When actors attract hot award-season buzz the first thing their agents do is land them paycheck roles in a big-studio production or two. Get into that stuff while the going’s good, right? And so Birdman‘s Michael Keaton, probably the leading Best Actor contender right now, is joining the cast of Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island so he can run around and howl and possibly get eaten. Already cast are Thor‘s Tom Hiddleston and Whiplash‘s J.K. Simmons, whose performance as a manic music instructor will likely win him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Oscars, paychecks and dinosaurs, oh my! Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) will direct Kong: Skull Island from a script written by John Gatins and Max Borenstein. Universal Pictures will release the film in 3D and IMAX 3D on 3.10.17.
Deadline‘s Nellie Andreeva ran a piece today about Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart, Magic Mike) playing Montgomery Clift in an HBO Films biopic down the road. Bomer is nearly a dead ringer for the late actor, but his plan to star in Monty Clift was announced over two months ago during the Savannah Film Festival, which Bomer attended. (I was there also and tried to speak to Bomer about the Clift project, but festival publicists stiffed me.) The HBO film will be “centered around the acclaimed actor’s tumultuous personal life,” Deadline says. That alludes to Clift having been psychologically screwed up (to some extent due to his being deeply closeted) with a major drinking problem going back to the early ’50s, and the fact that he all but destroyed his looks and his matinee-idol career when he piled a car into a telephone pole in ’56, after which he added prescription drugs and pain pills to the boozing.
(l.) Matt Bomer; (r.) the late Montgomery Clift.
In my mind Clift, the first method-y actor to punch through the studio system and become a major star, peaked from Red River through From Here To Eternity — a seven-year run. But after the accident he went from being one of the best-looking actors who’d ever lived to a twitchy geek with big ears and a crackly, spazzy voice. It took Clift ten years to kill himself. Upon his death in July 1966 the final decade of his life was called “the slowest suicide in show-business history” or words to that effect.
This afternoon a Boyhood Bluray was left on my doormat, and tonight there’s a cool-sounding Boyhood party at a certain old-world location. Director Richard Linklater and costars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltraine will attend. The official inviters are Diane Keaton, John Hamm, Frank Marshall, Sean Daniel, Jack Black and Julie Delpy. I always laugh when the person who initially sent the invite writes back to say that (a) rsvps are through the roof and that (b) you therefore might want to come a little bit later (it’s a four-hour event) and (c) if you’re thinking of not attending to please let us know. The 2-disc Paramount Home Video release popped yesterday.
A few days ago Awards Daily contributor Ryan Adams created a cool Photoshopped Birdman image of myself and Michael Keaton that I really liked, and so I wrote him and said so and he responded with a thanks. The guy had been a belligerent punk and a salivating attack dog ever since hooking up with Sasha but all of a sudden he was being nice and I was saying to myself, “Okay…maybe he’s not 100% bad…maybe there’s a tolerable human side to this guy after all.” But last night he, Craig Kennedy and Sasha Stone trashed me a couple of times on their Awards Daily Oscar podcast when they discussed the LBJ/Selma thing. Boiled down they more or less said that if you side with the LBJ advocates you’re either (a) a “dinosaur” like Peter Bart or (b) a closet racist who can’t stand the idea of having to share control of the culture and the film industry with non-whites, and that (c) it’s cool for African American filmmakers to do a little distortion of their own in order to balance the scales.
And then towards the end Adams said a particularly rash thing:
“…[like people who] got behind their favorite and they’ve already bought in and laid their money down on the movie they like the best. Like Jeff Wells. With Birdman. He’s been the Birdman guy all year along. Any movie now that comes along and potentially, even remotely poses a threat to Birdman, he’s not gonna like. He’s not gonna like any movie that’s not Birdman. He’s gonna damn it with faint praise and he’s gonna slur it and slam it any way he can think of. And it’s a sleazy way to cover movies, I think.”
It’s “sleazy” to have a favorite and to be enthused about that? If you have a favorite film you’re only allowed to…what, say this two or three times, mildly and somewhat mushily, and then you have to shut up until Oscar season ends? I’ve never put other films down in order to build Birdman up…never. Over the course of 2014 I went apeshit for at least 27 films, and every review is easily findable on HE. I happen to like Birdman more than Boyhood, okay, but that doesn’t mean I don’t admire and respect Boyhood, and that I wouldn’t be totally fine if it wins the Best Picture Oscar.
With its awful, dumbed-down re-design that makes it difficult to find their release date charts, Comingsoon.net has screwed the pooch. I’m told that release date info is buried somewhere in the bowels of that site, but I will never go there again. And for good reason because Ted Smith‘s Projectionlist.com is a much, much better and more exacting resource. It lists all theatrical releases in a nice, clean format with sections for direct-to-home, trailer dates, TV series and retail. It’s beautiful. There’s also a key at the bottom for wide/small releases. A colleague calls Projectionlist.com “a dream come true, especially after ComingSoon.net’s botched redesign…no disrespect to Ed Douglas but Coming Soon on their best day was never this clean.”
The absence of the original Birdman screenplay among this morning’s WGA nominations is technical, as not all of the writers (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo) are guild members so that was a no-go. Kind of like Ken Kesey not getting into an ivy-league Delphi Epsilon fraternity in the mid ’50s. Selma wasn’t eligible either. What’s up with Guardians of the Galaxy getting an adapted screenplay nom? I respect the documentaru nomination for Last Days in Vietnam, but why was Citizenfour blanked? Between this and the PGA also blowing off Citizenfour, does Laura Poitras have reason for concern?
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash script was nominated for Best Original Screenplay category, which goes against the Academy view that Whiplash is an adapted screenplay. The general view is that Whiplash will have an easier time of it in the adapted category.
The late Joseph Sargent‘s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (’74) “embraces unhandsome. Beneath those bustling, vibrant streets are dank tunnels, and inside those gorgeous buildings are rodent-hole apartments where men with greasy hair wear soiled long underwear under ratty bathrobes as they plan crime. Pelham ignores the famous verticality of New York to extoll its horizontal underbelly. Cinematographer Owen Roizman builds the movie around horizontal compositions: tunnels, train cars, gun barrels, rows of desks in low-ceilinged rooms. It’s a horizontal movie to represent a city lying flat on its back. When the city’s famous skyline appears, after 40 minutes of thrilling claustrophobia, it almost feels sarcastic.” — from Eliott Kalan‘s beautifully written Dissolve piece (1.6.15) on this landmark film.
We can predict Bill Maher will say about the murder of 12 Charlie Hebdo staffers in Paris earlier today by Islamic wackjobs. And we can guess what Ben Affleck will say if asked (“This is no reason to condemn a billion peace-loving Muslims” or something along those lines). But the people who did this are tyrannical monsters, and you’d have to resort to extremely myopic thinking to not lay the inspiration for murders avenging the honor of Islam to the Quran. “The only religion that acts like the mafia, [that] says we will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing or draw the wrong cartoon” — Maher. Jihadists and Islamists are arguably 20% of the Muslim world. But let’s not be harsh or dismissive or…you know, indulge in Islamophobia.