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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks – The Season That Couldn't Shoot Straight

This was the year when everyone was ready to cash in. A number of major Traditional Media outlets decided to ramp up their awards season efforts, chasing fading print ad dollars. Websites added new areas of “coverage” to their content, seeking awards ads. And studios almost all seemed ready to jump into the fray, ambitious and hopeful as we entered a new season.
And now, with 90% of the season to be defined, Oscar included, in the next two weeks of endless awards and nominations, there is the sense out there that, yawn, it’s all beyond boring.
We have been seeing all the same old reporting about how things are the same… but they haven’t been. More than half of today’s frontrunners were released in October or earlier. Does that change the reality of various strategies? No. But watch next year’s reporting reflect this year and not next year when next year rolls around.

The rest & the charts…

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123 Responses to “20 Weeks – The Season That Couldn't Shoot Straight”

  1. James Leer says:

    Are you really saying that you think Beyonce could supplant Penelope Cruz for an Oscar nomination in Best Actress?

  2. Josh Massey says:

    Damn, I am really wanting “Apocalypto” to be a complete home run, if only to see what would happen.

  3. David Poland says:

    I’m saying that Penelope has always been far more borderline than sold by the media and if Dreamgirls is as strong as it still looks, the third act can get Beyonce a nom… yes.

  4. Eric says:

    I’m bothered already by David’s assumption that any dislike for Dreamgirls must be blamed on ulterior motives or ignorance.

  5. James Leer says:

    Man, I really doubt it. Beyonce doesn’t have anything to do until that last song of hers, and she doesn’t have anything to do after it, either.

  6. David Poland says:

    I didn’t write that, Eric.
    I wrote that there is a shaky “not sure’ thing happening and that is quite different than “I don’t like the movie.” I question no one’s right or reason for disliking a film. But positioning it in the Oscar race is not about your personal taste… or you are an idiot.
    To wit, if I were arguing my personal taste for Oscar, of the apparent serious candidates, I’d be pushing Departed over Dreamgirls. But I am not. Because it’s not about me.

  7. Eric says:

    Here’s what you wrote:
    “Dreamgirls started screening as The Frontrunner and while there has been little in the way of direct attacks, even some people who might be expected to support the film have been wishy washy, unable to put their finger on why they aren’t 100% on it. The answer, in my general opinion, is a combination of wanting the film to fulfill some unspoken, unclear need for THE MOVIE, a touch of really not understanding musicals, and a subtle resistance to an all-Black movie.”
    You offer three explanations for some weak support for the movie, and none of them have to do with the content of the movie itself.
    It may not be your favorite movie of the year, but it’s clearly been your prediction for months and of course you therefore have some stake in seeing it succeed. Making preemptive excuses like this makes you look very, very small.
    Perhaps some people just think it’s a so-so movie?

  8. bipedalist says:

    Penelope Cruz not a strong contender? LOL. Dave, seriously. If you want to bump someone and put Beyonce in go for it. But don’t pick the only true piece of ass in the running. NO way are they going to give up a chance to stare at those huge tits during the Oscar ceremony. Swap out Judi Dench maybe. Annette Bening perhaps (maybe they hated that movie enough?) but not Cruz, you silly man.
    And I can’t *BELIEVE* you said Little Miss Sunshine is a *LOCK*. It is *so* not locked. The Queen, Departed and Dreamgirls are locked. The other two are open.

  9. David Poland says:

    “But don’t pick the only true piece of ass in the running. NO way are they going to give up a chance to stare at those huge tits during the Oscar ceremony.”
    Did you really write that?
    Any evidence that this is an Academy driver?
    Methinks you listen to the media too much.

  10. David Poland says:

    Eric – My guess is that you don’t like the film that much so you are personalizing my comments, making me “very, very small” since you think I think anyone who dislikes the film is very, very small. I do not. I simply think some have been, as I wrote, “wishy washy, unable to put their finger on why they aren’t 100% on it.”
    Kirk Honeycutt kinda got to it, I think, in his review today: “If there is a disappointment, it is this: The anticipation may have exceeded the realization. It’s a damn good commercial movie, but it is not the film that will revive the musical or win over the world.”
    So is that the standard that leads to the subhead: “A musical with energy and talent to burn but missing its heart?”
    These comments do not match… unless the expectations of the reviewer are more the issue than the movie are.
    The review gors on to repeatedly talk abot how emotional the film is and then falls on the idea that “what may surprise contemporary movie audiences, though, is the movie’s adaptation of the stage show’s convention of letting characters burst into song offstage.”
    Shocking! (P.S. It only happens 4 times in the film.)
    And the shit about me making preemptive excuses does suggest that you given to cheap shots. I have never stuck with a frontrunner for the sake of it, whether Flags or The Aviator or Munich or whatever film came out and found trouble.
    Are you really suggesting that there are media waves that are not really audience waves? Do you not recognize some off ambiguity on this film? And when I do – it’s pretty obvious – am I supposed to be silent and never mention it?
    I actually haven’t heard almost anyone say they didn’t like the film. And the question of whether they personally loved it is really not the issue come Oscar time.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    I was going to commend you, DP, for ignoring Eric’s comment re: your alleged Dreamgirls bias and moving on. Alas, turned out not to be the case.

