The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2011

TIFF Trailer: Girl Model

This clip reminds me a lot of Red Race, the great doc about training little kids in China for gymnastics glory. The sheer number of girls in churning about says so much.

And here is the latest trailer…


NOT EXCLUSIVE: 9 New Twilight Photos

INCLUDING: Kristen in shorts (three different kinds… one including tan line!!!)… Kristen in a white bikini top (or bra)… Kristen with her mouth open… a lost image from the Dirty Dancing remake auditions… an homage to Miami Vice… and Bill Condon directing SEX!!!


The Comedy Stylings Of The 1 Hr 44 Minute EXCLUSIVE/TOLDJA

Oh, the journalism… the journalism…

(ADD: Since the discussion is moving to the possible Blade Runner “sequel,” here is the press release)


BYOB 81811


More Midnight

Press release sent this morning…

Dear Members of the Press,
I would first like to express our gratitude for your continued support of Woody Allen’s refreshing summer hit Midnight in Paris, and as a result of your support Sony Pictures Classics is going wide one more time on Friday, August 26. Since it’s release on May 20th it has continued to play all summer long, the only film this season to do so.

Heading into the fall, the film continues to distinguish itself and will elevate to another Woody Allen record this weekend when it is set to reach 50 million at the box office, with no signs of slowing down. We encourage you to help spread this exciting news as we discover audiences are falling in love with and visiting “Paris” again, and again, and again, and again…


The Best Of Summer Poll: Round 1, Group 2


The Best Of Summer Poll: Round 1, Group 1

1 Comment »

A Tale Of Two Trailers

At TIFF 2011…

And from 1994…


More TIFF-ying

And the parade of titles goes on… here are some more to consider…

Page Eight – Distributorless Rachel Weisz movie #3 also happens to be occasional-direcror David Hare’s first in 14 years. The espionage drama’s lead is the great Bill Nighy and the spectacular supporting cast includes Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, and Judy Davis. This is the closing night gala… which is not a good thing at TIFF. But let’s hope the movie is a lot better than the slot. (Edinburgh review)

The festival’s take…

Page Eight David Hare, United Kingdom
Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving M15 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the stability of the organization. Meanwhile, a seemingly chance encounter with Johnny’s striking next-door neighbour and political activist Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) seems too good to be true. Set in London and Cambridge, Page Eight is a contemporary spy film which addresses intelligence issues and moral dilemmas peculiar to the new century. Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis.

The IT Girl of a couple years ago, Rebecca Hall, gets the crap scared out of her…

The Awakening Nick Murphy, United Kingdom World Premiere
Haunted by the death of her fiancé, Florence Cathcart is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams. However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her skepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core. Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others and The Orphanage, but with its own unique and thrilling twist. Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.


The previously discussed Whit Stillman comeback

Damsels in Distress Whit Stillman, USA North American Premiere
Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker), the mad frat-pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen) – who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.

Missing Clive Owen? He’s an a creepy thriller.

Intruders Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Spain World Premiere
Juan and Mia, two children who live in different countries, are visited every night by a faceless intruder – a terrifying being that wants to get hold of them. These presences become more powerful and start ruling their lives as well as their families’. Anxiety and tension increase when their parents also witness these apparitions. Starring Clive Owen.

I am a fan of Kassovitz as a director, as well as as an actor. He’s much more political than people realize.

Rebellion Mathieu Kassovitz, France World Premiere April
1988, Ouvea island, New Caledonia, a French colony. Thirty policemen are kidnapped by locals fighting for their independence. Three hundred members of the French army special forces unit are immediately sent on a mission to fix the situation. An encounter of two cultures: Philippe Legorjus, head of the unit, versus Alphonse Dianou, head of the rebels. Together, they’ll fight to resolve the situation through mutual trust and dialogue over violence. Except that they’re at the heart of the most-tense presidential elections in French history – when issues at stake are purely political, rules of law and order are not exactly moral.

What they leave out here is that the film stars Monica Bellucci and Louis Garrel, the director’s son and the third member of the trio from Bertolucci’s The Dreamers.

That Summer Philippe Garrel, France/Italy/Switzerland North American Premiere
A couple living together in Paris – he’s a painter, she’s a film actress – befriends a couple of film extras who fall in love with each other. All four go to Rome where their relationships undergo profound changes as emotions shift and change.

Many have been waiting for the Saoirse Ronan/Alesis Bledel buddy-assassin movie! But who saw it coming from ivy league, Oscar-winning Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher? (And who else would title a movie based on characters from a little-seen musical?) The only thing more shocking would be if it was really great. (People are still trying to forget What’s Wrong With Virginia, last year’s Oscar-winning screenwriter directing debut) But it will probably sell for the US regardless, given the numbers for Hanna earlier this year.

Violet & Daisy Geoffrey Fletcher, USA World Premiere
Violet & Daisy, the whimsical story of a teenager’s surreal and violent journey through New York City, follows Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Atonement, The Lovely Bones) as Daisy. With her volatile partner-in-crime Violet, played by Alexis Bledel (Sin City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Gilmore Girls), the two young assassins face a series of opponents, including one unusually mysterious man (James Gandolfini), in a life-altering encounter. The film, written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), also stars Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo.

