Last Friday I ran a story about how Spoutblog‘s Karina Longworth, Movieline‘s Stu VanAirsdale, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, Cinemablend‘s Katey Rich and The Playlist‘s Rodrigo Perez were kind of clearing their throats and wondering if the upcoming Toronto Film Festival would give them a press badge or not. Well, I heard today that VanAirsdale and Longworth are good to go.
In a current but undated N.Y. Times “Take 5” fashion spread/q &a piece by Lynn Hirschberg, An Education‘s Carey Mulligan is described in now-familiar terms. Her “bravura turn has landed her center stage,” “the movie was a sensation at Sundance largely because of [her] performance,” and that she was “suddenly…being compared to Audrey Hepburn,” etc. There’s also a “Screen Test” video piece.
(l.) An Education‘s Carey Mulligan; David Janseen as Harry O.
The Times doesn’t let you copy the photos but Mulligan makes an amazing admission midway through the discussion. She doesn’t drive so when she decided to park it in LA she stayed in Century City and took the Santa Monica Boulevard bus.
“I have an unusual perception of L.A.,” she explains. “I can’t drive, so I take the bus. I stay in Century City, which is centrally located, and there’s a brilliant bus that goes straight up Santa Monica Boulevard. The people riding on the bus are unbelievable. Completely insane. I quite like it. When you have three meetings a day, it’s quite pleasant to take the bus from place to place.”
Mulligan taking a bus to the Kodak theatre on Oscar night would be the hands-down coolest thing imaginable.
Hirschberg asks Mulligan if she’s been offered rides during her stay. “I had a meeting with Warren Beatty,” the actress replies, “which was surreal because I couldn’t believe I was speaking with him at all. And he couldn’t believe I was taking the bus. He drove me to my next meeting. I thought, I rather like Los Angeles. People are very kind.”
The David Janseen connection is that the last vaguely-Hollywood-associated person known for using the L.A. bus system was Janseen’s private-eye character in Harry O, the ’70s TV series.
In an article posted this morning on Splice Today about the Roger Ebert-Armond White brouhaha called “Why Are Movie Fans So Sensitive?”, John Lingan criticizes Ebert for defending White and then recanting his defense, and especially for “perpetuating the ridiculous idea that film critics’ likes and dislikes matter more than their knowledge of movies.” Here’s the final paragraph:
“Only in film criticism will people with a purported interest in the art demean the opinion of an expert because he dares to disagree with them. The path to greater knowledge and appreciation of movies seems pretty obvious to me: watch as many as possible, and read widely about them, specifically the work of people who know more than you. If you disagree, fantastic; it means you’re developing your own opinions and values. But there’s no room in this equation for being as easily offended as contemporary moviegoers — including Roger Ebert, disappointingly — seem to be.”
Fair enough, but another way to look at the occasional practice of ripping into this or that critic in personal terms is that it’s analagous to hockey-game fights. Are they embarassing? If you’re a purist for the sport and in love with the art of great hockey-playing, yes. Are punch-outs reminders of our coarse tendencies and our low position on the evolutionary totem pole? Yes. Are they occasionally fun to watch anyway? Yeah, they are.
Watch George Roy Hill‘s Slapshot again and consider the crowd reactions to the Hansen brothers. Consider how attendance quadrupled after the Charlestown Chiefs started thugging down and demeaning the sport. Consider the look on Paul Newman‘s face when he realizes his team has tapped into something primal.
Readers of film blogs respect intelligent, impassioned discourse. You’re a dead man if you can’t honorably compete in this realm. But they also enjoy a good dust-up now and then. If everyone minded their manners to Lingan’s satisfaction online disputes would be more elevating and informative, but they’d also be less fun. Just sayin’.
Ronald Reagan recorded this visionary statement in 1961, five years before his election as California governor. What a reptile. I mentioned this last month but last fall’s economic collapse has, I think, in the eyes of history, sealed Reagan’s reputation as the godfather of the greedhead funny-money economy that kicked off in the early ’80s. N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman explained it all on 5.31, in a piece called “Reagan Did It.”
