The fact that Bruce Robinson‘s The Rum Diary, based on a book by Hunter S. Thompson, has been waiting in the dugout for a long time to open (principal photography having begun in March ’09) doesn’t necessarily mean that it blows. It might be half funny. It could be semi-original. The only problem in the trailer is an allusion to “some crazed hallucination.” Thompson’s book was begun in Puerto Rico in 1959 when the only drug around was alcohol. No lizard tongues back then.
Michel Hazanavicius‘ The Artist (Weinstein Co., 11.23) “is a winning ‘success’ and at the same time a half-and-halfer,” I wrote on 5.15. “It’s a film that delivers beautifully but also leaves you wanting in certain ways. It’s a black-and-white silent drama with dashes of humor (i.e., I wouldn’t call it a dramedy) that’s first and foremost a tribute to the lore and sheen of 1920s Hollywood. And that much is fine.
“If you’re any kind of film buff it’ll work for you and then some, but I’m not so sure about the under-45 set. Monochrome in a boxy aspect ratio plus no dialogue are obviously…well, interrupters for the majority of filmgoers out there. Let’s face it — The Artist would have seemed like a quaint exercise if it had been made 35 or 40 years ago by Peter Bogdanovich.
“My basic impression is that The Artist is a very well-done curio — an experiment in reviving a bygone era and mood by way of silent-film expression. Is it a full-bodied motion picture with its own voice and voltage — a film that stands on its own? Not quite. But it’s a highly diverting, sometimes stirring thing to sit through, and the overall HE verdict is a thumbs-up.
“The Artist has been very carefully assembled, but chops-wise it’s not strictly a revisiting of silent-film era language. It visually plays like a kind of ersatz silent film — technically correct in some respects but with a 2011 sensibility in other ways. It has a jaunty, sometimes jokey tone in the beginning, and then it gradually shifts into drama and then melodrama. But it tries hard and does enough things right that the overall residue is one of satisfaction and ‘a job well done.’
“Shot in Los Angeles, the story of this French-financed production recalls the plots of Singin’ In The Rain and A Star Is Born with a little Sunset Boulevard thrown in.
It takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1931 and focuses on George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) a Douglas Fairbanks-y silent film star who stubbornly refuses to adapt to the advent of motion-picture sound, and Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejoa), a Janet Gaynor-like or young Joan Crawford-y actress whose career takes off with sound.
“Hazanavicius uses an entire passage of Bernard Herrmann‘s Vertigo score in the final act, when Valentin is at his lowest ebb.
“It’s interesting that Dujardin strongly resembles Fredric March, star of King Vidor‘s A Star Is Born (1937). It’s doubly interesting that Dujardin apparenty gained weight for the role, as his appearance today (i.e., in the press conference inside the Palais) is definitely slimmer.
“John Goodman plays a studio chief, James Cromwell plays Valentin’s chauffeur, and Penelope Ann Miller plays Valentin’s unsatisfied wife.
I’ve been invited to a special 20th anniversary screening tonight of Thelma and Louise at the Academy theatre in Beverly Hills, starting at 7:30 pm. Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson will moderate a q & a with three of the creators — screenwiter Callie Khouri, costar Geena Davis and producer Mimi Polk Gitlin.
It would be cooler if the whole gang showed up, but costar Susan Sarandon and director Ridley Scott are otherwise engaged, I’m told. Ditto costars Brad Pitt, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen. And what about that rasta guy who blows pot smoke into the trunk of the car with the cop in it?
The famous ending is the only part of this film that I don’t respect. Not the driving off the cliff, but the way the music swells up and Scott goes into a montage showing what a great and spirited pair Thelma and Louse were. If you’re going to send the girls off the cliff, don’t sugercoat it. It’s not some Masada-like triumph — it’s the end, and it’s going to be ghastly. Drive off the cliff with the camera running in the back seat and the Sarandon and Davis dummies in the front seat, and keep filming all the way down until you crash into the rocks below. That would have been amazing and brave.
The irony of the ABC-vs. Weinstein hassle over the initial red-band trailer for Our Idiot Brother (i.e., the network refusing to air it “unless TWC makes specified cuts”) is that the substitute trailer is much better. Harvey Weinstein‘s official declaration: “We’d like to dedicate [the new trailer] to censorship everywhere…enjoy!”
Paul Rudd‘s hippie fool is a naive, trusting dipshit who’s incapable of understanding that he needs to keep his nose out of the private, ethically challenged and occasionally sordid realms of his family members, and especially not lay judgments or, worse, put them into professionally embarassing positions. The film’s idea is that despite Rudd being a world-class kumquat, his child-like, sweet-natured disposition is a good thing for his sisters and their significant others and/or employers. He lets some air in, etc.
I didn’t believe that to be true and therefore i didn’t find the film very funny…sorry. I hate bearded hippie-dippies who get high every day and wear Crocs. Real-life guys like Rudd’s character are out there, all right, but if I see one coming I generally cross over to the other side of the street.
Our Idiot Brother opens tomorrow, 8.26. Rudd’s costars are Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Rashida Jones, Shirley Knight, T.J. Miller and Adam Scott. Jesse Peretz directed from a screenplay by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall.
I suppose this is the best that Star Wars prequel-haters can hope for come September 16th — Episodes #4 through #6 for $39 and change through Amazon Prime. I’ll just throw Return of the Jedi into the dumpster. As God is my witness I’ll never watch that film again.
