Film Fatale Archive for June, 2006

Familiar FLOWERS: Screenwriter Accuses Jarmusch of Theft

The Boston Globe has an interview with New York University instructor and screenwriter Reed Martin, who believes that Jim Jarmusch lifted his idea–his whole screenplay–for BROKEN FLOWERS (2005).
Reporter Joseph P. Kahn gives Martin an uncritical hearing of the charge that Jarmusch saw his screenplay, which was being circulated by an agent, and used it to write his own. Of course there’s money involved: Jarmusch scored a $40 million hit with this road movie about an emotionally closed-off man (Bill Murray) who learns that he might have fathered a now-grown son with one of four ex-girlfriends.

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Taking the view that it’s never too late to bash last year’s movie, Ross Douthat, writing in Slate, pounces on Ridley Scott’s new, what-he-wanted-to-release-in-theatres cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, which is now out on DVD. Why Scott was denied the chance to release this three-hour version, we may never know (the director mentions “some people” who were against the longer but paradoxically swifter-paced version.
If you missed the film on the big screen, you missed out. KINGDOM was an old-fashioned epic with a rare intelligence–and relevance to current events. Like all of Scott’s movies, it was magnificent to look at, with a deep blue and golden hued beauty and sweeping battle scenes.
Kingdom of heavenposter.jpg
Slate’s been running these “How Hollywood Works” essays every so often, and this essay has the grandiose title “How the Historical Epic Died With Kingdom of Heaven’–as if we won’t be seeing any more attempts at this genre for a while.
In short, the critic has problems with Orlando Bloom, whom he says “never looks like anything but what he is—a handsome, unreflective 21st-century guy dropped down in a medieval setting, with none of the hardened masculinity or the defiant otherness that would make you believe that he belongs to a different time.”

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Milla Jovovich, Paging Anna Karina

I always laugh when skinny little actresses are cast as ass-kicking, Ripleyesque heroines. One I don’t laugh at is Milla Jovovich: what she lacks in heft, she makes up for in martial arts skill and sheer feral intensity. When she gets in an onscreen fight (in the RESIDENT EVIL movies or in the futuristic something or other ULTRAVIOLET, she always seems ready to fight to the death.

The Independent has an interview with Jovovich, who’s over in London promoting Ultraviolet. I must be a philistine, but I failed to notice the film’s John Cassavetes references. It all seemed to be an excuse to give Jovovich an Anna Karina wig and excuse to beat the shit out of people in a sci fi setting.
Which seems to be a real crowd pleasing formula.

Young, Gifted and Blank: STRANGERS WITH CANDY


Offbeat sketch comedy hasn’t thrived on Comedy Central since the heyday of The Kids in the Hall, but fans of the oddly addictive Exit 57 and Strangers With Candy can celebrate the return of the world’s oldest high schooler, Jeri Blank (Amy Sedaris) and her beleaguered schoolteacher (Stephen Colbert). Now that the STRANGERS WITH CANDY movie is coming to the big screen on June 28, Comedy Central is re-airing old episodes of the TV series.
You’ll have to stay up late for these marathons: they’re on from 2-4 AM Eastern. Check Comedy Central’s site for details.

‘Orientation’: YouTube Movie of the Day

Does these clips–several of them posted on YouTube and adding up to one 30 minute “Orientation,” purportedly for the Church of Scientology–remind anyone else of the Hanso film on LOST?
They landed in my inbox this afternoon and I’ve been lost in their strangeness ever since. First, are they real? Or are they a parody of this religion whose tenets are unfamiliar (and probably misunderstood) by everyone who’s not a member?
As one of David Poland’s correspondents pointed out, the videoclip style isn’t much different from the “cheap, cheesy and lame” testimonial videos made for corporate sales meetings, colleges, and charities. Poland remarked that the one over the top moment in in video number 10 was the line, “you could also blow your brains out.”
Who wrote that, I wonder? The same scold who came up with, “If your best friend Timmy jumped off a bridge and killed himself, would you go head and jump of a bridge and kill yourself, too?” (Wait a second–the “jump of a bridge” line would be the argument against joining an organized religion or political movement.)
The videos–especially this one–reminded me of something that David Cronenberg would have done, circa SCANNERS. I am particularly fascinated by the host/presenters big, anchorman hair, which is so puffy and immovable that it just has to be an 1980s artifact. You simply can’t find men with Large Hair anymore. Even Oscar and Emmy winning hair and makeup artists have blocked this blowdry technique out of their collective memories.
If you’ve got nothing better to do, you can watch the entire 35 minute clip here – please post your theories and hair care tips.

'Peter Pan' Heirs Hate Moore Wendy Porn

To most of us, the words “cartoon girl-on-girl action” spell nothing but harmless delight.
Not so for those who own the rights to Peter Pan, the most popular English-language children’s drama and novel of all time. Writer J.M. Barrie, who died in 1937, gave the profits of his work to London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. As the Galleycat publishing news blog reported recently, hoo-boy, were they pissed when they learned that V FOR VENDETTA’s Alan Moore had plans for a graphic (really graphic) project called LOST GIRLS, a “porno-graphic” novel in which Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz meets Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan, and (as near as [Galleycat] can make out from the descriptions) they tell each other X-rated versions of their stories while having hot sex with each other.”
The Pan heirs response to Moore: Think again, perv.

Peter Pan and friends aren’t in the public domain. Though the Great Ormond Street trust has given its blessing to recent, critically acclaimed movies PETER PAN (2003), with Jason Isaacs as a swinging, sexy Captain Hook, and the Oscar nominated biopic FINDING NEVERLAND, there’s no way that a slash-fiction ‘toon will fly with them.
Moore, the subject of a recent cover story in Publisher’s Weekly, takes a different view: he can’t believe that permission is needed to write about such well known characters. Creators of satire, historial fiction, fan fiction and other forms of literary and artistic appropriation agree with Moore’s “fair use” argument.
I don’t think Moore will be deterred by any legal injunction. And Moore’s fans, who are legion, will manage tto get their hands on the finished product no matter how much of a fight the Peter Pan people wage. But it makes you wonder: who owns a fictional character, when that character far outlives the copyright of its creator?

M. Night Shyamalan: WATER Baby

At least Uwe Boll has some sense of humor about the bad reviews he gets. (A twisted, bullyboy sense of humor…but it’s there.)
M. Night Shyamalan, however, has no no sense of perpective –or humor — whatsoever: in his next film, he mauls a movie critic.
Still smarting from the bad reviews and not-so-great fan reactions he got for THE VILLAGE, Shyamalan moaned about how Disney executives — who’d backed his breakthrough movie THE SIXTH SENSE, his follow up film UNBREAKABLE and the spooky/ridiculous/aliens-sans-culottes saga SIGNS, didn’t “get” his vision for THE VILLAGE.
Casting himself as a wronged auteur–but one unable to cope with the possibility that upon his shoulders fell the responsiblity for this disappointing, derivative movie- Shyamalan collaborated with writer Michael Bamberger in the whine-all book, The Man Who Heard Voices, Or How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale. (Penguin USA, $27. 50) It’ll be out the same week as Shyamalan’s new film, THE LADY IN THE WATER, the don’t-mention-Splash drama in which Paul Giamatti finds a “sea nymph” (not at all a mermaid) in his swimming pool.


I have only one hope for this book: that it might become this decade’s equivalent of the Klaus Kinski autobiography ALL I NEED IS LOVE. (1988), The late actor’s petulant, crazy-ass, unintentionally hilarious monomania monologue classic, first published in 1988, was republished in the in the US as KINSKI UNCUT (TK, 1997). (Cintra Wilson writes of the Kinski experience in Salon. Sample quotes: “I am like a wild animal born in captivity, in a zoo. But where a beast would have claws, I have talent.” and “I VANT AMAHNDA!” (Amanda’s roommates: “Amanda’s not here, Mr. Kinski? She’s not here.”)
Fingers crossed. But an actor on a lifelong sex tour doesn’t quite compare to a profound business and creative disagreement between film studio executives between a talented writer-director who hasn’t heard the word No lately.
Which voices does the title refer to, when the only voice Shyamalan listens to is his own?

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Q&A With NY Times Culture Guy

Got issues with the New York Times Arts and Culture section?
Now’s your chance to mix it up with new editor Sam Sifton, who’s taking questions from readers who care, dammit, about which film reviewers review which film, how (and why) the paper of record covers gossip and celebrity culture, and why the Monday arts and business sections bother to print weekend box office numbers on Monday morning.
That last one’s an excellent question–the “win/lose” horserace reporting is reductive, the Monday AM numbers and rankings are unofficial and often unreliable. Besides, Variety has the real numbers on Tuesday afternoon–why not report those?).
Scroll down to read Mr. Sifton’s praise for Jennifer Aniston. “Well, here’s the thing,” says the Timesman, she’s “kind of a good actress. I can say that without being a board-certified critic. She is. (Rent “Office Space” and see if you don’t agree.) She is also ridiculously famous. And I think it’s just plain interesting to see how she negotiates that divide, to understand how she is forced by circumstance to make real artistic decisions at the same time that her personal life is undergoing dissection at the hands of tabloid editors and the paparazzi. (And at the same time that she is, at one level or another, courting the attention.)”
Times employees are hereby invited to tell Movie City News whether Mr. Sifton has Our Jen’s image as a screensaver. Your anonymity will be assured.