60 Minutes creator and longtime CBS newsman Don Hewitt, who was on the job until ’04, died this morning of pancreatic cancer at age 86. He should and would be regarded as a blemish-free journalist of the highest order. He was involved in the documentary news show See It Now, directed the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates, and exec produced the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. His crowning achievement was launching 60 Minutes in 1968 and staying with it for three-plus decades. Except, sadly, there is a blemish, and a prominent one at that.
Hewitt’s reputation isn’t 100% sterling due to the depiction of his actions during the Jeffrey Wigand/Brown & Williamson/tortious interference debacle in Michael Mann‘s The Insider. Fairly or unfairly, he was portrayed by Phillip Baker Hall as a corporate-deferring go-alonger who allowed the reputation of 60 Minutes to be tarnished in what is now regarded as a classic case of corporate interests undermining journalistic integrity. Many heartfelt tributes will be heard over the next few days, but The Insider will live on for decades if not centuries. Tough deal, but there’s no erasing it.
I had never IMDB-checked the European locations where Inglourious Basterds was filmed before this morning, but watching this Quentin Tarantino-on-Late Night with David Letterman video made me laugh. All right, chuckle. Because he says that they shot a bit of it in Paris and…hello?…the two “Paris” locations in the film (i.e., Shosanna’s movie theatre and a cafe) look like sets built on a Los Angeles sound stage.
It seems to me that the point of Inglourious Basterds, in keeping with the idea that it’s all happening in Quentin’s head, is to not portray the various European locales with any recognizable realism (let alone period realism) except for the Nazi uniforms and such. Locale-wise this movie is so completely unto itself that it could have been shot in the Washington/Oregon region. One of the elements that work, in a way, is QT’s near-flaunting of the idea that the film isn’t really happening in 1940s Europe.
We all knew Jason Reitman‘s Up In The Air, which will screen at the Toronto Film Festival, will open sometime in the fall/holiday period. Slashfilm’s exclusive poster reveal confirms a December release. Along with a certain emotional signature.
One-sheet for Jason Reitman’s Up In The Air ((Paramount, sometime in December).
The crisp and clean copy line — “the story of a man ready to make a connection” — feeds into the image of alone-ness (as opposed to garden-variety loneliness) that George Clooney‘s character, one senses, has chosen for himself out of…well, any number of reasons. But everyone feels this way on some level. Particularly at airports. Not “oh, God, I’m all alone” but “yup, just me and my agenda and my flight leaving in 75 minutes…cool. But it would be kind of nice if there was…I dunno, a little something else going on.”
My favorite part of the poster is the little bird perched on the window frame just above the R. He’s also wondering what’s next and where to go.
Up In The Air has been a popular movie title, according to the IMDB. It’s been used eight times before for films released in 1915, two in 1918 (one directed by Gregory La Cava), 1923 (for a comedy short), a 1926 animated short, and features released in 1940 and 1969. And there’s another 2009 film using the title, directed and written by Wayne Llewellyn.
I’m still miffed at those snark-heads calling me gullible for posting a reaction to the film by a guy who almost certainly attended a research screening a few weeks ago. A guy I know by way of name, phone number, photo, a phone conversation, and previous emails plus one memorable Hancock review he sent me last year. On top of which my having read and liked about half of Reitman’s Up In The Air screenplay. That said, nobody knows anything for dead certain and the film will play it as it lays.
Studio marketing veteran Tom Sherak was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night, succeding Sid Ganis. Sherak is one of the nicest men I’ve ever known in any industry or realm. He was a guest at a film class I moderated back in ’97, and the crowd loved him because, as one fellow put it, “he sounds like Joe Pesci.” Sherak is one of the smartest and shrewdest guys out there, but he talks like a neighborhood hardware-store manager. A trust-and-comfort, common-sense type.
HE reader Domenico Salvaggio received the following email from Team Avatar early this morning: “We apologize for the inconvenience, but due to overwhelming demand [for Friday’s free Avatar preview], our RSVP site experienced technical difficulties. As a result of the crash you must re-select a screening time. Please note you may not get the original time you selected. Please click here and choose a new screening time.”
