If We Bought A Zoo (20th Century Fox) winds up with $11.7 million for the four-day holiday, as projected by Deadline‘s Nikki Finke, it will have averaged $3753 at 3117 theatres, or $938 per day. That’s not good. One reason is that guys like my 23 year-old son Jett, who’s now sitting next to me at a sports bar on First Avenue and 7th Street, smelled “Disney family shit” and wanted no part of it.
If a movie poster is defaced more than once on New York subway walls, it indicates that on some level “the people” are not happy with the idea of the film in question. They’re irritated or pissed off about it…something. Don’t ask me to explain; I just know that poster defacement can be a bad omen.
Saturday, 12.24, 2:35 pm — Myrtle-Willoughby stop, G line.
Late December is always a time for summing things up and connecting with core values. And one sure way of understanding or revealing those values is to play the “clap three times” game. If you could magically erase some aspect or manifestation of human nature by clapping three times, what would that be? Obviously an ugly thought in one respect (i.e., humanitarian tolerance is a virtue), but imagine what a blessing it could be for the planet to eliminate venality and ignorance in one fell swoop.
It’s not an attractive thing to admit, I realize, but if with three claps I could make every last Rick Perry admirer vaporize…along with every corporate greedwhore, every last Kardashian, every last global-warming denier, every last rural conservative who believes that Christians are God’s chosen flock, and every last easily manipulated movie-moaner (exemplified by but not limited to that not-terribly-bright woman who sat behind me during my first viewing of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close along with the general mentality that sincerely worships War Horse), I would do so in a heartbeat.
This is obviously not a very Christmassy thing to reflect or dream upon…sorry. I respect and value traditional holiday spirit. But tell me how the planet wouldn’t be an immensely healthier place with these elements gone and under the cornfield.
Four years ago I ran a piece about the most pleasing and nourishing Xmas movies you can watch. I thought I’d re-rerun it because (a) it contains elements of profound truth, and (b) I have to catch a train back to NYC in an hour or so and haven’t time to write a fresh article. Maybe a new thought will occur as I re-format.
Okay, here’s one. The best Christmas holiday flicks are ones that you know backward and forward and agree with wholeheartedly, and which basically say “you the watcher are an okay person…you believe in decency and fairness and compassion and menschy values.” An ideal Christmas movie, for me, is Billy Wilder‘s The Apartment, and I would probably re-watch it today or tomorrow if the Bluray was available.
Another good Christmas movie is Tuesday, After Christmas — put that in your pipe and smoke it.
“Christmas is a vibe about caring, giving, compassion for the lessers,” I wrote on 12.15.07. The spirit of this holiday may not be a tangible reality until you find yourself giving five bucks to a guy begging for gas money or your car is stuck in a snowstorm and two guys jump out of their cars to give you a push (which happened to me three nights ago), but when real life comes up short a semblance of this is somewhat evident in this and that film.
“Few films capture this better than John Ford‘s The Grapes of Wrath. Yes, I’m thinking again of that diner scene I wrote about a week ago. Other films with genuine humanitarian compassion: Joseph Losey‘s The Boy with the Green Hair, Todd Browning‘s Freaks, Peter Davis‘s The War at Home.
“The only bona fide Christmas film that exudes a portion of this is the 1951 British-made Scrooge (a.k.a., A Christmas Carol) with Alistair Sim.
“True Christmas spirit is less evident in the standard holiday sap classics — It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Home Alone — that Dave Barry types bring up each and every year.
“I tried re-watching It’s a Wonderful Life a few weeks ago, and found it very hard to stay with. I needed time-outs, pauses, walks around the block. Talk about a film that is chock-full of treacly speed bumps. Is there a more toxic poison than yellowed sentimentality? I hate — hate — the way those bank examiners begin singing ‘Hark, the Harald Angels Sing’ with everyone else at George Bailey’s home at the very end.
“It is time to shut this movie down and keep it down.
“It’s a Wonderful Life‘s popularity is due to its touching central theme, which says that no one with friends is a failure. That’s a true statement if you’re talking about real friends and not just good-time, fair-weather drinking buddies, which are easier to come by. I’ve known many people in my life whose definitions of friendship are on the flexible side. A fair-sized percentage of those who believe that this 1946 Frank Capra film is touched by greatness are, I suspect, among this group.
“I’ve always hated Bob Clark‘s A Christmas Story. A Miracle on 34th Street is a passable thing, at least as far as Edmund Gwenn‘s Kris Kringle is concerned. I know that I’ve found it less offensive than It’s a Wonderful Life over the years. I probably need to see it again.”
Kim Kardashian tweeted this about ten hours ago. Imagine having a dad who shares so little of himself on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis that he gives you a Christmas gift guaranteeing four hours of daddy face time — heart-to-heart intimacy, counsel, advice, hugs. That is truly venal
Paramount Home Video will release a Bluray of Alfred Hitchcock‘s To Catch A Thief on 3.6.12. This will be one of the eternals. The most recent DVD version (the ’09 Centennial Collection) is one of the few DVDs I own that is dense and sharp enough to look really great on my 50″ plasma. There’s no way the Bluray upgrade won’t be at least mildly breathtaking.
(l. to r.) The initial ’02 To Catch a Thief release; the ’07 Special Collectors editon, and the ’09 Special Centennial edition.
Catch a Thief DVD, which came out on 11.5.02, was thought even back then to be somewhere between nothing special and somewhat crappy. It made Burks’ large-format photography look like it was captured on regular 35mm.
Nearly five years later, on 5.8.07, came the To Catch a Thief Special Collectors Edition, which added (or restored) a strong greenish tint to the nighttime rooftop scenes, and looked truly exceptional when played on a Bluray player and shown on a decent-sized high-def screen. I was blown away when I looked at this version on my just-purchased Bluray player and 42″ plasma screen last November. It almost flirts with Bluray quality in certain scenes.
The Centennial Collection version delivered an improvement over the ’07 release.
I’ve never been more than mildly attracted to To Catch a Thief, but I’ve been in love with Robert Burks‘ VistaVision photography, which won the 1956 Best Cinematography Oscar, since I was in my mid teens. No film delivers the splendor of the Cote d’Azur, or is better at capturing that hazy-sunlight effect at midday and even the hillside and seaside aromas, which you can easily recollect and almost smell during a viewing.
Some of the film is engrossing as far as it goes, but among Hitch’s glorious 1950s films, Thief is easily his least substantial. That’s not a problem, but it’s mainly pleasurable for a kind of elegant-lull quality — the look, the framing, Cary Grant‘s mild-mannered performance, the easy-does-it vibe, the occasionally awesome editing. Not the “all” of it as much as the way it all kind of goes down like a swallow of champagne on a warm summer’s night on the Riviera. The way it mostly breezes along without any noticable sense of urgency.
This is perhaps the most significant divider between serious film lovers and people who just like movies. The former will always buy (not rent) the latest upgrade of this or that movie in order to have the finest rendering in order to simply look at the fucker — i.e., to sink into the visual bath of it and go “aahhh.” And the latter will rent this or that film on Netflix in order to watch the story and savor the emotional-aesthetic ride. They have no upgrade hunger and satisfied with “good enough” in the bitrate department.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »