I used to hate watching TV with my father when I was a kid (and particularly as a teenager) because he always kept the sound at whisper levels. We only had one TV — a little thing on a wooden stand in the upstairs den — and I remember saying to him every so often, “Does the sound really have to be this low? I can barely hear it!”
Your father can’t help it, my mother used to say. He has very sensitive ears. Great, I used to reply. He has sensitive ears and so I have to cup mine in order to hear what people are saying on TV shows.
I finally got to listen to TV with my own sound levels when I went out into the world, but first I had to endure a kind of hell for 17 or 18 years. Tortured by whispering Smiths. Leaning forward, “What?,” “I didn’t hear that,” “Can’t we turn it up just a little bit, please?” I would seethe at times. I’m a little pissed just thinking about it now.
Jett and I are sharing the Brooklyn apartment these days, and guess what? He always listens to the tube with the sound way down. “How can you listen to it this quietly?,” I’ll say every so often. “You can barely hear what people are saying.”
Two days ago I attended a luncheon for Sony Classics’ Made in Dagenham, the English-produced drama about a historic female Ford workers’ strike for equal pay in the late ’60s. It happened at Rouge Tomate on East 60th, and was sponsored (or “hosted”) by Revive and Laura Mercier. Dagenham star Sally Hawkins, costar Miranda Richardson, director Nigel Cole and producer Elizabeth Karlsen attended.
(l, to r.) Made in Dagenham producer Elizabeth Karlsen, Sally Hawkins, Miranda Richardson, director Nigel Cole — Monday, 11.1, 12:55 pm.
(l., to r.) Karlsen, Hawkins, Richardson.
As I’ve written before, Made in Dagenham is a well-made, straightforward inspirational drama (female solidarity, facing down chauvinism, labor politics) as far as it goes. If people want to give it a Best Picture nomination in the name of tokenism (i.e., one for women in the same way that a Blue Valentine nomination would be one for the hand-to-mouth indies), fine. I happen to feel that Rosamund Pike, in a smallish supporting role, gives the best performance. That’s not to dismiss Hawkins or Richardson, but Pike has one of those scenes that just sinks right in.
Two more reports about Peter Weir‘s The Way Back. One concerning yesterday’s press screening at L.A.’s Raleigh Studios, and the other about the strategy to not open in New York this year and therefore to not screen it for the New York Film Critics Circle.
The decision to book the shoebox-sized Fairbanks room for yesterday’s first official L.A. press screening was due to a request by a certain unnamed journalist that the screening was primarily held for. Because he/she lives closer to Raleigh Studios than other screening rooms (or so I understand), this journalist actually said “I want to see this large-scope, David Lean-like outdoor epic inside a dinky little theatre with crummy sound…that, believe it or not, is my request.”
Newmarket’s decision to not open The Way Back in Manhattan before 12.31 (and therefore not show it to the NYFCC membership) is due to a risk vs. cost equation. While the chance of winning a NYFCC award (Best Picture, Best Director) is certainly possible (i.e., it’s said by everyone to be a very strong film), the high costs involved in a New York City opening in December have persuaded Newmarket that perhaps sufficient payback won’t manifest. Who knows? But the film will be viewable and voted upon by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics, I’m told.
At Bunker Club after-party for last night’s 127 Hours premiere: (l. to r.) Aron Ralston (actual arm-slice guy), James Franco (star, Best Actor contender), Danny Boyle (director).
What’s Stiller saying with this two-fingered gesture? It looks Vulcan.
Courtyard inside Robert DeNiro’s Greenwich Hotel (277 Greenwich Ave., just south of Moore). Taken prior to yesterday afternoon’s Todd Phillips interview.
Due Date director Todd Phillips — Tuesday, 11.2, 2:25 pm.
I paid $5 for this button last weekend in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to have done so. I was feeling ambivalent about Obama — alienated, even — but no more. Not with the nutters at the gate.
127 Hours star James Franco, Columbia University film professor Annette Insdorf at last night’s Bunker Hill party.
Is it that hard to create a movie poster that makes it seen as if the lead actors actually posed together in the same realm? Whoever did this King’s Speech one-sheet for the Weinstein Co. didn’t try hard enough. Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter “agree” to some extent, but the incongruent pasting of Geoffrey Rush reminds me of the quality of international action-flick posters that I’ve seen at the American Film Market.
And why didn’t these three pose together in costume during filming? It used to be a relatively common practice.
Incidentally: Movieline’s Stu Van Airsdale dislikes this poster even more than myself.
I’m two days late and two dollars short, but the MPAA’s decision to give Tom Hooper‘s The King’s Speech an R rating is nothing short of surreal. It’s all about a single scene in which Colin Firth‘s King George VI, during one of his speech-therapy sessions with Geoffery Rush‘s Lionel Logue, experiences an emotional breakthrough of sorts as he lets go with a string of vulgarities in a Tourette’s Syndrome way.
This is another example of that old, much-ridiculed MPAA tendency to give films with blue language the same R rating that they routinely hand out to blood-caked torture porn. Late Monday night Hooper told L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein that the decision means that “violence and torture are okay, but bad language isn’t. I can’t think of a single film I’ve ever seen where the swear words had haunted me forever, the way a scene of violence or torture has, yet the ratings board only worries about the bad language.”
This is the second ratings slapdown suffered by the Weinstein Co., which has justifiably railed against the MPAA’s having given Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine an NC-17 over a couple of no-big-deal sex scenes. The prime offender is reportedly a hotel-room sex scene between the married Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, although it isn’t the least bit titillating — it mainly conveys the resentment that has built up between them.
There’s really no logical reason to show respect for the MPAA. Their values are almost Tea Party loony. But there’s also no reason for the Academy to wave away Blue Valentine because of the NC-17. It deserves to be one of the ten Best Picture nominees, I feel, as a gesture of respect for its emotional honesty, high-quality acting and John Cassavetes stamp. You have to have at least one “little” movie in there to round out the pack.
No one of any taste cares very much about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Warner Bros., 11.19). The franchise peaked six years ago with Alfonso Cuaron‘s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Fandango is nonetheless reporting that nearly 500 showtimes have sold out in advance, and that the film is accounting for 61% of Fandango’s daily ticket sales. No one cares, it doesn’t matter, it’s just the fan base, etc.
Hollywood Elsewhere will attend and cover the 10th annual Marrakech Film Festival (12.3 to 12.11). Official participants include competition jury chief John Malkovich and short film jury president Sigourney Weaver. Attendees will include James Caan, Keanu Reeves, Harvey Keitel, Francis Coppola, Gabriel Byrne, Maggie Cheung, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benoit Jacquot, Eva Mendes and Emmanuelle Seigner.
Last night’s election results will ensure great Boehner arrogance and prolonged, head-splitting misery. As Huffpost analyst Sam Stein wrote early this morning, “If government seemed stalemated and futile before, the next two years will bring new meaning to deadlocked.” But the results weren’t entirely catastrophic. The corporate-fellating uglies now have the upper hand in the House of Representatives, but Democrats still have their U.S. Senate majority. And several righties were beaten.
In California Jerry Brown beat Meg Whitman, and Barbara Boxer whipped Carly Fiorina. Delaware Tea Party loon Christine O’Donnell was destroyed by Democrat Chris Coons. Sen. Harry Reid defeated Tea Party wacko Sharron Angle in Nevada. Denver’s Democratic mayor John Hickenlooper (i.e., the late George Hickenlooper‘s cousin) was elected Colorado governor. Ohio’s Nazi-reenacting Rich Iott went down to defeat.
“Exit polls found that nearly nine in ten voters believe the economy is in bad shape,” wrote Arianna Huffington. “The same percentage said they feel pessimistic about America’s economic future. And while a large majority of voters still believe that George Bush is to blame for getting us into this mess, they are clearly holding Barack Obama accountable for not fixing it. The Pottery Barn rule — ‘you break it, you own it’ — was given a twist tonight. Even if you weren’t the one who broke it, you own it. So it is with our broken economy. Bush broke it, but Obama, underestimating just how broken it is, owns it.”
“It was a historic session — one of the most productive since the New Deal — but in the end, it was brief,” Stein observed. “Four years after taking over Congress with the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrats lost control of the chamber in a devastating, wipeout election.”
And California’s Prop. 19, which sought the legalization of marijuana for all adults, was defeated by an approximate vote of 57% opposing to 42% favoring.