Update: I still say an enterprising L.A. journalist needs to hang with Oscar-shunned Hurt Locker producer Nicholas Chartier on Oscar night, even though the particulars were revealed last night by Nikki Finke. Chartier and his family will be “guests of honor at a Venice viewing party that is being put together by WME Global chief Graham Taylor and Blue Valentine producer Lynnette Howell.” A filmmaker friend confides that “if the Academy allows it I may give [Chartier] my tickets.” Except that would kinda kill the Venice party thing.
This isn’t meant as a criticism of Paul Greengrass‘s Green Zone (Universal, 3.12) so I need to put this carefully. Anyone familiar with Greengrass’s two Bourne thrillers will hardly be surprised to hear that this fast-paced Iraq War drama, set in 2003, is visually defined by the aesthetic known as “Paul Greengrass shaky-cam.”
Green Zone directort Paul Greengrass (l.), star Matt Damon during filming.
It’s also referred to as crazy-cam, hyper-cam, whirly-cam, jaggedy-cam, whooshy-cam, jackhammer-cam. I loved it in the last Bourne flick, but it bothered me in the second one. (I was primarily bothered by the overly-accelerated cutting.) But I was surprised when I passed this information on to a director friend, and he instantly declared it “passe…a visual fad that has run its course.”
I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with this view. I’m not at all persuaded that PGSC is over. But I was prompted to think back and recall other cinematographic fads have definitely left the room.
I think that the herky-jerky skip-frame cam that was used for the action sequences in Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator is gone for good. I suspect also that the arty bleachy-cam color used for 21 Grams and…I forget which other films but I’m speaking of color that has been bleached to the point of being almost less colorful than monochrome — that aesthetic, I think, is probably not going to return anytime soon. (Or am I wrong?) The high-contrast monochrome bleach look used for Darren Aronovsky‘s Pi is probably history also.
“Paul Greengrass shaky cam” is a very precise and distinct thing. It’s about a bullet-train editing speed and a mad whip-pan wildassery. It was used in the second and third Bourne films, but not in Greengrass’s United 93, which was fast and frenetic but comparatively toned down. Barry Ackroyd‘s cinematography for The Hurt Locker may have seemed similar, but it was a lot steadier in stretches, and not quite as accelerated.
I can reveal that when I realized that Green Zone was another shakycam adventure, I said to myself, “Oh…this again.” This isn’t a slam, mind. I’m just saying that PGSC has become a known quantity.
It appears that this year’s Oscar telecast producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, have a blockage regarding Sacha Baron-Cohen. On 2.18 Shankman revealed during an NPR “Fresh Air” interview that a proposal for Baron-Cohen to host the Oscars was “too much of a wild card” to gain Academy approval. And now New York/”Vulture”‘s Claude Brodesser-Akner is reporting that an Avatar-spoofing skit that would have co-starred Baron Cohen and Ben Stiller has been dropped.
The reported reason is that Mechanic feared that the sketch might have pissed off James Cameron, with whom Mechanic dealt with during the making of Titanic, and who apparently has a reputation for being thin-skinned.
“An insider familiar with the Oscar telecast tells Vulture that an Avatar sketch planned by Baron Cohen and Stiller was nixed yesterday by Mechanic, who worried that Cameron would be so offended by it that he might even walk out of the Oscar broadcast on live TV.
“Baron Cohen planned to appear onstage as a blue-skinned female Na’vi, with Stiller translating ‘her’ interplanetary speech. As the skit went on, though, it would become clear that Stiller wasn’t translating properly, because Cohen would grow ever more upset. At its climax, an infuriated Baron Cohen would pull open ‘her’ evening gown to reveal that s/he was pregnant, knocked up with Cameron’s love child, and would go on to confront her baby daddy as if s/he were on Jerry Springer.
“‘Let’s just say that Cameron isn’t known to be, shall we say, self-deprecating,’ a source explains about the decision to cut the sketch.
“Baron Cohen’s spokesman Matt Labov told Brodesser-Akner that ‘I hate to use the term, because it’s so ubiquitous, but there were creative differences. Nothing acrimonious, but both sides felt that since they couldn’t agree, [Cohen] might as well remain in London.'”
I don’t know if this Rube Goldberg music video for “This Too Shall Pass,” a track from OK Go‘s “Of The Blue Colour of the Sky,” was shot entirely without CG, but I’m willing to believe it was. It runs 3 minutes and 50 seconds without a cut — exhilarating! Director James Frost could land a feature-directing gig from this. The contraptions were built/engineered by Syyn Labs.
This music video is good I didn’t hear the song. Not a phrase or bridge or chorus…nothing.
An initially inaccurate Dark Horizons story about the 3.19 release date of Floria Sigismondi‘s The Runaways being bumped back to April 9th led to The Playlist and then this site following suit. The story was wrong — The Runaways is opening on 1400 screens on 3.19 (according to a just-received Falco Ink press release) and then expanding on 4.9.
Apologies for not taking the time to call. The fact that I was in a heebie-jeebie state in a North Bergen cafe following my tire-change episode is no excuse. I’m ready to throw up.
I still say Apparition needs to fix that cherry-bomb teaser poster. The dripping redness is plenty suggestive, but there are indistinct shapes and shadows in the black background that you can’t make out. Bothersome.
The Playlist described the film as “critically shrugged.” That makes it sound like almost everyone at Sundance 2010 put it down. I don’t recall that. I’d call it “somewhat review-challenged.”
