Speaking earlier today to Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas, Girlfriend Experience director Steven Soderbergh spoke about how it’s “hard for anything [these days] to have the cultural impact of a movie like The Godfather,” and that he was “disappointed there weren’t those sorts of benchmarks in the movies being made today.” But then he added that perhaps James Cameron‘s Avatar might punch through on this level. “I’ve seen some stuff and holy shit,” he told Douglas. “It’s the craziest shit ever. [So this] could negate everything I just said.”
Directed and written by Nora Ephron, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, from Sony on 8.2.09. Streep’s vocal impersonation of Child sounds pretty good. Plus she somehow looks like she’s Child’s height of 6’2″, even though Streep is only 5’6″ or thereabouts. Which means it’s one of those noteworthy physical transformation roles a la De Niro in Raging Bull, which means she’s an automatic Oscar contender. Unless the film is a shortfaller.
Three days ago the Independent‘s Rachel Shields ran a story about an anti-domestic violence TV spot with Keira Knightley, called The Cut, being banned from TV by Clearcast, an ad-approval org, unless footage is trimmed. The ad began appearing in British cinemas about three weeks ago.
It’s a riveting spot in the way it makes you feel the horror of physical assault. It’s especially noteworthy for a moment just after Knightley has been slapped by her brute boyfriend in which she breaks character and complains to the off-screen director that the slap “isn’t in the script,” or words to that effect.
“Charities working to combat domestic violence branded Clearcast’s decision as ‘pathetic,”” wrote Shields, “arguing that, in banning the advert, it is shielding the public from the reality of domestic violence.” The Cut was made for Women’s Aid, a charity group.
Outside of journalism my favorite all-time job was driving a Checker Cab in Boston, when I was in my early 20s. I always came home with fresh cash and learned something new every day. I met several pretty girls. I was once punched and spit on by biker psychopaths after I flipped them off after refusing to pick them up. I found a wallet in the back seat with no ID and about $400 in cash — a heavy sum in the ’70s. It was more or less one interesting episode after another.
From the Robert DeNiro Film Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Austin.
Clive Donner‘s What’s New, Pussycat? (1965) was a sloppy, mostly unfunny sex farce, but the stories of its making are legendary (or at least the ones told to me by production designer Richard Sylbert were). It falls, then, into a category that’s rarely discussed — movies that suck on their own terms but would have been unforgettable to work on with the key creatives. If a film was fun or intensely dramatic to work on and was also great to watch then it doesn’t make the list.
John Landis‘s The Blues Brothers, a legendary cocaine movie, was another one of these, I’ve heard. Heaven’s Gate, however, doesn’t have the reputation of having been a great party shoot. The DVD documentary about the making of the disastrous Cleopatra (’63) is far more entertaining that the film itself, so that would be another. It’s a shame that no one tried to throw together a similar-type doc about the making of the ’62 Mutiny on the Bounty. I once head a story about Brian De Palma saying that if crew people are having too much fun on a set then something’s wrong. Good movies, he felt, are hard to make and therefore shouldn’t be relaxing or pleasurable during principal photography.
Earlier today it was reported by Fandango’s Harry Medved in an e-mail that Wolverine, which opens tomorrow night at midnight, is accounting for 65% of all advance ticket sales. Going out on a limb, Medved wrote that “in a survey 44% of Wolverine ticket-buyers had viewed the 2009 Academy Awards Show with Hugh Jackman as the host, and 34% of those viewers said the Oscar telecast actually made them more excited to see him as Wolverine. 64% said his Oscar duties had no effect on their anticipation for the movie, while 2% said it made them less excited to see him playing the character.”
Already the yay-or-nay shorthand verdict for X-Men Origins: Wolverine has been decided upon, and that’s whether or not it’s better or worse than Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand. Which is why Justin Chang‘s Variety review could slightly encourage Fox marketers since he says that Wolverine “overpowers” X-Men 3. This reminds me of the first instant analysis about Waterworld after the first press screening — i.e., “It doesn’t suck.”
Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
“Heavily fortified with adamantium, testosterone and CGI, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a sharp-clawed, dull-witted actioner that falls short of the two Bryan Singer-directed pics in the franchise but still overpowers 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. For all its attempts to probe the physiological and psychological roots of its tortured antihero, this brawny but none-too-brainy prequel sustains interest mainly — if only fitfully — as a nonstop slice-and-dice vehicle for Hugh Jackman.
“Jackman just about holds things together with his reliable but hardly revelatory all-brooding-all-the-time act; for sheer bellowing rage, he’s occasionally upstaged by Schreiber, whose grisly, vampiric presence has some interesting points of overlap with his role as another volatile bad-seed brother in Ed Zwick‘s recent Defiance.
“Noisy and impersonal, X-Men Origins: Wolverine bears all the marks of a work for hire, conceived and executed with a big budget but little imagination — an exception being Barry Robison‘s intriguing production design for Stryker’s island compound. Shot in Jackman’s native Australia, the pic is apparently set in the 1970s, though one would have to read the press materials to realize this.
“An unfinished print leaked online weeks before the film’s May 1 Stateside release will prove a mere flesh wound to Fox’s B.O. haul, which should be muscular locally and abroad.”
Two days ago Endeavor and the William Morris Agency finally and formally announced they’d agreed to merge. Except the name they’ve chosen to go by — William Morris Endeavor Entertainment — sounds drearily corporate, even with the strong likelihood that it’ll wind up being called WME. The problem is the sound of the name “William Morris Agency,” which carries the aura of 20th Century showbiz culture — analog, yesteryear, old times and Cadillac fins. If you were Endeavor chief Ari Emanuel would you want your agency’s name to be just tacked on to Morris’s, like the new last name of a woman who’s just gotten married in Vegas? I would have insisted on the new agency being called Endeavor Morris, or EMA.
I’ve always had a slight problem with women who speak like Sasha Grey. Women who sound basically mallish and fringe-suburban. Like they work the checkout at Gelson’s or something. Listen to Grey ask, “Do you have anything specific in mind?” and the way she pronounces the last word as a hastened two-sylllable thing — “maayeend” — as opposed to how Angelina Jolie or Faye Dunaway in Chinatown or Obama foreign-affairs aide Samantha Power or Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill might say it.
I’m just saying there’s an entire culture of women out there, tens of millions of them, who speak like Grey, and I for one find it enormously deflating. Because I slightly wince inside every time I hear their inflections and the way they tend to slaughter the beauty of the English language by making it sound common and coarse. Does anyone “maayeend” if I say this?
I’m speaking as a sinner myself, or at least as someone who has slightly mispronounced my own last name for decades. I’d never heard my last name pronounced properly until a British sales guy at a British Airways office in London said it during a visit in 1980 . “Wow,” I said to myself. “So that‘s how it’s pronounced. I’ve been saying it wrong my whole life. Or rather, my New Jersey accent has prevented me from making it sound as good as the guy in the British Airways office.”