Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount, 5.21) is locked and runs around two hours and twenty-something minutes. Screened for the first time only recently (and apparently due to be shown “internally” once more early next week), the final elements will be sent to the printer next week, in part so the subtitled Cannes version can be prepared in time.
Goofing off is the latest vein in post-9.11/ Iraq War cinema, according to Village Voice pulse-taker Anthony Kaufman. Three examples are cited: the grossly comedic Harold and Kummar Escape From Guantanamo, Morgan Spurlock‘s Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? and War, Inc., a satire of American imperialism in the Middle East that will have its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month.
“Trying to be earnest about something…does nothing to explain it,” says documentarian Michael Tucker (Bulletproof Salesman, Gunner Palace). “That’s why the fiction films [about the Iraq War] have largely failed — because people are already in that emotional place. Yes, [the war is] tragic and horrible. Duh. What else is there?”
I’ve been meaning to write something about Spurlock’s film (and I will), but the most persistent thought I had while watching it was that he’s losing his hair. I kept saying to myself, “Wow, he’s either gonna need some plugs really soon or he’s going to have to just go with it and be James Taylor. Except he’s a little young to be James Taylor.” And I don’t he can do the shaved-head thing with that Fu-Manchu moustache — too extreme, too rednecky.
I realize that admitting to having thought mostly about Spurlock’s hair problem is a kind of comment about the film. I guess that’s what I’m doing. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.
“So Kim says you’ve landed a place that has a terrace and (choke) looks out on the Mediterranean? And you call yourselves journalists? Unless they work for the N.Y. Times, Cannes-covering reporters and critics generally stay in hovels with small or no windows, and in buildings that are a nice healthy walk away from the Croisette. And views of the Mediterranean are totally out. You should know that. I’d like a full explanation, please, because this isn’t right.” — HE to Cinematical’s James Rocchi and Kim Voynar, who have allegedly scored nice digs during next month’s festival, courtesy of AOL.
New L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll numbers: Indiana — Obama 40, Clinton 35. Pennsylvania — Clinton 46, Obama 41. North Carolina — Obama 47, Clinton 34. (Dates conducted: April 10-14. (Obama’s “cling” story broke on 4.11). Error margin in each state: 4 points. (Sources: Mark Halperin’s The Page, Janet Hook reporting in the L.A. Times)
A friend called a while ago to report that he and a major newspaper critic were laughing out loud during a screening of Jon Avnet‘s 88 Minutes at Sony Studios earlier today. The film has played all over Europe (it opened in France on 5.30.07) and is in fact currently available on DVD is seven or eight countries as we speak. Why did Al Pacino make this thing? For the money, obviously, but are things going so badly in his career that he’s forced to do two movies with Avnet (i.e., this and Righteous Kill)?
“88 Minutes can’t even live up to its title. With 19 — count ’em, 19 — producers, including director Jon Avnet, ensuring that every aspect of the film, from the script to the star’s haircut, is ludicrous in the extreme, the picture easily snatches from Revolution the prize as Al Pacino’s career worst. Available on DVD in some territories as early as February 2007 and rolled out theatrically in France and elsewhere beginning in May of last year, this gape-inducing fiasco is getting a token domestic release that at least saves its star the indignity of a dump straight to homevid.” — from Todd McCarthy‘s nearly week-old Variety review.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) get engaged, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has moved to an LA beach house, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry (Evan Handler) get pregnant, and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Steve (David Eigenberg) grapple with infidelity.” — from a solid, well-reported New York Post piece about New Line’s Sex and the City movie.
The article says that a good deal of emphasis will be given to glamour, clothes, bling, glitter — all the stuff that turns shallow women on. I hope it goes to Cannes so guys like myself can shred it with impugnity. Unless it’s good, of course.
Tracking says that Lionsgate’s The Forbidden Kingdom (an alleged ripoff due to the fact that Michael Angarano is the star, and that Jet Li and Jackie Chan are something like supporting players) will be the upcoming weekend’s #1 film with 74, 41 and 15. Look for a steep dive next weekend…over 50%.
Jon Avnet‘s 88 Minutes, believed to be the worst film of Al Pacino‘s long career, is tracking at 60, 37 and 12. How dumb do you have to be to not be aware what an absolute dog this thing is? And yet there are obviously tens of thousands who are preparing to go this weekend. Could they be the sons and daughters of those guys who made fun of Peter Falk in that Hollywood hardware store 24 or 25 years ago? I wonder how many of them plan to vote for John McCain or Hillary Clinton?
Expelled, the right-wing religious propaganda film, is tracking at 16, 24 and 4. Forget it. In and out.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall , also opening this weekend, is tracking at 62, 26 and 11. $10 to $12 million? Another Drillbit Taylor, or a comedy that may quietly catch on? The under-30 dipsticks I saw it with a few weeks ago were having a pretty good time.
Tina Fey‘s Baby Mama, opening on 4.25, is running at 56, 31 and 5. That’s a fair rating at this stage. Deception, apparently opening limited, is 45, 23 and 1 — phfft. Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo — 52, 34 and 4. Work to do, fellas!
Iron Man (Paramount, 5.2) is running at 75, 46 and 18. Really big. But it’s strictly a male thing so far. The first-choice rating for men alone is averaging around 28. Opening the same weekend is Made of Honor, the Patrick Dempsey romantic comedy. 58, 27 and 4, but among women alone it’s running 8 at first choice. Cal it an Iron Man counter-programmer.
“I have the luxury of having [been in] Scientology, and after having been in it, gotten out. And that’s a perspective [that] people who are in it, do not have. I think it’s destructive and a ripoff, and very, very dangerous for your health. I think it stunts your evolution. I think the farther you go up the bridge, the worse you get. That’s what I see.” — Jason Beghe, TV actor.
Defamer‘s Stu VanAirsdale has posted a video snippet of Robert De Niro‘s remarks at last night’s Meryl Streep tribute at Lincoln Center.
“If De Niro’s appearance is any indication, all those haters who ridiculed the actor’s agency switch last week might have another thing coming,” VanAirsdale notes. “De Niro killed. In a cruise-ship comic kind of way, perhaps, and filing through a fistful of index-carded one-liners, but still.”
HE comment #1: Yes, he did pretty well at the lecturn, but you can’t hear what he’s saying on Stu’s video — it’s too echo-y. HE comment #2: Despite his genius instincts as an actor, De Niro is not known for being the most intellectually gifted actor in the business, so it makes sense that he would bring along the index cards in case, you know, he “went up.” (Which happens to everyone.)
The best quote from that alleged written-within-CAA letter about De Niro’s departure: “Bobby blames everybody but himself for the way he’s squandered his career, and refused lots of quality pictures because they wouldn’t give him producer credit. [He] had a choice ten or so years ago. He could either go the Nicholson route — very selective, very particular, protect the brand — or go out sending himself up in tripe like Analyze This, which made money but turned him into that ‘old psycho guy.’ He could have concentrated on quality stuff, but instead wanted to keep funding his little empire in New York.”
Speaking of Peter Falk, the following is a true story, witnessed first-hand by myself: It was ’83 or ’84, and I was in a quality hardware store on a Saturday afternoon somewhere in deep Hollywood. And suddenly I heard laughing and joshing coming from two or three guys standing around the checkout counter, which was just out of sight. Then I heard some guy say, “Heyyy…detective!” with the other guys laughing like he’d just said something truly brilliant and inspired.
And then I saw Falk coming down the aisle next to mine, angry and exasperated at being ribbed in such a coarse and lunkheaded way. He said “Jesus!” at least twice, although it may have been three times. He said it with a mixture of agony and disbelief, as if to say “these assholes are unbelievable…really fucking unbelievable” And the chowderheads who were Colombo-ing him didn’t give a damn how rude they were being or how stupid they were making themselves look. All they knew or cared about was that Detective Colombo was in their midst and they were going to have fun with this while it lasted. They were like children having fun heckling a gorilla in a cage at a zoo.
There are guys like this all over, in every country. But the guys like this who live in Pennsylvania will probably be voting for Clinton or McCain.
Some of the finest title sequences of all time are viewable on Art of the Title. DVD-quality clips of the entire damn things and way better than YouTube except there are loading problems. The first two played for me — I watched the sequences for Bonnie and Clyde and Se7en — and then they stopped. You click on them and the wheels just whirl around and around and you’re just sitting there while life outside goes on all around you.
Some great opening title sequences that aren’t listed on the site: North by Northwest, Moby Dick, Raging Bull, Teh French Connection, The Hustler, Volver, the 1953 War of the Worlds, Zodiac, The Man With the Golden Arm, White Heat, L.A. Confidential, Dr. No, The Wizard of Oz…there are hundreds and hundreds that are very sharp and pizazzy and well presented. I could go on all day. They don’t have to be stylistically avant garde to be “good.” They have to arrest your attention, get you into the right mood, jack up the energy, etc.
The memory plays tricks but I’m pretty sure that the worst title sequence of all time was used for Neil Simon‘s The Cheap Detective (’78), a ’40s detective genre spoof directed by Robert Moore and starring Peter Falk. There are no opening visual titles whatsoever, as I recall. Falk says them to the camera. He literally says his own name and that of his costars, the screenwriter, the production designer, the editor, the composer, the director and so on. Am I mis-remembering? Am I describing some other film? I’m pretty sure it was this one. I remember sitting there and saying to myself, “My God, this is awful.”