This 2004 audio interview between Vincent Gallo and Hikari Katano is thrilling. It reminds me of what fun it’s been to speak to Gallo — the guy is fierce, blazing. He says some stuff about Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts that you may not believe, but you have to at least consider it. Thanks to HE reader 90027 for the link.
New York/”Vulture” hip-hop homies Willa Paskin and Claude Brodesser-Akner have roughed up Middle Men star Luke Wilson in a piece about his stalled career. Maybe “stalled” is putting it too harshly. But “diminished” and “not happening like it was five years ago” are fair. The bottom line is that Luke is a good guy. He was perfect in The Family Stone. His direction of The Wendell Baker Story was charming and winsome. He just needs to (a) get lucky again and (b) drop a few pounds.
“Not so long ago, Luke Wilson was a promising up-and-comer, equally comfortable in quirky indies, dude-aimed bromances, and lady-targeted romantic comedies,” the piece begins. “A few years and questionable choices later, he’s probably best known as the guy trying to sell you cell-phone service in those much-mocked AT&T commercials. What happened?”
Here’s the toughest passage: “‘Luke’s career has become an example of what not to do,’ says an agent. ‘He may be valuable on the independent market, but in the studio world? He’s dead to the industry. He’s in actor’s limbo. He did six movies in 2007, but most of ’em are crap. Instead of doing six bad movies, do one good one. I mean, Vacancy? Are you insane? Putting him into genre thrillers for a paycheck?”
I wrote the following on 11.24.09: “I first saw Luke Wilson’s ‘better 3G experience’ AT&T ad yesterday. My first thought was ‘why is he doing this?’ Then I figured okay, the last thing he did that really connected was his nice-guy-brother role in The Family Stone, and Luke’s last semi-popular Eloi movie was My Super Ex-Girlfriend and…well, there’s also the fact that Henry Poole Is Here didn’t fly and TV ads pay pretty well. Nothing wrong with a little financial fortification.” I guess I was being too generous. I should have applied some judgment.
The only problem I had with The Kids Are All Right was that Mark Ruffalo‘s character is just shit-canned at the end. Banished for the sin of having had an affair with Julianne Moore. The kids dismiss him, the movie dismisses him…dead. But the audience is left thinking, “Okay, he made a mistake and he’s a little immature, but he’s a half-decent sort and the kids’ biological dad. Does he deserve to get thrown out like a half-eaten carton of McDonald’s fries?”
Well, Scott Feinberg has obtained a March 2009 copy of the Kids script and discovered that Ruffalo’s character, Paul, was actually defended and afforded a certain respect by Moore’s character, Jules, during her big confession speech at the end. Here’s how the scene reads, says Feinberg:
JULES: “I need to say something.”
Everyone sits up. Jules has a look of strength and resolution we’ve yet to see before.
JULES: “Look, it’s no secret your mom and I have been going through a rough patch lately. That happens in marriages, especially ones that have lasted as long as ours. But instead of looking at our problems and trying to deal with them head-on, I went and did something really stupid. It may be shocking to you, but adults aren’t exempt from making mistakes. Anyway, I know you’re all really furious with me. I can take that. I’m a big girl. But what I can’t take is the thought that my bad decisions have ruined your relationship with a good man…
“Call him what you want, Nic, but Paul’s a good guy. No, he isn’t blameless, he was there too. But if I’m gonna be honest about it, the person who really pushed it was me.
[beat; to the kids]
“I know this whole thing’s confusing. I wish it wasn’t. But life’s just like that sometimes.”
And with that, Jules hands the remote back to Laser and departs the field. Everyone’s shocked by Jules’ show of strength, especially Nic.”
Here’s the same scene as it plays in the finished film, minus any mention of Paul or any mention of forgiveness and cutting him any kind of break:
JULES: “Your mom and I are in hell right now and the bottom line is marriage is hard. It’s really fuckin’ hard. It’s just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing — fucking marathon, okay? So sometimes, you know, you’re together so long you stop seeing the other person, you just see weird projections of your own junk. Instead of talking to each other, you go off the rails, and act grubby, and make stupid choices, which is what I did. And I feel sick about it because I love you guys, and your mom, and that’s the truth. And sometimes you hurt the ones you love the most, and I don’t know why. You know, if I read more Russian novels… Anyway… I just wanted to say how sorry I am for what I did. I hope you’ll forgive me eventually. Thank you.”
