Film Fatale Archive for September, 2006

Toronto: Married & Megalomaniacal

A friend had only to describe an early scene in EL CANTANTE, Marc Anthony and J. Lo’s salsa biopic, for me to dash off to a public screening. A by-the-book musical up-and-downfall bio of salsa king Hector Lavoe (Anthony), the movie’s got a hot soundtrack and all the Mad Lib, fill in the blanks woes of troubled musical genius. Family woes-check! Addiction-you got it! But before things go to hell, Lavoe and his lady love (Lopez) cruise Manhattan, snorting cocaine in a record company limo. Whoops! They hit a bump and the white powder goes flying. How they laugh, unaware of the tragedy to come. The movie’s a mess, but Marc and J. Lo sure do look like a fun couple.
Not so the Rachel Weisz-Darren Arronovskys, whose Queen Isabella-conquistador fixated, time travellin’ what-the-fuck THE FOUNTAIN plays like pillow talk. For some reason, Weisz is photographed in blinding white light, so that no matter which character or time period she’s in, she has no pores or skin flaws whatever. Meanwhile Hugh Jackman gets the full dermatalogical treatment, even when he’s in the same scene with her. Bottom line: you can tell who the director loves and who’s the boy from Oz.


Toronto: Politics, Truth & Consequences

Death of a President
UK, USA. Dir. Gabriel Range
Shut Up and Sing
USA. Dir. Barbara Kopple, Cecelia Peck.
Hype hurts the morning after, and journalists who queued up to see DEATH OF A PRESIDENT in the too-small cinema are feeling a bit snookered. Festival programmer Noah Cowan called this “what if?” docu-drama directed by Gabriel Range the “most dangerous and breathtakingly original film” he’d encountered this year; advance press served to fan the flames of controversy and a quick sale to Newmarket Films. For about 30 minutes, D.O.A.P. carries real tension: Set in 2007 Chicago, the site of a presidential visit and angry war protests that get out of control, the movie uses news footage, plus visual effects, plus CCTV footage, plus TV-documentary-like talking heads, to tell the story of the night the president (Bush) was assassinated. But once the deadly event occurs, and the inevitable frameup of a Syrian-born IT engineer begins to unfold, D.O.A.P. never follows through on its premise of showing how the assassination effects the country at large. All windup, no pitch. (As unsettling as the idea is, how would anything change if Cheney were president? Hasn’t it been made clear, in the latest round of 9/11 and Iraq documentary/remembrances, much he already runs the show?

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Toronto: Frankenfish Gone Wild! 'THE HOST'

One other comment about BLACK SHEEP: It’s godawful gross and gorey, and I have issues with gore. But this comedy horror movie is so silly that I was laughing rather than cringing during scenes of innards being pulled by fanged sheeps. The silliness of the sheep-teeth distracted me from the realistic, smelly, horrid looking innards and offal, and no human being or animal came close to realistic or well-acted agony.

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Toronto: Sheep Gone Wild!

There’s a certain kind of comedy acting that I find pure genius, and it’s not the craft that they teach in the Strasberg Institute. When an actor holds a puppet or doll up to their neck, screams “It’s got me! It’s biting me!” and throws himself to the ground as if the thing has deadly jaws clamped to him–I fall to pieces with laughter. Matt Dillon did this in SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, and someday they’ll show that clip when he gets he’s lifetime achievement Academy Award.

Early on in BLACK SHEEP, a rather convincing looking mutant sheep fetus from goes on a neck-biting rampage, and I completely lost it. I’m not alone. The New Zealand made horror-comedy had a great reception at last night’s Midnight Madness premiere, and today’s press and industry screening was packed with buyers. The movie’s now the subject of a bidding war and will surely be sold by festival’s end. The movie couldn’t be much sillier, but it’s got enough shock and gore to please genre fans. The story has two feuding brothers–an evil scientist who’s been tinkering with ovine DNA and younger one who’s become farm-phobic after a long ago tragedy.

The creature effects do become excessive, but they’re well done (from the WETA Workshop), and no joke about men left alone with livestock goes unexplored.