I have very high hopes for this one, given the director’s pedigree and the melodramatic (and beloved) source material.

Wuthering Heights Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom North American Premiere
A Yorkshire hill farmer on a visit to Liverpool finds a homeless boy on the streets. He takes him home to live as part of his family on the isolated Yorkshire moors where the boy forges an obsessive relationship with the farmer’s daughter. Starring James Howson and Kaya Scodelario.


Excited Utterance: Warrior

Midway through Warrior, I thought, “This is what The Coens once called ‘a Wally Berry wrestling movie,'” but it was a really good Wally Berry wrestling movie.

But by the time the film was over, it was apparent that this is the Wally Berry wrestling movie that Barton Finke wished he could write.

I fear that I might damn this movie with too much praise. Rocky meets On The Waterfront.

Putting aside the magic of each fight being done in such a stylized way in Raging Bull, this is easily the best photographed fight movie I have ever seen… shot by a first time lead Cinematographer.

With great credit to the director, the screenwriters, and the DP, I have never seen any up-close action film – especially one in a sport I know nothing about – that was so clear and easy to follow, scene after scene after scene. I was never confused by any of the action. I knew where the characters were and what they we doing, how they were trying to adjust in the moment, etc. Amazing.

Oscar nominations for Nick Nolte, who could win a lifetime achievement Oscar for this great performance, and probably Tom Hardy, who has the more Brando-esque brother role. But this could become an across-the-board nominee. Picture, director, cinematographer, editor, sound, score, and at least two acting nods, Joel Edgerton certainly another possibility. Hardy is all the things many of us felt he was. Nolte is 100% on his game. In a weird way, this role is a variation of his role in Ang Lee’s Hulk… except this one effectively does all the things that one didn’t quite make work. Edgerton has the hardest role, as the sanest family member.

This should be a hugely commercial movie, given the genre, grossing in the mid-100s, I believe women will be on the edge of their chairs along with the men. If that happens… and critics embrace what could have been a simple genre picture… Best Picture is not an unrealistic goal.

Gavin O’Connor has made himself, with his collaborators, to fighting what Chris Nolan is to superhero movies. Nolan brought an intellectual rigor and darkness to Batman. O’Connor brings arthouse intimacy to a movie that also works exceptionally well as a genre experience.

Simply, Warrior is the movie that The Fighter wasn’t. It’s a great fight movie, even if you, like me, could not care less about Mixed Martial Arts. But it also plumbs the emotional depth in a way that The Fighter really focused on doing, but never quite did. The characters were too big and there just wasn’t room for the intimate moments, especially with Dicky, who was never really accessible enough to get to that level of intimacy. Warrior would rather say nothing than show off. And I felt it. Hard.

By the end of the film, you reach the inevitable action film culmination… though the writers rather brilliantly take the whole thing somewhere utterly unpredictable that also makes completely sense for all the characters. But beyond the genre, the family story comes together completely at the same time. These three men are completely a reflection of their histories and they have arrived at their destiny.

I expect some critics to bridle against the emotion of the film. But that will be their loss.

I’m going to stop now. I’ll be revisiting the film again… and surely, again. Blown away. It was, in many ways, like Soderbergh and Sheridan combined at their best. And I didn’t see it coming from Gavin O’Connor.

God, it’s great to fall in love with a movie!


You May Be A Movie Theater ASSHOLE If…

IFC’s Matt Singer wrote “a movie theater etiquette manifesto.”

The only problem I have with it is that the loudest complainers about this stuff are always the first ones to break the rules they insist be upheld when they have their own reasons. New babysitter means checking cell for calls… cool food item at the concession stand won’t be that loud to eat… if I don’t put crap on the seat next to me, how will everyone else know that a buffer seat is a good idea… etc.

I suggest this simplified rewrite…


You Think You’re In Your F***ing Living Room & Won’t Shut Up. You CANNOT Whisper Quietly Enough Unless It’s During A Battle In A Transformers Movie.

You Distract Others With The Light Or Sound From Your Mobile Device

You Bring A Baby To A Crowded Non-Kiddie Show Or Fail To Leave If The Child Isn’t Sleeping Or Feeding.

You’re Eating Something Too Complicated For A Concession Stand To Sell

You Run A Theater And Sell Food More Complicated Than A Concession Stand Should Be Selling

You Crowd Others When You Don’t Have To

You Lie About Someone Coming To Sit In The Seat Next To You

You Go To Certain Movie Theaters (We All Know Which Ones They Are In Our Towns) And Expect Silence, A Lack Of Distractions, Or Anyone To Give Much Of A Damn About Your Experience. If You Don’t Like It, Go Somewhere Else.

Please feel free to add your own ideas…


DP/30: Jack Larson & James Bridges – A Hollywood Partnership

This is a very unique DP/30. Jack Larson, best known as an actor for playing Jimmy Olsen on the old Superman TV show, tells his Hollywood story, from the beginning to today. Much of that story included his partner in all things, the director James Bridges, best known for The China Syndrome, The Paper Chase, Urban Cowboy, and other highly respected work.

On the occasion of the release of a bio of Bridges by Peter Tonguette, Larson decided to do something he rarely did as a well-known actor… talk about his life with the media. It’s a story of how things were, how things changed over 60+ years, and how some things never change.

It’s a looong conversation, but a rewarding one.


Weekend Estimates by Klady of the Apes Again

Interesting. According to the estimates, Apes had a significant Saturday bump this weekend after having none last weekend. The Help also had a Saturday bump, which was not so surprising. Does it strike me odd that Fox was handing Nikki Finke Saturday estimates without the West Coast evening numbers, claiming this big Saturday bump? Yes. It is suspicious behavior. But that doesn’t mean that their projection didn’t come true. As I sit here parsing numbers, it’s easy to forget that this weekend push is all about marketing and not about the real numbers. Fox intended to be #1 this weekend with Apes and now they are. How about that? (This is when Nikki chimes in like the old Shake-n-Bake ad and says, with a grin, “And we helped!.”)

People have been known to get upset with me when I wonder aloud about iffy behavior around this estimating game and the “finals” as well. Two things. One, none of it matters to the studio coffers. The amounts of money that come in are not publicly discussed as they come in. Public glimpses into the other revenue streams, especially in real numbers, are rarer than Bigfoot sightings. So whoever ends up seeing the most actual revenue from this weekend is a non-issue in this discussion. Two, smoke indicates fire… or a cigarette or barbecue or whatever. But when things seem sideways at the box office, there is a good chance something a little funny is happening. It’s not bloodsport. If The Help had been $5m bigger or $5m smaller, Fox would not be fighting for the #1 slot and none of this would be an issue. But when there is $400k, by Len’s estimate, between movies on Friday, juices start flowing between very smart and competitive people. And every studio that has had an in-house reputation for never f-ing around with the estimates has ended up sticking its hand in that cookie jar when the heat was on. Three, this almost only ever happens when we’re discussion the Top 3 movies of a given weekend. Sony is not sitting around this weekend deciding whether it wants to push the number of 30 Minutes or Less over the number for The Smurfs‘ third weekend. As #4 and #5, the marketing significance is virtually non-existent. So I truest their estimates in this situation implicitly.

Okay… moving on…

The Help number is good, okay, and disappointing all at once. It’s hard to place it in a summer where that opening lands between Zookeeper and Bridesmaids. If you bought into the chorus of people who started to believe it was going to be a $35m opening, you are disappointed… but probably not admitting it today. If your comparing it to Eat Pray Love, the opening is good, beating Julia and that massive Oprahed book’s movie opening by about $2 million. If you’re looking at a summer movie that has gotten all this attention, the opening is okay. The only August movies that really have played the way that DW is hoping this one plays have been action comedies. Oddly, the movie DW is hoping Help will play like is Tropic Thunder (a DW movie released by Par), which did a surprising 4.3x opening, launched from an August 15 berth.

In my view, the $80m domestic gross is good, but not exciting for the studio. $100 million is exciting. The job was done and done well on opening weekend. Now it’s the push to 100. The film will be financially successful either way. But from haters, lovers, and those in between, the film has been infused with expectations of something more (or less) than that. It’ll be interesting to see.

Five-al Destination got 3D cramps. As best I can tell, it is the first of the 3D sequels to a 3D movie, in a series that started in 3D or not. Soon to come, we’ll see Spy Kids, Saw, Piranha, Ice Age, Avatar, and more follow in these footsteps. (Does the Harry Potter partial 3D thing count? You tell me.) So far, the answer is not good. Not only was this film not close to the last one, the first Final 3D, but it couldn’t keep up with Final #3 by the time the weekend was over. Spy Kids 3D was out there on its own, with paper glasses, back in 2003. And they’re stunting “4D” this time. But is the gimmick now turning the corner on self-defeating? In spite of a fair amount of positive energy in the geek community about this fifth Final D, not only is the box office lower than #3, but the number of tickets sold has to be even further off, given the 3D bump. (Yes, Virginia, there are some sane uses of ticket sales as a measure.) This series relies on its base to show up… and instead of growing the base, it seems to be losing the base, even making a better movie.

What more can one say about 30 Minutes or Less? Felt a bit like a Simon Pegg comedy. Opened pretty much like a Simon Pegg comedy. That doesn’t define the film, just the box office.

Captain America is holding nicely. Probably won’t quite get up to the Thor number, but if it had had the opening weekend slot, the numbers might be reversed. The film is playing pretty ell internationally as well.

Cars 2 is quietly moving to and past $500m worldwide. Not a world-beating number for a Pixar movie, but #2 for the pre-November year and not the negative event – in spite of merchandising – that some made it out to be when it opened soft here.

Nice ongoing numbers for Sony Classics with The Guard and Midnight in Paris. Searchlight is up to $700k on Another Earth. And Senna had a great doc start.


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