L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein caught a screening of Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter (Warner Bros., 10.22) last Tuesday. “And though it’s too early for a mini-review,” he wrote on 8.12, “let’s just say that Eastwood, who turned 80 this year, is still The Man when it comes to making movies, showing off a range and depth that puts him right up there with John Huston, Robert Altman and the other old masters.”
After being in a career cul-de-sac for several years, Ben Affleck is suddenly back in a big-time way. There’s The Town, which he directed and stars in, and which will play the Venice and Toronto film festivals, and which, I’m told, is “better than Gone Baby Gone,” according to a guy who recently saw it. And now, totally out of the friggin’ blue, there’s a just-announced lead in a new Terrence Malick feature in which he’ll costar with Rachel Weisz. Filming will reportedly begin in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in October.
TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider has confirmed the Weisz’s casting while Affleck’s reps didn’t return.
The project, says Sneider, “was announced at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was described as a “romantic drama” and a “powerful and moving love story.” (As opposed to what? A weak and not terribly moving one?) Christian Bale, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko were announced as the initial cast members, but it seems that Affleck will be replacing Bale in the picture.
Glen Basner‘s Film Nation is financing the film, and Bill Pohlad will produce.
A day or two ago TulsaWorld.com published a report that Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner “were spotted at a local store buying fishing supplies,” and that Affleck reportedly “told a store employee that he was filming a movie in Bartlesville, and would be playing a fisherman.”
A fisherman in Oklahoma? What, in ponds and lakes around Bartlesville? Sounds kinda boring. “What are you up to, man?” “Oh, I’m just going fishing.” Affleck won’t be playing a Hemingway-like fisherman, that’s for sure. No Marlins or Swordfish. Maybe he’ll play a fisherman who digs up some dinosaur fossils…forget it.
Malick has exhibited a faint tendency to take screenplays he wrote a long time ago and rework them, as he did when he took Q and made it into The Tree of Life. So let’s imagine for a second that the Affleck-Weisz-Bardem-McAdams flick is (a) a reworking of Malick’s The English Speaker or (b) perhaps a new version of Hungry Heart, which itself was a reworking of Robert Dillon‘s Countryman, which Malick wrote for Ned Tanen at Universal in the ’80s as a kind of modern-day Grapes of Wrath.
I couldn’t bring myself to attend any showings of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Film Forum over the past week. The 7-day engagement ends tonight. You can’t watch a 1953 Technicolor film in one of those dinky little theatres with the 85-inch screen. You have to catch a film like this inside an old swanky movie palace with a really large screen, or at least at the Academy theatre on Wilshire and La Peer or…you know, some place like that.
In a just-posted interview with GQ’s Dan Fierman, Get Low star Bill Murray explains the groove of good acting: “I’ve developed a kind of different style over the years. I hate trying to re-create a tone or a pitch. Saying ‘make it sound like I made it sound the last time’? That’s insane, because the last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this time. There’s only now.
“And I don’t think a director, as often as not, knows what is going to play funny anyway. As often as not, the right one is the one that they’re surprised by, so I don’t think that they have the right tone in their head. And I think that good actors always — or if you’re being good, anyway — -you’re making it better than the script. That’s your fucking job. It’s like, Okay, the script says this? Well, watch this. Let’s just roar a little bit. Let’s see how high we can go.”
Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is obviously a nervy, fairly bright and moderately gifted director — seriously, no jive — and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, even though it seems to be putting out a kind of aesthetic nerve gas, is some kind of cool-ass, smarty-pants, richly stylized…uhm, waste of time?
It’s kind of nifty if you want to feel connected to a movie that under-30 moviegoers are responding to. It’s empty and strained and regimented, but…you know, cool and funny and clever, heh-heh. It has wit and vigor and smart music, and it gradually makes you want to run outside and take an elevator to the top of a tall building and jump off.
Did I just say that? I mean that it’s a masterpiece of its kind. That sounds facile, doesn’t it? I think I might actually mean that Scott Pilgrim is a seminal and semi-vital thing to experience right now. My kids set me straight on this. Call me unstable or impressionable but I’ve also come to think that Michael Cera might be a fresh permutation of a new kind of messianic Movie God — a candy-assed Gary Cooper for the 21st Century.
No, seriously, it’s not too bad. I mean, you know…just kill me.
