While no soundtrack for John Hillcoat's "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee has been released yet, White Lunar, the new, two-disc compilation album of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtrack work did come out this week (September 22) on import.
And yes, there is incredibly haunting and funereal music from "The Proposition" (which Cave also wrote the screenplay for) and the phenomenal "The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward John Ford," but there is also new music to "The Road," that doesn't hit theaters now until November 25 (we saw it during TIFF and thought it was bleak, but beautiful and heartwrenching at times). The score to this one is a bit different than their previous work; more romantic, yet melancholy and some reviews of the film even felt the music was a little too saccharine which, while overstating it a bit, isn't an entirely invalid comment either.
So we're not 100% sure, but it appears that White Lunar has six new songs from "The Road," and hopefully there will be a dedicated soundtrack CD to their entire score when the film gets released later this fall.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - "The Road"
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - "The Boy"
While no soundtrack for John Hillcoat's "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee has been released yet, White Lunar, the new, two-disc compilation album of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtrack work did come out this week (September 22) on import.
So this is produced and therefore fake, but it's an odd piece of viral video. We've actually heard some not-so nice rumors which we won't repeat, and Mothersbaugh was fired from "Whip It," so... It's all just a little weird, really.
Yes, we're finishing up our TIFF reviews this week. Still a few more to come, we're behind.
If Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" saw a lukewarm reception in the U.S. — or least the studios, no one bigger than the fine Sony Pictures Classics seemed to really want it — that is not the case in Toronto, where the film, which features the last performance of the late Heath Ledger, was one of the first at TIFF this year to completely sell out; and tickets were not easy to come by, seriously. We tried to see it in France during Cannes, and finally, almost five months later, we caught up with the film, which we've always been very curious to see (despite what a certain faction of commenters who troll this site would tell you), and were, sadly, less than impressed.
While Gilliam's latest is a synthesis of all his best work superficially — trashbag "Fischer King" aesthetics, "Munchausen" whimsy and creativity, plus his not-so-good films like "Brothers Grimm," and its tendency toward slapstick comedy — the end result here is something of a haphazard mashing of elements rather than a coherent whole. Yes, this film was made under duress; a deceased star, thus a troubled production, and a rush to find new, worthy actors who were available — most significantly Johhny Depp, who they borrowed from Michael Mann for two days. And it had a small budget to deal with too, we get all that. But what most hampers 'Parnassus,' other than its goofy tone, are its cheap, "Candyland"-reminiscent CGI-effects, which look like something you would tolerate if only watching a kids movie. In fact, it's not far off from the broad and wacky mood of Tim Burton's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory."
Set in modern day London, 'Parnassus' is essentially a Faustian tale about the titular sage (Christopher Plummer) who centuries ago made a deal with the devil, aka Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), in exchange for everlasting life. The price was to be his firstborn daughter (a quite good Lily Cole) once she reaches the age of 16. As that day approaches, Parnassus bemoans the predicament he's gotten himself into, as he still hasn't told his daughter about her tragic fate. Meanwhile, he puts on a happy, or more appropriately, booze-sozzled face for his troupe of performers, and serves as the main attraction of his magical traveling circus, the Imaginarium of the film's title, which — as far as we can tell — is meant to entice people to enter and live out all their wildest fantasies, only to emerge afterwards as cleansed, happy people, full of vigor and a sense of youth lost somewhere along the way. (So, kinda the effect we assume Gilliam hopes his 'Imaginarium' will have on audiences.) Unfortunately, those who take an interest to the shoddy display tend to be amused drunks and the police officers who want to know where these chavy goons have disappeared to — that being the magical Imaginarium mirror (looking like it cost about $5 dollars of set design) which transports people into a day-glo dreamscape controlled by Parnassus' mind. It takes the coincidental arrival of a charlatan (Ledger) being hanged under a bridge (it's been suggested to some that seeing Ledger with a noose around his neck is disturbing, but in this context, it's not anything to get shocked or outraged about), whose presence is predicted by Parnassus' tarot cards, to overhaul the Imaginarium's showmanship — add a little confident razzle dazzle, we'll say — and who in the process, Parnassus deems as his last-ditch hope to rescue his daughter from her terrible fate.
Then, out of nowhere, the gambling-happy Devil reappears to remind the good Doctor that he has about three days to settle up on his bet and hand over his daughter. Desperately, another wager is made as a hail-mary attempt to save her life: "The first to five souls," the Devil purrrs slyly, which Parnassus quickly realizes means enticing innocents with his own imagined dreamworlds over those that the devil uses to tempt unsuspecting victims. (It's all pretty silly and doesn't make much sense, especially since the devil doesn't even really "compete" at first.)
So the game is on. Ledger's mysterious Tony amps up the spectacle and relocates the caravan to a more crowd-friendly location, and lures civilians (mostly plump, pearl-wearing women) into the mirror. His first customer drags Tony in with her, and since it's her imagination that takes precedence, Tony's image is warped to look like what she wants it to (hence the first switcharoo, and Johnny Depp's appearance).
So when Andrew Cole (who's a great actor, but doesn't really have the chance to flex his muscles here), the young Parnassus apprentice enamored with Lily Cole, enters the mirror with Ledger, out pops Jude Law and when Lily enters the mirror with Ledger we get Colin Farrell. Or something like that. Given that logic, we're not sure why the drunk who enters the mirror solo at the beginning of the film has his face transformed much to his aghast astonishment (other than it sets up the fact that people's faces change when they enter the mirror). However, reason isn't key in the Imaginarium, and it's certainly not a dealbreaker, but it does indicate the sort of convoluted and incoherent plotting throughout.