  12. jeffmcm says:

    (because I’m as tired of it as you are and there is no movement on the issue)

  13. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Well, I’ll just say that Poland has made me very excited about seeing Dreamgirls – though not quite as excited as I was about seeing The Departed, an excitement which Poland amped up considerably, after he creamed over it for a few weeks and saw it three times if I recall. After seeing The Departed, I felt Poland’s excitement over it was totally justified. It’s a great film, by any standard.
    I think it will be almost impossible for Beyonce to get an Oscar nomination tough – no matter how good she is. She’s considered only half-talented as a singer, so it’s tough to see her get that much dap for her follow up to Austin Powers (altough admittedly, she is certainly a whole lot of woman – ooh la la).
    Question: Amid this insane “Bond for Oscar” talk, where is the talk about Casino Royale being the first film where Bond was actually out of the closet, with more of the beefcake’s abs being shown, and, as a friend said, “no tits.” A Bond film that is more interested in showing off Bond’s body than the Bond girls doesn’t deserve to be a Bond film. I’m shocked by all this love for this thing, despite the kickassed-ness of the action scenes.
    And I do like Daniel Craig, but still…any chance Daniel Craig gets some nomination run off of Infamous? Poland? What say you?
    I love Leo, but he doesn’t stand a chance at a nomination. Matt Damon has a better shot. And do we know Jack won’t be up for best actor? Whatever category he’s up for, he’s a shoo in. Possibly to win.
    Crazy would be if Vera got a nom, which isn’t remotely out of the realm of possibility. The Departed might gain steam…
    And again, Ryan Gosling deserves to get an Oscar nom, I hope the Academy takes the time to watch Half Nelson and sees this.
    By the way, the release stratedy for Half Nelson was pathetic and whoever was in charge of it should be fired. That film should have been marketed not as a “Sundance indie” but as an “Urban” film, to black audiences. If they had put Shareeka Epps on Oprah with Ryan Gosling, they would have at least doubled their gross. The guy who played the drug dealer is a great actor too. And Gosling is brilliant. Anyway, the film deserved a more creative (obvious) marketing effort, because it could have snowballed and found a much large audience. But whatever, Gosling for Best Actor. Anyone who watches the film will agree the dude is Top 5 this year, easy.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Cmuncher, you do know that the shot of Craig at the beach coming out of the water is a reference to Ursula Andress doing the same in Dr. No, right?

  15. The Carpetmuncher says:

    And Ken Wannabe for Best Actor? Never gonna happen. I know the dude is a legend, but not here…
    I see the locks for Best Actor noms being Will Smith, Forest Whitaker, with Peter O’Toole being highly likely. That leaves two slots, and only one if Jack is up for Best Actor. Without Jack, I think it'[s Aaron Eckhardt, with Gosling and Borat fighting it out for the last spot. With Jack, I take Gosling.
    And I don’t see how anybody could go any other way…though I’d be happy to see Nick Cage (who was great) or Jamie Foxx (who is brilliant, though I haven’t seen the film) get some love….

  16. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Film references are a poor excuse for a homo-erotic-Bond.

  17. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Don’t Alec Baldwin and Mark Walberg have an outside chance as a Best Supporting Actor nom for The Departed?
    Is there any question that World Trade Center deserves a nomination and likely a win for sound design and editing?
    Does an Oscars with Jack, Brad, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Meryl Streep & Marty nominated make for a super-exciting event or what????
    Volver is a far superior film to The Queen IMO, which seems to be getting hugely overrated. I get Mirren as a Best Actress candidate, but for the rest of it, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
    I still got The Departed, Babel, Volver, World Trade Center & Dreamgirls, which I take only because Poland says so….and if I was a betting man, I’d replace WTC with Little Miss Sunshine, the little movie that could…
    Borat for Best Picture, anyone???????????

  18. jeffmcm says:

    I’m not saying it’s an excuse, I’m saying it was a conscious decision, and a sign of progress.
    Take a look at Armond White’s review (granted, he’s fay):

  19. jeffmcm says:

    WTC I could see deserving a nomination for sound design, yes, but editing, no. A good editor would have cut out the Karnes character and found a better way to integrate the families.

  20. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The Departed will win Best Picture, and Marty will win Best Director……….
    It’s time…

  21. jeffmcm says:

    I meant Armond White is gay, not fay (he might be fay but I don’t know).

  22. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I meant WTC should win for sound editing, not picture editing…do they still have an Oscar for that?
    I can’t believe I just read that article comparing James Bond films to Godard films…my melon is officially twisted…

  23. jeffmcm says:

    That’s what he’s good at.

  24. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I fully support Armond White to play it as it lays…
    But from a franchise that gave us Pussy Galore, I expect to get a little more titilation in my Bond Girls…nudity should be required…but not from Bond…that’s just wrong…

  25. jeffmcm says:

    (a) this is a PG-13 franchise
    (b) sounds like you felt threatened.

  26. James Leer says:

    Why is it considered homoerotic to sexualize James Bond? Doesn’t that image of Bond in the swim trunks have appeal to women as well (in fact, mostly)?
    Nobody’s getting nommed off Infamous. And Aaron Eckhart’s not getting a nom for anything past, potentially, the Golden Globes.
    DP, you have to stop picking apart people’s reviews and motives when they don’t like the films you do. Sometimes people just disagree. You also misstated Honeycutt’s review and the subhead…he talks further in the review about how the characters don’t totally work for him, which justifies the subhead.

  27. crazycris says:

    Could someone please explain to me what’s the big deal about The Queen other than the main actors? Yes they did a fabulous job bringing two actual figures to life in a very realistic fashion, yes the original footage and that filmed melded in together to make a good story… but how many people actually CARE about said story? I mean, I saw it, and enjoyed it (particularly HM whom I’m afraid will knock out my preferred choice Meryl Streep for the award), but couldn’t see what’s so special that would make this film Oscar-worthy? Half the people I was with (big group) found it completely boring, they couldn’t care less about QE2 etc…
    And although I liked it very much, it wasn’t (imo) anywhere near as good as Babel, Children of Men, Little Miss Sunshine, Volver, The Wind That Shakes The Barley… (and I have yet to see some of the other big contenders as aren’t out in Europe yet).
    PS: And that scene with Bond coming out of the water is simply scrumptious!!! can’t wait to actually see the movie! ;o)

  28. Melquiades says:

    Has there ever been female nudity in a Bond film?
    Anyway, the two Bond women in this film were displayed in fine form. Anybody not drooling over Eva Green in that plunging neckline… was drooling over Craig in the ocean.

