The big bearded British guy in McCabe and Mrs. Miller — the hired assassin who carried an elephant shotgun around and wore big boots and a huge sheepskin coat and a huge wide-brimmed hat, and who was shot in the forehead with a single-shot derringer by Warren Beatty at the very end — has pushed off in real life. His name was Hugh Millais, and he was 79 years old. He was about 40 when he made McCabe.
Here‘s an appreciation of Nicholas Ray‘s In a Lonely Place, which will play at Manhattan’s Film Forum from Friday, 7.17, to Thursday, 7.23. Editing by Matt Zoller Seitz, words and narration by Kim Morgan, adapted from a Sunset Gun post. Here’s Michael Joshua Rowin‘s L Mag review. The last DVD version (released in ’03) delivered a severe grainstorm — here’s hoping the situation has changed.
If this 7.16 N.Y. Times story isn’t a Michael Mann film, I’ll eat my Elph digital camera. Mann can save himself by pouncing on this one right away. If I were him I’d be all over it like a spider. I’d have a screenwriter hired and working on it as we speak.
“Last weekend, the arrest of a senior figure in a Mexican drug cartel known as La Familia led to a wave of coordinated attacks by the cartel against federal police posts and one military base, killing three federal officers and two soldiers,” N.Y. Times reporter Robert Mackey wrote today.
“The range and extent of the violence across the western state of Michoacan led one respected Mexican columnist, Ciro Gomez Leyva, to compare it to the Tet offensive during the Vietnam war. In a column headlined ‘El Tet michoacano y el principio del fin’ (‘The Michoacán Tet and the Beginning of the End’), published on Monday in the newspaper Milenio, Mr. Gómez Leyva wrote:
“In the drug war, July 11 seems like a sort of Tet offensive, the synchronized, Hollywood-style offensive by South Vietnamese guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army against U.S. troops in late January 1968 that, despite being described as a military disaster, created the perception that Washington’s formerly invincible army would never win in Vietnam.”
One of the many things that make Cary Grant feel angry and humiliated in Bringing Up Baby is Katherine Hepburn‘s decision to refer to him as “Mr. Bone.” I thought of this because poor Jennifer Aniston must feel angry and humiliated by the tabloid media’s characterizing her as “Mrs. Bone” — i.e., a woman who rarely if ever sleeps alone, and who never seems to settle.
The best acting she ever did was in The Breakup, but after that, what? I don”t like submitting to tabloid chatter as topics of mosquito conversation in my head, but when I think of Aniston I really don’t think of her work. I think of her bouncing-ball personal life. The associative dramas in her life aren’t about performances but when if ever will she finally stop shopping around? She’s like a 21st Century incarnation of what Mary Astor and Tallulah Bankhead were known for in their day. Their excitable cavortings, I mean. Except Bankhead killed in Lifeboat and Astor had her Maltese Falcon performance to point to.
The fact is that even among those who’ve never so much as glanced at a supermarket rag Aniston’s rep is that of (a) someone whose prime artistic opportunity days are probably behind her, (b) who’s never going to make another Good Girl (which wasn’t that great to begin with) and (c) who, at age 40, is basically competing with Sandra Bullock for Sandra Bullocky-styled romantic roles and that’s all. The only thing she might be ale to do and really get rolling with again is another TV series.
Being a fan of Jess Weixler’s performance in Alexander The Last, I contacted Rod Lurie and urged him to consider casting her in the Susan George role in his Straw Dogs remake. He took my advice and sat down with her, but finally decided to go with Kate Bosworth.
Lurie has written the Straw Dogs script and will begin directing it in rural Mississippi in August. He told me a while ago that he did a lot of research on the original Sam Peckinpah version, including reading old yellowed drafts of the script and asking Dustin Hoffman for advice about casting the David Sumner role.
