Hurt Locker director Kathryn Biglelow, screenwriter-producer Mark Boal during post-screening party at Walter Reade theatre — Tuesday, 10.24.06, 6:25 pm
Bigelow, Film Comment editor Gavin Smith during post-screening q & a.
A critic friend predicted last night that Watchmen‘s Rotten Tomatoes rating — now standing at 65% positive among the grunts and 44% positive among the creme de la creme — is “going to collapse” when the regular daily critics starting being heard from tonight. (Partly, he suspects, because Warner Bros. publicists kept big-name critics waiting in sub-freezing temperatures outside of the theatre where the Manhattan all-media occured last Tuesday night.)
But you know something? 44% of the elite reviews being positive (including Roger Ebert‘s) is nothing to sniff at. The movie clearly has merit for some, and this should be respected as far as it goes. 44% is nothing to sniff at. Except…well, c’mon, we all know what a below-50% positive means in the real world out there. Be honest. And we all know what’s likely to happen after the fanboys rush in to see it this weekend.
“I grew up in the comic-book generation and still found plenty of reasons to not love Watchmen,” says Film.com’s Laremy Legel. “I don’t think it’s a generational issue. It’s more a matter of rabid fanboys vs. everyone else in the world.”
Hats off to that exceptional missing-arm effect in Christine Jeffs‘ Sunshine Cleaning, which I saw last night for the very first time, having missed it at Sundance ’08. It’s a teeny bit mystifying as to why the nice-guy character, played by Clifton Collins, Jr., has a missing left arm, but that’s the deal. I’m just trying to pat some folks on the back.
This is my kind of visual effect — i.e., the kind that doesn’t look like one and which nobody has even mentioned so far. (Or at least, in the reviews that I’ve read so far.) To make it happen the visual effects guys, I’m sure, had to carefully cover Collins’ left arm in a bright green sock so as to erase it without a speck. It doesn’t look like anything at all.
Credit is due to Daniel Holt (special effects foreman), Margaret Johnson (special effects coordinator), Randy E. Moore (special effects rigging foreman), and Christopher Stack (imaging supervisor). I don’t know which special effects company was hired to finesse but I’d like to give credit where due.
Why did Jeffs remove Collins’ arm in the first place? Beats me. It doesn’t matter one way or the other story-wise. There’s a character stroke when we learn that Amy Adams, who plays the lead character, finds Collins attractive despite the handicap, but it’s really not an important point to make. Okay, so she can see past the handicap issue…great.
I’m wondering because Sunshine Cleaning (which isn’t too bad, by the way) must have made for a modest price, and the producers must have shelled out a fair amount of money, I’m guessing, to get the arm thing right. Am I wrong about this? Is it relatively inexpensive to take arms off these days? I remember how impressed I was when Gary Sinise turned up with a very convincing missing leg in Forrest Gump. That was 14 years ago.
If anyone has PDFs of the following I’ll be happy to trade: (a) Alex Garland‘s Never Let Me Go, a sci-fish drama that will costar Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan under director Mark Romanek; (b) Floria Sigismondi‘s The Runaways, a mostly true-life story about the Runaways that will costar Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cheri Currie; and (c) Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, written by Capote‘s Dan Futterman with Ryan Gosling starring.
The Playlist is offering six or seven reasons why Watchmen fails in a post-Dark Knight landscape. Reading the article top to bottom makes the points more clearly than the reading of the headlines, but here goes. One, nothing seems to be truly st stake. Two, the tone is goofy. Three, faithful fidelity to the graphic novel was a bad idea. Four, the ’80s are cornball. Five, dark and cartoony doesn’t make it. Six, emotion, truth and grittiness are sold separately. And seven, the music blows.
I agree with the other guys. This could be a problem. It’s the growling and the grimacing, for the most part. I don’t need Wolverine-Jackman to scream and flex and make his blood vessels pop. I just need him to be cool and sardonic and do the thing like it’s no sweat at all. I want him to be a smart-ass. Instead, this trailer has convinced me that the film — whatever it actually will be — is totally generic, and will surprise me not.
Many moons ago (i.e., last summer) a story broke about James Franco‘s deal to play Allen Ginsberg in a Gus Van Sant-produced biopic called Howl. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman were announced as the co-directors and co-writers of the drama, which will mainly be about the obscenity trial that followed the 1957 publication of “Howl,” Ginsberg’s legendary poem. The film will begin shooting just a few days from now.
I happened to reconsider the Howl project after reading Roger Friedman‘s story today about Franco having sold a collection of short stories to the Simon & Schuster guys.
Not be a stickler, but if you’re being cast to play a famous person aren’t you expected to sort of resemble him or her? At least somewhat? And shouldn’t it bother someone besides myself that Franco doesn’t look anything like Ginsberg did in the mid ’50s? As in no fucking resemblance whatsoever?
The only way Franco could look more unlike the young Ginsberg would be if he was Asian-American, African-American, a native of Tonga or an Aborigine. As is, Franco could probably make it into the finals of the annual “I don’t look the least fucking bit like Allen Ginsberg” competition that has reportedly been staged each and every year in Oslo, Sweden, since the early ’60s.
Which famous ’50s guy does Franco resemble? Well, if you dyed his hair black he might pass for Farley Granger. He could star in a biopic about Heath Ledger, I suppose.
Vanity Fair.com’s Frank DiGiacomo and illustrator Frank Harris have imagined a “new breed of Washington, D.C.-based superheroes, battling one another for dominance even as they wage a desperate war against their common enemies: Mortgage Mash, Mr. Credit Freeze, and the un-tame-able Afghakistan. Will they save the world, or kill each other trying?”
Oh, and by the way: I’m not the only guy who thinks N.Y. Post critic Kyle Smith went a litle bit overboard in his Watchmen review (i.e., by comparing Zack Snyder‘s fanboy flick to Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001.)
In a comment about the previous item, HE Reader “Cahuenga Kid” supposed that the driver in question “must have been going really fast to lose control.” Well, not according to this analysis, which was thrown together with some fairly primitive software back in ’90 or thereabouts.
Cholame crash from Hollywood Elsewhere on Vimeo
I came across this California landscape photo this morning, which was taken almost exactly eleven years ago, in either February or March. Without giving away any hints, something happened here in a movie-related sense. And you have to tell me what.
Yesterday evening an HE reader accused me of “wanting to hate Watchmen all along.” No, I haven’t been wanting to hate it all along, I replied. I have hated it all along. But what exactly do I mean when I say “it”?
Not the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons-John Higgins graphic novel, which is actually a fairly deep, teeming-with-inner-realms thing with offbeat flavors and weirdnesses — a story about alienation and aloneness and being adamant of mind, and well told with rich noir flavoring and a nice use of time-shuffling imagination. “It” means the vast multitudes of superhero movie fans going into this thing…anticipating this thing, I should say…and practically levitating off the ground about it with eager-beaver fanboy erections.
Yes, I read Watchmen wanting to hate it because of my deep loathing of the superhero conceit — the idea of the much-bolder-of-spirit and more powerful “other” who lives within and is unleashed under another identity or in another psychological realm, in the guise of a masked and musclebound gay-nippled spandex-wearing vigilante-outsider crimefighter. The Watchmen novel lifts itself out of this, yes, because of the imaginative ways it gets around or builds upon and/or goes the other way regarding the superhero bullshit, but I have a very strong aversion to the wimpy overweight dweeby-loser belief system that fortifies (in a commercial-consumer sense) the superhero mythology.
Real men don’t need outfits or superpowers. Nor, more importantly, do they have time for that shit. If I needed the fortification and was feeling badly about myself (which I’m not), I could make myself feel pretty damn good every day by saying, “Hey, man, at least you don’t nurse pathetic fantasies about your secret hidden self that’s much cooler than the one that gets around every day and rides subways and groans as he buys stuff in Whole Foods and tries to take care of things in the real world…at least you’re not living in that sad little realm.”
But that said, I do respect the Watchmen graphic novel as much as I’m able to respect it, which is…you know, fairly genuinely, as far as it goes. For being a seminal deconstructivist superhero deal as it were.
After reading the above a guy named Chicago Dad asked “how is a review coming from a perspective that is clearly invested in hatred of the culture that produced the work any less skewed and more reliable than one that comes from a perspective that loves that culture? Both will probably fail to separate the film experience from their feelings about the larger culture that spawned it.”
My point is that a positively-invested fanboy saying he loves Watchmen means nothing. But if a hater like myself says he loves, likes, or admires Watchmen (or even if he acknowledges there are elements in the film he can roll with), then that, ladies and gentlemen…that means something, I think. I’m not saying you can take a Hollywood Elsewhere rave of Watchmen to the bank because the bank is already well-stocked at Fandango, but a thumbs-up from a hater is always a significant thing.
Some are under an impression that Ti West‘s Pearl (A24, currently playing), the X prequel, is some kind of unusual,...More »
It only took me five weeks to finally watch John Patton Ford‘s Emily The Criminal, which is pretty close to...More »
Yesterday I tried to elaborate upon my positive Telluride reaction to Sam Mendes‘ Empire of Light (Searchlight, 12.9). Toward the...More »
At what point can The Woman King, which cost $50M to produce and another significant chunk of change to sell,...More »
An article by a veteran Academy member has appeared on The Ankler, and it says something that The Ankler‘s Richard...More »
Last night I ran into an old friend who’s no longer a friend because he’s more or less turned into...More »