  29. T.Holly says:

    cc, you don’t understand what’s so great about a story you don’t give a shit about? People aren’t interested in the subject? Take a reality check and call me in the morning.

  30. Clycking says:

    “Has there ever been female nudity in a Bond film?”
    Yes — the famous shot in Goldfinger. =p

  31. jasctt says:

    Leo deserves a nom. He is the soul of The Departed. I do agree. This is Marty’s year. It feels right, although he has deserved it for so many other films too, just as Altman always deserved it for so much of his work. I have no desire to see Dreamgirls at all. Big bill Condon fan, but I just can’t stand anything aabout this trailer or anything I have heard.

  32. Eric says:

    David, you did the exact same thing I’m accusing you of doing. I’m not motivated by any personal stake in Dreamgirls. I haven’t seen it.
    Do you think you can concede that a viewer might not like Dreamgirls simply because of the film itself? Not because they’re misguided, ignorant, or racist? Because I don’t recall anything you’ve written to suggest it.
    I would expect you to shrug this all off if it were coming from one of your habitual antagonists. But that’s not me.
    CrazyCris, I really liked The Queen, so if you’re interested in a fan’s opinion, see my comment in the “Guruing… 8 Weeks To Noms” thread.

  33. EDouglas says:

    After seeing Apocalypto, I’m pretty sure Mel GIbson is on the short list as a director…the movie is way too stunning to ignore. I’d put this race between him and Scorsese right now.

  34. Blackcloud says:

    Is it over yet?

  35. Dave, can you give it up with awards groups being “irrelevent”. Who cares if they don’t nominate the exact same things as the Academy. That’s the way the award season becomes, as you have said, boring. God, it’s as if you want every awards body to be just like the BFCA.
    Why is it odd that those crazy folks at the HFPA having put Abigail Breslin and Cate Blanchett in lead? Aren’t they, ya know, the leads of their movie (well, Blanchett co-lead with Dench. I’ve read that it’s sort’ve a Thelma/Louise level of being lead/lead)
    I can very easily see The Queen winning the drama globe. Sort’ve like The Hours won in 2003 despite Scorsese winning Best Director over the two BP winners (The Hours and Moulin Rouge!)
    Here’s a crazy thought that doesn’t seem to be circulating: The Painted Veil. Apparently it’s not just good, but very good and the sort of Merchant Ivory-esque production they’ve awarded before. And, think of it: There’s periodness in Dreamgirls and Eastwood’s films and The Good Shepherd, but other than that it’s all modern. The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen (well, 1997), Babel, The Pursuit of Happyness, Volver, Notes on a Scandal (or is that set in the ’70s or something?), World Trade Center, United 93, Little Children… how often does that happen? They might be in the mood for some old fashioned period-set romance.

  36. Also, I see Alan Arkin as the clear favourite at the moment for Supporting Actor. He’s respected, twice nominated already, in a BP contender plus he’s OLD and they love giving this prize to old geezers.
    If they give it to Jack it’ll be because he’s “Jack”.

  37. bipedalist says:

    Okay, don’t go to Penelope’s tits, if you don’t want to – but there is no denying A) the love for the newcomer at the Oscars (Beyonce fits that but Penelope does also), and B) the love for Volver. Do you really think they’re going to omit the one actress aside of Mirren who has TRUE Oscar heat in the performance of her career? Are you high?
    Like I says, dump Bening if you have to but Penelope is golden. And I didn’t get that from reading ANYONE. Or watching anything – it’s an original idea, imagine that.

  38. It’s hard to imagine the entire BA lineup made up of previous nominees (Mirren, Street, Dench, Winlet, Bening) so I’d definitely bump out Bening for Cruz (she’s exotic, she’s in a great movie, and she’s surprising everyone who wasn’t paying attention) and atm I’m still to-and-froing over whether Winslet will make it.

  39. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I love Alan Arkin, but Jack eats guys like Alan for breakfast…love to see A2 get some dub though…

  40. bipedalist says:

    Winslet is always hard for them to resist but it’s going to depend on whether they were grossed out or put off my the movie. I think she’s good enough to get in there but who else is better? The locks:
    Mirren (career performance, likely winner)
    Cruz (career performance)
    Streep (likable actress, successful movie)
    And then the maybes:
    Who am I forgetting?

  41. EDouglas says:

    Dump Benning, I wouldn’t dump Dench..she’s Mirren’s toughest competition this year, mainly because she’s not playing a glamorous role as she has in previous movies. I’d even dump Streep at this point for Dench and Cruz. As well as Prada did, it hasn’t exactly stuck in anyone’s mind months later; I certainly don’t hear any of my female friends talking about it these days though I know they saw it. The fact that Maggie Gyllenhaal was ignored at the independent spirits for a really well done no-budget movie tells me that she probably won’t be getting nominated in the lead category at the Oscars…maybe supporting for WTC.

  42. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Maggie is great, but Sherrybaby was garbage, practically exploitation of her talents…Maggie is deserving for some Supporting Actree love for WTC…

  43. “I certainly don’t hear any of my female friends talking about it these days though I know they saw it.”
    Umm, i’m not sure what your friends are like, but mine don’t constantly talk about movies they saw months before just for shits and giggles. I’m sure if you asked them about it they would respond, but the movie has been out for 5 months, isn’t on DVD and hasn’t started winning awards yet, why would people just keep discussing it like it’s Titanic or something?
    biped… Sienna Miller? 😛

  44. Wrecktum says:

    I’ve read through this very odd thread and have only one comment: Penelope Cruz’s tits really aren’t that big.

  45. bipedalist says:

    Well perhaps “huge” is the wrong word – how about [borat]Niiiiiiiiiice[/borat]?

  46. Wrecktum says:

    Any rack looks Niiiiiiiiiice when it’s hanging from a size zero frame.
    The Hot Blog: One Stop Shopping for Fanning Rape and Cruz Tits.

