Five or so months after its Sundance Film Festival debut, Nicholas Jarecki‘s excellent Arbitrage (Lionsgate, 9.14 VOD, limited) has its first trailer up. “I was entirely caught up in and enjoyed the hell out of Arbitrage, which to me is a solid Sidney Lumet New York potboiler,” I wrote on 1.23.12. “Familiar, yes, and not ‘great’ but tough and real and well-threaded.
Richard Gere in Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage.
“As a smooth but fraying-at-the-seams trader-financier involved in high-stakes flim-flam and a manslaughter cover-up, Richard Gere gives his best performance in a long time, and Tim Roth is amusing as a colorful Colombo-type detective.”
Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling , Nate Parker, Laetitia Casta, Monica Raymund, Josh Pais and Larry Pine costar.
Here are a few Rotten Tomatoes reviews. For what it’s worth it’s running at 100%.
I’ve filled out a ticket order to add extra gigs to the memory on the HE server. There have been complaints about pages loading slowly so hopefully this will speed things up, but the server has to go down for this to happen. It’s scheduled to happen around midnight LA time, 3 am NYC time and 9 am Munich time. It’ll take around 15 minutes, they’re saying.
Four days ago I noted that a press release about Warner Home Video’s upcoming release of a 3D Bluray of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M for Murder (streeting on 10.9) didn’t say if the aspect ratio will be “Furmanek-ed at 1.85, or if WHV will go with the 1.33 or 1.37 aspect ratio that audiences have been watching on TVs and DVDs and in revival houses for the last 55 years or so…I’m guessing it’ll be the former.”
Well, I rented a high-def version of Dial M on iTunes last night, and it’s 1.85, all right. Or 1.78. That pretty much makes it official, if you ask me — the Furmanek forces are calling the shots, and HE’s “boxy is beautiful” and “let the image breathe with more head space” philosophy has been discounted. And as for Robert Harris‘s suggestion that this superb 1954 murder thriller would probably look best at 1.66….naaaah!
Eff you very much, guys. I guess I’m what you might call a sore loser, huh? If there was such a thing as a French underground fighting the 1.85 fascists, I would join up today.
Life is generally unfair, but for Taylor Kitsch, the star of two mega-bombs, John Carter and Battleship, over the past three months, life and fate have heaped bad cards on to staggering levels. And now there are indications that a third film that he’s a significant costar of, Oliver Stone‘s Savages (Universal, July 6), may not do all that well either.
Taylor Kitsch, star of John Carter and Battleship, costar of Savages.
During yesterday’s Oscar Poker chat, Boxoffice.com’s Phil Contrino projected that Savages will earn only about about $14 million on opening weekend. Not too bad from a layman’s perspective perhaps, but for a heavily promoted big-studio action flick with several recognizable names (Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch, John Travolta, Demian Bichir) and the Stone insignia, not exactly something to pop champagne over.
Late yesterday a German distributor friend told me if Savages under-performs or crashes Kitsch’s career will be in trouble. Contrino feels the same way.
“A young career cannot survive three bombs in a row and still hold on to real momentum,” he said today. “Kitsch has had unbelievably bad luck. If he wants to rebound, he’ll have to pick an interesting project from a trustworthy director. Working with Peter Berg again” — the IMDB says Kitch’s next film is Lone Survivor, a Berg-directed actioner about a mission to kill a Taliban leader” — “is not the solution.”
Is it fair when lead actors take the hit for starring in unsuccessful films? Nope, but that’s the general rule. When they star in hits, they always get a career boost. When they star in a flop, the industry usually doesn’t get too shook up and cuts them a break. But when they star in two tanks in a row, the stock drops. People start looking askance and saying “hmm, I don’t know.” And with three…?
Orlando Bloom went down and hasn’t yet recovered from starring in two bombs in a row — ’05’s Kingdom of Heaven and Elizabethtown.
The other big factor, for me, is that Kitsch doesn’t radiate much inner intelligence or light…no fire and definitely not a lot of technique. If you ask me his on-screen vibe is almost in the shark-eyed, anti-matter realm of Rob Pattinson.
I asked a few journo-critic friends for opinions. They all cut Kitsch a break, and that’s my inclination as far as the box-office situation is concerned. But still…
Marshall Fine: “To the average moviegoer, I can’t imagine that any of these films registered as ‘a Taylor Kitsch movie.’ Nor do I think there is much of a Taylor Kitsch following, except among former Friday Night Lights fans. On the other hand, I don’t think the guy is much of an actor.
“Of course studio idiots will see this as his fault, though Carter and Battleship were sold as an effects extravaganzas and Savages is being sold as an Oliver Stone film. Will Kitsch take the hit? Really, it’s his agent and his acting coach who should take the blame.
“Having collected what are probably big paychecks for these movies, Kitsch should scale back his lifestyle to make the money last, buy himself some acting classes and work in low-budget indys for a while…or perhaps go back to TV.”
Coming Soon‘s Edward Douglas: “I think Savages will be lucky to make $12 million its opening weekend to be honest, but that’s really not Taylor Kitsch’s show or his fault. From what I understand, it’s more of an ensemble piece and just as much of that relies on the better-known John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and even Blake Lively, who was being sold as some sort of ‘It Ggirl’ based on The Town but hasn’t really shown much acting talent beyond that.
“I’m also not sure either if John Carter or Battleship could be considered Kitsch’s fault as these were huge budget movies being sold more on the vision of the filmmakers and the original properties than on him having any drawing power. He’s just an actor who both Andrew Stanton and Peter Berg trusted to be able to pull off the role of a hero amidst lots of action and FX-driven eye candy, but neither movie even used his name in the advertising from what I remember.
“Sure, his career would be in better shape if either of those were hits, but these days, movies really can’t be sold only for the stars and many of the year’s more profitable movies such as The Devil Inside, Project X and Chronicle did decently and I doubt anyone could name a single actor in any of them. (Same for the Paranormal Activity movies.) I’m guessing there will always be star-driven films like Men in Black 3, Maleficent, and anything Brad Pitt stars in, but Hollywood has already been shying away from big budget star-driven vehicles and I think as long as Kitsch can prove himself to be versatile actor, he will continue to get work.”
Lewis Beale: “It seems to me we can accuse Kitsch of making bad choices with John Carter and Battleship, but starring in an Oliver Stone film should be a major step up, career-wise. I think the problem here might be that Savages looks really nasty — violent, hyper-sexualized — and it’s also going up against the new Spider-Man film, so it’s a lose-lose.
“As for Kitsch himself, beyond the terrible last name, which almost begs late-night host jokes, he just seems to be from some cookie-cutter line of new leading men, none of whom really stand out in any way. Other than Chris Pine, I don’t see any of these guys — Kitsch, Channing Tatum, etc. — hanging on for a long time, because their basic appeal is male model, not movie star.”
I’d reconsider Tatum’s situation, Lewis, until you see Magic Mike. Or have you?
Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike (Warner Bros., 6.29) is one of those summer films that comes along once in a blue moon — a fun romp filled with yoks and swagger and whoo-hoo, but also sharp, wise and shrewdly observed, and flush with indie cred. And quite funny for the first two-thirds. If this thing isn’t a fairly big hit in the States there’s going to be a lot of complaining on this site. I’m sick to death of people paying to see only the big crap movies while occasionally blowing off the really fine smaller ones.
Every frame in Magic Mike tells you someone super-smart and focused is running the operation, and Soderbergh (serving again as his own dp under the name Peter Andrews) lays on the atmosphere by using a faintly reddish sepia color scheme with a vaguely hung-over aura — his way of saying “Look, this is me, okay? Nothing too bright or luscious or HBO-attractive. We’re kickin’ it, obviously, but digging into character.”
Trailers always lie but the Magic Mike trailers are really lying. They’re selling only the cheap stuff. This thing is way better than what you might expect.
As Mike, a Tampa-residing, cock-rocking male stripper facing his 30s and the pressure to build his life (he dreams of being a high-end furniture designer) into something with a semblance of a future, Channing Tatum scores big-time with his first genuinely decent role and performance — I was completely in his corner all the way, admiring his skill and ease with a role that touches all the right bases. And 22 year-old newcomer Alex Pettyfer hits a ground-rule double as Adam, a.k.a. “The Kid” — a proverbial good-looking innocent whose arc acquaints us with the male-stripping realm and all the behavioral pitfalls.
Matthew McConaughey, whose career has really turned around over the last couple of years, hits a solid triple as Dallas, the owner-manager of the strip club Xquisite, nailing every line and delivering the requisite hoots and cock-of-the-walk sleaze. And Cody Horn, as Adam’s skeptical older sister, hits nothing but true notes in a role that’s basically about slowly shaking her head and nagging a bit, a character who’s always saying “Okay, guys, you’re making money and a lot of whoopee but when are you gonna get real?” But she’s not tedious — she’s honest and steady and investable at every turn.
Alex Pettyfer, Channing Tatum in Magic Mike.
The very first scene shows a strutting, bare-chested, leather-pants McConaughey delivering a show intro to a roomful of cheering, half-bombed women, and you’re thinking right away, “Okay, this feels standard — a typical way to start a movie about male strippers.” And then boom — Soderbergh cuts to black and then to a groggy Tatum waking up in bed after a threesome with an occasional hook-up (Olivia Munn) and a sleeping nude girl whose name neither of them can recall. And right away you’re thinking, “Wow, this is good…the dialogue (by first-time scripter Reid Carolin, who’s also Tatum’s producing partner) is canny and astute and cuts to the quick, and the acting feels natural and unforced.”
And you just relax. You know you’re in good hands. God, what a relief!
All it takes is one standout like Magic Mike to wash away the crud and part the clouds and make everything feel right again. Is it a great movie? No, but there’s very little in it — almost nothing — that doesn’t feel right. Okay, the last third feels a bit predictable and the final scene doesn’t quite deliver one of those final closure notes that we all talk about months or years later, but it’s good enough. More than good. Anyone who says this film doesn’t cut it needs to hit refresh and watch it again, and anyone who says it flat-out blows is a moron, and if he/she wants to make anything out of that I’ll see them outside after the film.
Yes, I intend to see Magic Mike at least another couple of times. It works the way all good movies do. It turns you on with smarts and honesty and sophistication, and sends you out on a high.
Tatum, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn.
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