A guy I know and trust who’s seen David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method is calling it “great, brilliant, precise and lucid,” and that “among all Cronenberg’s films the one it’s closest to is Dead Ringers.”
Oh, and the Ben-Hur restoration that will show at the New York Film festival prior to hitting Bluray “is tremendous,” he says, “so brilliantly clear and sensitively done…the best I’ve ever seen it [look]. And Miklos Rosza‘s score should be heard to maximum effect.”
The Obama campaign is sending out free bumper stickers to the faithful. The maniacal Rick Perry is probably going to win the 2012 Republican nomination for President, and because he’s such a neanderthal-sounding, corporate kowtowing yokel (i.e., the new Greg Stillson), Barack Obama, despite his plummeting poll numbers right now, will eke out a victory…barely. Once Average Joes get a really good look at Perry, a slim majority will suck it in, shake their heads, exhale, hold their nose and vote for Obama. 50.3%…something like that. Maybe 51%.
With only six weeks to go before the 10.7 British 1release, Tyrannosaur director Paddy Considine — “the Terrence Malick of trailer cutting” — has finally delivered a trailer. It lasts 1:52, and conveys the tenderness and the rage with some nice, counter-balancing music. But it under-sells, I feel, the shattering performance by Olivia Colman as a battered wife. I’m serious. Colman and Olivia Spencer and (although I haven’t seen Coriolanus) Vanessa Redgrave — the Best Supporting Actress roster will have to include these three.
“Colman’s performance comes as a revelation,” wrote the Village Voice‘s Nicholas Rapold. Colman “went on a total transformation on this film…she became world-class,” Considine said in Rapold’s piece. Everlasting shame upon each and every SAG member that fails to see Tyrannosaur, at the very least for Colman’s sake.
Most dreams happen during REM sleep, right? Sometime around 4 or 5 am? The ones you tend to remember and write about the next day are the ones that wake you up at this, the hour of the wolf. Within the last two weeks I’ve had two…I might as well call them nightmares. But they were’t nightmares as much as disturbing short films with hateful predatory characters coming in for the kill, and both were about bad stuff that I’ve done coming back to bite me in the ass. Both were so unpleasant that I had to get up and shower and start working in order to flush them out of my head.
The first was a Telluride dream starring a youngish Robert Redford (i.e., how he looked around the time of Electric Horseman), a younger Roger Ebert (talking, heavier, eating and drinking) and, for some inexplicable reason, Richard Attenborough as he looked in the ’60s. Someone had thrown together a Redford career-tribute reel, and yet it wasn’t clips but new surreal footage in which his Hubbell Gardner from The Way We Were had a brief conversation with Jeremiah Johnson, and Bill McKay of The Candidate gave a smile and a pat on the back to Turner from Three Days of the Condor. And then the Horse Whisperer guy stepped in and nodded and waved to the other guys, and so it went. All together and hugging like the people on the beach at the end of The Tree of Life, everyone relaxed and alpha in a kind of Octopussy’s Garden-type way.
And the real Redford was sitting there in this mountain-air, Rocky Mountain environment, watching the tribute with the rest of us. Ebert was sitting at a kind of picnic table with at least two pretty women, and Attenborough was sitting across from Ebert and joking and giggling the whole time, and the vibe was very smooth and soothing — everyone in this Shangrila-like place, far from the madding crowd, etc. And I was saying to myself stuff like “this is awfully nice” and “I’m pretty happy here.”
And then I started to hear from people who were pointing accusatory fingers about stuff that I’d done in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s but had long since forgotten about — things that I had to answer for. People I’d treated inconsiderately, deadlines I hadn’t met, bills I hadn’t paid, things I’d lost through selfishness or carelessness. No felonious crimes, mind, but they sounded pretty bad when you added them all up. I was guilty and had to pay. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes after I woke up to either re-suppress these demons or come to the gradual realization that I hadn’t really been such a bad guy in the past.
Two and half hours ago I woke up from nightmare #2, which was about about working in some kind of corporate environment in a typical bullshit glass-and-steel building — i.e., the kind of place that was gloriously blown up at the end of Fight Club. And it was basically about my not being very popular with younger co-workers and being accused of not doing stuff that I’d been asked to do and having alcohol on my breath (and in actuality I never touch the stuff, even wine, until the work is entirely done and it’s 9 pm or later) and being plotted against and ganged up on, and eventually being canned. One of the guys who was bitching and against me looked an awful lot like Jeff Sneider (i.e., “TheInsneider”). It was an atmosphere of pure ugliness, pure venality.
The dream reminded me that in most urban business-y work environments, about 40% of everyone’s time and energy goes into gossip and back-biting and the forming of cabals and occasional feverish plottings against this or that person (“Let’s get that guy!), and that maybe 35% goes into creative solution-finding or problem-solving or honest hard work and real-deal accomplishment, and that the other 25% is about lunch and coffee breaks and goofing off. Hell is other people. Hell is living with the daily fear of being fired. Hell is friendly-but-chilly guys like Jack Kelly, who was my bureau chief at People. I’ve been a stressed but relatively happy soul since I began working on my own as a columnist in 1994 (for the L.A. Times Syndicate) and particularly as an online guy, beginning in ’98.