  47. Kambei says:

    …I’m confused by the original comment, which seemed to imply that Beyonce isn’t a “true piece of ass”…

  48. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Let there be no doubt…Beyonce is smoking…

  49. bipedalist says:

    Point was, don’t swap out one piece for another – if you’re going to bump someone, it won’t be Penelope. It will be, sadly, one of the older gals. Just my opinion. I’m sure they will want to have their Penelope and eat their Beyonce too.
    sorry 😐

  50. Devin Faraci says:

    Have to disagree with Ed Douglas on Gibson. APOCALYPTO should have been released in the summer – it’s a big dumb action movie that just happens to be in Mayan. There is nothing else going on in it.

  51. T.Holly says:

    You said APOCALYPTO is a fantastic reimagining of FIRST BLOOD.

  52. I’ve read two people give Apocalypto an F. And considering Passion was bordering on an F from me and all these people have the same problems… well, it ain’t looking good.
    Gibson just keeps making it harder for me to shill out my money on his sad sorry weird little bloodlust fantasy.

  53. marychan says:

    Breaking news!
    MGM removes “Breaking and Entering” from their release schedule!

  54. T.Holly says:

    “First Blood,” as in carnography. There could be a lot of love for him at the Scream Awards where Tarantino and Rodriquez will be in force with “Grindhouse.” Todd McCarthy said, “blood-and-guts action audiences should eat this up, Gibson is courting Latinos, eco-political types will like the message and at least part of the massive “The Passion of the Christ” crowd should be curious, so strong biz is possible if these distinct constituencies are roused.”

  55. EDouglas says:

    Dumb compared to what? Running Scared? I don’t think so.

  56. Devin Faraci says:

    Most of the second half is FIRST BLOOD in a Mayan jungle – one guy is outnumbered and outgunned (or outspeared) but uses his cunning to dispatch his enemies in a number of violent, entertaining ways.
    But there’s nothing else. It’s just an action film. There’s zero depth of character.

  57. EDouglas says:

    I totally disagree. True, it’s a revenge flick (I prefer Payback myself) but there’s far more depth in this than The Departed, which is basiscally the Japanese premise with Scorsese adding his Goodfella style blood and a lot of swearing. If that’s an Oscar pick then there’s no reason this can’t be… or are you forgetting movies like…um… Braveheart? I think the directors in the DGA and Academy will be able to appreciate the artistry in the movie even if critics with a bone to pick can’t.

  58. Devin Faraci says:

    haha, Ed, I don’t think RUNNING SCARED is an Oscar contender. Sure, it’s dumb. But so is APOCALYPTO, and that’s part of what makes it work on its own level. But that level isn’t Oscar level. Seriously, release this in the summer and you have THE action film of the season.

  59. EDouglas says:

    I’m confused..where did I even mention Gibson or Apocalypto in this thread?

  60. EDouglas says:

    Oh, now I see where I mentioned it… this thread is too long. 🙂

  61. marychan says:

    THE DEPARTED has the Hong Kong premise…. (Most Japan movies are much better than Hong Kong craps, though)
    By the way, I have more and more feeling that The Weinstein Company would be in trouble….

  62. EDouglas says:

    Oops.. Hong Kong premise.. I just gave my colleague a hard time recently for presuming that GOng Li was Japanese, too.
    BTW, Breaking and Entering was probably only removed because the Weinstein Co. are trying to figure out what to do with it. As recently as two days ago, a friend who is Minghella’s personal publicist said that they’re still trying to figure out the release but that it was likely a one-week in L.A. for Oscar consideration on the 15th. BOM might have seen it removed from the 8th without a new date and went accordingly. Breaking and Entering has been getting regular FYC screenings and press screenigs, so it would be strange to not do the planned consideration run

  63. Devin Faraci says:

    BRAVEHEART had “big” thematic issues – freedom! and all that – and a scope that this doesn’t have. I don’t even think APOCALYPTO is a revenge film, it’s more of an escape film. But THE DEPARTED has real characters, and it has thematic elements that it works with, while APOCALYPTO has a Mayan who quotes MIDNIGHT COWBOY and a sneering villain and a lot of action. As an action film it often works – although I think Gibson relies on Hollywood nonsense again and again – but beyond the technical stuff there’s just nothing going on below the surface here.

  64. Richard Nash says:

    I hope APOCALYPTO is a home run because we need something to look forward to. I saw DREAMGIRLS and while it is a really good movie its not like I’m dying to ever see it again.
    And I can bet most men between 12-50 really dont care to see at all anyway. They’d rather see THE DEPARTED again or APOCALYPTO.

  65. marychan says:

    Thank you, EDouglas.
    Hoping “Breaking and Entering” won’t be another “The Libertine” for The Weinstein Company.

  66. EDouglas says:

    “But THE DEPARTED has real characters, and it has thematic elements that it works with”
    BUt that comes from the script and it deserves to be commended for that script. Apocalypto is all about the vision… the director’s vision… and that’s Mel Gibson. Sure, Martin Scorsese brought a lot to table with The Departed? But is it his greatest film worthy of him getting accolades? No fucking way. IMO, Apocalypto is. Gibson was able to tell a very visual story in a cohesive way about freakin’ Mayans and keep your attention for over two hours. That is an achievment and a half.The Departed could have been an hour shorter (and it was, when it was called Infernal Affairs) and I blame the needless repetition and redundancies on Scorsese.

  67. jeffmcm says:

    I think Running Scared is actually a quite smart movie, plus it has plenty of style. The only thing really dragging it down is Paul Walker.
    And I preferred the longer, richer The Departed to the relatively bare-bones Infernal Affairs.

