Warner Bros. has announced that Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar will open on November 11th, and that Stephen Daldry‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will debut on December 25th. They obviously have big Oscar campaigns in mind for both. The latter is an emotional 9/11-related drama costarring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. All kinds of nommies will presumably be sought for Eastwood’s Hoover biopic — Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer) and so on.
The new Moneyball trailer isn’t much different from the first one, which surfaced on or about June 16th. What about Robin Wright, Kathryn Morris, Tammy Blanchard? Don’t they have any good lines? I think it’s time to show this sucker. Just lay it out there. Any sports movie that doesn’t end with rowdy jowly guys yelling “we’re number one!” gets my vote.
Variety‘s Peter Debruge — the guy who wrote an impassioned thumbs-up review of the reprehensible Crazy, Stupid, Love — seems unsettled by Rise of the Planet of the Apes offering a “curious chance for humans to revel in their own destruction.” He also wonders if audiences “[will] mind witnessing the annihilation of their own species” as “there’s something undeniably subversive in asking auds to cheer” as humankind begins to lose the battle for earthly dominance.
And yet for a film that “could have been a disastrous gamble,” Rise of the Planet of the Apes “makes for an impressive, if predictably downbeat prequel to a franchise famous for unhappy endings,” he says.
What the hell is Debruge talking about? Rise isn’t the least bit downbeat. It doesn’t have an unhappy ending. There isn’t the first hint of trepidation about humans being annihilated on-screen….nothing. And the revelling is not about our defeat but from sharing the spirit-lifting triumph that kicks in when the apes break out of their cages, Spartacus-style.
So Debruge likes “upbeat”…is that it? The man likes to feel happy and cuddled and reassured, which is apparently why he went for Crazy Stupid Love. He doesn’t like mankind being threatened by apes. He’d rather get a nice hug from Steve Carell or Ryan Gosling.
At least Debruge understands that the Andy Serkis‘s performance as Caesar-the-chimp is a very significant score. “So nuanced and specific is Serkis’ performance that his digital avatar shows far greater emotional range than any of his human co-stars, even without the aid of dialogue,” he writes.
More interesting is Sasha Stone‘s view that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is 2011’s “best film so far.” I wouldn’t go quite that far but I admire any critic or columnist sticking their neck out.
“The best movies you never see coming,” she writes. “Expectations weren’t running high [for this film] — the thinking was it would be as campy as the old Planet of the Apes movies or worse, as bad as the Tim Burton one.
“What most weren’t expecting, of course, was that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be so character driven. Because the technology is now seamless, there is very little separation between our awe and our emotional reaction.
“Half of the exhilaration here is [director] Rupert Wyatt‘s sleight of hand. It isn’t so much that the apes are faithfully rendered and seemingly real — so real you can’t believe you are not watching reality — it’s how he keeps the action moving. It’s that the director has such a command of the pace and the action, the film only slows down when we must head back into the human world and follow those stories. But any time it’s on the apes it exists in startling rapid-fire time.
“What’s most frightening about it in the end is how it reminds us that we’ve trapped even ourselves in a prison of our own making. When the apes decide they’ve had enough, something in us makes us wonder what would it take before we too have had enough?”
So the reason Martin Scorsese‘s George Harrison: Living in the Material World wasn’t included in today’s announcement release about 2011 Toronto Film Festival docs is that it’ll probably wind up debuting at the 2011 New York Film Festival instead. NYFF honchos didn’t reply so no confirmation, but I was told earlier today that discussions are underway for Scorsese’s 210-minute doc to premiere at their festival.
I was expecting the Harrison doc to play Toronto because Scorsese’s Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, which also ran long (208 minutes) and was cut by the same editor (David Tedeschi) who cut Material World, played Toronto in 2005. Tradition and all that. But the NYFF guys have apparently stepped in and said to the HBO reps, “No…our festival, not Toronto’s…because we’re cooler.”
