“I’m reminded of the last time Martin Scorsese composed a love letter to the movies — when, head-swollen by his Palme d’Or for Taxi Driver, he ran aground the motiveless magnificence of New York, New York. Hugo is New York, New York for the Pokemon set. My inner child sat drumming his fingers throughout.” — former London Sunday Times film critic Tom Shone on “Taking Barack To The Movies.”
“While Jennifer Lopez, Fiat, the automotive firm’s p.r. people, and its Detroit ad agency would have consumers believe that the star deigned to return home to film a low-speed pilgrimage through the gritty streets of her hometown, she actually never set foot in the Bronx during the filming of the Fiat spots,” The Smoking Gun reported yesterday.
“Instead, the role of ‘Jenny from the Block’ was played by a body double, according to two sources familiar with the commercial production. While the Lopez lookalike was actually behind the wheel in the Bronx, Lopez herself was in Los Angeles, where she was filmed inside a Fiat 500.
“The shots of the actress were artfully merged to make it appear that she was tooling around New York City’s poorest borough. Big Block, a Los Angeles digital production studio, was hired to merge live action footage with computer-generated imagery to make it appear as if Lopez was in the Bronx.” (Thanks to raptorman for sending along the link.)
I don’t have an explanation for having waited until today to finally post a review of My Week With Marilyn, and to voice my agreement with all the praisers of Michelle Williams‘ performance as Marilyn Monroe. Make no mistake: I am on the latter boat. Williams becomes Monroe in all the alluring, imitative ways (looks, voice, trembling, hurting), and she brings three characters to life — the sexy and glamorous movie star, the unstable and insecure pill-popper who lived under the Monroe facade, and the “showgirl” Monroe played in The Prince and the Showgirl.
Charismatic, commanding, special, award-quality….all of that. Williams’ biggest score yet. Big heart, movie babe, stays with you.
The Pi9newood Studios shooting of that 1957 comedy-romance with Laurence Olivier is what the film is basically about. That and a kind of puppy-love romance with young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), whose two books about his friendship and experience with Monroe as he worked as a third assistant director is the basis of Adrian Hodges‘ screenplay.
Kenneth Branagh has some fun portraying Olivier, but I wouldn’t call his performance anything to do handstands over.
The romantic highlight or payoff is about a brief period in which Monroe becomes close with Clark after husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) goes back to the U.S. They bond more and more. They almost do the deed but not quite. And then the film wraps and there’s an emotional goodbye and she goes home.
I wouldn’t call Simon Curtis‘s film brilliant or exceptional, but it’s good enough for what it is and what it’s about. It’s basically a showcase for Williams, and I do think she’s now a formidable contender against Meryl Streep‘s Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady and Viola Davis in The Help. I mainly think it’s between Williams and Streep as I don’t really believe that Davis, good as she is, is actually playing a lead. She has a very strong supporting role in The Help, and I think calling it a lead role is a film-flam.
There are two things wrong with Marilyn. One is the decision to start it off with Redmayne’s narration. It’s always better to allow the audience to learn who the characters are and understand what the basic story will be gradually, step by step, by their own wits and observations. It’s always tedious to have a lead character begin a film by saying “this is who I was and this is what I needed and wanted and this is what I did” and blah, blah. The other irritant is the way Curtis constantly and relentlessly cuts to Redmayne making goo-goo eyes at Williams/Monroe. I got sick of seeing that same expression, over and over and over.
I called this review “please, Mr. Beanstalk” because there’s a frail and fluttery tone in the real Marilyn Monroe’s voice when she says this line in Some Like It Hot, and because Williams absolutely nails this tone perfectly.
I’ve never to this day seen The Prince and the Showgirl. Has anyone? I’ve read all my life that it’s a minor film,
As reported on 11.16, Cameron Crowe‘s We Bought A Zoo will be sneaking nationwide on Saturday, 11.26, at 7 pm. The L.A. theatres showing it will include the Arclight, the Landmark, the Bridge and Universal Citywalk. You can’t buy Fandango tickets online so there will almost certainly be long lines and a big media pile-up so I guess I’m going to have to go early.
8:43 pm Update: I’ve bought an Arclight ticket through movietickets.com.
My theory about the New York Film Critics Circle vote, which will happen on Tuesday, 11.29 (or six days hence), is that the org as a whole is now emotionally insecure and off-balance, and may therefore vote erratically and curiously in at least a category or two. Not overtly but subconsciously, I mean. This would be due to the loss of face recently suffered by NYFCC honcho John Anderson, which reflects to some extent upon the organization itself.
