Slate‘s Dennis Lim has put together an excellent video slide show on the evolution of Hollywood fight scenes. He explores how we got to the current vogue for jumpy, heavily-edited scenes, with stops along the way to look at The Big Country, Raging Bull, Natural Born Killers, The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum, etc.
My two favorites among Lim’s selections are the final Jake vs. Sugar Ray fight from Raging Bull, and the Big Country fist fight between Charlton Heston and Gregory Peck.
Old-fashioned as this may sound, I like my duke-out scenes cut so I can (gasp!) understand what’s going on. I’ve always loved the Bruce Willis vs. Alexander Gudonov tussle in Die Hard and yet I was totally fine with The Bourne Ultimatum. Where’s the fight scene from The Yards, which is one of the best ever by any standard?
Not the least bit believable as conversation, and way too glib and oppressively speechy (even by Paddy Chayefsky standards). But philosophically I swear by every word. They’re almost guaranteed to make any macho conservative sputter with contempt, but if we’d all be better off if we took the gospel of Charlie Madison more seriously.
An HE reader named Sean M. wrote today to say “thanks for your pushing of Man on Wire. The wife and I went to go see it Sunday (and yes, we chose it over Stepbrothers) and it was the best moviegoing experience of the year, slightly nudging out The Dark Knight.
“Why? Because I am always riveted by movies that, despite the fact you know how it is going to end, create a level of tension that is only relieved by the completion of the act you were waiting for. Add to that removing the ‘taking for granted’ factor and really understanding the enormity of what this man willed himself to do…well it was a moving experience. It was one of those reminders of the power of cinema that I, and undoubtedly many others, do take for granted.”
Two issues with Stephen Saito‘s “The 10 Most Slanderous Slights” piece on ifc.com. One, it’s understandable why people might assume that Tom Cruise’s “Larry Grossman” character in Tropic Thunder is based on on Viacom chief Sumner Redstone, except he doesn’t look or sound like him. (I think Cruise is just playing a generic Hollywood bully-boy mogul.) And two, I was always told that Steve Martin‘s bearded producer character in Grand Canyon wasn’t based on action guy Joel Silver — I heard Larry Gordon.
In the Watchmen graphic novel, Dr. Manhattan (a.k.a. Dr. Jon Osterman) is a superhero in immaculate ice-blue skin — he’s a kind of nudist — who’s considered to be emotionless and uninterested in human affairs. He does nothing to prevent the murder of President John F. Kennedy, even though he’s aware it’s going to happen when he meets JFK. And he becomes a pawn of the United States government who helps our side win not only the Cold War but the godforsaken Vietnam War, of all things.
I need to re-read Watchmen or something. I know Alan Moore‘s story is about an alternate-reality universe in which things haven’t turned out like they did in actuality (i.e., victory over Russia, the triumph of Richard Nixon). But I have to say that Dr. Manhattan, no offense, kind of sounds on the surface like a sociopath. Or, you know, kind of a dickhead.
Billy Crudup, who likes playing conflicted, misunderstood guys, will portray Osterman/Dr. Manhattan in the forthcoming film. A superhero who helps defeat the Viet Cong? I know it’s not what it sounds like on the surface and there other myriad levels to consider, but nonethless there’s a voice in me that’s asking “what kind of horseshit is this?”
I don’t mean to harp on Sunday morning’s Shia Lebeouf bang-up, but c’mon. It’s one thing to give or get a ding or a dent, but flipping your pickup truck at a major intersection (La Brea and Fountain) with pizza splattered all over the street and a major crater on the driver’s side door? That’s something out of the car-crash scene in Amorres perros.
I’ve been in two serious bangers — a BMW slammed into my right side in ’98, sending me spinning 270 degrees — but it takes a lot of speed and ferocity to flip a large pickup truck, lemme tell ya. Whoever did the initial reporting dropped the ball.
