This looks like Ian McKellen‘s Richard III (’95) all over again. You’d never know it from this trailer, but the standout performance in Ralph Fiennes‘ Coriolanus is Vanessa Redgrave‘s. Last February In Berlin In Contention ‘s Guy Lodge predicted that Redgrave will land a 2011 Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
It was reported some time back that a Nicholas Ray double-bill — We Can’t Go Home Again, his last film, plus a doc about his life and career by Susan Ray, the late director’s widow, called Don’t Expect Too Much — will screen at the the Venice Film Festival on 9.4. The program will also screen at the N.Y. Film Festival, I learned earlier today.
(l.) James Dean, (r.) Nicholas Ray during the making of Rebel Without A Cause in early 1955, when Ray was 44 or thereabouts.
If you want to be in good standing with the international elite film snob community, you have to be down with Ray’s films, just like you have to swear by the coded soap-opera kitsch of Douglas Sirk. This is a non-debatable clause in the contract. This is mainly because Ray was a highly skilled and passionate filmmaker, but primarily because Jean-Luc Godard once wrote that “Ray is cinema!,” or words to that effect.
My favorite Ray films have always been Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground and They Live By Night. Yes, I know — a boring thing to say. I’m sorry to offend the high priests of the temple but I hated Bigger Than Life when I saw it at the Film Forum a couple of years ago, and I’ve always been “meh” on Johnny Guitar.
Ever notice how the snobs never include Ray’s 55 Days at Peking or King of Kings in their retrospectives? Or mention them in their articles? That’s because they’re regarded as somewhat embarassing paycheck gigs and not “genuine” Ray films. But I kinda like 55 Days at Peking. Ray reportedly collapsed during shooting fo that Charlton Heston war-siege drama; the offshoot was that he had trouble finding work for a long time after.
My favorite Ray moment of the ’70s? When he kicks that paint can across the loft floor in The American Friend.
Favorite Ray anecdote: His walking in on wife Gloria Grahame while she was in bed with his 13 year-old son, Tony. 2nd favorite: his allegedly having had affairs with the 16 year-old Natalie Wood as well as James Dean while making Rebel. 3rd favorite: the story about Ray being bombed at Barney’s Beanery and without money and stuck for a ride home, allegedly sometime in the ’60s.
Earlier today Deadline‘s Mike Fleming reported that 42West partner Cynthia Swartz is “negotiaing her exit” to form her own p.r. shop. A source tells me rumors were making the rounds as early as last January that Swartz, a highly respected and admired Oscar-award campaign strategist, would be breaking off from 42West.
(l. to r.) Tribeca Film Festival’s Genna Terranova, 42 West partner Cynthia Swartz and IFC Films honcho Ryan Werner at March 2009 party for a “Focus on IFC Films” program at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Swartz’s new operation will be up and running fairly quickly, I’m hearing, and that she’ll be taking her 42West staff with her.
The only head-scratcher is why start a new business just as the Oscar season is about to kick in? Why wasn’t this decision made last winter or spring or at least a couple of months ago when Telluride/Toronto/Venice wasn’t breathing down everyone’s neck? In any event best of luck to a serious pro and one of the shrewdest publicists out there.
“A young woman I talked to at the airport last week said that she will not vote in the next election. I hate to hear that. I think if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain the next time around. You have voluntarily ceded your voice in this democracy. I told her that and she said, ‘After Obama, what is there left to hope for?'” — from Cenk Uygur‘s 8.9 firedoglake.com column, “Obama’s Tipping Point.”
Matt Damon is a thoughtful, articulate, activist-minded actor who’s 40 years old — five years older than he needs to be to run for U.S. President, and three years younger than JFK was on election day in 1960. When Ronald Reagan ran for the highest office in 1980, he was a charismatic, not especially thoughtful, slogan-spouting actor who was 69 years old. Who’s to say which man is or was more suited to the task?
I’ll grudgingly vote for Obama in 2012 because I’ll have nowhere else to go. It’ll be like voting for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Honestly? I’d love it if Obama could just disappear and not run, and thus paving the way for Damon to run against Romney or whomever those locoweeds nominate. Michael Moore has suggested Damon would be a great candididate, and I for one am down wit dat. Seriously.
I’m sorry but I can’t stand feeling this badly about a guy I used to really like and admire, and whom I now see as a gutless center-right jellyfish.
I realize that if Damon runs as a Teddy Kennedy-vs.-Jimmy Carter-like challenger in 2012, or as a third-party presidential candidate, the Republicans would definitely win. And nobody wants that. But if I had a simple either-or choice between Obama and Damon, I’d choose Bourne in a heartbeat.
“I think that [Damon] has been very courageous in not caring about who he offends by saying the things that need to be said here,” Moore said, “and if you want to win, the Republicans have certainly shown the way — that when you run someone who is popular, you win. Sometimes even when you run an actor, you win. And I guess I only throw his name out there because I’d like us to start thinking that way.
“I don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time running symbolic campaigns. Because there are a whole host of things we need to do, and Jane, you have certainly mentioned a couple of things that you are going to have in your next thing here in September that are really critical, in terms of instant runoff voting and proportional voting, these are really important — things that need to be instituted to make this more democratic.
“But I think these two parties are very weak right now. Dan mentioned 1856 there with the Republicans, and 4 or 5 years later there was a Republican in the White House. These times occur very rarely when a political party is so weak that it literally can be killed off. And I think both parties are in that position right now.
“And I think that a group of people, if we had some real national leadership, and a real commitment to grassroots organizing, to form a new Democratic Party…and call ourselves the New Democrats, in fact that’s the name of a party up in Canada that occasionally does quite well up there….or call ourselves ourselves the Roosevelt Party. Come up with something that would really be catchy.
“Listen I throw these ideas out there, because I recognize the country I live in. Living in Michigan now, the main topic of conversation this week was the last episode of the Bachelorette, and why did Ashley pick J.P. over Ben. That’s the country I live in, and they all vote. And I’d like to communicate with them. I know that they’re upset. And I know they don’t like these wars and they’re desperate for jobs. Living in Michigan, we’re living in a depression right now.
“There really couldn’t be a better time to organize, to run a viable candidate. And to really say the Democratic party has not served us well, so we’re going to Democrats 2.0. We’re brining it into the 21st century, we’re going to be called the New Democrats, or the Roosevelts, or the whatever you come up with, and we’re going to run people who are going to win.”
Focus Features is naturally declining to indicate whether Tomas Alfredson‘s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (opening 11.18) will play at the Telluride Film Festival (and therefore get reviewed sometime between 9.2 and 9.5) or perhaps occupy the closing-night slot at the New York Film Festival, which would occur well after the film’s 9.16 release date in England. It would be a far cooler thing to have the debut showing at Telluride, of course, as this would be roughly concurrent with TTSS‘s other big screening at the Venice Film Festival. The Toronto Film Festival is out, as previously noted.
It would be exceedingly strange if Focus decides to pull a Somewhere and not screen it at any domestic festival while it opens in England on 9.16. They can’t do that, can they? Maybe they will. It’s their film and can do what they want. My guess is that they’ll at least play Telluride; if they’re smart they’ll do the NYFF also. But who knows with these guys? Remember how secretive and covert they were with the the opening of The American?
Tinker opens domestically on 11.18.
Here’s an HE promise to the world: if Tinker, Tailor doesn’t show at Telluride or the NYFF, I intend to pay $660 to book a flight from NYC to England to see it at a regular-bloke commercial cinema on 9.17, as it opens there on 9.16. Throw in hotel costs and Underground and food and knick-knacks and I’ll be shelling out at least a grand, if not a bit more. I’ve never paid $1000 bucks to see a commercially released film before in my life, so this will be a first. But one way or the other, this film is going to face the Hollywood Elsewhere music sometime in early to mid September, either in Telluride or in London.
Nobody knows the Telluride selections until just before it starts. I’ve been informed that the NY Film Festival will probably have some kind of announcement next week about their overall slate, including their closing-night selection.
It’s heaven to hear a guy like Al Gore just spit out what he damn well knows about climate change and the scientist whores who’ve been paid to say differently, and say it like a longshoreman. Listening to this is like standing under a waterfall in the Amazon rainforest and just getting soaked with clarity. If only President Obama had the cojones to be 1/3 or 1/4 as blunt and candid as Gore is here…the clouds would part.
In an exceptionally emotional but on-target outburst, MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan said yesterday that he’d like President Obama “to go to the people of the United States of America and say, ‘People of the United States of America, your Congress is bought, your Congress is incapable of making legislation on healthcare, banking, trade, or taxes because if they do it, they will lose their political funding and they won’t do it.
“‘But I’m the President of the United States, and I won’t have a country that is run by a bought Congress. So I’m not going to work with a bought Congress and try to be Mr. Big Guy…I’m going to abandon the bought Congress like Teddy Roosevelt did , and I’m going to go to the people of the United States get rid of the bought Congress.'”
“Until a President says that’s the problem and says he’s going to fix it, there is no policy that I can possibly see no matter how brilliant your idea may be or your idea or my idea or her idea or your idea at home, is that idea will not happen as long as there’s a capacity to basically fire a politician who disagrees with me by taking funding away from him. Is that a fair assessment?
In an email last night to The Huffington Post, Ratigan called the rant “his truest and most piercing and emotional expression of fact since he’s been in broadcasting. He also said he hoped the president was up to the task of addressing the real economic issues.
“In a nutshell, Hope without Courage is Lost,” Ratigan reportedly wrote in an email last night. “And I don’t mean the destructive cowboy bravado of the Republican Party either! I mean true courage to observe truth and work through it together.”
In essence, he’s saying President Obama lacks the courage to just man up and tell it and stand on the truth of it and come what may. Which is true. He doesn’t have that in him. He has to be mild-mannered, bipartisan-common-ground Barry. And that’s our nightmare right now.
Early yesterday morning The Miami Herald‘s Rene Rodriguez wrote that Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs (Screens Gems, 916) is “exceptionally well-acted and shot” and is “easily Lurie’s best work as a director.” But he said some other things besides.
After seeing the film, he said, “I was immediately struck by two things: (1) The film is practically identical to Sam Peckinpah‘s original, yet feels completely different; and 2) the violence isn’t nearly as shocking in 2011 as it was in 1971, but it doesn’t feel as cathartic or rousing as I expected. Instead, the mayhem felt vaguely depressing — a graphic, bloody depiction of the loss of humanity.
“Pauline Kael famously referred to Peckinpah’s movie as a ‘fascist film,’ but I doubt she would say the same about Lurie’s version, which boasts a much less graphic rape sequence and still-gory but swift violence that Lurie’s camera doesn’t linger on. I’ve been asking around lately and haven’t found a single person outside of movie critics and film buffs who has seen [the 1971] Straw Dogs. Peckinpah, I think, did a little too good a job at making sure his film was an unpleasant experience.
“I’ll be writing more about Lurie’s remake closer to its theatrical release. But I’m extremely curious to see how modern audiences react to the movie, which is exceptionally well-acted and shot, but still uses violence as a way to bait the viewer’s bloodlust and thirst for revenge, then leaves you with an ashen, queasy aftertaste.
“Peckinpah’s picture was a product of the Vietnam era; Lurie’s comes after a protracted war in Iraq. Both films were made during a time of tumult and tell a near-identical story, yet they send you home in radically different moods. Sometimes, remakes make sense.”