The NYFCC membership, in short, is probably feeling angry and shaken and perhaps rebellious on some level, and will possibly make calls that will go against big-studio-contenders.
The unbalanced mood is a result of not one but two studios going eyeball-to-eyeball with Anderson over his decision (supported by allies like N.Y. Post critics Lou-Lou Lumenick and Kyle Smith) to push the voting day all the way back to 11.28, or three days before the National Board of Review voting day on 12.1. Anderson was then obliged to move the voting date to 11.29 due to Sony’s inability to screen David Fincher‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo before 11.28. And then Anderson & Co. appeared to lose out altogether when Warner Bros. announced it would be unable to meet an 11.27 deadline as far as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was concerned, and in fact wouldn’t begin showing it until around 12.2.
So the NYFCC may want to take a form of subconcious revenge upon the big studios as a face-saving or payback move. You guys made us look weak or inconsequential by delaying your screening dates and appearing to push us around? So we’re going to hit back by favoring indie contenders and not giving awards to your films if we can help it.
The NYFCC, in other words, may unconsciously or subconsciously decide to shaft or half-shaft all the big studios in a kind of sweepingly symbolic, fuck-you-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on fashion. Not like children but within an honorable and conscientious critical prism, I mean. Which, if I’m half-right, would seem to work against The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and perhaps Moneyball and God knows who or what else.
Anderson and Lumenick and other NYFCC-ers will no doubt scoff at my theory, but organizations are just like people, and like people they do tend to act in unexpected or offbeat ways when their feelings have been hurt. I do know that the NYFCC’s self-image is at a low point right now as a result of the eyeball-to-eyeball stuff, and it wouldn’t be that weird if the voting somehow reflects this insecure, off-balance feeling in some way….that’s all. Talk to anyone who’s dealt professionally with people who’ve been through serious trauma.
Even if you think my theory is totally full of shit, it’s at least more realistic and sensible-sounding that the Gold Derby team trying to predict next Tuesday’s vote. My NYFCC trauma theory is at least based on something real that has definitely happened as opposed to the usual spitballing and poking holes in the air and pontificating…blah, blah.
I will be flabbergasted if The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin wins for Best Actor, as a majority of Derby “experts” is now predicting. The honorable and decent thing would be for the NYFCC to put poor faltering Moneyball back in the conversation by handing their Best Actor prize to Brad Pitt, or their Best Director trophy to the Manhattan-residing Bennett Miller, or their Best Picture honor to the film itself.
Martin Scorsese is dead serious about wanting Leonardo DiCaprio to play Frank Sinatra in a forthcoming biopic. This has always struck me as a ridiculous idea. The physical shorthand for Sinatra before he hit 50 and starting putting on weight was always “short and skinny” (he was about 5’7″), and Leo is about six feet tall with moderately broad shoulders. There’s not even a vague resemblance between them. Sinatra had a narrowish face with a longish nose, and DiCaprio has a wide Germanic face with a smallish nose.
DiCaprio as Sinatra is like casting Joseph Gordon Levitt to play Cary Grant or Jason Segel as Spencer Tracy or Seth Rogen as Henry Fonda. It’s one of those “what?” calls. Ludicrous.
Scorsese should be talking to Johnny Depp about this film. Depp isn’t perfect but he could be made to half-resemble Sinatra with blue contact lenses and nose putty, etc. I could buy him in the role, but DiCaprio is an even worse fit for Sinatra than he was for J. Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes.
Doesn’t DiCaprio need to give his biopic thing a break? Doesn’t he need to give the Scorsese partnership a break also (and vice versa)? Doesn’t he need to play the lead in a shallow but charming romantic comedy like Working Girl or Legal Eagles…something like that?
If you were Fred Zinneman, director of From Here to Etermity, what would you say if someone pulled you aside as you were shooting the barroom knife-fight scene between Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine and Burt Lancaster (who was about 6’1″, or no more than an inch taller than DiCaprio) and said, “Sixty years from now a major director is going to shoot a Sinatra biopic with a guy who’s almost exactly Lancaster’s build and height to play Sinatra…whaddaya think about that?” Zinneman would probably laugh.
Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity — their height difference would be approximately reflected in the size disparity between DiCaprio and Sinatra.
Note: I wrote not one but two longer versions of this story earlier, and both were lost because Safari froze twice due to a photo-saving attempt with Picnik. I should have made sure Picnik was on a different browser than Movable Type 4.0 (which I hate and want to get rid of). It was my stupid fault entirely. At least three hours worth of work was lost altogether, which required 10 or 15 minutes of of emotional recovery (i.e., loud swearing, punching the rerigerator door) both times or a total of 30 minutes.