Tonight I happened to visit the Wiki page for Warren Beatty‘s still-untitled Howard Hughes movie, which shot for 74 days between February and June of this year. And it links to an IMDB page that has a release date — May 21, 2015. Which means that if the date is legit and if Fox and Beatty want a nice press bounce from all the serious hepcats, the Hughes pic will play the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (5.13 to 5.24). Sometime early in the festival but not opening night. (Never allow your film to open any film festival — it sends the wrong message.) Before principal photography began Beatty’s Hughes project was probably the longest creative gestation in Hollywood history, having initially hatched (at least in verbal kick-around terms) in 1973, according to Peter Biskind‘s “Star” (page 406). Beatty is the director, star, producer and writer, according to the Wiki page and the IMDB. The story deals with some kind of affair Hughes (Beatty) had with a much younger woman (Lily Collins…I think). Pic costars Alden Ehrenreich, Taissa Farmiga, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen. Cinematography by Caleb Deschanel.
I felt more perplexed than engaged by Interstellar, much less aroused or elevated. And of course those persistent sound problems…God. But there’s no arguing with the apparent fact that three out of four critics have more or less approved (73% on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes), and it does seem as if most of the HE community plus others I’ve spoken to at AFI Fest are either accepting or seriously impressed or knocked flat. And while it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, there are people, a fair number of them, saying they had no significant problems with the sound. Whatever. So far it’s made $47.5 million domestic (a bit less than projected) and $80 million foreign over the first five days. Off the pad and on its way. Whatever happens with the Academy, happens. Time to let it go.
Mark and Jay Duplass‘s Togetherness, an eight-episode HBO miniseries debuting on Sunday, 1.11, is about “four middle-aged people reconciling their dreams with their current personal and professional lives in Los Angeles.” For whatever reason, 30something parents Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey, a constant portrayer of morose or dispirited types) invite Alex (Steve Zissis), a fat, out-of-work actor, and Michelle’s free-spirited sister Tina (Amanda Peet) to move in with them. And then the fun starts. Duplassy, desultory. I’m sure the eight hours are more intriguing and layered than what this teaser is indicating.
In an expansion from 231 to 462 screens, Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s Birdman has earned $2,300,000 this weekend with a $4,978 per-screen average, and now has $8,086,000 in the kitty. That puts it above Inarritu’s Amores perros ($5,408,467) and Biutiful ($5,101,237). Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt is estimating that when all is said and done, Birdman is “all but certain” to earn more than 21 Grams ($16,290,476) but less than Babel ($34,302,837). That’s it? Obviously one of the most dazzling adult-level films of the year and arguably the best so far, and American moviegoers aren’t likely to part with anything more than…what, $25 or $27 million to see it? After being in theatres for three or four months?With Michael Keaton and Edward Norton all but certain to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor two months from now? And yet Big Hero 6 earns $56,200,000 in three days, and will probably hit $150 million or higher without breaking a sweat. Something is wrong here. If Jimmy Kimmel was to go out on the street and ask people to define the word “puerile,” how many would get it right?
Now I really don’t expect Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper to be Tuesday night’s big surprise screening at AFI Fest. Deadline‘s Pete Hammond has reported that Eastwood told him during last night’s Governor’s Awards ceremony that he “just put the finishing touches” on Sniper in “the past two days” and that “it’s ready to be seen now.” Even if they wanted to offer it as a surprise Warner Bros. marketers wouldn’t have discussed the possibility with AFI Fest before they absolutely knew it was fully finished and screenable, or within the last 48 to 72 hours, and it seems unlikely that AFI Fest honchos would have held out during a “well, maybe but we have to wait until Clint tells us it’s completely done” situation.
I’ve riffed on this general point before but 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Peter Glenville‘s Becket — the most covert “gay” movie ever released to mainstream America in the 20th Century. It was an Oscar-worthy, big-budget historical drama costarring two of the biggest and most respected box-office draws of the day, and both of them Shakespeare-capable — Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole…and nobody in 1964 seemed to even notice, much less write about, the subtext. It flew right by.
Thomas Becket (Burton) and King Henry II (O’Toole) were, of course, portrayed as straight, whoring, wine-guzzling hounds (during the first act, at least, as far as Becket was concerned) but apart from the lack of sexual contact Becket exuded all kinds of gay currents, so much so that many of its dramatic elements and situations re-appeared 41 years later in Brokeback Mountain, the Gone With The Wind of mainstream gay movies.
In the 12th Century men could and did profess “love” for each other without anyone thinking it was romantic or sexual, but if you put that aside and pretend that the “love” spoken of between Becket and Henry II is more than platonic, it all falls into place. Both are in love with each other, but one of them (Burtons’s Becket) loves a bit less. Their sexual drives are hetero to the core and many children are sired on Henry’s part, but nothing approaches their feelings for each other. Becket and his king are constantly pried apart by social-political concerns and things never quite mesh, but the man who loves a bit more (O’Toole’s Henry) can never quit his feelings. He doesn’t know how, and he hurts badly.