“There are no giant flowers or pink clouds in Chris Nolan‘s dreamworld. Chris was very adamant that the dreamworld should feel real, and even if these are different layers of one’s consciousness, it all relates back to that person. So we took a hard look at every scene in this movie and made sure it had validity and weight to it, no matter what was going on.” — Leonardo DiCaprio speaking about Inception in the current Entertainment Weekly.
“A film about regular people with no superpowers that become real-life superheroes”? This cartoon is allegedly copied from a Boston Herald original, but the art that Nikki Finke ran doesn’t have a direct link or give credit to the artist. (And I couldn’t find a link when I went to the Herald‘s site.)
Copied from Nikki Finke/Deadline item, which copied art from Boston Herald.
I’ve never seen Avatar in 2-D, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing the Bluray version on general principle. Why 2-D? Because I want to see how it plays and feels without the 3-D boost. Avatar‘s four-act story is the reason it works, as I explained in this 12.18.09 post. The eye-pop was secondary. It was the myth, metaphor and fable paying off in a single symphonic voice.
Harrison Ford will do a q & a following a special 30th anniversary digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back at Hollywood’s Arclight on Sunday, May 30th. I remember with crystal clarity the first time I saw the only truly decent Star Wars film in the entire series — a midnight screening on opening day at Leows’ Astor Plaza.
What a moment! What an after-vibe! George Lucas was king of the world back then, and look at him today.
“Death at a Funeral is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this century, as surprising, consistent and laugh-out-loud hilarious as any movie in the past 10 years,” writes Marshall Fine. “The original 2007 version, that is — the one directed by Frank Oz, with a British cast.
“The new remake of Death at a Funeral, the one with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and a who’s who of African-American actors — well, that’s another story. I mean, it’s the same story, practically scene for scene. And it’s funny with a handful of big laughs. But it’s not nearly as funny as the original.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that many millions more people will be drawn to this broad, raucous version of Dean Craig‘s script (directed, incongruously enough, by misanthropic playwright/filmmaker Neil Labute) than ever saw Oz’s version, which barely cracked the arthouse market. And they’ll laugh hard at surefire jokes involving hallucinogenic drugs, dead bodies, public nudity and poop.
“But Labute’s Death is the equivalent of one of those Hollywood translations of a Francis Veber farce from the 1980s and 1990s. Veber would craft a weightless French comedy starring, say, Gerard Depardieu and Pierre Richard — and then Hollywood would translate it into a ham-handed lump starring, say, Nick Nolte and Martin Short.
“Yes, Labute’s Death is virtually a photocopy, in terms of the story it tells and the comedy beats it hits. Yet everything in this version is coarser and more obvious, aimed at a lowest-common-denominator audience.”
In all fairness, I must point out that the opening graph of Fine’s review reminded me of the opening graph of A.O. Scott’s review of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, to wit:
“The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II has inspired a splendid movie, full of vivid performances and unforgettable scenes, a movie that uses the coming of war as a backdrop for individual stories of love, ambition, heroism and betrayal. The name of that movie is From Here to Eternity.”
Focus Features’ decision to open Anton Corbijn‘s The American — the Italy-set, George Clooney-as-a-secret-assassin drama — on September 1st means they primarily regard it as a sophisticated high-end thriller and that’s all. If they saw it as having any kind of award-season potential they would obviously open it via Telluride, Toronto and Venice, but a Labor Day opening is almost the same thing as a mid-August debut.
The American star George Clooney, director Anton Corbijn during shooting last fall
“It’s just a cool-ass adult popcorn movie,” Focus seems to be saying. Which is also a roundabout way of saying “if a 2010 Clooney film is going to attract any awards heat, it’ll be Alexander Payne‘s currently-shooting The Descendants….if it comes this year, that is.”
Consider this Publisher’s Weekly synopsis: “Booth’s brilliantly creepy psychological suspense novel follows a so-called ‘shadow-dweller’ (a technical weapons expert who creates and supplies the tools for high-level assassins) to a rural village in southern Italy where he poses as ‘Signor Farfalla,’ a quiet artist who paints miniatures of butterflies and has traveled to the area to capture a unique native specimen.
“As the artist, whose real name is Clark, settles into the local scene, most of his new acquaintances accept his enigmatic alias, with the notable exception of Father Benedetto, the priest who pushes him to reveal himself in a series of confessional conversations over glasses of Armagnac. Between painting the minutely detailed butterfly studies and preparing for his next job, Clark carouses with a pair of local prostitutes, Dindina and Clara, eventually slipping into a serious affair with the latter.