  68. Devin Faraci says:

    I don’t know, man. He wasn’t keeping my attention with gorgeous shots or moving moments of beauty. He was keeping my attention with guys getting chopped and slaughtered, or being in danger of getting chopped and slaughtered. Or running and jumping.
    I have nothing against a movie like that, but if it’s not cerebral and if it’s not groundbreaking (I really think the setting and language are essentially gimmicks) and if it’s not so beautifully shot as to awe me, I can’t imagine how it’s Oscar-bait.

  69. marychan says:

    THE DEPARTED is a remake version of two movies – INFERNAL AFFAIRS and INFERNAL AFFAIRS, of course it will be richer.

  70. marychan says:

    Correction of my previous post:
    “THE DEPARTED is a remake version of two movies – INFERNAL AFFAIRS and INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2, of course it will be richer.”

  71. movielocke says:

    Sylvia Syms seems a wacky choice, but it’s clear there’s a wide open slot in Supporting Actress… might it be an extremely smart move to position Naomi Watts from Painted Veil in that category (ala Rachel Weisz) it would seem easy for her to secure a nomination there.
    Someone at Dreamworks needs to start agressively screening Perfume to ACE, the DGA and the ASC, if ever there was a film that should be a lock for best editing it’s that one. I’m still amazed at how effective and brilliant the cutting in that film was. build some word of mouth amongst the tech categories, they just need to see it to rave it to friends, and a movie as fun (and surprising at the end) as Perfume, easily picks up those word of mouth raves. 😀

  72. Cadavra says:

    Jack will certainly get a nomination, but with three previous wins, I can’t see them giving him a fourth when most if not all of the others will still be looking for their first.

  73. T.Holly says:

    DP (peanut butter) and JW (jelly) are both letting us down not seeing APOC! Outrageous.

  74. Eric says:

    I was very enthusiastic about The Departed after I saw it, but I’m starting to have the same thoughts as EDouglas. It’s totally entertaining but I don’t think there’s enough below the surface to warrant a close second viewing.
    I wouldn’t even call it the best crime genre flick of the year– I would give that to Inside Man.
    I still wish The Prestige had gotten more love.

  75. jeffmcm says:

    Infernal Affairs + Infernal Affairs 2 = 220 minutes, so Scorsese’s version is in fact over an hour shorter.
    I don’t expect Nicholson to win either. I remember that 4 years ago when he was nominated for About Schmidt he made no secret that he wanted Adrien Brody to win.

  76. Wrecktum says:

    “Most of the second half is FIRST BLOOD in a Mayan jungle – one guy is outnumbered and outgunned (or outspeared) but uses his cunning to dispatch his enemies in a number of violent, entertaining ways”
    Liar. That only happens in the last two and a half reels in a seven reel show. Basically the last 40 minutes in a two hour, 15 minute film.
    The movie has its problems, but its hardly a chase film from start to finish.

  77. T.Holly says:

    I can’t say that I would recommend the film to anyone. Apocalypto was one of the most disgustingly violent films I have ever seen. There must have been some serious advances in FX technology to be able to show, in a more or less realistic fashion, violence on this scale. My wife said it best; “Mel Gibson is sick. He should have some treatments or something because that boy is sick in the head.”
    DEFAMER’S ROUND UP OF THE PRO’S. The funny headline’s in the link:

  78. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Breaking and Entering will soon be renamed Opening & Flopping…that film is horrible…the third act is beyond ridiculous…it will do next to no business, no matter when they open it…

  79. “I wouldn’t even call it the best crime genre flick of the year– I would give that to Inside Man.”
    When I think back on Inside Man (which was 7 months) I still remember it very fondly. But when I think about The Departed from less than two months back I go back and forth on myself. Yes, it’s well made and entertaining (for the most part) and well acted and all that, but… i dunno. It still just lacks something. A sense of verve or the excitement of it or something I dunno. Goodfellas had it whatever it was, but The Departed…? I’d recommend it to people but whenever I saw “yeah, it’s good” I don’t think I sound convincing, even when I mean it and that’s not a good sign.
    Plus, those accents really bugged me. Meanwhile, I’d watch Inside Man again just to see Jodie Foster mug for the camera like nobody’s business.

  80. Oh, I’m kinda glad they’re moving Breaking and Entering. Do we really need three one-week qualifiers from the Weinsteins? That, Factory Girl and Miss Potter (and I’m sure there’s a few more, right?)

  81. palmtree says:

    What the Departed fails to do that Infernal Affairs does well is melodrama. Scorsese compensates with great (and richer) characters.

  82. Eric says:

    Camel, the thing I can’t figure out is why Inside Man is so much more satisfying than Departed. Neither is much more than an extremely well-made genre piece. Any ideas?
    Inside Man had some interesting racial undercurrents, as you would expect from Spike Lee, but they were totally peripheral to the plot itself.
    I would recommend both to anybody who hasn’t seen them, but Inside Man is the one I can see myself watching again in the years to come.

  83. jeffmcm says:

    Depends on what you mean by ‘satisfying’.
    Everyone gets what they want in Inside Man and they all live happily ever after, except for Christopher Plummer, and the whole thing is essentially an old-fashioned Hollywood heist movie, so on that level it’s more ‘satisfying’. The Departed meanwhile, touches (I would say) on deeper issues of loyalty, upward mobility, and American ambition, and ends up a tragedy with all the characters either dead or shattered. So on that level it’s ‘unsatisfying’. It’s a better film, though, in my opinion.

