Reviews from various films at the Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival — both currently in progress are....ok, not flying in fast and furious like we expected, but more like trickling in at a moderate pace (maybe it's the economy and less writers to carpetbag the events).
Variety weighs in on Todd Solodnz's "Life During Wartime," and are surprisingly positive after shellacking almost anything in sight lately that hasn't appeared to be accessible or commercial ("The Road," Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans"). They even say this quasi-sequel to "Happiness" might be his best film to date.
Variety: "The distinctive, boundary-pushing writer-director has had the eccentric inspiration to resurrect the same central characters a decade later, but using entirely different actors. Winning result, which reels off one riveting scene after another, stands as both a unique sort-of sequel and a film that requires no prior reference points; it's entirely satisfying either way, though even richer if you recall the antecedent."
THR seems to be in the tank as well: "[The film is] a heady mix of deadpan humor that boldly uses such topics as pedophilia, race and terrorism to plead the need for forgiveness at a personal and national level."
A major feat. Can anyone remember the last time Solondz got positive thumbs up reviews from the two mainstream trades? Forget negative reviews, 2004's "Palindromes" was just basically overlooked and forgotten.
Herzog's bizarro horror/serial killer film, "My Son My Son What Have Ye Done," however has been met with a much less warmer reception. However, and this definitely a good thing, it seems like it will appeal to Herzog constituents. And honestly, we're getting slightly tired of the trades leading off their reviews with whether the film has commercial prospects or not — it's a Werner Herzog/David Lynch film for fuck's sake, do you really think it's going to light up the box-office like "Transformers 2?" How does commercial appeal even merit much consideration when reviewing indie niche films like this?
Nevertheless, Variety says: "Teeming with quirky references to Herzog's oeuvre, 'My Son' will feel like familiar territory for the helmer's fans, but that doesn't make it a good film. Though fitfully fascinating, this account of a deranged matricide never gels and will struggle even harder than 'Rescue Dawn' to find an audience."
However, this is certainly the best line in the review. "If My Son were an album it would be a concert of Herzog singing a collection of his reworked B-sides, live and slightly off-key." Heh, that's good stuff.
However, here's two good reason to not just dismiss a film from one bad review (like Jeff Wells unfortunately just did with the one 'My Son' review out there so far).
THR, who are visibly struggling to keep up with the pace of Variety, however are all for the supposed wackiness of Herzog's other film playing in Venice (despite the pan that Variety gave it). "Filled with unexpected turns and subversive humor, Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" is a jazzy, entertaining riff on the theme of a cop who spends too much time in a sewer of criminality and corruption." They also say the film is a "far cry" from Abel Ferrara's NC17 original starring Harvey Keitel, so that should probably kill any comparisons.
The Independent calls is 'Lieutenant,' "a chaotic clash of art-house sensibilities and cop movie clichés."
Likewise, the first "The Road"' review out of the gate by Variety was thumbs down, but folks like The Independent and Glenn Kenny found much like us that it was bleak, but moving and deeply tragic.
Variety also gives a mediocre review to Giuseppe Tornatore's ("Cinema Paradiso") new picture, "Baaria," calling it "overblown." You would think both the trades would have more reports in so far, but to be fair, Venice only started three days ago so surely there's more to come. IFC’s North American debut of the British TV’s "Red Riding" trilogy, directed by Juian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker is seemingly getting really strong reviews too and we'll have one from Telluride for you soon enough.
More reports should trickle in tonight and tomorrow including thoughts on Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air" playing in Telluride tonight and Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" screening today (we believe) in Venice.
Reviews from various films at the Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival — both currently in progress are....ok, not flying in fast and furious like we expected, but more like trickling in at a moderate pace (maybe it's the economy and less writers to carpetbag the events).
First Look: Seth Rogen As Britt Reid In 'The Green Hornet,' Leonard Nimoy And Bill Shatner Talk 'Star Trek,' 'Clash Of The Titans' Set Visit
- Here's your first look at Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, the title character's alter ego, in Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet." Cameron Diaz and Gondry also feature. Of all places, this was screen-capped from a birthday greeting video to musician Beyonce.
- Leonard Nimoy has admitted that his "Elder Spock" character will not be returning in any potential "Star Trek" sequels. “I think the Spock character is very well established as portrayed by Zachary Quinto," Nimoy told fans at some geek convention. "And I think if you saw the movie, Bill [William Shatner]," he told his pal, "You’d say the same of Chris Pine." In typical Shatner fashion, he simply responded: "...bullshit."
- Contrary to previous reports, Sylvester Stallone has revealed his newly-announced fifth installment of the "Rambo" franchise will in fact be set in the Pacific Northwest. The new adventure will find Rambo cleaning up a U.S. Military experiment on elite soldiers gone awry. Stallone reportedly compared the soldiers to the Immortals from the Greco-Persian Wars. A new teaser poster has also been thrown together -- by a high-school graphics class? -- to exhibit at TIFF.
- Irishmen Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy and Gabriel Byrne are set to team up for Brendan Gleeson's directorial debut, "At Swim-Two Birds." Based on a novel of the same name by Flann O'Brien, the film is a coming-of-age tale about a 19-year-old student who sees the fictional characters in the play he's writing intertwining with the people in his life. Meanwhile, fellow Irishmen Liam Neeson and Bono will be working together on "The Virgin Of Las Vegas," the story of an aging show band singer, prone to drinking and living in Vegas, who finds his life turned on its head following the arrival of a mysterious stranger. Bono will be producing while Neeson will star.
