Weinstein Co. is announcing that some kind of official HD trailer for Apollo 18 has debuted on Yahoo…whatever. Speculative NASA fantasy pic (with simulated “actual’ footage) opens wide on 9.2.11. “While NASA denies its authenticity, others say it’s the real reason we’ve never gone back to the moon,” etc.
On June 10th L.A. Times/”24 Frames” guy Steven Zeitchik wrote about the coming of Nick Broomfield‘s anti-Sarah Palin doc, which I put a top-spin on the following morning. And today, 13 or 14 days later, Mike Fleming is reporting that “Deadline has learned there’s another Palin doc in the works [from] Broomfield” that’s “not going to be quite as favorable toward the former vice presidential candidate as The Undefeated.”
Nope, no mistake — Fleming is talking about same Broomfield documentary.
The exclusive part of Fleming’s story is a clip from the Broomfield doc in which two former associates (John Bitney, Palin’s former legislative director, and former Alaska Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican) recall how Palin was always texting during meetings and barely paying attention to “the business in the building….unengaged, cursory…lack of interest, wasn’t listening,” etc.
“Let’s create a luxury tax for Hollywood,” Marshall Fine has suggested, “comparable to the one Major League Baseball invokes whenever a team tries to buy itself a pennant by stocking up on expensive star players.
“Except, in the case of Hollywood, this would be a tax that Hollywood would charge itself every time it makes a movie that costs $100 million or more. There would be a tax of X amount of dollars — let’s say 10 percent — for every $10 million over the $99-million mark a movie’s budget goes (and I’m including the cost of advertising and marketing, which can double a movie’s price-tag). And we’d round up, from $101 million.
“That money, in turn, would go to a not-for-profit fund to help underwrite less affluent artists. It could be used for grants for low-budget independent films. Or perhaps — given Hollywood’s reputation as a hive of liberalism — it could be earmarked for the National Endowment for the Arts, which always has a bulls-eye painted on it by conservatives, targeting it for elimination.”
There’s no question about one thing: 93% of the time a smaller budget always results in greater creativity. Yes, 7% of the time an expensive movie will seem to be worth the cost with most of the the dough having been spent wisely and excitingly. Okay, make it 10% or 12% of the time. But the rest of the time big-budgets just smother the spirit.
Remember the old days when DVDs would deliver boxy, full-frame versions of films shot at standard Academy ratio of 1.37 to 1 (but which are routinely masked off at 1.85 to 1 when they’re shown in theatres)? Those are pretty much gone, and I kinda miss ’em. I like height (i.e., lots of headroom) and I love boxiness. But the 16 x 9 fascists have pretty much killed that aesthetic. Old studio-era films (mid-1950s and older) are still mastered at 1.37, of course, but that’s the extent of it.
Some day boxy frames will be regarded with the same damp-eyed nostalgia that old-time record collectors feel for 45 and 78 rpms.
Three months ago author-critic Richard Schickel told L.A. Weekly interviewer Richard Wasson that Martin Scorsese, the subject of a then-new book, “has an utter inability to say anything bad about any movie. I’d say, ‘You know, this is a turkey, Marty,’ and he’d say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I know. But there’s this shot in the third scene…’ It’s almost comical. I think that’s the little kid in awe of the image on the screen, buttressed by the fact of how he knows how difficult it is to make a good movie.”
Which reminds me: whatever happened to Fake Schickel? The guy stopped posting a month ago.
I don’t like tweets in which journalists talk about being at a press junket without saying for what movie or especially what city or country. Travel always generates a slight quickening of the pulse, and I don’t see why a traveller wouldn’t want to share the particulars. It’s not like they’re working for the CIA. I’m guessing this is related to the Moscow junket for Transformers 3. Others are just saying, “Moscow…yeah!”
“At least Bad Teacher offers opportunities to ponder an evergreen pop-culture conundrum: At what point do professional performers with evident talent and a proven ability to make smart choices realize they’re trapped in a film that — due to lazy writing, style-free direction and visual design, and a general refusal to aim above the lowest common denominator — simply can’t be good?
“What compels someone like Justin Timberlake — so charismatically contemptible in The Social Network, so often a saving grace on SNL — to take a role centered on a cringe-worthy set-piece involving him dry-humping his real-life ex-girlfriend? Are actresses like Cameron Diaz and Lucy Punch really cool with punishing material based on the worst male-invented stereotypes of the way women deceptively control men and compete with one another? If they’re at all conscious of what they’ve gotten into, did they try to make it better, or did they submit to mediocrity because, you know, fuck it — the check cleared?
“Are they so far inside that they can’t possibly gauge what the fix they’re in might look like from the outside?” — from Karina Longworth‘s L.A. Weekly review.
Answer: The cast of Bad Teacher submitted to mediocrity because, you know, fuck it….the check cleared.
I was milling around a Hollywood hardware store sometime in the early ’80s, looking for a screwdriver or something, when I heard raised voices. Two or three Joe Sixpack-type meatheads were having fun at the expense of Peter Falk, who was poking around like me, just wandering down the aisles. “Aaaaay…Detective Columbo!,” one of them was saying with the rest joining in. They just had to treat Falk like some kind of visiting celebrity alien. They couldn’t be decent about it. They had to be assholes.
And I remember how the perturbed Falk walked right by me as these jerks were taunting him and making their little lame-ass cracks, and how he was trying to ignore them but at the same time was fiercely cussing and not all that quietly, going “Jeezus!….Jeezus!” I remember thinking to myself and trying to telepathically say to Falk, “Yes, yes…keep going! Turn around and let’ em have it! You can do it, Peter!”
