“Finally, I’d like to step out of my pundit shoes for a moment, if I may, and make a bold suggestion: Academy, if you’re reading, please consider nominating Fantastic Mr. Fox for best costumes. Where does it say costumes have to be human sized?”– Vanity Fair.com’s Julian Sancton in an 11.18 Oscar-nom handicap piece.
I know I probably won’t end up looking like this when I’m 79, but I’d like to. Cool, studly, relaxed machismo is worth its weight in gold. The cover photo lies, of course, by favoring the subject, but what photo doesn’t lie on some level? Most of them make you look worse.
Somebody said something the other day about Alec Baldwin being exceptional in Nancy Meyers‘ It’s Complicated (Universal, 12.25). The vested parties are saying this, of course, with the post-marital comedy expected to start screening for critics sometime after Thanksgiving. A non-vested writer-director guy told me this afternoon that he can “absolutely confirm” that Baldwin is the shit in Meyers’ film and a prime candidate for Best Supporting Actor. A vested party who nonetheless tends to be blunt said Baldwin is “a lay-down hand for a nom, Jeff. And he could win. Total breakout performance. Bet on it.”
Whatever the truth, it hit me suddenly that it’s taken Baldwin 15 years to recover from the downish career dents he suffered in the ’90s — sacrificing a movie-star career and the Jack Ryan franchise for a chance to play Stanley Kowalski in a Broadway Streetcar, the messy divorce from Kim Basinger and the daughter tape, getting thicker and thicker, developing the angry guy rep, being called “the Bloviator” by the N.Y. Post, etc. — and to find his kwan and ease into a nice smooth groove over the last two or three years with 30 Rock and whatnot, and that some kind of favorable karma thing is kicking in now with his acting in It’s Complicated and co-hosting the Oscars with Steve Martin and so on. I’m just feeling a little vibe telling me it’s Baldwin’s time right now and that the winds are favoring.
The non-vested director-writer said that “besides Baldwin, It’s Complicated is also a very strong showing for Steve Martin. A nice rebound after the last Panther movie and something more in tune with his talents. Part of the fun of having Baldwin and Martin host the Oscars is the possibility of one or both of them being nominated. It’s a strong film and Universal will have a much-needed crowd pleaser. Meryl could be a lock as well for Best Actress, with the Julia Child performance being pushed for supporting.”
The only thing that gives me concern is my bedrock certainty that however satisfying and entertaining her films may be on a certain level, Nancy Meyers doesn’t want to be anything more than Nancy Meyers. She doesn’t seem to want to push herself up to the next level and be the James L. Brooks of the ’80s and early ’90s (i.e., before he lost it). I’ve said this before, but she can’t stop making movies about people with money who have shiny copper pots hanging in the kitchen.
Part of the tragedy of New Moon is that it temporarily wraps Kristen Stewart — the GenY Marlon Brando/James Dean/Montgomery Clift — in a shroud of mediocrity. I’m not saying that Stewart has mastered her talent completely, but it’s inside her, for sure. It’s almost nauseating to see her grimming up and getting through the vampire/ werewolf paces as best she can. She seems tough and resilient enough (and seems to have a good sense of humor about it) but what a waste.
Imagine if a 19 year-old Brando had been caught up in a Twilight thing. Brando being Brando, he might have sunk into depression quicksand. Brando and Dean and Clift were almost blessed in that there were no corporate franchises when they were young and just starting to show their stuff. There was only the New York theatre and the glory days of live dramatic television and directors like Elia Kazan and Fred Zinneman and Nicholas Ray and George Stevens, etc. And yet they still found ways to be miserable. Actors are nothing if not resourceful.
I expect the usual-usual from Stewart in Jake Scott‘s Welcome to the Rileys (a young-stripper role, indie-level drama, costarring James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo) and especially Floria Sigismondi‘s The Runaways (as Joan Jett).
New Moon has earned a fair and appropriate 37% Rotten Tomatoes rating. I’m amazed and almost stunned that EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips, the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Colin Calvert , the Washington Post‘s Michael O’Sulivan and the Philadelphpa Inquirer‘s Carrie Rickey could either (a) give a pass or (b) at the very least go easy on a film that is so draggy and dreary and lifeless.
Hands down the most idiotic-looking CG wolf in motion picture history. Who decided on the size of this thing? I’ll tell you who decided on the size of this thing. An idiot decided on the size of this thing.
The money it’s going to make — is making — this weekend doesn’t matter. Forget. The. Money. All I know is that I felt a palpable current and chemistry from Twilight that worked for what it was, and that this special whatever is utterly missing from New Moon.