- Here is a set visit video on Louis Letterier's "Clash Of The Titans" remake starring the likes of Sam Worthington, Mads Mikkelson and Gemma Arterton.
The trailer has arrived for Oliver Stone's documentary "South Of The Border," and it looks like a doozy. What originally started as a documentary on Venezualan president Hugo Chavez, became a bigger look at South American politics as a whole, and the American media and economic influence on the continent.
The film will be premiering at the Venice Film Festival, but unless it is greeted with nothing less than rave reviews, don't hold your breath about seeing this in theaters anytime soon. A documentary on South American politics is a tough sell on its own, but the director's sympathetic views on leaders that some call dictators is a touchy issue for any studio. His little-seen 2003 documentary on Fidel Castro, "Commandante," was criticized in some circles for being too hands off and is still unavailable on DVD in North America.
As controversial and lefty as it might sound Stone frames it as a media-uncovering look at South America and its leaders. "As is often the case, the man I met was not the man I'd read and heard about in the US media," he told the Guardian in a piece he wrote for the paper. "I was able to return in January 2009 to interview President Chávez in more depth. Was Hugo Chávez really the anti–American force we've been told he is? Hopefully, in our film, you'll get to hear a far different side of the 'official' story."
Stone goes back to big budget productions this fall, when he begins work on "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps." Michael Douglas reprises his role as the skeezy Gordon Gekko who influences a young hotshot played by Shia LaBoeuf. Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella and soon-to-be Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan also star.
We have to run, and perhaps we'll throw up some real context later, but one thing we know for sure is the road for John Hillcoat's, "The Road," is going to be a bumpy one, as some people are finding it to be relentlessly bleak, monochromatic in mood and narratively aimless.
This prompted us to write a piece defending the film starring Viggo Moretensen — who still may have some Oscar hopes here — and Kodi Smit-McPhee, which is not perfect, but has a lot of haunting and heartbreaking qualities to it that make it more than worthwhile.
Here's the new poster. It's not great, but we're also not sure it's the official American version.
For some reason it seems British to us, but then again, those guys usually go with the wacky horizontal sized ones.
Ok, we want to post about this new "Where The Wild Things Are" poster because it's new, we're completists, but there's not a whole hell of a lot to say. Or is there?
It's child-like, seems to appeal to kids a bit more than the last one — a smart move, that $100 million budget is not going to earn its money back on hipster appeal alone — and perhaps is directly aimed and marketed towards kids. Hard to say, if it is, it's pretty subtle but again, not a dumb move. It does convey that nice sense of awe and wonder that the movie, directed by Spike Jonze, will hopefully take from the Maurice Sendak children's book (Jonze and Lance Bangs have also made a documentary on Sendak called "Tell Them Anything You Want" that airs October 14 on HBO).
There's also a sweetness and tenderness to it that we dig. Jonze isn't just an empty-headed hipster, he's really trying to tap into a wonderfully naive and innocent essence here. Everything we've seen so far, indicates a film that is pure-hearted and genuine (and not "cool," hipsters, can you dig it?).
Or as Vince Landay, Jonze’s longtime producer told the New York Times this past week, the filmmaker simply has a natural gift for child-like exploration. “He’s an imaginative kid who for one reason or another has been allowed to fully explore his imagination.”
Can New Poster & Trailer Salvage The Dull Look Of John Krasinski's 'Brief Interviews With Hideous Men'?
This Friday before Labor Day weekend brings us the trailer and poster for "Office" heartthrob John Krasinski's directorial debut, an adaptation of the late David Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men." The cast features (as some of the hideous men) Bobby Cannavale, Will Forte, Timothy Hutton, Krasinski himself, Dominic Cooper, Chis Messina, Max Minghella, Benjamin Gibbard (from Death Cab For Cutie, we guess he eventually made the final cut of the film) among others. A poster was also released today — basically the same treatment as the book cover, and thus in line with the faithfulness of Krasinski to Wallace's book, as described by Film School Rejects as an element that might work against the film's accessibility to the average moviegoer.
"Hideous Men" centers around a doctoral candidate, played by Julianne Nicholson, who, in the wake of a breakup, conducts a series of interviews with various men for her dissertation on the role of the modern man in the post-feminist era. The female character was a device created by Krasinski in order to tie the series of short stories together, one that was apparently given its blessing by Wallace himself before his death.
The film was picked up in July by IFC (way past its Sundance debut), and reviews have been mixed... Film School Rejects gave it an A, despite their misgivings towards its accessibility, and Cinematical calls it an "aimless, pretentious mess." Ouch. This trailer doesn't really give much up in terms of the plot or storyline, exactly what might be lacking in this project. Despite the interesting look into the male psyche, this might just be a property that doesn't translate to film, though we salute Krasinski's efforts.
Best new posit we've heard in a long time (via our message boards, we forget who, but kudos): Is Wes Anderson quickly becoming the new Weezer? I.e. A heavily adored, highly influential (relatively anyhow) band that transformed regular fans into devoted disciples who insisted the work remained brilliant despite obvious diminishing returns to the rest of the normal world?
It's literally the best analogue we've heard in a long time. Don't get it twisted (Fox Searchlight or anyone else), we don't dislike or hate Anderson or his work, but apostles of any kind with zero critical faculties and fan boy-ish tendencies tend to be wretched and it's much the same here. It's like the line in that classic Sloan song. "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans..."
