The unanswered question about the secret Wachowski Bros. project known as Cobalt Neural 9 is whether or not there will be any girl-on-girl action. To me a Wachowski Bros. movie isn’t a Wachowski Bros. movie without this element. The Iraqi woman whom Butch-the-marine falls in love with a hot Iraqi pre-op shemale…wait, pre-op or post-op? And he/she has a girlfriend. That’s one way to approach it.
Deadline‘s Pete Hammond has run three responses from possibly vested viewers about Mel Gibson‘s performance in Jodie Foster‘s The Beaver. They all said Gibson is “extraordinary,” he reports. One person said that Gibson “gives an incredible performance…if you can forget what happened, and I didn’t have tabloid images racing through my mind watching him, it’s really something…I still don’t want to be his friend but he’s great in this.” Another says, “I don’t bullshit about these things…he’s amazing.”
Martin Scorsese (director; co-writer): “I’d seen Ray Liotta in Something Wild, Jonathan Demme‘s film; I really liked him. And then I met him. I was walking across the lobby of the hotel on the Lido that houses the Venice Film Festival, and I was there with The Last Temptation of Christ. I had a lot of bodyguards around me. Ray approached me in the lobby and the bodyguards moved toward him, and he had an interesting way of reacting, which was he held his ground, but made them understand he was no threat. I liked his behavior at that moment, and I saw, Oh, he understands that kind of situation. That’s something you wouldn’t have to explain to him.”
Liotta: “I think I was the first person that Marty met, but it took maybe a year. It was a very, very long process, not knowing anything and really wanting to do this. I was new. I’d only done three movies at the time. All I heard was that the studio wanted somebody else — ‘What about this?’ ‘What about Eddie Murphy?’
Winkler: “Marty wanted Ray very badly. Frankly I thought we could do a lot better, and I kept putting him off saying, ‘Let’s keep looking.’ And then me and my wife were having dinner one night in a restaurant down in Venice, California, and lo and behold, Ray Liotta came over to me. He was in the same restaurant, quite by coincidence, and he asked if he could come talk to me.”
Liotta: “I just went up and said that I really, really wanted to do the movie.”
Winkler: “We went outside, he said, ‘Look, I know you don’t want me for it but I…,’ and he really sold me on the role right that evening. I called Marty the next morning and I said, ‘I see what you mean.'”
The piece was reported by Sarah Goldstein, Alex Pappademas, Nathaniel Penn and Christopher Swetala, and compiled by Penn.
Two New York Film Festival press screenings (and one press conference) ate up the morning. First came Michael Epstein‘s LennonNYC (set to air 11.22 on PBS’s American Masters), a celebration of the commerciality of the late John Lennon under the guise of a recollection of his last nine years of life, most of which were spent in Manhattan. And then Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones‘ Letter to Elia, a tender and intimate personal recollection doc about what Eliza Kazan‘s films meant to young Scorsese, particularly from the mid ’50s to early ’60s.
LennonNYC director Michael Epstein, Film Society of Lincoln Center co-honcho Scott Feinberg following this morning’s screening at Walter Reade Theatre — Wednesday, 9.22, 11:15 am.
LennonNYC hits every exuberant worshipful note you could expect or imagine from a doc meant to inspire love of a rock legend (and to generate interest in buying CDs of John Lennon’s music). It says that Lennon was an amazingly spirited and indefatigable live-wire. He never had any moments of boredom or banality — the man was incandescent 24/7. Everyone he knew and worked with loved him or got off on him, or both. The talking heads all say the same thing — “John was so great, I loved John, his creative process was astonishing, he loved Yoko, he loved Sean, what a guy,” etc.
I’m sorry but sitting through two hours of this wears you down. I’m good for an hour of this but two hours feels like oppression, punishment. Hagiography always has this effect. I loved Lennon’s music as much as the next guy, but nobody’s life has ever been this vivid and wonderful and awesome to contemplate.
On top of which Epstein doesn’t even mention Mark David Chapman‘s name. Chapman was the dark side of Lennon/Beatles fandom, the kind of fan who felt he “owned” his idols and they “owed” him a certain kind of output. And it is utter dereliction, in my view, for Epstein to have ignored the saddest and darkest irony of Lennon’s life, which is that he was killed because he gave up being an angry and envelope-pushing rock crusader and retreated to a life of luxurious seclusion and house-husbandry. He was killed because he gave up the creative struggle for four-plus years, which led Chapman, deluded fuck that he was, to feel betrayed, and to take Lennon down as a form of revenge or punishment.
Make a face and dismiss Chapman as a loon, but that’s what happened. And any filmmaker who says “I didn’t find the Chapman aspect very interesting…it had nothing to do with who John was” (which is approximately what Epstein said during this morning’s press conference) isn’t dealing from a straight deck.
Approaching Walter Reade theatre on 65th Street.
Letter to Elia, on the other hand, is a delicate and beautiful little poem. It’s a personal tribute to a director who made four films — On The Waterfront, East of Eden, Wild River and America America — that went right into Scorsese’s young bloodstream and swirled around inside for decades after. Scorcese came to regard Kazan as a father figure, he says in the doc. And you understand why. Letter to Elia is a deeply touching film because it’s so close to the emotional bone. The sections that take you through the extra-affecting portions of Waterfront and Eden got me and held me like a great sermon. It’s like a church service, this film. It’s pure religion.
More than a few Kazan-haters (i.e., those who couldn’t forgive the director for confirming names to HUAC in 1952) were scratching their heads when Scorsese decided to present Kazan’s special lifetime achievement Oscar in 1999. Letter to Elia full explains why, and what Scorsese has felt about the legendary Kazan for the 55, going-on-60 years.
I didn’t try to get the attention of Film Society of Lincoln Center co-chief Richard Pena (l.) or that of Letter to Elia co-director Kent Jones (r.) — I just snapped and ran.
Cafe area just in front of Alice Tully Hall at Broadway and 65th — Wednesday, 9.22, 1:25 pm.
Blue-chip restorationist Robert Harris is driving — driving! — all the way from Chappaqua to Ottawa this weekend for The Lost Dominion Screening Collective’s 70mm Film Festival at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (9.24 through 9.26). As the years slip by the opportunities to see mint-condition 70mm prints of classic mid 20th Century films are diminishing, particularly in first-class venues with optimum projection standards. I’d be up there in a heartbeat if my schedule permitted.
In the view of N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, Woody Allen has slipped into a mode (or mood) that is beyond autopilot. For him making films has become a kind of rote errand — a calling he needs to pursue because without that calling there is only the void. But doesn’t this express what all movie lovers feel? That they need to see and absorb and consider the next film — proverbially, repeatedly, eternally — because the absence of these encounters would constitute an intolerable nothingness?
“The metaphysical pessimism that constitutes Woody Allen‘s annual greeting-card message to the human race — just in case we needed reminding that our existence is meaningless — is served up in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger with a wry shrug and an amusing flurry of coincidences, reversals and semi-surprises.
“There are hints of farce, droplets of melodrama, a few dangling loose ends and an overall mood of sloppy, tolerant cynicism.
“At this point in his career — 40 features in about as many years — Mr. Allen has both mastered his craft and grown indifferent to it. Does he take any pleasure in making these movies? Does he expect the audience to take any?
“It’s hard to say, since he seems to make films, and we seem to watch them (at least those of us who still do), more through force of habit than because of any great inspiration or conviction. Given the nonexistence of any controlling moral order in the universe, what else can we do? And what else would we want him to do?”