A friend saw Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon and “wouldn’t say it’s bad,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s great. Good performance from Frank Langella but otherwise, I was kinda bored.” Stop right there! It’s more or less the stage play, which I saw in New York and wasn’t the least bit bored by. Nobody was.
“As opposed to Gus Van Sant‘s Milk,” the friend continued, “which, according to someone trusted who saw it last week in L.A., is as phenomenal as the trailer.”
Hillary Clinton sidestepped a question this morning from Morning Joe‘s Mika Brzezinski about whether she thinks Sarah Palin could help solve the current financial crisis as vp or, God forbid, president. Did Clinton grim up and say to women voters what needs to be said about Palin once and for all? Of course not.
Clinton ran for cover and slithered away because she doesn’t want to alienate the under-educated Walmart Moms who voted for her during the Democratic primaries, and whose support she’ll need again if and when she runs for president in 2012. This is who and what Hillary Clinton is and always will be.
“I just heard a radio ad for Eagle Eye (Dreamworks, 9.26), the new Shia LaBeouf thriller. I think it’s safe to steer clear of any movie containing the line, ‘Somebody’s hacking into the power grid!'” — email received at 4:35 pm from HE reader Mark Smith.
An elaboration: “He’s an ordinary guy, thrust into chaos. They’re watching him all the time, cat-and-mouse games, he outsmarts them, shit blows up, gets the girl, fast cutting, plot holes, noise, etc.” I couldn’t care less if I were dead.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Steven Zeitchik is reporting that producers Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin are strongly disagreeing about whether to release the Weinstein Co. war-crimes drama The Reader in 2008 or wait until ’09.
“Weinstein is pushing for a December release for the movie, which director Stephen Daldry is working on in post,” Zeitchik writes. “The romance set in postwar Germany and based on Bernhard Schlink‘s novel already has buzz from strong test screenings, though there are post elements left to be completed.”
“Rudin, however, has been lobbying hard for a 2009 release. The producer already has two Oscar candidates — Revolutionary Road, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a married couple in the 1950s, at Paramount Vantage, and the Broadway transfer Doubt, toplining Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, at Miramax — and a third would mean he is vying heavily against himself.”
To go by the book synopsis, The Reader is a German-guilt movie rooted in World War II. Due respect and no offense, but it sounds like a movie that could have been released in 1979 or 1982 or 1989 or 1996. It costars Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet, Alexandra Maria Lara and Bruno Ganz.
Jamie Stuart‘s first in a series of four shorts on the 46th New York Film Festival is mainly about an attempted robbery. Of Stuart. In Stuart’s buuilding. By a thief who’s too good looking, too short and too mild-mannered to be a bad guy. It’s an okay way for Stuart to begin one of his looney-tunes shorts about the NY Film Festival. Except the violent sparring in the hallway doesn’t feel feel right. Too poised, not sloppy enough. And I didn’t believe the stairwell fall. The sound is wrong; you need to feel the pain.
The thief (l.) and Stuart (r.)
Oh, and the people who suggested a couple of days ago that the quickie razor-blade thing was a tribute to Un Chien Andalou? I don’t think so.
The rest of it is the usual impressionistic mind-melt press conference stuff that Stuart has given us in years past The two directors are The Class‘s Laurent Cantet and Wendy and Lucy‘s Kelly Reichardt. Why doesn’t Stuart ever talk to other journalists?
The Disney publicity guys, a strange and guarded bunch, had an all-media screening last week for Spike Lee‘s Miracle at St. Anna. Naturally they didn’t invite me. I missed it on purpose in Toronto (I was told that the 166-minute length was unjustified), and naturally assumed I’d catch up with it back here. Nope!
Disney always hedges its bets when they’ve got a problem movie of any kind, which Miracle clearly is. But it was also a struggle to persuade them to let me see WALL*E, and that was a near-masterpiece.
Honestly? It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the similarities between Disney publicity and the Church of Scientology
“Spike Lee loses the battles and the war in Miracle at St. Anna, a clunky, poorly constructed drama designed to spotlight the little-remarked role of black American soldiers in World War II,” wrote Variety‘s Todd McCarthy. “Clocking in at 160 minutes, this is a sloppy stew in which the ingredients of battle action, murder mystery, little-kid sentiment and history lesson don’t mix well.
“Nor is it remotely clear who the audience is meant to be; the R rating pretty much rules out younger students, and extensive subtitles will deter action fans, who would be bored anyway. Best B.O. will likely be in Italy, where most of the melodrama takes place.”
As soon as I saw that made-up-to-look-older black guy shoot that made-up-to-look-older white guy in the trailer, I said to myself, “That’s it…the movie is trouble.” I didn’t know a damn thing about it, but I knew. Trailers and ads do more to kill interest in movies than bad reviews. If there’s something wrong with a movie, the trailers will almost always tell you this.
The term “No Talk Express,” I mean. John McCain‘s handlers are obviously fearful that he may say something off-the-cuff that doesn’t add up (which he does a lot), hence a press policy that boils down to “no questions,” “no reporters” and “don’t speak unless you’re spoken to.” Relations between the McCain campaign and the press are said to be in fairly bad shape. Earlier today in Strongsville, Ohio, McCain ignored questions about the bailout plan, prompting one journalist to scream out, “Has your bus become the No-Talk Express?”