Feinberg’s assessment: “I don’t know how the speech in the March 2009 version evolved into the one that made the final cut, but the fact that it did changed the entire tone and direction of the film. In the earlier version, Jules apologizes, just like she does in the later version, but she also pointedly stands up for Paul. The problem with this course of action is that Nic, who is no shrinking wallflower, probably wouldn’t take kindly to hearing her wife — with whom she is already not speaking — defend her lover.
“The benefit, however, would be an improvement in the character arc of Paul, a character with whom we spend a lot of time and come to like, but who is abruptly shunted out of sight in the final cut. The speech in the March 2009 version lays the groundwork for another event that takes place in that script but not in the final cut: the family, at Joni’s request, makes a brief stop at Paul’s place to allow Paul and Joni to reconcile before she heads to college. This, perhaps, would have offered Joni a greater sense of peace and the audience a greater sense of closure.”
I met a woman a few weeks ago who seemed…well, nice. We talked at a Chelsea bar for 90 minutes or so. Nothing all that jolting or tectonic on my end but she certainly seemed like good people. A couple of days later she told me she was taking a pass. She’d looked at my Facebook page and decided that anyone with over 500 friends wasn’t to be trusted. I could have said “But, but…a lot of people know me!” but it wasn’t worth the effort. I let it go.
Because I knew what she was basically implying, and I had no theoretical argument with it. There’s a line from Charles Bukowski‘s The Genius of the Crowd that says “beware those who seek constant crowds for they are nothing alone.” I get that. I feel that way myself. People who are always booked solid and always hanging with groups of friends and never…you know, just taking quiet walks on their own or reading or going to a film alone lack a certain grounded quality, a certain centeredness.
There’s a moment in Chinatown when Diane Ladd‘s Ida Sessions asks Jack Nicholson‘s J.J. Gittes, “Are you alone?” And Gittes answers, “Aren’t we all?” Anyone who chuckles at that exchange is cool. Anyone who doesn’t get it or sits there blank-faced probably isn’t. It’s really that simple. Well, nearly.
I’m reminded after the recent passing of famed production designer Robert Boyle that I’ve never seen The Man on Lincoln’s Nose, the 2000 documentary about his career. Boyle’s credits include In Cold Blood, Winter Kills, J. Lee Thompson‘s Cape Fear and Alfred Hitchcock‘s Saboteur (superb design during the opening aircraft sequence), North by Northwest and The Birds.
A friend suggests that this scene from Sleepless in Seattle “is the whole Expendables vs. Eat Pray Love thing in a nutshell, or a nutsack.” One can forget how thin and boyish-looking Tom Hanks was 17 years ago. I’ve had it in my mind all this time that he says “that’s a chick flick” after Rita Wilson recites the Affair to Remember finale. In actuality he says “that’s a chick’s movie.”
This is a dreadful looking clip, of course, because of the hokey hand-drawn intro and the yellow subtitles.
A few weeks back that call-to-arms Expendables trailer was funny and cool and everyone got it. Then The Expendables started to be screened and the air went out of the balloon. Which is why Stephen Zeitchik‘s 8.6 L.A. Times piece about gender genre loyalty and the epic box-office battle between The Expendables and Eat Pray Love feels a bit behind the curve.
(l.) Javier Bardem, Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love; (r.) Jason Statham, Sly Stallone in The Expendables. Indulgence, travel, mysticism and hot nights with Bardem vs. Stallone-y brawn, wink-wink machismo, exploding body parts, and a beautiful innocent Latina woman being tortured in a concrete room and waiting to be rescued.
I was down with the idea of The Expendables being a standard-bearer for guy movies, but no longer. Any guy who wants to bail on this notion and join me on the metrosexual side and at least give Eat Pray Love a fair shake is welcome to join.
If we were looking at a face-off between, say, Sex and the City 2 — a film that celebrated spiritual emptiness, material indulgence and everything appalling about upscale 21st Century female culture — and Tony Scott‘s Unstoppable, then we’d be talking about something cool and perhaps even socially significant. I’m usually into the Tony Scott experience (Domino was an exception) because it makes the guy sensibility feel slick and cosmopolitan and technologically in-step. I would stand four-square with his latest against any chick flick that falls under the heading of semi-vapid. Which, let’s be honest, is a fair adjective concerning 90% of the output.