I was sustained, at times, by the meaning of the seven ex-boyfriends. They’re metaphors for the bad or unresolved stuff in Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s life. If you’re going to really love and care for someone, you have to accept and try to deal with everything in their heads and their pasts, and not just the intoxicating easy stuff. Scott has to defeat these guys in the same way that any boyfriend or husband has to defeat or at least quell the disturbances in his girlfriend’s or wife’s head. That’s how I took it, at least.
I’m not doubting that Cera has been a Scott Pilgrim graphic novel fan for years, but the movie, I think, came out of his wanting to transform into a tougher, studlier guy in movies by becoming a kind of ninja warrior fighting the ex-boyfriends in a Matrix-y videogame way. I really don’t think it was anything more than that. Seriously.
“No offense, Michael, but the world thinks you’re a wuss,” Cera’s agent said one day on the phone. “They see you as a slender reed, a worthless piece of shit girlyman with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and a little peep-peep voice. Somehow we need to toughen you up, and having you fight a bunch of guys, even if it’s in a fantasy realm, is certainly one way to do that.”
I didn’t want to kill myself while watching Scott Pilgrim vs The World. That notion or impulse came later. I know that if movies are in fact going to be moving more and more in the direction of Scott Pilgrim in the coming years — video-game inspirations, glib dialogue, wimpy girlymen in lead roles, bullshit video-game fight scenes, laid-back gay guys engaged in threesomes in shitty basement apartments — then I really would rather die. Because movies as I’ve known them all my life would in fact be dead, and there’d be nothing to live for.
Then again I really liked the music that Scott’s band plays. It throbs and churns with a wowser bass line — not at all like the gay music my two sons seem to prefer these days. And I liked Kieran Culkin, who plays Scott’s gay roommate, and at the same time I wanted to see him cut in half (or into several pieces) with a chainsaw. And I liked the little lovesick Asian girl (Ellen Wong) who has a crush on Scott, and I despised Scott for not being able to summon the puny amount of courage it would have taken to simply lay it on the line and tell her he’s fallen in love with someone else. But…you know, as Scott says early on, “That’s haaaaard.” What a guy.
The first 90 seconds of this video piece by Matt Zoller Seitz, Aaron Aradillas and Steven Santos doesn’t work. It feels too jingo-militaristic, too Starship Troopers. The first good bit is the rabbit getting blown up in Raising Arizona. It should start with the selling of the handguns sequence in Taxi Driver. Or nutty Mel Gibson talking about six-shooters and old-timers. Sorry — my opinion.
Certain parties who regularly contribute to the HE comment boards know the truth of what David says here. We all do, I think. Having a job you like, living in a half-decent place and having good sex on a fairly regular basis is what makes most people happy. Nothing too complex about that. I’m definitely covered on two out of three.
That said, religious types who believe they’ve got an afterlife ready and waiting are fools.
If I hadn’t seen Eat Pray Love last night, I wouldn’t have watched this seven-month-old clip of Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on PBS’s This Emotional Life. Her “porcupines on a winter’s night” metaphor explains the dynamic of relationships (particularly among Type A personalities) pretty well, I think. There isn’t a line in the Eat Pray Love film that’s anywhere near as penetrating.
Gilbert, incidentally, is today 41 years old. Her Brazilian-born husband Jose Nunes (i.e., the real-life model for Javier Bardem‘s “Felipe,” in the film) is 17 years her senior. I don’t think that casting an older, mid 50ish actor to play Felipe would have satisfied the core audience (or most people, I suspect) as much as a 40ish Bardem.
Obviously U.S.-market trailers have to make foreign-language films seem appealing to English-speaking viewers, but the narration of this trailer for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Biutiful, which Roadside will reportedly acquire, feels way off. Is that even Javier Bardem’s voice? Biutiful is a Spanish-language film — why try to obscure this? I thought we were past the age of catering to morons who prefer English-dubbed versions of foreign-language films.
As of 9:56 am on Thursday, 8.12, Eat Pray Love has a 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating while The Expendables is running at 47%. Now, that’s just bizarre. And it’s not right. You can’t give either of these films an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but there’s no way Expendables rates higher than Eat by any fair application of Movie Godz standards. No. Effin’. Way.
The best I can figure is that some critics have decided to ease up on the Stallone because it’s not entirely sincere about the ’80 machismo, and…I don’t know, are accustomed to hating on Julia Roberts and taking shots at the sense of entitlement and undercurrent of testy ego that she seems to bring to anything she does?
