We all remember that before Michel Gondry was a filmmaker he was a drummer in the French pop band Oui Oui, yes? Gondry got his start making lo-fi music videos for his band that became progressively more ambitious. Then Björk called — always one with a keen eye for up-and-coming, cutting edge artists — for her video "Human Behavior" and Gondry basically never looked back.
Well, it looks like he's gone back to his roots a little bit by having Oui Oui guitarist/singer Étienne Charry compose the score for Gondry's "Interior Design" segment in the three-part vignettes film, "Tokyo!" that screened earlier this year at Cannes and the Woodstock Film Festival (where we missed it by a day). So whatever became of "Tokyo!" anyhow, right? The other two directors on the project were South Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong and French director Leos Carax who hasn't made a film since 1999's "Pola X" (which was scored by the great autumnal baritone, turned freakish-operatic singer Scott Walker).
No disrespect to Woodstock, but the films we saw there, weren't exactly of the highest quality, which doesn't bode well for "Tokyo"s inclusion at their festival. But is it coming out soon? Well, according to Rotten Tomatoes the film is coming out this year on November 30, in limited release. Really? If this is true, it hasn't been publicized at all which doesn't seem good eiter.
Hmm, we're hoping someone will write us and let us know, we'd like to see it despite our worry and the so-so review the film received at Cannes by Variety. Update: we heard back. The film is now set for a March 6, 2009, release. The late November/early December date on Rotten Tomatoes was the original date and then it got pushed to '09 because of the competing Oscar season.
Here's two clips from the film.
Étienne Charry, Michel Gondry's Former Singer Of Oui Oui Wrote Score For His 'Interior Design' Segment In 'Tokyo!' Film Coming Out Nov 30?
We all remember that before Michel Gondry was a filmmaker he was a drummer in the French pop band Oui Oui, yes? Gondry got his start making lo-fi music videos for his band that became progressively more ambitious. Then Björk called — always one with a keen eye for up-and-coming, cutting edge artists — for her video "Human Behavior" and Gondry basically never looked back.
Will Smith And Rosario Dawson Talk The "Mystery" Of 'Seven Pounds On Oprah; Dawson Inadvertently Disses M. Night Shyamalan
Considering there's not a ton of info about "Seven Pounds" out there (and digging deeper here it seems very much on purpose), this interview with Rosario Dawson and Will Smith on Oprah is pretty informative. It sounds like there's a twist ending in the film, but one that's genuine and not surprising. In fact, Dawson inadvertently gives in a dig at M. Night Shyamalan, when discussing the twist and the "mystery" of the film.
The actress said midway through the story she was weeping while reading, and completely engaged, but not sure where the story was going. "The mystery is inherent to the story. Sometimes you have those ambiguous trailers out there that are trying to mess with you, but this is part of the story. I remember getting to this point [and thinking], this is going to have some weird M. Night Shyamalan ending, it's going to really disappoint me, I'm going to be really upset... then I [finally] read the ending and went [balled my eyes out]."
And by all accounts it's a major tearjerker. Buzz on this one is quiet so far, but maybe it's for a reason - the studio trying to keep the plot and conclusion on lockdown (maybe another reason why marketing elements like the poster are so vague). And we've said it once and we'll say it again, Will Smith's work in "The Pursuit Of Happyness," was rock solid and 'Pounds' is directed by the same director Gabriele Muccino. We believe a lot of people passed over 'Happyness' cause it was treacly and saccharine, but it was a genuinely truthful film and one that captures, "uplifting" and "feel-good" moments without making you want to vomit which is a real and rare art. We're definitely curious about this one. "Seven Pounds" comes out December 19.
"Music is something I've never been able to disconnect," says Baz Luhrmann. "The application of music can be done in a very supportive background way or in it can be used in a very foreground, demonstrative manner." David Hirschfelder composed the score to "Australia," and he hasn't done work that most of us would know recently (a lot of TV), but he has written music for Academy-Award nominated films like "Elizabeth," "Shine," (he scored a nomination for each) and did wrote the score to Luhrmann's "Strictly Ballroom." There's a lot of footage from the film in this featurette and damn it looks impressive.
It's Friday so time for another light-hearted post. Apparently a Alphabetical Favorite Film blogging meme has started where people are listing out their 26 favorite films, one to represent each letter of the alphabet. This is too difficult (or maybe we're taking it too literally), so we'll just rattle off favorites that come to mind without thinking about it too deeply because thinking about our favorite films is always a task that comes with the burden of getting it exactly right. Though we'll try and steer clear of the films we mentioned last week in a similar favorites-film exercise.