Sometimes I pity the people who create movie posters. They labor for weeks or months to come up with the perfect balance of image and text and movie-star billing. Then the movie will play a couple of weeks longer than its expected run, and maybe a holiday (say July 4th or Christmas) is coming up– and someone in studio marketing thinks, “We’d better freshen up the marketing campaign.”
But the best idea they can come up with is to slap a clip-art a firecracker and an Uncle Sam or Santa hat on the head of Garfield or a machine-gun wielding, zombie-killing Milla Jovovich and that market tested tagline will become “Jingle All The Way Into the New Year!” or “Who’s Been Naughty?”

Al Gore’s global warming documentary AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH debuted with an intriguing arty poster that showed an industrial smokestack beneath a sky that looked like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Now that the doc’s extended its run to more cities, the advertising art evokes an image from last year’s hit nonfiction film THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS…only the new poster’s penguins are marching across a sandy desert.

Who cares about boring old industrial waste? There’s nothing cuter than a bird in trouble.

Fiennes Furious (OK, Not Him. His Director)

Read Sara Vilkomerson‘s congenial conversation with Ralph Fiennes, who’s in the middle of yet another brief but brilliant run on Broadway. I don’t know how long this link will stay active before the interview gets sent to the not-free archive.
The actor, who’s at the Booth Theatre until Aug. 13 for his a Tony-nominated turn in Brian Friel’s The Faith Healer, is not an easy person to interview, but Vilkomerson does an unusually good job drawing him out on his favorite subject: stage acting. He doesn’t do lots of press for his movies, and when he does, he prefers to talk about things he’s comfortable with (theatre, literature) nd not what magazine editors and gossip mongers would love to hear about (his personal life, his siblings).

Vilkomerson, who’s the queen of the money quote (see the kicker to her piece on Jack Black, Vince Vaughn and women who love a guy with a gut), lets Fiennes tell some backstage anecdotes (like trying to concentrate before his entrance, every night , while he can hear the audience in the theatre next door hollering for Julia Roberts). And she also mentions the breakup of Fiennes longtime relationship with British actress Francesca Annis— the UK tabloids went mental over it a few months back. (The actor doesn’t comment on it.)
All fine and good, you’d think.
Nope. In this week’s New York Observer, Robert Edwards, director of The Land of the Blind, writes a huffy letter protesting the page one piece, calling it a “cheap shot,” “character assassination,” and accuses the paper of exploiting Fiennes’ celebrity by putting the actor’s face on the front page. “Ours is a tiny little movie with almost no advertising or marketing budget; we only had two press opportunities with Ralph, and chose to give one of those slots to The Observer.”
Here’s some more publicity, Mr. Edwards: THE LAND OF THE BLIND (hey, where’s the official website?) opened June 17 in New York, and it’s been playing at Human Rights film festivals.

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Uwe Boll: The Beatdown

From House of the Dead to Alone in the Dark to BloodRayne, Uwe Boll’s been Hollywood’s go-to guy for adapting a videogame into a dull, unscary movie. Now the director whose forename has provided the defaul review for entire oeuvre of shitertainment is itching for yet another critical beatdown. But this time he wants to film it.
The Ain’t It Cool reports that Boll’s thrown down a challenge to his most outspoken critics to face him in a boxing ring — in a 10 round match to to be filmed for his next movie POSTAL.
So who wants to make Uwe Boll walk into their fist? For the purposes of the challenge, pretty much anyone can go mano a mano…as long as the man-o weighs between 140 and 190 lbs.
I’m in.
Film Threat has already set up a poll and volunteered one of its writers to take on the House of the Dead-wrecker for this publicity stunt.
Boll’s last attempt to court favorable ‘Net coverage was to invite all and sundry to the set of House of the Dead and invite reporters to be extras the rave-turned-zombie bloodbath scene. (The last thing that movie needed was more maniac extras. Try a few more 2nd A.D.s and production assistants with cattle prods to stop them from spazzing all over the place. Try another script. And another director. And never making it in the first place, because it bad even by Boll standards.
Despite the excitement of wearing corpse makeup and eating lots of free crafts services food in sunny Vancouver, the junketing zombies still slammed House of the Dead.

