Matteo Garrone‘s Gomorrah, an Italian-mafia crime film, was perhaps the best 2008 Cannes Film Festival selection that I didn’t see. (Of course, not having seen it I can’t say this absolutely, but everyone spoke of it very highly.) IFC will distribute in this country. It’ll probably play Toronto and then open in late September or October. Here’s a 7.9 N.Y. Times story by Elizabetta Povoledo that discusses Gomorrah and another big Italian title, Il Divo.
But what’s this odd-looking photo that ran with the Times piece? It looks like the shooter on the scooter is using an anti-gravitational levitation weapon that stuns the victim and causes him to float two or three feet above the ground. Of all the photos and frame captures, someone selected a still that almost suggests some kind of dark comedy or sci-fi piece? I’m not saying it fits either bill, but it certainly flirts.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in mid to late June has Barack Obama leading John McCain nationally 48 to 40. Obama is faring better with under-50 voters than John Kerry was at this point four years ago; is still weak with over-65s. About 30% of former Clinton supporters are resistant to Obama (i.e., PUMAs). A steady and dependable 12% of voters still insists on believing Obama is a Muslim with ulterior motives. A third of registered voters say they are undecided or may change their minds. But two new Zogby International polls have Obama leading McCain in the must-win states of Pennsylvania by 10 points and in Michigan by 14 points. So things are looking okay or at least decent for the most part. But don’t get cocky.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2oth Century Fox, 7.25) is, I feel, a fairly bad title. I would prefer a title like, say, Believer: X-Files 2. A title should always convey something you understand without having to think it through. What does I Want to Believe mean? In the existence of aliens? What does wanting have to do with it? Either the obtainable facts support their existence or they don’t.
Just as I was sorting all this out, a non-journalist in the loop sent me an e-mail calling it “this year’s Star Trek: Nemesis.” Jeez, I can’t even remember if I’ve seen that film. Released six years ago, directed by Stuart Baird. “No real scope or excitement…feels like an series episode projected onto a big screen,” he then said. Well, naturally one might think that, given the TV origins and Chris Carter directing. But what’s “scope” these days and what’s “tube fare”? I’m not sure the definitions have remained static.
Anything positive to say? Yes, the guy said — the DVD release “is where the real revenue lies.” Two more plus factors: “It didn’t cost much and the stars — David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson — weren’t as expensive this time out.”
Gala Presentations at the Toronto Film Festival will include Secret Life of Bees (dir: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Fox Searchlight) with Dakota Fanning, Hilarie Burton, Paul Bettany, Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys; The Duchess (dir: Saul Dibb, United Kingdom) with Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, DominicCooper, Hayley Atwell and Charlotte Rampling.
Special Presentations will include Religulous (dir: Larry Charles, USA), the Bill Maher anti-religion doc; Every Little Step (dir: James Stern, Adam Del Deo, USA), a doc about the creating of A Chorus Line; Ghost Town (dir: David Koepp, USA) with Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni; Happy-Go-Lucky (dir: Mike Leigh, United Kingdom) ; RocknRolla (dir: Guy Ritchie) with Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Chris Bridges, Jeremy Piven and Idris Elba; and Waltz with Bashir (dir: Ari Folman, Israel/France/Germany), the celebrated animated film.
Eddie Murphy‘s Meet Dave (20th Century Fox, 7.11), a sometimes bad, often mediocre but occasionally funny family comedy about an alien visiting New York City and causing trouble, screened last night at the Westside Pavillion.
Don’t trust this Meet Dave photo as it misrepresents the size of the little guys, who are actually about one-fifth the size of the mini-Murphy shown here.
The audience was packed with Murphy fans (descriptions shouldn’t be necessary) and included very few journalists. I went expecting something dreadful and came away…how to best put this? I was glad when it ended but I wasn’t angry. It made me laugh a few times. It’s a second-rate kids movie but at least it’s not offensively “off.” Well, it is that here and there. But the people around me seemed okay with it. They knew it was crap but they were grateful (or at least content) that it had some funny stuff popping through from time to time.
Murphy plays an alien robot who slams into earth — New York’s Liberty Island, right next to the statue — in order to retrieve a baseball-sized space meteor that has crashed into the Manhattan area a few hours earlier. (Or was it a few days earlier?) I never understood or gave a shit why the mini-meteor was important to retrieve. No one in the theatre did either, trust me. They were just vegging out, munching away, sitting there like zombies…whatever.
Murphy’s robot is controlled by a crew of tiny Star Trek-styled leprechauns living inside his head and body cavity. Yeah, that’s right — in the same way the fellow trying to seduce Erin Fleming in Woody Allen‘s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex was run by a team of tiny guys controlling various parts of his body and brain (Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds among them).
Meet Dave tries to tell two stories at once — the first about the Murphy robot’s interactions with a young widow (Elizabeth Banks) and her son (Austyn Myers) and a pair of Manhattan cops (one played by Scott Caan), and the second about a kind of emotional revolution among the leprechaun crew. In this realm Murphy plays a second role as a one-inch-tall Captain Kirk figure, with Ed Helms playing his second-in-command who’s basically feels that love and dancing and kicking back are bad for the mission.