This is to say, we don't have gigantic expectations for Anderson's first foray into animation with "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Ever since we saw the trailer we stopped being very excited and perhaps that's a good thing. Expectations keep growing for his films and we keep getting disappointed. It's not all his fault; there is a lot of the buzz and hype factor that can make the most skeptical of heart get enthusiastic all over again.
Anyhow, chew on that one or discuss, but we love the Weezer/Anderson trajectory idea. Also, we love it for this idea too. Once you accept Weezer for who they are: a pretty catchy, radio-rock, commercial-friendly band and realize they're never going to go back to the cool indie-emo days of Pinkerton, you can just settle in and enjoy them. Perhaps the same will happen with Wes. He can't do "Rushmore" forever. Btw, here's the new poster.
Individual tix for the Toronto International Film Festival went on-sale this morning... we could say something here, but hopefully the TIFF organizers are well aware. Switch them servers next year, and in advance (though to be honest, the advance ticket package lottery stuff is also about as comprehensible and fun as filling out divorce paperwork).
Now that that's out of the way, we got most of what we wanted, certainly our must-haves, but a few nice-to-have picks we missed. So if you're one of our Canadian readers that has an extra tix to "Capitalism: A Love Story" (on the 15th) "Youth In Revolt" (the 16th) or "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (19th) you want to sell, email us. We also have tix to "Defendor" that we don't really want and bought for shits and giggles, "Whip It" and a few others we might be willing to trade/sell depending on what you got.
Some major bummers include "Enter The Void," and the Coen brothers "A Serious Man," but we had to skip those in advance of purchasing because of scheduling conflicts, but they'll be at least two Playlist contribs on the ground floor, so who knows what else we'll get. Even journos with press passes (maybe next year?) have to make those compromises during a festival cause something is bound to conflict or overlap. Happy festivaling and to those who bought today, we hope you got what you wanted and it wasn't too difficult.
Kevin Smith's first time directing Bruce Willis doesn't seem to have been all roses and sunshine hinted the usually amiable director in a rather cryptic statement in the Toronto Star.
But when asked about Willis, there was a pregnant pause. "Yeah, I got to work with Bruce Willis," he allowed, sounding anything but sincere. "Everybody should do that once before they die. It's tough to direct Bruce Willis ... to say the least."Yikes. The brief article goes on to mention that Smith called Willis an "f-ing dick" at the wrap party which certainly doesn't seem to indicate they got along. Smith has already responded via Twitter being equally evasive, saying we would only see them fighting if it was a "hug-a-thon" which Smith would win, until Willis pulled a taped gun off his back. WTF? Undoubtedly, this will set the floodgates to open with either retractions or (preferably) more juicy on-set gossip coming down the pike. Oh and here's Bruce Willis' people saying, "no, it's all good!" We hope someone attending Smith's fall speaking tour corners him directly about this, because however we feel about his movies, the director is definitely as candid as they get.
That wasn't the only problem while shooting the film. The working title "A Couple Of Dicks" is currently in the process of being changed to something more friendly to the studio's marketing team, a feeling Smith is familiar with after last year's "Zack And Miri Make A Porno." Smith obviously hasn't caught a lot of breaks lately.
The comedy/caper film boasts an all-star cast including
Dick Bruce Willis, Seann William Scott, Jason Lee, Adam Brody, Tracy Morgan and Michelle Trachtenberg, 'Dicks,' or whatever it ultimately ends up being called is currently slated for release on February 26, 2010 which is normally a dumping ground, but since Scorsese movies are now opening in February who's to say anymore.
Larry Clark has a new movie in the works and it's not his remake of Neil Jordan's classic '80s post-gangster love story, "Mona Lisa" (post-gangster: he's reformed, not so many bullets in this relationship and class tale, but it's still great, fyi).
It's a — SHOCKER — film about teenage disaffected youth. You didn't see that one coming did you? The director already notoriously well-known for his shocking, yet insightful ("Kids"), sometimes exploitatively skeevy ("Ken Park") and occasionally optimistic and bright ("Wassup Rockers") examinations of teenage life has another adolescent tale on tap.
The new one is a $3.5 million dollar indie called, "Wild Child," and is about a boy in LA who runs out on an abusive family according to ScreenDaily.
The project was apparently announced in Venice earlier this week. Clark and Evan Weiner wrote the script (who?) and shooting is set to begin this fall which means, "Mona Lisa," is going on the backburner. Apparently casting will be announced after the Toronto Film Festival. Will Clark have names for this thing? It's hard to say, that budget isn't exactly huge, but actor fees are probably going down in this climate. They certainly are for bigger stars.
So what of "Mona Lisa" — originally a story of a British ex-convict turned loser-chauffeur to an enigmatic, high-class call girl, who he then falls for? Presumably transposed into an American setting, the new version is supposed to star Mickey Rourke and the always-goregous Eva Green. Apparently Rourke's been trying to get Rolling Stone-r Mick Jagger to play the Michael Caine role in the film. Many that script and or funding isn't ready. Still, as much as we dislike remakes, the talent there makes that one intriguing.
Meanwhile, hopefully "Wild Child," isn't as Calvin Klien porn-y as some of Clark's other voyeuristic look at teens humping while their parents are at work.
Man we were killin' time, we were young and restless We needed to unwind, I guess nothin' can last forever, forever, forever...