It’s perfectly allowable that Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who will play Edward Blake (.a.k.a., “the Comedian”) in Zack Snyder‘s Watchmen, looks like Javier Bardem‘s younger, fuller-faced brother. But it’s always a bit of a problem when actors seem to resemble each other too much. This is a request, therefore, for the most glaring “separated at birth” duos out there right now. I would have supplied at least two or three, but I ran out of my Gingko Biloba pills two weeks ago.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Javier Bardem
Building on data from pollster.com, four days ago centerforpolitics.org ran a article by Alan Abramowitz, Thomas E. Mann, and Larry J. Sabato called “The Myth of a Toss-Up Election.” It basically said that the electoral total from states that are strong or leaning for Barack Obama is 287, the electoral total from states strong or leaning for John McCain is 147 and the electoral total from the remaining swing states is 107. Their point is that Obama can lose every swing state out there and still win, 287 to 253.
“‘Too close to call.’ ‘Within the margin of error.’ ‘A statistical dead heat,'” the article begins. “If you’ve been following news coverage of the 2008 presidential election, you’re probably familiar with these phrases. Media commentary on the presidential horserace, reflecting the results of a series of new national polls, has strained to make a case for a hotly contested election that is essentially up for grabs.
“Signs of Barack Obama’s weaknesses allegedly abound. The huge generic Democratic Party advantage is not reflected in the McCain-Obama pairings in national polls. Why, according to the constant refrain, hasn’t Obama put this election away? A large number of Clinton supporters in the primaries refuse to commit to Obama ((i.e., PUMAs). White working class and senior voters tilt decidedly to McCain. Racial resentment limits Obama’s support among these two critical voting blocs. Enthusiasm among young voters and African-Americans, two groups strongly attracted to Obama, is waning. Blah, blah, blah.
“While no election outcome is guaranteed and McCain’s prospects could improve over the next three and a half months, virtually all of the evidence that we have reviewed — historical patterns, structural features of this election cycle, and national and state polls conducted over the last several months — point to a comfortable Obama/Democratic party victory in November.
“Trumpeting this race as a toss-up, almost certain to produce another nail-biter finish, distorts the evidence and does a disservice to readers and viewers who rely upon such punditry. Again, maybe conditions will change in McCain’s favor, and if they do, they should also be accurately described by the media. But current data do not justify calling this election a toss-up.”
Except the PUMAs do seem to be holding back, the racial chasm in this country is wide and deep, the conservative-value bubbas are just as stupid and clueless as they’ve ever been, and don’t forget Jake Tusing and Colin Clemens, those two guys from American Teen who say they won’t be voting because politics is not for them. How many tens of thousands of under-25s who think this way are out there, sitting on their hands? A lot, I’ll bet.
Now that the dust has settled on that two-day-old story about Ridley Scott‘s Nottingham temporarily going south, surely someone has read a recent draft of the script and could pass along thoughts about why there were “script concerns”? Gregg Kilday‘s Hollywood Reporter story says the plug was pulled over that plus “labor unrest” (i.e., a possible SAG strike) and “location logistics.”
This newly re-posted W. trailer is very slightly different than the one that was taken down last night. Yesterday’s version had a stern admonishment spoken by James Cromwell‘s George Bush, Sr., to Josh Brolin‘s Dubya: “What are you cut out for? Fighting, chasing tail, driving drunk? What do you think you are? A Kennedy? You’re a Bush. Act like one.” In today’s version the words “what are you cut out for? Fighting, chasing tail, driving drunk?” have been cut.
The same trailer has been posted on Daily Motion.
I was speaking this morning with a producer friend about Shia Lebeouf‘s DUI bang-on collision yesterday morning (i.e., late Saturday night), and this triggered a story that was passed along second-hand from a trusted friend about another celebrity-drinking incident involving Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, as well as the non-drinking Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
“It happened maybe 45 days ago, a week or two after the opening of Indy 4,” I was told. “Harrison, Calista, Demi and Ashton all went out to dinner. The latter two weren’t drinking but over the course of dinner the first two had…I don’t know, two or three bottles of wine between them and got fairly loaded. Too drunk to drive, in any case. It was therefore decided — responsibly, intelligently — that Ashton would drive Harrison home in his car, and Demi would follow with Calista in her car.
