My wild guess is that Penske attorneys knocked on Nikki Finke‘s door and read her the riot act (i.e., the reported contract stipulation about not competing until 2016), but that’s just, like, a notion, man. A big maybe. Now she’s saying she’ll launch on 6.12. It’s probably a bit more complicated than that.
There’s one thing wrong with Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky‘s Marty, which won 1955’s Best Picture Oscar and launched the career of Ernest Borgnine after he took the Oscar for Best Actor. (Mann also won for Best Director; ditto Chayefsky for Best Adapted Screnplay.) The problem is that jaunty Marty theme song, which apparently wasn’t written by score composer Roy Webb but songwriter Harry Warren and arranger George Bassman. The brassy and fanfare-ish waltz is entirely out of synch with the simple, somewhat sad story of a lonely Bronx butcher and his loser friends and a girl he falls half in love with. The purpose of the song was to persuade audiences that Marty wouldn’t be too much of a downer. It succeeded in that goal but the music sure feels like a downer now.
I was and am a huge fan of James Cameron‘s Avatar, but for some reason I’ve never watched the Bluray version that I own. Possibly because I’m sated from having seen it four times theatrically or maybe because I’ve done that and enough already. But I’m up for a sequel in 2016, sure. If you want to be craven about it I guess I could roll with a trilogy, even. But three sequels for a grand total of four? Cameron has spoken to Slashfilm’s Germain Lussler about the writing process that yielded three Cameron-approved scripts, but really, man, c’mon…this is milking the cow beyond the point of tolerance. Mine, anyway. Not to mention Pandora: The Land of Avatar experience at Disney World plus any other commercial exploitations that are being cooked up as we speak. It feels greedy. I’m sure 20th Century Fox stockholders are delighted, but it seems as if Cameron is counting on exploiting the loyalty of Avatar fans a little too much. I know he’s a hardcore quality guy but on some level I feel like Kirk Douglas inside his gladiator cell as he looks through the overhead bars at a chuckling Peter Ustinov and Charles McGraw and yells, “I’m not an animal!” The three films will open in December in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
In a 5.30 Vanity Fair interview with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Bruce Handy asks about the final episode and the very last beat in the journey of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), which will air next spring. It seemed to me in the recently-aired finale of Part One of the final season — which concluded with Robert Morse‘s musical number — that Draper’s demons had been more or less faced and that he’d at least temporarily overcome his self-destructive tendencies. He’s moved past the drinking, treated Peggy with respect and support, and accepted that it’s time to let Megan go. Twists and turns are sure to happen but it basically feels like “steady as she goes.” All these years I’ve been irked by Draper’s morose, downer behavior, and now that he’s more or less out of the woods I really don’t want to see a relapse. As far as I’m concerned the only thing left to do is loosen up and stop wearing that 1961 Peter Gunn hair style and throw away that stupid fucking hat.
“I wrote the finale over Memorial Day weekend,” Weiner says. “I had an outline that the writer’s room and I had been working on for the past four or five weeks, so that always makes it easier to actually get it done, but it was great to finish it. I’ll be tweaking it and directing and working through that, so it’s not [a] complete release because it’s not really done until it goes on the air.
A 5.29 article about Edge of Tomorrow star Tom Cruise by MacLean‘s Barry Hertz basically says three things: (1) He’s an undiminished box-office dynamo (his films had grossed about $7.3 billion worldwide as of last year) who commands true international drawing power, (2) while he’s lately been choosing pricey, high-impact charismatic action hero projects, his success is largely due to his having chosen shrewdly and always ensuring the presence of smart scripts that are more defined by character than action beats, and of course (3) bringing that shit home with grounded, rounded, believable performances.
Cruise has always conveyed intelligence, drive and intensity, but he became a more interesting actor when stress lines began appearing on his forehead and around his eyes, and vague suggestions of vulnerability started to peek through. It is axiomatic that Cruise’s characters never “lose” but a certain weathering of his features indicated that his pogo-stick relentlessness might not be enough at the end of the day. This began to happen with his landmark performance in Oliver Stone‘s Born on the Fourth of July (hippie makeup, wheelchair, rage) but it really kicked in with Cameron Crowe‘s Jerry Maguire (’97), when Cruise (born in July ’62) was only 34 or 35. That was the first time I sat up in my seat and muttered to myself, “Whoa, he’s got little crow’s feet! No more Joel Goodson. A new phase has begun.”
That was Cruise’s crossing-the-Rubicon performance. I’ve since tended to process his performance as pre- and post-Maguire.
Best pre-Maguire performances: All The Right Moves, Risky Business, Rain Man, Born on The Fourth of July, The Firm.
Best post-Maguire performances: Eyes Wide Shut (although he seems straight-jacketed in that film), Magnolia, Vanilla Sky, all four Mission Impossible films (even though these were hardly about reaching inside and “acting”), Collateral (his third-best performance after Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire), “Les Grossman” in Tropic Thunder, Jack Reacher (arguably Cruise’s best low-key performance), Edge of Tomorrow.
Decent-to-acceptable Cruise performances in generally tedious, irksome or underwhelming films: Top Gun, Legend, Days of Thunder, Cocktail (I hated, hated, hated this bartending soap opera), The Color of Money, Far and Away (awful…one slamming right cross after another), Interview with the Vampire (by no means “bad” but for some reason I’m having trouble recalling any exceptional scenes), The Last Samurai (in which Cruise played a werewolf who could only be killed with a silver bullet), War of the Worlds, Lions for Lambs, Knight and Day, Oblivion.
There’s an arresting quote attributed to Woody Allen by the late Gordon Willis in a 5.29 Believermag q & a by Chris McCoy. Willis is asked about his bountiful relationship with Allen (Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo), and he calls it “a very good association. It was probably my favorite. I’m very quick to tell somebody how they should [shoot a scene] from a blocking-photographing point of view. I offer a lot.” And then the kicker: “Woody liked most of it and that he didn’t have to deal with it. He said once, ‘We both hate the same things.’ Which is true.”
Now that is a bond.
No, I don’t place more trust in hate than in love. Obviously a life that isn’t primarily driven by love and worship isn’t much of a life. It follows that the first initial steps in any relationship (emotional, professional, erotic, neighborly, marital) are going to be based on a recognition of shared loves and devotionals. People will naturally default to that because it makes them feel more positive and alpha to go there. He: “I like taking walks on Sunday morning with my dog.” She: “Me too. And then meeting friends and their dogs for breakfast at the local diner…perfect!” He: “Is vanilla your favorite ice cream flavor?” She: “No, cookies and cream…but vanilla is my second favorite!”
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »