I saw A Separation for the third time this evening. A hefty crowd attended the 7 pm show at West LA’s Royal. Word-of-mouth has obviously gotten around. I could feel the concentration in the room, and they applauded the closing credits. I felt just as riveted as I did my first time four months ago.
Anyone attending the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for the first time is advised to avoid a restaurant called 350 Main. Here’s how I put it last year in a piece called “Butch Boss“: “What defines a must-to-avoid ‘townie’ restaurant in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival? The host has a suspicious, guard-at-the-gate attitude when you walk in and say you’d like to hang at the bar, as I did last night at 350 Main.
“No well-mannered restaurant host in Manhattan would dare adopt a look of faint alarm and a confrontational tone and say ‘do you have a dinner reservation?’
“I was about to say ‘no, but I’ve got 15 minutes to kill and thought I’d chill’ but the hostess was a mixture of Faye Dunaway in Network and a barkeep in a Sean O’Casey play and the confrontational vibe was like a Queen lyric — ‘We will, we will stop you!’ Things went downhill from there.
“I’ve always gotten this attitude from 350 Main staffers. ‘Are you riff-raff or are you here to sufficiently spend?,’ they seem to be saying. ‘You don’t much look like a skiier and that worries us. Don’t come in here with any sort of journalistic-swagger attitude because we have a business to run, bub.’
“The bartenders are like this too. They’ll ignore and ignore and ignore you, and then they’ll finally serve you after you’ve tried to catch their eye for 12 or 15 minutes. The entire staff is poison in this sense. They’re really bad people. Ugly, I mean.
“I know that Sundance attracts crude simian types to Main Street and I don’t blame any high-toned establishment for wanting to keep out the flotsam and jetsam, but townie eateries always overdo it.
“Another Park City establishment that I wrote off years ago for having this ‘hold it, fella!’ attitude is the Grub Steak, located across from Prospector Square.”
January is mostly about dumps. Which is why the Palm Springs and Sundance film festivals are welcome diversions. Commercially there are four standouts: Miss Bala (1.12, limited, highly recommended), Coriolanus (1.20, limited), Haywire (1.20, highly recommended), and Declaration of War (good, honest true-life French-made film about parenting and illness). I can’t honestly recommend We Need to Talk About Kevin (1.20, NY& LA). I haven’t seen Contraband, The Grey or Man on a Ledge.
The implication in this tweet is that Rupert Murdoch got around to seeing The Descendants, a film funded and distributed by a division of Newscorp and which was viewable by all senior Fox execs many months ago, only recently. Or is he just throwing this out there for something to say or to up the stock value? I love his statement about Alexander Payne‘s film “maybe” being Oscar-worthy.
N.Y. Times guy Brian Stelter reports that “Murdoch IS tweeting himself, according to News Corp’s top spokeswoman, Teri Everett. When I asked if it’s really him, she wrote, ‘Oh yes.'”
With no screenings happening this week (which only lasts three days since I’m heading out to Palm Springs on Thursday), I’ll be settling in and watching tomorrow night’s Iowa caucus returns. Whatever happens, we all know Romney more or less has the nomination in the bag. (Here’s Nate Silver.) If I was a Republican I’d be voting for Huntsman.
“This is the first year that I think my productivity has dropped because [of my media consumption]. I’m looking at the coming year and thinking, what am I going to give up? Am I going to give up following the NFL? Am I going to give up listening to music and going out and seeing it? Am I going to give up riding my bike? Or am I going to cut back on some of these digital habits I have that are eating me alive?” — from a 10.27.11 NPR “Fresh Air” interview with N.Y. Times reporter David Carr(i.e., “A Media Omnivore Discusses His Diet“).
I can certainly relate to the being eaten alive part. Doing a daily column sucks you in, hour after hour. I think about doing this or that, and before I know it it’s 4:30 pm and then it’s 6:25 or 6:30 pm and I have a screening to get to and I haven’t showered. I did a fair amount of walking around when I lived in Manhattan but that has stopped in Los Angeles. The only exercise I do now is lifting weights for five or ten minutes a day. It’s not good. I have to change the routine. But first I have to believe in my heart, as Michael Corleone once said, that “I have the strength to change.”