  84. lazarus says:

    Thanks, jeffmcm for going a little bit deeper than most people are bothering. Do you really think Scorsese would just give us a shallow genre piece? While it doesn’t hit you over the head with its themes, they are there. Clearly just as much repressed Catholic guilt as there is in any other Scorsese film. Just like GoodFellas, you’re seeing the decadence of the self-made man who chose to follow the dark side of the American Dream. Plus there’s a whole lot in there about loyalty, which I would argue is treated with the same complexity as it is in GoodFellas.
    It certainly doesn’t come off as epic as Marty’s 1990 masterpiece, but to shrug it off because it’s a remake and a crowd pleaser is too easy. Of course, people did the same thing with Cape Fear, which is still perhaps The Maestro’s most underrated film.
    I don’t have a problem with him finally taking the Oscar for this, even if it doesn’t have the cinematic beauty or visual inventiveness I love him for. The high level of tension and suspense, the uncomfortable moments of black humor…these are also Marty’s gifts, and they are on full display here. Not any less deserving than Friedkin for The French Connection, if you want a comparison (and this film has much more depth than that Best Picture winner does).

  85. Jeff, I can definitely see what you’re getting at, but I think in order for me to truly care about things such as loyalty and all the American ambition and all that jazz, I want the characters involved to be more than foul mouthed jerks.
    But I think that speaks to me as a person in a different way because I, quite frankly, am not a guy’s guy. I can’t stand guys who stand around and talk the way these guys did so I sorta didn’t like spending time with them as much as y’all. And whenever anybody asks me, I will say The Aviator is the better movie. Give me Hollywood, frocks and glamour any day of the week over Boston, guns and skeevers.
    And no offence to her, she’s lovely and all and she was fine in the role, but Vera Farmiga is no Jodie Foster. Nor is she a Lorraine Bracco. Not yet. It was surely the way her role was incredibly underwritten, but she was sorta swimming with much bigger sharks there.
    And, one thing that continues to make me peeved, is when people say that just because something is more Hollywood than another, that it is less worthy or something. Just because Inside Man didn’t feel the need to make every third word a swear or derogitory word and to work to a more conventional blueprint doesn’t make it worse. And just because The Departed is a Scorsese movie doesn’t make it instantly better.

  86. That last bit was just in general, not to anyone in particular – althought there are plenty out there (and on here) who think it.

  87. Also, something that Josh Massey said all the way up the top that I really wanted to respond to.
    “I am really wanting “Apocalypto” to be a complete home run, if only to see what would happen.”
    Sorta like how in Rome they used to watch tigers attack people just for the joy of it? As much as it would be interesting to see the results, I think it’s rich that people just seem to have forgotten what a rotten cretenous person Mel Gibson is – and that was before he went all racist asshole on the Freeway.

  88. Eric says:

    Departed definitely touches on those themes, as Jeff says, but I don’t think it does more than that. It doesn’t explore them in the same depth as his other work. Scorsese was so preoccupied with the elaborate plot– which is undeniably entertaining– that there wasn’t time spent on much else. It was like an exquisitely directed chess game.
    In fact, the most deliberate character development in the movie, Leo’s breakdown, felt very awkward and inorganic to me.
    Inside Man was more conventionally satisfying, as Jeff said. It didn’t claim to be high drama. But sometimes I can respect and appreciate a movie that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do more than one with higher ambitions that are not met.

  89. austin111 says:

    Re: The Departed — read the latest issue of Film Comment if you want to know what makes this movie so subversive and exciting….and why some people feel the way they do about it. I’d take this over 10 Apocalyptos any day.

  90. palmtree says:

    I don’t think in this “happily ever after” equals more satisfying. Infernal Affairs is a tragedy and the ending is unsettling. The Departed is actually more tidy I think.
    I think “satisfying” in this case means more emotionally involving or (as I mentioned earlier) melodramatic. Scorsese doesn’t reach for it so it feels a bit flat.

  91. austin111 says:

    Or Inside Man for that matter.

  92. austin111 says:

    Or Inside Man for that matter.
    In fact, for those who think that some of us out here who find The Departed to be more than just some ripoff potboiler of a “Japanese” flick (It’s CHINESE, btw, ED!), it isn’t that we actually think Scorsese is some kind of GOD. He’s not, but he knows how to make movies

  93. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t disagree with a lot of what’s been said, Scorsese certainly isn’t exploring any themes in The Departed as much as he was in Mean Streets or Goodfellas, and yes, “Hollywood” isn’t necessarily a pejorative. Although I disagree about melodramatic = satisfying. For me it’s almost always exactly the opposite, and how is Inside Man in any way melodramatic?
    But where I’m coming from is that Inside Man is a very well-made piece of Hollywood studio entertainment with good performances, direction, cinematography, and music; and The Departed is all that, _plus_ a little more in the way of thematic interest.

  94. Eric says:

    I think we’re narrowing in on our differences here. As you say, both have notable performances, direction, cinematography, and music (and I would add scripts to that list). The difference is a bit of intent– Departed is going for something just a bit deeper.
    Inside Man works better for me because it meets its moderate ambitions. Departed’s ambitions are slightly higher but it doesn’t quite get there.
    And everybody’s going to say they would prefer a ambitious but flawed film over a routine film. And Departed does indeed get points from me for trying– but those points don’t necessarily neutralize its flaws.

  95. Me says:

    I think the flaws of The Departed are better compared with Mystic River than Inside Man. In Mystic River, another Boston/Crime/Mob story, those characters felt real and felt like they inhabited a real Boston with real themes of loyalty and an inability to break with history. In comparison, The Departed’s characters felt phony and like they inhabited a Boston on a Hollywood soundstage. It still works as a popcorn thriller and I’m fine with the Departed and Marty winning, but to suggest that it’s a deep movie or touching on themes more than superficially is stretching credulity.

  96. palmtree says:

    “Although I disagree about melodramatic = satisfying. For me it’s almost always exactly the opposite, and how is Inside Man in any way melodramatic?”
    Naturally, I don’t think of heist movies as needing melodrama. Form follows function. In The Departed, the story seems designed for melodrama (bad boy can’t prove that he’s a good guy, good guy tries to escape bad past). Melodrama doesn’t equal satisfying in every case, just this one IMO.

  97. Arnzilla says:

    Let me get this straight. Douglas contends that there’s a lack of depth in The Departed. So Faraci disagrees and points to its characters and thematic elements. Then Douglas counters with “but that comes from the script.” Right?
    This reminds me of when Douglas gave a higher grade to TD than IA even though he claimed that the best parts of TD came from IA. His rationale (and his math) is often stultifying.
    BTW, austin111 is right. Check out the Nov/Dec Film Comment for its essay on TD:

  98. Joe Leydon says:

    Speaking of Spike Lee: It could be argued, I think, that “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” is the best film of 2006. (Look at Rotten Tomatoes: a 100% rating!) Sure, it premiered on HBO. So what? It also was showcased at several film festivals.

  99. Eric says:

    I sure wish those Film Comment images had been posted before I went ahead and ordered the issue.

  100. “but to suggest that it’s a deep movie or touching on themes more than superficially is stretching credulity.”
    Yeah, I can see that Scorsese obviously saw those themes in the original Hong Kong film and in the screenplay (cause, duh, they’re there) but I don’t think that Scorsese has made anything else than an entertaining violent foul mouthed action movie, which is all well and good (i’m down with that) but I gotta scratch my head when people say all that stuff. I obviously didn’t see it.
    Whereas Inside Man has extra themes it’s working with and also doesn’t have them in the direct foreground but, for me, it’s characters aren’t as distinctly unlikable and repulsive. And add that to the accent fudgery, the undeveloped supporting characters (wow! Mark Wahlberg has anger problems. how dramatic) and a big problem I had with some of the performances (Damon, Nicholson somewhat) makes me less enthusiastic towards it. There are still some amazing things in it though.

  101. Wow. You can really tell I’ve been up for 25 hours with only 2 hours sleep, can’t you? Crikies.

  102. Nicol D says:

    “I think it’s rich that people just seem to have forgotten what a rotten cretenous person Mel Gibson is – and that was before he went all racist asshole on the Freeway.”
    Was that when he was building a battered women’s shelter in North Carolina or when he was donating blank checks to old folks homes across the country?
    As for some other points….
    The Departed is a good film, but it is also Scorsese taking no risks and direting in his sleep. Let’s not overpraise it.
    Maybe it’s just me, but when he played Gimme Shelter for the 3rd-THIRD!-time I figured he was on auto-pilot. He will win this year, but this is not a complex film. It is a ‘cool’ Scorsese ganster picture that lets you revel in violence with all of the requisite Scorsese trademark shots.
    Damon is fairly one dimensional in it; Jack plays ‘Jack’; and DiCaprio gets by based on the fact they play him almost ten years younger than he is. Wahlberg is easily the best in it.
    And the Catholic stuff is old, tired and rooted in a 1950’s era view of Catholicism that no longer exists. The scene where Nicholson walks past and mocks the nuns with the little school girls on the board walk dressed as angels had me laughing out loud in the theatre. WTF! What world does Scorsese think he lives in? This sort of iconography went out half a century ago. If nuns did this now they would be chardged with abuse and public indecency by the ACLU.
    I suspect Scorsese thinks that Nicholson mocking Catholics in every second line of dialogue made him a ‘bad guy’ because he equates it with racist terminology of mocking African Americans at one point; but modern film language actually means it makes Nicholson a more sympathetic character.
    Again, I have no problem with Scorsese having the character say these things, but given the context, it felt way out of touch with the times and dated. Scorsese didn’t know if he wanted the character to be a genuine villain or a JR Ewing type villain we love. Nothing wrong with the latter, but it should take it out of ‘Oscar’ category.
    This just felt old, tired and dated. A good film…but I am very tired of how overpraised it is.
    On the plus side, it is easily Leo’s most sympathetic performance and its always good to see Baldwin do good work in an A list project.

  103. Arnzilla says:

    “The scene where Nicholson walks past and mocks the nuns with the little school girls on the board walk dressed as angels had me laughing out loud in the theatre. WTF!”
    Why NOT laugh? Costello’s girlfriend doing that thing with her hips behind the nun was funny.
    “I suspect Scorsese thinks that Nicholson mocking Catholics in every second line of dialogue made him a ‘bad guy’ because he equates it with racist terminology of mocking African Americans at one point; but modern film language actually means it makes Nicholson a more sympathetic character.
    Again, I have no problem with Scorsese having the character say these things, but given the context, it felt way out of touch with the times and dated.”
    Given the heat that the Boston pedophile priest scandal generated, how out of touch was it really? I think Costello’s anger might suggest that he was affected in some way by the scandal. Sullivan was an altar boy, after all.

  104. jeffmcm says:

    I hate you, Nicol.
    But you already knew that.

  105. jeffmcm says:

    Otherwise, I think Eric is pretty close; I agree with him that The Departed is going for something deeper, where we diverge is that I think Scorsese was successful. And here is there it gets extremely personal. I didn’t have a problem with the language, which is where KCamel seems to have gotten hung up.
    To Me: it’s funny to say but I have the exact opposite reaction: I thought the characters in Mystic River felt fake and the ones in The Departed felt real. To each his own, I guess.
    And back to Nicol:
    If nuns did _what_ now? They’re just walking there. What are you talking about? I think you’re the one who is out of touch, Mr. N.

  106. It wasn’t so much the language itself, it was the characters themselves. Pretty much all of them had about two character traits “foul mouthed” and “angry”. And it wasn’t just typical swear words, it was all sexually vile stuff that isn’t even sorta fun listening to (Damon’s “faggot” speech at the start was particularly offputting)
    “Was that when he was building a battered women’s shelter in North Carolina or when he was donating blank checks to old folks homes across the country?”
    No, I mean he’s been going around for years saying derogetory and disgusting things about gay people, but of course, that doesn’t matter. Plus, isn’t he notoriously sexist?

