The Hot Blog Archive for November, 2008

Huge Blu Breakthorugh

I haven’t seen this anywhere else, but the Financial Times is reporting this morning, “Wal-Mart will sell the first sub-$130 Blu-ray player in “Black Friday” holiday sales this week after the Thanksgiving holiday.”
The announcement is part of a story on how (foolishly) Hollywood is counting on Blu-ray to revive the ongoingly slacking DVD market.
Ain’t going to happen.
The promise of Blu-ray is much, much smaller than the DVD cash boom. However, it is something and if it adds 2% or 5% to the current market, that will be critically important to an industry that is about to find itself seriously crunched… not because of the content or the lack of an audience or challenges from other media, but because the price of production and distribution is just waaaaaay too high to maintain any kind of reasonable margins at studios. I do not expect audiences to notice too much of a change. In fact, it should all look better and better. But internally, at the studios, agencies, and in the pockets of stars and unions, things are tight and getting tighter. And we are, I would guess, still looking at a short-term correction of over 25% more… and long-term changes that will cut the cost of the industries output by as much as 50%.
But I digress…
Assuming this is accurate, it is HUGE for Blu-ray. Sony has been saying that $300 was the target for this X-Mas and $200 for next X-Mas… and both of those are blown away by an under-$150 machine THIS Christmas.
The real story here, which I will pursue if the WSJ and NYT haven



I came up against an odd TypePad re-registration a few days ago… was frustrated… and then it seemed to go away…
I will look into it when I return to the States on Tuesday night.
Until then, my apologies is there are any issues.


Old Man Thinking… Again!

The Times of London ran a story this morning about David Kirkpatrick (formerly of Paramount and Hollywood Pictures) launching, with MIT, a $25 million project to


Friday Estimates by Klady – 11/22/08

I believe that the Passion of the Christ had the previous record for the best all-time day by an indie release with a $33 million first Saturday. That film opened on a Wednesday, softening their Friday… but that doesn’t mean much when looking at just how huge this Twilight opening is. History would suggest a significant Saturday drop, but as I always point out, with numbers like this, everyone is guessing. At least one of Harry Potter’s November opening weekend records ($102.7m) is safe… but the other two ($88.4m and $90.3M) could be in danger. The best non-Potter start in November – The Incredibles‘ $70.5m – seems like dead meat.
Bolt will improve significantly on a $7m Friday… but the number will still end up being rather disappointing for Disney. Even Chicken Little opened to $40m. It may be the recession… it may be too much noise… it may be unclear marketing… hard to guess… but not a thriller.


BYOB – Weekender


IDocFeatAmsterdam – Day Two, Pt 2

Today was much more reflective of where so many dogs are these days… great ideas or great production or a great subject… but oh so rarely the combination of all of them.
It does seem that “just going to movies” is not the full picture of IDFA (aka The IDFA). Serious as they are about docs that aspire to changing the world, the social aspect seems to be a major part of this event. After all, they have a dance party every night.

15 Weeks to Oscar

It is that ambivalence that has made a near-lock out of Slumdog Millionaire, which would be seen as a strong underdog in other seasons, but as one of the few films that truly wears its heart (and movie love) on its sleeve, it has stepped into a front-running role. Anticipation for Benjamin Button and even a fear of Australia are similarly based on the idea that they will pull the trigger in a big way. (The love and fear of Luhrmann remain unavoidably within millimeters of each other.)
Which brings me to Revolutionary Road, one of those


BYOB Weekend – 112108


DP/30 – Marisa Tomei

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, now up for another Oscar in The Wrestler, talks about her work in the film and throughout her career.
The video after the jump…

Read the full article »


IDocFestAmsterdam – Day Two

The day is just beginning, but I am already pleased to be able to read Baz Bambigoye in print in the Daily Mail (he has a shot of Kate Hudson in Nine that still looks like used goods)… and many of the other Brit papers. The obsession with the UK version of Cloris Leachman is starting to slow, though the older gent who quit is now causing the BBC to refund the telephone expenses of all who voted for him this last week.
Sad to see that Clive Barnes passed. I was not really in sync with Barnes, but a great old pro who will be missed.
The last two movies last night were, again, quite good. Epperlein & Tucker’s Bulletproof Salesman is more subtle than either of their earlier films. The film about an German armored car salesman/manufacturer traces the path of the Iraq War and in his very specific field, the need to evolve from bulletproof to bombproof. Tucker, whose voice I recognize, though he is not in the film as a character, is along for the ride, literally. What’s it like to be in a car with people shooting automatics at you? We now know, thanks to Mike. This husband/wife team continues to do fascinating work, outside the margins. Their first film, Gunner Palace, was the first of its kind. But since then, their interest in the kinks of the individuals who live in the war zone has been completely compelling.
This was followed by Citizen Havel, which was a perfect capper to both the Iraq film and War Room Redux. The film was very much in that Maysles/Hegedus/Pennebaker style of being a fly on the wall… only here, instead of documenting the supporting cast, the center of this film is the head of state. Keeping it lively is Havel’s personality – cheerful, goofy, vain, direct, repetitive, and undistracted by his own flaws.
This is the kind of film that ages with you… more layers as you think about it more… because it is not directly about his story so much as it is about a man in that very unique position. When he waffles on issues, he seems like every guy at a kitchen table trying to hash something out. When he makes the same joke about a foreign head of state for the fourth time, it is still charming because he is still selling the joke as well as telling us something he thinks is profound. When he prepares to have photos taken, he is like any family leader at a Sears Photo Studio, wondering if he looks good in that shirt.
If there turned out to be a theme for the day, it was the breaking down (and building) of mythologies. High profile people and stories from perspectives that were unexpected.
The only oddball remains the audition piece from Brazil, which, as I think about it, has elements of Spike Lee’s Girl 8… which also left me wondering.
On to the day… there seems to be some sun up in the sky… really enjoying this town… even having not gone to visit the Red Light District yet… can you come here and not? interestingly, another huge buzz story in the UK is about new efforts to penalize men who go to legal prostitutes who turn out to be human trafficked “slaves.” The issue is controversial, even there, with other women’s issues not getting as much buzz, though many feel they should. But it does seem like people are waking up to the shockingly large issue of women being trafficked around the globe.

DP/30 – Eddie Marsan

The co-star of Happy-Go-Lucky


IDocFestAmsterdam – Day One

The festival hasn’t officially begun yet, but they decided to screen during opening day, in the dayparts, to decidedly soft results. I’ve been in 3 films today and seen about 40 ticketholders.
Still, two of the three films were great to see… and one was interesting, even if I still don’t know what it quite was.
The great ones were Solo – the tale of a man trying to cross the Tasmin, the ocean between southern Australia and New Zealand… in a solo kayak – and Return To The War Room, a Sundance Channel look back – by Pennebaker & Hedegdus – to their landmark doc about the 92 election.
Solo is in the style of Touching The Void, though in place of recreations, we get actual footage of our kayaking hero. There is also a distinct Grizzly Man feel to it all. It’s not quite the filmmaking effort that the other 2 were, but still, enormously compelling stuff.
War Room Redux is all joy, though it now feels short an hour on how the crew handled being the media leaders around the Obama run.
The oddball was Playing, a doc consisting of auditions that blur the lines of reality. Like I said… not really sure what the endgame was meant to be, but it felt, from early on, like a concept that could lead somewhere profound… Though not so much this time out.
About to start the new Tucker/Epperlein doc, Bulletproof Salesman…
More later.


(3:53p) Yes… this was an iPhone oddball cut off thing… use it as BYOB space if you like…


BYOB Wednesday

Y’all loaded up the last one.. here’s more space… can we keeps the CAPS to an occasional screed, please? (Though it is great to see you all fighting without abusing.)
I will write on Rev Road from something other than this iPhone, but the short stroke is that it doesn’t make it to the very serious ambitions that it aspires to… Mendes just isn’t a hard guy (even if he gets another young actress to show her boobs for no reason)… He is a curveball guy and the reason why the Michael Shannon performance kills is that he is the only person whose inner passion we really get… he is the Cold Mountain Zellweger of the piece… had Mendes had the cajones to show the look on Leo’s face when he is having sex, not for something sexy, but so we could see what his inner angst is, then you would be on the road to Virgina Wolfe or August: Osage County or even Mad Men, my son.


Amster, Amster… Dam, Dam, Dam

The most striking thing about wandering about on a first jet-lagged night was how rich the film culture is here compared to Los Angeles. And keep in mind, the doc fest doesn’t launch for another day.
I count no fewer than 6 theaters running classics of cinema, from Satyajit Ray to John Waters to Downey, Sr. And the mainstream houses are loaded with “art house” fare as well.
We killed a total of zero pedestrians and bike riders on the way to the hotel, so that was a plus too.


The Hot Blog

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