Variety‘s Michael Fleming and Elsa Keslassy are reporting with apparent seriousness that Steven Soderbergh intends to direct a $30 million 3-D rock musical about Cleopatra with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the title role and Hugh Jackman as Marc Antony.
Financing and distribution deals are being shopped “over the next two weeks” by producers Greg Jacobs and Casey Silver. (Some kind of drop-dead, do-or-die window of opportunity?) The music has been written by the defunct indie rock band Guided by Voices (formed in ’83, disbanded in ’04), and the script is by James Greer, a former bass player for the band and an author.
It seems a bit much, no? Domestic Bollywood, emotionally excessive, flirting with ick. Maybe that’s the “point.” The gaudier and more Technicolor 3-D lurid in a take-no-prisoners sense, the better.
As expected and as suggested here earlier today, John Patrick Shanley‘s Doubt (Miramax, 12,12) been chosen as the new opening-night flm for AFI Fest 2008, and thereby replacing the The Soloist, which Paramount withdrew after eighty-sixing its November 2008 release and bumping it into March ’09.
I’ve always loved the political term “dead cat bounce” — i.e., a poll bounce that happens once, slightly, and then goes nowhere. It’s one of the minor regret issues of my life that I’ve never had a chance to use it in a sentence in this column or in anything else I’ve written. Not in a way that felt right. You can’t just plop a term into a sentence. It has to happen of its own volition.
NPR commentator and screenwriter John Ridley has reviewed the old bromide that Hollywood movies tend to perform okay during bad economic times. Not that bad economic weather is “good” for the industry, but it doesn’t seem to hurt either. On top of which hard dark times tend to produce better films. As F.X. Feeney explained to A.O. Scott four years ago.
Patrick Goldstein posted a belief/suspicion two days ago that “the days of Focus Features are numbered.” For what it’s worth, I’ve been told by a reliable fellow that this simply isn’t true. Now and for the foreseeable future, he meant.
Goldstein suspects that “Universal will probably say, for now, that it’s committed to Focus’ survival. That’s because the company is about to launch Milk, its big end-of-the-year Oscar movie, whose campaign would be undermined if Focus looked like a lame duck. Expect Universal to wait until next spring, after Oscar season is over, before quietly announcing layoffs, signaling that Focus, like Paramount Vantage before it, will remain a label, but without its own marketing and distribution.”
I’ve come to the bitter conclusion that I’m better off with fake plants than live ones. Because I can’t seem to bring myself to care for the live ones in the right way. Too much water, not enough water or watered too infrequently, not enough light, too much light. I’ve lost count of the number of plants that have died slow terrible deaths in my home. The word has gone out among all the plants in all the plant shops in Los Angeles. If that Wells guy buys you and takes you home, it’s like going to the gas chamber.
In Janet Maslin‘s 10.22 N.Y. Times review of Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies (Harmony, 10.28), she paraphrases author Donald Spoto‘s view that “no understanding of the director’s career can be complete without the dark side, and that great art need not correspond with saintly behavior.
“And [Spoto] suggests that this book be read as ‘a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in any life.’ After all, ‘it is the story of a man so unhappy, so full of self-loathing, so lonely and friendless, that his satisfactions came as much from asserting power as from spinning fantasies and acquiring wealth.’ By the time Hitchcock imploded with Tippi Hedren [during the making of The Birds and Marnie], the craving for such power had stifled the creative vitality of his work.”
It’s absolutely true that Hitchcock’s downslide began right after The Birds (’63) and stayed in a downswirl mode until the end, despite the view in some quarters that he resurged with 1972’s Frenzy. (Has anyone watched this film lately? It’s brave and adventurous with two or three standout sequences, but at the same time much of it is tedious and meandering and seriously lacking in story tension. And certain portions of Anthony Shaffer‘s dialogue are dreadful.)
What Spoto’s book seems to be saying, going by Maslin’s assessment (and I would say this is true in most walks of life), is that if you’re living a life afflicted by sexual or emotional repression sooner or later it’s going to negatively affect your productivity or creativity. This was Hitchcock, all right. By all indications he had no sex life at all for decades. According to Spoto nothing happened with his wife Alma except for one incident. (Good God!) So he poured all his sensual appetites into power, wealth, travel, good food, etc. And quietly lusting after his actresses in differing ways
“I can’t take much more of this,” Larry David wrote yesterday on the HuffPost. “Two weeks to go, and I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t work. I can eat, but mostly standing up. I’m anxious all the time and taking it out on my ex-wife, which, ironically, I’m finding enjoyable. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it’s worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there’s still a potential cure. With this, there’s no cure. The result is final. Like death.
“Five times a day I’ll still say to someone, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do if McCain wins.’ Of course, the reality is I’m probably not going to do anything. What can I do? I’m not going to kill myself. If I didn’t kill myself when I became impotent for two months in 1979, I’m certainly not going to do it if McCain and Palin are elected, even if it’s by nefarious means.
“If Obama loses, it would be easier to live with it if it’s due to racism rather than if it’s stolen. If it’s racism, I can say, ‘Okay, we lost, but at least it’s a democracy. Sure, it’s a democracy inhabited by a majority of disgusting, reprehensible turds, but at least it’s a democracy.’ If he loses because it’s stolen, that will be much worse. Call me crazy, but I’d rather live in a democratic racist country than a non-democratic non-racist one.”