This afternoon’s shock is that while Hollywood Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt is down with Salt, Variety is silent — slacking off! And no Todd McCarthy Indiewire review either. But the Star‘s Marshall Fine is on the job: “Long story short: It’s the most exciting popcorn movie of the summer.”
The one thing that holds Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo back from full emotional/psychological integration is a thing that Hitchcock himself lamented after the fact: James Stewart looks too old and square and plugged-up to be a tragic romantic figure. You just can’t invest in him as a man with an unruly libido. And that awful brown suit he wears in the early to middle portion of the film is like anti-matter. It’s the worst looking suit ever worn by a movie star in Hollywood history.
I understand that anyone of any age can fall ridiculously or pathetically in love, but the Stewart of Rear Window — a younger (and slightly younger looking) fellow with a less constricted vibe — should have played John Ferguson, not the Kiwanis Club Republican that Stewart seems to be in Hitchcock’s 1958 film. Stewart could have shaved five years by blonding his hair, but he went white-ish gray — mistake. He looks too tense and stodgy to fall for a woman 20 or 25 years younger. Plus he and Kim Novak are just not a good visual fit — he looks like her sleazy uncle, or some insurance salesman who’s paid for her favors behind his frumpy wife’s back.
Apple announced this morning it will give free “bumper” cases to iPhone 4.0 owners suffering from the “death grip” problem — i.e., losing reception bars due to holding the lower-left portion of the phone with a bare hand.
I’ve had a bumper from Day One and never had any reception problems (i.e., other than the usual call-dropping that I’ve gotten used to with Apple and AT&T).
When I was waiting in line to buy this phone at the Apple store on West 14th on 6.24, I read that the bumpers were being given free to buyers in England. Anyone paying attention knew the metal-band antenna was a problem that day. The Apple guys could have have chilled this whole issue down significantly if they’d been willing to forego charging $29 for the bumpers and just given them away. But they had to be greedy.
I was just listening to a Barbie Doll CNN showbiz reporter discuss the most recent Mel Gibson tape with a CNN anchor. The reporter said people were “confused” by the disconnect between the rage in Gibson’s voice and the fact that he’s such a devout Catholic and had “made such a beautiful film about Jesus Christ.” Okay, stop right there. Every sharp critic in the country noted that The Passion of the Christ was first and foremost about bleeding, beatings and bludgeonings, which is what Apocalypto was also largely about (along with beheadings). How thick do you have to be to not sense immense rage in those films?
A review of Salt by Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers won’t appear until next week, but it’s quite positive (apart from carpings about credibility). Reviews from Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire‘s Todd McCarthy will probably hit today, or certainly by tomorrow.
“Starring slinky-sexy-scary Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent accused of going over to the Russians, Salt is primed to keep your pulse racing so your brain will stop thinking, ‘WTF!’ Go with the illogic or you’ll miss the fun. Salt has the action to slam you hard, batter your senses and make a case for Jolie as a superpower with the figurative balls to take on the U.S., Russia and North Korea, and still give crap to pussy critics who don’t like their credulity strained.
“Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a spy introduced as she’s being released from a North Korean prison after a bout of water torture that would turn strong men to secret-spilling jelly. A guy was almost cast in the role, but Tom Cruise passed, claiming Salt was cut from the pattern of Mission: Impossible.
“Enter Jolie, and something equally advantageous for the movie: timeliness. Sleeper spies are making major headlines, what with the FBI rounding up 10 members of a Russian spy ring suspected of living among us for more than a decade. And who can forget bombshell mole Anna Chapman, a.k.a. Anya Kushchenko, a centerfold-ready redhead working the Manhattan party circuit while passing info to the Russians. The Cold War is back, baby, and Salt is riding the wave.
“Never mind that the screenplay by Kurt Wimmer (Law Abiding Citizen) flies off into fantasies that would shame Jolie’s Lara Croft and Wanted.
