While Patricia Leigh Brown‘s 7.4 N.Y. Times piece about the revival of small-town movie theatres is an upper — a piece of agreeable, spirited reportage about people coming together — the photo shows precisely the kind of theatre that I can’t stand to watch a film in. Long and narrow, a cinematic bowling alley, a 13 foot wide screen that can’t present real 2.35 to 1 Scope and looks way too small from the rear of the house.
With viewing conditions this crappy, it just goes to show that movies aren’t the draw — communities just want to congregate and say “hiya” and feel the communal vibe.
Inception review sample #1: “Inception is a movie so vibrant, so alive, so relentlessly original that it can be forgiven its transgressions in an instant. It’s an entertainment with vivid, profound ideas, precisely the kind of daring that ought to be backed by big money.” — In Contention‘s Kris Tapley.
Inception review sample #2: “Imagine a film being made in 2010 where you have absolutely no idea where it is going or how it will end. These were the worlds created by revolutionary filmmakers, like Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, David Cronenberg and David Lynch. With Inception we have a film and a filmmaker that has broken new ground and very nearly reinvented the form, and without 3-D. Nolan gets there on the power of the story. See it on IMAX and it will blow your mind. I am sure more than a few will discover that seeing the movie in an altered state will also blow your mind, not that I’m advocating that.” — Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone.
Inception review sample #3: “Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle. And sometimes it doesn’t even feel like a movie; while presented in woefully retro 2D, Inception creates a complete sense of immersion in another world. The screen before you is just another layer of the dream.” — CHUD’s Devin Faraci.
Inception review sample #4: “Is it the first great movie of the summer? No — Toy Story 3 is. But Inception is probably the second great movie of the summer. Understand, a single viewing is hardly enough to come to terms with the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy as a crack team that invades Cillian Murphy‘s dreams and find unimaginable perils in the subconscious. But that first viewing is enough to realize that Inception is a dense, stylish, thorny, dazzling film that delivers as a thrill ride but gives viewers lots to chew on and puzzle through. It is not a typical summer movie, but it’s bold and imaginative in the vein of the best summer movies; it’s way too big and spectacular to be an art film, but it can leave you scratching your head in a good way.” — TheWrap‘s Steve Pond.
Inception review sample #5:”A Kubrickian masterpiece with heart, Inception delivers and then some, thanks to clever original screenwriting and exhilarating mise-en-scene. When it opens July 16, this eye-popping film will wow moviegoers all over the world — its complexities will only encourage debate and repeat viewings — and should also score well with critics and year-end awards groups. Oscar nominations in technical categories are a certainty, but Inception is also a strong contender for multiple nominations, including Best Picture.” — Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson.
Inception review sample #6: “If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever Inception. Applying a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists, a Jungian’s Rififi, that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality. Nolan places mind-bending visual effects and a top-flight cast in service of a boldly cerebral vision that demands, and rewards, the utmost attention. Even when its ambition occasionally outstrips its execution, Inception tosses off more ideas and fires on more cylinders than most blockbusters would have the nerve to attempt.” — Variety‘s Justin Chang
Inception review sample #7: “If you don’t follow [every aspect of Inception], join the club. It will perhaps take multiple viewings of these multiple dream states to extract all the logic and regulations. (At least that’s what the filmmakers hope.) Something else might come more easily on subsequent viewings: With incredibly tense situations suspended across so many dreams within dreams, all that restless energy might induce a kind of reverse stress in audiences, producing not quite tedium, but you may want to shout, ‘C’mon, let’s get on with it!’ This is especially true when the hectic action in one dream, a van rolling down a hill with its dreamers aboard, causes a hotel corridor to roll in another, producing a weightless state in the characters. Even Fred Astaire didn’t dance on the ceiling as much as these guys do.” — Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt.
Inception review sample #8: “A stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years. [Nolan] has made an utter crowd pleaser, an epic piece of entertainment that ultimately feels so simple precisely because of all of its complexity, and one that rouses and inspires and excites in the same way as blockbusters comprised of pure spectacle.” — Cinematical‘s Todd Gilchrist.
