B. Ruby Rich has written a chummy piece about Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s Howl, which she’s apparently seen. Rich explains the history of the famous Allen Ginsberg poem, and how the filmmakers got involved and so on. But she reveals nothing about how the film plays. Only two or three days remain before Howl will be shown at Sundance, and she doesn’t share impressions? This almost certainly means it’s a problem movie. For some reason Rich’s editor called the article “Howl Resounds on Film.” Oh, yeah?
James Franco in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl.
“If you could have the power of a superhero, which power would you choose?” So asked a Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll, and the biggest portion of respondents said they’d like to be able to read people’s minds. (More so than being able to fly, become invisible, possess super-strength or have X-ray vision.) I’m amazed, frankly, because in all modesty I can read almost anyone’s mind by simply studying their features and particularly their eyes. And I don’t think I’m alone in this ability.
Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley is toast in Massachusetts, and with her defeat comes the prospect of the toothless health-care bill going down to defeat…unless Democrats in both houses push it through before Republican Scott Brown, who will apparently beat Coakley by a decent margin, is sworn in.
This is a referendum, of course, on the Obama adminstration, and the perception held by everyone that he’s no change agent. He wants to make a difference, but not if it means getting tough and adversarial. His determination to always play it calm and mellow will be his etched on his tombstone. How satisfying it is to consider how Obama has, over the last twelve months, become the go-along, mild-mannered, Afghanistan-War expanding, Wall Street-coddling Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century. I couldn’t be more disgusted.
Eric Kohn has posted a lament about the inability of widely admired indie-type films — Humpday, Moon, etc. — to draw Oscar love. These specialty titles lack both the money and big names that could help get them into the race,” he writes. “With virtually no traction in the industry, they sit on the sidelines by default.”
I felt no love for Moon myself, but Humpday is delightful — about as audience-friendly as films of this sort (mumblecore, bromance, GenX-y) get. Typical Oscar-calibre films tend to aim higher and appeal to a broader, less sophisticated audience. They need to emotionally engage (or financially impress) the over-65 set.
Last Thursday KTLA’s Sam Rubin tried to prompt Mel Gibson into reviewing the infamous 2006 drunken Malibu “sugartits” episode, during which Gibson reportedly said anti-Semitic remarks. Rubin obliquely refers to this episode, and then Gibson says “who, what, me?” and then “not necessarily” and so on. Then he says to Rubin, “Do you have a dog in this hunt?”
This is what I honestly love about Gibson — i.e., the Martin Riggs madman within, the hair-trigger ragehound. I love love love the way he leans forward and smiles and says to Rubin, “What happened?” He’s a serious kookoo bird, Gibson is, and as long as he channels it theatrically and doesn’t slam this or that tribe he’ll always be popular with…well, some of us. That nyuk-nyuk Three Stooges quality makes me swoon.
Bryan Burroughs‘ Vanity Fair synopsis of Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps informs that Michael Douglas‘s Gordon Gekko, fresh from a 20-year prison sentence, will return as a guy who’s…gone soft. Okay, is looking to make amends. “When Gekko comes out of prison, in the beginning of this movie, he essentially has to redefine himself,” says Stone. “He’s looking for that second chance.”
Wall Street 2 team ((l., to r.): Josh Brolin, Oliver Stone, Michael Douglas, Shia Lebouf, Carey Mulligan.
The plot involves Shia LaBeouf‘s Jake Moore, a hungry young hedge-funder who believes that his boss, Bretton James (Josh Brolin) has had a hand in the death of his mentor, played by Frank Langella. Carey Mulligan plays Douglas’ daughter, Winnie, who’s having an affair with Jake and yaddah-yaddah.
I’ve gotten to a point at which I recoil at the sight of Shia Lebouf. I genuinely dislike the look of him, the vibe of him. He seems to embody denial, jagged edge, agitation, car wrecks on La Brea, alcoholic anger at parties, etc.
I’ve done some reading, heard some things, tossed some stuff around and finalized my essential Sundance 2010 must-see list. It comes to 26 films. Divide this by nine days, add the two or three surprises that always pop up, and then subtract five or six due to conflicting schedules, fatigue and occasional evening parties and I may see 23 or 24 films…but more likely 20.
Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck in John Wells’ Company Men.
If a film shows at a major venue (Library, Egyptian, Eccles, Prospector) during the first three or four days, it’s a hot prospect and at least a pretty good film. (Probably.) If it hasn’t been slated to show within this window, caveat emptor. It’s really that simple, and this is the festival programmers talking, not me. They always frontload the festival with sexy/interesting good stuff so that the buyers can get their business done and leave by Tuesday. Same deal every year
In no particular order…
1. Chris Morris‘ Four Lions. HE comment: British-made swarthy-terrorist comedy. This year’s In The Loop?. First public showing: Saturday, 1.23, 5:30 pm, Egyptian. Good slot!
2. Eric Mendelsohn‘s 3 Backyards. HE comment: Said to be a good script. If Edie Falco is in it, then it must be half-decent. First public showing: Sunday, 1.24, 8 pm, Racquet Club.
3. Joel Schumacher‘s Twelve. HE comment : Upper East Side of Manhattan, high school dropout, drug deals, murder, “chilling chronicle.” First public showing: Friday, 1.29, 6:15 pm, Eccles.
4. John Wells‘ Company Men. HE comment: The definitive Land of Mamet angst-ridden white guy movie of Sundance ’10. Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Rosemary DeWitt. Produced by Wells, Claire Rudnick Polstein and Paula Weinstein. First public showing: Friday, 1.22, 9:30 pm, Eccles.
5. Rodrigo Garcia‘s Mother & Child. HE comment: High calibre woman’s film that doesn’t play like a “woman’s film.” First 65% to 70% is excellent, at times sublime — the last 30% isn’t as good. First Park City public showing: Monday, 1.25, 8:00 pm, Racquet Club.
6. Amir Bar-Lev‘s The Tillman Story. HE comment: Go to the thing I wrote four days ago. First Park City public showing: Tuesday, 1.26, 8:30 pm, Park City Library. (A Tuesday night showing is a little outside the realm of buyer coolness. Are Sundance programmers hinting at something?)
7. Adam Green‘s Frozen. HE comment: This year’s Open Water, only with snow, height and freezing winds? First Park City public showing: Sunday, 1.24, midnight, Egyptian…forget it! Second showing on Tuesday, 1.26, 11:30 am, Prospector.
8. Michael Winterbottom‘s The Killer Inside Me. HE comment: Same old Jim Thompson femme fatale noir stuff? I’m just asking. But any film costarring Kate Hudson is cursed aforethought. Casey Affleck is too kiddy-faced to play a Robert Mitchumtype. First Park City public showing: Sunday, 1.24, 9:30 pm, Eccles.
9. Ryan Piers Williams‘ Dry Land. HE comment: Same old back-from-Iraq, PTSD story about a guy looking to weave his way back into society and maybe meet a nice girl, etc.? Maybe not. Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera, Jason Ritter, Wilmer Valderrama, Melissa Leo. First Park City public showing: Sunday, 1.24, 2:15 pm, Eccles.
10. Floria Sigismondi‘s The Runaways. HE comment: Everybody’s hot to see it and wants to attend the Joan Jett concert, etc., but I smell trouble. Maybe. First Park City public showing: Sunday, 1.24, 6:30 pm, Eccles.
11. Vincenzo Natali‘s Splice. HE comment: I go to Sundance to forget about CG weird-life-form movies, not see more of ’em. Forget it — unless the word is extraordinary. Part of the Park City at Midnight series. In a pig’s eye.
12. Jake Scott‘s Welcome to the Rileys. HE comment: James Gandolfini + Kristen Stewart = sold. First Park City public showing: Saturday, 1.23, 2:15 pm, Racquet Club.
13. Gaspar Noe‘s Enter The Void. HE comment: Mind-bender played at Cannes in a slightly longer unfinished form. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 8:30 pm, Park City Library.
13. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman‘s Catfish. HE comment: A doc about social networking and online intrigues? Maybe but most likely later. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 11:30 am, Park City Library.
14. Jason Spingarn-Koff’s Life 2.0. HE comment: A doc about online fantasy living and online intrigues that’ll be showing directly after Catfish? Are they kidding? Not a chance. Okay, maybe. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 2:30 pm, Park City Library.
15. Spencer Susher‘s Hesher. HE comment: Creepo. But with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie and John Carroll Lynch costarring, it has to be worth a shot. First Park City public showing: Fri, 1.22, 3:15 pm, Eccles.
16. Drake Doremus‘ Douchebag. HE comment: No info, no nothin’, great title. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 8 pm, Racquet Club.
17. Adrian Grenier‘s Teenage Paparazzo. HE comment: I’m getting a slightly icky and insubstantial feeling from this. And yet Grenier’s last doc, which dealt with a search for his absentee father, was quite good. Honestly? If every last teenage paparazzo on the planet earth was to suddenly die, I would not go into grief spasms. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 5:15 pm, Racquet Club.
Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine
18. Davis Guggenheim‘s WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. HE comment: Nothing except that Guggenheim did well with An Inconvenient Truth so whatever. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 5:30 pm, Prospector Square.
19. Nicole Holofcener‘s Please Give. HE comment: Another Holofcener film means another film about anxious, ambitious, highly educated upper-middle-classers with issues, blah blah. Give Holofcener credit for trying to operate on a more aspirational realm than Nancy Meyers. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.22, 6:15 pm, Eccles.
20. Aaron Schneider‘s Get Low. HE comment: Missed it in Toronto, very well spoken of, a definite must-see, an allegedly great Robert Duvall performance. First Park City public showing: Saturday, 1.23, 3:15 pm, Eccles.
21. Jay and Mark Duplass‘s Cyrus (a.k.a. Don’t Fuck My Mom). HE comment: Any Duplass flick gets an advance wave-through. First Park City public showing: Saturday, 1.23, 6:15 pm, Eccles Theatre (2)
22. Phillip Seymour Hoffman‘s Jack Goes Boating. HE comment: Respect must be paid to Philly. First Park City public showing: Saturday, 1.23, 9:15 pm, Eccles.
23. Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine. HE comment: Relationship drama of some mild interest because of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t know why I just said that. First Park City public showing: Sunday, 1.24, 3:15 pm, Eccles.
24. Josh Radnor‘s Happythankyoumoreplease. HE comment: “Six New Yorkers negotiating love, friendship and gratitude when they’re too old to be precocious and not yet fully adults.” I smell a mumblecore movie. If so, why don’t the notes just say “mumblecore movie” instead of futzing around? First Park City public showing: Friday,1,22, 12:15 pm 12:15 pm, Eccles.
25. Kevin Tyler Asch‘s Holy Rollers. HE comment: Young Hasidic guy (Jesse Eisenberg) becomes an international ecstasy smuggler. Down with that. First Park City public showing: Monday, 1.25, 3:30 pm, Eccles
26. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s Howl. HE comment: Allen Ginsberg, 1950s obscenity trial, horn-rimmed glasses, the horror of the Eisenhower era, etc. strong>James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels. First Park City public showing: Friday, 1.21, 6:00 pm, Eccles — one of the first essential screenings.