So that means I definitely have to stay in Manhattan for a good two weeks after the 2011 Toronto Film Festival ends on 9.20. I don’t feel I can miss early ganders at Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy or Scorsese’s Harrison doc, even though the latter will air on HBO on 10.5 and 10.6.
The Toronto doc list includes Wim Wenders‘ Pina, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb‘s This Is Not A Film (which will again raise questions about why Panahi and his family just blow that Teheran popstand and move in to Paris?), Morgan Spurlock‘s Comic-Con: Episode IV — A Fan’s Hope, Frederic Wiseman‘s Crazy Horse, Bill Duke and D. Channson Berry‘s Dark Girls, Rithy Panh‘s Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell, Ashley Sabin and David Redmon‘s Girl Model, Jonathan Demme‘s I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful, Werner Herzog‘s Into The Abyss, Jessica Yu‘s Last Call at the Oasis, Alex Gibney‘s The Last Gladiators, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinfosky‘s Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Stephen Kessler‘s Paul Williams Still Alive, Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill‘s Sarah Palin — You Betcha!, Mark Cousins‘ The Story of Film: An Odyssey, and Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin‘s Undefeated.
God, it killed me to type and code that last graph!
All Pat Buchanan had to say to the Rev. Al Sharpton as he referred to President Obama was “your guy in the ring” instead of “your boy in the ring”…that’s all. Same meaning, same inference. But Buchanan is either getting tone deaf or getting old or becoming subconsciously whatever.Question: would Buchanan had gotten in as much trouble if he’d said “your homie in the ring”?
A compassionate assessment of David Dobkin‘s The Change-Up (Universal, 8.5) would be to call it a schizophrenic experience — a film with a split personality. It’s awful at first — “odiously vulgar” and “oppressively unfunny” are fair descriptions of the first 45 or 50 minutes. But then it improves when the characters suddenly “get real” and settle into intimacy and character and reality-facing issues, and the film stops playing to the cretins out there who squeal with laughter at poop, piss and dick jokes.
Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman in .
The first section, seemingly written and directed by a depraved, brain-dead, subhuman 13 year-old, delivers the basic story or set-up. A stressed-out, married-with-kids attorney (Jason Bateman) magically swaps lives and bodies with his immature pseudo-actor buddy (Ryan Reynolds) after they urinate into a kind-of magic fountain and say “I wish I had your life” (or words to that effect) at the exact same instant.
The second section, which is much more tolerable and even affecting here and there, is about these guys gradually realizing who they really are and what their lives truly amount by being able to stand outside themselves and assess from an outside perspective.
Bateman and Reynolds and costars Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin handle their roles with professional aplomb and, as much as possible, a measure of dignity. Bateman and Reynolds do their level-best to make the sickeningly stupid parts play as well as possible, and the others “do the job” as best they can. Wilde is especially good as a sexy office colleague of Bateman’s attorney who develops an emotional-sexual interest when Reynolds’ personality takes over. She hits some genuinely honest notes.
But the depraved, brain-dead, subhuman 13-year-old section so thoroughly poisons the well that even the better second half of The Change-Up can’t quite balance things out. It’s a shame because Dobkin and his colleagues could have have made a reasonably decent comedy about values and choices and maturity and all that. But the animal sensibility (which the notoriously low-rent producer Neal Moritz probably had something to do with) wins out.
Complaint #1: What kind of moron pees into a public fountain? Even pot-bellied 20something apes who wear backwards baseball hats and oversized T-shirts and Kevin Smith shorts and sneakers with no socks are civilized enough to piss on the grass or in some bushes or against a tree. If I saw two guys pissing into a public fountain I’d run over and push them in and then run for it.
Complaint #2: Robo-babies who slam their heads against crib bars aren’t funny. Robo-babies who shoot a dark-brown milkshake substance out of their anuses and into Jason Bateman’s mouth aren’t funny, and the guys who thought this sequence up have something wrong with them…seriously. You’re sitting there and thinking, “Somebody actually got paid money to think this up and then shoot it for a mainstream big-studio feature?” Only a society in the last death throes of social degeneration and corruption would laugh at a scene as low as this, and believe me, hundreds were laughing their asses off at Monday night’s screening. I’m not talking about the vulgarity (although I am to some extent) — I’m talking about the primitive mentality that would find this kind of thing even faintly amusing.
