Five’ll get you ten A.O. Scott decided to do a “Critics Picks” assessment of Karel Riesz and James Toback‘s The Gambler (’74) when he heard about the reported Paramount remake that became briefly notorious when Toback, who based his script partly on his gambling-addicted life, complained that no one from Paramount had given him so much as a courtesy call. If the remake happens, Martin Scorsese might direct with Leonardo DiCaprio in the James Caan role.
I saw Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin That I Live In once again this evening, having initially seen it five months ago at the Cannes Film Festival. Review excerpt: “It’s more of a wicked-camp thing. More than a few times the crowd I saw it with erupted in giddy chuckles. And yet Skin, after a fashion, is played more-or-less straight. Always the best way to go with a wink-winker.”
Deadline‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that the new life-of-Moses movie, which Warner Bros. is allegedly trying to get Steven Spielberg to direct (yecch!), is “not a remake of the 1956 Cecile B. DeMille-directed The Ten Commandments.” And yet it covers “Moses from birth to death” including “his awakening to the plight of the Hebrew slaves that led Moses’ struggle against the Pharaoh for their freedom out of Egypt, the Burning Bush, the Ten Plagues, the daring escape across the Red Sea, receiving the Ten Commandments, and delivery to Israel.” Which is precisely what the DeMille film covers, so what’ll different about this one, Mike, besides less corny dialogue? We all know the answer: better visual FX.
I saw Asghar Farhadi‘s A Separation at this morning’s New York Film Festival press screening, and yes, it hit the mark again. This well-honed, deep-well family drama is now the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and is destined to be among the five nominees…unless the foreign language committee gives it the same kind of blowoff that they did with Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days. Let’s call that highly doubtful.
(l. to. r) Sony Classics co-prez Tom Bernard, A Separation director Asghar Farhadi, Sony Classics co-prez Michael Barker at Gabriel’s — Wednesday, 9.28, 2:05 pm.
I caught most of A Separation earlier this month at the Telluride Film Festival but this time I saw the first 40 minutes. The same levels of excellence prevailed — spot-on dialogue, riveting situations, characters you can’t help but believe and invest in.
Shot in Teheran, A Separation is basically about class and repression and honor among families. Particularly two families — a relatively well-to-do one and a lower-class one headed by a hot-tempered husband and a submissive, deeply religious wife. The plot centers on a claim by the latter couple that the pater familias who hired the poor wife to take care of his Alzheimer’s-afflicted dad pushed her down a flight of stairs and caused her to miscarry. Iranian law says this can be rectified with a payoff, which the angry, lower-class husband desperately needs to pay off creditors.
All of it adds up to a fascinating window into family and community values, not just as they exist in present-day Tehran but pretty much anywhere when you boil it all down.
NYFF co-honcho Scott Foundas (l.), Farhadi and translator during Walter Reade theatre press conference — Wednesday, 9.28, 12:35 pm.
There’s a metaphor or two in this tale of a hardscrabble lower-middle class family, particularly the hair-trigger father venting his resentments and economic frustrations upon an upper-middle class dad (and to some extent his wife, daughter and senile father) over a misunderstanding..and a lie that only comes out at the end.
As I said in Telluride, “The combination of Farhadi’s simple, direct shooting style and the deeply compelling performances (the cast is headed by Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi) are blended in this instance with a story that hits on a riveting moral-ethical issue. The upshot is a dividend that is socially and psychologically revealing in a way that is truly exceptional.”
NYFF co-director Scott Foundas interviewed Farhadi on the stage of the Walter Reade Theatre following this morning’s showing. A few of us then traipsed over to Gabriel’s on West 60th for a luncheon with Farhadi and Sony Classics chiefs Tom Bernard and Michael Barker.
I was given some personal chat time with Farhadi, but it’s on the digicorder and I can’t easily convert to mp3 and transcribe and all that in a Starbuck’s on West 57th. Later.
Sony Classics will release A Separation on 12.30.11.
The Best Picture forecast in yesterday’s Gurus of Gold post-Toronto update has Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants on top, followed by Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse. The latter lost a lot of heat yesterday when everybody took a look at that Harlequin Romance horse’s-mane-with-Fabio-hair poster, but perhaps the Guru vote was counted before this.
At this juncture War Horse‘s best Guru friends are EW‘s Anthony Breznican, Hitfix‘s Gregg Ellwood, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley and Movieline‘s Stu Van Airsdale.
The Help, significantly, now sits one slot below the fifth-ranked Moneyball. The Artist and Midnight in Paris are ranked third and fourth respectively. Seriously? Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone is the only Guru to give Moneyball a #1 ranking. It seems a bit strange that after those Moneyball raves and that $20 milliion opening last weekend that some people are still putting the perfectly likable and satisfying Midnight in Paris above it in the Best Picture likelihood rankings, but whatever.
While sitting at the bar last night at Phebe’s I accidentally knocked some water onto the keyboard of my Macbook Pro. I didn’t have a hair dryer with me, but I naturally picked up the device and wiped it off and hung it upside down and swore and hissed. Which didn’t help. The screen freaked out, flashing an insane psychedelic collage of pink and white and purple and black impulse doodles, like some kind of alien sanskrit code…meltdown, crash, finality.
I turned it on and off a few times, hoping and praying. But it seemed pretty much dead and dysfunctional. The crazy colors stopped after a couple of restarts, and then it reverted to the desktop image and all the usual-usuals, but the cursor was still and immovable. I looked into the abyss and gulped. I have an iMac back in West Hollywood but I figured I’d have to buy a new Macbook Pro right away, and knew this would set me back about $1200 and change.
And then about two hours later, the whole mechanism kicked in and returned to life like nothing had ever happened. I guess the touch pad or whatever finally dried itself off or something. Wow! Spared.
My first reaction to hearing about Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, Laurent Bouzereau‘s documentary about the filmmaker recalling aspects of his life during his house arrest in Gstaad two years ago, was “why did Polanski sit down with Bouzereau instead of Marina Zenovich, whose exacting and persuasive Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired doc surely earned her Polanski’s allegiance?”
My second reaction was to search for reviews of Bouzereau’s doc, which screened last night at the Zurich Film Festival with Polanski in attendance. Others besides The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Roxborough may have watched the film and filed a review, but I could only find his.
The key quote from the doc is Polanski describing Samantha Geimer, the now-middle-aged woman whom he sexually assaulted in 1977 when she was 13, as “a double victim — my victim and a victim of the press.” Otherwise the doc “offers little new information not already in the public record,” Roxborough reports.
“The Greimer case takes up only a small portion of the film. The bulk is dedicated to Polanski’s childhood in German-occupied Poland, including his escape from the Warsaw ghetto and his early life and career.
“If there are any surprises to be had in Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, they may be for people expecting a monster to see instead a human being, thoughtful, eloquent and emotional as he reflects on what, by any accounts, has been an extraordinary life.”