Many have asked which Ledger stand-in has the most screentime and that's easily Colin Farrell, who is also the best of the Ledgers, playing his character with more malice and with less, broad, wide-angle-lens kookiness. Depp is onscreen for all of three minutes and Law maybe has about 10 (Farrell is closer to 15-20 minutes onscreen). As the story's challenge progresses, it ascends to its typical feverish, clownish pitch and Ledger's/Farrell's charlatan ways are exposed. But it's a a shame that it is not Ledger himself who is able to perform the grand finale, and the fact that the actor is not around for the comeuppance does undermine and detract from the overall narrative impact.
As noted, the special effects aren't great to say the least, but you do at least become acclimated to the rainbow-lite look... until the climax, where the CGI-, blackhole mirror-chase sequence just becomes downright egregious.
Incomprehensible, is too harsh and unfair (though several critics from Cannes used the word to describe the film), but the half-baked, nonsensical picture, that awkwardly mixes the worst, zany tendencies of Salvador Dali with Nickelodeon aesthetics and cornball humor just isn't very cogent or sharp. And at two hours plus, it's also far too long to sustain the disjointed flights of fancy.
The film is not valueless and those sympathetic to Gilliam's plight and Ledger's death will likely give it a pass, but those who have no vested interest either way could easily become annoyed with the tiresome, fantastical conceits. In fact, the whole thing might have just worked a lot better as a kids movie.
The repartee between Plummer and Waits is amusing, but no one really shines in this thing (and poor Verne Troyer who is like a cue-card reader should never really be onscreen aside from "Austin Powers"-like gags) aside from Lily Cole and Farrell. Even Ledger relatively underwhelms, but then again, his screentime is truncated. It would have been fascinating to see him have a chance to navigate the full extent of changes his characters undergoes, but sadly, we're stuck with what the filmmakers had to work with (and it is an admirable effort, just one that's honestly not very successful).
Terry Gilliam hopefully has another brilliant "Brazil" masterwork in him and perhaps mounting the belated "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" will put him on that path, but 'Parnassus' is a mostly lackluster effort and goofy bauble that's a far cry from even Gilliam's fourth or fifth best work. [C-]
A few housekeeping notes. 1) Normally we'd be finished our 2009 Toronto International Film Festival coverage by now, but we've been a little under the weather this week, so don't be surprised if/when you see three, four more reviews straggle out next week. It's also the NYFF here in NYC/BK which exhausts us even more and doesn't help you get any better.
Anywho. OK, so if you're at TIFF every year you know they have a theme song and it's generally from a up-and-coming Canadian artist. In 2007 it was Feist's "I Feel It All," before she became an IPOD, IPhone superstar. Last year it was Montreal singer Patrick Watson with his excellent, "Lusicious Life," song and this year who was the band behind that anthemic, Coldplay-ish song that's been stuck in our head for a week? We asked around and no one seemed to know the epic-like tune playing before every film.
Well our Toronto filmmaker friends CYCinema finally clued us into the answer. It's Toronto rock band Pilot Speed and their song, "Light You Up" from their 2009 album Wooden Bones. Anyone who's ever been at TIFF for a whole week will tell you that after that week is done, the theme song is entrenched in your head for seemingly all enternity so thank god someone finally clued us into what it was.
A friend of ours in the Toronto music industry tells us they're not very well known either which is kind of cool for them having their song chosen for such a prestigious spot. Here's more on their Myspace page if you're interested.
Exclusive: Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard Responds To Blogger Complaints About Marketing & Distribution
An ugly trend has begun to emerge among a select group of film bloggers, where Sony Pictures Classics has unfairly been labeled as a studio that has no idea how to release a film. /Film have been particularly vocal, wringing their hands anytime Sony Pictures Classics decides to release a film. Edward Douglas over at ComingSoon seems to be piggybacking on the sentiment, topping it off with a particularly longwinded, and somewhat nonsensical rant entitled "The Battle Cry." Published in August, the piece outlines many of the arguments that seem to crop up around the web anytime Sony Pictures Classics announces an acquisition or is set to release a film. In his tiresome piece, Douglas makes ludicrous box office comparisons and in general criticizes many aspects of the longstanding film company's practices without really an understanding of the studio and its films differ from many of the other players out there.
With that in mind we decided to reach out to Sony Pictures Classics to hear their side of the story, and co-president and co-founder Tom Bernard graciously gave us his time to talk about the company, their strategies and their overall vision of their role in bringing films to market. What emerged in our conversation was a better understanding of the overall industry and in particular the studio's particular niche. What will be instructive for many of the studio's detractors is that not only do Sony Pictures Classics know how to platform and market their films. Its interesting to note that, in our nearly one hour talk, there wasn't a single mention of opening weekend numbers or overall theatrical totals, but that Bernard spoke enthusiastically about the ongoing cultural legacy of the films he represents.
“I liken it more to what it was like in the music business in the '70s, '80s and even today where a band has to go and create a reputation for itself around the country. They don’t just show up and they’re a hit. They gotta go find their audience, speak to their audience, have their audience speak to each other and they become part of the culture. And Sony Pictures Classics has always taken that approach with distributing their movies. You look at a movie like "Moon" [we built up to about] 700 playdates, and [we were] on the screen all summer. That movie has become part of the culture. If we had opened on 700 screens for one week, and maybe we got the traditional 2 week play and out, the movie would not have the reputation it has today. So our goal when we release a film is to try and establish that movie as something that is in the culture, part of the culture and will continue to be something that people want to see as each generation comes into their own.”
