There’s no way the best bugler in the world could ever play like this and hit those notes, but it’s such a transcendent, blast-out moment that no one has ever cared. If a bit “works” and it feels right, that’s all that matters. This scene wasn’t in James Jones‘ book, and screenwriter Daniel Taradash didn’t dream it up, and neither did director Fred Zinneman. The idea came from the vulgar, bottom-line mind of Columbia chief Harry Cohn…or so I’ve read. Go figure.
What we have here, apparently, is an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type deal, based on a 2008 book by Stephenie Meyer. Not to be confused with the 2006 Korean version about a toxic monster. Directed by Andrew Niccol, and costarring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt and Frances Fisher. The Open Road release debuts on 3.29.
I’d like to offer a sincere, down-on-my-knees apology to all those who’ve tweeted derisively today about a sentence in this morning’s piece about critical reactions to The Hunger Games, to wit: “Be wary of reviews by certain female critics, or at least those who may be susceptible to the lore of this young-female-adult-propelled franchise (‘You go, Katniss!’).”
It was incorrect to suggest that some female critics might be stirred by or responsive to the rugged and courageous hunter-protector aspects of Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss Everdeen character, or that their opinion about the film might be influenced to some degree by knowing that millions of under-30 women are going to be breaking down theatre doors to see it this weekend, or that Suzanne Collins‘ trilogy is hugely popular with under-30s, etc.
I’ve thought it over and decided there’s absolutely no chance in the world that female critics could be anything but completely neutral and 100% un-invested in Everdeen or this film or the interests of their female readers, and that only a scurvy sexist dog would imply otherwise. I don’t know what I was on about, but I’m sorry. We all mess up from time to time. What can I say?
I’d also like to apologize for implying several times in this column that geeky fanboy critics might be especially responsive or susceptible to geeky-fanboy ComicCon FX fantasy flicks — that was way, way off the mark. And that female critics who write ecstatic-cartwheel reviews of Kate Hudson movies might be on the payroll of magazines that cater to girly-girls. And that critics who admire Tyler Perry movies might…you know, think or look at life a certain way. (Except for Stu Van Airsdale.) And that people who write admiring reviews of Criterion Blurays of films by Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson and Alain Resnais might be mostly older white guys with airs of dweeby, Dave Kehr-like erudition.
When you get right down to it nobody plays favorites of any kind. Nobody is especially susceptible to anything based on their own gender or experience. Every movie is seen and absorbed on a completely neutral, even-steven, Switzerland basis. Nobody’s taste in movies is influenced by particular likes, loyalties or interests….none of that. Just so we’re clear. So I apologize. Really. Especially to Eric Snider.
Last night I finally saw Jon Shenk‘s The Island President (Samuel Goldwyn, 3.28), having missed it at last September’s Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Shot in late ’09 and absorbing as far as it goes, it’s a portrait of the efforts of former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of this low-lying, multi-island nation, to try and save his homeland from drowning. But it’s us, really. We need to be saved from our own blindness and complacency.
The Maldives will be underwater within decades if emerging industrial nations (principally India and China) fail to cut carbon emissions and thereby push the general level of down to 350 parts per million. The narrative is about Nasheed’s efforts to persuade the big carbon boys and coal burners to accept the urgency of the crisis and to wake up and do something about it, for Chrissake. It ends with a modest victory in this regard at the end of the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference.
The film is a basically about Nasheed attending a series of meetings and discussions inside conference rooms, hotel rooms, private planes, limos and on sidewalks and pathways during roam-arounds on the Maldivean capital of Male.
It’s been claimed that over the last century Maldivean sea levels have risen about eight inches. The island nation stands only a little more than 4 feet above sea level. Do the math.
The Island President is a good intelligent doc, but I had a whopper of a problem with the version that I saw last night at the Samuel Goldwyn screening room. The closing epiloque addressed only the climate-change situation and didn’t mention — hello? — that Nasheed was forced to resign from office last month due to a military coup by those loyal to his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an autocrat and dictator who ran the Maldives from ’78 to ’08.
I called and asked this morning why this recent event wasn’t part of the epiloque. I was told that the epilogue had been updated with this info, but the version I I saw happened to be an older version. Here’s how the epilogue will read on the final release print:
COPENHAGEN MARKED THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THAT CHINA, INDIA, AND THE UNITED STATES AGREED TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS.
THE FOLLOWING YEAR, ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONTINUED TO RISE FROM 387 TO 390 PARTS PER MILLION.
IN FEBRUARY 2012, MOHAMED NASHEED RESIGNED THE PRESIDENCY UNDER THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE IN A COUP D’ETAT PERPETRATED BY SECURITY FORCES LOYAL TO THE FORMER DICTATOR.
“IT IS GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR US TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE
ISSUES IF WE DO NOT HAVE A SOLID AND SECURE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE.”
— MOHAMED NASHEED
I missed last Sunday’s Just Jared story about Terrence Malick having filmed a scene for Lawless last Friday (3.16) during SXSW. Lawless star Rooney Mara and Neon Indian frontman Alan Palomo did a scene together at Austin’s Fader Fort, according to the piece.
Lawless costar Rooney Mara, Neon Indian‘s Alan Palomo during shooting in Austin last Friday.