American Friend, The - (Wim Wenders, 1977) - Displays Wenders' American cinema fetish by including roles for Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller.
Burden of Dreams - (Les Blank, 1982) Blank's documentary about working with nutty Werner Herzog. Stunning.
Cría Cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976) - Features one of the best movie songs ever "Porque Te Vas."
Dog Day Afternoon - (Sidney Lumet, 1975) - Yeah, Pacino is great, but it's all about John Cazale (RIP)
Eureka (Nicolas Roeg, 1984)
Frantic (Roman Polanski, 1982) - An underrated Harrison Ford film.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999) - Amazing. Love the RZA score.
Harold And Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971) - Speaks for itself, but all that Cat Stevens!
Il Conformista (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970) - Some of the best cinematography ever courtesy of the great Vittorio Storaro.
Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2004) - Can Amy Adams ever top herself here?
Killing of A Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976) - Ben Gazzara in one of his best.
Landlord, The (Hal Ashby, 1970) - We've never been big Beau Bridges fans, but everything about this movie rules.
Mr. Freedom (William Klien, 1969) A guest cameo by Serge Gainsbourg and Yves Montand (but the latter is blink and you'll miss it).
New York New York (Martin Scorsese, 1977)
Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 1980)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) - Sofia Coppola's favorite movie? At least for that gauzy and dreamy, soft-focus opening scene maybe?
Queen, The - (Stephen Frears, 2006)
Reprise - Still probably our favorite film of the year. Has an amazing moment with Le Tigre.
Slogan (Pierre Grimblat, 1969) - The film where Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin fell in love. The theme song is excellent.
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) - David Bowie as a lonely alien, what's not to love? We love the tourettes cinema that is Roeg's work; especially in that wacked out sex scene.
Ugetsu - (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
Voy A Explotar! (Gerardo Naranjo, 2008) - One of our fave films of the year. From Mexico and with a huge "Pierrot Le Fou" fetish.
Witness (Peter Weir, 1985) - Genuinely one of our all-time favorite films. Begets the amazing line, "I know you, asshole!", which Wes Anderson jacked for 'Tenenbaums.'
Xanadu (Robert Greenwald, 1980)
Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, 2007) - Very underrated, despite some of its sometimes laughable ponderousness.
Zardoz (John Boorman, 1974) - How ridiculous and amazing is Sean Connery in this absurdity?
Damn, we shoulda went with "Zabriskie Point," one of Michelangelo Antonio's most unintentionally absurdist films with a Pink Floyd soundtrack.
The DVD for The Flaming Lips' "Christmas on Mars (A Fantastical Film Freakout)" is officially set for a 11/11 release date now that the film has been in theaters scattered around the country. The 86-minute film and its original score are packaged as a CD+DVD package which includes an audio CD of the 12-track freaky instrumental score the band composed for the bizarre film and we have one copy to give away.
To win the sole copy of this Xmas psychedelia, all one needs to do is email us and answer this simple question: What two celebrities (an actor and an indie-rock musician) were said to be once featured in the film (and we saw one of them in an early clip), but were not actually present in the final cut of the film. The answer is on our blog somewhere and you'll have to use the search function to find it, but it's not hard. Bonne chance.
We're struggling with our review of "Role Models," the new studio-picture directed by David Wain ("Wet Hot American Summer") and starring Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin'), Sean William Scott and newcomer, Bobb'e J. Thompson.
We're big fans of Wain, love the Rudd, think Banks is incredibly charming and underrated in all areas, not just comedy, but it's just not something to really laud with much fervor. Yes, it's a little charming and endearing and funny in spots, has a few LOLs and is semi-enjoyable. But is it good? Hmm, well, with basic mainstream comedies, you can't really ask for style or technique and that's fine, but ok, how about we rank it next to the Judd Apatow films? Well, then it really doesn't stand much of a chance (if you want to gauge it next to similar comedies that are straight-forward and have a mixture of filth and heart.
The other thing troubling us is RottenTomatoes, that has given the film a surprisingly good 74% rating. Did most critics not turn up for their screenings? The film isn't terrible, but that's quite the disconcertingly high number for a film that's harmless, but pretty average and unremarkable.
A real review gets into the what, why, where,who and how, but "Role Models" is so ultimately disposable, that it's not really worth it. But we'll give it a quick shot. Paul Rudd plays a miserablist who hates his life and is stuck in his menial, mindnumbing energy drink promotion job and to make matters worse, his co-worker (Sean William Scott) is a half-wit optimist who loves the dead end occupation. Rudd snaps at a high school presentation after his girlfriend (Banks) dumps him, tired of his misanthropy, and his emotional tantrum rampage gets he and Scott arrested.
They consult Banks (who's conveniently a lawyer) and she pleas them down to community service at a Big Brothers-like school for troubled kids. Enter McLovin (who's extremely wooden and dull) and Bobb'e J (who aside from Rudd and Banks, is the film's saving comedic grace). Mintz-Plasse plays a shut-in live-action role playing (LARP) dungeons and dragons-like nerd and Thompson a vulgar, impossible hellion.
Do you need to see a road map of where this is going? Rudd and Scott finally warm up to their kids, help them out in their various personal obstacles (being ostracized because of nerdom for McLovin', fatherly connection for Thompson) and Rudd wins back the girl, ta dah! There's a big KISS tie-in at the end where the gang all enter into the LARP field and fight with the adult nerds in their role-playing game that tries to be sweet and tender, but mostly turns into sappy mush -- it's just the requisite PG moment of this R-Rated "raunch" comedy. But Apatow has a way of blending these tones seamlessly. "Role Models" hem is rather shoddily with obvious frays and poorly-constructed stitching that sticks out like a sore thumb.
It's half amusing in spots, but overall, we would have been just as satisfied watching this one on the couch perhaps half-paying attention and surfing around the web. And perhaps more importantly, we're shocked that some people would go to bat for this film with any kind of major vigor.
If we cared more, we'd hopefully be more articulate about it. The Times says it better and calls it, "the increasingly worn-out 'boys will be babies until they are forced to grow up' school of arrested-development comedies."
More power to Wain for penetrating the studio system, they certainly didn't clip his wings at all, but "Role Models" just isn't up to snuff in the dick-jokes-with-heart genre.[C]
Edward Norton's Obama Documentary Sells To HBO: Michael Moore Works Himself Into A Frenzy Over Obama
Just days after Barack Obama won the presidential election, HBO shelled out seven figures for Amy Rice and Alicia Sams' untitled documentary on his presidential run. The two filmmakers brought the idea to Edward Norton at the beginning of Obama's run in 2006, after which he agreed to produce and filming began.
They obviously took an enormous risk allocating such a massive amount of time on a candidate who at first looked like an extreme long shot. But with Tuesday's results the time and energy paid off, and following the sale Edward Norton commented on the importance of the project. "We believe this film will capture a tipping point in American history, when a new generation of leadership emerged and old prejudices were finally vaulted over."
The crew will continue to shoot through Obama's inauguration and Sam Pollard, who cut HBO Films' "When the Levees Broke and "4 Little Girls," is hoping to have the film ready for a 2009 premiere. Even though the sale was to HBO the filmmakers are still seeking a theatrical release.
In other political/movie news, Michael Moore expressed his strong feelings following the election of Barack Obama. "Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair."
Unfortunately he couldn't save himself from sensationalism attempted to convince us that democratic presidents have something to do with landmark directors and also says something about how he will still have things to bitch about in an Obama presidency.
"When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?" Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be?"
Is someone going to break it to the guy that even with Obama in the White House, we will still have to stomach just as many shitty studio movies as we did in the Bush years.
Remember how Variety reported that "Revolutionary Road" director Sam Mendes was going to tackle an adaptation of the graphic novel "The Preacher"? Looks like Variety just got pwned. Mendes says the trade was far too enthusiastic.
"This is a typical Variety announcement," Mendes told Empire in the U.K. " ''Mendes to direct 'Preacher' – I wish! Basically they should have written, 'Mendes in development with Preacher'. What I’m doing is, I've gotta find a script. I've just got to get it written." So no script, no writer, but still "official" announcement? "I'd love to make Preacher," Mendes admitted. "But there's no script."
PWNED. Although let's face it 90% of film announcements are like this: "XYZ director has announced his intentions to adapt XYZ product, maybe it'll happen one day" and Variety did say that Mendes was looking for a writer, but hey, we cannot resist the urge to make fun Photoshop graphics. Let that be a journalistic lesson to all of us.
Looks like Paul Oakenfold has been spending less time in Ibiza on the decks and more time in film studios of late. The superstar trance DJ has been a part of lots of soundtracks in the past (perhaps most notably in 2001 with "Swordfish," the soundtrack of which featured a transformation of Afrika Bambatta's seminal "Planet Rock" into a seven minute anthem), but in the last few years, he's been getting into full-on original music composition for movies.