More NACHO, Please

For those who can’t get enough of Jack Black in his Mexican wrestler kit, help is on the way–in Los Angeles, at least.
Discover the movies that inspired NACHO LIBRE: the Mexican horror movies of the 1950s and 60s, when science and religion and (of course) wrestlers grappled with supernatural creatures (Aztec mummies, Vampire babes, angry skeletons and “doll people.” (I can’t believe where that thing’s tongue is licking on the poster for EL BARON DEL TERROR: lurid!)
The Haunted Hacienda has assembled a fabuloso exhibit of vintage movie posters and lobby cards. Who’s been collecting all this stuff? It comes from the Del Valle Archives, in collaboration with the Drkrm. Gallery
Check it out before June 24th 2006.
Regular gallery hours are Tues-Saturday 11am-5pm.
For more info call 323-223-6867 or email
The website is:
All gallery events are free and open to the public.

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The Directors Who Said Too Much

Who listens to DVD commentary tracks?
The Onion’s A.V. Club does, rounding up the oddest of the not-so-special-features for its Commentary Tracks of the Damned column.
Now the magazine’s critics have come up with The 15 People You Meet Listening to DVD Audio Commentaries: the hack helmers who insist that all the good stuff got cut, the dreary academics, the kings of nostalgia (hello, Peter Bogdanovich), the tired and emotional cast and crew reunions.
Despite the proliferation of director’s commentary tracks–and I’ve been listening to them since they were laserdisc commentary tracks–most of them are skippable. Sci fi and horror movies directors and producers who started in the 1980s and earlier love to tell the secrets behind every practical effect and gag, and they tell these stories not just because they’re well spoken, funny guys. Fans of the numerous re-issues buy the new editions, and the commentators (Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Wes Craven) actually have something new to say to the next generation of filmmakers.
I’m not sure what can be learned from the contractually obligated chats from the directors of movies like Stealth and The Island, but it’s wicked boring to hear how many times a CG visual effect was sent back to the effects house.
It’s like hearing an MBA tell you how many times he told his assistant to revise a PowerPoint presentation. That’s not making movies. That’s manufacturing.

'Tard Next To Ebert Thinks He Invented Blogs

Wait, you’re telling me it wasn’t the The Onion’s sharp-as-a-tack columnist Jackie Harvey who invented blogs! And that blogs aren’t influenced by Larry King, whose random, scattered thought-emissions were assembled into space-filling USA Today text>
Now the ‘Tard Who Sits Next to Roger Ebert says he thought up the blog years ago–but never did anything about it. Too modest apparently. Richard Roeper, in another bid for feedback for his feeble Chicago Sun-Times column, writes, “Many years ago, before anyone heard the term “blog,” I came up with the idea of running multiple items in a single column.”
Don’t bother with the rest of his topics du jour. Most of Roeper’s column’s are lists. Read Rick Zorn‘s response in the Tribune.
“Roeper seems to lack the humilty gene,” writes Zorn — “The capacity for modesty that makes insufferable overachievers sufferable. Just an observation. If you can find a self-effacing passage or a joke at his own expense in Roeper’s ouvre — and the rumors are true, he does have one! — it will be one I’ve missed.”
Zorn also points out that the “many subjects in one column”-column-which Roeper falls back on about twice a week–can be traced to journalist Jack Mabley, who wrote for the Chicago Daily News, the American, the Tribune and the Daily Herald. (He’s got a scan of a 1981 column that hits upon five disparate issues.)
Tribune readers with long memories point out that there were many earlier columnists who did the same.


Get Hammered! Horror Film Fest in LA

Don’t sweat the lack of quality horror films coming out this month.
If you’re in Los Angeles, the American Cinematheque has assembled a shiver-worthy series of classic British screamers for the scary movie fans.
John Patterson, who’s usually smacking around the new U.S. releases for the Guardian, has an overview of the films–from Hammer to Jacques Tourneur–in the current LA Weekly.
Highlights include the rare screenings of WITCHCRAFT (1964) a tale of witches and warlocks who take umbrage at the bulldozing of their private burial ground (it’s not on DVD) and THE GORGON (1964), with Barbara Steele casting her steely gaze at all who…piss her off.
I haven’t seen I START COUNTING (1969), but it stars “a very young Jenny Agutter” as a Catholic schoolgirl gone wild and/or homicidal, which is a can’t miss plotline if I’ve heard one.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF BRITISH HORROR: 1955–1975. American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater. Through June 25.

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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