Film Fatale Archive for April, 2007

Rating the Jack Valenti Obituaries

From Gawker, a chance to pay tribute to former MPAA chief Jack Valenti in a way that he would have appreciated.
The Gawker Weekend Ratings Board (an anonymous group of Americans) has determined which tributes are suitable for which audiences.
Keep your young ones away from the NC-17 rated Washington Post obit. (“For sustained anti-social content, often involving bondage and/or sadomasochism, including one scene of head-kissing and one scene of the human body used as an ottoman.”

Where Were the GRINDHOUSE Girls? (How To Hate Away Half Your Audience)

rosegrind.jpgYou talking to me?

This will not be an essay about the wrong bad billboards for CAPTIVITY, a horror movie whose advertising was aimed, as the mother of one traumatized girl told the Los Angeles Times, “directly at your subconscious.” (Isn’t that where ads ought to strike us?) And should it be a surprise, during this wave of idiot-teenager-in-peril movies, that a studio (or its subcontractor) would get desperate or careless in the selling of yet another undistinguished genre movie?
This is about another instance of marketing gone awry — the selling of GRINDHOUSE, which despite hype, high awareness among movie fans, the charm of big name directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, and decent critical support, opened this weekend to a meagre $11 million, well behind sillier kid-oriented fare like BLADES OF GLORY and MEET THE ROBINSONS.
Variety’s Anne Thompson cuts through the box office spin and gets to one problem: high costs and a longer than planned running time, which meant fewer showings per day. Despite a promise to the Weinsteins to deliver a double feature of sub-sixty minute mini movies, Rodriguez and Tarantino insisted that “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof” ought to be longer. As long as the directors wanted them to be. (Isn’t it clear now who’s running the show over there, when the director of the langourous, almost-great KILL BILLs puts his foot down twice in a row?)
But the studio, not the directors, that commissions the advertising.
That marketing campaign was downright nasty. Even if you account for the formulaic nature of movie trailers (stars! action! money quotes!) the message sent to me — a Tarantino fan, an action fan, a horror fan — was “This movie’s not for you. You’re not invited.”
What did I see?
Rose McGowan, scantily clad and terrorized. Rose McGowan, prosthetic leg shoved onto her/into her by some guy. Rose McGowan, prosthetic leg/machine gun. (Um…hooray, Rose McGowan? Go get ’em?)

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The stars Frylock, Master Shake, Meatwad and human people Todd Field, Bruce Campbell, Sarah Silverman.
The pitch When an immortal piece of exercise equipment threatens the balance peace, it’s up to the Aqua Teen Hunger force to run away from it. Peril escalates with the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past to strive for ultimate control of the sinister deadly device.
The story behind the film: 2D animation, two years in the making. “75 minutes of material so unhinged it makes the TV show look like the MacNeil-Lehrer Report” (Love the dated reference, Los Angeles Times–Robert MacNeil retired a decade ago. But then, AQUA TEEN fans probably haven’t moved from the couch in that long, either.)
The audience: Will have the munchies and be giggling like hyenas..

BLACK BOOK's Breakout Star Talks About…Everything


Dutch people talk about everything. It’s Americans who are shy, says Carice van Houten, the breakout star of Paul Verhoeven’s BLACK BOOK.
And she does mean everything. When I met van Houten in Toronto last year, Black Book had just opened to enthusiastic reviews in her homeland and at the Venice Film Festival. After a couple of days of interviews, she was still laughing about reviews by critics — “all men, English men, you’ll see?” — who excitedly remark upon the heroine’s 1) nudity and 2) attention to detail in hair-dyeing. What followed was a charming and funny Q&A that unfortunately didn’t make it into this Boston Globe piece.
Below, the unedited piece –
By Justine Elias, Globe Correspondent – April 8, 2007
NEW YORK — The breakout star of “Black Book,” Carice van Houten, has earned comparisons to goddesses of Hollywood’s golden age: Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, and Greta Garbo.
Like those bewitching and sometimes-blond bombshells — and some of director Paul Verhoeven’s previous femme fatales (Renée Soutendijk of “The Fourth Man,” Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct“) the 30-year-old Dutch actress seems poised to spring from obscurity into full-fledged international stardom. In person, though, Van Houten is hardly the wily seductress she portrays to be in “Black Book.”

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PAYBACK Time for Brian Helgeland–Finally

Looking for something cool to read? Pick up anything by Donald Westlake, whose novels and short stories you know even if you’ve never read them — that’s how often the writer’s work has been adapted for film.
The best known is John Boorman’s POINT BLANK, the 1967 version of The Hunter, with Lee Marvin as revenge seeking-thief. When Warner Bros. released a second adaptation starring Mel Gibson — doing a creditable job in the badass avenger role — writer/director Brian Helgeland was said to be unhappy about about the final cut. Though Helgeland had just won an Academy Award for writing L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, somebody (the studio? Gibson?) got anxious about the then-nice-guy star playing such a hard edged leading role, and edged Helgeland out of the editing room. The result got mixed reviews and middling box office success.
Finally, as Dennis Lim writes in the Los Angeles Times, Helgeland got a chance — as part of a DVD set — to restore the PAYBACK he wanted to make. Excised scenes and a new, retro-sounding score make for a different and better movie. Check it out. It’s worth the wait.,0,16444.story?coll=cl-suncal

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Peabody Wins: Spike's New Orleans Doc, Showtime's BROTHERHOOD

The Peabody Awards are a short list of the best in TV, radio and news public affairs — public service — works. Many of these titles are available on DVD — others are available for free download on the TV and radio network websites.
No suprise to see the Peabodys recognize HBO’s WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE, Spike Lee’s heartbreaking and passionate cry for justice for the city of New Orleans. And the cable net’s much-awarded costume drama ELIZABETH I, with Oscar winner Helen Mirren as the warrior queen, also gets a nod.
It’s great to see Showtime’s BROTHERHOOD, a moody, complex drama of an Irish-American family with crime and political ties, getting some recognition. The show’s second season will start production soon. THIS AMERICAN LIFE, the radio series from WBEZ/NPR, recently made the jump from sound to vision – it, too, is on Showtime.

24: Rigid CTU Boss Bill Buchanan Secretly Quite Flexible

The fascinating things one learn in the New York Times Sunday Arts section: In a long overdue profile of ’24’ character actor James Morrison — the silver haired, serious man, former Marine type CTU boss who’s got a hotline to the White House, terrorists and terrorist-slayer Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) — it is revealed that the sleek, whippet-thin, ramrod-straight looking actor is secretly quite flexible.
Morrison is a certified yoga instructor who’s been teaching for five years. He tells writer Walter Dawkins that yoga has helped him play Buchanan. “There’s so much insanity and so much dysfunction in the story that it craves an element of balance,” said Mr. Morrison, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Riad Galayini, and their 7-year-old son, Seamus. “I’m a yogi, and that’s what I try to bring wherever I go.”
Even more surprising: Morrison is an ex-circus clown. (The crying on the inside kind, obviously: he hated that job, he says) and tightrope walker. “It did prepare me for being an actor,” he said, “because as bad as it can get in Hollywood trying to make a living, nothing compared to how bad it was in the circus.”
MORE 24! Reiko Aylesworth (aka CTU’s plague-surviving, Tony-loving Michelle Dessler) talks to New York magazine about the tick-tick-ticking clock and the show’s rising absurd-o-meter.

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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