Earlier this year he teamed up with Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley for a track on "The Bourne Conspiracy" video game (Oakenfold scored the entire game), then he wrote the original score to "Nobel Son" starring Eliza Dushku and Alan Rickman which comes out next weekend (November 11). A few months ago he was tapped to write the score to the Latino's coming-home-for-the-holidays flick, "Nothing Like The Holidays," which includes Debra Messing, John Leguizamo, Melonie Diaz, Freddy Rodríguez, Vanessa Ferlito, Alfred Molina and Jay Hernandez and hits theaters on December 12.
It doesn't look great, but there's already been decent word out there. A friend of ours working on the project says it's surprisingly good and the New York Times just gave a shout out to Freddy Rodriguez for his work in the film just recently (he was good in "Grindhouse" too) so maybe there's hope that this isn't just a typical Christmas story only with Hispanics and a fish-taco-out-of-water Gringo wife (Messing). But something tells us Latino Review is up in arms about this one already. Oakenfold's soundtrack comes out on December 9.
Many have asked: why don't you cover music in films as much anymore? Here's a good example why. "The Guitar" was a film that interested us early this year when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, because it had a music angle and it starred to actors we like, French actor Isaach de Bankolé and the still rather gorgeous Saffron Burrows (admittedly, she's never blown anyone away on screen, but we have a soft spot).
But having finally seen the trailer to this film, we're kind of aghast. It looks brutally bad and cliche-riddled. It's essentially about a woman who finds out she's dying and then lives like there's no tomorrow cause there is none! And then, cause she's dying, she learns how to play the guitar and rock out! (or at least it sure looks that way, the shots of Burrows raising her axe and rocking out are just cringe-inducing)
The synopsis: One morning Mel, a mousy, harried New Yorker with a thankless job and an even-less-appealing boyfriend learns that the tumor in her throat is cancerous; the diagnosis is terminal, so it seems that both her job and her relationship are kaput. Rather than lying down and dying then and there, she embarks on an endless spree, the kind of self-indulgent wish fulfillment that we have all fantasized about.To be totally crass about it, the only thing that sounds even remotely appealing about the flick is that Burrows apparently spends most of it naked according to the director. "As you can see in the movie, there are many scenes of her naked. That allowed me to have a closed set, and I liked that a lot, so I just told everybody she was naked for the rest of the movie and nobody was allowed in," first-time director Amy Redford told Vulture.
The multi-instrument composer David Mansfield has worked as a session musician with the likes of such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams, Loudon Wainwright III, and many others, but everything we can hear in this trailer leads us to believe this is uplifting, cheesy-rock fromage (Mansfield has done a lot of score work, but his most notable is Michael Cimino's 1980 disaster, "Heaven's Gate"). The soundtrack came out on October 28.
The film comes out in limited release on November 20 and we were looking forward to it slightly (or felt obligated to know something about it), but woo boy, it looks like a major stinker. And reviews don't look good. So far the film sits with a decidedly unimpressive 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. TimeOut writes, "The movie has clichéd rebirths in mind, and you’ll resent where it [eventually] goes." You know this thing is eventually filled with the worst kind of hopeful optimistic sentimentality. Now there's nothing wrong with hopefulness in films, but when they look this contrived and saccharine, it sets off alarms in our internal cheese barometer.
Dear God, someone stop Hollywood and someone pleassssssssse, stop Will Smith and Steven Spielberg from remaking the the classic 2003 vengeance tale, "Oldboy," by South Korean auteur Chan Wook-Park ("Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, "Lady Vengeance,")
First off, if you're actually going to pull this movie off right by adhering to the original story, it might be hard to do for American audiences. No, not because of the violence, Americans love that (especially the MPAA), but because some of the crazy, sexual taboo stuff that happens near the end of the film (which we won't reveal if you haven't seen).
It's imperative that those elements be present or else the breathtaking surprise of the ending and the deep level of sick vengeance evaporates.
We can't think of average Americans (no less with sugarcoaters like Smith and Spielberg and their built-in mainstream family audiences) that could handle this so, their "remake" will have to be incredibly watered-down and neutered. What would be the point then?
"Oldboy" centers on a man who is mysteriously imprisoned and tortured for 15 years, and then released without explanation. He is then given money, a cell and five days to track down his sadistic captor and seek vengeance, but it turns out the imprisoned act isn't as random as it first appeared.