Summer is essentially over and the numbers are in. Warner Brothers is the studio winner and will have racked up around $970 million by the end of the weekend thanks to "The Hangover" and "Harry Potter 12." Paramount is $830 million dollars poor enough to still push "Shutter Island" onto 2010 so they can Oscar-focus on "Up In The Air." Heads will roll at Universal who limps in with a sad, $353 million (the total special effects budget of the negro robots in "Transformers 2"). All of this according to THR's end-of-the-summer dollars report. So as we slowly set off into the sunset of this rather mediocre summer —which still did great numbers, but from a critical perspective was a lot of ass — we look back on the Summer of 2009. For some reason or other...
Biggest Flop: "Land of the Lost"
A.k.a. the summer movie most compared to "The Love Guru" (in terms of an esoteric notion concocted by a comedian too overwhelmed by hubris to realize what a terrible fucking idea it was). Will Ferrell's confused mess of a $100 million exercise in futility didn't know if it wanted to be- a kiddie flick with computer-animated dinosaurs, some kind of bizarre raunchy comedy (complete with a diminutive monkey man who humps people), or a zeitgeist-tapping retro throwback. That confusion was transferred to both critics and audiences, and the movie crashed and burned. Loudly. In the end it was everything, and it was nothing. Not even the usually peerless Danny McBride walked away unscathed.
Worst Piece Of Tripe Of The Summer: "Transformers 2" – Before we rip Michael Bay’s bloated, borderline racist, two and half hour waste of celluloid to pieces, we want to preemptively tell the fanboys we had no beef with the first film. We wanted to see robots beating the hell out of each other, and that’s pretty much what we got. What’s more, Bay thankfully kept plot to a minimum allowing the expensive special effects to do their thing. But whatever goodwill we lent Bay the first time around, he squandered with the hulking slog that comprised “Transformers: ROTF.” The film struggled to find a tone right from the get go, veering from dumb slapstick comedy, to tepid political thriller, to a centerfold shoot, to lame teen drama from scene to scene little rhyme or reason. Hey! A scene of Megan Fox bending over! Whoa! Some little robot runs into things! OMG! Shia and Megan are totes in love! When it comes right down to it, Transformers: ROTF was nothing but a one-hundred and fifty minute quest for Shia to learn to say “I love you.” Awful. But the film is only made worse, by being one of the biggest smashes of the summer, guaranteeing that Bay will once again be given a big box of cash to unleash more nonsense onto cinema screens. Thanks a lot America.
Movie That Was Almost Worse Than the Worst Movie of the Summer: "Terminator Salvation"
Most of the critical ire this summer was directed at Michael Bay's loud, proud "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," even though, racial stereotypes aside, the movie did have a handful of gleefully inventive action sequences and a giant robot that ate a pyramid. If only such candy-colored accomplishments popped up in McG's big, lousy "Terminator Salvation," which is the most drab, dramatically inert movie to ever feature giant killer robots. How McG, with a whole host of talented screenwriters, could concoct a movie set in the "Terminator" franchise's future but have less oomph than the snippets we saw at the beginning of the previous films, is beyond comprehension. This thing had more plot holes than plot points, and unlike Bay's calamitous beast, actually thought it was about something.
Biggest Disappointment: "Public Enemies"
Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup and a panoply of great actors in a 1930s gangster period piece, holy shit. What's not to love? But then we remember we saw the enervating, slow-moving, mostly-going-nowhere picture that was also unfortunately shot in butt-ugly digital (bad period-piece aesthetics). The film did have some majestic moments, the last act of the two and half hour film was thrilling and operatic and the technical aspects and methodical eye for detail was superb as usual, but it wasn't quite the slamdunk we were hoping for. Financially it'll probably break even when it hits DVD and years from now bored revisionists with too much time on their hands will hail it as a masterpiece (much like the overrated "Heat" has gone from good, but difficult film to Mann rosetta stone over the years).
Mild Indie Box-Office Disappointment: All things considered, Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker," did OK. $11 million dollars domestically, $12 million world-wide. It didn't do as well as some Iraq-war movies ("In The Valley Of Elah," $29 million), but it did fair better than ""Stop Loss" ($11 million worldwide), "War Inc." ($1.2 million worldwide) and "Redacted" ($779,60) so that's something. Still we were hoping the electrically charged picture — more a rare, smart action thriller, then Iraq War film — would connect with mainstream audiences in a bigger way. Hopefully there's still Oscar hopes to be had.
Biggest Conversation Starter: "Inglourious Basterds"
So Operation Kino was a success, huh? Financially, yes. Critically? Hmmm... While the movie may have lived up to the towering promise of the screenplay we all read last summer, "Inglourious Basterds" was at least good for one thing — long, reference-entrenched debates on the movie's merits and shortcomings. No other movie seemed to bring about more discussion, both on movie blogs like Jeffrey Wells' Hollywood Elsewhere and in direct communication with other people (there were differing opinions here on The Playlist too) [ed. all of you are wrong], than Quentin Tarantino's splat-stick revisionist historical epic. All points of view were argued over, as the conversational tug-of-war that is Tarantino continued (dried up hack recycling old movie tropes or cutting edge filmmaker — you decide!) No matter what you think of the film, you've got to give him credit — he gets people talking, seriously, about film.
Comedic Bomb Of the Summer: "Year One"
If and when Judd Apatow ever has a chance to rewrite his resume, surely he'll take his producing credit off this one and hopes nobody notices. The fond return of the avuncular and sweet Harold Ramis? Oof, dude better stick to little cameos. "Ghostbuters" fans better hope he's not the one directing "Ghostbusters 3" cause if he is, they're fucked. "Year One" was a lame-duck comedic wet fart from start to finish with almost no redeemable qualities. Also, it's sort of sure-fire proof that McLovin' should stay affectionately remembered as McLovin' and never, ever, ever act again.