I wrote during the festival that “as long as the film is focused on Kristen Stewart‘s Joan Jett and Michael Shannon‘s Kim Fowley and the generally pungent ’70s atmosphere, it radiates badass attitude and seems authentically plugged in to the spirit of ’70s rebel rock.
“Unfortunately, Sigismondi’s script is primarily based on Cheri Currie‘s autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, which tells of her background plus her drug and alcohol problem that arose from her success with the Runaways.
“This means that in too many portions we’re stuck watching Curie’s fairly boring story, since no rock-industry cliche is more mind-numbing than the one about a famous rock star burning out on drugs. Which also means we’re stuck with Dakota Fanning , who gives an opaque, space-case performance as Curie — blankness personified.”
I picked up the little red wounded rental at the Brooklyn Navy Yard depot ($185 fee), arranged for a couple of AAA guys to properly change the flat tire outside the gates, made my way over the Brooklyn Bridge and up FDR Drive and through midtown, dropped off a Fed Ex package on 11th Ave. and 42nd, drove through the Lincoln Tunnel and got the tire repaired at Terry Tires of North Bergen ($15 — special deal with Dollar).
The AAA-allied fix-it guys attending to business outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
I attended an IFC Center screening last Wednesday of Spike Jonze and Lance Bangs‘ Tell Them Anything You Want, a documentary portrait of Where The Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak, who’s now 81. Jonze and Bangs then did a post-screening q & a with Mike Myers moderating. The doc is out today on DVD.
It’s an immensely moving portrait of a intensely creative and brutally honest man — a must-see if you enjoyed Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are feature. The package includes a brilliant little black-and-white short called “Maurice at the World’s Fair,” which costars Jonze and Catherine Keener. This was also shown during last Wednesday’s presentation.
Does Pete Hammond really think the Best Actress race is wide open, or at least not a slam-dunker for The Blind Side‘s Sandra Bullock, and that the only nominee without any kind of shot is The Last Station‘s Helen Mirren ? Because I don’t. I don’t know anyone, really, who’s nursing serious doubts about a Bullock win.
I’ve been sensing since mid January that Bullock had the heat, which I was half-okay with because at least this meant that Meryl Streep‘s decidedly minor Dan Aykroyd turn in Julie & Julia wouldn’t win. My most personally satisfying finale would be a win for An Education‘s Carey Mulligan, of course, but I’d be stunned if this happens. Precious nominee Gabby Sidibe has shown herself to be immensely likable, but who believes she’s anything more than a Harold Russell-type novelty nominee?
“EW‘s current Oscar Odds issue compiled by the savvy Dave Karger sees the race differently with a tight battle between Bullock at 35% and Streep at 30%,” Hammond reports. “Sidibe and Mulligan trail with 15% each and Mirren brings up the rear with 5%. EW’s annual survey of four academy voters (not the biggest sample exactly) had Streep winning with 3 to Bullock’s 1.
“I think it is likely much much closer, and [that] Gabby and Carey are significant factors,” Hammond concludes. “Warner Bros. strategists working on Bullock’s behalf privately tell me they prefer that. A tighter four-way contest is better for Bullock’s ultimate chances of prevailing than going one-on-one with the imposing Streep.”
It took a visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard depot last night to learn that my rental car wasn’t stolen — it was towed. $138 bills if I pick it up before 2 pm today, and $276 if I miss the deadline. I tried paying the fine last night, of course, but since the Dollar guy let me have the car last Saturday afternoon without actually signing an agreement (he knows and trusts me and has my debit card and driver’s license info) I had no rental agreement to present as proof of temporary ownership, so they said “no dice.”
So I called the North Bergen Dollar guy this morning and told him to fax over a letter (written on letterhead stationery) stating that I’m authorized to take the car. Except he can’t fax it to the towing office because their fax machine isn’t working, and so far I haven’t been able to find anyone in my neighborhood who has a working fax. As soon as I locate one I’ll call the Dollar guy with a number.
Except I can’t drive the car out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard because it has a flat front-left tire. (That’s why I was towed in the first place, more or less — I parked it yesterday morning in the most acceptable spot I could find on short notice after spotting the flat, but I couldn’t drive all over the place.) So I have to arrange for a AAA truck to meet me at the BNY around noon or 1 pm so he can help with the tire-change. I don’t trust the flimsy car jack with all the ice and snow.
The long and the short is that this episode will eat up the next six or seven hours because after I’m out of the towing lot I’ll have to drive it over to a tire-repair guy in North Bergen — a friend of the Dollar guy — who’s relatively inexpensive. And then wait for the work to be done, etc. And then drive it back to Brooklyn and park the car on the same street where it got towed. I still have to drive down to see a dentist in New Jersey — the original plan — so I can’t return it until that’s done.
“Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland may be the worst film he’s made since Planet of the Apes or the second Batman film,” writes critic Marshall Fine. “He and screenwriter Linda Woolverton have taken the classic story and turned it into a modern action-fantasy film – minus the humor of Carroll, or the absurdity or the heart.”
“Burton isn’t adapting Lewis Carroll‘s stories. Instead, he’s appropriating Carroll’s characters and premise, then telling a different story completely. It’s the kind of fairy tale Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich might make. It’s a movie trapped in a morass of moments that are either meant to stun or to demonstrate how cute this all is.”