No confirmation that Criterion will release a Bluray of Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby, but if it happens — if — it’s been hinted they may crop it at 1.85 to 1 instead of the more correct 1.66 to 1. That would be dead wrong.
Only two years before he was shooting Rosemary’s Baby Polanski shot Repulsion at 1.66 to 1. He’s a European traditionalist at heart, and while he knew that the film would be projected at 1.85 by U.S. exhibitors, I strongly suspect that he composed it for 1.66. Go ahead — call him up.
It’s not just me claiming that 1.66 is the preferred aspect ratio, and that precedents have been established. 12 years ago DVD Talk‘s Geoffrey Kleinman noted that a 2000 DVD version presented the film at 1.66 to 1. Some wingnut at Turner Classic Movies declared a few years back that Rosemary’s Baby‘s aspect ratio is 1.66. And a commenter at Velocity Reviews asked a while back why Polanski’s film was completely occupying a 16 x 9 screen when a 1.66 a.r. would dictate windowbox bars on the side.
I know how this one is going to go. The fascists are going to carpet-bomb me with their usual goose-stepping crap and I’m going to respond with my usual counter-accusations, etc. It’s an old hymn. Except I’m really, really right this time.
I mentioned in my Hunger Games review that I’d worked as a tree surgeon as a wily youth. Some expressed surprise at this or found it revelatory or whatever. Almost three years ago I posted the following recollection:
“Before I started trying to make it as a journalist I worked as a tree surgeon. Ropes, pole saw, chain saws, leather saddles, metal climbing spikes, etc. In L.A. I worked for an eccentric guy who had a temper. He usually had a steady crew of two or three, and we all got barked at a lot. He never got violent but there was always that threat. I remember his face turning pink with rage.
“One time he was spiked into a half-removed tulip tree, about 35 feet up. Myself and a guy named Gary Swafford were assisting from the ground, and at one point we were filling up a king-sized chain saw with gas. Except Swofford didn’t screw the gas cap on properly. The pissed-off boss hauled the chain saw up with a rope, turned it on and then raised it above his head to make a cut. And right away the cap popped off and at least a quart of gas spilled out onto his neck and chest and stomach. The burning sensation on his genitals must have been brutal.
And the boss lost it. Not by yelling but by crying. I literally heard him cry out the words “whoa-hoa…hoo-hoo!” Except the weeping was a little too dramatic. He was bellowing like a wounded animal. And Swofford and I — God help us — were quaking with laughter, our chests aching with efforts to hide the truth. It was obviously the worst possible reaction we could’ve had, and there was no stopping it for the longest time.
“Others have surely experienced such moments.”
Luck producers David Milch and Michael Mann have told Vulture‘s Matt Zoller Seitz that they cancelled the show after the third horse died because they knew that the karma of three dead horses was fatal. “Three horses is three too many, and when this third one went, you felt sort of the resounding sense of, you know, ‘This can’t work,'” Mann says. “It’s like trying to negotiate with gravity. Because of the media attention as well as the fact of it, it just becomes an impossibility.”
But the fact that the show wasn’t drawing enough of an audience made it easier to pull the plug, I’m sure.
There two reasons why Luck‘s audience wasn’t all that sizable. One, it featured too many grizzled guys in their 60s and 70s. A hit show has to costar at least one or two guys in their 30s or 40s (i.e., an age for having children). Too many shots of white hair and white beards and turkey necks and creased leathery skin and pot bellies and raspy voices, and people tune out. And two, that opening credits tune (“Splitting The Atom” by Massive Attack) started to drive me up the wall after the third or fourth viewing. I heard it a couple of weeks ago and said to myself, “Fuck…I’m getting sick of his song!” So that’s what happened, I think. Tens of thousands of people had the same reaction. The song was too hip for the room.
When’s the last time Variety ever printed the word “bullshit,” let alone in a headline? Is this is a moment in history? Has a taboo been shattered? The changing of the generational guard? Can we get a comment from Peter Bart or Steven Gaydos?
If anyone has a copy of Eric Singer‘s screenplay, which “follows a con artist who works with the FBI in a far-reaching corruption case that stretches from Atlantic City to Washington, DC,” according to Variety‘s Jeff Sneider, please forward.
For those of you who can’t get around Variety‘s paywall”:
“David O. Russell is attached to direct American Bullshit for Sony Pictures and Atlas Entertainment. Charles Roven and Richard Suckle will produce. Russell recently directed The Fighter and is in post-production on The Silver Linings Playbook, a Weinstein Company pic that stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker.
“Russell is repped by CAA and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.”
In a just-posted Esquire.com sex survey, only 22% of male readers “said they’ve had 20 or more sex partners in their lifetime,” and 16% said they’ve done it with between 11 and 19 sex partners. 23% — the biggest chunk — said they’ve been with five or less. 5% — the LexGs of the world — said they haven’t been blessed at all.
Esquire.com heard from 522 internet-connected guys, aged 21 to 59. If you cut out the over-50s (i.e., guys who were sexually active in the mid to late ’70s) the tallies would be a lot lower, I’m guessing. For presentable, well-mannered fellows lucky enough to have experienced the glorious nookie era of the ’70s and early ’80s, 20 or more sex partners might have represented…let’s be careful here…two or three years’ worth of activity, but certainly not a lifetime’s.
“And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap…” — Henry the Fifth, William Shakespeare.
I’m told that the only Hunger Games footage that Steven Soderbergh shot 2nd unit on was “the riot that happens back in the home district.” Soderbergh told journalists last September that he felt it was his duty “to come in and duplicate exactly what [director] Gary Ross and [cinematographer] Tom Stern [were] doing, to mimic their aesthetic as closely as I can.
“And that’s what I attempted to do. But if I’ve done my job properly…by design, you won’t be able to tell what I did because it’s supposed to cut seamlessly into what they’re doing.”
My initial source says Soderbergh worked for “only two days…basically a long weekend.” Actually, less than that. Ross told MTV.com that Soderbegh “came in for a day — I shot some — but he shot a lot of that riot. He did such a good job. Steven, thank you very much.”
Transcription of secret tape of Ross explaining Hunger Games cinematography asethetic to Soderbergh: “Just pretend that the camera is a bouncing rubber ball on LSD, and that you have this weird compulsion for closeups. You know what I mean? You’re trying to follow the action and you do follow it but almost in an accidental, stumbling-around way. All you gotta remember is close-ups, close-ups and more close-ups. And constantly bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. Just keep bouncing, man…in fact, forget the rubber ball thing. Pretend that the camera is a fucking basketball…okay? A fucking basketball with a obsession for closeups. Do that and you can’t go wrong.”
What’s the movie (opening on 4.13) going to add? Length, dialogue, plot, exposition, FX, Hamlet-like philosophical inquiry, etc. I think the trailer suffices. Highly proficient. The over-amplified foley work is just right. Favorite bit: Curly doing the circular run-around thing while lying on his side.
Director Ulu Grosbard, who died last weekend at age 83, did three excellent things within a six year period. He directed the original Broadway production of David Mamet‘s American Buffalo, which I was lucky enough to see in ’77. He directed the absolutely dead perfect Straight Time, the Dustin Hoffman crime drama which came out the following year. And he directed True Confessions, the 1983 period drama about an Irish LA detective (Robert Duvall) and his corrupt, wheeler-dealer priest brother (Robert DeNiro).
During the q & a following 6.23.07 screening of Straight Time at L.A. Film Festival — (l. to. r.) Theresa Russell, Ulu Grosbard, Dustin Hoffman, Harry Dean Stanton and producer Tim Zinneman.
Grosbard’s first film-directing landmark was his adaptation of Frank Gilroy‘s The Subject Was Roses (’68). He also directed the slightly less heralded but actually pretty good Falling in Love (’84), a Westchester County remake of Brief Encounter with Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep.
Grosbard was given a “thanks’ credit on Reservoir Dogs, whatever that alluded to.
But over the last 34 years my instant association has been, “Aaah, the guy who got Straight Time right…yes, eternal admiration and respect.”
I attended a special screening of Straight Time on 6.23.07 at the Billy Wilder theatre during the L.A. Film Festival. Grosbard took the stage after the show along with Hoffman, costars Theresa Russell and Harry Dean Stanton and producer Tim Zinneman. Here‘s an mp3 of a portion of what was said. You’ll hear Grosbard first, and then Stanton and Russell (or the other way around) and then Hoffman comes in with a longish riff about his research, including an interesting observation about how criminals and actors aren’t all that dissimilar.
I’ll never forget a moment during that performance of American Buffalo when Robert Duvall “went up” — i.e., forgot his next line. Costar Kenneth McMillan instantly saw his dilemma and gave him a cue…wham, Duvall was back on it.
Grosbard was born in Belgium in 1929. His family escaped during World War II and landed in Havana, of all places. Grosbard worked as a diamond cutter there. He made his way into the arts through the stage, and he broke into films as an assistant director on Robert Rossen‘s The Hustler (1961), Elia Kazan‘s Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Arthur Penn‘s The Miracle Worker (1962).
Here’s Grosbard’s N.Y. Times obit, written by Bruce Weber.
“Jennifer Lawrence seems too big for Josh Hutcherson. It almost looks like she has to bend over a bit to give him a hug. Lawrence is a fairly tall, big-boned lady who’s maybe 5′ 8″, and Hutch seems to be 5’7″. Male romantic figures have to be at least be as tall as their female partners, and girls like guys to be at least a little bit taller, so Lawrence and Hutcherson don’t seem like a good fit. ” — from yesterday’s Hunger Games review.
HE commenters actually disagreed about this. One said they were both listed as 5’7″ on the IMDB. Another said that Hutcherson’s character, Peeta Mellark, is supposed to be gentle and vulnerable so it’s okay for him to be dwarf-sized. Those who posted anything along these lines are hereby required, in lieu of this and other Just Jared
Yes, Lawrence is wearing heels but even barefoot she’d obviously tower over the guy…c’mon. Update: And nobody’s standing on a platform either. Chris Hemsworth, Lawrence and Hutcherson are all standing on the same floor space. The liars and delusionals on this site…God!