I’ve been handed a couple of tickets to see the big swanky restoration of Abel Gance‘s Napoleon at Oakland’s Paramount theatre on Saturday, 3.31. The film will run 5 and 1/2 hours and the show will run longer, beginning in the late afternoon with two or three intermissions plus a dinner break. I saw a shorter version 31 years ago at the Radio City Music Hall with a live orchestral score, composed and conducted by Carmine Coppola. It was truly fabulous all around — ecstatic, unforgettable.
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting the show. The Napoleon restoration is by historian, documentarian and archivist Kevin Brownlow, and restoration guru Robert Harris is a co-presenter. We’re talking four special screenings at the Paramount (3.24, 3.25, 3.31, 4.1).
For whatever reason there are no plans to take the Napoleon show to any other cities. I can’t figure why. You’d think film buffs coast-to-cast and worldwide would gladly pay top dollar to see this, especially with the live orchestra and all. Talk about a once-in-a lifetime thing.
The problem for me is that I’ll have to shell out $500 to make the Oakland show. The roundtrip Southwest air fare (Burbank to Oakland) will run about $300 minmum and then there’s renting a car for $40 a day with a one-night $100 hotel cost (and maybe a bit more) plus meals and Diet Cokes and whatnot.
I’ll never see Napoleon on a big Polyvision screen again and I remember what a jolt it was in NYC in ’81, but I’m still having trouble with plunking down five Ben Franklins and perhaps a tad more. You have to show a little discipline in life. I’ve never splurged like this for a single viewing of a film. Even if a Bay Area friend lets me crash on their couch it’s still a $400-plus tab so I don’t know. I’m mulling it over.
I could always rent a car in LA and drive up, but I’d have to leave on Friday if I want to be rested for the Saturday afternoon show. Friday to Monday rental at $40 a day would be $120 plus insurance plus gas — figure $220 or so. But I’d have to stay Friday and Saturday night at a motel/hotel and that would be a couple of hundred plus meals so I’d be right back to $500 or so.
I’m going to a friend’s wedding in the Palm Springs area next weekend, and that’s a big deal that I don’t want to miss. The tab for that will be $500 plus a wedding gift so I don’t know about Oakland. I really want to go but it feels excessive. Why don’t they just bring the show to LA?
I’ve always liked the films of Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus, Baghead, Puffy Chair) and that introspective thread they always weave into their material. But their latest, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which I paid to see last night, is about a gentle-mannered, perceptive, lethargic stoner (Jason Segel) who’s the size of a Tibetan Yeti, and his delusional douchebag loser of an older brother (Ed Helms) who’s much smaller. And it’s really hard to care about the fate of guys who are this lost and pathetic.
I’ve always attributed the line “life is hard but it’s even harder when you’re stupid” to The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which is to say author George V. Higgins. But apparently this was John Wayne’s line first. But you know what’s hardest of all? Watching movies about guys who are stupid. Or, put another way, movies which aren’t interested in using stupidity to deliver broad comedic goofs, but as a way to get into the curiously absurd but wise way of things in a bright-guy vein.
That’s the Duplass way, their signature, I get that…but not this time.
Segel’s character, Jeff, is roused from his ripped basement apartment stupor when he (a) is watching some TV face named Kevin push a product that will get you going and help you lose weight or whatever, and then (b) gets a phone call from a pissed-off guy asking for Kevin. Jeff is persuaded henceforth that the name Kevin holds some cosmic significance for him. So he’s on a bus to take care of some household-repair thing for his mom (Susan Sarandon) and decides that some black kid on the bus named Kevin is part of this chain of fate. And then he gets ripped off by Kevin’s friends while having a few puffs, etc.
How moronic do you have to be to even begin to think and behave like this? I’ve known plenty of stoners in my time and none of them have even approached the outer region of this level of deranged behavior. My schizophrenic sister would make these kind of associations now and then when she didn’t take her medication, but she never acted on them like Jeff. She’d just mutter about stuff while sitting at home and listening to music and watching MTV.
The only people who are affected, say, by the shape of a mound of whipped cream on a cup of hot chocolate and then begin to study the shapes of clouds in the sky, convinced that when they find the cloud that has the exact same shape as the whipped cream that their life will somehow take on a magical quality…this is not what stoned do-nothings are about. This is what people who’ve crossed the River Jordan into the Realm of Cuckooville are about. There are no stoners, in short, who are as off-the-reservation stupid as Segel’s Jeff. So for me, the movie went right out the window during the first ten minutes because I can’t invest in the plight of morons who lack the basic-intelligence instincts of dogs and cats.