The guy who made The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Casino and even The Age of Innocence would’ve never even toyed with the idea of making something as theme-parky and kid-friendly as Hugo. His decision to “go guerilla” with After Hours is what saved him 27 years ago, and it’s what he needs to do again, right now.
Early ’80s to early ’90s Scorsese — doesn’t get much better than that. Better than his ’70s period and way, way better than the aughts.
When Daniel Craig first visits Rooney Mara at her apartment in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, she turns around and we see she’s wearing this T-shirt. Sony has been sending this shirt to certain journalists. They don’t think highly enough of me to send it my way, but I wish they would.
“There is always a new generation of kids who don’t know and who are interested in movies but who have no idea who Lubitsch or Hawks or Satyajit Ray are. And each new generation is a little more distant from the beginnings of cinema, from the heyday of the Hollywood studios, from Italian neorealism and the French new wave, and now from the ’90s, when the consciousness of film preservation had really taken hold.” — Martin Scorsese speaking to Variety‘s Christy Grosz in a 1.1.12 posting.
At this stage of the game a very small slice of humanity is aware of Lubitsch, Hawks and Ray, and a small fraction of even that crowd is engaged enough to buy Blurays or DVDs of their films or catch their films at places like MOMA or LACMA. Compared to the many millions who pay to see commercial movies and buy video games, I’d be surprised if more than a very tiny fraction has even heard of those guys. We’re talking about a relatively small fraternity of people in the filmmaking, marketing and publicity realms on top of film journalists and archivists and film festival organizers — a group that might amount to 8,000 or 10,000 people, and quite possibly less — on top of your mostly urban film geeks who number…what,15,000 or 20,000 or 25,000?
Maybe these percentages were more or less the same back in the ’60s and ’70s. Or maybe film literacy is greater now that at any time in the past due to the easy availability of just about any half-decent film ever made. I only know that I knew a little something about who Hawks, Lubitsch and Ray were when I was 21, and I would be very surprised if my two sons, who are probably more film literate than most due to the fact that I’ve been force-feeding them great movies all their lives, have any knowledge of them at all.
What kind of dimwit would be thoughtless enough to marry this stooge in the first place? How many 20something guys out there think like Humphries? He really is that guy who slams an ice cream cone into his forehead.
“I strongly prefer films that observe stories as opposed to telling stories. The cinematography, the score…they need to conspire to create a perspective through which you experience the unfolding of a story, as opposed to a more oppressive, pedantic way of doing things.” — Moneyball director Bennett Miller to Hollywoodnews.com’s Sean O’Connell in a 1.2.12 post.
For the first thinking-cap exercise of 2012, perhaps HE readers could share views about which highly-touted Best Picture finalists have used “oppressive” and “pedantic” story-telling strategies? Does anything come to mind? All right, I’ll say it. I was thinking of War Horse and The Artist, but I’ve been saying that all along. Others?
O’Connell’s piece starts with a statement that Moneyball “was the best movie I saw in 2011.
“Granted, it didn’t register as my favorite movie immediately after a pre-Toronto screening,” he writes. “But I found myself thinking about Miller’s adaptation for weeks. I went out of my way to see it again. Then one more time. By year’s end, no other film stuck to the ribs in quite the same way.”
O’Connell then asks Miller if Moneyball‘s financial and critical success will make it easier to get his next film green-lighted. “Absolutely,” he answers. “That’s where these outcomes are most meaningful. And I’m not condemning them. I just think it’s important to temper yourself when it comes to those things.
“If you are operating from a place of speculation about how the market and the critical masses are going to respond, I think you’re playing a different game. You surrender something. You lose something. You become obedient to something other than…it will sound too harsh to say it, but I think it’s better to generate your vision from within and follow that than it is to approach it from a market-research perspective. Signals from the outside world are not a terrible way to gauge reaction, to get a sense that you’re still dealing with some form of reality. But I think 95% of it should be inconsiderate of any kind of projections of box office or critical response.”
The best relationships with the best women, I feel, start with the man being…okay, perhaps not 95% indifferent about whether he’ll get laid if he says this or does that, but mostly unconcerned about “results” and more focused on the romantic current as it unfolds, step by step, petal by petal. The fluttery feeling is the fluttery feeling. To paraphrase Miller, “If you are operating from a place of speculation about whether certain lures or strategies will lead the lady in question to shed her clothing, I think you’re playing a different game.”
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