The problem, unfortunately, is that Haden Church wears a truly wretched moustache in Noam Murro‘s film, and it wrestles with his performance. He’s still the film’s most winning actor (slightly more engaging than Ellen Page, and much more so than the growly and curmudgeonly Dennis Quaid), but every time you look at him your eyes go right to his upper lip and it’s like…why?
This led me to lament almost all moustaches everywhere. I realize that some actors look better with them. Or they did in the good old days. Clark Gable, Ronald Colman, William Daniels in The Graduate, John Hillerman in Chinatown, etc. Robert Redford’s ‘stache in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid looked terrific. But almost everyone who doesn’t have the kind of face that really and truly needs the augmentation of upper-lip hair looks awful when they grow one. I mean terrible and sometimes even comically miscalculated at times. The word doofusy comes to mind.
Black guys, for whatever reason, almost always look good with moustaches. Who can imagine Billy Dee Williams without one? Except for Denzel Washington — they don’t work for him at all.
That story about Mike Nichols doing a low-budget film in the Hamptons is a bogus embarassment. It started with Dark Horizon’s‘ Garth Franklin linking to a column item by Hamptons.com’s Jennifer Tuesday claiming that the “Oscar-winning” Nichols is about to shoot a “teen horror film” in the Hamptons area called Breadcrumbs. It turns out that (a) it’s another Mike Nichols (a guy who happens to have the same name) directing this thing and (b) Tuesday is a brilliant reporter. It feels wonderful to have wasted time on this thing.
“There’s been a lot of talk lately about film critics who’ve lost their jobs and their prestige, but there are worse things that can happen to a writer,” The Oregonian‘s Shawn Levy has written. “And, unfortunately, one of these more serious fates has befallen D. K. Holm, the longtime Portland film and book reviewer, curmudgeon, gadfly, and boulevardier who finds himself battling cancer without the security of medical insurance to help him with the gargantuan bills that his care entails.
“Doug’s medical prognosis is, thankfully, hopeful. But his economic situation remains dire. This is where you and I come in.
“On April 27 at Cinema 21, a benefit will be held to help provide Doug with a financial cushion. Various of Doug’s many Portland friends — including Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini, filmmaker Patti Lewis, and bluesman Steve Cheseborough — will perform or present their work, and assorted artworks and dining and entertainment packages will be auctioned off. And donations will be accepted at the door and afterward.
“For complete information about Doug, his writing, and the benefit, as well as details about how you can help if you can’t be there on the 27th, visit this page. And keep thinking good thoughts, yeah?”
Two days ago former Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Entertainment Weekly and L.A. Times journalist Anita Busch testified at the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping trial about the heavy intimidation she received in ’02 (the “stop” note, the dead fish, etc.) at Pellicano’s behest to back off from writing a tough story about one of his clients. Variety‘s Anne Thompson filed a story about it early Wednesday evening.
Busch, thought to be a pretty tough and shrewd reporter in her day, wept a bit, talked about how scared she was about her life back then and whether or not she could financially survive, declared that she “stopped writing” and that she’ll never write a book about the threats, and so on. I never had a dead fish put on my car windshield, but my phone was tapped by Pellicano in ’93 and he tried to shake me up psychologically during the same period. It was unpleasant as hell, and I was angry for a time, but I got over it. You ride it out and you move on.
Keanu Reeves‘ portrayal of his ragged-edge L.A. detective in David Ayer‘s Street Kings is one reason I wasn’t very comfortable watching it. Forrest Whitaker‘s performance, as I explained on 4.5, is another. There’s a costar I did like, however — took to him immediately, decided he was cool. I’m speaking of 26 year-old Chris Evans, who plays a younger cop who pools forces with Reeves around the beginning of the third act.
Chris Evans in Cellular
I was therefore doubly irate at this film when…how can I put this? If you have a strong character with natural charisma, a director should introduce him early and keep him around until the end.
Evans has had decent roles in ’05’s Cellular and Fantastic Four and ’07’s Sunshine, Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Nanny Diaries. But these and Street Kings are second-tier audience movies directed by B-level directors (or, in the case of Sunshine, an A-level director off his game.) Evans has the stuff, I believe, that can move him up the ladder. But it won’t happen if he doesn’t hook himself up with A-level guys — Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Mann, Wes Anderson, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Alfonso Cuaron, Steven Soderbergh, the Coen brothers, etc.
It seems odd, also, that in her half-joshing review of Street Kings, Manohla Dargis doesn’t even mention Evans. She’s one of the sharpest critics around and I’m not wrong about Evans, so what’s the explanation? I know what I know and I’m right. Evans is the guy you like in this film.
The only problem is that he needs to lose the U.S. Marines haircut, which he had during the Street Kings junket.
Incredibly, the people behind Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a right-wing documentary that uses Ben Stein to try and sell the idea of “intelligent design” (i.e., creationism in new clothes), are opening it in godforsaken Los Angeles on 4.18 and have hired Rogers & Cowan to flack for it and arrange for press screenings (one on Monday, 4.14 and another the following day).
The downside is that the film’s only booking is at Mann’s Beverly Center, an old-style shoebox plex (built in 1981) where little movies go to die.
Here’s the best passage in my initial piece about this film, which was posted on 3.10.08: “The irony is that I happen to believe in intelligent design also, in a sense. There is obviously a unified flow and an absolute cosmic commonality in all living things and all aspects of the architecture. The difference is that I don’t attach a Bible-belt morality to this overwhelming fact. To me God is impartial, celestial, biological, mathematical, amoral, unemotional, miraculous and breathtaking.
“However you define the altogether, He/She/It has absolutely zero ‘interest’ in whether you or your great-uncle or next door neighbor are adhering to the Ten Commandments or having an abortion or helping a homeless person or what-have-you. The molecular perfection and mind-blowingly infinite implications of God are way, way beyond ground-level morality.”
Indiewire’s Eugene Hernandez has written that buyers have told Cinetic Media that one reason they’re not interested in Tia Lessin and Carl Deal‘s Trouble The Water, a doc about the Katrina disaster that showed at Sundance ’08, is that it’s “too black.” He also quotes an unnamed distribution exec having allegedly asked, “Why aren’t more white people in the film?”
Defamer‘s Stu VanAirsdale has jumped into this one also, writing that “we’ll take a swag epidemic any day over a gang of rich assholes passing racism off as caution.”
Hold up there, Eugene and Stu. I saw Trouble The Water at Sundance myself, and I wouldn’t pick it up if you held a gun to my head and threatened to strangle my dog with your bare hands. Not because it’s “too black,” but because the blackness in the film — the look of it, the visual language, the cultural vibe and atmosphere — is too low-rent.
I’ll watch a doc at the Park City Library about people who are on the edge of destitution and struggling to hang on, but you can’t seriously expect Average Joes to pay to see this thing….c’mon. It’s one of those “lemme outta here” docs that well-meaning but sadistic film-festival programmers are sometimes attracted to.
On top of which Hernandez and VanAirsdale ignore the thing in this film that makes you want to leave immediately, which is the godawful nausea-inducing shakycam photography that occupies a good part of the opening half-hour or so. I described it thusly last January:
“I’ve almost never felt queasy from jiggly, hand-held photography (I eat films like Dancer in the Dark for breakfast), although I’ll admit that Cloverfield has more than its share. Yesterday, however, I saw the King Kong of hand-held nausea jiggle movies — Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Trouble The Water, a doc about the Katrina disaster.” (Since racism is part of this very p.c. discussion, I’ll say here and now that I chose the term “King Kong” instead of saying “the Citizen Kane of hand-held nausea jiggle movies” because I wanted to convey a feeling of something that’s (a) much stronger than the viewer and (b) definitely to be feared.)
“Half of it was shot by Lessin and Deal in the usual fashion and is no big challenge,” I wrote, “but the other half is shakycam footage of Katrina’s devastation shot by one of the film’s main subjects, Kimberly Rivers. (The other non-pro photographer is her husband Scott.) The footage is so scattered and whip-panny that I was starting to think about bolting less than ten minutes in.”
I was thinking as I sat there in the second row that Rivers is a complete moron in terms of the visual knack that any photographer needs to bring to shooting anything. She shoots her neighborhood/Katrina footage with an almost malicious disregard for what her audience (either a friend watching it in her living room or a congregation of 600 or 700 Sundance festivalgoers) may be experiencing down the road. Some people just don’t get it and should never, ever pick up a camera, and Rivers — God help Cinetic, Lessin and Deal — is one of them.
If I were running a New Orleans Cinematography School and Rivers tried to enroll, I would smile and put my arm around her and say, “Kimberly, I love you but you’d be throwing your money away. Your gifts lie elsewhere.”
There’s a pet expression that too many people use if they’re excited and delighted about something very positive that’s just happened — meeting an old friend, running into a good friend by coincidence on the street, hearing good news, etc. They open their mouths, bug out their eyes, put their hands to their faces (or the sides of their heads) and say, “Oh, my Gawd!” Except they say it almost like a question, as if to say “if God is listening, will He/She hear my immense joy?”
I didn’t really mean “people” because I’ve never once heard a straight guy say this — ever. The expression is used solely by spirited, open-hearted women (younger women mostly, Carrie Bradshaw types, not very educated mall women, 20 something borough girls) and…I was going to say gay guys but now that I think of it I’m not sure they use it either. Do they?
I’m not exactly putting certain folks down for using this expression, but every time I hear it it’s like chalk on the blackboard. I literally convulse. I look over at the person saying it with daggers in my eyes and say to myself, “I’m not going to mention this to your face, but you’ve just given yourself a huge demerit in my book.”
Near the end of this clip (which is mainly about Bill Clinton lying in trying to defend his wife’s Bosnia lie, which she stated three or four times), Matt Lauer brings up yesterday’s Associated Press-Ipsos national poll numbers showing McCain and Obama tied at 45-45.
In what way is ’08 a change year when the red staters are standing by McCain to this degree? An old guy who promises Bush III, an indefinite Iraq conflict, is dug in deep with the lobbyists, same old lower taxes for fat cats, etc. The levels of ignorance in this country gush like foothill rapids fed by melted mountain snow. Just when you think there might be a serious turn in the road, Ma and Pa Kettle think again and decide it might be better after all to stick with another saber rattler. People sense a certain maverick integrity in McCain, the “Honest John” straight-shooter thing, but my God…the lack of examination! It’s going to be a very rough and infuriating campaign.
Prom Night, opening today in roughly 2700 theatres, is tracking at 70, 31 and 17 — obviously the film to beat this weekend. What kind of coarse jungle genes do you need in your system to be looking forward to this thing? Don’t the under-25s realize that buying a ticket to it is tantamount to stenciling the words “shameless moviegoing cretin” on their foreheads?
As critic Brian Orndorf has observed, “Stop me if you’ve read these ingredients before: a PG-13 horror picture, a remake of an 80s cult classic, directed by nondescript filmmaker, pathetically kept from critics to avoid unpleasant opening-day reviews, and starring a roster of insipid young actors? Surely this means only the finest quality Hollywood has to offer!”
David Ayer‘s Street Kings (Fox Searchlight) is running just behind at 50, 38 and 15. Opening in roughly 2500 theatres, it’ll be nipping at Prom Night‘s heels all weekend. They’ll both do moderately well. The final tallies will be what they will be. What do you really care…am I right? What does the modest box-office fate of Street Kings have to do with anything, much less the price of rice? What does it mean at the end of the day?
Smart People, the relationship movie starring Dennis Quaid (sporting a beard and a pot belly) and Sarah Jessica Parker, will be bringing up the rear. It’s tracking at 48, 26 and 6.
I should have posted this yesterday, but the action on left-click button on my primary computer has been getting worse and worse so I finally took it into the shop yesterday morning, and in so doing left the latest tracking data on the C drive without a copy.