The Hot Blog Archive for January, 2008

Holbrook Before & After

Hal had booked this gig for his 2008 tour as Twain before he realized that he might be nominated. In fact, we talked about it when I went to Houston to “Lunch” with him in November.holtwain2.jpg
And now, he is a sell out machine for regional theaters.


Durnnnn SAG IT!

DId you laugh? Did you cry? Did it matter?
I have to say, even though SAG winners mean little to Academy Voters, the consistency with which Day-Lewis, Christie, Bardem, and No Country For Old Men are winning suggests that they will go on to win on Oscar night. You can’t fight city hall.
SAG is usually 3 of 4 for actors and the “ensemble” award is really a toss-up… this year more than ever, with only one Best Picture nominee nominated for the award by the group. (That’s a first in the history of this award, though missing a number of BP noms is not.)
I listened to the reports on KNX radio as I drove into LA from Sundance. Surreal. They covered it endlessly as “perhaps the only show this year when actors will get to dress up and party.” Uh-huh. And the shredding of Anna Paquin (Pa-queen) Viggo Mortensen’s names (Vee-jo) would have been funny… but they weren’t.
I will be watching the show later, keeping an eye out for DDL’s tribute to Heath Ledger. I’m sure it will be perfectly pleasant and aside from Ruby Dee winning, nothing close to a surprise.


Coens Win DGA

Good for them.


Friday Estimates by Klady – 1/26

Well… the biggest drop in history for a movie opening over $10 million was Star Trek: Nemesis, falling 76.2% in its second weekend from $18.5m to $4.4m in its second weekend.
Cloverfield is on target to had a $10m – $11m weekend (if things go well) and no better than a 70% drop… epic, really.
The worst multiples after an opening in the $40m range belong to the Scary Movie franchise and Batman & Robin, whose opening weekend represented just about 40% of their domestic total.
The good news for Paramount is that the international market tends to fall for this kind of sucker bet even harder than America. So expect massive openings in markets like Japan and significant profits for this monstrous movie. And expect more of the same from JJ Abrams and Paramount until that opening dwindles into the teens.
And before you write off Rambo as #2, note that it will open to more than Rocky Balboa and will also be a cash cow overseas, much more so than RB. At worst, you’re looking at over $100 million worldwide, probably no less than $125 million. And that will keep Sly in HGH for a few more years.
The There Will Be Blood expansion is good… and keeps them pretty much on target to do about half the business of No Country For Old Men domestically. When The Coen Bros’ movie expanded in to 860 screens in November, they had a $7.8 million weekend. TWBB is looking at $3.5m this weekend on 885. Country will pass $50m this weekend.


BYOB – Weekender

The return to LA is about to begin. I am looking forward to sitting down, without the mania around me, and considering the fullness of this last 10 days. There are movies to discuss (Hamlet 2, Man On Wire, In Prison All My Life, Choke, Momma’s Man, and others), business to consider, and the future of indie to think about.
Meanwhile, discussions about strike discussions are fruitless. The deal will soon be done, barring insanity on either side. The deal will be, as it always was going to be, what the studio side was willing to do. The difficult question of whether the strike was necessary will forever be conjecture. (There are pressures brought to bear that go beyond deal points. “How profitable was the strike to the AMPTP side?” is a story that will be hard to write.) But we all need perspective, not inflamatory gossip, right now.
In any case, I have miles and miles to go before I stop drivng. Box office stuff should be up on MCN soon. Have at it all…


Sundance – In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of Thurs Evening

This evening offered two of the buzz films of the festival, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil and Sunshine Cleaning.
Anvil is this year’s American Movie, albeit less wildly funny and more poignant, as it tells the story of two Canadian heavy metalargy.
Anvil is this year’s American Movie (from the great Chris Smith), albeit less wildly funny and more poignant, as it tells the story of two Canadian heavy metallurgists who are still aspiring to career greatness in their 50s. Aspiring is a lot funnier when the aspirant is young. But these guys are resilient and unshakable


BYOB – January 24

I know… many of you are bored with Sundance coverage… or frustrated that I haven’t had enough time to write in more depth.
Either way, roll your own here…


Sundance – Well Over The Hump

The beat has continued on for almost 2 days already since things started screeching to a halt. Sanity has returned to Main Street (except for a short while today, as people lined up for a free Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert in a small room). And this ski town started acting like a ski town again, as snow reigned supreme all day.
The good part, of course, is more movies. Today, it was Baghead (a very special mumblecore episode of Scooby-Doo), Death In Love (a very edgy film with Jacqueline Bissett as a Jewish Holocaust survivor whose experience continues to scar her adult children in extreme and often sexual ways), and Donkey Punch (a thriller in the style of 70s horror films like Halloween with a touch of Agatha Christie and about 30 minutes of classic soft core).
My Sugar review is here.
And Anvil is about to start at the 9:30 screening.
Two more days…