We'll also try and not let the words "G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra," or "Halloween II" pass through our lips. The less said, the better. As commenters pointed out, "District 9" was the Biggest Pleasant Surprise Of The Summer (congrats to Blomkamp) and "The Hangover" was the Comedy Of The Summer (at least financially — was funny, but certainly no masterpiece), but it's also nothing you don't already know. Plus we got lazy. — Kevin Jagernauth, Drew Taylor, Gaylord "Parnassus Lover" E-I-C.
Indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt is known for her minimalist, intimate and thread-bare dramas. 2008's skeleton-like "Wendy & Lucy" is beautiful, in an excruciating way, but is so narratively emaciated, it almost doesn't exist. 2003's masterwork "Old Joy," is another stripped-down, raw and no-budget affair.
So what's next? According indie horror wunderkind Larry Fessenden, who has helped her produce some of her films (along with Todd Haynes, who generally lends his executive producing support), she might be attempting something with a bit more ambition and scope (sorta like Mike Judge). Not to mention it'll be a genre pic: a Western. Though it could be just as minimalist.
"Kelly’s approach, she really has intimate advisors. Todd Haynes is one. I’ve been one. Mike Ryan. Just people that she goes to. She very much wants to talk things out. She always asks for counsel. And yet of course she’s extremely strong-headed and has her own course to follow. I think she knows and truly believes that the only way she wants to make movies is in an extremely organic fashion. A lot of the things I’ve talked about, we aesthetically share. She’s making a Western now, and she’s off building the characters," Fessenden told the A.V. Club. "It’s still a no-budget movie, but she’s got artisans on board to help her and fulfill that vision. I know the movies she loves and the actors she loves, like Warren Oates. Something about a truth that’s in the films. You know, she’s not a snob. She likes Hitchcock and Sergio Leone. She likes a lot of the great entertainments. But she can smell bullshit a mile off. And she chooses to avoid it, even though she’s had a certain amount of success. So, no-budget anti-western then, is that it? Are we ready for the most existential (read: slow) Western since, "The Shooting"? After all Monte Hellman — "Two-Lane Blacktop," , "Cockfighter," general Warren Oates champion — is returning to the directors chair after nearly 20 years (with als0-ran hipster actresses too, weird). Perhaps a moody tone poem like Jim Jarmucsh's masterpiece, Dead Man"? Who knows, but after tackling the micro-indie landscape twice now, we're betting her proposed Western can't help but be at least somewhat larger in vision. With horses and sets, it sort of has to be, no? A modern "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," maybe? Beats "Transformers 3" that's for sure. We can't wait. Someone give this girl a bigger budget, please.
Mike Judge's workspace comedy "Extract" hits theaters today, its a diverting effort, but not quite in the class of "Office Space" — then again that one took more than a few years to achieve cult status and the mediocre, "Idiocracy" is incomprehensibly adored in some circles. So you're asking what's next? Perhaps wondering if he'll indulge his darker anti-corporate instincts once again? Perhaps with a bit more snarl that the mild-flavored comedy of "Extract"?
Nope. He's moving into an entirely different direction and one that sounds much more ambitious in scope.
"Probably the thing most likely to be next is something John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky wrote, called Brigadier Gerard. It’s based on these short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the 'Sherlock Holmes' guy, that I had read, and they just really made me laugh," Judge told the AV Club. "So it’s kind of a big movie, I guess. It’s set during the Napoleonic Wars, where this character is kind of like Clouseau, similar to that."Most Amazon descriptions don't give any extra insight already provided from what Judge has said above, and seem to miss the fact that these short stories are comedic. Wikipedia descriptions are close to the Inspector Clouseau idea of a vainglorious man who actually thinks he is rather genius, but is actually closer to being inept.
What do you think? Not a bad idea, right? He probably needs a change of pace from the working man's comedy and can maybe broaden his blue collar, no-nonsense directing skills a little bit. It does sound much more grand than anything he's ever attempted. Whatever he's doing, ultimately successful or not, as long as he's making original works largely outside the studio system, we're all for it.
Labor day weekend is typically one of the worst movie-going periods of the year, and this weekend’s crop is no exception, christ. While everyone else is contemplating going back to school or trying to squeeze in one last dip in the ocean, it might be a good idea to give some legs to the late summer art-house quality from previous weeks. As for today...
In Wide Release: Mike Judge tries to replicate his “Office Space” success with another parable for the working class in “Extract.” Jason Bateman plays a dryly funny square trying to sell his business only to be challenged by unexpected circumstances. We thought it was pretty decent, and certainly a step up from “Idiocracy” which barely got a theatrical release a few years back, but it's not fantastic either. It's marginally amusing, but a mild effort overall. Kinda like chewing gum, sweet for a second and gone and forgotten the next. The quite interesting cast also includes Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Clifton Collins Jr., and a mangy Ben Affleck. If you have to see one new film at your local multiplex this weekend, let it be this. Though you've been warned and the critics pretty much agree, chiming in with a mediocre 56% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.