  107. austin111 says:

    I still would say The Departed is a film that will be more remembered and looked at in the next decade than Dreamgirls or just about anything that’s come out so far this year. Weird for what’s considered a remake, I know, but I still believe it’s entirely likely. It’s easily the film that’s given me more to think about. I’ve seen The Queen, Babel, Half Nelson, etc….all fine films in their way, but none left quite the same imprint for whatever reasons.
    Kamikaze, go see The Queen or something more sedate a few more times so you can get over what obviously colors your view of The Departed. Scorsese deliberately uses the profanity and the sexual/racial innuendos, not to say he supports them, but to illuminate the rot in our society and some of the character’s souls and Colin comes “thisclose” to being exposed in the film as a closet case — usually the person who tries hardest to prove he isn’t a “faggot”. And I hope you realize I’m not, nor is Scorsese, suggesting that homosexuals are evil — it’s what our culture tends to do to them and why that makes them go into such strong denial.

  108. The Carpetmuncher says:

    It’s fun to compared The Departed and Inside Man for obvious reasons (and I liked both films), but I found the ending of Inside Man to be totally un-satisfying and cheap, and found the ending of The Departed to be utterly breathtaking.
    I also have to say that the foul-mouthed jerks in The Departed were fabulous – anyone who’s spent time in New England knows that those guys are totally authentic – they’re razor smart, but still from the streets. The Baldwin/Wahlberg team was unbelievably good… Dissing The Departed because of the language just seems to be somebody’s prude side fogging up their vision to some great movie-making and acting. That would be like saying The Dreamers suffers from too much nudity…it’s sort of the point…and you’re missing it if you let that get in your way…

  109. Muncher: The end was The Departed was the best part in my mind. Delightfully pulpy and bloody. And Inside Man‘s ending was half taken from Quick Change, but it still worked.
    Austin: Don’t speak to me like I’m a child. I have the decency to respect your opinions, I’d like the same in return, thank you. To repeat – It’s not the language itself (i couldn’t care less how much profanity there is in a movie). It was the one-toned characters in The Departed weren’t likable and I like watching movies with characters I want to see through to the end. I didn’t care at all about Damon’s or Nicholson’s character especially and then just watching these characters sprout the sexually disgusting dialogue that they did just got tiresome and made me dislike them even more. The “faggot” scene may very well have been some big character building scene, but that still didn’t make listening to it any more enjoyable.

  110. jeffmcm says:

    That’s fine, KCamel, just as long as you recognize that many of the things that you didn’t like about the movie were the exact things that a lot of us did.

  111. jeffmcm says:

    I should clarify, I found every character in The Departed to be interesting and more or less ‘likeable’. I don’t even remember any ‘sexually disgusting dialogue’ but I do remember plenty of fun, juicy exchanges performed by good actors.

  112. Trust me Jeff, you (and anyone else) can like whatever movie you feel like.
    The reason I was getting angry was that just because I don’t like listening to characters talk about “faggots” and “fairies” and watching characters I don’t like doesn’t mean I should stick to movies like The Queen or other “sedate” titles so I can “get over what obviously colors your view of The Departed.” . My “view” being my opinion. I don’t like being belittled and insulted by people like that. I get enough shit elsewhere and I don’t need faceless people i barely know mocking me because I disagree with them.

  113. And I should clarify to, not once did I say people’s opinions are wrong and that there’s something wrong with people who did like it. I queried why it’s gotten so much praise as it has, but people can like whatever the hell they feel like. But the issues I had with The Departed (a movie I’ve said I liked and gave a B- to) are the issues I had I don’t need nobodies telling me what I should and shouldn’t think.

  114. jeffmcm says:

    There are plenty of reviews out there explaining why it’s better than a B- film, and the movie’s gaybashing talk is for a specific purpose, to insinuate that Damon’s character is a closeted homosexual hiding his identity from himself as much as from the outside world.

  115. Oh for crying out this, this is getting ridiculous! Do you get away with this with your friends and family or do you just do this on the internet for your own pathetic amusement?

  116. That should obviously be “for crying out loud”
    Ugh, Dave’s right. You’ll make an argument out of nothing.

  117. jeffmcm says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand your problem. I was answering your question and addressing your concerns.

  118. whatever. this is pointless. Apparently my opinion is wrong until I agree with everything you say. I’ve said already why I didn’t like the movie as much as you so why don’t you just get over it?
    “There are plenty of reviews out there explaining why it’s better than a B- film”
    Yeah, and I disagree with them. Or is that not allowed?

  119. jeffmcm says:

    KCamel, I would humbly remind you that you are the one who started this particular discussion; especially the ‘can someone tell me why it’s so great’ part.

  120. Well, I will humbly tell you that I never asked ‘can someone tell me why it’s so great’. I (and several others) merely queried it’s status as this stunning phenomenal masterpiece because I (and several others) didn’t see that. We didn’t see all the undertones that many of you did. We saw it as a somewhat flawed action gangster movie and that was pretty much it.
    For the sake of debate I said what I didn’t like about it (and remember, there was a lot that I did like, but that doesn’t seem to matter obviously) and then people started jumping on me telling me that my opinion was wrong.
    And just above this you, Jeff, weren’t just disagreeing with me and presenting your side of the debate, but you were actually telling me that what I thought was wrong. And that Austin guy and Carpetbagger up there thought that because i’m in the minority, that there must be something wrong with me.
    It’s kind of sad that you can’t accept not everybody sees all the same stuff as you do (this isn’t just to you Jeff btw). That’s what makes a place like this interesting, everybody has varying opinions. And for people to actually flatout say that I’m wrong and to tell me what’s “obviously” wrong with me was incredibly insulting and demeaning.

  121. jeffmcm says:

    I never said you were wrong. I explained a detail or two that maybe you had overlooked.
    I agree, however, that this isn’t a particularly constructive discussion, because there’s a lot of ‘I don’t care what you think, this is what I think’ going on, which is too bad.

  122. jeffmcm says:

    ^^^And I’m not aiming that necessarily at you, KCamel.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon