The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2011

Guesstimating The Box Office Week

So… here is what is pretty consistent. Whatever the off-day holiday Monday number is generally shrinks by around 10% and then repeats Tues-Thurs.

So… Ghost Protocol was at an estimated $16.7m Monday, so figure it will pull down about $45m during the week this week, sending it into next weekend with a little over $120m domestic.

Sherlock 2 was at $10.8 on Monday, so figure about $28m and a domestic gross of around $118m going into next weekend.

Dragon Tattoo and Tintin should both be just over $40 million.

And so on…


BYOB 122711


DP/30 in 2011: The First Half

1. When We Leave, director Feo Aladag
2. Essential Killing, director Jerzy Skolimowski
3. The Human Resources Manager, director Eran Riklis
4. Precious Life, director Shlomi Eldar
5. Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs (Jan 2011)
6. Animal Kingdom, actor Jacki Weaver
7-11. The List: Paul Mazursky, Parts 1 -5
12. Every Day, wr/dir Richard Levine, actors Carla Gugino, Helen Hunt
13. True Grit, Costume Designer Mary Zophres
14. The Lie, writer/director/actor Joshua Leonard, actor Jess Weixler
15. The Social Network, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin
16. True Grit, cinematographer Roger Deakins
17. Catechism Cataclysm, actors Steve Little & Robert Longstreet
18. We Were Here, director David Weissman
19. Martha Marcy May Marlene, wri/dir Sean Durkin, actors Lizzy Olsen, Hugh Dancy, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes
20. Buck, director Cindy Meehl and subject Buck Brannaman (Sundance 2011)
21. Like Crazy, Drake Doremus, Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin
22. The Art of Getting By (aka Homework), wr/dir Gavin Wiesen, actors Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts
23. Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Film Ever Sold, documentarian Morgan Spurlock
24. Silver Tongues, director Simon Arthur, actor Lee Tergesen
25. Cedar Rapids, director Miguel Arteta, actor Ed Helms

26. Page One, director Andrew Rossi, subject David Carr
27. The Devil’s Double, director Lee Tamahori
28. The Redemption Of General Butt Naked, documentarians Daniele Anastasion, Eric Strauss
29. The Music Never Stopped, director Jim Kohlberg, actors Lou Pucci and J.K. Simmons
30. Little Birds, actors Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker
31. The Devil’s Double, actors Dominic Cooper & Ludivine Sagnier
32. Being Elmo, director Constance Marks
33. True Grit, Jeff Bridges
34. Reagan, documentarian Eugene Jarecki
35. Inception, cinematographer Wally Pfister
36. Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky, cinematographer Matthew Libatique, editor Andrew Weisblum
37. In A Better World, co-writer/director Sussane Bier
38. Salt, sound mixer Greg Russell
39. Unstoppbable, sound editor Mark P. Stoeckinger
40. The Social Network, editors Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter
41. Cold Weather, co-writer/director Aaron Katz, co-writer/producer Brendan McFadden
42. Vanishing On 7th St, actors Thandie Newton, Hayden Christensen
43. Black Swan, specialty costumers Rodarte (aka Laura & Kate Mullavey)
44. Legends – editor Michael Kahn
45. Even The Rain, director Icíar Bollaín
46. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin & Alix Madigan
47. If A Tree Falls, director Marshall Curry
48. The Last Lions, directors Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert
49. Potiche, director/screenwriter Francois Ozon
50. The Princess of Montpensier, director Bertrand Tavernier, actor Gaspard Ulliel

50. I AM, director Tom Shadyac
51. Little Birds. writer/director Elgin James
52. Arthur, director Jason Winer
53. State Of The Union: Bill Mechanic on “Premium VOD”
54. Exporting Raymond, documentarian Phil Rosenthal
55. Massy Tadjedin, dir Last Night
56. Cinematographer John Bailey
57. Hesher, director/co-writer Spencer Susser
58. The Big Uneasy, director Harry Shearer
59. The Hangover, Part II, dir Todd Phillips
60. The Tree of Life, actor Jessica Chastain
61. Eva Marie Saint
62. The Tree of Life, producers BIll Pohlad, Dede Gardner
63. Luther, actor idris Elba
64. Mad Men, actress Kiernan Shipka
65. PGA’s Produced By… Conference 2011
66. Mildred Pierce, Evan Rachel Wood
67. Parks & Recreation, actor Nick Offerman
68. Beginners, writer/director Mike Mills
69. Glee actor/Shameless writer Mike O’Malley
70. Page One, director Andrew Rossi, subject David Carr (June 2011)
71. Covert Affairs, actor Piper Perabo (June 2011)
72. The Killing, actor Michelle Forbes
73. The Art of Getting By (formerly “Homework”), actor Freddie Highmore
74. How To Die In Oregon, director Peter D Richardson
75. The Last Mountain, director Bill Haney, subject Robert Kennedy, Jr