Two days ago I was thinking or imagining that I might experience more of the same, and then I saw it Wednesday night and now it’s dead. The franchise, the heat, the interest, the cultural connectivity…all cess-pooled. New Moon will obviously make financial history this weekend but it’s a total zombie franchise now — it walks and morphs and vacuums up revenue and makes teenage girls swoon, but it’s made of dead gray tissue and huge, stupid-looking, dinosaur-size cartoon wolves.
It’s been smothered by Rob Friedman and Chris Weitz and all the other Summit bottom-liners who didn’t understand what they had. They’re be rolling in dough Monday morning, but they’ve totally killed the goose.
I like Peter Bart‘s brief 11.19 profile of 34 year-old movie financier and Relativity Media honcho Ryan Kavanaugh more than the also-recent one by Chris Jones in Esquire. I prefer Bart’s because he mentions that Kavanaugh is “a moderate drinker [whose] driving is sufficiently erratic to provoke occasional run-ins with the cops” and who “can joke about melodramatic relationships with the opposite sex.”
Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh
This humanizes the guy, you see. Makes him sound flawed and vulnerable and maybe a wee bit …not reckless, exactly, but…what’s the term, nocturnally spirited? It tells you Kavanaugh is no stone-faced Michael Corleone in The Godather, Part II, drinking a club soda with lime on a patio in Havana. There’s a little whiff of a heavy-hitters-gone-wild thing here. A red-haired, blue-Converse-wearing financial maestro who occasionally goes into party-animal mode like Benicio del Toro responding to an occasional full moon.
Because guys who know from melodramatic relationships and the West Hollywood bulls flashing their lights and telling them to pull over are guys who may have their professional lives set to high throttle but are still vaguely, anxiously hungry. Guys who have that itch. Where is it? What is it? Where’s the next reveal or turnover that will lead to the next moment of clarity or girl or piece of information that might lead to my way into the next thing?
In short, Kavanaugh is (or seems to be according to Bart’s description) a jazzman, a slight spiritual cousin of the candle-burning-at-both-ends Arthur Rimbaud, a seeker, a pedal to-the-metaler, a tripper, an oracular madman…a guy who could be played by a flash-mode Leonardo DiCaprio in a film directed by Oliver Stone or Craig Brewer or Tony Scott (whose crazily accelerated ADD photography might fit Kavanaugh to a T).
Unless, you know, Bart is misreading the guy and overplaying the stuff about the cops and the melodramatic whatever. I don’t know anything about him personally. I’m just reading Bart’s words and listening to the hums of the Movie Godz, who’ve been keeping tabs on Kavanaugh for three or four years now.
Kavanaugh, Kate Bosworth
“To many, Cavanaugh is still a mystery figure who manages to deliver large amounts of money to studios to co-finance their movies and whose name regularly appears on executive producer credits of big-budget movies,” Bart begins. “But who is he, and where did he come from?
“Some folks in the industry believe there are two Ryan Kavanaughs — at least two. The first Ryan is a convivial, chatty man who looks younger than his 34 years — an individual who likes to dish about industry intrigues, puts down his own financial accomplishments and can joke about his melodramatic relationships with the opposite sex.
“This Ryan is hardworking but accident prone — witness the fact that, though he’s a moderate drinker, his driving is sufficiently erratic to provoke occasional run-ins with the cops.
“The problem is that this Ryan — Ryan the Kid — can instantly transmogrify into the second Ryan, the Numbers Ryan.
“The second Ryan will suddenly start charting the numbers on a specific film project, summoning up data, weaving an intricate statistical web of revenue streams. This Ryan is a zealously competitive movie maven whose methodology may become esoteric but whose results have been consistently productive.
“As one Hollywood CEO puts it, ‘I don’t always follow his reasoning, and I don’t fully understand how he does it, but somehow he always comes through.’
“Thus while the two contrasting Ryans puzzle people, and catch them by surprise, they have won respect — even fond respect — from a town known for its toughness and competitiveness.
“Kavanaugh himself was all but enveloped by the financial business before he finished college. By the time he was a junior at UCLA, he was already working at the old Dean Witter, and by his senior year he had started a hedge fund — he dropped out with three classes left to complete.
“Kavanaugh comes by his financial cred through his family. His father, German-born, was both a doctor and an MBA and also played a role in several important mergers. He helped create Merck Pharmaceuticals and currently is chairman of a medical company developing drugs to help cure cataracts. He also speaks nine languages.
“His son speaks only two — English and numbers — both fluently.”
Here‘s Jones: “What separates Kavanaugh from most producers is not just that he’s making movies, it’s how he’s making movies. Ron Howard has to wait in the office lobby because, at the moment, Kavanaugh is delivering his own pitch to an author who has written a book that a lot of people want to turn into a movie.