The awe-inspiring drama won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and won over jury head Quentin Tarantino who highly lauded the film (apparently he wanted to give it the Palme d'Or over "Fahrenheit 9/11"). However, "Oldboy," is much more than hyper-violent and stylized revenge flick and Wook-Park's thoughtful artful film is much more of a moody, thinking-mans cinematic experience than it is the splattering-fest some might think Tarantino would normally endorse (in other words, Wook-Park has been erroneously dubbed, "Tarantino-esque," but their styles couldn't be anymore different). The film has a dazzling, elegant aesthetic, striking visuals and cinematography, and the resplendent orchestral score by Yeong-wook Jo is utterly magnificent too.
Almost universally praised, Salon called the film, "anguished, beautiful, and desperately alive" and "a work of pop-culture artistry." Roger Ebert's plaudits read, "We are so accustomed to 'thrillers' that exist only as machines for creating diversion that it's a shock to find a movie in which the action, however violent, makes a statement and has a purpose."
Note, Spielberg and Smith are in early discussions for this project and a writer would still need to be found and hired. "Oldboy" is pretty stunning and we higher forces prevent Spielberg and Smith from butchering this spectacular film.
Note how Yeong-wook Jo names the instrumental songs in the movie after other films, a Bergman film ("Cries & Whispers") a De Palma one ("Dressed To Kill") and Scorsese ("The Last Waltz"). They're all grand and splendid.
Here's the original trailer.
It looks like the desperate newspaper industry continues to whore itself out to Hollywood, as Warner Brothers has aquired the rights to an L.A. Times seven parts series "Tales From the Gangster Squad." It chronicles the special sect of the LAPD formed in 1946 whose main objective was to keep the East Coast Mafia, which was engaging in shootouts at will, out of the city.
Paul Lieberman wrote the articles for the Times, that concluded in Saturday's paper. In 1992, after Lieberman ran a piece on the LAPD's Organized Crime Intelligence Division he receive a call a few days later from man who pointed out the fact that he failed to mention the origins of the division, which was a group formed following WWII. When Lieberman asked how he knew, the man said, "Well, I was on it."
What followed was years of interviews of over 100 people that were either involved in the squad, attorneys for L.A. mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen, and even two former members of Cohen's entourage. The piece focuses on two cops, one is a member of the squad and one was forced out against his will but both of them are obsessed with taking down Cohen. It is being produced by former Warner's exec. Dan Lin, who produced, "The Departed," and is producing "Sherlock Holmes," "Terminator Salvation," Robert Rodriguez's "Shorts," Richard Kelly's "The Box" and Lin Pictures also has "Justice League" at WB. He is currently looking for screenwriters to adapt the material.
Quite a lot, apparently. In between sweding a mysterious music video outside his Williamsburg home, launching a new website and finishing a debut comic book, "We Lost the War but Not the Battle", acclaimed eccentric Michel Gondry completed a book, "You'll Like This Film Because You're In It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol " and is traveling to promote it. About the book -
"Michel Gondry’s debut book is a functional memoir of his quest to put the tools of filmmaking in the hands of as many people as possible. At New York’s Deitch Projects, in February and March of 2008, Gondry emulated the heroic example of his characters, constructing a do-it-yourself film studio in which any visitor could assemble their own film from extant plot summaries and rent the results. His aim: “I intend to prove that people can enjoy their time without being part of the commercial system and serving it…Ultimately, I am hoping to create a network of creativity and communication that is guaranteed to be free and independent from any commercial institution.” This book chronicles Gondry’s journey towards what he calls “The Be Kind Rewind Protocol”, and serves as an inspirational guide to creativity and the art of having fun."
We caught up with him at Family in LA a few weeks ago for a book signing and were surprised to find a genuine, humble and non pretentious dude. His material is often critiqued as unfocused, magniloquent or silly - partly due to a following of hipster fanboys that flock to anything with Gondry, Jonze or Kaufman involved, often missing the point of their work entirely. But there is no denying Gondry's creativity, visual sensibilities or flow of ideas, and his goal in the book of presenting filmmaking as deconstructed and accessible is rad.
On the big screen, you can maybe expect Gondry doing the rumored Daniel Clowes penned "Master of Space and Time" at some point. We're just glad he came out of the cardboard box.
The buzz on "Twilight," for romantics, goths and tweens has been huge this year. No doubt the book is a phenomenon and the film will probably follow suit. We once questioned whether it could connect with massive audiences or just a sizable, but dedicated ones, but it appears it could be gangbusters all around.
EW, just wrote, "Will the movie be a hit?" and then Collider says that movie tickets site, Fandango is reporting almost 100 sell outs already in various theaters around the country. The film doesn't open until November 21.