And looking back at their track record, it's hard to argue with this approach. As he points out, films like "Run, Lola, Run," "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown" are still highly regarded, benchmark films. By comparison, films like "Juno" or "Napolean Dynamite" already faced backlash while still in their theatrical run, and are now tired pop culture relics. Just try and breaking out some quotes from those films at the next party you attend and count how many eye-rolls you get if not outright hostility. Moreover, what bloggers like Douglas also forget, is that studios like Fox Searchlight also have soundtracks, t-shirts, toys and other ephemera to push as they rollout their "indie" films. Fox Searchlight's methods aren't just about getting the film seen, but also making sure their licensors and partners are happy as well.
But perhaps the biggest complaint leveled at Sony Pictures Classics has been their limited rollout strategy. In recent years, the measured success of a film seems to have become more and more dependent on how big the numbers are on opening weekend. This strategy certainly plays well for big studio films, who carpetbomb the pop culture world with trailers, virals, posters, fake websites and other marketing material in order to guarantee a huge audience on opening weekend, which will ensure lots of free press on the following Monday. Of course, the other part of this model requires that once the opening weekend is over, all marketing for the film effectively stops while the studio focuses on the big picture for the next weekend. This approach, which seeks to squeeze the most amount of money out of a film in the shortest amount of time, has made things interesting for boutique and independent studios. Unable to command the staff and dollars required to play in the same sandbox as the big boys, these studios have engaged in smart, small rollouts that build out from limited release dates, and strongly engage social media promotion and word of mouth to drive interest in their films. Of course, the studio who seems to have the this strategy down to a science is Fox Searchlight, who have done wonders with films like "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Wrestler" and "Juno" driving them to box office, critical and awards acclaim.
Bernard discussed with us in great detail their approach which balances economics and real marketplace expectations. The first thing Bernard notices, is that buzz about a particular film, while it can be rampant on the web, is something quite different as it fans out in real time geographically. “What we’ve noticed is there is a relationship between the way information travels and geography. We’ve developed a release pattern that we feel helps facilitate the word of mouth in a very strategic way. For instance, New York City and LA open at the same time. That information between those two cities travels very quickly. A place like Washington, DC, it takes three weeks for that New York City information to connect there. Boston works one week after New York. Chicago is usually two weeks after New York. And then after Chicago you open Milwaukee a week later and then you open Minneapolis a week after Milwaukee. It seems the information flows that way. There is this whole [information] matrix when you open a movie [and that drives] the way it [opens].” For those who believe because information is online, that everyone must know about a film, and thus a strategic rollout is binding a film to failure, Bernard says that's simply not case. With the films Sony Pictures Classics represents, “....you eventually can break them regionally after you’ve established the film in each [major] marketplace. There are certain people that are in the know that are real fans of the film and want to see it right away, but they’re the minority.”
However, this isn't to say that Bernard isn't interested or that Sony Pictures Classics aren't engaging non-coastal cities or social media outlets to promote their films. Part of their ongoing process does very much involve trying to reach as many hub cities as possible, but in a way that is smart and financially levelheaded.
"One of the things that has been a great asset to us is that every major city and even some of the minor cities, have film festivals. We’ve found a great relationship to playing a festival in an individual city and helping the awareness of a movie. If you can find a festival that fits the timing of the release of your movie it’s important. Playing that festival creates a certain awareness that you can’t buy. One of the other ways we connect with a lot of these audiences is we use Facebook extensively. We’ll do screenings across the country, regionally, with Facebook. We do special screenings with websites like Nerve.com around the country. We find right now, the biggest outreach we have is through the web and that the newspaper is a tool that’s important, but not as important as it once was.” But at the end of day, getting a film on screens is matter of dollars of cents, and Sony Pictures Classics has long realized they can't play the same game as the major studios. “The basic 101 in movie distribution - and always has been - is never spend more than you make. If you open a film and spend a lot of money that’s a heckuva gamble, and it takes a lot of money now, because of the competition, to get somebody’s attention. So if you’re going to go [into a wide release] you’re basically competing with studios that are spending $50 and $60 million dollars [on marketing] and going on 5000 screens and that’s just not going to happen. I don’t think you’re going to get the audience’s attention to make that work.”
While the difficulty in getting the word out about foreign or independent films in the noise of mainstream marketing is a pressing issue for independent studios, in a rather surprising response, Bernard says the closing of non-chain arthouses has actually allowed for better organized rollouts for their films. “Right now, Regal Cinemas has a whole chain of independent screens within their circuit. They’ve got an independent film buyer, they’ve got an independent marketing team, they’ve got a magazine that’s distributed in all the theaters that just deals with the independent films they have booked for the quarter. AMC has the same. So you have the two largest theater chains in the country with a fleet of screens that play independent films.” The problem with independent arthouses in the past, Bernard had found, was that while some were very savvy others weren't, and overall there just wasn't the opportunity to send a unified, national campaign out with the coordination that chains like AMC or Regal offer. “The theaters are certainly as abundant as ever [but] it’s easier to interact with them in a sense. [For example] next week we’re having a teleconference after we screen four of our movies for Regal, where our marketing team is going to talk to them about the different angles and ways that we’d like to try and have them work with us in marketing each film.”
