I found this official release poster for Capitalism: A Love Story on In Contention. And then I read some of the comments. Every In Contention reader who says the one-sheet is cool but they need to remove Moore is dealing from a short deck. One, Moore is always the star of his films. His mentality/attitude/snark is the point. He’s the roly-poly Gary Cooper figure ready to stand up to City Hall and/or the Frank Miller gang. And two, he’s depicted as a small-scaled monochrome figure, which suggests a contained ego.
“In Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has gone past his usual practice of decorating his movies with homages to others,” writes New Yorker critic David Denby. “This time, he has pulled the film-archive door shut behind him — there’s hardly a flash of light indicating that the world exists outside the cinema except as the basis of a nutbrain fable. The film is skillfully made, but it’s too silly to be enjoyed, even as a joke.
embarrassment: his virtuosity as a maker of images has been overwhelmed by his inanity as an idiot de la cinematheque. Basterds is a hundred and fifty-two minutes long, but Tarantino’s fans will wait for the director’s cut, which no doubt shows Shirley Temple arriving at Treblinka with the Glenn Miller band and performing a special rendition of ‘Baby Take a Bow,’ from the immortal 1934 movie of the same name, before she fetchingly leads the S.S. guards to the gas chamber.”
Jeremy Piven‘s Speed-The-Plow/sushi defense debacle — a p.r. embarassment that will color Piven’s reputation for the rest of his life — has come to an official end. No more legal threats or fines or procedural hassles…done.
Variety‘s Gordon Cox reported this afternoon that independent arbitrator George Nicolau has found that the actor did not breach his employment contract with producers of Speed-the-Plow, the Broadway revival Piven that abruptly abandoned last December, blaming sushi poisoning.
Let me explain something. No one has ever believed and no one will ever believe Piven’s mercury-poisoning excuse for leaving that show. (It’s never been a secret about high mercury levels in raw fish, so what kind of moron consumes huge amounts of sushi and sashimi on a daily basis without understanding there will be a physical reaction?) Just as Robert Mitchum was never able to fully escape memories of the pot bust that landed him in jail in 1947, Piven will be regarded as Hollywood’s ruling sushi bullshit artist for the rest of his days.
Nicolau also exonerated Piven for having breached the collective bargaining contract between thesps’ union Actors’ Equity Association and the Broadway League, the trade association of legit producers and presenters. “While we respect the decision, we strongly disagree with it,” the Plow producers said in a statement.
In a press release from Fathom Studios, the Atlanta-based production company behind Delgo, a spokesperson says that “from what we have seen, we are amazed by the visual similarities” between Avatar and Delgo, “and we are reviewing what legal options may be available to us.”
Fathom certainly has a case, but this p.r. release is bullshit. If they were going to sue James Cameron and 20th Century Fox, they would be making private backrooom maneuvers instead of rattling their saber. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, talk to the press. (HE wasn’t deemed important enough to receive the press release directly. I read about it from Movieline’s Stu VanAirsdale.)
There’s an 8.27 Onion piece written by “Meryl Streep” that argues she’s never starred in a truly classic film. Which all legendary stars have managed at least once or twice. Al Pacino in The Godfather and Dog Day Afternoon. Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men. Gene Hackman in The French Connection. Robert De Niro in Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.
Run down the list of Streep’s finest movies and none can really be called classic. Good films and in some cases very good films, okay. But none truly for the ages. Not Kramer Vs. Kramer. Not Sophie’s Choice. Not The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Not The Deer Hunter. Not Out Of Africa. Not The Bridges Of Madison County. Not Marvin’s Room. Not Doubt. Not The River Wild. Not The Devil Wears Prada. Not A Prairie Home Companion. Not A Cry in the Dark. Not The Seduction of Joe Tynan. Not Mamma Mia. Not Heartburn. Not The Manchurian Candidate. Or at least, as “Streep” writes, “not the one I was in.”
True, Streep costarred in the undeniably classic Manhattan, but she wasn’t the lead and that’s the distinction.
Not that Streep doesn’t have another 10 or 15 years to go. Or 20 years even. Tomorrow is another day. I was just surprised to read the Onion piece and find myself more or less agreeing.