76. Bobby Fisher vs The World, director Liz Garbus
77. Rejoice And Shout, director Don McGlynn
78. Somewhere Between, director Linda Goldstein Knowlton
79. Bad Teacher, director Jake Kasdan
80. Crime After Crime director Yoav Potash, subject Joshua Safran
81. Hot Coffee, director Susan Saladoff
82. Another Earth, director/co-writer Mike Cahill, actor/co-writer Brit Marling
83. Leon Vitali on Kubrick
84. Salvation Blvd, director/co-writer George Ratliff
85. Friends With Benefits, director Will Gluck
86. The Interrupters, director/producer Steve James & producer Alex Kotlowitz
87. Tabloid, director Errol Morris (July 2011)
88. Legend of the Fist, director Andrew Lau
89 -90. Chasing Madoff, subject Harry Markopolos
91. Magic Trip, director Alex Gibney
92. Life In A Day, director Kevin MacDonald, editor Joe Walker
93. Senna, director Asif Kapadi
94. The Whistleblower, director Larysa Kondracki
95. Jack Larson – Life With & James Bridges
96. The Debt & The Year Of Jessica Chastain
97. The Debt, director John Madden (2011)
98. Midnight in Paris, actor Corey Stoll
99. Higher Ground, director/actor Vera Farmiga, actor Joshua Leonard
100. Your Sister’s Sister, writer/director Lynn Shelton, actors Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass


The Slump Scam: 2011 Edition

Explaining reality to people who have made up their mind to believe an outrageous falsehood is hard to do. They really don’t want to hear it. Once committed to the falsehood, everything is seen through the twisted prism of that misunderstanding. And if the internet mindset has proven anything, it’s that people can twist any statistic into a “realistic” argument.

The single biggest problem with the lie of The Slump, same today as it was in 2005 and in every alleged min-slump since, is that you have to avoid the facts to maintain the fallacy. And not just one occurrence of an exception to the rule. But, this year, you have to avoid the numbers from a full half of the year. Of course – shockedshocked – those who want to maintain the fallacy keep piling on excuses to make their case.

Understanding a business model for an industry can, at times, just be about counting widgets. But the filmed entertainment business is not a widget count. You start with seven significant revenue streams, only one of which is well-reported upon, in the first year of the life of each film. (Domestic Theatrical, Foreign Theatrical, DVD Sell-Thru, DVD Rental, Streaming, Pay-TV, International TV) And this doesn’t include VOD, International DVD, etc, etc, etc. And this is just the first year of top revenue streams.

The fear of Home Entertainment, starting with the VHS, was that it would cannibalize the theatrical business. And indeed, it has. And DVD after it. It had to. And so has cable television. And the internet. And video games. Etc, etc, etc.

And still, the overall market has grown massively. The cannibalization has been relatively minor issue because the industry has monetized most of the anticipated cannibalization. So they get paid by cable/satellite, paid for DVDs, paid for streaming, paid for licensed video games, invested in both international production as well as infrastructure. Even with piracy, the European and Asian markets have seen more and more screens being built and higher and higher grosses.

But all those pieces of the revenue puzzle… hard to report on these days. Most figures aside from box office grosses are not made public. There are glimpses offered, now and again, usually in some self-serving way like a new record for sales or ratings or a big dollar deal with Netflix or whomever. But it’s not a weekly game where details can be pushed around like baseball stats.

So what do we get at the end of the year? Narrow slices of reality which are then obfuscated by big slices of excrement pie.

It’s a bit too easy, on either side of this discussion, to throw out stats. That’s how we got into this bastardization of journalism. Statistics and scoundrels, right? Instead of “yeah, but”ing each other to death, I’d love people to consider, as they discuss the macro view of the industry, some basic questions.

If April – September 2011 domestic grosses were up (and ticket sales were flat or a little up) vs last year… and before that January – March saw a massive fall off from last year… do we think that there was some sort of significant cultural shift on April 1? And if Q4 (Oct-Dec) was off marginally, was there another shift on October 1?