One of the things journalists learn sooner or later is that if celebrities use profanity or call you names to your face during an interview, it means they like or at least respect you. Or at least that they trust you enough to take their frank words like a grown-up and not get all emotional. I’ve been yelled at by dozens of Hollywood people over the years, and I still have relations with the vast majority. It’s the ones who never talk to you straight or let you know what’s really going on in their heads — they’re the ones you need to fear.
In this MTV.com interview, Charlize Theron — promoting Battle in Seattle — calls Josh Horowitz an asshole several times, and the twinkle in her eye says it all. And yet MTV.com editors have bleeped out the “hole” each time — what kind of namby-pambies would so such a thing? You can say the word “ass” on TV these days. Nobody cares about mildly salty language.
Eight years ago in Cannes I was part of a round-table group speaking to George Clooney, who was promoting O Brother, Where Art Thou? I started out with a compliment about his performance in From Dusk to Dawn, explaining that I thought he had a certain edge and intensity in that 1996 Robert Rodriguez film that I quite liked. I didn’t mean that he was flat in the films he’d made after that (One Fine Day, Batman and Robin, Out of Sight, Three Kings) but that I really enjoyed what he was putting out in in Dusk to Dawn and that I kind of missed it.
Clooney frowned a bit, looked down, thought it over for five or six seconds, glanced in my direction and said “fuck you.” I’ve liked him enormously ever since. Good fellow.
For the last hour I’ve been trying to verify and contact a small group of people who’ve been passing along an extremely ugly eight-year-old story about John McCain, one to the other (including some in the media) over the last eight or nine days. The story first popped up on 9.14, and just seems too extreme to be believed.
Why am I posting this then? Because it’s gotten around to some extent and the cat is more or less out of the bag, and I’m not aware of anyone having said “wait a minute, hold on here.” Which is what I, a confirmed McCain hater, am saying here and now.
I don’t believe any big-time politician, even one who’d recently been smeared by Karl Rove during the 2000 campaign for possibly having fathered an illegitimate black child (which was total b.s.), would pass along a racial slur about an adopted child to a woman who shares a similar ethnicity — nobody is that dumb. My understanding of human nature just won’t allow it. Even if you consider that 1998 report about John MCain telling that off-color joke about Chelsea Clinton…I still can’t buy it.
The current McCain story in question originated with a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist named Anasuya Dubey, who is alleged to be the daughter of a former Indian Consul in San Francisco. I’ve tried to reach Dubey to no avail (she is said to be “private”) but an e-mail chain has revealed a few things.
A woman who claims to have spoken to Dubey, an author named Frances Moore Lappe of Cambridge, Massachucetts (“Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad“) said in an e-mail to Kate Marianchild, whom I don’t know, that Dubey is “wonderful” and that it “sounds like NBC is on it.” Another interested reporter, according to a group e-mail sent out about the Dubey story by Mary-Kay Gamel, a UC Santa Cruz professor, is Jane Kramer of The New Yorker.
I called Lappe’s office in Cambridge and left a message. I called Gamel’s office and home number — neither had a voice message and no one picked up.
The words attributed to McCain by Dubey are repulsive and incendiary, and it strikes me as awfully strange that a woman looking to see this story circulated and, more to the point, believed would be so difficult to get hold of. She thinks she can put out a first-hand story of this nature during a presidential campaign and just…what, be left alone?
I also flinch whenever words of this nature are attributed to any major-league politician running for high office. They seems too vile for even McCain to have said.
I also wonder how precise and exacting Dubey’s memory may be after eight years, and whether she may have exaggerated the quote somewhat, being a woman of Indian ancestry who would naturally take great offense at such statements, if in fact they were spoken.
Last night on Late Show with David Letterman, Bill Clinton stated some carefully phrased, positive-minded sidestep mantras about the presidential race, the economic meltdown, don’t sell America short, etc. Which inspired Chris Rock, Letterman’s followup guest, to ask with genuine pique what’s behind Bill’s inability to say the words “Barack Obama?”
In a 9.23 Huffington Post-ing, New Yorker contributor Paul Slansky wrote the following: “Given that we would never have had the odious George W. Bush in the White House in the first place if it wasn’t for your blow jobs, Bill, it seems obvious that you owe it to the people of this country, and especially to the parents whose kids died in the Iraq War that Gore would never have started, and to all the parents whose kids would be killed in the WarFest that would be a McCain/Palin — sorry, Palin/McCain administration — to do everything in your power to get Barack Obama elected.
“But that’s not what you’re doing, Bill, and it’s not going unnoticed. We see your rage, Bill, it’s too huge to hide. We see that — as Chris Rock so brilliantly pointed out — it pains you to even speak Obama’s name. We see you petulantly rooting against him even as you go through the motions of doing the barest minimum on his behalf to avoid being blamed if he loses.
“You’re not fooling anyone, Bill. You’ve gotten so caught up in yesterday that you’ve stopped thinking about tomorrow. You have the power to influence millions of voters and you’re spitefully sitting on it. Surely you’ve noticed what’s going on in the country. Surely you’re aware of what’s at stake on November 4th. This is not a game that you can afford to take your ball and go home with if you don’t get to play the position you want. An Obama loss will most certainly be part of your legacy.”
Following Brad Pitt‘s $100 grand donation to fight Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage, Steven Spielberg has has coughed up the same for the same cause. But that video of Keith Olbermann writing a check for $1600 (was it $1700?) to Alaskan charities as part of his Sarah Palin $100-per-lie fund still takes the cake.