I’ve also missed descriptions of Lawless being “an indie-rock thriller” about “two intersecting love triangles, sexual obsession, and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin.” I knew about the music scene backdrop, but I thought it would be about loss and young love and birds and light and leaves and wheat fields and beautiful young men.
Let me explain something. It’s not in Malick to make a “thriller.” It just isn’t. His sensibilities are too delicate and ethereal to effectively serve the occasionally coarse requirements of a thriller.
Neon Indian is an oodly-doodly hipster band. I described the oodly-doodly sound last November as the product of “oh-so-dry-and-clever musicians wrapped in a fey musical head-space attitude who create songs that are kind of precious and tweedly-deedly…songs that fiddle around with melody without really feeling it or lifting it off the ground…bands that seem to be going ‘eewww, this is cool’…bands who perform with a kind of dorky, dispassionate irony.”
Lawless costars Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. The lensing of Lawless will be followed by the filming of Malick’s Knight of Cups.
Malick’s untitled Oklahoma love story (formerly referred to as The Burial) is, some say, due to hit screens later this year. I’ll believe that when I see it. Mr. Wackadoodle likes to take his sweet time in the editing room. I’ve said over and over that he needs a tough Bert Schneider-type producer who isn’t afraid to push him around and occasionally read him the riot act.
Somebody needs to say this plain and straight. Numerous film critics have been cowed by the expected box-office avalanche of The Hunger Games and are therefore being extra-generous in their reviews. Right now it has a 89% and 72% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively, and mainly for one reason. Critics are terrified of sounding cranky or out-of-touch. Buck the tide? Not we!
Be wary of reviews by certain female critics, or at least those who may be susceptible to the lore of this young-female-adult-propelled franchise (“You go, Katniss!”). I don’t even know what to make of this declaration by Movieline‘s Stephanie Zacharek: “The surprise of The Hunger Games isn’t that it lives up to its hype — it’s that it plays as if that hype never even existed, which may be the trickiest achievement a big movie can pull off these days.” If there’s one thing that defines Gary Ross‘s film, it’s a feeling that he and his Hunger Games producers were acutely aware they were adapting a wildly popular literary property, and that they’d best serve the fantasies and sensibilities of its young female readers.
The only reviewers who’ve stood up and given this annoyingly photographed film the slapdown it deserves are Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir, the Miami Herald‘s Rene Rodrgiuez, Time‘s Richard Corisss and two or three others.
“The ultimate failure of The Hunger Games as a movie is not its derivative nature or its chintzy production design or even its lack of one single memorable set piece,” Rodriguez has written. “The film’s biggest flaw is the complete absence of vision or imagination – anything that would justify the movie’s existence as something other than a way to cash in on the novel. The Harry Potter pictures brought visual imagination and wonder to J.K. Rowling’s intricate fantasy world. The Twilight series has been a smash because of the chemistry between its lead actors. The Hunger Games, though, offers nothing.”
The Hunger Games “is precisely the thing it pretends to disapprove of: a pulse-elevating spectacle meant to distract us from the unsatisfying situation of the real world, and to offer a simulated outlet for youthful disaffection and anxiety (in this case, the anxieties of girls and young women in particular). Bread and circuses, only without the bread, and pretending to be anti-circus.
“I’m not claiming that’s anything new in pop culture, and it certainly isn’t a crime. Furthermore, the shapeless politics of The Hunger Games have very little to do with the question of whether it’s any good, although they do illustrate how calculated the whole project is.” — from Andrew O’Hehir‘s 3.20 review on Salon.
Also: “[It] offers intriguing moments of social satire and delightful supporting performances, but subsumes much of the book’s page-turning drama to sub-Twilight teen romance. Of course it will make a zillion dollars opening weekend, but I’m not convinced this franchise will be as ginormous, in the long run, as Hollywood hopes.”
Wherever Cosmopolis ultimately ends up on the rank-o-meter, it’s apparently going to be the best film that Robert Pattinson has ever been in (or will be in, probably…let’s face it). That’s the David Cronenberg benefit.
Don DeLillo‘s Cosmopolis (published in 2003) “is the story of Eric Packer (Pattinson), a 28 year old multi-billionaire asset manager who makes an odyssey across midtown Manhattan in order to get a haircut.
“Like James Joyce‘s Ulysses, Cosmopolis covers roughly one day of time and includes highly sexed women and the theme of father-son separation. Packer’s voyage is obstructed by various traffic jams caused by a presidential visit to the city, a funeral procession for a Sufi rap star and a full-fledged riot.
“Along the way, the hero has several chance meetings with his wife, seeing her in a taxi, a bookstore and lying naked in the street, taking part in a movie as an extra.
“Meanwhile, Packer is stalked by two men, a comical ‘pastry assassin’ and an unstable ‘credible threat’.
“Through the course of the day, the protagonist loses incredible amounts of money for his clients by betting against the rise of the yen, a loss that parallels his own fall. Packer seems to relish being unburdened by the loss of so much money, even stopping to make sure he loses his wife’s fortune as well, to ensure that his ruin is inevitable.”
Jay Baruchel, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand, Juliette Binoche and Samantha Morton costar. So will Cosmopolis turn up in Cannes or Toronto?