Taken earlier today in quiet, under-populated Telluride, Colorado by HE correspondent “buckzollo,” who, among others, will be passing along impressions and whatnot starting Friday. And of course, the 66th Venice Film Festival begins today. Tomorrow John Hillcoat‘s The Road and Todd Solondz‘s Life During Wartime will screen there. And Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story will show in Venice on Sunday.
I can remember reading an article in the ’80s that reviled middle-aged European tourists (particularly Germans, as I recall) for walking around Manhattan in the summer months in short-sleeved sports shirts, shorts (and thus exposing their hideous alabaster legs), brown socks and sandals. In my book it’s just as bad to wear black socks and sandals. It may be that the style offender in this shot is wearing black lace-up sneakers, but so what? White legs, black socks…forget it.
And I’m amazed, truly amazed that a guy could go out in public like this. But lots of guys in their mid 40s and younger do go out like this. I’ve seen them in Central Park and downtown and all around, and there’s no stopping it.
Michael Caine will sit for a Toronto Film Festival interview on Sunday, 9.13, at the Isabel Bader theatre to promote his new film, Harry Brown. The interview program is called Mavericks. Caine has worked to some extent in the independent arena, but he’s been known his entire career for a whorish willingness to act in just about anything. He starred in Joseph Sargent‘s Jaws 4: The Revenge and Irwin Allen ‘s The Swarm. I love the guy but has there ever been a less Mavericky actor in film history?
Variety‘s Todd McCarthy has reviewed the Red Riding trilogy, a forthcoming IFC Films release that was made by England’s Channel 4 presentation and which runs — wait for it — 302 minutes. It will play at this weekend’s Telluride Film Festival but not, significantly, at the Toronto Film Festival. And I wonder why, given McCarthy’s enthusiasm for the level of craft and the acting. The three films are Julian Jarrold‘s 1974 (104 minutes), James Marsh‘s 1980 (95 minutes) and Anand Tucker‘s 1983 (103 minutes).
Wait…McCarthy sat through the whole 302 minutes in one sitting at the Sunset Screening Room on 8.26 (i.e., seven days ago)?
Fifteen months ago the Hollywood Reporter and then Collider‘s Cal Kemp (linking to the THR story) reported about Robert Downey, Jr. eyeing a lead role in Cowboys and Aliens, an adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg‘s 2006 graphic novel series. Earlier today Variety‘s Michael Fleming reported that director Jon Favreau will probably team with Downey on the project.
I love this idea sight unseen and not even having flipped through Rosenberg’s comic book. I love it because it’s absurd and stupid and dead-on, and because the film has a chance to redeem the idea of merging six-shooters, horses, buckaroos and super-sized other-wordly FX. The debacle known as Barry Sonnenfeld‘s Wild Wild West took this idea and killed it for years. If Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t make it work — or worse yet, if it does the same “oh, God, I hate this, lemme outta here” Wild Wild West thing — the wrath of the moviegoing world will come down on Cowboys & Aliens like a ton of bricks. No, it won’t. People will go to see it no matter what. But guys like me will be shattered.
Why would I drop everything to see Cowboys & Aliens in a New York minute but I can’t stand the idea of Johnny Depp starring in The Lone Ranger? Why would anyone want to see The Lone Ranger for any reason, under any circumstance, under the influence of any drug…whatever? Clearly, the Favreau-Downey is the cowboy movie people want to see. If I were Depp I’d bail.
Cowboys & Aliens will be a DreamWorks/Universal project. The producers are Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard along with Steven Spielberg. (Good movie for Spielberg — he’ll be able to make more money!) Platinum Studios CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg plus Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are also producing.
Obviously the coolest aspect of Wes Anderson‘s The Fantastic Mr. Fox (20th Century Fox, 11.13) is the stop-motion animation. This is the same technique, of course, used by Merian C. Cooper and Willis O’Brien on King Kong and Ray Harryhausen for his 1950s and ’60s monster movies. It goes with saying that the Eloi, accustomed to the latest super-fluid hard-drive effects, may regard stop-motion as a little too effete and stuck-on-itself. Not me, mind you. I think it’s beautiful. I get it and then some.
I’ve been a little too strident in recent posts and I’m feeling a little sorry about that. It hit me this morning that I should offer an apology. So I am. A totally smooth and edgeless voice in the column would be boring, of course. But I shouldn’t be quite as snarly and self-righteous when it comes to flying-monkey wires and hair colors and such. I like a good argument as much as the next guy but you need to watch it tone-wise.