"Twilight accounts for 63% of all ticket sales on Fandango, the nation’s largest movie ticketing destination, outpacing those of High School Musical 3 at the same point in that film’s sales cycle (two weeks before release date). "Sounds grand, but even the director of "Twilight" (and EW) puts those numbers in perspective. "Harry Potter" for example (a franchise many are comparing it to) sold 400 million copies of its books seven editions. "Twilight" on the other hand and the four books in its series have sold 17 million copies worldwide in comparison. Sure, a three book difference, but an even more mammoth gap in sales.
We're not even 5 percent of Potter sales. We're not even a toenail on that body,'' Hardwicke said to EW. ''Ours is a character film, a little more sophisticated teenage Romeo and Juliet.''
EW notes what we've been thinking all along. "To hit it big, the vampire romance needs to lure moviegoers beyond the series' core fans."
Expecting a sequel? The director guesses that "Twilight" must gross $150 million for the studio to approve a follow-up. Wait, isn't there one already green-lit? Not exactly. "Twilight" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is at work on the sequel according to EW (the second book is called, "New Moon,"), but just because a script is written, doesn't mean a film has to be made. As Hardwicke pointed out earlier, the film has to make a ton of money for another to follow it. And Summit Entertainment hasn't exactly had a great year either.
Experts guess "Twilight" should easily be able to clear $20 million opening weekend, but that's not exactly "High School Musical" numbers either.
The Playlist Rates The NYTimes '5 Breakthrough Actors' Piece AKA Alison Pill Wasn't That Good In 'Milk'
We have yet to finish our annual "Breakthrough actors of the year piece," we're considering holding out until the year is done, but the NYTimes having already seen many of the big winter films of the year have already done there feature.
They laud performances by Freddy Rodriguez in the upcoming Latinos-like-Christmas too film, "Nothing Like the Holidays" (sure, we'll take you're word for it, we haven't seen it, but the trailer is cliche gift-wrap), Alexa Davalos in "Defiance" (hmm, no clue, but we're greatly looking forward to the Ed Zwick WWII film), François Bégaudeau of "The Class" (we're totally with them here, he's a marvel, the film is an A-grader) and Michael Shannon of Sam Mendes' "Revolutionary Road" with Leo and Kate (InContention called this months ago, so if he's that good, props go to them).
But wait there's one more, Alison Pill from Gus Van Sant's "Milk." But in the immortal words of Michael Bluth to his son George Micheal, "her?"
Pill is capable in the film, but hardly revelatory, let alone remarkable. As the Times notes, "Pill plays Anne Kronenberg, the leather-jacketed, biker-babe lesbian whom [Harvey] Milk (Sean Penn) hires as campaign manager to whip his fourth try for city supervisor into shape." Yes, this is all true, but if she stands out it's basically because she's the only female on screen. She's a little bit tough and a little bit sassy, but she still has a warm smile that doesn't really make her look all that scary.
"She invests the campaign manager with a low-key confidence that gives her all the authority she needs. Women are rare in this movie, but as the campaign gathers momentum, this one holds the screen like a channel swimmer chugging steadily along in a sea of testosterone-fueled flamboyance."
Sure, we suppose so. She's not terrible by any means. But really, in a film with star turns by Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Josh Brolin and James Franco (not to mention the amazing Penn), Pill kind of fades into the background. That's too mean, she's good, but breakthrough? Isn't that a bit of an overstatement? Isn't there another female we can add to this list? Frieda Pinto from "Slumdog Millionaire"? Evan Rachel Wood from "The Wrestler" (Yeah, we know who she is, but we didn't know that she could be tolerable, let alone amazing). There's others, but we'll save for our own piece.
We all know the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce has been pushed to 2009.
That's a done deal. And a few people got to see an early screening of the John Hillcoat (the moody and excellent, "The Proposition") directed dystopian drama that was met with mixed results.
But Filmmaker magazine's Travis Crawford got to sit with Hillcoat inside the editing bay (before the film was bounced to '09) and delivered a much more informed piece that aforementioned audiences that judged an unfinished product at a test screening.
McCarthy's novel is one of his most despondent and desolate, following a father and son in a ashen and bleak post-apocalyptic world where cannibals and looters desperately scrounge like vermin for scraps to survive and extend their miserable existence. McCarthy says that many thought the movie would soften some of the film's edges, but according to his "shaken" and "brutal" viewing experience, the opposite is true.