“I have to re-register at 3 am?,” Domenico wrote. “Are we in the early 1990’s? Avatar is supposed to be the harbinger of the future bleeding-edge tech and the system they used to set up the advance screening is a bona-fide Mickey Mouse operation? I don’t blame Cameron, but on some level the guy who professes to be the King of the World and the gateway to cinema-of-the-future needs to re-evaluate his operation.
“Right now Avatar has zero awareness among the laypeople. Only the geeks (such as I) have been championing the project…but if he pulls this dick-move at the 11th hour, he might piss off his core fan group. That kind of backlash 20th Century Fox can’t afford. I feel cheated and I feel like I wasted my time. I structured my whole day around getting those online tickets!
“Yes, I re-registered and got my desired time but only because I was lucky enough to be awake at 3:00 am! What if I woke up tomorrow morning and my desired time of the 6 pm showing @ the Universal Citywalk IMAX in LA was no longer available? (I can’t go to later showings because I have a wedding reception @ 7:00 pm). Or worse, what if it got sold out completely when I woke up and was shit-screwed out of luck? Sorry, fanboy.”
This issue could be handled very easily. The 20th Century Fox techies responsible for the site crash would submit to a minor form of public corporal punishment somewhere on the Fox lot. Stocks and pillories, I’m thinking, but only for an hour and only during their lunch break. Fox shoots a video of this, and then posts it on the Avatar site.
I heard this morning from Erica no-last-name, a 21 year-old student from Charlotte, North Carolina. Being an intelligent and committed Avatard, she took issue with my 8.17 report (“Room at the Inn”) about how the Avatar tickets were snapped up faster in big cities than in outlying areas, and especially what that implied about awareness levels.
“Don’t assume everyone outside of NY and LA is oblivious to Hollywood doings,” she wrote. “I know how these places look from the outside (middle-class, popcorn-eating audiences flocking to stupid blockbusters) but Charlotte does have a little art society inside it, even though we might be in the minority. I have two reserved tickets to an Avatar screening here in Charlotte, and I know more people who are going also. Not only that, but I’m trying to sell the shit out of this thing because I truly believe in the epic-ness of it.”
To which I replied: “Yeah, you’re from an upscale-urban small-college town…naturally! Any semi-educated, reasonably well-travelled American realizes, of course, that the American hinterland is sprinkled with small and mid-sized towns and college communities of a blue-green liberal bent. Oasis-like havens with nice people, cool cafes, bookstores, nice walking-around areas, non-Blockbuster DVD stores, second-hand clothing stores and pretty women with nice pedicures.
“Tupelo, Mississippi, to name one example, is generally regarded as a rural Southern city with all the attendant shortcomings, but it’s got a nice, old-town vibe here and there, and everyone you meet is polite and kindly. Not my kind of town architecturally but a decent place to hang for a day or two. So yeah, I know the score and thank God that the spirit of rural America isn’t entirely ruled by Walmarts and junk-food outlets and red-state Glenn Beck attitudes.
“What I was saying in the piece — or asking, really — is whether outlying areas are as attuned as big cities to ‘viral happenings’ like the Avatar free-seat giveaway.
“As I looked over the Avatar site at the end of the first day (i.e., two days ago) that had reports about which theatres in which cities were sold out (or more precisely requested-out), the general pattern was that the big-city IMAX theatres filled up right away but that scores of theatres in the rural and suburban areas still had seats open.
“The obvious conclusion is that rural/suburbans (a) have fewer hardcore fans of CG scifi/alternate-reality event movies and (b) aren’t as wired into what’s happening as big-city types. That’s all I was really saying.”
Rep. Barney Frank, bless him, understands the blunt-spoken, suffer-no-fools HE spirit and vice versa. Asked during a town-hall healthcare discussion in Dartmouth why he supports President Obama’s “Nazi policy,” Frank replied as follows: “On what planet do you spend most of your time? [What you’re saying is] vile, contemptible nonsense. Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining-room table.”