After the inexplicable box-office success of “The Proposal” earlier this summer, Sandra Bullock returns with “All About Steve.” This probably tells you all you need to know, but for those of you who really need to hear all the dirty plot details, Bullock plays a crossword puzzle writer who falls for a handsome TV news cameraman (Bradley Cooper) after one blind date. Put off by her kookiness, he doesn’t return her affections and she finds a way to embarrass herself in one wacky situation after another. The cast finds Thomas Haden Church looking for a decent paycheck as well. This one should find an audience whether you like it or not, so the critics don't really matter much, but the reviews are scathingly bad and the film is currently at a 0.o% rating on RT (seriously there's like 16 reviews too and they rip the film apart like feral dogs).
Accused dog-slapper Gerard Butler finds another outlet for his very talented biceps in “Gamer.” The ridiculous looking B-picture proposes a future world where massive multiplayer games have evolved to such a degree that humans now control other humans (i.e. convicts) as ultraviolent first person shooters. Think “Death Race” meets “The Wizard.” It looks noisy and dumb, but possibly a fun distraction, at the very least. Your “Gears of War” addicted little brother will want to see it. The picture is the latest from "Crank" auteurs Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. TV’s "Dexter", Michael C. Hall along with Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kyra Sedgwick and John Leguizamo (new agent anyone?) join the fun. You also know poor Alison Lohman's career is struggling when she's bottom-feeding in dreck like this. It's a shame, she's great. We're guessing its not being screened for critics at all, because there is not a single review up at RT. When you know it wasn't even screened for the easy lays at Chud, Hitflix, AICN and those kind of constituents then you know its worse than usual.
In Limited Release: Slim pickins at the art-house this week as well, with only one new indie release enticing us at all. Writer-director Cherien Dabis' feature debut “Amreeka” gives us a portrait of a family of Iraqi immigrants and first-generation teenagers living in rural Illinois. It appears to be an engaging and satisfyingly minor key drama, in the vein of something like Thomas McCarthy’s “The Visitor” from last year. While we missed the film at Cannes, “Amreeka” screened at the Directors' Fortnight this year. We are looking forward to checking this one out and the consensus is good at 86% fresh.
Yet another entry in the Immigrant Displacement subgenre this week, “Unmade Beds” from director Alexis Dos Santos arrives in theaters after making the festival rounds. The film follows Fernando Tielve ("The Devil's Backbone") and Deborah Francois, Spanish and French hipsters respectively, as they cross paths as expats in London. While the minimalist drama looks a little twee and too-cool-for-school, the cinematography has been lauded and the soundtrack includes great music by Daniel Johnston and Tindersticks. Not many reviews in yet, but most are positive as the film is 83% fresh on RT (though we do have to note, that one photo, makes us cringe and its reminiscent of "Napoleon Dynamite" or worse, "Eagle vs Shark," but apparently — and thankfully — that's not the case).
Also arriving in limited release with absolutely no buzz, "Carriers," a horror film about a group of friends fleeing a viral pandemic only to realize that they are, you guessed it, carriers. It stars Star Trek's Chris Pine (surely hoping this one sinks fast) Lou Taylor Pucci and Piper Perabo. No reviews yet for the PG-13 rated fright fest. Also dumped into a few theaters this weekend, "My One and Only" starring Renee Zellweger, Kevin Bacon and Chris Noth. Anything getting this little press and a small market release means the studio has no faith in the quality of the picture. It looks pretty terrible, but RT has a decent score up at 69% fresh.
Proceed with extreme caution this weekend and if you're smart, you'll probably go see something in limited release that you missed earlier this year. May we recommend — if it is indeed available in your town — "The Hurt Locker," "Moon," "Still Walking," "Big Fan," "500 Days Of Summer," etc. Some of them (not all of them) might be genius, but compared to the crop above, they're fucking works of art. Or go to a rep theater — New York always kicks ass for this — or rent something you missed. "The Limits of Control" and "Summer Hours" probably aren't on DVD yet, right? Shame...
A new poster for Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans" has debuted via ComingSoon. It looks... decidedly B-movie. Eww, for a Herzog movie this is the best they can do? Why don't they just write, "coming straight to a DVD store near you." Blech.
Anyhow, starring Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes, the film centers on homicide detective Terrence McDonagh (Cage) who, during a heroic act of rescuing a prisoner from Hurricane Katrina, severely injures his back and is put on prescription pain medication. A year later, the lieutenant — struggling with his addictions to sex, Vicodin and cocaine — finds himself in the battle to bring down drug dealer Big Fate, who is suspected of massacring an entire family of African immigrants.
Co-starring the likes of Val Kilmer, Xzibit, Fairuza Bulk and Jennifer Coolidge, the film has apparently already premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival and will hit the Toronto Film Festival alongside Herzog's "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done," next week ('Lieutenant' is also screening at Telluride).
Perhaps tellingly (based off the mediocre poster), writing from Venice, Todd McCarthy from Variety described the film as "offbeat, silly, disarming and loopy all at the same time" predicting that "viewers will decide to ride with that or just give up on it, according to mood and disposition." He also calls it, as you might have expected, "loony."
McCarthy goes on to explain that while the picture "lacks sufficient action to sate the appetites of sensation seekers" and is "indifferently made, erratically acted and dramatically diffuse," it still exhibits "a sort of deadpan zaniness, stemming from a steadfast conviction in its own absurdity, that gives [the film] a strange distinction all its own." Smells like it's either genuinely terrible, or contains the Herzog-ian charms that his devotees already adore. Honestly, we love Herzog, but with Cage and the already nutty-looking trailer, it could easily go either way. It'll probably be up to subjective opinion, though $10,000 says this guy loves it no matter what, as he seems to have already decided in advance, as per usual.
Speaking with Reuters meanwhile, Cage discussed Herzog's film while distancing it from Abel Ferrera's Harvey Keitel-starrer "Bad Lieutenant" from which this film is somewhat borrowing from. "This is a New Orleans cop, it takes place in New Orleans, it's 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,' it's not 'Bad Lieutenant,' " the actor said trying to distinguish between the two pictures. "It would be unfair to compare the two movies. Harvey [Keitel]'s trajectory is really dealing with guilt and all of that, and perhaps fits more into that (Judeo-Christian) program, so to me it's a completely different story and a different cop...[My character] is in a sense part of his environment, he's trying to operate within an environment which has a drug culture and a street culture, so how do you survive in that world?"
'Bad Lieutenant' will reportedly hit theaters on November 30.
In what seems to be the strongest indicator so far that Martin Scorsese will tackle his Frank Sinatra biopic next, British big-band singer Rick Guard has revealed that he's already been headhunted for a musical contribution to the project.
"When I got the email from Scorsese's people I thought it was a wind up," the musician tells The Sun. "I was then contacted by American agents looking to represent me and my website has gone ballistic with hits. There's been more visitors and emails to the site in the last two days than in the last year!"
While the U.K. tabloid reports that Guard has been recruited to record for the soundtrack, it seems plausible the musician could act as a musical stand, but as Sinatra's voice? Seems doubtful. Who knows what the thinking is there, but obviously an ol' blue eyes film would likely have others singing in it as well.
Last we heard, a three-way battle between Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Johnny Depp was taking place for the title role with each of actors backed by different parties behind the film's production: the director, the studio and Sinatra's family.
Development on the Sinatra biopic potentially spells disaster though for Scorsese's adaptation of "Silence," which was originally set to star Daniel Day-Lewis and Benicio Del Toro as two Jesuit priests in the 17th century subjected to violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to find their mentor and spread the word of Christianity. As we previously noted, "Silence" was always going to be a hard sell especially in today's day and age of sequels and remakes. But with a seemingly commercial effort like "Shutter Island" having already been shuffled out of this year's award-season slate into 2010, it's probably fair and safe to assume that we might have to wait a few years for "Silence." Bit of a shame as rumors had it that Scorsese took on 'Island,' specifically to appease his producer folks as a means to finally tackle the Jesuit priest film which has apparently been a pet-project of his for years that he's wanted to tackle.
For now it seems as though projects like "Silence" and the George Harrison doc will be taking a backseat to the Sinatra biopic (though the Harrison doc is something that can probably be worked on over the years and some team of editors are probably sifting through and collecting footage as we speak). Additionally, Scorsese just had HBO greenlight his series "Boardwalk Empire," the story of the 1920's king of Atlantic City, Nucky Thompson, to be played by Steve Buscemi and co-starring the likes of Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald and Michael Shannon. Scorsese helmed the pilot to the show, will act as an executive producer and is reportedly hoping to stay creatively involved — but hopefully not enough to eat up much of his 2010 free time. And yes, it is a British tabloid, but it's such a small story, who would make this up? That is unless Guard is really trying to get himself some free press... (which would be bad form and would blow up in his face if that was the case, we assume he's not that dumb).
Rick Guard - Stop It, I Like It
French First Lady To Star In Woody Allen's 2010 Paris Project, Marion Cotillard And Penelope Cruz Revealed As Oscar Contenders From 'Nine'?
- France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has reportedly agreed to star in Woody Allen's Paris-set project due to film in the summer of 2010. Allen had expressed interest in casting the actress/musician and had previously discussed with the press the prospect of asking her to join.
- Two test screening reports have revealed the scope of performances in Rob Marshall's "Nine." Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz were reported as having the best Oscar chances as Cruz apparently has the "meatiest role of anyone in the film and milks it for all its worth" while Cotillard plays "the most sympathetic role" and is "the character you care about and the one people will likely remember." Kate Hudson, Judi Dench, Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson, Sofia Loren and Nicole Kidman all received mixed reviews and were noted to have smaller roles. Daniel Day-Lewis also got good wraps.
- Lee Daniels' "Precious," Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" and Hirokazu Koreeda's "Airdoll" have been unveiled as the headliners for this year's Chicago Film Festival which runs from October 8th to the 21st. The rest of the line-up can be found at the source.
- Colin Hanks, Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor are set to lead Gil Cates Jr's indie-comedy "Lucky," the story of a fledgling serial killer who wins the lottery and attempts to pursue his lifelong crush. Shooting to start next week in Iowa.
- Here is a short featurette on Drew Barrymore's "Whip It" which has a fair bit of actual film footage interwoven in it. The more we see from this, the more we think, "hey, this might not be half bad." Probably can't be worse than that other film written by Ellen Page's old friend...
'Tron Legacy' To Do Battle With 'The Green Hornet,' Mike Judge Reveals Next Project, Kevin Smith Faces Same Old Title Problems With 'A Couple Of Dicks
- "Tron Legacy" has officially been given a December 17th 2010 release date, the same day that Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet" now opens (it was pushed back five months just recently). Watch as geeks will freak out at the box office trying to decide which film to see before attempting to theater-hop their way into both. More importantly though, when is that Daft Punk soundtrack for the film coming out?
- Kevin Smith's is facing the same old problems with a title change on his upcoming film "A Couple Of Dicks" looking imminent. Adam Brody — who stars in the film — reports that “we were talking about [changing the name]; you can’t really advertise that before 9[pm on TV] if that’s the case, so that really hampers [the studio]." No alternatives were mentioned though he did reveal they were in the process of deciding on a new title.