The blue-background, unambiguously hetero Humpday DVD cover doesn’t surprise me. Magnolia marketers are making the assumption that the average DVD browser is a stone monkey who hasn’t heard word one about Humpday over the last seven months, or read a single Humpday review. Of course not! Why would anyone? And so he/she can’t be expected to know it’s a straight bromance. So Magnolia is spelling things out — that’s all.
Humpday DVD cover art; original theatircal poster
In short, they just don’t want anyone getting the idea that Mark Duplass and Josh Leonard, like, bone each other. I didn’t want to see it myself before last January’s Sundance for this reason. Just not into plots about guys spreading cheeks…sorry.
And so they’ve naturally made the background boyish blue instead of gay pink. On top of which they’ve put Alycia Delmore, who plays Duplass’ wife, between the two. This isn’t a cheat but an accurate indication of what the story’s about. She’s very much part of things start to finish so it all fits. The Humpday DVD is out on 11.17.08.
If someone can find a higher-quality, larger-pixel rendering of the DVD jacket, please advise.
Every time somebody posts a great movie-deaths piece (the latest is a Rope of Silicon article by David Frank), I post my dog-eared “nobody died like Marlon Brando” piece, the first version of which I ran back in ’95. Why stop now? I haven’t posted it since 3.1.07, or two and half years ago.
My suggestion was that Brando’s best death scene was in Edward Dmytryk‘s The Young Lions (’58), and that no one has died with such remarkable delicacy and finesse since.
Brando’s Christian Diestl is in a forest not far from a recently abandoned concentration camp, sick of war and bashing his rifle against a tree in a mad rage. Then he then runs down a hillside and right into the rifle sights of Army G.I. Dean Martin, who opens up and puts several bullets into Brando’s gut and chest. The blonde-headed Diestl tumbles down the hill and lands head-first in a shallow stream.
The camera goes in tight, showing that Brando’s mouth and nose are submerged. A series of rapidly-popping air bubbles begin hitting the surface — pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup — and then slower, slower and slower still. And then — this is the mad genius of Brando — two or three seconds after they’ve stopped altogether, a final tiny bubble pops through. There’s something about that last little pup that devastates all to hell.
Brando also died brilliantly in Viva Zapata, tucking himself into a kneeling fetal ball with his arms outstretched and his palms facing up as he’s riddled with bullets fired by an ambush posse of several Mexican soldiers. But of course, it’s hard to see Viva Zapata because it’s not on DVD. It seems that Fox Home Video, the rights holder, isn’t inclined to put it out. Which makes them the bad guys, of course. One of the strongest performances by our greatest American actor, and they’ve been sitting on it for decades.
“One of the lovely things about the Edward M. Kennedy story was that here you had a guy who everybody thought had one destiny, at which he failed utterly,” writes N.Y. Times columnist Gail Collins. “[But] who picked himself up and found his own purpose at which he was better than anybody else in the world.
“In late middle age, he built a truly spectacular career in which he probably became the Kennedy who served his country best. Kennedy was one of the worst presidential candidates ever and you couldn’t blame people for resenting this guy assuming he had an innate right to run the country solely because of his name. And after he lost, he went through a stage where he was not exactly the most admirable role model on the planet.
“But he gradually found his place and grew into a role where his own gifts worked perfectly. In late middle age, he built a truly spectacular career in which he probably became the Kennedy who served his country best.
“I hope he can be a role model not just for people yearning for a mid-life renewal but also for all the future fifth-place finishers on American Idol.”
The latest installment in Roland Emmerich‘s world-ending idiot franchise (20th Century Fox, 11.13). The height of putrid paycheck performing by John Cusack. A simultaneous appeal to the Biblical End of Days crowd and liberals convinced that global warming will usher in the worst. The usual nausea, in short.
But there’s something about massive heaving seas that fascinates me. The CG looks better than it did five years ago in The Day After Tomorrow, and much better than the work in Independence Day. I hate myself but I know I’ll be seeing this
There are real-life echoes, of course. Watch this series of iceberg-collapsing clips. Each one is accompanied by chumps going “whoaaaa!” or “Hey, I got it on video!” It’s pure entertainment for these bozos. Not once does anyone say, “Jesus, you read about global warming and hear Republicans try to deny it’s happening on the news shows but to see it live…wow.”