Complaint #3: I wasn’t sure what was going on at first with the switch-out. It turns out that Bateman and Reynolds are not doing a Warren Beatty-in-Heaven Can Wait number but an internal personality switch. Beatty’s appearance stayed the same for us but once he occupied the body of billionaire Leo Farnsworth he physically appeared as Farnsworth to the other characters. But when Bateman “becomes” Reynolds and vice versa in The Change-Up their personalities are their own but their appearance is seen as one and the same by the audience and the characters. And that threw me at first because I had Heaven Can Wait in my head. Is this confusing?
Complaint #4: The basic Hollywood Elsewhere rule about driving scenes is that the driver has to act like a real driver in real life, which is to say he/she almost never takes his/her eyes off the road…ever. Bad movies allow drivers to frequently look at their passenger while driving, sometimes for three or four seconds at a time. But in one Change-Up scene Bateman takes things to a new level by mostly looking at the front-seat passenger and only glancing at the road or a second or two. I scream inside when I see this. You’re driving, asshole! You could kill someone! The bad guy, of course, is Dobkin, not Bateman. He could have straightened this out by reminding Bateman of the HE rule, but no.
I’m of the opinion that Andy Serkis‘s performance-capture emoting as Ceasar-the-chimp in Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a little too broad and underlined…just a tad. But I have no argument with those who feel Serkis and director Rupert Wyatt have done something truly exceptional here. There’s no question that Serkis’s performance is the emotional lynchpin of the film, and that, in a braver, fairer world, it would be fully justified and appropriate to nominate him for Best Supporting Actor.
As I said last night, the actors branch of the Academy, notoriously fearful of CG motion-capture acting as an industry trend, will probably try to stifle any such talk. That would be an unjust and discriminatory position to take, of course, but actors have staked out their position on this before, adamantly. So just to be an agitator let’s start the talk here and now — Serkis’s performance is not only striking and memorable but Oscar-worthy. It deserves the recognition of a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Really.
To be fair the talk actually started last night when The Hollywood Reporter‘s Carolyn Giardina broached the subject. While Rise of the Planet of the Apes “is sure to be a major factor in this year’s visual effects Oscar race,” she wrote, “the bigger awards question is whether Andy Serkis, the actor who portrays the ape Caesar, will be considered a contender for an acting nomination.
“That honor eluded him ten years ago when he played the tragic creature Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. That role, however, did launch an ongoing Hollywood debate about how much an actor contributes to CG characters who are created through performance capture.
“WETA Digital, the Wellington, N.Z.-based VFX company behind both Rings and Apes, has always maintained that the actor drives the performance of its CG creations. ‘Performance capture (is) really (designed) to give you the actors’ moment — the spontaneity, the thought, the insight that really comes from an actor who really truly understands his role,’ says WETA’s four-time Oscar winning VFX supervisor Joe Letteri.”
Hitfix‘s Drew McWeeny has written that Rise is “largely driven by yet another groundbreaking performance from Andy Serkis, who is nothing less than the first digital age superstar at this point.
“It is incredibly moving to see just how fully Serkis brings this character to life. When people say they don’t understand why filmmakers or actors are excited by performance capture, it’s because we’re still in the early days of this, and we don’t have many great examples to point at yet of how this really works. You can now use Rise Of The Planet of The Apes as a perfect case study in how an actor can project a soul through a digital character and really bring it to life.
“Caesar is the main character, and we see him grow from a clever but immature chimp in captivity, raised in absolutely optimal human conditions, pampered, loved, into an animal twisted by the worst sort of human behavior, abandoned, angry, ready to run. And Serkis plays it all.”