Another avenue some have criticized Sony Pictures Classics for not exploring, are VOD options like IFC Direct or Magnolia's service. However, the problem Bernard sees is that in the eyes of the cable company, it's less about the films than about offering another service that can gain them subscribers. “There are a number of cable companies in the United States. You cannot put together a national cable release because there are so many different companies that have different agendas. And what’s happened with this pay per view is that the cable companies have said ‘This is great. For specialized movies we’ve got a well to do audience, that’s educated, they like these movies, let’s put them on pay per view.' And what’s their motivation? You can’t watch it on pay per view unless you subscribe to the cable system. If you remember in the past HBO for a long time ran a lot of specialized product – foreign films, independent films – you don’t see that anymore. You couldn’t see those movies on HBO unless you subscribed and they pretty much hit that level where they are [filled up with subscribers]. They reached their goals in that area. With the cable system, pay-per-view certainly generates [and] throws off some cash, but it’s not the main business of the cable company,” says Bernard. For Sony Pictures Classics, their platforming strategy outlines five very clear, successive windows: theatrical, DVD, pay-per-view, premium cable and network television. For Bernard, the theatrical with day-and-date digital release essentially knocks out word of mouth, and kills the earning power of the film. “You have five times to make your movie available in the marketplace. If you [release it day-and-date on pay-per-view] you basically closed all those other windows because a lot of the other distribution venues will not take the movie after that. So you’re basically knocking the revenue power out of the film.”
The other issue brought about by digital releasing is the problem of piracy. In fact, for Sony Pictures Classics, it was their release of "The Wackness" (the very acquisition of which caused widespread grumbling among bloggers) where the issue first reared it's ugly head.
"We became aware of it with “The Wackness.” We bought “The Wackness” at Sundance and liked it a lot and put it out into the marketplace and...at its peak we were on 600 screens and we couldn’t understand why more people didn’t go. We found out through the producers that they had submitted a unique cut of the film to the Sundance film festival. And that version left the Sundance office where they were evaluating what to put in the festival and went up on the web before the festival. So that movie was actually being passed around [online] the whole time we had it in release, which destroyed us.”
And while Bernard understands that often the day-and-date strategy is often executed to stymie the effects of piracy, he believe that it ultimately it is a detriment to a film finding its footing. “A lot of these very concentrated releases are to prevent piracy...and certain movies I think need time [to find an audience].”
It's that time to allow the movie to find an audience, that has allowed Sony Pictures Classics to survive the DVD downturn. As we noted in our interview with Jonathan Turell of the Criterion Collection, both major and indie studios are having difficulty releasing their specialty, indie or foreign films on DVD because of the changing marketplace. However, for Bernard, the interest in Sony Pictures Classics films is still there, even if people aren't buying.
“Our movies are still doing well in the ancillary market on DVD. What we found is that there’s been a big shift from buying to rental. So the revenue streams have stayed similar its just the dollars have switched into another area." And again, it comes back to Sony Pictures Classics platforming strategy that allows their films to continue to grow even after they leave cinema screens. As Bernard notes, "Having a solid theatrical release, and branding the movie, I think pays off tremendously for us in the ancillary marketplace. We have "Tyson" [coming out on DVD] and its going to ship 500000 units which is huge, but its because the movie has been branded in the marketplace. Whereas if that had come out day and date on pay-per-view and in the theaters it would’ve been over.”
At the end of the day, when discussing platforming and strategic roll outs, you can't paint every studio with the same brush. "You have to look behind the business and each one of these companies is very different in how the business works. You would never think of Focus as a foreign sales company, but they have a huge foreign sales division. We actually buy movies from them. Fox Searchlight makes most of their movies. They’re a big production company. They have 300 people, Sony Pictures Classics has 25. We're all in the same ocean, but we’re completely different fish." They all differ in size, scope and focus. Fox Searchlight, succeed with their system in no small part because their films have broader appeal. What is often forgotten in these discussion is that Sony Pictures Classics are often representing films that would otherwise not be represented at all in the North American marketplace. "The Lives Of Others," Donnersmarck's acclaimed film, was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics in the Cannes marketplace for a measly $100,000 because no else was interested. And they drove that film all the way to a Best Foreign Film Oscar win. Moreover, Bernard isn't just another executive sitting in an office barking orders around without an understanding of changes going on in the industry. The longtime veteran is active in all acquisitions and marketing for every film the studio handles. In fact, following our conversation, he was going to be heading into a meeting to discuss print ad placements for the upcoming weekend newspapers.
The fallacy in this day and age is measuring film and studio success by simple dollar amounts. What Sony Pictures Classics has done for almost twenty years, and what they will continue to do, is give a home to films that aren't just demographics fillers and money generators. Just take a look at some of the titles on their fall slate of films - Michael Haneke's Oscar contender "The White Ribbon"; Lone Scherfig's celebrated (and also contending) "An Education"; the Audrey Tautou led biopic "Coco Before Chanel"; Almodovar's "Broken Embraces"; dude rock doc "It Might Get Loud" and Terry Gilliam's long-awaited "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus". What the blogging world needs to consider before firing up another piece about the studio's supposed ineptitude, is consider the following: would any other of the other indie studios even consider touching these films? How long did "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus" remain unsold until Sony Pictures Classics acquired it? When was the last time Fox Searchlight repped a foreign film (and sorry, "Slumdog Millionaire" doesn't count)? These are all smart, adult films that despite the flapping of blogging world, are unfortunately of interest to a very limited and specific audience. What Sony Pictures Classics has excelled at is continually finding that audience despite the shifts in the marketplace for nearly twenty years. One only has to look at the list of repeat directors who continue to work with the studio — Haneke, Almodovar, Allen, Morris — the list goes on. What these directors understand is that Sony Pictures Classics aren't just building box office returns, they are building a legacy and reputation for these films that will last for years to come.
First Listen Of 2 New Soundtrack Clips: Plus 'Wild Things' Contest: Win The Karen O & The Kids Soundtrack
Ah yes, it's a relatively slow Friday so we have a contest for you.
Want to win a "Where The Wild Things Are" prize pack that includes:
- "Where The Wild Things Are" Official Soundtrack CD by Karen O & The Kids
- "Where the WIld Things Are" Tote Bag
- "Where The Wild Things Are" Mask?
