If it costs a mere $13.99 for an HDX (i.e., high-def) version of Sullivan’s Travels on Vudu, how do I justify spending 17 pounds or $28 dollars on an Arrow Region 2 Bluray (out 5.26) of same?
Atom Egoyan‘s The Captive is apparently concerned with the parents of a kidnapped child going outside normal channels to find the perpetrator. It obviously bears a superficial similarity to Denis Villeneuve‘s Prisoners. Ryan Reynolds (who needs to star in a critically respected film that isn’t about being buried alive), Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast. The musical score is by the respected Mychael Danna (Moneyball), who has also scored Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher, also debuting in Cannes.
If a competing filmmaker at the Cannes Film Festival wants to win the Palme d’Or, rule #1 is that he/she shouldn’t announce this in so many words. The general rule is to adopt an attitude of “let the mountain come to Mohammad.” Rule #2 is not to proclaim that his/her competing film “is my masterpiece.” If anyone’s going to use that term it should probably be the jury and/or the critics, no? And yet Naomi Kawase, the Japanese director of the in-competition selection Still The Water, has broken rules #1 and #2 in a May 11th interview with Agence France-Presse.
“For an auteur who has already bagged the Camera D’Or and the Grand Prix, [Kawase’s] sights are set on the top honor — the Palme d’Or,” the story notes. “‘There is no doubt that this is my masterpiece,’ [Kawase] said of Futatsume no mado (literally ‘the second window’ but titled in English Still the Water) which has been selected to compete in this year’s premiere competition. “This is the first time that I have said this about a film,” she goes on. “After the Camera D’Or and the Grand Prix, there is nothing I want more than the Palme d’Or. I have my eyes on nothing else.”
In a May 9th review of the Sorcerer Bluray, N.Y. Times video columnist Jim Hoberman notes the up-and-down trajectory of director William Friedkin‘s career in the ’70s. “The one-two punch of The French Connection (’71) and The Exorcist (’73) made the man nicknamed Hurricane Billy a gale-force talent,” he writes, “[but] the successive failures of Sorcerer (’77), The Brink’s Job (’78) and Cruising (’80) sent Hurricane Billy out to sea.” Favorable re-assessments of Sorcerer and Cruising have, of course, been key factors in the restoration of Friedkin’s fortunes, but nobody ever mentions The Brinks Job. There are reasons for that. I never thought it worked (too broad, too lighthearted, too Damon Runyon-esque) and neither did Friedkin. In his recently published book “The Friedkin Connection,” he wrote that Brinks “has some nice moments despite thinly drawn characters, but it left no footprint. There’s little intensity or suspense and the humor is an acquired taste. The film doesn’t shout, it doesn’t sing — it barely whispers.” But I love this scene in which Alan Garfield, playing Peter Falk‘s dimwitted brother, is unable to resist an impulse.
Travelling caused me to miss Dave Robb‘s 5.9 Deadline report about on-set fist fighting between Teamsters. Robb linked to and quoted from a warning posted on Thursday, 5.8, by Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 399. “We are finding that more and more members are fighting with one another on-set,” Dayan wrote. “It is my duty to say Knock It Off! When two members get into an altercation we have found that in order to remedy the situation quickly BOTH members will immediately be LAID-OFF. Whether you were the one to instigate the situation or not you will both be released from the job.”
What kind of professionals knock each other’s teeth out on a film set, much less repeatedly or in sufficient numbers to provoke an official warning? Have Teamsters always been duking it out and this is the first time it’s gone public? Or is some kind of internal union issue behind this? There’s almost certainly a backstory. I’ve visited many film sets and the general attitude among know-it-all below-the-liners has always been that the Teamsters are the Sopranos of the production realm — lazy, overfed, truck-driving goombahs with primitive tendencies and less-than-enlightened mentalities. It would seem that Dayan’s posting is some kind of smoking-gun confirmation. Good thing I’m in France or some guy would probably come over to my place and kill one of my cats as a warning.