Did Falk ever have a movie role in which he hit it out of the park? Did he ever even hit a long triple? Yes — in Raymond De Felitta and Paul Reiser‘s The Thing About My Folks (’05). Which nobody saw, of course. He was also memorable in a relaxed and settled and kindly way in Wim Wenders‘ Wings of Desire (but less so in Far Away, So Close). And he was especially fine (and perhaps delivering his career best) in John Cassevettes‘ Husbands and A Woman Under The Influence.
Falk’s peak run was from ’69 to ’74, when he was 42 to 47 years old. He began the streak in ’69 when he costarred as Sgt. Ross in Sydney Pollack‘s Castle Keep, and then played Archie Black in Husbands (’70) and did A Woman Under The Influence (’74) , and all of this while starring as Lt. Columbo from ’68 to ’03.
Oh, yes…The In-Laws (1979)! Of course! Make that a ten-year streak.
I saw him play the desperate Shelley Levene in an early ’80s Hollywood stage production of David Mamet‘s Glengarry Glen Ross. It wasn’t entirely successful as Falk didn’t seem to understand or accept that you can’t play around with Mamet’s dialogue — you have to say it exactly as written.
The poor guy began to succumb to the vicious destroyer known as Al Z. Heimer a few years ago. Not an easy way to wind things down. Getting old isn’t for sissies. Falk was a very fine artist in his time and place, which, as it turned out, was pretty much his whole life.
To this day I can’t remember which eye was the glass fake and which was real.
Legendary screenwriter David Rayfiel, whom I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing about 15 years ago, died yesterday at 87. He was without question one of the greatest writers of adult romantic-emotional dialogue in film history, but he mostly worked as an uncredited pinch-hit guy for Sydney Pollack. Even in Pollack’s lesser films there are portions that have a gently eloquent seep-in quality, and Rayfiel had a hand in most if not all of these.
The Gene Hackman-Jeanne Tripplehorn scene at the Grand Caymans bar in The Firm. The finale of The Way We Were between Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, outside the Plaza hotel. The railroad farewell scene between Redford and Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor. Those satisfying intimate moments between Redford and Jane Fonda in Electric Horseman . Those portions of Sabrina and Random Hearts, even, that deliver a wise, resigned, sadly touching quality.
Rayfiel was more of a colorist — a caster of mood spells — than a full-on screenwriter. And he always had a very delicate but precise touch. If you wanted him to write a love scene with shadings of mauve, Pollack once said, he would give you exactly that.
How many screenwriters today know or even care what mauve dialogue is?
Rayfiel also worked with Bertrand Tavernier (Round Midnight, Death Watch), Sidney Lumet (The Morning After) and Ingmar Bergman (The Serpent’s Egg).
A director-screenwriter pally wrote a few minutes ago to say “if you have time, check out Rayfiel’s war record. I believe he was a distinguished hard combat veteran in both WWII and Korea.” To which I replied: “It’s funny but Pollack never mentioned that to me (or so I recall) and Rayfiel himself never brought it up either when we spoke two or three times in the ’90s.
“That generation never talked about WWII….they never raised the subject unless you pressed them, and if you did they’d say as little as possible. Rayfiel was a great writer. Nobody around like him right now….or is there?”
I’ve longed all my life to be able to talk to highly desirable women with just a little bit of the “English” that Rayfiel’s dialogue had.
Rayfiel sample #1 (Three Days of the Condor):
Faye Dunaway: You…you have a lot of very fine qualities.
Robert Redford: What fine qualities?
Dunaway: You have good eyes. Not kind, but they don’t lie. And they don’t look away much, and they don’t miss anything. I could use eyes like that.
Redford: But you’re overdue in Vermont. Is he a tough guy?
Dunaway: He’s pretty tough.
Redford: What will he do?
Dunaway: Understand, probably.
Redford: Boy. That is tough.
Rayfiel sample #2 (Three Days of the Condor):
Cliff Robertson: Do you miss that kind of action, sir? [referring to joining and working for the CIA during World War II]
John Houseman: No, I miss that kind of clarity.
Rayfiel sample #3 (The Firm):
Gene Hackman: You know I have a very bad reputation.
Jeanne Tripplehorn: What do you do?
Hackman: I run around.
Tripplehorn: Why do you do that?
Hackman: I think it’s because….my wife understands me. Fact is I love my wife, but she…well, I guess she’s lost interest in me. I know I have. And I haven’t cared for anyone since. I’d like to though. I miss it.
Tripplehorn: My, you lay a lot on a girl for a first date.
Hackman: Is that what this is?
HE reader Phil Garcia had a somewhat annoying time watching The Tree of Life in Scottsdale, an affluent suburb of Phoenix, at the Harkins Camelview on East Highland. But not because of his own reaction to Terrence Malick‘s film. Here’s how he tells it:
Sign at Stamford’s Avon theatre, posted yesterday (6.23) by Movie City News‘ Ray Pride.
“I just finished listening to Oscar Poker # 36 where you comment that you cannot imagine anyone hating The Tree of Life,” he writes. “Well, I went to a 6 pm screening on opening day. The theater was jam-packed, mostly with a geriatric crowd. The movie started out okay, but once the ‘creation of life’ sequence started the crowd went south in a hurry. There were no less than 25 walk-outs.
“I’ve been in movies where a few people have walked out of the theater, but I’ve never seen such a mass exodus in a movie. There were people talking all through it. ‘I don’t get this.’ ‘Do you understand what’s going on?’ ‘This is terrible.’ This went on and on. People were still walking out when there was only ten minutes left.
“And it’s not as if the ‘creation of life’ sequence is that esoteric or incomprehensible, right? Perhaps it’s a matter of context. If the same images were a part of some IMAX documentary about the origins of the universe people would not care. Plop the same images in what is suppose to be narrative cinema and people lose their minds.”