The leprechauns’ command center has been deliberately designed to look like the set of a ’60s-era space-travel TV series, which, I guess, is director Brian Robbins‘ way of saying to the audience, “You can relax… we’re just goofing off here.”
My point is that some of the full-sized-Murphy-robot sequences aren’t half bad and are even genuinely funny here and there, but the leprechaun stuff mainly gets in the way. It was a bad idea to try and make the stories interweave and feed off each other in a way that mutually benefits. Because they mainly fight with each other.
The only sequence in which the leprechaun story works nicely with the robot tale is when a gay crew member teaches the Murphy robot to dance like John Travolta while he and Banks are on a dance floor in a Manhattan club.
If I had a couple of kids under 12, I would take them this weekend to Meet Dave and nobody would be the worse for it. I might even take a 13 or 14 year-old. But it’s a throwaway movie that doesn’t work, and Murphy, as everyone seems to agree, is in serious career trouble. He needs to do stand-up again, hit the clubs, get his groove back. He didn’t even show up for the Meet Dave premiere last Tuesday night. What kind of asshole move was that?
MGM production chief Mary Parent has “assembled [a] production team” to make a “new installment” — i.e., not a remake — of John Milius‘s Red Dawn, it was officially announced today in an e-mailed MGM press release. Horror writer Carl Ellsworth will pen a script based on a story by Jeremy Passmore. A.D. and stunt man Dan Bradley has been signed to direct. (A stunt guy?) The producers will be Contrafilm’s Tripp Vinson and Beau Flynn.
In other words, Parent is looking to push out a B-level popcorn actioner.
The 1984 original was about teenagers defending their homeland from invading Russian troops.The press release makes no mention of which country the invading army might be from this time, but since Red Dawn was a ground-level political fantasy and Islamic fundamentalists are the only decent villains around these days, it’s probably safe to assume Ellsworth and Passmore’s story will be using Middle Eastern baddies of some sort.
If so, that would mean Parent’s new Red Dawn will be a John McCain wet dream movie aimed at attracting Barack Obama‘s “bitter” brigade — under-educated, red-state-residing, work-boot-wearing, gun-clinging, etc.
Another story option is that the invaders are space aliens, but of course that would invalidate Parent’s statement that the film will be a “new installment” of the Milius film.
In acknowledgement of last July’s double-disc DVD of Milius’s classic, I wrote the following on 7.26.07: “Ruthless, ogre-ish, heavily-armed invaders descend from the sky, take over the reins of government, and before you know it rebel groups are forming into grass-roots militias, fighting back like proud guerillas and asserting their nativist rights — this is our country! Death to the invaders! Death before submission!
“Does this like, uhm…remind anyone of anything?
“This double-disc DVD of John Milius’ Red Dawn hit stores on 7.17. Do you think the MGM/UA Home Video guys had any ideas about present-day parallels, or were they just after some 20th anniversary bucks? I once asked Milius himself about the Iraqi rebellion angle — he didn’t bite, but he didn’t strenuously argue it either.”
Nobody does myopia like Americans. I’m including American filmmakers in this equation.
Overlooked in last Sunday’s Variety story by Nick Holdsworth about Robert De Niro‘s comments in front of a Karlovy Vary Film Festival audience is a comment he made about wanting to make two more Good Shepherd films. For the tube maybe. Certainly for theatrical. The want-to-see would be close to nil. De Niro is just “talking,” of course, but it gives you an idea of how off-on-their-own-cloud some hyphenates and former movie stars can be.
De Niro said he “would like to make one [sequel] bringing the action forward from 1961 to 1989, the other following its hero, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), up to the present day,” Holdsworth wrote.
Part One, in other words, would end with the collapse of Communism in the Soviet satellite countries in eastern Europe. It would of course diverge from history in that James Jesus Angleton, the legendary CIA figure whom the Wilson character is largely based upon, died in 1987.
Part Two would presumably concern itself with Saddam Hussein, the ’91 Gulf war, Islamic fundamentalism, the ’93 World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, bogus WMDs, the March ’03 invasion of Iraq and so on.
De Niro said that “although he is not working on research for the concluding parts of the hoped-for trilogy, he said [that] being in central Europe offered a good opportunity to begin thinking about the material. √É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ö‚ÄúI had not been planning to do research on that while here, but it is a good idea,√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ç¬ù De Niro said.
A 7.9 report by Blogspout’s Karina Longworth about an apparent intention to show Steven Sodebergh‘s Che at the next New York Film Festival was noticed today by Lou Lumenick‘s N.Y. Post blog (along with a half-amusing headline — “Lincoln Center Braces for Che-Mania as Film Fest Books Commie Epic“).
Longworth found her information on the evening of 7.8 while perusing the online version of the July/August issue of Film Comment (like NYFF, a production of the Film Society of Lincoln Center) and on the issue’s index page, there was a preview of the magazine’s September/October issue [which apparently referred to a Che presence at the NYFF]. “For whatever reason,” says Longworth, “if you go to that page today the preview no longer exists, but since it’s still in the Google cache, I was able to screencap it.”
Longworth also links to an announcement from Mumbai’s UTV World Movies channel that Che will be shown on Indian television sometime later this year, apparently in concert with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, or sometime in December.
Here’s the verdict from the Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg on the 3G iPhone, which comes out tomorrow morning. The two most noteworthy observations are that (a) email and internet surfing is between three and five times faster as it is with the older AT&T network to which the first iPhone was limited”, and (b) in Mossberg’s own testing, the iPhone 3G’s “battery drained much more quickly in a typical day of use than the battery on the original iPhone, due to the higher power demands of 3G networks.”
Six more observations: (c) “Apple’s exclusive carrier in the U.S., AT&T Inc., has effectively negated the iPhone’s up-front price cut by jacking up its monthly fee for unlimited data use by $10, and if you want text messaging, the cost rises further — $5 bucks for 200 monthly messages, or another $120 over the two-year contract”; (d) the main stylistic main difference is the back, which is “now plastic instead of mostly metal and curved instead of flat, and is very slightly thicker in the middle, with tapered edges, and weighs a tiny bit less”; (e) the audio on the new iPhone is greatly improved; (f) the headphone jack now accepts any standard stereo earphones; (g) the camera, however, is still bare-bones with a lousy 2 megapixel resolution; (h) Apple no longer rincludes a dock for charging, just a cable.
New York’s “Vulture” page has gotten a copy and reviewed it. Ain’t It Cool‘s Harry Knowles has also read and semi-reviewed. An intern working for a mid-sized distributor wrote yesterday and told me he has a copy. A guy who works at John and Pete’s liquor store on La Cienega was reading a copy last night between customers. My mother called me last night from Connecticut with her reactions.
I’m apparently the only movie hound in the civilized world who hasn’t read Quentin Tarantino‘s 165-page script of Inglourious Basterds, which, according to a cover-page photo provided by the Vulture guys, is how Quentin spells it.
They’re reporting, in fact, that the misspelling of bastards “continues through the screenplay,” which suggests that QT “was writing really, really fast.” They’re being cute — I tend to be blunt. Isn’t “basterds” the spelling equivalent of “rite” (as in write), “resterrant” (as in restaurant) and “simputhetik” (as in sympathetic)?
One of three possibilities: (a) Tarantino is a borderline illiterate, (b) He’s having everyone off by pretending to be a retard, or perhaps pretending to be one of the retard soldiers in the piece, or (c) the Vulture guys are having us off. My money is on (a) but you never know.
The script is “definitely the ur-text of Quentin Tarantino’s career up to now,” Vulture proclaims. “It combines his love of old movies (war movies, Westerns, and even prewar German cinema), his attraction to powerful female protagonists, his love of chatter, and his willingness to embrace the extreme — visually and in his storytelling. (The flashbacks have particularly Tarantino-esque flourishes; a thought bubble pops out of a character’s head to introduce one while another is shot spaghetti-Western style.)
“All in all, it reads like Kill Bill meets The Dirty Dozen meets Cinema Paradiso.”
McWeeny, on the other hand, says it’s “The Guns of Navarone meets Malena meets Cinema Paradiso along with a ton of just stuff we don’t have references for. It does celebrate the possibilities within a cinematic universe and in many ways — it’s not a gigantic movie in anyway other than ambition.
“Much of the film takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris — and I couldn’t help it as I read the script, but to imagine actors like Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, etc in these roles as opposed to a modern cast. That said and God willing, some brilliant studio will see that this isn’t a recreation of history, slavishly playing to graven memory of war, but a film. A work of pure imagination unleashed upon the cinematic setting of World War II.”
It’s presumed that Brad Pitt‘s character, if and when he signs to star in Basterds, will play a Tennesse redneck with a neck scar called Lieutenant Aldo Raine — obviously an allusion to ’50s B movie star Aldo Ray and his performances in Eisenhower-era war films like The Naked and the Dead, Men in War, Three Stripes in the Sun and Battle Cry.
All I know is that three script sources who’ve come through for me in the past have let me down. It hurts. It feels badly. Well, maybe later today.
The AP reported this morning that US Airways will remove in-flight entertainment systems on domestic flights come November to save about $10 million annually in fuel and other costs. Spokesman Phil Gee explained that the 500-pound weight of movie systems (i.e., devices that generate video images for those back-of–the-seat screens) forces planes to use more fuel to get around the country. Presumably other carriers will be following suit.
Forget the 500 pounds and the bland in-flight movies with their Disneyworld editing standards and substitute dialogue. Just make it easier to get AC power for passenger computers, iPhones and iPods, and offer gratis broadband service to business and first-class and paid broadband to coach. Simple.