Something or somebody else takes over when I’m writing HE stuff. It’s a little bit of an alternate-personality thing. There’s the guy I want to be and need to be and like being when I’m dealing with people and visiting my mother and walking around shopping malls and renting cars in airports, and then there’s the other guy who comes into the room when I write the column.
The other guy isn’t wrong or…you know, saying things just to agitate without thought or reflection. I know what I know and passion always involves a bit of gnarly-ness. One of the reasons the other guy works as a voice is that I stopped saying “uh-oh, I’d better not say that” a few years ago. Well, I do say that still but a basic other-guy component is that he’s a bit a loose-screw personality. There’s a bit of a Larry David thing going on. He’s knowledgable and seasoned and knows what he knows but he can be little bit of an eccentric at times, which is why I keep him locked down and muzzled for the most part when I’m dealing with people and opening doors for people and asking for favors and dealing with the upstairs “party elephants.”
I’ve got the other guy figured out voice-wise and attitude-wise and theology-wise and that’s a good thing, but every so often I tell myself I should have pulled back a bit and been a little nicer. And I’m sorry when I haven’t modulated some of my posts with a bit more finesse. It’s kind of a candy-assed cop-out to say “this is a really tough job” and “you try banging out eight to ten stories per day” but it’s true to some extent.
The other side of the coin is that this is a great job. I sometimes feel enormous pride and often a good deal of satisfaction, depending obviously on the day and what’s gone down. The truth is that I’ve been feeling exhausted and a little gloomy on the side over the last few days. I think it’s partly because Jett went back to Syracuse last weekend and I’m feeling kind of despondent on a certain level because of this. I always feel badly when the kids leave. Anyway, I feel slightly better today and will try to be a little nicer and keep the other guy on a slightly gentler leash.
I can’t get enough of Ruben Fleischer‘s Zombieland (Sony, 10.2). The various trailers I’ve seen keep getting more and more kickass. I know exactly what it’ll be (I think) and I’m 90% convinced I’m going to love it unless, you know, it shows a lack of discipline and good story structure and all the other basics. I’m expecting something on the level of Dawn of the Dead mixed with….uhm, Adventureland?
Too bad it’s not being shown at Toronto since every serious-minded film festival needs at least one stupidly enjoyable goof-off flick. And it won’t be that stupid because Jesse Eisenberg is costarring. Eisebnberg’s presence is almost an assurance of quality in that he seems to ask for an Owen Wilson clause in his contracts — he can’t and won’t do full-on stupid, and his lines have to have an element of conversational realism. If it was just Woody Harrelson doing his struttin’ around good-ole-boy thing I might have qualms, but it’s clearly more than that.
Just offering my appreciation to the New York Weinstein Co. publicists for having a screening yesterday of John Hillcoat‘s The Road (opening 10.16) yesterday and not inviting yours truly. This despite urgent pleas on this end to please allow early looksees of Toronto Film Festival selections in order to allow more time to see as many films as possible. I’d like to catch over 35 films in Toronto, but I realistically expect to see, at best, 25 or so.
Thanks also to the good samaritans at Warner Bros. for blowing off repeated requests to see a 2 pm screening today of Steven Soderbergh‘s The Informant! It’s been shown a few times on both coasts and isn’t faring too badly. One guy quite liked it. It reportedly exudes a sort of arch and jocular tone with a kind of robust, attitude-conveying score by Marvin Hamlisch, of all people. In any case the deal in seeing pre-Toronto films is usually “hold your water until you get to Toronto,” which is fine with me. I don’t break my word on this stuff.
The bottom line is that smiles and courtesies are easy and productive because they tend to encourage reciprocity in kind, but that walking around with an attitude chip on your shoulder is its own self-fulfilling karma. Life is always more difficult when certain personalities enter the room. Despite a peace-pipe overture from WB’s departing marketing guy Don Buckley last December, I felt obliged to contact Clint Eastwood directly at the same time in order to somehow wangle an opportunity to see Gran Torino in a timely fashion because the gracious WB p.r. staff wasn’t reaching out. Clint did me a solid and good for him, but wouldn’t it be loverly if certain people could pop a Xanex and learn to chill down?
In addition to the already-tipped Up In The Air, The Road, An Education and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I’m told that Marco Bellocchio‘s Vincere, Todd Solondz‘s Life During Wartime and Jacques Audiard‘s A Prophet will also play at the Telluride Film Festival, which kicks off two days from now. There’s also a hazy rumor about Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story turning up.
I’m also pleased and comforted to say that HE has its Telluride correspondent situation more or less wrapped up as of this morning, although anyone else who’d like to pass thoughts, pics and observations along is certainly welcome. Looking forward to it all.