“DreamWorks’ big-budget bet, Monsters vs. Aliens, has faced one hurdle after another — including a whipping from the blogosphere over its extravagant Superbowl ad in January,” The Wrap‘s Carolyn Guardina reports. “But now comes the worst news yet: Fewer than half of the theaters that were supposed to be ready for digital 3D projection will be ready by the movie’s release on March 27.
“DreamWorks announced a year ago that it expected 5,000 theaters to be 3D-ready for a wide 3D opening of Monsters. But the economic recession has further delayed the already-long-delayed conversion of movie theaters to digital projection.
Expectations have been revised downward.”
Among the out -of-competition 2009 Tribeca Film Festival highlights (for me)…
* Don McKay (director-writer: Jake Goldberger). Thomas Haden Church as a guy returning to his hometown at the bidding of his cancer-stricken ex-girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue). Costarring Melissa Leo.
* An Englishman in New York,” (director, Richard Laxton — screenwriter, Brian Fillis). John Hurt revisiting real-life writer, actor, and gay icon Quentin Crisp. Focusing on the 72-year-old star’s move to New York in 1981, and the fallout from a reckless comment about the burgeoning AIDS epidemic.Costarring Cynthia Nixon, Jonathan Tucker, Swoosie Kurtz.
* Serious Moonlight (director, Cheryl Hines — screenwriter, Adrienne Shelly) Type A attorney Louise (Meg Ryan) busts her husband (Timothy Hutton) for cheating with a younger hottie (Kristen Bell), duct-tapes him to a toilet. In the indie realm, Hutton is the absolute go-to guy for playing dissolute womanizers.
* In the Loop (director, Armando Iannucci — screenwriters, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche and Iannucci). My pre-Sundance review says it all.
Whenever a guy goes postal, nobody who knew him in any capacity ever cops to noticing anything askew about his manner. (Has a woman ever gone on a shooting rampage?) The guy is invariably described as nice, quiet, considerate, well liked, etc. Because admitting to having noticed even the faintest sense of turbulence or unrest in a shooter-to-be would mean that the observer might be regarded as being very slightly responsible for the carnage. It’s safer to say you detected nothing.
It’s my fault that I haven’t gotten to this. I was invited by a PMK/HBH publicist pal in Los Angeles, but I didn’t try to reach the local NYC rep and she hasn’t tried to reach me. Hello, Lauren Auslander! In fact, hello to all the NYC publicists whom I’m still having to chase in order to go to screenings.
“Everyone knows that this time of year is a dumping ground for movies,” Fine writes. “Theaters are awash in genre garbage and remakes or big-budget eye-candy whose producers or studios lack the stones to face the summer blockbuster competition (or, to put a kinder spin on it, they have the savvy to exploit a slack period in the schedule).
“Why does a spirited, intelligent little film like The Cake Eaters have to beg for a theatrical release? It opens in New York and a few other places this Friday and platforms from there – after more than two years of trying to find distribution (and shortly before its DVD release).
“Directed by Mary Stuart Masterson (yes, that Mary Stuart Masterson) from a script by Jayce Bartok (who plays a lead role in the film), The Cake Eaters is a drama with a thread of romantic comedy that deals with grief, regret and hope. Set in a small town in upstate New York, it’s a charming anachronism — a movie in which people actually talk to each other, minus such modern accessories as cell phones or e-mail.
“Though grief is the subtext of the film, life is the subject. Masterson draws beautifully modulated performances from her strong ensemble cast, particularly Kristen Stewart and Aaron Stanford as the unsure but indomitable young lovers.
“Stewart blends delicate emotions with strength of character in a subtle performance that focuses on the character’s wicked wit, without ignoring her physical infirmity. Stanford makes [his character] both inexperienced and sincere, a guy who is pleasantly surprised to discover that a girl’s expectations of him match the ones he has for himself but has kept hidden for too long.
“The Cake Eaters balances sweetness and sadness without ever leaning too heavily on either quality. It’s unfortunate that the market seems to willfully ignore nicely etched little films such as this one – and a feat to be celebrated that this one has broken through for a theatrical run at last.”
I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t try as hard as I could to see this film because I don’t care for the title. I don’t like cake as a dessert or a metaphor. I’ve always shied away from using “you can have your cake and eat it too.” Which doesn’t quite synchronize with Marie Antoinette‘s infamous “let them eat cake” line. I could let every cake manifestation go and not miss any of them for the rest of my life. That said, I’d like to see the film.
There will come a day when all the online, newspaper and magazine editors who’ve insisted on capitalizing the “i” in internet for the last 15 years or so will try to evade responsibility for this. They’ll look colleagues in the face as they deny supporting it — “Who, me?” — when in fact they’re now enforcing one of the most outrageous and illogical style charades in editorial history.
The internet is a network of technological realms and pathways that enable the exchange of digitally-coded information. Just as the nation’s highway system is a network of elevated and land-topped concrete roadways that enable vehicles of all sizes to travel just about anywhere in the country. And yet nobody ever refers to the nation’s “Highway” system. And nobody writes about “Radio Waves.” Nobody refers to “Broadcast or Cable or Satellite Dish” television. And yet the N.Y. Times style charlatans insist, year after year after year, on the “Internet” spelling.
Every time I see this my face begins to redden and my teeth grind in rage. It’s spelled internet — no ifs, ands or buts. And I don’t want to hear any specious arguments in favor of sticking with the capitalization. It’s a moronic rule.
35 years and six months ago, Roger Ebert wrote a perceptive, positive and fair-minded review of John Flynn‘s The Outfit — a crafty, brass-tacks crime pic that I mention every so often in hopes of goading Warner Home Video into putting it out on DVD. My most recent mention was spurred by the recent death of Donald Westlake, who wrote the book the film is based upon.
Ebert called it “a classy action picture, very well directed and acted, about a gangster’s revenge on the mob for the death of his brother. An outline of the plot would make it sound pretty routine, but what makes the picture superior is its richness of detail. [In no small part because] the people in this movie are uncommonly interesting.
“The lead is a guy named Macklin, played by Robert Duvall. He and his brother made the mistake some years ago of sticking up a bank that was owned by the outfit. In revenge, his brother is wiped out by a couple of stone-faced gunsels. Duvall gets out of prison and hitches up with an old partner in crime, Joe Don Baker. They also take along Duvall’s girl (Karen Black), but mostly she just gets to ride in the back seat.
“Like so many movies of the last five or six years, this one is essentially about a relationship between two males. Duvall and Baker make it work better than usual by suggesting real, fundamental friendship and mutual respect, [being] just a couple of old pals who are quick and mean and very professional. And Duvall is reasonable, too; he doesn’t want total vengeance, he only wants a quarter of a million dollars. The outfit takes in more than that before noon on a good day — or so observes Robert Ryan, who plays the mob chief. But Ryan double-crosses Duvall, and then it turns out that for $250,000, he would have been getting off cheap.
“Duvall and Baker raid a series of mob operations, including a gambling club and a bookie wire room, and finally they raid the mansion of Ryan himself. The nice thing about all the raid sequences is that they’re carried out realistically; no James Bond gimmicks or impossible heroism, just a few well-executed plans.
“Flynn, who wrote and directed, fills The Outfit with a series of supporting characters who are allowed to seem complex and real. I especially remember a couple of dealers in hot cars and the nymphomaniac wife of one of them (Sheree North). And Marie Windsor, as Baker’s wife. And Ryan, in his next-to-last role, playing a man with great strength but very little happiness.
“The scene at the farm of the two stolen car dealers is handled with such attention to character detail that it could stand by itself; with a few small strokes, Flynn gives us three characters and their relationship, Instead of just throwing in some stock dialogue.
“There’s something else that’s good about the movie: The relative restraint with which Flynn uses violence. Instead of going for a lot of fancy gunplay, Flynn more often than not examines the way in which violent situations tend to be clumsy and confused. A scene in a skid row mission, for example, comes alive when Duvall and Baker, trying to escape a couple of hit men, set off a fire alarm. Bums and firemen and cops and killers all mill around trying to find the fire; it’s exciting, but it’s fun too.”
When Geoff Gilmore left his Sundance Film Festival director gig on 2.17 for the shape-shifting, brand-expanding Tribeca Film Festival, I assumed right away that longtime Sundance program honcho John Cooper would take over. But it took Robert Redford and the Sundance board three weeks to come to the same conclusion. Variety‘s Dade Hayes has reported that Cooper faced competition from fellow Sundance vet Trevor Groth for the top job.