One interesting sidenote is that back in 1971 “no name actress would come within a mile of [the Susan George] role,” he mentioned. Bosworth was no doubt influenced by the first-rate performance that Kate Beckinsale delivered in Lurie’s Nothing But The Truth, but the Straw Dogs character isn’t going to be substantially different than the one George played so that in itself makes Bosworth look pretty fearless.
An insider-the-looper claimed earlier today in an e-mail that she’s going to give “a ballsy ballsy performance.”
Alexander (son of Stellan) Skarsgard is going to play her ex-boyfriend and plunderer. James Marsden will play the Dustin Hoffman role, although it’s a different character — i.e., a lot less dweeby and cowardly and socially awkward. He’ll be playing a moderately smooth, go-with-the-flow L.A. screenwriter who relocates with his actress wife (Bosworth) to her Mississippi hometown in order to finish a script.
Will Lurie be shooting in Tupelo? Philadelphia? If it’s Oxford he’d better watch the wifi.
Skarsgard (who’s 6′ 4″) will play Bosworth’s her ex-high school boyfriend who was a top jock in his heyday. Ancient Chinese curse: “May you peak in high school.”
I need to say one thing about yesterday’s Natasha VC Gawker piece about supposed directorial paycheck movies having “ruined” or seriously compromised the reps of David Fincher, Curtis Hanson, Jonathan Demme, Ang Lee and Steven Soderbergh.
As lame and ill-informed as the article is, it at least starts out with a fair and accurate assessment of the motives of certain directors at certain stages in their lives, which is that sometimes they direct certain films because they need to bolster the bank account.
Shocking as this may sound to the likes of David Poland and Karina Longworth, it’s true. Not every film is embarked upon because the director (along with his/her creative enablers) has a burning obsession to present some intensely personal vision or statement on a grand canvas. This doesn’t mean directors don’t apply their filmmaking acumen in every way possible in order to make the paycheck movie play well and reflect, at the very least, solid craftsmanship. This doesn’t mean they aren’t at least somewhat into the story or theme to some (perhaps even a significant) degree.
But sometimes making a movie — gasp! — is just about doing the work because you need to stay on the treadmill. Because you can’t paint the Mona Lisa every time you pick up a brush. Because there’s a certain honor and dignity in doing a job well, even if the film is essentially crap. Because you love your children and some universities are ridiculously expensive.
I have another shocker to throw out. Sometimes actors do this also. They star, yes, in crappy movies in order to earn money, knowing full well that artistic fulfillment is out of the question. Sometimes screenwriters hold their nose while they’re tapping out an adaptation or a rewrite. Sometimes editors whore themselves out because they need to cover the cost of a vacation house. I know — it’s stunning to consider this. But it does happen from time to time.
The Gawker piece was inspired by a Quentin Tarantino quote that appears in an Alex Pappademas-authored GQ interview, to wit: “When you gotta go out and make a movie to pay for the kids’ private school and for the three ex-wives, don’t talk to me about your artistry. It’s their job. I don’t want to have to watch the movie I made to pay for my pool.”
Except sometimes paycheck movies can turn out pretty well. My understanding from some recent Francis Coppola statements is that he didn’t want to direct The Godfather Part II because he didn’t want to make a film that was just about trying to cash in on the popularity of The Godfather. Well, look what happened. And then take a look at Tetro, which Coppola wrote and directed from a place of pure enthusiasm and movie love. I rest my case.
I saw The Cove last night at a special celebrity-attended screening, and I’m now officially and emotionally among the ranks of the persuaded and the blown-away. It’s easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and without question my choice for the best documentary of 2009 so far. It’s this year’s Man on Wire — almost certain to keep playing and gathering steam all through the year and into Oscar season.
You don’t come out of The Cove simply saying “really good movie!” (although you do). You come out The Cove wanting to fly the next day to Taiji, Japan, in order to kick some Japanese dolphin-slaughtering ass. You come out furious and moved and converted and dug in.
No one should get the idea that The Cove is primarily a classroom-lecture piece and an eco-activist movie, although it is obviously those things in a political undertow sense. Because it’s first and foremost a very well-made, thoroughly watchable murder-mystery — a gripping and entertaining sit by any standard. (Unless you happen to be, you know, an idiot.) That’s right — murder. As in seawater turning pink and then blood red.
Anyone who’s ever watched the various Flipper entertainments (the two early ’60s movies, the ‘ mid ’60s TV series, the 1996 feature with Elijah Wood) or has visited any kind of Sea World amusement park needs to see it especially. And no wimping out (or allowing the girlfriend/wife to steer you away from it). Stand up, man up and buy a ticket when it opens on 7.31.
The Cove is essentially about the exploring and exposing of a grisly annual slaughter of 2500 dolphins that happens each September in Taiji. It’s also a kind of love sonnet about dolphins — their immense intelligence, friendliness to humans, spiritual and physical beauty, etc.
It follows that it’s also a movie about infuriating bureaucratic stupidity and mass mercury poisoning, since dolphin meat (which the Taiji slaughterers covertly sell to the world) is especially heavy with the stuff.
And it’s finally and fundamentally a portrait of an obstinate hero and an extremely guilty-feeling older guy named Richard O’Barry, a former Flipper trainer-turned-activist.
O’Barry acknowledges time and again that he bears responsibility for the popularity of dolphins and their forced-labor imprisonment at various sea parks worldwide, since he was the guy who caught and trained the five dolphins who played Flipper on the famed TV series that ran from ’64 to ’68.
The Cove‘s central though-line is an effort by O’Barry and a team of activists to covertly film/tape the annual slaughter, which Taiji locals naturally don’t want anyone to see much less know about. Prior to The Cove‘s debut showing at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, I’m not aware that anyone outside of marine activists knew anything about it, including Japanese citizens.
The film is basically reiterates the truism that all ugly and ghastly things are caused by greed, denial and stupidity.
It’s really quite impossible to watch the finale — the footage of the mass harpooning of hundreds of dolphins that O’Barry and friends have endeavored to capture — and not clench your teeth and fists.
Team behind shooting of The Cove.
Plus the mislabelling of dolphin meat is appalling and sickening given the widespread mercury poisoning that consuming it has caused. And the continued refusal of the International Whaling Commission to classify dolphins as cetaceans (which would help to protect them from being murdered) as they grovel and kowtow before Japanese economic interests is nothing short of disgusting.
Technically The Cove is as sharply shot, cut and assembled as a piece like this could possibly be. You get a sense immediately that this is no run-of-the-mill documentary but a first-rate edge-of-the-seater, procedural and hide-and-seek paranoid thriller.
The Cove was directed by Louie Psihoyos. The exec producer is multimillionaire Jim Clark. The excellent editing is by Geoffrey Richman. The writing is by Mark Monroe. And the film was basically shepherded and sharpened into shape by Fisher Stevens.
The attendees at last night’s screening included Ben Stiller, Salt director Phillip Noyce, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Stevens, Clark, O’Barry, Griffin Dunne, Famke Janssen, Matthew Modine, Jerry Stiller and Christine Taylor.
A q & a panel happened after the screening with Clark, Stevens, Kennedy and O’Barry speaking and taking questions. Ben Stiller, who flipped for The Cove after seeing it recently at the Nantucket Film Festival, introduced the film at the very beginning. The after-party at Rouge Tomate was thrown by Peggy Siegal.
Here‘s that Dolphin Lady/Gini Kopecky-Wallace review that ran two or three weeks ago. My favorite line from her piece: “Watch crazy-brave people doing crazy-brave things and there’s no telling what other people will decide they can do.”
And here’s a link to a “get involved and do what you can” site sister site affiliated with The Cove. And here’s an ’07 story about what Hayden Panettierre did 18 months ago to try to bring attention to the Taiji slaughter.