Yes, you probably do. To win All one has to do is
email us the answer to this relatively easy answer, though somewhat kinda tricky if you haven't paid attention.
The 'Wild Things' in Spike Jonze's directed film were voiced by (according to all Warner Bros. material) James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker, and Catherine O'Hara, but that means one voice actor that was initially reported as part of the project, and was even quoted about talking about their participation in the film, was replaced.
Be the first person to email us the name of the actor replaced and you win the contents above, but here's a hint, it's not the certain girlfriend you think it is. CONTEST CLOSED: The Answer (which most people got wrong, btw is Tom Noonan. He was supposed to voice Douglas the chicken. We guessed this earlier in the year. At Cannes last year, Noonan, who had already been reported as part of the cast, talked about his role in the film as the "big chicken," whose characters name is Douglas. Again, we had already guessed this, but the second set of 'Wild Things' character posters confirmed that Chris Cooper voices Douglas (ok these posters don't say it specifically, but there were versions that did, trust us).
Meanwhile, all we've heard so far from the official "Where The Wild Things Are," soundtrack by Karen O The Kids (an army of indie rockers) is the "Sesame Street"-like song, "All Is Love," but Boomkat has two more songs for your listening pleasure. They're about :30 second clips, but they're better than nothing.
Back in March, the New York Times did a story on an ad campaign for insurance company Liberty Mutual that would center around a realistic-yet-fictional blue collar American family known as "the Marlowes" who are coping with problems stemming from the economic recession. The ads — budgeted at $50-$60 million — are part of a project started by the company in 2006 called "The Responsibility Project" which seeks to "encourage discussions on subjects related to responsibility."
Harmony Korine was commissioned by advertising company Hill Holliday to direct the ads, which show a drastically different side of the filmmaker. Though there is a similar naturalistic, improvised quality to the performances (and even a touch of the surreal), where most of Korine's work seeks to shock, these ads tug at the heartstrings. While flipping past one of the ads on TV, the vaguely Southern setting, lens flare-heavy cinematography, seemingly improvised acting, and young kid voice over, had us convinced it was the work of David Gordon Green as it's strikingly similar to his work on "George Washington" (though watching it again, the kid in the animal costume seems like a slight nod to the Bunny Boy in "Gummo" ). However it is indeed Korine, and reveals an as yet unseen side of the filmmaker.
During their July 2009 interview with the "Trash Humpers" filmmaker, fansite Harmony-Korine.com asked why the man who was once more interested in filming movies where white trash kids kill cats for fun than anything resembling a commercial film would direct a series of at times "very scripted" commercials, Korine — who has also done ads for Budweiser — said he relished the chance to finally shoot in anamorphic 2:3:5 and respected that these ads weren't pushing a "physical product" or "sticking a bottle in the frame." The interview also reveals that the project came about from Korine's signing with the award-winning advertising production company MJZ — who in the past has employed filmmakers like Spike Jonze and Craig Gillespie — so we should look forward to more ads from him in the future.
Korine directed 10 ads featuring the Marlowe family. The series is ongoing, but so far none of the spots have featured the kids eating spaghetti in filthy black bath water (though really, why not? Wouldn't that convince you to buy some damn insurance?)
While some may think this is a major stretch, for the erstwhile shockateur's work, it's actually kind of a nice continuation of the soft, tender tones evinced in Korine's "Mister Lonely" from last year. Though with "Trash Humpers" on the horizon, something not all of us have seen yet, it's hard to say whether something more accessible is in the filmmaker's pipeline. Until then, if you want to catch a semi-rare glimpse of Harmony Korine being all warm and fuzzy (again, also see "Mister Lonely") — and with what looks to be his highest production values yet — check out the first ad entitled "Meet the Marlowes" below. You can find the others on the Responsibility Project website. — Stephen Belden
So according to The Wrap, Disney has put the adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank," project — written by legendary playwright/director/ multi-hyphenate David Mamet — into turnaround.
This essentially means, Disney has passed on the script, and are hoping to sell the rights to the project to another studio in exchange for some of the cost of development (it's what happened to "Watchmen," but fiasco is an extreme example of what rarely goes that poorly).
Apparently Mamet's version of the script was "too dark...very intense, and scary," for the studio. When the project was first announced, many assumed from the get-go that this would essentially happen, but we presumed one of the sharper, non-family-friendly tentacles of Disney (and yes, they exist, see Touchstone) would be in charge. Evidently we were wrong.
Others also puzzled why someone like Mamet would tackle this subject and seminal book (probably having only ever seen "Glengarry Glen Ross"), but several of his books and movies deal specifically with Jewish identity including "Homicide," that stars Joe Mategna as a inner-city detective who becomes aware of his newfound Jewish consciousness when a case he is reluctant to take leads him to the discovery of a Zionist organization operating in the city that he inadvertently becomes an accomplice to.
Several of his novels deal with semitism and Judaism including, "Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronom," "The Wicked Son" and "The Old Religion," which was about Leo Frank, the only known American Jew in history to be lynched on American soil (no relationship to Anne). So yes, he really was the perfect choice for the story, but evidently it was not to be.
Apparently rather than a straight-up adaptation of the tale that was a personal chronicle of a young Jewish girl hiding with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation, Mamet veered off into another direction "about a contemporary Jewish girl who goes to Israel and learns about the traumas of suicide bombing."
This could mean Mamet could tackle two other projects in gestation, "The Prince of Providence" which was announced in 2004 and "Come Back to Sorrento" which he was writing for filmmaker Michael Worth. Or he could churn out two new scripts, plays or books by the time the weekend is over, who knows, but it sounds like 'Diary' has been closed for now.