On a technical-expertise level at least, Eat Pray Love is miles above the Stallone flick. Eat is a take-a-bath-in-the-scenery movie with a watch-me-tearfully-emote performance within a story that feels too tidy and pruned-down. But The Expendables — make no mistake! — is a third-rate 1987 Cannon film. It’s bad fast food packaged in some neon joint on Western Avenue. Eat, at least, believes in high-end chefs and gourmet this and that. They’re in different realms, c’mon.
Eat Pray Love is less about the Elizabeth Gilbert book than about director Ryan Murphy being Julia Roberts‘ bitch and kissing her ass in ever shot and scene — okay, yes. But it’s a carefully crafted, nicely-made movie that at least aspires to some kind of character-based transcendence. It only works in spots, agreed, but the ambition alone contains a certain value. I’m giving it a C for overall delivery but an A- for effort.
Speaking as a former LSD Hindu, it’s impossible for me to condemn a movie that tries to convey spiritual matters on some level or in some fashion. It also deserves credit for its conveying the simple enjoyment of things, and its grappling with how difficult it can be to forgive yourself for stupid mistakes and to show vulnerability and openness when faced with the possibility of a bountiful new relationship, and all that jazz.
Does it feel nonetheless like a somewhat superficial Conde Naste Traveller thing, a taste of this and that spiritual hors d’oeuvre? Yeah, it pretty much does. But it’s reaching for more than what typical formulaic chick flicks provide. At least it’s making a stab.
I didn’t like a lot of Eat Pray Love, and I confess to checking my watch about six or seven times, but I at least respect what it tried to do, and I know that anyone who says it doesn’t handle at least some things fairly well is just not being fair.
You can make fun of the fact that EPL has the general look, aroma, sound and vibe of a first-class ride made by the Ryan Murphy’s and Amy Pascal‘s of the world — people who live high on the hog and who have enlightened liberal attitudes about self-discovery. You can say that’s not enough and that the film is actually selling a kind of elitist elixir, but the song choices are nice (Neil Young!) and some of the dissolves and transitions are exceptional, and it has at least one exquisite scene about the eating of a sublime dish of fresh tomato pasta. And it has a great line about how guys never complain that much if the naked lady they’re making love to has a bit of a paunch.
Eat Pray Love can be a bothersome thing to sit through in certain…okay, more than a few ways. It’s tidy, shallow and “pretty” when it needs to be darker and quirkier and more exposing in terms of the unsavory or unappealing qualities that we all share. But it’s well cut and luminous and even shimmering at times, and — even the haters have to admit this — very well performed for the most part.
Ss much as I dislike who Roberts seems to be and my problems over the years with her affected acting style, she isn’t half bad in the Gilbert role. This may be the most genuine and deeply felt performance of her life. God, it almost physically hurt to say that!
As Roberts’ settled-down romantic interest (i.e., once she arrives in Bali), Javier Bardem stands and shuffles around on rock-solid terra firma, and shows serious heart and vulnerability. In one fell stroke he’s completely counter-balanced his No Country for Old Men bad guy.
And there’s no denying that Richard Jenkins‘ performance as an older Texas guy with an alcoholic history, a grizzly fellow who initially speaks in glib bumper-sticker slogans whom Roberts meets in an Indian ashram, is solid and true and deeply felt. Especially in a big confession scene that he shares with Roberts on the roof of their ashram. I could see Jenkins winding up as a Best Supporting Actor contender. He’s always good. Maybe this is his hour.
Also entirely fine and sturdy are costars Billy Crudup, James Franco and Viola Davis. Not to mention the Rome, Indian and Balinese supporting cast members. Everybody holds up their end.
And so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Eat Pray Love is at the very least an expensively produced, technically assured, occasionally boring, Roberts-kowtowing, travel-folderish, middle-aged woman’s spiritual self-discovery flick that isn’t that great but doesn’t go down too badly either. In parts, at least.
I talked to a guy after last night’s screening who was furious and couldn’t get away from the theatre fast enough — he hated it! — but I know what this film is, and I know it’s not a total wash. It goes on too long (about 139 minutes), but the Rome section is awfully well done, I feel. I’ve been there three times, and I know what it can feel like at the right places and with the right people at the right times of day, and the movie gets that.
The only icky part was a section in which Roberts and a girlfriend visit Naples. I’ve been to Naples and it’s a total mafia shithole, trust me. So this part is a lie. Eat Pray Love also confirmed my prejudice about India as a land of dusty, trash-covered, over-crowded squalor with broken-down plumbing. I’m more determined now to never pay it a visit. Thank you, Ryan Murphy, for this if nothing else.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »