I left my Canon Powershot SD1400 at the apartment the day I was set to talk to Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky during the Toronto Film Festival. The video looks like faded grainstorm hell but there are some interesting portions. This is the personable, easy-going Aronofsky in amiable interview mode. The real guy, I suspect, is Genghis Khan, and that’s why he’s so good.
The Soho Apple store guys made a point of not allowing anyone sitting in the front “reserved for media” row to ask a question of Social Network director David Fincher and star Jesse Eisenberg. So all my questions went un-asked. The thing that surprised me was Eisenberg’s admission that he hasn’t seen the film yet, but will probably see it at tomorrow night’s New York Film Festival premiere screening. With a certain trepidation, I sensed.
Social Network director David Fincher( l.), star Jesse Eisenberg (r.) during this afternoon’s Soho Apple store appearance — Thursday, 9.23, 5:45 pm.
Fincher, Eisenberg, Rolling Stone critic and moderator Peter Travers.
Having seen the original B’way version, I’m guessing that Foster has the Hope Davis vomiting role, Waltz has the Jeff Daniels role (lawyer, compulsive cell-phone calls, Davis’s wife), Winslet the Marcia Gay Harden role (book on Darfur) and James Gandolfini‘s role (hardware store owner, Harden’s husband) is the one yet to be cast.
Filming of Yasmina Reza‘s Tony-winning play will begin in Paris next February, Adler’s story says, and wil last for 12 weeks.
The quietly growing underground cabal of Social Network dissers has, in Manohla Dargis‘s just-posted N.Y. Times review, another cartwheel-in-the-lobby piece to get riled about. Enough, dammit! Too many people are flipping for this thing and we’re sick of it. This is war! We need to get together this weekend and plan a counter-attack.
Who will be the anti-Social Network crusader to lead the troops? Who will be their King Harry? David Poland? Armond White? For those who haven’t yet reviewed it (particularly for a certain type of ego-driven critic), there is only way to not sound like a me-too kiss-ass.
“The Social Network takes place in the recognizable here and now,” Dargis says in her final paragraph, “although there are moments when it has the flavor of science fiction (it would make a nice double bill with The Matrix) even as it evokes 19th-century narratives of ambition. (‘To be young, to have a thirst for society, to be hungry for a woman,’ Balzac writes in Le Pere Goriot.)
“The movie opens with a couple in a crowded college bar and ends with a man alone in a room repeatedly hitting refresh on his laptop. In between, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth.”
What is the eerie alien vibe coming out of Matt Damon‘s right eye in the new poster for Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter? Damon plays a guy with a problematic gift — the ability to speak to and hear the thoughts of people who’ve passed on — which is what the eye effect is trying to suggest. But it makes him look like (a) one of Nastassja Kinski‘s friends in a black-and-white version of Paul Schrader‘s Cat People, or (b) an adult version of one of the kids from the 1960 Village of the Damned.
Marshall Fine admires Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s Howl (Oscilloscope, 9.24) , which “is about many more things than just a poem,” he writes. “But if you boil it down to its essence, it’s a movie about a poet and his creation – about the writing and transmission of a work of poetry. And unlike last year’s overrated Bright Star, this one is actually interesting.
“Howl was originally meant to be a documentary. But the writer-directors (who also did The Times of Harvey Milk and The Celluloid Closet) decided instead to create an impressionistic movie about a transcendent and transitional moment in popular culture: the writing and publication of Allen Ginsberg‘s ‘Howl,” a landmark 1956 epic poem that begins with ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…’
“While I admired and enjoyed this film, I will also honestly say that it’s not an audience movie. It is impressionistic and hallucinatory, dealing with obscure figures out of literary history – obscure, at least, to anyone who is not a fan of or acquainted with the Beat movement of the 1950s.”
May I interject a thought at this juncture? Howl is an audience movie — it’s very intriguing and friendly and enlightening every step of the way — as long as the audience is not composed of popcorn-muching morons with shaved heads who wear gold chains and cutoffs and basketball sneakers with thick white athletic socks.
Here’s what I said in a 1.21.10 piece filed during the Sundance Film Festival:
Howl is “an indie, artsy, half-animated dream-cream movie that’s basically an instructional primer for the uninitiated about what a wonderfully seminal and influential poem Allen Ginsberg’s Howl was and is.
“It’s brisk, condensed, in some ways florid, engaging, intellectually alert and stimulating. You know what this thing is? It’s a gay Richard Linklater movie, only deeper and more trippy. It’s an half-animated exploration thing that contains scenes of actors reading and ‘being,’ but in no way is this a movie that plays like a movie. It’s something else, and that’s a good thing for me.
“Howl is a ‘small’ film, but it’s rather wonderful and joyful in the particulars.
“Howl is not a narrative feature — it’s a near-documentary that says ‘stop what you’re doing and consider what a cool poem ‘Howl’ was…in fact, let us take you through the whole thing and show and tell you how cool and illuminating it is.” It uses Waltz With Bashir-like animation to illuminate what ‘Howl’ was in Ginsberg’s head when he wrote it, and what the poem’s more sensitive readers might have seen in their heads when they first read it.
“James Franco plays Ginsberg quite fully, particularly and well — he gets the slurring speech patterns and pours a mean cup of tea as he’s explaining a point to a journalist — but Franco, good as he is, is subordinate to (or should I say in harmony with?) the basic ambition of the film, which is to inform, instruct, awaken, turn on.
“For me, Ian McKellen‘s ‘Acting Shakespeare’ was a somewhat similar experience. An accomplished British actor explaining and double-defining the joy and transcendent pleasure of performing, feeling and really knowing deep down what Shakespeare’s poetry really means, and has meant to him all his life.”
The Envelope/Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond and Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet have all written that as of right now (i.e., without anyone having seen True Grit and The Fighter, and not enough people having seen Made in Dagenham and The Way Back), the Best Picture race has boiled down to a choice between The Social Network and The King’s Speech.
May I say that Brevet gets it exactly wrong when (a) he calls The Social Network “a good film but not the masterpiece [or the] front runner [that] so many others are painting it as” while (b) describing Tom Hooper‘s The King’s Speech as “the one film that’s right up the Academy’s alley” (okay, he’s not wrong when it comes to the over-50 set) and “a great film.” I’m sorry, but no, no, respectfully no.
The King’s Speech is a very good, extremely well-made film (regal, Britishy, traditional minded, emotionally satisfying) but not a great one, and The Social Network (with Black Swan nipping at its heels) is as hugely satisfying and masterpiece-level as anything of its type (a blending of the best rat-a-tat instincts of Howard Hawks and Paddy Chayefsky for the telling of a seminal generation tale) could possibly get.
O’Neil writes that “at this point, it sure looks like we have solid Oscar front-runners for Best Picture (The Social Network), Best Actor (Colin Firth, The King’s Speech) and Best actress (Natalie Portman, Black Swan). It’s very possible that all three could trot across the derby finish line without tripping en route.”
Pond says “there’s still room for lots of movement, for favorites to fade and dark horses to come out of nowhere,” but basically acknowledges that The Social Network and The King’s Speech are the main combatants, and that Black Swan and 127 Hours have “stirred up passions” — i.e., Oscar season journo-speak for “close behind but not quite the leaders of the pack.”
I like the way Pond sizes up the chances of Network vs. Speech:
King strengths: “Plays exceptionally well for a mainstream audience, as witnessed by its People’s Choice Award at Toronto. It’s set in the days before World War II, a conflict long beloved by [older] Oscar voters. It’ll get support from the actors branch, since it’s a film that soars on the strength of performances from Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. And it’s daring enough, in a quiet way, to not turn off the younger members.
King weaknesses: “Subject matter may be a bit dry to get a major boxoffice boost. If the voters are looking for something adventurous (No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire), this might seem a bit old-fashioned. It could fall into the ‘it’s a performance movie’ ghetto. But most of all, nobody wants to be the frontrunner this far out – least of all Harvey Weinstein, who perfected the art of slipping into the race late in the game.
Social Network strengths: ” Smart and sharp and solid. A mainstream move from a director, David Fincher, who is well-admired but has usually been a bit too risky for the Academy’s tastes. It captures the tenor of its time, and goes beyond its ostensible subject – the creation of Facebook, and the lawsuits that ensued – to be about something more universal: the quest for connection, whether that’s in person or online.
Social Network weaknesses: “Does it make enough of an emotional connection? Perhaps not. The movie ends in a nicely understated manner, with a tinge of regret rather than any big Lessons Learned – but sublety and understatement is hardly the way to win votes of the people who named Crash Best Picture.”
70% of me hates this damn photo. The photographer’s timing was immaculate in that he caught me licking my lips at just the right moment, making it look like I’m scowling at the entire world and all of its peoples and faiths and creeds. But the capturing of the inside of the Grand Theatre Lumiere, the biggest inside the Cannes Palais, is better than anything I’ve ever gotten myself.
Taken last May by Indiewire’s Todd McCarthy inside Grand Theatre Lumiere inside the Cannes Palais, prior to one of the big screenings.
Indiewire‘s Eugene Hernandez has flown the coop for a gig as director of digital strategy with the Film Society of Lincoln Center — a marketing job that will presumably pay him a higher salary than he made at Indiewire, and which will open the door to all kinds of blue-chip jobs in the future. Hernandez, a man of the pavement whose basic attitude is that of an apartment-dweller (and I mean that in the best sense), has been invited to hang with the folks on the hill — the swells.
2:26 pm Update: Hernandez has told Deadline‘s Michael Fleming “that he’ll keep the blog he writes for Indiewire and will help them find a new editor.” He’ll begin the Film Society of Lincoln Center job on 11.1.
A reaction piece by Indiewire columnist Anne Thompson conveys mixed feelings — she feels as if she’s been left high and dry by Hernandez, but that things are still cool and full-speed-ahead with SnagFilms CEO Rick Allen (who purchased Indiewire operation two or three years ago) and the rest of the Indiewire team and…whatever, we be cool.
Hernandez has written a piece called “This Is Not Goodbye.” Actually, it is, Eugene — it is goodbye and good luck and “see ya ’round the campus.” Hanging around “over the next few weeks during the transition” and then “cheering loudly from the sidelines” is analagous to someone saying to a business acquaintance while standing at the corners of Houston and Broadway, “Jesus, we haven’t talked in so long…we should really do lunch!”
David Robb writes a 9.22 Hollywood Reporter piece about how Stanley Kramer‘s Inherit the Wind, a film about rural fundamentalism vs. educated and open-minded urbanism, is still relevant today and doesn’t once mention the words “Teabagger” or “Palinism”? And makes a statement that this 1960 film “is to my mind the quintessential parable about McCarthyism”?
All Robb manages to say about today’s political theatre is that “the arguments that creationists make in [Inherit the Wind] haven’t gone away — they’ve only gotten dumber and shriller.” Better to heed Spencer Tracy‘s words in the film: “Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding, and soon with banners flying and drums beating we’ll be marching backwards.”