Toronto: All The King's Men, Put Together Again

ALL THE KING’S MEN (Dir. Steven Zallian. 2006. PG-13. 128 mins. Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Anthony Hopkins.
The book you didn’t want to read in high school becomes the movie you won’t want to see this fall.
Despite certain relevance (an anti-hero populist politician brought down by big money career pols), evocative location shooting, and an all-star cast rounded up from the far corners of the Academy Award winning world, All The King’s Men plays like a high-minded theme paper written as a chore. Yet the film, directed and adapted by Zallian from Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a Huey Long-like governor, isn’t nearly the wreck that its bombastic trailers—now playing for an ominous twelve months—would have it seem.

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Lonelygirl's Got An Agent (As If You Didn't Know)

Web wank material Lonelygirl15, subject of much wasted time obsession in the blogs, has turned out to be the scripted drama everybody (please–PLEASE–tell me it was everybody) suspected it was.
With the Los Angeles Times all over this one, it wasn’t long before somebody smoked out a connection at a talent agency.
Step forward, CAA.

. Hello there, actress Jessica Rose. The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan has a big story Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Can a TV/movie deal memo in Variety be far behind?

'Borat' Premiere Unplugged; Kazakh Enemies Suspected

Blame the enemies of Kazahkstan!
Sacha Baron Cohen‘s highly anticipated Toronto Film Festival movie premiere was a bust, despite the actor/writer’s triumphant midnight carriage ride through downtown Toronto. Only twenty minutes into his riotiously well-received comedy/satire, BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHKSTAN, the cinema’s sole film projector broke down.

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Aronofsky's 'Fountain' Drowns in Venice

Darren Aronofsky is a filmmaker with big ideas. The critics at the Venice Film Festival seem to think he’s overreached himself with THE FOUNTAIN, a movie that’s got something to do with the fountain of youth and a love story that stretches over (as Gary Oldman put it so eloquently in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) “oceans of time.” Whatever the the movie’s about, Hugh Jackman looks postively Hestonian in this film still:


9/11 Docs, FCC Free Speech Chilling Effect

Five years after 9/11, television is offering a mass of documentaries and remembrances of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington, DC.
Watching them, it’s striking to notice what’s been excised from the news footage–not just the worst and most unbearable of memories (people jumping from the World Trade Center), but the exclamations of shock and horror of eyewitnesses.
Among the first and best TV documentaries was “9/11,” by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, the French brothers who happened to be following a downtown firefighter’s first year on the job. Their cameras caught the first plane hitting WTC1–and the reactions of all who saw it happen. “9/11” won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. CBS broadcast the documentary unedited on the six month and one-year anniversary of Sept. 11, but now censorship groups are poised to complain about the gutter language spoken by firefighters and eyewitnesses — as if that were the real obscenity that occurred on 9/11. To avoid any possible fines from the FCC, Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns some CBS affiliates, plans to show the documentary late at night rather than in prime time.

“This isn’t an issue of censorship. It’s an issue of responsibility to the public,” said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association which describes itself as a 29-year-old organization that promotes the biblical ethic of decency.

If this organization gets its way, will 9/11 will be remembered as the day that 4,000 died, and everybody minded their P’s and Q’s?


Uwe Boll Selects Critics For Beatdown

How we all laughed when internationally heard-of director Uwe Boll (BLOOD RAYNE) issued his boxing match challenge to the movie critics who hate his brand of video game-to-movie theatre-to-video-store recycling. Apparently there are five critics who are foolish enough to accept Boll’s invitation to a beatdown. We were hoping for somebody truly deserving–Richard Roeper, maybe–but here are the victims:

Jeff Sneider, Los Angeles–he writes for Ain’t It Cool Newshttp://www.aint-it-cool-news
Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, of
Chris Alexander from Rue Morgue Magazine/AM 640 Toronto
Nelson Chance Minter a “website critic” from Frederick, Maryland
Carlos Palencia Jimenez-Arguello, Madrid, Spain of
Good luck, guys.

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