- Here's a behind-the-scenes look at Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson working hard on their upcoming "Tintin" films. They actually wear those bowler hats on the job?!
- Rapper Ghostface Killah revealed that he was paid 30k for a cameo as a Dubai businessman in the first "Iron Man." His appearance never made the cut though. Gotta love the gangster honesty.
- Here is a trailer for the Woody Harrelson led lo-fi superhero flick "Defendor." Kat Dennings also co-stars in the story about a guy who thinks he's a superhero. Funny? Amusing? If you say so...
Back in January, we uncovered — at the bottom of an interview with the the writer-directors of the new Sissy Spacek film, "Lake City," Hunter Hill and Perry Moore — a small tidbit about Spike Jonze creating a documentary on "Where The Wild Things Are" author Maurice Sendak.
Hunter Hill and Perry Moore were producing, but we didn't know deeper details and only presumed and hoped that Jonze himself was actually directing.
Details arrive from the lengthy New York Times article from yesterday.
Jonze did in fact direct (with video music director/filmmaker Lance Bangs) what is described as a "short" documentary and it will air on HBO. Titled, "Tell Them Anything You Want," the doc airs October 14.
Timing is perfect, 'Wild Thing's hits theaters, October 16 and that month is a veritable 'Wild Things' campaign assault — that includes, soundtracks, video games, Dave Eggers novelizations of the movie, and coffee table photo books.
BTW, if you haven't heard it yet, here's our If I Were Spike Jonze Imaginary Soundtrack playlist we made last year. There's also some new footage from 'Wild Things' at Empire, but we don't think this is one of those films you want to spoil by watching too many advance clips, so be mindful of what's out there in the upcoming weeks.
Reviews are comin' in a plenty from Venice and Telluride on John Hillcoat's "The Road," his adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, and they're not pretty.
The film is being hammered and we kind of expected as much. What does that mean? Were we aware of the narrative lapses the reviewers are suggesting? Variety's Todd McCarthy is unequivocal in his position. "This 'Road' leads nowhere," is his opening sentence. He also calls it "grim and bleak," but isn't that the exact point?
"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy doesn't have much of a forward-moving plot or narrative. It's a monochromatic father and son tale of trying to survive on the desolate open road in a despondent, ashy gray post-apocalyptic world full of cannibals, fear and hopelessness. That's it. There's nothing else to it other than the undying and all-encompassing love a father has for his boy. In that sense, "The Road," nails the book in every sense quite beautifully. Yes, it's depressing, yes it's dark and yes it's bleak as all get out. That's the point.
Todd seems deathly disappointed that the film will likely have few commercial prospects with mainstream filmgoers, which is sadly true, and seems to ignore the fact that the film is all about atmosphere, mood and tone.
In Contention, at least seems to realize this when they say, "three quarters into [the film] it becomes clear that atmosphere may have been preferred over characterization," and in a sense that's very true. Some of the dialogue, and specifically an awkward voice-over at the beginning, doesn't quite work, but to say the dialogue is flawed is overstating the case. Actually what we think would have worked even more is a near silent film, or at least the grim, dialogue-less first 20 minutes of "There Will Be Blood," but alas the film doesn't go there.
We're not going to try to sit here and pick apart the reviews or make a line-by-line defense, but there's qualities of "The Road" — the haunting, elegiac tones, the melancholy tear-stained faces, and gutwrenching unrelenting anxieties — that are seemingly not appreciated and very close with the original text in our minds. The novel was about tenor above everything else. It's a very faithful adaptation. Perhaps too faithful, it's not a linear presentation and there are few arcs. But that doesn't make it a bad movie. It's more of a washing-over-you experience like a slow-motion firestorm than it is an A-to-B-to-C journey. Yes, it's more of an art movie. Did you see "The Proposition" or "The Assassination of Jesse James"? They are tremendous pictures and "The Road" falls much closer to these works than traditional movies, perhaps even having a much deeper and resonant emotional weight as well.
So don't count it out just yet. The Hollywood Reporter is more in-line with our thinking and says, "[Hillcoat does an] admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale." And yes, they note that the film will have a hard time having major commercial success.
"Shot through with a bleak intensity and pessimism that offers little hope for a better tomorrow, the film is more suitable to critical appreciation than to attracting huge audiences though topliners Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron will attract initial business."
And this is totally true, but if you're watching this film with eyes wide awake, you know you're clearly a watching a picture that was not made for commercial audiences. There are a few small concessions — mostly that sub-par voice-over that vanishes rather quickly (thankfully) and the beginning is slightly clunky or a least takes a minute to find its rhythm, but when you see how brutal and harsh the picture really is you'll begin to appreciate just how much The Weinstein Company and Dimension films let Hillcoat get away with. They took a gamble here and instead of sanitizing it, they let the filmmaker go as miserable and dark as the text demanded and — weird thing to say — they should be applauded or at least patted on the back for not butchering the film. TWC probably figured Oscar was their one hope, and while it remains to be seen whether it will generate much Academy heat — Viggo still has a shot (Anne Thompson seems to agree), Kodi Smit-McPhee, not so much — it's an admirable and ballsy move especially considering how shaky their company has been this year.
What we would do to be a fly on the wall and hear some of the battles Hillcoat and Bob must have had though. We're still with Esquire who saw it earlier this year and called its "unforgettable, unyielding" horrors and "hard to watch" qualities pluses and not negatives.