That said, I liked Sarandon’s character in this thing; ditto Judy Greer‘s wife-of-Ed-Helms. I would have been entirely content to watch a movie about these two, and the hell with the guys. Really.
I was behind this couple at the Westside Pavillion a couple of nights ago. The excitement they were feeling when it was finally their turn to order from the counter guy was almost sexual. It was certainly infectious. I was imagining their delight as they sat down in their seats with a double-large popcorn tub with extra butter, an extra-large Red Twisters, two hot dogs with mustard, two half-gallon-sized cups of Coke. It was playtime. They were really happy.
The centerpiece of Lionsgate’s Hunger Games campaign “has been a yearlong, four-phase digital effort built around the content platforms cherished by young audiences,” writes N.Y. Times reporter Brooks Barnes. “A near-constant use of Facebook and Twitter, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, iPhone games and live Yahoo streaming from the premiere.
In so doing, Lionsgatemarketing honcho Tim Palen “appears to have created a box-office inferno.
“Analysts project that the The Hunger Games, which cost about $80 million to make and is planned as a four-movie franchise, could have opening-weekend sales of about $90 million — far more than the first Twilight and on par with Iron Man, which went on to take in over $585 million worldwide in 2008.”
“Selling a movie used to be a snap,” Barnes writes. “You printed a poster, ran trailers in theaters and carpet-bombed NBC’s Thursday night lineup with ads. Today, that kind of campaign would get a movie marketer fired [as] the dark art of movie promotion increasingly lives on the web.”
There is ample evidence that young females are by far the shallowest and most myopic moviegoers in existence as they (a) tend to financially support the worst kind of romantic crap, and (b) otherwise support movies that cater to their delusional dreams (romantic idealism and young-female empowerment) while showing no interest in films that portray reality as most people on the planet earth perceive and understand it. They live in their own membrane.
Palen’s genius is (a) he understands and respects the passion that drives the under-30 female demographic, and (b) has taken this understanding and learned how to exploit it.
Film restoration guru Robert Harris has inspected the forthcoming Chinatown Bluray and called it, from his grain-monk perspective, lacking. “It doesn’t look film-like,” he says, possibly due to “too much de-graining.” There are shots of Jack Nicholson, he adds, “that have no visible grain whatsoever.”
Plus the base transfer used for the Bluray “probably goes back to around 2005-6,” he notes, “and was probably the basis for the earlier DVD. Unfortunately, or fortunately, a great deal has occurred technologically since that time.
“That said, and let me make this point loud and clear, 99% of viewers are going to love this Blu-ray. It’s colorful, clean, and, well…pretty.”
What Harris means by “pretty,” of course, is that the Chinatown Bluray looks nice and shiny. Which means that the Bluray rubes (i.e., people like myself) will be delighted.
I don’t feel proud of being a Bluray bumpkin, but my eyes like what they like and they don’t like what they don’t like. I was a bit conflicted about but nonetheless pleased with Universal Home Video’s shiny Spartacus Bluray for the simple fact that it looks three or four times better than the Criterion DVD version. I am also a huge fan of Universal Home Video’s DNR’ed Psycho — easily one of the most beautiful black-and-white Blurays in existence, partly because it was made to look shiny.
“For the record, I’m not suggesting that [the Chinatown Bluray] not be purchased,” Harris states. “I”m just saddened by the fact that what I’m seeing is not what it might have been.”
HTF commenter named Mark VH responds: “So, in other words, it’s right up Jeff Wells’ alley. Lovely.”
Chinatown laser disc signed by the film’s producer, Robert Evans, in 1995.
HE regulars and dilletantes had reactions, I presume, to 21 Jump Street? Did the critics overpraise or get it right? The Sony release will have $35 million in the bag by late tonight, which is…what, $5 million more than John Carter‘s opening?
I wasn’t invited to any Casa de mi Padre screenings, and I probably would have been on the fence about attending, to be perfectly honest, as I’ve come to presume that all Will Ferrell films, in whatever language, are likely to be (a) problematic and (b) not funny. But the Spanish-language Lionsgate release, which has a stinko 45% Rotten Tomatoes rating, pulled in $2.2 million at only 282 locations for a $7800 per-screen average.
I was standing near the ticket booth at the AMC Universal Citywalk Stadium 19 last night. A 20something Latino couple was studying the lobby board. The guy walked forward, got into line and turned to the girl. “You wanna comedy? Or…what, action? A comedy?” The girl half-shrugged, seemed a bit bored. “I dunno…whatever,” she said. He shrugged also, turned back to the board, and then turned and said to her, “How about Casa de mi Padre?”