When you read about an ongoing slump, have you considered that if you only counted April on, the year would be up at the box office, including some remarkable numbers in both August and September? And if you haven’t, does it still sound like an industry-shaking situation?

Would it surprise you, amidst all this slump talk, that 2 of the 6 majors were up for this year, and third will end up about even?

Would it surprise you that WB is likely to end up being down for the year by a bit over $100m or about the holdover in 2010 of 2009’s Sherlock Holmes?

Would it surprise you that, in spite of not having an Alice In Wonderland kind of film in Q1, the difference between this year’s total gross at Disney and last year’s will be about the difference in domestic gross between Toy Story 2 and Cars 2? (Is this The Pixar Slump?)

Would it surprise you that the difference between 2010 and 2011 at Fox… and ultimately, the entire domestic theatrical box office… is almost completely made up of the $466m Avatar holdover gross?

It’s only when you fail to ask any detailed questions that it becomes easy to talk about “a slump” and to then start diagnosing reasons on the presumption that the patient is actually quite ill. (Hysterically, the same false reasons laid out in 2005 and being laid out again this week by a profoundly undereducated media group covering the film beat. That darn internet! Piracy. Streaming. And oh, those video games!)

Are there real problems with exhibition in the US? Absolutely. Do the studios continue to take actions that seem intended to create bigger problems with exhibition in the US? Absolutely. Is there reason to think that people have gotten out of the habit of thinking about movies as a theatrical experience beyond their first 4 – 6 weeks of release? Absolutely. And is the fault for that the structure of business and intention to speed up the process by the studios? Absolutely.

But is there ANY reason to believe that people are sick of going to the movies and this is an ongoing problem on a cultural level? None at all.

There are flops in 2011, as in any year. But there have also been a parade of great box office surprises. From Fast Five to Bridesmaids to The Help to Horrible Bosses to Bad Teacher to the 3d re-release of The Lion King, who would have seen any of it coming?

It’s also fashionable to write off 3D right now… and there are some good reasons for that. But you also have to look at the fact that 6 of the year’s top 10 domestic grossers were available in 3D. You have to recognize that both Thor and Captain America did about what the non-Iron Man Marvel-made movies have done… plus the 3D bump, making that bump pretty profitable. And of course, overseas, 3D is still on the rise.

This doesn’t mean that the 3D train won’t crash in the rest of the world next year and that it will become, as it should be in my opinion, a tool for certain movies that is not ubiquitous, but a special thing for certain filmmakers. (I am excited to see Prometheus in both 3D and 2D.)

But all of these issues have been simplified to death by a media that doesn’t seem to want to do anything but to answer their questions with their own predetermined answers.

I’d love to have a major paper or NRG or someone do a serious trend study on filmgoing. But instead, we hear from this distributor or that producer about how bad things are while their movies are flopping and forget to ask, “Where was The Slump when you had a surprise hit 6 months ago?” It seems pretty basic, no?


Christmas Estimates by Klady


DP/30: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, actor Max von Sydow

Merry Christmas from Ming The Merciless


DP/30: J Edgar, actor Armie Hammer


Friday Estimates by Ho Ho Klady

Giving context to yesterday’s box office is not easy. The last time Christmas Eve was on Saturday was 2005 and the only wide release that weekend was The Ringer.

When you have people out there saying M:I -Ghost Protocol is “disappointing,” what numbers are they looking at? Probably the fantasy numbers that people made up in their heads. Or worse, comparing it by day, suggesting that a wide release day is the same as a 425 screen IMAX release day. The numbers so far suggest that this film will land somewhere between Mission 2 (the biggest of the franchise) and Mission 3 (the smallest). The real story of Ghost Protocol’s finances will be overseas, where none of the franchise’s films have failed to top $250 million. But even domestically, the film looks to be heading to the neighborhood of $100m within the next 9 holiday days, even without a significant uptick of any kind.

Is Sherlock a disappointment at the box office? Absolutely. But that film too is waiting on international numbers. The first film’s $200m domestic gross was really the surprise. But the lesson of this sequel? Holmes isn’t Batman. You can’t do the same marketing campaign 2 years later, it seems, and expect the same level of interest. For one big thing, the box office bloom seems to be a bit off the Downey rose. Instead of coming up with different hits and then going back to his most significant box office successes, the last four years have been 2 Iron Man films and now, 2 Sherlock Holmes films. In between, he has done two $100m domestic comedies (Tropic Thunder and Due Date), but as we have seen with every other comic superstar, people get bored of the gag after a while. And what’s coming up on his schedule? The Avengers (aka Iron Man & Friends) and another Iron Man. I expect he will find some time in between suit fittings to do some other characters. He really needs more Due Dates and/or dramas if he doesn’t want to be a very rich guy without an audience. And Sherlock 2 seems to be the first victim of this… though foreign may well make the film a financial success, much as the wildly inferior Iron Man 2 fell off at home, but outgrossed its predecessor worldwide.

The third shot at $200m domestic with The Chipmunks will fall short also. But like Sherlock, if you were not an obsessive movie fan, how would you know the difference between Episode 2 and Episode 3? I’ve written it before, but as much of a shock as the grosses on the first film were, the second film stayed strong by offering girl chipmunks singing Beyonce. The sequel seemed to be fresh. What’s new this time? There may be something in the film… but if it’s not in the marketing, it’s not going to turn up at the box office.

What do you do with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I don’t really know. Hard R at Christmas. It’s a bit of a reach, but the recent film this most reminds me of is Valkyrie, which was PG-13 and had a somewhat faded superstar in the lead. It’s hard to know whether this film will catch on or not, but Valkyrie‘s $83m domestic is looking optimistic for Girl, short of a mighty wave of word of mouth… yet another example of the bottom line impotence of powerful social media.

We Bought A Zoo has been a tweener since Fox started rolling it out. Potential ticket buyers are being asked to see it as a family film and as a Scarlett Johansson lip-licker. The family side is the main focus though… and that flies right in the face of the Cameron Crowe brand. So who is going to show up? Once Fox decided that this was a family push, it should have gotten out of Alvin’s way and their own ability to fully focus and pushed to the Paul Blart date in January. Yes, Beauty & The Beast 3D will eat some business, but they could have done a full-out family push, spent a lot less on TV in January, and realistically targeted $80m or so and not the $45m or so they are going to be lucky to get to over the holidays.

Disney and Paramount found themselves with the same problem domestically. They have two very good Spielberg films built around two well-known international brands, neither one of which rings many bells in the United States. Tintin is nearing $250m overseas, though it hasn’t been a real phenom with mega-numbers only in France and very strong numbers in Spain and the UK. It looks to be outgrossed in Japan by movies like 3D Musketeers and Apes. There are territories left to open, but the idea of this cracking $500m internationally have been shelved. Meanwhile, the War Horse rises on Sunday, also pretty wide, and also with its future unclear.

The thing is, it’s easy to second guess choices in retrospect. Disney knew they had an awareness problem a couple of months ago and started national sneaks for War Horse, trying to move the ball. The one advantage they have is that War Horse is a legitimate awards contender moving forward, so they may get another bite of the apple (so to speak). But if that is the play, why go wide tomorrow? It’s almost like they are protecting the film by trying to take advantage of the holiday box office opportunity… but also hoping that they will be saved by Oscar.

Meanwhile, Paramount has opened a movie in four of the last 5 weeks. That’s a bit insane. And none of them have been throw-away fluff. And Mission: Impossible is the only one that is looking like a possible box office hit. (Young Adult may see its life extended by the award season as well, but so far, a box office disappointment.) My immediate response on Tintin would have been to push it even further from its international release and to go in March. Trying to ride international success is not easy – has it ever been done? – and doing it in such a constricted window makes it almost impossible. But then you are looking at Disney with John Carter, WB with a Titans sequel, and Lionsgate launching Hunger Games in March, so not only is March competitive, but Disney/DreamWorks/Spielberg might not be so willing to add competition to that field with so much on the line with John Carter.

I’m sick of reading about the slump that is still not a slump. People looking to sell propaganda try to push, for instance, Puss in Boots, as some big disappointment when, in reality, it did about the same numbers as Megamind, without a box office star like Will Ferrell or Brad Pitt, and the only Nov/Dec DreamWorks Animation release ever to do better than those films was the Madagascar sequel.

However, this does not mean that Holiday 2011 kinda sucks against expectations. There is a lot of very commercial, audience-friendly content out there, but most of it seems to be piled up this week. You know it’s been a bad run when you find yourself wondering where this year’s Tangled was. (The answer isn’t that complicated… 3 family-only films from 3 different studios in the place of one Disney animated film. The DWA film is a yr-vs-yr wash. And Tangled had a month before the only other kids film of the season, Yogi Bear, opened in December… and also did $100m domestic.) As for where this December’s Tron Legacy was… well, where was it? It could have been Mission or Tintin, but neither went out to suck up the box office from early/mid-December.

