It’s the question of scale that’s bothering me. When Paul Rudd is wearing his Ant-Man outfit, which vaguely resembles Robert Downey‘s Iron Man getup, he looks full-sized in some shots and teeny-size in others (i.e., flying on the back of a winged insect). So does he have the ability to shrink down to the size of an ant and in so doing get the jump on the bad guys…something like that? I wish I’d been there on the set when Michael Douglas had to say that awful line in just the right way.
As I understand it, the Academy’s decision to classify Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash screenplay as adapted, even though it’s (a) somewhat autobiographical and (b) an expansion of Chazelle’s own short film about the exact same subject, is due to their own curious definition of “adapted.” When a script has been adapted from another form, that’s all that matters to them. They don’t care if Chazelle adapted his own short film into a feature-length screenplay or if he based his screenplay on a short film by Donald Duck. The point is that he adapted it from another source, period. This is a somewhat absurd way to look at it since Whiplash is clearly Chazelle’s original idea, but that’s the Academy for you. If they wanted to be cool and easy about it, they would rescind this decision and reclassify Chazelle’s screenplay as original…but that’s unlikely.
Eight days ago (i.e. 12.28) Sony Pictures Entertainment announced that The Interview had taken in $15 million in online rentals and sales in the United States and Canada, thus making it “Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time.” Around 2 pm today Deadline‘s Jen Yamato announced that The Interview is still the company’s #1 online film of all time with $31 million earned from 4.3 million online transactions. (I’m not clear if the Interview‘s $5 million in theatrical rentals is part of this figure.) What comparable online sales and rental figures have been earned by other films? Has another straight-to-online film ever topped $20 million, much less that $30 million? It’s hard to find data but I’m guessing that The Interview might be the Ultimate King-Kong Downloader…the biggest online feature hit in cyber history. The Interview is still a loser, of course, with production costs around $44 million not to mention a marketing tab in the tens of millions.
Yesterday Hardball‘s Chris Matthews jumped into the Selma/LBJ hoo-hah. Joseph Califano, James Peterson. Matthews to Peterson: “The Democratic Party lost the South because of that kind of statement. LBJ stood for civil rights. Why take that away from him? They both deserve credit. There’s only one guy who gets the holiday in this country. What’s the reason to put down LBJ to supposedly help the legacy of Dr. King? I don’t get it. What’s the purpose?”
MCN’s David Poland to Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson: “I think the idea that Unbroken and Selma didn’t get [Zanuck-nominated by the Producers Guild] because both had female directors is childish pouting. The notion of two films with female directors (Angelina Jolie, Ava DuVernay) getting PGA, DGA, WGA, and Oscar nominations this year became a talking point that was hyped by many. But neither film was a natural lock for this. And I will not be shocked if neither woman gets a DGA nomination next Tuesday. That doesn’t mean that at least one might be deserving. But three, four or five films with Best Picture nominations will not get Best Director nods, likely leaving out the likes of David Fincher or Bennett Miller or Wes Anderson or James Marsh or Clint Eastwood or Christopher Nolan (again).
“The idea that sexism would be the defining character of a DGA nominee group of Inarritu, Linklater, Anderson, Marsh, and Eastwood/Miller/Fincher/ Nolan is pretty silly. I won’t be shocked, btw, to see DuVernay nominated by DGA. But it’s no cakewalk, especially this year. And it would be unfair to the entire group of directors to make this about sex. Or in the case of DGA, race.”
An eight-part miniseries from Kids Are All Right and Olive Kitteridge director Lisa Cholodenko and written by Jon Robin Baitz, The Slap is a U.S. remake of a three-year-old Australian miniseries. The original was based on Christos Tsiolkas 2010 novel, noted for “its raw style, liberal use of profanity and racial epithets, and laserlike focus on the travails of suburban life.” It was called “a down-and-dirty version of Tom Perrotta’s Little Children. At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb, a man loses his temper and slaps the child of the host’s friends. This incident unleashes a slew of divisive opinions, pitting friends and families against each other as the child’s parents take the man to court. Told from eight different viewpoints, the novel also deftly fills in disparate backstories encompassing young and old, single and married, gay and straight, as well as depicting how multiculturalism is increasingly impacting the traditional Aussie ethos. For good measure, the author also throws in male vanity, infidelity and homophobia.”
Another observation from the afore-mentioned thick-of-things guy about award-season advertising, passed along as I sat in my car in front of Holloway Cleaners. He basically repeated a common lament among the smaller bloggers and columnists, which is that the big sites (Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, N.Y. Times, Variety, The Wrap, Hitfix) are sucking up 90% of the ad money, forcing the smaller guys to beg and harangue to earn a proportional slice of the pie. The irony, of course, is that the smaller guys (myself, Awards Daily, Gold Derby, et. al.) are the real spiritual sages and blog-whisperers — the passionate buzz-starters and advocates who get things started with films like Birdman and Boyhood and The Hurt Locker — and not the big sites, which tend to play it neutralish and moderate, reporting this and that in the usual diligent, dispassionate, big-media way. The smaller guys are absolutely the heart of awards season, but the big guys take almost all the dough. And it sucks. I do okay but it’s a struggle and a hustle every step of the way. Every year I say the same thing because every year the ad buyers forget the same thing — healthy page views are always vital but the main thing during Oscar season is the quality of the eyeballs.
I was talking last night to a guy who’s right in the awards-season thick of things, and he says that The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne, Mr. Cuddly Bunny, is coming on in the Best Actor race strong while Birdman‘s Michael Keaton, who’s been at the top of my list since Telluride…well, he won’t play along with the narrative that journalists and columnists want him to follow. Academy members vote for the narrative behind the performance and the campaign as much as for the performance. Dallas Buyer’s Club Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey won for his McConnaissance narrative (i.e., he saved himself from a lifetime of Kate Hudson romcoms by manning up and doing quality work), which he totally played along with. The Keaton narrative (which I don’t need to hear because it’s partly bullshit) is that his Birdman character, Riggan Thomson, obviously reflects Keaton’s own career history. But at every juncture, my guy says, Keaton has been saying “naah, not really…I just took some time off to raise my kids on top of which Riggan is really based on Inarritu and his feelings about Hollywood and superhero movies and how it feels to be 50,” which is true but not entirely. “Thick of things” guy is saying that whatever the truth of it, the smart play for Keaton would be to just go along with the simplistic b.s. narrative and leave Inarritu out of the equation in this context. Just say “yeah, it’s more or less me up there…I am or was Riggan Thomson, and now I’ve been saved by Birdman.” But he won’t do that, which is why Redmayne might (I say “might”) be surging ahead. I’m posting this not as an indication of agreement (I think Keaton is totally cool on all fronts) but as a friendly heads-up to Fox Searchlight. Don’t punish me for being the messenger.
Boy, those CG de-aging techniques have gotten better and better. Nightcrawler star Jake Gyllenhaal, 34, looks 27 years old in this trailer. Oh, wait…he was 27 when David O. Russell‘s Nailed was shot six and a half years ago. The Arrow Films release is now titled Accidental Love. In early November 2014 is was called Politics of Love, or so Screen Daily‘s Ian Sandwell reported. Pic will pop in England sometime soon. Which means, of course, that sooner or later it’ll stream in the States. Russell is probably pissed about this but I can’t say I’m not curious. I realize it probably doesn’t work but it can’t be a total wipe-out. Russell is too sharp, too exacting.