Salt benefits from the technical mastery and playful deviltry of Phillip
Noyce, the Aussie director who showed his artful side with Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Quiet American. With Salt, Noyce tears it up with the verve he brought to a duo of Tom Clancy adaptations, 1992’s Patriot Games and 1994’s Clear and Present Danger. Noyce, a skilled architect of action, can stage a stunt with the best of them.
“And Jolie is up for the challenge. She scales buildings barefoot, jumps from bridges onto moving vehicles, and blows up buildings in New York and D.C. Eat your heart out, Matt Damon. Salt is Jason Bourne without amnesia.
“If I’ve been skimpy with plot details, it’s for your sake. This red-hot thriller keeps popping surprises that shouldn’t be spoiled. I will say this: Salt goes on the run when a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) fingers her as a spy. She says she wants to save her scientist husband (August Diehl). Liev Schreiber, as her CIA boss, believes her. Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the agency’s counterintelligence officer, does not. Schreiber and Ejiofor have the acting chops to keep you guessing. But it’s Jolie’s ferocity and feeling that make us stick with Salt as she predicts the coming of Day X, when Russian sleeper spies are meant to rise up and take America by force. A big topic for a piece of popcorn escapism.
“Whether you buy it or not, hang on for the ride. It’s a twister.”
Variety‘s Andrew Stewart is reporting that Inception made a “healthy” $3 million from midnight showings on 2000 screens. A lot of people have to go work on Friday morning, but $1500 a screen doesn’t sound like much to me. Boxoffice‘s Phil Contrino reminds that Avatar‘s midnight debut was $3.5 million, and that “huge midnight grosses are usually reserved for sequels or established properties.”
If any HE readers caught Inception last night I’d love to hear what happened. What they thought, what the room “felt” like, predictions, etc.
Today’s tracking has Inception with an 18 first choice, 23 unaided awareness, and a 48 definite interest. That’ll mean $60 million or so for the weekend, but it also means that a lot of Eloi are holding on to their ticket bucks for the time being.
Chris Nolan‘s multi-levelled mind-tripper opens today at 3,792 locations, including 197 IMAX runs. As noted previously, I’m catching an 8:30 pm IMAX screening at San Francisco’s Metreon tonight.
Naomi Watts, obviously, is the likeliest candidate to play Rielle Hunter in Aaron Sorkin‘s forthcoming John Edwards biopic, which Sorkin will direct as well as write. The film will be based on Andrew Young‘s “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’ Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down.”
(l.) Rielle Hunter, John Edwards; (r.) Aaron Sorkin.
So who will play Edwards, Young, Elizabeth Edwards, etc.? Movieline‘s Kyle Buchanan is saying Amy Ryan might be the best Rielle.
If this film is done right it will be a kind of black comedy mixed with a chilling portrait of an absolute cyborg — a hustler and a freak with appalling disassociative tendencies. Scott Rudin should produce this.
Sorkin said that Young’s book contains “a first-hand account of an extraordinary story filled with motivations, decisions and consequences that would have lit Shakespeare up. There’s much more to Andrew’s book than what has been reported and I’m grateful that he’s trusting me with it.”
…who’s not a parasite, and I’ll say a prayer for him. And it doesn’t matter if the quote is actually “name me someone,” etc. Sometimes the author is wrong and the listener is right.
This Museum of Moving Image essay by Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz “is about damaged loners who stand outside the spotlight looking for a way in — people who fantasize about knowing, becoming, protecting, or destroying their heroes. All About Eve, Star 80, The King of Comedy, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and other films in this vein show anonymous voyeurs, fringe dwellers, wannabes and hangers-on doing whatever it takes to grab their 15 minutes of fame.
This is the fourth part of “Razzle Dazzle,” a six-part video essay that looks at how movies have examined the many facets of fame. Previously posted: Part 1 (The Pitch), Part 2 (The Hero), and Part 3 (The Fraud).