“As he gets weapons specs and begins constructing a new gun, he learns that his latest customer is a woman whose next target may be Yasser Arafat. Suddenly he senses another ‘shadow-dweller’ on his trail; this anonymous figure remains a mystery to Clark until their climactic showdown. The lazy, languid setting is an eerily effective backdrop for the fresh and beguiling murder intrigue, and the flashbacks into Clark’s cold, brutal past are cleverly juxtaposed against his budding romance with young, naive Clara.”
The ancient Italian village of Castel del Monte, where The American shot last fall.
“With first-rate characters and a gradual buildup of suspense, Booth constructs his most focused, tightly written novel to date, reminiscent of William Trevor‘s classic ‘Felicia’s Journey’ and the late Patricia Highsmith‘s Ripley novels.”
For me, Martin Ruhe‘s black-and-white photography of Corbijn’s Control was the stuff of legend — it was the most deliciously composed monochrome film since Gordon Willis‘s Manhattan. Ruhe also handled The American‘s widescreen (2.35 to 1) color cinematography.
The American shot for 33 days last fall in Castel del Monte, a commune in the province of L’Aquila in Abruzzo, Italy.
The calibre of Robin Wright Penn‘s performance as Mary Surratt, the rooming-house operator who was wrongly executed for allegedly conspiring with John Wilkes Booth and others to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, is unknown. But last night I read a shooting draft of James Solomon‘s The Conspirator, the Robert Redford-directed drama about Surratt’s trial, and it’s obviously a sturdily-written, high-calibre thing. And there’s no missing the grace and gravitas woven into Surratt’s character.
Half the work has been done, I’m saying, for Penn. All she has to do is play Surratt in a straight and solid manner, and she’s got a Best Actress nomination all but sewn up. If, that is, The Conspirator lands a distributor (which it almost certainly will) and comes out in the late fall or early winter, and gets a good campaign going, etc.
Redford may or may not have have peaked as a director (his last seriously strong film was ’94’s Quiz Show), but he’s always been good with actors. I’m basically saying that Solomon’s script is so fundamentally solid that all Redford has to do is get the period details right, shoot it handsomely and let his quality-level cast do what it does best, and he’s pretty much home free.
The Conspirator could land with a thud — noody knows anything at this stage — but if Redford gets it right I’m guessing we’ll see Penn competing against Anne Hathaway‘s performance in Love and Other Drugs for the 2010 Best Actress Oscar.
The basic plot of The Conspirator involves a young attorney (James McAvoy) being reluctantly assigned to defend Mary Surratt in his conspiracy trial. The main arc belongs to McAvoy — he starts out actively hostile, but comes to see that Surratt has been wrongly charged. But Penn, it appears, will provide the lump-in-the-throat moments.
The equally well-written costarring roles will be played by Evan Rachel Wood (as Surratt’s daughter), Kevin Kline (as the Dick Cheney-ish Secretary of War Edwin Stanton), Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Danny Huston, Alexis Bledel and Johnny Simmons.
Solomon (who used to work for Barry Levinson) shares story credit on the screenplay with Gregory Bernstein. The Conspirator‘s director of photography is Newton Thomas Sigel (Valkyrie, Leatherheads, The Brothers Grimm, Three Kings).
Aftermath of execution of Lincoln assassination conspirators; Surratt’s body is on far left.
With a first-choice tracking advantage of 20 to 15, Kick-Ass will kick Death At A Funeral to the curb this weekend. Interestingly, definite Kick-Ass interest among under-25 females is at 39 vs. 34 for Death. But otherwise Kick-Ass is mostly, as ever, an under-25 guy thing. Definite interest is now at 54 vs. 41 for over-25 males. And over-25 females have a definite interest factor of only 29. That’s the Hit Girl-murdering-guys-with-knives-and-swords backlash factor, methinks.
The mother-breast-feeding-her-four-year-old-kid joke isn’t the least bit amusing — it’s just trash-can material. The gag about Rob Schneider french-kissing his much-older wife in front of his old pallies could have been funny, but not the way they’ve done it here. And Kevin James‘ character would be in critical condition (or at the very least in intensive care) if he slammed into a tree and fell 25 or 30 feet onto a rocky hillside, etc. Repeat — this stuff isn’t funny.
The director is longtime Sandler butt-boy Dennis Dugan, who previously helmed You Dont Mess With The Zohan (parts of which I laughed at here and there), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (nope), and Big Daddy (which, I admit, wasn’t altogether terrible).