Poster hanging on Daily Motion office wall.
It’s part of the online burden these days that Hitler/bunker/Downfall mash-ups about any perceived problem with any big product or film are going to pop up on YouTube, whether we like it or not. And in a sense I’m sorry for this. That said, I laughed out loud at this. The writing is quite snappy. There are a couple of “who/that” grammar issues, but you can’t say it doesn’t reflect actual carpings.
Highlights: (a) “Cameron has spent too much time underwater, and has taken the Hollywood opiate of putting technology before story“; (b) “Who the hell wants Clone Wars: Thundercats?”; (c) “They said the 3D would be so good it’d be like having your eyeballs fucked!”; (d) “Who in their right mind would want to live vicariously through a furry ballerina who fights off space marines with his freaking organic farm?”
Here’s an expanded, more particular rewrite of my brief Cannes reaction to Jane Campion‘s Bright Star (Apparition, 9.18). I’m running this as an accompaniment to the re-tooled trailer (i.e., the original narrator having been dumped) that recently posted.
Bright Star is about the subdued and conflicted passions that defined the brief love affair between poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and seamstress Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) from 1818 until Keats’ death, at age 25 from tuberculosis, in 1821.
By Campion’s particular scheme it’s been done quite perfectly. I was especially taken with Greig Fraser‘s Vermeer-lit photography, which reminded me of John Alcott ‘s lensing of Barry Lyndon. It’s part of the film’s immaculate fealty for the textures and tones of early 19th Century London, and a devotion to capturing the kind of love that is achingly conveyed in hand-written notes that are hand delivered by proper young fellows in waistcoats. You know what I mean.
But it struck me nonetheless as too slow and restricted and damnably refined. I looked at my watch three times and decided around the two-thirds mark that it should have run 100 rather than 120 minutes. I know — a typical guy reaction, right? The pacing is just right for the time period — it would have felt appalling on some level if it had been shot and cut with haste for haste’s sake — but there’s no getting around the feeling that it’s a too-long sit.
This, I feel, is primarily because there’s no discernible heat in the Keats/Brawne relationship. Their love affair is extremely earnest and soulful as far as it goes, but it seems way too too repressed. Yes, I know — this is how love affairs more or less were in the early 19th Century. Notions of propriety and appearances were always paramount. But there’s no shaking the feeling that neither Keats nor Brawne seem to know the first thing about carnal splendor. Not even in their imaginings, I mean.
There’s a passage in Keat’s Wikipedia bio claiming that the posthumous publication of love letters between Keats and Brawne “scandalize[d] Victorian society.” There’s also a reference to Brawne’s “rather promiscuous reputation.” There is nothing in Bright Star that even alludes to this alleged reputation, and there’s certainly nothing in the depicted ardor between Keats and Brawne that is remotely hothouse. It’s all hat, no cattle.
Whatever the truth of the nature of their real-life relationship, Campion chose to keep it all chaste and contained.
As Keats’ friend and financial supporter Charles Armitage Brown, Paul Schneider quickly becomes infuriating. Brown is straight but he resents Fanny/Cornish with the emotional frenzy of a gay man fighting for the attentions of a sometime male lover, and he boorishly gets in her face each and every time she tries to speak to Keats. He’s an obnoxious dog. After a half hour I wanted him killed.
I also began to dream about someone besides Cornish playing Brawne. She’s a skilled actress who gives herself over to the life and mind of this 19th Century seamstress, but bit by bit and scene by scene I began to resent her somewhat chubby balloon face, and how her hair pulled tightly into that prudish bun only accentuates this. Cornish began to almost seem too big for Whishaw. Her head certainly seemed a bit heavier and thicker than his, and I began to wonder if she physically outweighed him. I began to imagine wrestling matches between the two, and the look of triumph on Cornish’s face as she pins this little candy-ass to the floor.
Bright Star is basically a Masterpiece Theatre thing that my mother will love. I’m not putting it down on its own terms. I mostly felt admiration for Campion’s careful arranging of the elements. But I finally found it a bit cold and remote, and a bit too long for what it delivers.
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