Nicholas Stoller‘s Neighbors is somewhere between a 7 and 7.5 on the yaw-haw scale — amiable, good enough, no-laugh-funny. But it’s not good enough to be an opening-weekend superstud at the box-office. This decent but not-that-exceptional comedy will make roughly $51 million by tonight, and in so doing will humiliate the living shit out of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Did anyone who paid to see Neighbors find their expectations even slightly exceeded? Did anyone even laugh that much? I called it “heh-heh funny” in my initial review. A more or less routine culture-clash comedy, Neighbors is generally “fast, loose, punchy and lewd,” I allowed, “[and] Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien‘s script (augmented, I’m sure, by nonstop improv) is a cut or two above.”
Five hours of writing and pacing the room and then a nice healthy roam-around. I bought my Tuesday morning train ticket — leaves Gare de Lyon at 7:45 am, arrives in Cannes around 1 pm or thereabouts. I hit five or six allimentation stores and a couple of supermarkets in search of a simple bar of lavon (i.e., soap), but women are under the impression that bar soap dries their skin so I have to work around that. I got rained on twice and saw a beautiful rainbow above Place Bastille. I hate walking around with a heavy computer bag (which I sometimes refer to as a Charles Bukowski mail sack) on my right shoulder but I guess I’m stuck with that burden.
Rob Reiner stopped being cool a long time ago, but his supporting performance as Leonardo DiCaprio‘s potty-mouthed dad in The Wolf of Wall Street made him cool again. Now he’s back to uncool with And So It Goes (Clarius, 7.11), his latest sappy comedy. An Ebenezer Scrooge-like realtor (Michael Douglas) learns to grow a soul while taking care of his granddaughter. I didn’t see Billy Crystal‘s Parental Guidance, and I probably won’t see this effing thing either. (Unless it’s much, much better than the trailer is indicating.) Costarring Diane Keaton and Frances Sternhagen, and written by Mark Andrus (As Good as It Gets).
Next week in Cannes U.S. critics and distributors will be assessing Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman and David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars, and then both will most likely be re-promoted at Telluride/Venice/Toronto before being theatrically released in the fall or early ’15. French distributors are way ahead of this system (or mindset) with The Homesman opening here on 5.18 and Maps debuting locally on 5.21. Due, of course, to the Cannes promotion factor, which means a lot here and less-than-zero Stateside.
It’s good that I crashed around 2:30 am Paris time (8:30 pm and 5:30 pm in New York and Los Angeles, respectively) and woke up around 8:30 am. That means I’m already into the European clock and that jetlag will not interfere by the time the Cannes Film Festival begins next Wednesday morning. But I left a few points dangling or unmentioned after tapping out my Godzilla review, to wit:
(1) I didn’t mention the human characters or performances because I found them perfunctory while watching the film at Le Grand Rex, and I felt no after-enthusiasm when I filed around midnight. I understand that director Gareth Edwards is a Steven Spielberg fan and therefore feels compelled to (a) focus on a traditional family unit (Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and their zombie-eyed son) as the central blah protagonists, and (b) place Johnson (as Naval bomb-defusing specialist Ford Brody) in the center of the storm by virtue of portraying the alienated, once-resentful son of nuclear-power official Bryan Cranston and his wife-partner Juliette Binoche, both of whom had encountered a huge seismic disturbance at a Philippine nuclear-power plant in the late ’90s. I felt that Ken Watanabe‘s Dr. Serizawa (a nod to Akihiko Hirata‘s Dr. Serizawa in the 1954 Godzilla) was as rote as this kind of scientific-authority character can get. I was happy to see that Sally Hawkins, who plays Watanabe’s partner/colleague, Dr. Vivienne Graham, had landed a serious paycheck role. Don’t even talk about David Straitharn‘s military commander role, which is about nothing but rote ramrod speechifying.
“I recognize also that getting outed (i.e., assasssinated) by TMZ or some other gossip site is par for the course these days, but Donald Sterling was talking privately. That means nothing by today’s standards, I realize, but perhaps it should.” — from 4.30.14 HE post called “Old Buzzard Gets His.”
“So let me get this straight,” Real Time‘s Bill Maher said 36 hours ago. “We should concede that there’s no such thing anymore as a private conversation, so therefore remember to ‘lawyer’ everything you say before you say it, and hey, speaking your mind was overrated anyway so you won’t miss it. Well, I’ll miss it, I’ll miss it a lot. When President Obama was asked about the Sterling episode, he said, ‘When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, just let them talk.’ But Sterling didn’t advertise. He was bugged. And while he may not be worth defending, the 4th Amendment is.”