It’s one thing to accept a straight paycheck gig, but to take Christian money to appear in an low-rent, seemingly effects-driven rapture flick….that has to be pretty close to the bottom of the barrel, no? Left Behind producer and cowriter Paul Lalonde: “This is not very complicated. It really isn’t. It’s prophesied in the Bible and the Bible says that before the beginning of the tribulation which will be in the end times, which I have no doubt we are living in…so therefore [the rapture] could happen tomorrow…the church is going to be called home and caught up in the air and taken to heaven and that’s what this movie’s about.”
Nadav Schirman‘s The Green Prince (Music Box, 9.12), winner of the 2014 audience award in the World Documentary category, is about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the “Son of Hamas” who double-agented for the Israelis before moving to the U.S. His story is basically the real-life version of Palestinian-traitor plots used by the much-hailed Bethlehem and Omar. I just wrote about this guy and his book a few days ago.
I’m catching Ron Mann‘s newish, 90-minute Robert Altman documentary tonight on Epix. Altman was a brilliant, snippy, snarly fuck. I knew him very slightly in the ’90s (“Hey, Bob”), and he was never a day at the beach. Always frowning about something, but that’s what genius types tend to do. In 1992 I was in Cannes for Entertainment Weekly, and I ran into Smilin’ Bob at a black-tie party. When I asked for a quote about the L.A. riots he scowled and said, “That subject is too important to talk about with a publication like yours”….yeaahh! Mann’s talking heads include Elliott Gould (M.A.S.H., The Long Goodbye, California Split), Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Sally Kellerman ( M.A.S.H., Meryl Streep (Prairie Home Companion), Robin Williams (star of Altman’s biggest bomb, Popeye), Julianne Moore (Shorts Cuts), etc. The doc reportedly contains rare or heretofore unseen clips of this and that. I just hope Mann doesn’t make too big a deal about Nashville, which I disliked when I re-watched it last December. Nashville is basically about “the banal eccentricities and pretensions of the country-music industry, but for the most part the film is snide and misanthropic,” I wrote on 12.14.13.
I saw Charlie McDowell‘s The One I Love (VOD on 8.22) for the second time last night. I did so in preparation for a scheduled Thursday chat with Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss. I was delighted with my first encounter at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, but part of that excitement was about a “whoa!” element that kicks in at the 20-minute mark. I naturally figured it wouldn’t play as well the second time…wrong. I was just as taken if not more so, and I liked the final scene even more. No descriptions but I can at least say it involves bacon and the Mamas and the Papas’ “This Is Dedicated To The One I Love.” Somehow this scene was a so-so last January but it really worked last night.
Seeing and half-liking Are You Here made me want to do a little Owen Wilson phoner. Just to congratulate him for delivering a slightly deeper, sadder and more grounded version of that guy he’s been playing since Bottle Rocket, etc. I conveyed my initial enthusiasm to Wes Anderson, Owen’s old pal and longtime colleague, and he told me he’d forward my email. But I was stopped in my tracks by an apparent decision by the principals to wash their hands of of Are You Here, promotionally-speaking. Presumably because it’s been regarded as toxic since it was screened and killed in Toronto last year. Millenium Entertainment’s basic plan seems to be “screen it but don’t promote it…the radioactive buzzkill will be even worse if we don’t screen it at all so the best thing is to screen it as quietly as possible…don’t overtly strangle it but starve it with neglect.”
The task of conveying this decision fell upon the shoulders of a certain publicist at MPRM. “Of course we’re not dumping it, Jeffrey,” he said, “but we have to ask the distributor if talent is available,” etc.
Yesterday morning I did a phoner with Coherence director-writer James Byrkit to promote his film’s VOD debut. I posted two Coherence raves last June, once after catching it on my Macbook Air in a Tijuana motel room and after seeing it in a Los Feliz theatre four days later. When Byrkit mentioned a Twilight Zone influence, I assumed he was at least partially referring to “Mirror Image,” the 1960 Vera Miles-Martin Milner episode that most closely resembles Coherence. Not so. In fact, Byrkit told me yesterday that he hasn’t even seen this Rod Serling-created episode…still! On the other hand I still haven’t seen Shane Carruth‘s Primer, which is a sort of cousin of Coherence, I gather, and which Byrkit told me I must absolutely see. I’ll see it this weekend, but it seems odd that Coherence is only available on iTunes right now — no Vudu, no Verizon FIOS, etc. Again, the mp3.
A brilliant, highly likable, bespectacled Brit with greatness inside him lucks into marriage with a pretty, utterly devoted wife and then wham…a debilitating disease, death looming, all seemingly lost. But the spirit will not buckle under, technology and medicine find a way and the guy fulfills his destiny at the end and becomes a best-selling author and the subject of an Errol Morris doc. Are you kidding me? Best Picture nom, James Marsh for Best Director, Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor….slamdunkaroonie. Oscar bells! Warning alarm heard over at Universal this morning….brrrnnnggg!….brrnngggg! Goddam it, “triumph over terrible crushing adversity” was supposed to be owned by Unbroken this year, and out of the effing blue we get elbowed aside on our own thematic turf from sister Focus? Brad-vs.-Angie on the Best Picture racetrack is a fun angle, but this…this is serious!
Listen to that haunting-but-uplifting score by Johann Johannsson. I guarantee you that when he was hired, it was conditional upon Johannsson’s pledge to emulate James Horner‘s Beautiful Mind score.
Sidenote: The catastrophically balding Simon McBurney, whose sparse thatch was hanging on for dear life in Magic in the Moonlight but who nonetheless wore a black baseball cap to the recent L.A. premiere, wears a rug for his role in The Theory of Everything.