The NME has uncovered an interview with Mos Def in the new issue of Filter Magazine, (the one with the excellent Karen O/Spike Jonze cover), where he announces that he's teaming up with Damon Dash to produce a documentary on punk pioneers Death. The film will be directed by music video helmers Coodie & Chike, whose videos for Kanye West's "Through The Wire," and an earlier collaboration with Mos Def on "Ghetto Rock," show a certain flair for documentary.
Def tells Filter "It's going to be great. These dudes were pre-Sex Pistols, pre-Bad Brains, pre-all that shit, and nobody knows them. I don't understand how the whole world could forget them." The band, formed by brothers David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney in Detroit in 1971, started as an R&B band, but moved towards hard rock after seeing an Alice Cooper show. There's an excellent New York Times article here which serves as a good primer on the band.
Def, whose latest album The Ecstatic is a major return to form, has often named Death as a big influence in his work, particularly on 2004's The New Danger, which featured Def's band Black Jack Johnson, which featured members of other African-American punk bands like Bad Brains and Living Color. As such, it should be interesting to see his take on a long-overlooked band.
Warner Bros. are trying to push ahead with their long-in-development remake of "A Star Is Born." The project, which has had previous drafts written by Stephen Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson ("Ali") and Reggie Rock Bythewood ("Notorious"), has a new scribe in the shape of Will Fetters, the writer of the upcoming Robert Pattinson vehicle "Remember Me." Beyonce Knowles is linked with the lead role of the picture, which, like the 1976 Barbara Streisand version, will focus on the record industry rather than Hollywood. The producer of that version, idiot hairdresser and giant-metal-spider fan Jon Peters, will also shepherd this version.
Paul Dano has joined the untitled action comedy formerly known as "Wichita," in which Cameron Diaz plays a hopelessly single woman whose life becomes caught up in that of a secret agent (Tom Cruise). Dano will play a charming scientist, the inventor of the movie's MacGuffin. We really enjoyed the draft of the script we read, which was like a much sparkier version of "Mr & Mrs Smith," but it seems to have undergone a fair amount of revision since, by director James Mangold, seeing as neither Dano's character, nor those of co-stars Marc Blucas and Maggie Grace, featured in that draft.
NME points us towards some paparazzi photos of Johnny Depp in Hertfordshire, England, directing a music video for the long-forgotten Britpop one-hit wonders Babybird. Depp, apparently wearing the entire contents of an East London vintage shop, can be seen alongside the band's frontman Stephen Jones, and his "Public Enemies" co-star Stephen Graham, who is appearing in the video.
- CBS Films and "Se7en" producer Arnold Kopelson have acquired Anthony Jaswinski's spec script "Sleeper Spy," about a political assassination. Jeff Wadlow ("Never Back Down") will direct.
- Geek favorite Alex De La Iglesias, the helmer of "Accion Mutante," "Perdita Durango" and "The Oxford Murders," will write and direct the Spanish-French co-production "Balada triste de trompeta," set in 1973, about a love triangle between two clowns and a trapeze artist. We're fond of De La Iglesia's early work, and this sounds much more up his street than the fairly laughable English-language "Oxford Murders."
- Chris Sparling, the writer of the incredibly taut script for Ryan Reynolds-in-a-coffin thriller "Buried," has sold a new script to Gold Circle, producers of the likes of "White Noise" and "The Haunting in Connecticut." "Mercy" is apparently a twist-filled story of a family trying to protect their dying mother, and their own financial well-being, from a violent religious sect. The film's being fast-tracked, and will shoot early next year.
Bob Weinstein Announces Dimension's 2010 Slate; 'Short Circuit' and 'Scream,' Yeah, Not Desperate At All
Sick of sequels, prequels and spin-offs? Really, who isn't at this point. Outside of another 'Hell Boy' or the vaguely discussed "Eastern Promises 2," we really couldn't give a damn. Still, Bob Weinstein doesn't care what any of us think: "I'm going back to what I do best," he boasts, as quoted in this Variety blog piece. "These films are our strength and we are committed to doing them in style," he insists, referring to needless continuations of a dozen or so franchises we wish would stay dead and buried. Translation: McFranchises like money and we want to stay in business.
Among the film's announced as part of Dimension's 2010 slate are: Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids IV," which has to be better than the director's previous entry, which itself washed away what little goodwill the first two certifiably weird installments earned; and, to no one's surprise, another 'Halloween' remake, aiming for a October 2010 release, leaving only the question, 'Is Rob Zombie such a sellout/liar that he'll actually return to helm this after saying two was enough?'
Maybe most distressingly, Weinstein has confirmed beyond random Twitter posts that there will be another full trilogy developed from the long-retired 'Scream' series, which is only upsetting because it means the underrated Neve Campbell will be wasting more of her time on this crap – and she rarely works these days, too. (Someone needs a paycheck; Wes Craven is in talks to direct, so more potential wasted talent there.)
Others announced range from the seemingly random ('Short Circuit,' 'An American Werewolf in Paris') to the shrug-inducing (a "Children of the Corn" remake and another 'Hellraiser' are on the way, which means another 'Hellraiser' we'll never see). Oh, and like ninety percent of all this is going to be in 3D, so expect them all to feature extending tape measurers prominently.
Also mentioned at the tail end of this article is "The Road," which Bob Weinstein confirmed will be opening wide on November 25th, and in around 800 or so theaters. --Sam C. Mac
Speaking at an Advertising Week conference today about brand integration, Brett Ratner kept the rumor mill regarding "Beverly Hills Cop 4" alive by mentioning that project is a "huge priority" for Paramount. While the studio execs are already counting the dollars dancing in their heads, it's probably a huge priority for Eddie Murphy as well, whose coming off a double dose of terrible films - "Meet Dave" and "Imagine That" - and could probably use a smash hit that doesn't involve him voicing a donkey.
The director went on to say that what kind of car Murphy drives in the film is very important, but said that rather doing a deal with a car maker he is going to work the other way around, trying to find an organic solution. "What car do I need that can become a character in the movie?," he said. It's good to be know he's got the heart of the story in mind.
While Ratner is wondering about oh-so plot-important matters like what rim size Axel Foley would have on his car, we just hope that the script (is there one? if so, does someone want to send it to us?) is actually funny. Well, funnier than anything "Rush Hour" related. And oh yeah, if Ratner bud Chris Tucker is going to be shoehorned into some kind of sidekick role, you can count us out.
Ratner was at the conference to pimp his company, Brett Ratner Brands, who do commercial work including his recently directed ad for Guitar Hero 5 featuring Playboy bunnies in an oh so original riff on "Risky Business." As for feature films, you can catch the auteur at work in the forthcoming compilation film "New York, I Love You," opening on October 16th.
'Fantastic Fox' Makes North American Premiere At AFI Fest, 32 Countries Have Delivered Their Foreign Oscar Picks
Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" starring voice work by George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and many others will have its North American premiere at the annual AFI Fest in Los Angeles on October 30.
Newmarket Films has acquired the U.S. rights to Jon Amiel's Charles Darwin biopic, "Creation" starring Paul Bettany and my wife, sorry, his wife, Jennifer Connelly. Maybe it's because it was the opening night TIFF film which traditionally stinks, or because the trailers and photos make it seem bland as hell, but we're not terrifically interested. Sure, we'll see it if given the chance, but we'll wait til then.
32 Countries have named their Oscar nominee choices and IndieWire has done a great job of rounding them all up. The full submission list isn’t released until October. Here's hoping Greece names, "Dogtooth" as their pick. Germany's obviously going with this year's Palme d'Or winner, "The White Ribbon." We just found this German poster for it which is awesome and creepy. We're also glad Korea went with Bong Jong-ho's "Mother" over Park Chan-Wook's "Thirst" because the former is clearly the better film and one of our faves of the year.
Armenia - "Autumn of the Magician," directed by Ruben & Vahe Gevorkyants
Austria - "Ein Augenblick Freiheit" (For a Moment, Freedom), directed by Arash T. Riahi
Belgium - "The Misfortunates," directed by Felix Van Groeningen
Brazil - "Salve Geral," directed by Sergio Rezende
Bulgaria - "The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner," directed by Stephan Komandarev
Canada - "I Killed My Mother," directed by Xavier Dolan
Chile - "Dawson, Isla 10," directed by Miguel Littín
Denmark - "Terribly Happy," directed by Henrik Rubin Genz
Finland - "Postia Pappi Jaakobille (Letters to Father Jacob)," directed by Klaus Haro
France - "A Prophet," directed by Jacques Audiard
Germany - "The White Ribbon," directed by Michael Haneke
Hong Kong - "Prince of Tears," directed by Yonfan
Hungary - "Kaméleon (Chameleon)," directed by Kristzina Goda
India - "Harishchandrachi Factory," directed by Paresh Mokashi
Japan - "Dare Mo Mamotte Kurenai (Nobody To Watch Over Me)," directed by Ryôichi Kimizuka
Kazakhstan - "Kelin," directed by Ermek Tursunov
Korea - "Mother," directed by Bong Jong-ho
Lithuania - "Duburys (Waterhole)," directed by Gytis Luksas
Mexico - "Backyard," directed by Carlos Carrera
Morocco - "Casanegra," directed by Nour Eddine Lakhmari
The Netherlands - "Wit Licht (Silent Army)," directed by Jean van der Velde
Philippines - "Ded Na Si Lolo (Grandfather is Dead)," directed by Soxie Topacio
Poland - "Rewers (The Reverse)," directed by Borys Lankosz
Portugal - "Um Amor de Perdição (Doomed Love)," directed by Mário Barroso
Romania - "Police, Adjective," directed by Corneliu Prumboiu
Serbia - "St. George Shoots the Dragon," directed by Srdjan Dragojevic
Slovenia - "Pokrajina St. 2 (Landscape No 2)," directed by Vinko Moderndorfer
South Africa - "White Wedding," directed by Jann Turner
Sri Lanka - "Akasa Kusum (Flowers in the Sky)," directed by Prasanna Vithanage
Sweden - "De Ofrivilliga (Involuntary)," directed by Ruben Ostlunds
Taiwan - "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti (I Can’t Live Without You)," directed by Leon Dai
Venezula - "Libertador Morales, El Justiciero," directed by Efterpi Charalambidis
We have the Weinstein Company on the brain. Aside from Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," (with a perpetually mysterious release date) and Spike Jonze's "Where The Wild Things Are," our most anticipated film from what's left of 2009 is Rob Marshall's "Nine."
But TWC's year is not all that it seems. Sure, early in the year they were having money problems, but with Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," which is now the director's highest grossing film ever, and has made a glorious $227 million worldwide and $111 million in the U.S., problem solved, right?
No, as we've been saying all along, 'Basterds' cost in the neighborhood of $70-s0me million to produce and that doesn't count the $30-40 (generous) million it cost to market it (those UFC deals, etc.), plus the film was co-funded with Universal so the profits are shared. Further proof 'Basterds' isn't necessarily changing the tide for TWC? The company continues to downsize and Variety just announced that they had even more layoffs today. There's a reason why things like, "Youth In Revolt," "Shanghai," and "All Good Things" were pushed into 2010, they just don't have the money to market them right now.
All their efforts are concentrated on Oscar which means, the Venice and TIFF-adored Tom Ford directorial-debut, "A Single Man," and Rob Marshall's "Nine." Harvey Weinstein is all gung-ho about "A Single Man," and with good reason, it's an incredible film with lots of Oscar chances, but as many have pointed out in our Oscar discussions "Nine," has all that star wattage (Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, etc.) that really sells itself.
But there's been talk that "Nine," could be bumped into 2010 (which was denied by TWC). As for right now, it shares a November 25 date with another TWC film, "The Road," but presumably the musical has more Oscar chances than that film, no? (while it's good and we liked it a lot, Viggo Mortensen is really the only practical contender). Last we all heard, "Nine" would only have a limited release Nov. 25 but expand into wide distribution on Christmas. So perhaps that makes them ostensibly on different release dates.
All this is a long-winded way of saying, here's a "Nine" sneak-peek clip that was shown on Entertainment Tonight and really, we're dying to see this film, but we'll admit the trailer from a few months ago looked much more dazzling than the footage below. Maybe it's because of the annoying ET hosts that we can't fully get into it.
Not many celebrities have gotten the chance to write an episode for "The Simpsons." Actually Ricky Gervais was the only person invited to that party, until now.
As reported months ago, Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg got the chance to collaborate with the regular 'Simpsons' writers and their episode is finally airing on Sunday's 21st-season premiere. USA Today gives us a brief synopsis of the episode, "In the episode, Comic Book Guy creates Everyman (seen here next to Rogen's character) who can gain superpowers by touching the comic book of any superhero. The Everyman comic is such a success it becomes a film, with Homer in the title role. A trainer-to-the-stars, voiced by Rogen, pushes him to get in shape." That's right, not only did Rogen get to write the episode but he got to throw down some voice work as well.
Rogen discussed where some of the inspiration for the episode came from, "In a lot of ways it mirrored the situation we were in working with 'The Green Hornet.' I had to lose weight and do a lot of physical training. It seemed hilarious to us as it was happening."
Rogen and Goldberg are, in their own words, "obsessed" with "The Simpsons" and called the show "the funniest single thing ever created." Needless to say this was a big honor for them as it would be for anyone under 30 who grew up watching Homer, Bart, and the whole Springfield gang. We'll just have to wait until Sunday to see what happens to Everyman.
So we ostensibly run a "soundtracks blog," although that's obviously kind of changed organically, but Daniel at FilmBabble wanted us/me to write him a post for his excellent September Soundtracks theme idea (which yes, we should probably have done, but there was TIFF, NYFF; we can "borrow" the concept next year), which is great. So we don't have that much to say, but if you asked the editor-in-chief (me) what his five favorite songs scores in a movie were he'd say, as of *right now they are this (and yes, it's a mixed bag, there's no theme the preference lies in the song:
5. "The Last Waltz" From "Old Boy" — Yeong Wook Jo's score to Park Chan-Wook's "Old Boy" is largely majestic — apart from a few odd techno-like moments here and there. And it's awesome for two reasons, one simply being just how gloriously sonorous it is, but secondarily because he names the themes from the film after classic movies: "Kiss Me Deadly" (Robert Aldrich), "In a Lonely Place' (Nicholas Ray), "Cul-De-Sac" (Roman Polanski) and our utmost favorite theme on the soundtrack "The Last Waltz," named after Scorsese's The Band concert-farewell doc (his work on "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance" is also incredible, elegiac and hauntingly good (this song is particularly orchestrally marvelous and "Lullaby" is also excellent).
4. Jeanette's "Por Que Te Vas" from the film, "Cria Cuervos" — Carlos Saura's haunting children's tale, "Cria Cuervos" is a '70s Spanish film masterwork, no it's just a masterwork period, it won the Grand Prix in Cannes in 1976. The star of the film, little Ana Torrent is ridiculously good and the song prominently featured in the movie is Spanish pop star Jeanette's "Por Que Te Vas." It's a top 10 all-timer as far as we're/I'm concerned. The dance moves the little girls make-up this scene is amazing.
3. "Yumeji's Theme" from "In The Mood For Love — Yes, it's not a "song," per se, it's Shigeru Umebayashi's "Yumeji's Theme" from Wong Kar-Wai's "In The Mood For Love." No way conveys deep, forlorn longing like WKW and this gorgeously melancholy and romantic song is a song that is always stuck in our heads for days after we happen to listen to it. Classical, moving and timeless.
2. Frances Lai's "Snow Frolic" from "Love Story" — Make fun of Arthur Hiller's "Love Story" starring a spunky Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal all you want, it's rather great, but that's neither here or there. What is unimpeachable good is Frances Lai score. Sure, you've heard the schmaltzy and weepy theme song all your life even if you don't think you know it, but the rest of the soundtrack kicks ass in a retro baroque kind of manner (man, Ghostface Killa has to one day rap over this version, the beat is already pretty hot). The dreamy and wintry, "Snow Frolic," however is just heavenly and the theme song for all time when two lovers skate on the ice in a romantic winter wonderland.
1. Michael Legrand's main theme to "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" — A close, almost tie is Noel Harrison's "The Windmills of Your Mind" (written by the great Michel Legrand, and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, for it's mondo-velveeta enjoyability, but really no contest is Legrand's luminous theme to "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (which is used to devastating effect in the final scene. It's better when Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo sing the entire song, but this clips version will have to do.
*we say right now because our favorites of anything generally change and mutate all the time, but most of these are indisputable classics.