"Amputees and the physically disabled writhing in a cellar. A father (Viggo Mortensen, who is extraordinary) teaching his son how to use a gun so they can kill themselves. A mother (Charlize Theron, equally remarkable) discusses, in flashback, why she didn‘t kill her own son. A clan of cannibals stalks “The Man” (Mortenson) and his little boy. If [The Weinsteins] were thinking an autumnal “Oscar-friendly prestige pic,” then they should think again. Shakespeare in Love, it ain‘t."And perhaps this is exactly why the film was pushed out of Oscar season (there's no reason other than calendar holes or economics that they couldn't save it for Fall 2009, right?). Albeit, he did say the film was "racing" to be completed for its once-scheduled November 26, 2008 schedule, but what film this season isn't down to the wire this season? And would a push into December for extra editing time really killed its chances?
Clearly the film is dark as night though. Or at least was in this edit. Crawford calls it an "undeniably harrowing work" and calls the footage he saw, "unsettling, raw and emotionally draining footage." Palpably impressed, the writer warns, "I just hope that audiences are prepared."
Maybe the Weinstien's werent.
"The considerable integrity and strength of John Patrick Shanley’s play prevail despite a questionable central performance in 'Doubt.' ” Ok, so the cast includes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, uhh..., Variety's Todd McCarthy isn't ragging on Meryl Streep is he?
Why yes he is. The Variety scribe was impressed with the film, calling it an, "intelligent, absorbing drama," but to him, the 14-time Academy Award nominee (and two-time winner) is the films weakest link. Bold words.
"The film’s one iffy element, oddly enough, is Streep. This master screen actor, who applies a slight New Yawk accent to her phrasings, takes the vocal low road here as opposed to the more forceful approach of Cherry Jones in her riveting Broadway turn. By ostensibly underplaying the role’s villainy, however, Streep overdoes the melodrama, thereby turning Sister Aloysius into more of a stock figure than she ultimately seemed onstage. Every little tic, gesture and facial mannerism seems maximized by the effort expended to minimalize them, to diminished returns in the cause of creating a three-dimensional character. While the dramatic scenes still register with notable force, it’s a disconcerting, unsatisfying performance from a thesp who most of the time rings true."
Robert Downey Jr. has broken his silence about Terrence Howard being replaced on "Iron Man 2" by Marvel studios. MTV's Splashpage got the scoop, but truthfully, there's not a lot there, RDJ doesn't seem to know why it happened, he says he still "loves" Howard and he's also not about to compare Don Cheadle (the new replacement) to Howard or throw anyone under the bus.
“I think the important thing with the ‘Iron Man’ franchise is to not do too much too soon and to make sure we don’t piss off the public that put us in the position we’re in. We’ve just got to keep rolling up our sleeves higher and further up the elbow. If we show up and we’re in the right head space and our heart’s in the right spot and we really think about the audience at every turn and we don’t try to stamp our hipness onto anything. It’s very interactive.”
Asked if he had anything to do with the decision, Downey Jr. is quick to respond. “I had nothing to do with that decision. I love Terrence very very much. That’s all I’ll say because I haven’t talked to him yet.”
He won't play favorites either and won't speak out of turn for fear of sticking his foot in his mouth. Smart.
“I’ve always admired Don [Cheadle]. It’s one of those situations where I still don’t quite know what happened or why. Here’s what happens too: things happen and you wind up commenting on them before you’ve actually talked to the people and it’s in poor taste.”
Even if the reasons do become clear to RDJ and Jon Favreau (if they aren't already to the director), it seems doubtful that they'll talk about it at length, especially Favreau who allegedly wasn't happy with Howard's performance according to Entertainment Weekly.
"On the declaration it is written, 'All men are created equal.' No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words. That is what America is!," Sean Penn says in this newly released and very quick, "Milk" clip. Focus Features' immediate response to Prop 8? Hmm, either way, timely and more relevant than ever.
1978: Proposition 6, more commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, was an initiative on the California State ballot in 1978. Sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County, the failed initiative would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California's public schools and came on the heels of a highly explosive conservative campaign in Dade County, Florida to repeal one of the first gay rights ordinances in the U.S. With Anita Bryant as their spokesperson, the initiative temporarily passed."If you're interested in this subject and this film, we highly recommend the 1984 Academy-Award winning documentary, "The Times Of Harvey Milk."
2008: Proposition 8 is a California State ballot proposition that would amended the state Constitution to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman, overturning a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriages as a fundamental right.