“But somehow Demi lost Ashton at a traffic light, and Ashton and Harrison are now heading towards Ford’s home in the Pacific Palisades on their own, presuming that Demi will catch up. Except Calista has succumbed to the alcohol and passed out. Okay, ‘gone to sleep.’ Dead to the world, in any event. Demi tries to rouse her so she can get the directions and the address, but with no luck.” (Wells note: they didn’t type in the address on the GPS software on their Blackberry or iPhone before leaving the restaurant?)
“So as she’s driving along, Demi starts prodding and shaking Calista with her right hand to wake her up to get the address, and as a result of the shoving the car slows down and weaves a bit, and as luck would have it a couple of patrolmen notice this and pull them over. Have you been drinking? No, Demi answers. I was trying wake up my passenger to get directions to her home. Has she been drinking? Demi doesn’t want to say, says she doesn’t know. The cops suspect inebriation despite Moore’s denials — “I haven’t been drinking! I don’t drink!” — and make her do the walk and touch her nose and all that.
“Meanwhile, Harrison and Ashton have arrived at Ford’s home. It’s been a little while and they’re wondering what’s happened to the ladies. Ashton calls Demi on her cell and by this time she’s being questioned by the cops and they’re saying ‘no answering the phone while you’re being tested for intoxication.’ Harrison says to Ashton, “You want an omelette? It’ll calm you down.” Uhh, not really, Kutcher replies, having just eaten an hour or so ago. Ford leads him into the kitchen anyway and starts on the omelette. ‘You want herbs? You want cheese? You want onions?’
“Back on the road, the combined efforts of Moore and the two cops finally wake Flockhart up. It’s like she’s coming out of a coma. One of the lawmen ask, ‘Do you know where you live?’ She gives them the address and they all get into their cars with the understanding that the bulls will escort Demi and Calista to the house. A few minutes later Harrison and Ashton see the flashing lights outside and respond as you might expect — “Oh my God, are you guys okay?,’ ‘What happened?,’ ‘Why didn’t you answer your phone?’ The cops say goodnight and leave, all’s well that ends well, and everyone’s safe and sound. And again Harrison says, ‘So…who wants an omelette?'”
It’s just a story, I haven’t called to verify, but the source swears it comes from a reliable person, etc.
An ominous prediction is contained in this Dark Knight analysis from Morgan Stanley guy Evan Boucher, to wit: “So TDK did $75 million on its second weekend for a 10-day tally of about $314 million. Well and good, but I’m nonetheless persuaded that this is the last $500 million (or possibly $400 million) theatrical release you or I will ever see.
“It’s obvious that The Dark Knight is an extremely rare combination of a hundred different things it has going for it, but unlike Star Wars and Titanic, where you had small numbers of people going 3, 4 or 7 times, The Dark Knight has had, judging from what I’ve seen, larger numbers of people going twice, even if only to get a firm handle on the story.
“If and when this hits $500 million, the question will have to be ‘how do you recreate all the things that needed to happen for this to get to that mark? Even if TDK crosses the $500 million mark it’s fairly assured that it won’t overtake Titanic (which ended up with a domestic total of $600 million) unless there’s a December re-release before the DVD is available.
“In any event, the theatrical clock is ticking. Just as VHS changed the way people watch movies, and as DVD continued that evolution starting in the late ’90s, everyone has to just shut up and admit that people are going to be watching new-release mainstream feature films in their homes on opening night within the next two years and multiplexes will be folding like origami.
“Maybe the studios will make more money that way, but, like Blockbuster Video, the days of the megaplex uber-blockbuster are over. The likely scenario is that for theater releases, The Dark Knight is the last unicorn.”