Film Fatale Archive for May, 2007

STAR WARS Blogathon: Princess Leia's Bikini Kill Kult

Celebrate 30 years of STAR WARS with Edward Copeland’s blogathon — essays, polls, rants on a huge variety of subjects, including the notorious holiday special. (There’s even an essay in defense of the Ewoks: I do love a contrarian.)
I wrote about the enduring power of Princess Leia’s metal bikini from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

PIRATES! How Long Does It Take to Get to World's End?

Midway through American Idol, there’s a punchy ad for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END
“In 23 hours, 9 minutes, all will be revealed”
And I have to wonder: Is that a countdown to opening day…or the threatened running time of the movie?

Bruce Campbell: Hungry Like the Wolf

I have no use for this particular product and cannot even tell you what it smells like. But I heartily endorse its endorser, Bruce Campbell, and this witty advertisement. Nice choice of music, too.

When Film Critics Get Erased, Part 2

“Fewer movie critics means fewer voices shouting against the noise of Hollywood’s hype machine, fewer champions for the small, interesting films struggling to break out amid the blockbusters,” says Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune [via Romenesko]
Distressing news from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, where longtime film critic Eleanor Ringel Gillespie will be replaced by “the wires” next month. “The wires” – thanks, we can read that stuff anywhere. Atlanta is no small city: The wires won’t tell you what’s going on in your hometown. Read what the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has to say about her departure here.

GIGI Overture Causes Boston Pops Balcony Brawl


Will Mass. lawmakers call for an all-out ban on classical music performances after last night’s balcony brawl during the Boston Pops opening night performance at Symphony Hall? (Light classical fans: they’re a rough crowd.)
According to eyewitnesses, conductor Keith Lockhart had to silence the orchestra — and guest performer Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five — during the overture to “Gigi” as two men came to blows in the balcony. (MSNBC has video of the fight, which is particularly alarming because the balcony rail is so low in front.) No arrests or injuries were reported.

The Onion on Film Franchises That Flopped

Is there a sorrier sight than than marked-down action figures headed for the island of unwanted toys?
After the heavily hyped GODZILLA remake, I recall seeing broken, abandoned ‘Zilla toys and knockoffs on 14th street — you couldn’t give that stuff away.
The Onion’s A/V club remembers thirteen failed franchises, movies that looked like Part One of a sure thing, from comic book heroes (DICK TRACY) to spinoffs (DAREDEVIL) to literary adaptations (MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD). One even had summertime box office king Will Smith (WILD WILD WEST)
What went wrong?

Surveillance Nation: From REAR WINDOW To DISTURBIA


Think you’re being watched?
From DISTURBIA, the teen-noir remake of Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, to RED ROAD, Andrea Arnold’s international festival hit about a CCTV-obsessed Scotswoman, to this weekend’s paranoid thriller CIVIC DUTY, with Peter Krause as an Arab-bashing Yank, movie characters are peering through their Venetian blinds into the lives of others. And seeing enemies everywhere.
Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix notices that these post 9/11 surveillance films, unlike the McCarthy-era REAR WINDOW, arrive at a time when “we’ve grown used to the idea that not only should we suspect everyone of evildoing, but that we should also welcome the intrusion of government surveillance into our private lives.”
Though Keough mentions only these three films now in theaters, he might have added one of the week’s top rental DVD’s: the action thrillers like DEJA VU, which had hero Denzel Washington — and the government — seeing everywhere, even into the past.

Jesse James: Revisionist Western Undergoes Revision

When will we get to see Brad Pitt as JESSE JAMES?
And when we do, will the adaptation of novelist Ron Hansen’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” be as long as the book that spawned it? In today’s Los Angeles Times, writer John Horn reports that the current version — which clocks in at more than three hours — has “tested poorly” with preview audiences. (Please Warner Bros, let the running time be shorter by the planned Sept. 21 release.)
I’m not surprised that JESSE JAMES tests poorly. Many good-to-great and ultimately popular films flop with test audiences. One of the most common questions in test screenings is about audience expectations — and once an audience realizes that the subject is American outlaw/bank robber Jesse James, they think they know his story.
After all, it’s been told before, in ballad, book, film (THE NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID, with Robert Duvall as Jesse, and THE LONG RIDERS, with James Keach and AMERICAN OUTLAWS, with Colin Farrell in the lead. A very good TV movie, FRANK & JESSE, with Rob Lowe and Bill Paxton as the outlaw brothers, suggested that the elder, Frank, was the brains of the gang (Indeed he may have been: he made a deal to retire from crime, saving his life.)

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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