“The author has been making the Hollywood rounds and has spent the last several minutes dropping the names of the famous directors he has met. Kavanaugh counters by telling the author that he, too, knows lots of famous directors — there might even be one waiting in the office lobby — and then he explains to the author why he would be foolish to sell the rights to his book to anyone else.
“‘We might not give you $10 million up front,’ Kavanaugh says. ‘But if we tell you we’re going to make a movie out of your book, we’ll actually make a movie out of your book.’
“That shouldn’t sound revolutionary — it should sound exactly like the point — but Hollywood has long bought much more than it sells. Every year, the six major studios shell out for hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches, scripts, and books, sometimes for millions of dollars a throw; on average, each studio will turn only eleven of those ideas into movies. The rest of all that hope and capital ends up lining shelves and clogging hard drives.
“‘There’s no other industry where that kind of waste would be acceptable,’ Kavanaugh says. ‘I’m not in this for the art, you know? I don’t care about awards. I want to make money. I want to own a business.”
“Since founding Relativity in 2003, Kavanaugh has, by learning from his failures as often as his successes, helped build a new studio model, soaking the guesswork out of movie-making and replacing it with a harder science every step of the way — starting with the idea. Kavanaugh claims that Relativity turns more than 90 percent of the raw material it buys into finished product, an almost ridiculous level of efficiency.
Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, Jon Feltheimer
“He tells this to the author, and he tells the author that the real money comes when movies get made, at the back end, and that the author will surely collect later everything that someone else might promise him now, with the added benefit of boosted book sales and seeing his name in big letters on three thousand screens across America and in 110 countries around the world, perhaps even side by side with Ron Howard’s.
“The author finds himself nodding, because Ryan Kavanaugh’s greatest talent is his ability to make other people nod. The author is still nodding when he leaves the office, walking beside Tucker Tooley, Kavanaugh’s president of production. On his way to the elevators, he passes through the office lobby and sees Ron Howard rising from his chair, next in line. He stops, grabs Tooley by the arm, and says, ‘That was Ron Howard.’
“Tooley says, Yes, it was.
“The author looks as though he has witnessed something like a miracle. ‘He wasn’t lying,’ he says.”
Will Ferrell‘s track record over the last five years (and particularly the titanic failure of Land of the Lost) has earned him the title of Hollywood’s most overpaid actor, according to an intensive survey announced a day or two ago by Forbes.com.
The survey is not, in other words, a portrait of who’s hot and who’s not right now, but a specially focused statistical assessment of the last five years. So Ferrell doesn’t have to put on shades and a fishing hat and drive out to Indio and rent an apartment there under an assumed name. He’s damaged, yes, but tomorrow is another day.
Never look back. Always look forward. Statistics always lie. Those who stand on train-station platforms and take notes about the size and speed of the trains pulling into the station and/or whizzing by at bullet speeds aren’t on them, and therefore they don’t really get it.
Ewan MacGregor was named the second most overpaid actor, Billy Bob Thornton came in third, Eddie Murphy (taken down by the bombing of Meet Dave and Imagine That) ranked fourth, and Tom Cruise (decimated by Lions for Lambs and to a lesser extent by Valkyrie) came in sixth. Oher top-tenners include Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore and Jim Carrey.
Forbes began with a list of the 100 biggest stars in Hollywood who had starred over the last five years in at least three movies that opened in more than 500 theaters. The team then calculated a return-on-investment number for each star by dividing total operating income on the three films by the star’s total compensation, including up-front salaries and earnings from DVD and TV sales.
Ferrell’s films earned $3.29 for every dollar he was paid. A Hollywood Reporter story noted a contrast to the $160 that Shia LaBeouf‘s movies returned to the studios for every buck he earned. “No, no, no” LaBeouf — who starred in Transformers in 2007 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008 — sits at the top of Forbes list of Best Actors for the Buck (which you also can’t click on).
Also included on Forbes’ best-earner list are Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale and Dennis Quaid. Wait…Dennis Quaid?
Side note: My guess is that 95% to 97% of the readers of the piece have no idea what “turn me on, dead man” is. Or where it came from, I mean.
This is a peripheral Matt Drudge-like posting and I’m sorry, but as soon as I heard the term “dino-chickens” I was hooked. In my entire life I’ve never heard this term, and I’m speaking as a guy who once wrote a Roger Corman– or George Pal-type script called Killer Chickens. The size of ostriches, out for blood, looking to settle a score with humans…screaming overall-clad victims being chased around the barnyard and pecked to death. I would honestly pay to see this movie if somebody made it.