Inception review sample #9: “Inception, like Nolan’s earlier work, deals with a broken man, determined to fix his mistakes but only making things worse in the process. That could easily describe Memento or The Prestige or The Dark Knight or even his one remake, Insomnia. Yet even with Nolan returning to this idea, worrying at it, exploring different ways it can play out, he doesn’t feel like he’s stuck or marking time. I’d argue the opposite is true: by refining this idea over time and over different films and in different ways, Nolan is becoming merciless in his ability to engage both intellectually and emotionally. As a result, Inception flattened me, and even now, more than a week after my first viewing of it, I find myself turning over images and ideas from the film almost constantly.” — Hitfix‘s Drew McWeeny.
Inception review sample #10: “In terms of sheer originality, ambition and achievement, Inception is the movie of the summer, the movie of the year and the movie of our dreams. Director Christopher Nolan’s heist film about a group of dream extractors who can invade a person’s subconscious to steal — or plant — vital information may remind you of James Bond, The Matrix, or even Nolan’s own Memento, when in fact it’s unlike any other. A bold, inventive, audacious entertainment, Inception charts a new course for motion pictures and sets the bar very, very high. Matrix-style business should be in order, even though audiences will have to pay strict attention to get the full experience (perish the thought). Simplistic moviegoers who like their blockbusters cooked in predictability may not get it but Nolan fans and those who like their action married to new ideas will flock to multiplexes for repeated viewings.” — Boxoffice‘s Pete Hammond.
Inception review sample #11: “What is most infuriating about Inception is how close it gets to being something really great. Instead, we’re left with Solaris (but never as existential or as meditative) meets On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (but never as fun or thrilling). Compared to most of this year’s releases, Inception should still impress and, at the very least, inspire some worthwhile discussion, but it’s hardly the heady blockbuster summertime savior that audiences have been waiting for.” — Coming Soon‘s Silas Lesnick.
I found a possibly-legitimate quote about Inception in which a guy says that “the best way I can put it is, imagine if The Matrix raped The Fountain…but in a good way.” (What the hell does that mean?) Another guy, I’ve been told, feels it’s a close kin of Shutter Island, apart from Leonardo DiCaprio being the star. In both films there’s tragic current involving emotional loss that’s affecting the lead guy, and is causing lots of pain and stress and disturbance.
So I ran this by a friend who saw Inception a while back, and he said he gets the Shutter Island analogy, but insists it’s mainly a stew — it’s James Bondian, it’s The Matrix, it’s Ocean’s 11, it’s The Dark Knight…a lot of things thrown into the pot. My friend loves it and ranks it high on the list, but doesn’t think the Eloi will warm to it like they could or should, and while every cinematic Catholic will see Inception without fail, he thinks Salt (which comes out a week later) is going to sell a lot more tickets.
He remarked that he’s friendly with a critic who didn’t care for it much, and feels that Chris Nolan is too tricky for his own good. He also heard about the husband of a woman who was invited to see it who came along to a screening, and then fell asleep. Inception runs almost precisely 150 minutes, he said.
With the five-screen TIFF Bell Lightbox finally completed, the entire Toronto Film Festival is moving downtown this year. I don’t know to what extent the old Bay-Bloor haunts and hotels will be included, if at all, but I know that press and industry screenings at the Varsity 8 are total history. They’ll now be held at the Scotiabank theatre on John and Richmond Streets, just south of Queen.
A handful of P & I screenings will also take place at the NFB Mediatheque, I’m told, and perhaps a few will be held at the Bell Lightbox, which is four blocks south of the Scotiabank at the corner of King and John. So that’ll be it — Scotiabank and Lightbox, Scotiabank and Lightbox, Scotiabank and Lightbox. Plus the Elgin and the other venues around town (AMC Yonge-Dundas plex, Ryerson, Roy Thomson Hall, Cumberland Cinemas, etc.) But mainly Scotia-Lightbox, Scotia-Lightbox, Scotia-Lightbox.
Just forget the whole Yorkville scene, for the most part. (Right?) Those Starbucks I used to visit and file from — out. All those snazzy hotels and nice bars and beautiful Yorkville women and swell Yorkville restaurants — deep-sixed for the most part. Fewer trees and shade. Will the festival still be using the Cumberland Cinemas, or is that too far out of the downtown loop? Same black squirrels, of course.
And I’m going to have to find a place to stay downtown instead of focusing on something in the Yorkville area. I haven’t even begun to poke around.
The Bell Lightbox occupies “an entire city block in the heart of Toronto’s media and entertainment district,” according to the site, but all it has are five lousy screens with the biggest one (theatre #1) containing about 550 seats? A friend tells me the TIFF fathers “want the Lightbox to be like the Palais in Cannes.” I don’t know how that would work. The Grand Lumiere and the Salle Debussy are much, much bigger than the biggest Lightbox theatre, which will be about the same size at the Varsity 8.
I haven’t heard anything about any press centers with deskspace, wifi and flatscreens for filing reviews. The great thing about Cannes is being able to run right out of the Grand Lumiere and into the Orange press cafe (or into the other press room with all the flatscreens). Will there be a similar-type wifi facility adjacent to or within the Scotiabank or Bell Lightbox? I’ve asked the TIFF press reps — we’ll see what they say.
It sorta kinda sounds to me as if the Bell Lightbox isn’t really the festival’s new home or ground zero as much as a swanky new venue being added to the ones already being used, and that calling it TIFF’s new “home” certainly doesn’t make it the Grand Palais by any stretch. Unless, of course, the Bell Lightbox is offering a roomy wifi center for the press with lots of deskspace and chairs and free cappucino and water — that’s a different story. If they do that, all is well.
This Eat Pray Love trailer is slightly different than the last one (which surfaced in mid June). More dialogue. No patronizing mom. Billy Crudup gone. Two shots of perfect pasta dishes. Wise-man dialogue from Richard Jenkins, playing some kind of bearded Zen master. Same basic emphasis on relationships vs. spirituality. Same hip travelogue vibe.
We see James Franco calling Julia Roberts‘ “my queen” as he hands over folded “delicates” in a laundromat. There’s a bit more dialogue from Javier Bardem doing his charming Latin hound routine. There’s an excellent exchange in which an existentially depleted Roberts asks Viola Davis what she’s having for lunch and Davis goes “I don’t know, a salad” and Roberts goes “exactly!”
The copy line says “risk everything.” If you’ve got the money to travel for a year (and having travelled around and knowing what stuff costs over there, that’s a lot of fucking money — trust me), how much of a risk game can you be playing? She isn’t risking shit. She’s enjoying what maybe one-half of 1% of American women can afford to even think about, much less do.
Rolling Stone‘s website has posted two clips from Vikram Jayanti‘s The Agony & The Ecstasy of Phil Spector. Clip #2 — an explanation by Spector of how his crazy-ass Jewfro came about — is especially entertaining. I’d watched it smiling a couple of times on disc at my home, appreciative but silent, but when I saw this portion at a Film Forum showing last Thursday, people were laughing uproariously.
After posting the embed codes I discovered that the videos automatically launch. The hell with that. I posted one of them on the jump page.
“Spector is known as a notorious recluse who avoids the press, but Jayanti tells RS plans to interview Spector in his mansion — the scene of the murder — came together in mere days. ‘The few things he’s done in public with a camera on, he was doing a schtick. I didn’t want that, I wanted to have real people and get very direct and close,’ Jayanti says.
“Ultimately, Jayanti and BBC Arena simply FedEx-ed a one-page letter to Spector’s mansion, asking for permission to speak to him. ‘It said, ‘Dear Mr. Spector, I make films about larger-than-life characters, often geniuses, at a moment of tremendous stress in their lives.’ And he wrote back two days later with an e-mail, and he said, ‘You sound like an interesting person, I know you’re a good filmmaker, come to the castle.’