But I can’t feel any allegiance or camaraderie with The Expendables, even in a joke-assy, what-the-hell sense. So Eat vs. Expendables is simply not an equal or interesting battle.
I don’t know how good or bad Eat Pray Love is (it’ll begin screening early next week), but the odds are that it’s at least a somewhat better film that the Stallone. The spiritual element may seem effete and/or sanctimonious to some but I doubt if it’ll be presented as laughable or groan-worthy, which is more than you can say for certain portions of The Expendables. And the Eat Pray Love trailers are telling me it’ll at least be fine on a technical level. It’ll look and sound like a movie made in the 21st Century as opposed to The Expendables, which looks and feels like a 1987 Cannon film.
Zeitchik says that Eat vs. Expendables is “as close to a laboratory environment as you can get. For one thing, the two films’ subject matter and intended audience couldn’t sit on further ends of the gender spectrum. There isn’t much in each movie that should appeal, at least according to what Hollywood executives commonly believe, to the non-core gender. The Expendables contains few romantic interludes, while Eat Pray Love doesn’t feature many mercenary gunfights. Julia Roberts is interested in discovering a foreign country. Sylvester Stallone wants to blow one up.
“It’s also a near-perfect test-tube case because the movies are similar in so many other key respects. Both are mid-budget studio films coming out in the dog days of August. Both were made with the goal of pleasing crowds more than critics.” (Really? That was Ryan Murphy and Julia Roberts’ goal? They sat down and said, “Let’s make a movie that the critics will probably hate — well, maybe some of them wil be okay with it — but which women will love”?) Zeitchick also notes that “both pictures are driven by one huge-name star accompanied by a host of smaller ones. And the two are going head-to-head with very little competition.
“Given all this, the film that wins the weekend will provide a given gender with bragging rights (and perhaps, also, hand a few ideas to demographic-minded studio executives). It’s almost like each movie is carrying the weight of its gender on it shoulders (a point made amusingly in the below fan trailer for The Expendables which implores men to turn out for the film next weekend and defeat Eat Pray Love).”
No, no…that’s what I’m saying. The Expendables is not carrying the guy-movie genre on its shoulders. If anything it’s somewhere between a slight and a full-on embarassment to action fans.
“Though both films are tracking at roughly the same rates — in electoral terms it’s a dead heat — Eat Pray Love is actually generating more interest among its core audience than The Expendables is among its audience,” Zeitchk continues. “It may be that men simply don’t want to see the Stallone flick and would be more enthusiastic if they simply liked it more. But another inference appears just as valid: that men just can’t get worked up as women about a movie aimed at them.
Zeitchik concludes with the following: “So if there’s a disparity among the core audience, where does the Stallone movie make up ground? Well, with women. The Expendables is tracking better with females than Eat Pray Love is with males.”
That won’t last long. Not after women hear about Giselle Itie‘s Sandra character — the only lady with any screen time in The Expendables. Sandra is a cross between a standard-issue Latina spitfire and a kind of perfect, idealized, defenseless damsel-in-distress. She might as well be modelled on Purity Dean, the heroine in Paul Loomis‘s Pure as The Driven Snow.
The Other Guys will easily win the weekend. It made around $13 million yesterday and will most likely accumulate $35 or $36 million by Sunday night. Inception appears to have dropped its usual 30-something per cent (31% to be exact) for a $5.6 million take Friday, a $19 million weekend cume and a grand tally of $228 million. Step Up 3, a film that does not exist in the minds of millions, topped Inception yesterday by $400,000 (i.e., around $6 million) but if it drops today, as expected, it’ll end up with only $15 or $16 million and a third-place finish.
Otherwise there’s a three-way race for the #4 position with both Despicable Me and Dinner for Schmucks making $3.4 million yesterday, and Salt grabbing $3.2 million. Schmucks has more or less collapsed with a staggering 59% drop, which translates into an expected $10 to $10.5 million weekend total and a cume of roughly $46.5 million — all but dead in the water. Despicable did $3.4 million yesterday with a projected $10.5 to $11 million for the weekend and a $210.7 million cume. Salt was down around 45% with an expected $10.5 to $11 million and a grand tally of $91.5 million.