A music video directed by Heath Ledger sometime in late ’07 will finally see the light of day on Tuesday, 8.4, some 18 months after his stupid accidental death. Modest Mouse will premiere the Ledger-directed video for their track “King Rat” tomorrow on their MySpace music page.
“The animated video was conceptualized and directed by Ledger,” writesSpin‘s Anna Hyclak, “but was left unfinished when the died of an accidental overdose in January 2008. The Masses — a film and music company that Ledger was a partner in — completed the video in his honor.
“Ledger approached Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock about wanting to direct a music video for the band while they were on a boat trip with a mutual friend in Ledger’s native Australia.
“‘Heath’s vision, brave and unapologetic in its nature, would marry his love of bold and original music with his impassioned stance against the illegal commercial whale hunts taking place off the coast of Australia each year,’ the band has written in a post on their MySpace blog. ‘Always one to operate from his heart and take a stand for what he cared deeply about, Heath’s intention was to raise awareness on modern whaling practices through a potent visual piece without having to say a word. It was his way to let the story, in its candid reversal, speak for itself.'”
The new Avatar poster is wrong. The thinking behind it is about telling the uninitiated that this James Cameron film is about exotic blue-skinned people with white pinpoint tattoos. But it also suggests that the film is entirely animated, which of course it isn’t. Or at least, not in the way most people understand the term “animated.” Much/most of Avatar is in 3D animation of a much higher quality than anything seen before, and this poster sells this aspect short. It looks primitive and unimaginative, like a “test” poster. Take it down, Tony Sella , and make something better. Please.
MacRumors.com’s Eric Slivka has posted another story about Apple’s said to be forthcoming “10-inch, 3G-enabled tablet, akin to a jumbo iPod touch.” A veteran analyst is quoted as saying that “the machine impresses with its display of hi-def video content…it’s better than the average movie experience, when you hold this thing in your hands.” Slivka also mentions “a possible $699-$799 price point” with a possible November launch. I posted a link to an earlier story on 7.26 that indicated a slightly lower price.
As Thompson admits, this was not entirely her signature style when she wrote her Variety column as well as her previous “Risky Business” column for the Hollywood Reporter. She told it straight but with an eye toward political ramifications. “I had to write within the realm of the trades,” she says. “I had to write within the box. But that no longer exists [for me].”
Everybody who works for a trade (or any mainstream print publication) does the same. Movie critics included. This doesn’t mean staffers necessarily pull their punches as much as occasionally sand off a story’s edge with carefully sculpted prose (i.e., phrases like “remains to be seen”) rather than laying their cards totally face up and blunt-ass.
Nonetheless, Thompson’s statement about being a bit more of a come-what-may candor dispenser at Indiewire reminds me of a story that James Farmer once told about a conversation he had with Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office. Farmer told Johnson he’d never been much of a civil-rights advocate when he represented Texas in the Senate so what accounted for his passionate support of civil-rights legislation as U.S. president? Johnson replied by quoting a famous line by Martin Luther King: “Free at last, free at last…thank God almighty, I’m free at last!”
Thompson also said, however, that she’s not quite the stand-alone, self-propelling entrepeneur that others are in the online realm. She’s happy about “not being in this entirely all by myself. I own the site and I designed the site myself, yes, but the guys at IndeWire really know their stuff. I know I couldn’t have done it as well without them. And I think it’s going to work.”
With Uli Edel‘s The Baader-Meinhof Complex preparing to open later this month (NYC on 8.21, LA on 8.28), it’s apparent that Vitagraph, the film’s U.S. distributor, didn’t push a suggestion I made in my 9.30.08 review, which was to retitle it The Baader-Meinhof Gang. “You have to think in popcorn terms when you’re deciding on a title,” I wrote, “and popcorn munchers don’t know from complexes. This is basically a high-voltage shoot ’em up about a political-minded Barrow gang that ends in death, jail and suicide.”
After watching Annie Hall last night, Vanity Fair.com’s Julian Sancton is wondering if Funny People is Judd Apatow‘s attempt to similarly veer off in a more grounded reality vein.
Well…obviously, of course, yeah. But it doesn’t flatter Apatow to bring up Allen’s 1978 coming-into-his-own film. Nor is it fair, really, as Funny People is about how a talented but selfish egotist manages to gradually edge toward menschhood after a serious brush with death while Annie Hall grapples with a much more touching and universal theme — i.e., that the reasons people get together tend, paradoxically, to be the same reasons why they break up.
“At 41, Apatow is exactly the same age as Allen was when Annie Hall was released, in 1977, when he was considered as Apatow is today the top comedic filmmaker of his time. And just as Allen did with such goofy farces as Sleeper, Bananas and Love and Death, Apatow amassed enough political capital in Hollywood with The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up to convince studios to allow him to spend it all on a more serious passion project.
