I allowed in this morning’s Season of the Witch review that the Rotten Tomatoes rating “might go up a tad when the kneejerk fanboys start weighing in.” But they didn’t. With no support from anyone, Dominic Sena‘s medieval calamity currently has one of the lowest Rotten Tomatoes ratings ever.
Ben Zuk‘s “Salute to Cinema” is just another flashy collage of scene slivers. Not a hint of content or feeling or theme interrupts the nonstop so-whattitude — combustion, verve, sound and fury…roller-coaster! And it doesn’t hold a candle to Matthew Seitz’s recent assemblage. Pay a little less attention to the 4th of July sparkler aspects and a little more to what the films were actually about.
I got started late today because of a nightmare that woke me at 3:15 am. It was an okay flying dream (i.e., didn’t feel like a nightmare at first) in which I was parachuting in a kind of sideways fashion, not dropping as much as coasting along three or four hundred feet above a half-suburban, half-wooded area. A run-of-the-mill metaphor for a high-wire act like writing a daily Hollywood column that’s half movies and half mood-pocket. That plus the idea of being more at peace in the air than on the ground. No biggie.
I suddenly felt like I didn’t want to coast along anymore so I steered the chute toward the flat roof of an unusually tall Victorian-era home. I grabbed hold of something or other and landed on the roof. The chute naturally deflated. I walked over and tried to open the trap door on the roof but it was bolted shut. Then I suddenly lost my footing (the chute tugged or suddenly half inflated due to a wind gust) and I fell off the roof. No chance that the chute would open as I plummeted head first. I was a second or two from landing and breaking my neck so I woke up with a “whuh!…no!” Yes, just like every actor who wakes up from a bad dream in every movie that’s tried to thrill or scare or spook, going back to Vertigo.
Sleeping was out so I got up and read and wrote “Boiled Down,” and then I began to feel overwhelming fatigue around 6:45 am and dropped off on the couch, and then woke up around 11:45 am, and all because of a simple flash of a thought about falling (or failing) that manifested in a standard boilerplate flying dream, which I’ve been having since I was eight and which are basically a dime a dozen.
And it’s called being interested in owning just one of these Bluray discs — the darker one directed by that Kershner guy — and ignoring the hell out of the other five. I could see Netflxing A New Hope, but Return of the Jedi has been erased from my memory. Don’t even mention the prequels.
The screening selections at Roger Durling‘s Santa Barbara Film Festival (1.27 — 2.6) are always well chosen, but the meat and the heat are always the tributes and panels. Because these events are always so smoothly produced and frankly kind of Deja Vu-like, some of us are hoping to again sample some of the delightful chaos that punctuated last year’s James Cameron tribute.
Here’s the final big-name roster: (a) Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) receiving The American Riviera Award, and interviewed by Durling on Friday, 1.28 at the Arlington Theatre; (b) James Franco (127 Hours) getting the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award, and interviewed by Leonard Maltin on Saturday, 1.29 at the Arlington; (c) Christopher Nolan (Inception) being given the Modern Master Award, and interviewed by Deadline.com’s Pete Hammond on Sunday, 1.30 at the Arlington; and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) receiving the Montecito Award, again with Hammond interviewing on Monday, 1.31 at the Arlington. And then five nights later, on Saturday, 2.5, Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) will be handed the Cinema Vanguard Award at the Arlington with Durling moderating.
The 2011 Virtuosos Awards, presented at the Lobero theatre on Friday, 2.4, will go to Lesley Manville (Another Year), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) with Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger on the mike.
The annual “It Starts With The Script” panel, which is always moderated at the Lobero theatre by Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, will happen on Saturday, 1.29 at 11 am. Three hours later marketing whiz and “job whisperer” Madelyn Hammond will moderate the “Creative Forces: Women in the Biz” panel at the same venue. L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein will moderate the usual “Movers & Shakers” panel on Sunday, 1.30 at 11 am, also at the Lobero. Six days — Saturday, February 5 — the “Directors on Directing” pane will kick off at 11 am with EW‘s Dave Karger moderating.
Yesterday British critic-journalist Tom Shone, writing on his “Taking Barack To The Movies” site, reports that Matt Damon has told him that (a) Terrence Malick suggested the ending of Good Will Hunting to Damon and GWH co-screenwriter Ben Affleck during a dinner in Cambridge, Massachusetts way back when, and that (b) they knew the notoriously reclusive director due to Malick being “best friends with Affleck’s godfather,” who isn’t named in the piece.
The godfather connection obviously suggests why Affleck ended up in Malick’s The Burial, the Oklahoma-shot drama with Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel Weisz that’s currently in post and scheduled to open sometime in 2013. Kidding. But not that much.
Two days ago my opinion of Dominic Sena was basically favorable for having directed one of my favorite guilty-pleasure flicks of all time, Gone in Sixty Seconds. Though released in 2000, I think of that Jerry Bruckheimer fast-car movie as a ’90s thing because it closed out the glory period when Bruckheimer was cranking out high-octane, smartly-written Chateaubriand guy movies hand over fist. I would have that time again.
I also half-respect the effort that Sena put into Kalifornia, a 1993 Brad Pitt serial killer flick that resulted in Sena doing a six-year stretch in movie jail, and Swordfish, the semi-decent Joel Silver-produced action-thriller which featured a superb (some would say close to legendary) bullet-time explosion sequence.
And then the night before last I saw Sena’s Season of the Witch, and my mouth fell open. We’re talking (a) medieval adventure crap, (b) a completely predictable poor man’s Peter Jackson film, (c) nothing to give a friggin’ damn about except for one character, (d) men on horseback amidst mud and grunge and disgusting corpses, (e) nonsensical CG applications in pursuit of cheap highs, and (f) ridiculously disparate dialogue (Bruce Willis-style macho wisecracks mixed with the same mock-formal English used in all Hollywood-goes-medieval movies), etc. It’s not even worth going into, trust me. Okay, I could get into it but this is basically what we all have to sit through in January and February. Sit there and submit and go “aarrrghhhh, mommy!”
My son Dylan summed it up as we left the theatre: “Why did they even make this movie?”
At first it seems as if Season of the Witch is going to sell aggressive misogyny in a medieval guise by advancing the notion that many 13th Century women were in fact witches and that, you know, they needed to be hanged and drowned and burned. But then Sena drops this and starts concentrating on just one presumed witch (played by Claire Foy), who may or may not be wicked or possessed by a demon or whatever.
Like I said yesterday, Foy’s is only performance with a semblance of intrigue in the whole thing. The problem is that she spends 85% to 90% of the film all greasy and grungy and inside a wooden cage on wheels. Sena uses her in one partially-concealed nudity shot near the finish, presumably because he could.
The screenwriter is a guy named Bragi F. Schut. That’s made up, right? Either way the name is now mud in more ways than one.
Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir, who was sitting three or four seats to my right, was rolling his eyes when he wrote his review, but he at least found the energy and the motivation to stick to the subject without meandering around.
Right now Season of the Witch has an 18% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It might go up a tad when the kneejerk fanboys (i.e., guys who will put up with any film that dabbles in the cinefantastique realm by throwing in a few CG werewolves and flying demons at the end) start weighing in. It cost close to $40 million, and will probably take in $13 or $14 million this weekend. I presuming that Relativity made it with the idea that the impressionable overseas market would line up no matter what.
“I will fight these bastards every night at 6 o’clock because I know what they want to do. They want to take down American workers, outsource jobs, destroy the American dream, concentrate wealth to the top and control minorities. That’s what they’re about.” — Ed Schultz, The Ed Show.
As some guy said, “Pretty damn offensive to kids born out of wedlock.”
So basically Robert De Niro‘s opinion will carry a certain weight four months hence when the Cannes Film Festival jury decides whether or not to hand the Palme d’Or to Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life. That’s what it boils down to, I think. (Unless, of course, it doesn’t play in competition.) Or whether to tactfully sidestep the Malick altogether and hand it to Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin That I Inhabit or Lars Von Trier‘s Melancholia or some other form of winged bird.
I have to write that guy who’s bought the Old Town apartment I’ve been staying in for the last two years and make sure everything’s cool.