“Jayanti and his crew planned to spend five days interviewing Spector on camera. Their first session lasted three-and-a-half hours, covering topics like the birth of the Wall of Sound, Spector’s tough childhood, and anecdotes of his time with John Lennon. But that would be the last time the crew got Phil on camera.
“In the days that followed, Spector’s legal team stormed the mansion in preparation of the first trial, which ended in a hung jury, and Spector kept delaying the remaining interviews. Finally, a judge’s gag order prevented Spector from speaking to Jayanti until the conclusion of the trial.
“Jayanti says he hopes his doc is a ‘Wall of Film’ that mirrors Spector’s own layered and revolutionary ‘Wall of Sound’ technique: At its most intense moments, the movie creates a gripping harmony of sound and images by overlapping Spector’s rare interview footage and scenes from the first murder trial with the complete recordings of 21 of Spector’s most beloved songs and critical text on each track by biographer Mick Brown, who wrote Tearing Down the Wall.
“‘I felt it was crucial to get the audience to listen really hard to the music, with new ears…as if they hadn’t heard it before. And also with Phil describing how he produces them, I wanted them to be able to experience the entire production as Phil intended it, which meant from beginning to end. There’s so much darkness underlying those happy, boppy, teenage-yearning songs,’ Jayanti says.
“In addition to providing interviews, Spector also allowed Jayanti to use his music free of charge in the film, and although no written contract on that point was ever produced, the laws of fair use ensured The Agony and Ecstasy could use Spector’s music legally and liberally.
“Spector vividly recalls his lifetime in music, but many of his memories are exaggerated reinterpretations of his past. The producer is infamous for overstating his role in some of his greatest works, from his contributions to Let It Be to allegations he added co-writing credits to songs he had no hand in crafting.
“He says in the film ‘my father blew his head off’ and he was five or six at the time. In fact, his father gassed himself with a hose in the garage, and Phil was nine or 10 at the time,’ Jayanti says. ‘People say to me, ‘Why didn’t you correct him at all these misstatements?’ I keep saying, that’s not my interest. I wanted to see what happens if I let Phil be Phil, and I think the result was I got a very accurate psychological profile, a very intimate one.’
“In the end, The Agony & the Ecstasy of Phil Spector is a rise-and-fall tale fitting of one of the greatest and [most] innovative producers of all time.
“The film amply demonstrates the megalomania, and grandiosity and ego but at the same time, inside each of those things there’s a kernel of quite insightful truth,’ Jayanti says. ‘He did do an extraordinary thing — he was [there at] the birth of the revolution and he was a big, big part of it. Although he overstates it a great deal, that’s because of the quirks of his personality.
“‘I want the film to be part of the discourse of in the future how Phil is viewed. Not just a footnote of a producer who went to jail for murder, but also as a person who gave a soundtrack to a generation.'”
Over the last three days (on 7.2 and 7.4), Michelle Blaine, former personal assistant to Phil Spector and webmaster of wallofguilt.com, has put up two videos of Spector talking about the Lana Clarkson murder case. They were recorded by Blaine in ’05, and portions were shown on Inside Edition in May of ’07.
The video clips are fascinating — anyone who’s seen Vikram Jayanti’s The Agony & the Ecstasy of Phil Spector is obliged to watch — but the site itself is a trip also.
Blaine captured a slightly different Spector than the one who appears in Jayanti’s film. He discusses several particulars about the case, for one thing, which Jayanti wasn’t interested in pursuing. And with a tiny bit more swagger and sacrcasm in his voice.
Michelle, whose IMDB bio doesn’t mention her having worked for Spector, is obviously of the firm opinion that he’s guilty of having shot Clarkson. Her relationship with Spector ended contentiously and acrimoniously, and she’s quite obviously resentful of Rachelle Spector, Spector’s much younger blonde wife, having moved in on Michelle’s turf and engineered her dismissal.
Consider, incidentally, Spector’s loop-dee-loop signature on the check for $100,000 that he shows to the camera.