Ok, scattered throughout this piece are a very small few new photos from Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," cool, right? But much more importantly, did everyone read Entertainment Weekly's story on Mickey Rourke's comeback? Yeah, we've all read about it and blogged about it, it seems like old hat by now, right? The reckless, self-destructive behaviour, the arrogance, the chihuahua he left a film set for (2001's straight-to-video "Luck of the Draw"), etc., right? But holy crap does EW get in deep. We didn't even think we were going to bother reading it at first, but once we started, there was no going back. Kudos to the writer Chris Nashawaty, who wrote a piece way after the fact, the basically trumps most of the "Mickey Rourke: Comeback Kid" stories out there.
First off Rourke does something we haven't read him do: deny he had work done on his face and suggest boxing fucked up his once-beautiful face.
''Somebody said to me the other day, 'You don't look like you used to. 'But who does? I mean, when I was boxing I had six nose operations, I had cartilage taken from behind my ear, I had short-term memory loss, I've got an equilibrium problem, I don't have as many teeth in my head as I used to.''The actor is still eccentric too. His apartment shows off an antique gun (but only one because his publicist asked him to put the rest away) and he receives a monthly house call from a doctor, who administers a catheter IV drip into his arm to replenish whatever the actor's immune system and mineral deficiencies are short on.
The most telling quote from Darren Aronofsky is kind of brutal and illustrates why Rourke identified with the character and had a hart time shooting some of his scenes. ''There were scenes that I think were extremely painful for Mickey. He felt the shame of the character very deeply. Very deeply. Mickey knows what it's like to fall from a great height" (this relates to a lot of quotes Rourke has said in the press previously that he didn't want to take on the role initially and was relieved when at one point, when they cast Nicolas Cage instead - he didn't want to deal with that kind of pain).
Rourke reign of terror effected relationships with lots of people, Barbet Schroeder who directed him in the amazing '80s classic, "Barfly" (Rourke dropped out of a follow-up project last minute, ''I remember I put a note on his front door saying that I would never speak to him again. And I haven't,'' Schroeder said)
Then the interview gets intimately painful. Rourke refuses to speak about his father, but then eventually reveals that he was physically abused by him and begins to weep, having to excuse himself a few times.
"That's where it all went wrong. I lived in an area [Liberty City, a poor neighborhood of Miami] where you could get away with murder with what you did to your kids. I don't like talking about this because I don't want to put myself in the victim category, but when you're 5, 6, 7, you can't fight back. And I never got over what happened.''
This part is just a emotional kick in the stomach.
Rourke is crying now. He seems like he wants to talk about it, but he's sobbing too hard to get the words out. He gets up and walks around the room, deeply breathing in and out, dabbing at his eyes. ''I thought I knew what pain was when my mother and father split up,'' he continues. ''That's why I've never been able to have a birthday party since I was 6. Because my father never came. I never saw him again... Well, I saw him once. He drank himself to death at 47. The year after I met him again. I introduced myself. It was like a big boulder off my shoulder. He was a former bodybuilder. But he didn't look like that no more.'' Rourke's luck was never great and he was seemingly always attracted to self-destructiveness. His former wife, model/actress Carré Otis, spiraled into heroin addiction and the actor suggests he put the hurt on film producers that were enabling her which only helped destroy his reputation in the industry.
"I spent a long time dealing with getting my wife off heavy drugs. And I got myself into some shit, putting some people in the hospital who were giving her drugs. So I lost movies over that. But it was my wife! If you're going to give somebody in my family bad drugs, you're gonna deal with me. I'm not going to say, 'No, I'm an actor.' I could have dealt with it differently, but I didn't.'' The article expounds abounds on his ridiculous spending habits ("a house way too expensive, cars, entourage, women, jewelry. If you ain't ever had it, once you get it, you spend it as quick as you can. I ain't never seen no Brinks truck at a funeral and there ain't gonna be one at mine") and includes laudatory quotes from film critic doyenne Pauline Kael, Sean Penn (''Mickey's taken baseball bats to [his talents], blowtorches, blackjacks, and bullwhips, and he just can't get rid of them.") and Alan Parker who directed him in "Angel Heart" alongside Robert DeNiro.
The climactic scene in "The Wrestler," were Rourke as Randy "The Ram" tearfully tells the audiences he's abandoning the sport that's he's washed up and that the sport hasn't love him back aside from the fans? He wrote it himself. ''I can't watch it. 'I haven't watched it. Maybe three or four years down the road.''
Anyhow, those are the meatiest quotes and obviously there are tons of them. Totally worth a full read. "The Wrestler" co-stars Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood and comes out December 19 via Fox Searchlight. Rourke is likely a shoo-in for Best Actor nomination if he doesn't fuck it up.