“In each case, the filmmakers wrote what they knew, what they obsessed about, which happened to be the same two things: comedy and women. Each film gets both laughs and pathos by focusing on the existential angst of a standup comedian, and on his ultimately fruitless efforts to rekindle an old romance. The films actually overlap directly on a few plot points, such as with the smarmy foils played by Tony Roberts and Jason Schwartzman, who, in Allen and Apatow’s films respectively, both sell out by starring in second-rate sitcoms.
And “most importantly, both films stubbornly avoid the happy ending,” Sancton states.
Really? Funny People‘s conclusion isn’t “happy” but it does end on a tone of decency and mutual respect and rapprochement between Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen‘s comedian characters.
Unfortunately Apatow delivers a bummer epilogue at the end of the piece.
“It’s possible, however, that Funny People will be more of a detour in Apatow’s career than a new direction,” Sancton writes. “When I spoke to the director recently about some of the more emotionally difficult scenes in his latest film, he seemed hesitant to revisit that kind of pain anytime soon.
“‘The dramatic scenes were so painful to make that it made me respect people who can do that for an entire movie,’ he told me. ‘Just watching Adam prepare and get in the mindset to make a very difficult and sad scene was almost more than I, personally, could handle. All I thought the whole time was, After this I need to make a really stupid movie. Next time you may say this was the broadest thing I have ever done.'”
Imagine Allen saying the following to an interviewer just before the release of Annie Hall:
“I don’t know…I’m not sure about my creative direction because those dramatic scenes were really rough. It brought back all the stuff I went through with Diane in our real-life relationship. It was almost more than I could handle. I’m thinking I might want to make another Bananas or Take The Money and Run and just…you know, recover from this thing.
“For the last few months I’ve been nursing this idea for a widescreen black-and-white film called Manhattan — another difficult-relationships film — but I’m now thinking it would be better to just relapse back into a silly comedy and…you know, have a good time and make people laugh. I mean, I’m an entertainer, right? And that’s what people want me to be.”
Steven Spielberg‘s decision to direct an adaptation of Harvey, a 65 year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning play and a 59 year-old Universal film that starred James Stewart, is an essentially timid and conservative move. It’s about looking back at age 62, communing with old-time sentimental America, potentially having fun with Tom Hanks (who’s widely expected to play Stewart’s role of Elwood P. Dowd) and for some reason wanting to slosh around in amiable charm and likable oddness, which has never been Spielberg’s strong suit.
Harvey, which 20th Century Fox is financing and which will include, I’m presuming, the constant CG visualization of Harvey the rabbit, will, mark my words, be seen as a minor Spielberg hiccup at the end of the day. He doesn’t have it in him to be deft and discreet, which is what this kind of material needs. Spielberg almost always puts on the waders and sloshes right into the swamp. He’s always looking to touch or melt hearts, even when the film would be better off without this. He’ll never know from subtlety.
And all the while Tony Kushner‘s Lincoln — the biopic that Spielberg has delayed and dilly-dalllied with for years, the big creative-challenge project of his autumnal years that obviously terrifies him down to his cracked toenails — continues to wither on the vine as poor Liam Neeson, who’s dying to play Lincoln before he gets too old, waits and frets.
What is there to say about a once-interesting, super-rich director-producer who hasn’t made a truly formidable or at least largely unblemished film since 1998’s Saving Private Ryan and before that ’93’s Schindler’s List? And who, facing the final surge of creative opportunity and productivity in his life (he’s got another 10 to 12 years left of high-energy directing), has made two lightweight fantasy films over the last three years — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Tintin — and has now committed to a third in this vein (i.e., Harvey)?
Because I still foolishly believe in the Spielberg who used to be (the guy who, with the exception of 1941, hit nothing but home runs from ’74’s Duel to ’82’s E.T., and who showed flashes of the old vigor three more times with ’89’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the afore-mentioned Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan)…because I’m gullible enough to believe that Spielberg could pull it together and rally the troops for another surge, I keep asking myself again and again when is this guy going to man up and stop tiddly-winking around?
(l.) Abraham Lincoln; (r.) Lincoln-Neeson digital blend.
What will his next Lincoln-avoidance project be after Harvey? A bullshit Old Boy remake with Will Smith? The dumbing down of Interstellar?
I say and plead again to Spielberg: do the decent thing and drop Lincoln and give it to someone else to direct. Someone who isn’t afraid, someone with more depth and passion. Go ahead and be the life-loving Tintin/Harvey hah-hey guy. Shallow it up to your heart’s content but don’t block a potentially great film from being made. Lincoln is beyond your abilities. Admit this and let it go.
The new Harvey screenplay is a first-time effort by Jonathan Tropper. The original 1944 play was written by Mary Chase. Stewart played Dowd on Broadway as well as in the 1950 Henry Koster-directed film.