Sundance Wednesday – Slow Down

It is actually more fun than watching Main Street get built up in the days before Sundance begins… it’s watching them dismantle today, yesterday, and tomorrow. It’s almost like being on a studio backlot, as they transform streets dressed for one film into a whole new world. The Bon Appetit Supper Club is back to being The Riverhorse. Stores that you never would know are on Main Street suddenly appear as they no longer host multinational corporate huksters. You can eat at the restaurants, whether the pizza joint that just reopened or Zoom, Redford’s high end Americana spot.
I’ve been seeing a lot of movies that I need to catch up on writing about. The best work at the festival, full stop, is in Sugar... but then there are problems. The review will be up on MCN shortly. Momma’s Man is what the NY Smartniks thought it was, for better or worse. And there is a parade of others. I will write ASAP. Wi-fi has been a problem and they are kicking me out of the press lounge right…. NOW!

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Your Oscar Nominee!!!

Javier Bardem in Perdita Durango



What can one say?
He will be the new Kurt Cobain. The weirdness around The Dark Knight will be unpleasant and relentless. The loss of anyone that young, especially with so much going for him, is tragic, though perhaps less tragic than many of the soldiers lost in Iraq. The New York Times hit a nasty place after rushing the news that he died in Mary Kate Olsen’s apartment… and then retracting it within an hour.
May he rest in peace.


Oscar Morning Coming Down

We’re 7 minutes from nominations…
========================== is streaming the nominations… and they seem to be committed to having an announcing team even younger, less knowledgeable, and more vacuous than the E! team. Impressive…
So… Jason Reitman for directing Juno, Tommy Lee Jones for In The Valley of Elah, the horrible choice of a great actress in Cate for Elizabeth 2: The Mess, and Sarah Polley for writing Away From Here seem to be the surprises.
Just wrote a quick 20 Weeks that will land on MCN’s front page in a while. Running to a morning screening. Please fight amongst yourselves… nicely.


Self Torture Porn

It took a few days, but there is finally a movie to truly loathe at Sundance.
Downloading Nancy is one of those films that goes beyond in its pretentious efforts to top some of the worst Sundance bad habits. The “Watch The Well-Known Actress Suffer And Fuck” film (most recently embodied by Sherrybaby) combined with the “If Chris Doyle Shot It, It Must Be Art” film, with a mighty tip of the hat to Hostel 2, this is the very worst kind of festival shit. It desperately wants to tell you that it’s important and meaningful and supportive of people who truly suffer in the real world… but what it really wants to do is to force you to watch Maria Bello get abused and abused and abused – all by choice – while you wait for the inevitable violent murder of the woman at the end of the film. The closest thing to restraint that the film, which chooses to pretend to be restrained in style, shows is that they don’t have her cut up into small pieces by the murderer and dumped in the Chesapeake Bay. Thanks for that!
At first, I just thought it was going to be the Actress Over The Top Where’s My Indie Spirit Award film. But that is actually insulting to those films, which generally fail in their goals, but at least make a game effort.
Mostly, I feel bad for the very strong cast. Bello really can bring it… and she brings it here to a degree that made me feel – as I did with Hostel 2 – that I was watching a real form of rape. There are other films that are as graphic and more graphic that don’t make me feel that way. But a movie that takes so much pleasure in the pain of its lead character can’t get away with claiming artistic distance with me. There is a point at which it is not about what the character feels and it is simply like a nasty trick, trying to make the audience as anguished as what they are watching. It is hateful filmmaking and every director who does it seems to be beloved by his female cast. Why? Because he makes/allows them to put it all out there. But that isn’t art. That is abuse. If this filmmaker was remotely serious about exploring the depths of self-abuse that people who have been raped in their childhoods, then the movie would have seriously explored those issues. Instead we get realistic, well acted, surface all around.
Jason Patric and Rufus Sewell are also very good in their roles and the passive abuser (though can anyone really buy a guy who has been married to a woman for 17 years who doesn’t notice that she is a cutter who cuts every part of her body?) and the found abuser who Bello’s character wants to kill her. Amy Brenneman is fine but underused in a small part as the therapist who gets it, but can’t seem to get anywhere.
There is such a world of difference between a film like this and a very difficult film like Irreversible , which aspires to something and really demands thought by the audience. This is like being force fed rancid veggies.
The festival should be embarrassed to give this one a place.


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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