Anyway… I will be doing a year ender on the box office. But let’s not forget that after Q1 2011, business was off 20% from last year. Now we’re looking at about 5%. We were actually down under 4% at the end of Q3 and this last quarter has gone in the wrong direction after 2 quarters of improvement over last year. This is already the third highest-grossing year in history. Thank goodness we have people to obsess on estimating ticket sales in order to darken the mood.

Dare I point out that we had three billion dollar movies for the first time in history… or that “dead” 3D was a significant revenue producer in the four highest grossing films of the year?

The devil is the lack of details… and the search for a cheap headline.


14th Annual ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas In Hollywood

With apologies to Clement Clark Moore…

“Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.

RT @Gawker Santa seen at 439 E 74 drinking milk and eating cookies with underage girl in pajamas. NY DA sez charges may be filed.

Reuters/ The Wrap – EXCLUSIVE – Santa Claus May Cause As Many As 3 Deaths A Year Because Of Ancient Delivery Methods
Every year, people are killed by things striking them in the head. The Wrap has found in an in-depth investigation that stray presents or reindeer excrement could be responsible for as many as 3 of these deaths each year. The Wrap spoke to George Melange, a homeless retired postal worked whose dog was hit in the head with something and is now suing Santa Claus for $2 billion. Tonight, see Sharon Waxman on CNN’s new roundtable show, People Who Still Think I Work At The New York Times, talking about this and other things she knows nothing about.

3p Christmas Eve – TOLDJA! Those idiots at The Hollywood Reporter got it wrong again. They claimed that a mouse would be stirring. But my sources told me before this nobody Moore wrote this stupid attempt at poetry, 189 years ago, that no creature would be stirring. Not even a mouse. Who gives a damn whether a mouse is stirring or not. But I knew it wouldn’t be stirring first. It’s early, but according to my sources, the absence of the mouse indicates that some form of poison gas is in the house and the sleeping family might be dead as early as Saturday morning.

Earth (AP) – Santa Claus delivered his presents last night.

Why do we celebrate this big fat fatty with his bulbous red nose, veins ready to burst from it at any minute? Santa Claus should not only be banned from public attention, but he should probably be filleted and fed to homeless children in nations far away from West Hollywood. How dare he inflict his fat face and good cheer on us every year? Merry and bright? What kind of bullshit is that? And those reindeer are disgusting non-humans. Are we supposed to care about this flying thing just because he has a red glowing nose. I had a red glowing nose once, but I put it to the grindstone and I toughed it out and now it’s a gray scratched up nose, the way it was meant to be.

EXCLUSIVELY TOLDJA 11p Christmas Eve – Everyone in the house is okay, even the mice. How could anyone have known that a lack of stirring wasn’t a result of deadly gas? But I just got of the phone with Harvey Weinstein and he says that he might be a little light on gifts this year. Sources tell me that Sony and Universal will have a great holiday and have plenty of gifts.

@Carr2n NPo>>Earth Guy in first class seems awful jolly already. Hivemind, where can I find the air marshalls?

We spoke to Santa, Mrs Santa, and 3 key elves at the North Pole. Here are the photos and the quotes from Stephen Galloway’s interview.

“Yeah, my butt itches after a while.”

“That’s what she and she and she and she and she and she said!” (raucous laughter)

“He may hang out with reindeer, but he’s hung like a horse.”

Brooks Barnes, New York Times: According to sources who would not let us use their names because that would make their spin on this story less effective, Santa will deliver over 27 billion gifts tonight, all thanks to Netflix’s Reed Hastings and the ghost of Steve Jobs. This will lead to fewer tickets sold, increased box office overall, and every studio chiefs ascension to godlike status no matter how well or poorly their studio is doing, according to unnamed sources who would not name themselves because it would seem immodest.

John Boehner: “We are tired of all this wasteful celebration by the job havers sand job wanna-havers at this time in our economy. If President Obama had not left Iraq in such haste, there would be lots of opportunities for the job creators to make billions more in profits from their hotels when these selfish jobless could have a great opportunity to be in the field clearing IEDs. The president is killing the nation by demanding that Santa make all these handouts to the unmotivated. Real Americans want to take unlimited profits from the public sector without regulation and when they can, they will generously take care of everyone else because We’re The 1%!”

EXTOCLUJASIVE 1AM Christmas Morning – TOLDJA Ryan Kavanaugh is merging with a bowl of egg nog RIGHT NOW!

Patrick Goldstein, LA Times – Is Christmas A Sign That Chanukah Could Come To An End?

CC Moore: “He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.'”


Dragon Tattoo SPOILER SPACE!!!!

If you don’t want to know… don’t enter the comments section!!!


DP/30: Moneyball, cinematographer, editor, sound editor, director

Wally Pfister, Christopher Tellefsen, Deb Adair, and Bennett Miller talk about making the film with David Poland. Shot at Sony Picture Studios, Culver City, CA in Dec 2011.

Movies To Holiday By

Here’s a chart for you… movies currently in theaters worth your consideration, not necessarily for awards, but as movies… just plain old good movies. Yay!

Films For The Whole Family
TIntin – A non-stop feast of images and movement that may make grandpa’s head explode, but should engage kids small enough not to quite understand the plot and teens and adults.
War Horse – A true old-fashioned epic. Not for the cynical. But if your heart is open, it’s a epic of emotion and incredibly staged action.
We Bought A Zoo – For the family that smokes weed together… they see animals. It’s an old fashioned morality and romance film with a modern feel, c/o Cameron Crowe. Not the best film you’ll ever see, but completely engaging and likable experience for the whole crew.
Hugo – The first hour will be slow for the adults, the last hour for the kids. But the adults will recover and the kids should start thinking more. Any film lover should love this film.

PG-13 That’s Pretty Safe For Everyone
Mission Impossible – The best of the 4 Mission films. From the opening on, it feels more like a big screen version of the series. It’s not trying to impress you with all its moving pieces… just cool stuff and huge set pieces. A pleasure. Violence may make some squeamish about the kids, but they’ve seen worse at 8p on Fox (and that’s just Fox News… ba dum dum.. tip your waitresses).
Sherlock Holmes 2 – The same schtick as the first one, writ larger. They know what they are and how to do what they do. If you liked the first one, you’ll be happy here. Noomi Rapace is excellent. Wish there was more for Jared Harris to do. Writing is better. But the same gimmicks work if you love those gimmicks.

For Adults With A Sense Of Humor And Irony
Young Adult – The best work of Diablo Cody and of Jason Reitman. Theron gives one of the great performances of any year… the character’s unlikability seems to be blurring the view of some, but she creates a very real person who is severely broken, but very funny. And Patton Oswalt is a scene-stealer as someone who’s been physically broken, but whose humanity is completely intact.
The Descendants – A really good movie… though best for men of the middle age. George gets to play a egoless fuck-up who has convinced himself that doing the right thing, when he feels it is so, makes it all okay… and is wealthy enough to get away with it…. until the tragic twist that opens the film. A tremendous actors’ film.

Dragon Tattoo – I have been holding back until I can see this film a second time, but Fincher’s visual skills remain at the top of the mountain. Some really fine performances. The previous film makes things complicated.
The Sitter – Not a very well-made movie, but you’ll laugh a bunch of times.

Albert Nobbs – An underrated film of subtlety and grace with some excellent performances. Let it breathe a little and it will do well by you.
Pina – A great doc, really more about the work of the great choreographer than about telling her story. See it in 3D. Amazing experience of the work.
My Week With Marilyn – For me, Michelle Williams gives the performance of the year in a year of some pretty stunning performances. She reaches beyond the Marilyn we think we know and creates a breathing human. Breathtaking work.
The Iron Lady – Another underrated film. Meryl Streep’s performance is best when she is playing a very old lady. But you won’t see much of that in the ads or clips. A memory piece. Definitely worth seeing.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Excellent thriller. Many find it confusing. I didn’t. But not sure what that means if you do. Great, great ensemble.

Dark Art
In the Land of Blood and Honey – I haven’t seen it, but word is pretty good for this film with no American stars of any kind telling a story of pain in the Middle East. I’m very curious… and not just about why they haven’t tried harder to let me see the film.
A Separation – Another very strong film about people making hard decisions. It’s set in Iran, but really, it could be set almost anywhere. Not a happy night of moviegoing, but powerful and insightful.


Teaser: Prometheus

The QT on the Apple site is now live here. That would be the recommended viewing experience..


Did I Miss Something?

Yes, another new stupid piece on film from Slate, where they seem to be buying into the idea that contrarianism about popular entertainment equals being on the cutting edge. But more to the point… did Nathan become a feminine name when I wasn’t paying attention? Or is this a man telling us what women think. (That would make a really, really funny column!)


DP/30: My Week With Marilyn, actor Kenneth Branagh

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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