you don’t stop your reckless course, I’ll rise up and break the backbone of your power.'”
In an April 4, 1967 appearance at the New York City Riverside Church — exactly one year before his death — King delivered ‘Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,’ says his Wikipedia bio. “In the speech he spoke strongly against the U.S.’s role in the war, insisting that the U.S. was in Vietnam ‘to occupy it as an American colony’ and calling the U.S. government ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ But he also argued that the country needed larger and broader moral changes:
“King was long hated by many white southern segregationists, but this speech turned the more mainstream media against him. Time called the speech ‘demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,’ and the Washington Post declared that King had ‘diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.'”
Barack Obama chose to breathe the air of Ft. Wayne, Indiana rather than that of Memphis, Tennessee, on the 4.4 anniversary. By staying away from the congregation of media in Memphis and the usual blah-blah that the media always seems to engender, I think he did the right thing.
“I can still see Widmark turning the pages of the script, and his voice was so frightening. He was not repeating his most famous role [i.e., Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death], but you knew that evil son of a bitch was somehow still lurking, still inside him, ready and willing to kill you but, more than that, anxious to put you in agony.” — William Goldman recalling a moment in ’75 or thereabouts when Richard Widmark read for the part of Szell in front of Goldman and John Schlesinger, at a time when it wasn’t 100% certain that Laurence Olivier would be able to play the part.
Tough super-delegate math for Hillary Clinton, another even-steven Pennsylvania poll (the third in this vein), and Barack Obama leading Clinton 56 to 33 in North Carolina. But it would be disingenuous of me not to applaud Clinton for (according to Drudge) reportedly calling on Bush to boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
The Reel Geezers (Lorenzo Semple, Marcia Nasatir) on Leatherheads — a very frank, very intelligent pan by a pair of old pros who speak with believable authority about the studio-era classic comedies that George Clooney‘s film tries to emulate. This was “added” on 4.6 — these guys don’t post in advance of a film’s release?
Sample comments: (a) “These guys are running around like crazy trying to make a funny movie, and it’s embarassing…like being in a restaurant and no waiters or busboys”; (b) “It is singularly unfunny and doesn’t make a great deal fo sense”; (c) “It’s very hard to root for Clooney as the underdog”; and (d) “As soon as I heard about, I felt it would take a gun to make me see it. Comedy football movies! I can’t think of a genre less likely to be good.”
Semple refers to David Anspaugh‘s Hoosiers as “that basketball movie that came out about ten years ago.” It opened on 11.14.86.
It’s also interesting to consider the almost uniformly rough, dismissive comments about Clooney on Nikki Finke‘s blog, who wrote yesterday morning about the box-office failure of Leatherheads and in so doing used the word “fumble.” I warned against that!