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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

The Festival Blog Starts Its Life

First review… wish it was a better movie…

30 Responses to “The Festival Blog Starts Its Life”

  1. HenryHill says:

    So, do they get freaky or not? I’ll see a movie if Watson gets freaky.

  2. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I’d probably be upset if, ya know, I’d heard of this movie and was actually anticipating it. But, alas…

  3. bicycle bob says:

    not a good way to start the festival.

  4. Wrecktum says:

    What does Poland mean by “the powerful Ms. Watson was once capable of forcing your eyes to stay on her and no longer is”? Is she all fuglified or something? Please say it ain’t so!

  5. Josh says:

    What the heck does “fuglified” mean?

  6. Bruce says:

    Proof was supposed to be a sure fire Oscar movie. Had all the pedigree. When a movie like that fails you have to ask the question, why?

  7. BluStealer says:

    Gweneth Paltrow has made one good movie in the last ten years. One. She is really lucky a lot of people turned down that Shakespeare role. But she is overrated as an actress and a far cry from box office.

  8. Mark Ziegler says:

    Sometimes it is much better if a show stays on the stage. It’s just not visual enough for the big screen. Most stage plays aren’t visual enough.

  9. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I’d probably take BluStealer to task on that comment but he can’t even spell Gwyneth’s name, so I won’t.
    But he’s wrong none-the-less.

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    I’ve always been a proud member of the Gwyneth is Overrated group. She didn’t deserve her Oscar, and she isn’t all that great of an actress. And no one is wrong when it comes to opinions.

  11. bicycle bob says:

    her resume is as hack filled as u can find. u can blame a lot of things but she really doesn’t pick good projects.

  12. BluStealer says:

    First of all, Kamel, I am a she. Not a he.
    Second of all, who cares how her name is spelt? You obviously knew what and who I was talking about, right? And most Gwen’s spell it with an E not a Y.
    And lastly, if you want to defend Gwens career, please do. I would really like to hear it since it will be funnier and actually harder to do than the people defending John Singleton.
    Here is all of the work she has done (and I’m not joking) since 2000.
    Sky Captain, Sylvia, View From the Top, Possesion, Shallow Hal, Bounce, Royal Tenenbaums, and Duets.
    That is just a small sampling but thats since 2000. Can you find a worse group from someone as acclaimed as her? She was even the worst thing about the Royal Tenenbaums. She makes stinker after stinker and her work is supposed to bring projects up. It doesn’t. She is overrated and I have no doubt that Proof is a worse movie because of her.

  13. Bruce says:

    So much was expected from her. She has not lived up to her hype and her Oscar win.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    I didn’t see most of those movies, but Shallow Hal and Tenenbaums are both good movies.
    I know she has a weird name, but that’s no reason to get pissy when you spell it wrong.

  15. Chester says:

    See, here’s a great example of the problem. Most of you read just one negative review of “Proof” (by Dave) and presume it’s dead-on right, so you immediately pronounce the movie DOA.
    Look a little further. Right now “Rotten Tomatoes” has four posted reviews (including those by the trades), and every one of them is positive. Now, I know that four reviews certainly don’t represent any kind of critical consensus, but they do qualify as valid counter-opinions to the one Dave offered.
    I personally saw “Proof” this past Tuesday at an AFI screening at The Arclight. (John Madden and Anthony Hopkins did a brief Q&A afterward.) The film is quite good, went over extremely well with a paying audience, and may suffer at the box office and at awards time only because it too readily compares to both “A Beautiful Mind” and “Good Will Hunting.” But IMHO “Proof” is generally better than both of those films. And the much-derided mother of baby Apple gives what I expect many people will likely consider her best performance ever – although I have to admit that IMHO Paltrow at times seemed to be channeling Mary Louise Parker (who originated the role on Broadway).
    My point is simply this: Don’t write this one off yet. “Proof” is a lot better than Miramax’s typical Oscar bait (e.g., “Cold Mountain,” “Chocolat,” “Finding Neverland”), and it would be a mistake to make too much out of the fact that the Weinsteins shelved it for a year. The film’s problems have a lot more to do with marketing than quality.

  16. Mark Ziegler says:

    I don’t think you will find many people who say Shallow Hal is “good”.

  17. Stella's Boy says:

    I hated Shallow Hal. Awful movie. I hope you’re right Chester. I think Proof looks OK. Sometimes, though, some just rubs you the wrong way and it’s hard to see past that. I really can’t stand Paltrow, and try as I might, sometimes I carry that bias with me when I see her in something.

  18. Chester says:

    I hear ya, SB. I’m far from a die-hard fan of Paltrow, thought “Shakespeare in Love” was fine but extremely overrated, and that crooked overbite of hers doesn’t do much for me either. Still, I think “Proof” is a very good (not great), intelligent film that may find a decent-size audience if the decimated Miramax machine can figure out a way to market it properly.

  19. Stella's Boy says:

    When is it scheduled for release anyway? And how wide is it going to play?

  20. Chester says:

    It’s scheduled to come out 9/16. I don’t know for sure but I assume it will be platformed.

  21. Mark Ziegler says:

    For a supposed “Golden Girl” of the big screen she hasn’t made one good movie in fifteen years. The sad part is audiences don’t buy her either since she has had one film over 100million.

  22. Angelus21 says:

    This is the month of the Miramax dumps.
    Unfinished Life.
    Proof.
    Underclassman.

  23. PandaBear says:

    I’ve paid to only see one of her movies. That was “The Talented Mr Ripley” and I didn’t pay to see it for her. I thought she was the one weak link besides the extra long plot.

  24. Angelus21 says:

    She has been cursed by the one and only, Ben Affleck. You do a movie with him and you’re cursed for life. You have to sell your soul to the devil to get back in the game, ie Matt Damon.

  25. joefitz84 says:

    Gwyneth Paltrow is just overrated. She is coasting on the Oscar she won and she really wasn’t that good before that. She has just picked some really bad projects. Bounce. View From the Top. Not movies you want to make when you are trying to join the A List. A list isn’t just about money and fame. It is about getting to pick the projects you really want.

  26. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I don’t care if people don’t like Gwyneth but to say she’s made no good movies seems pretty abrupt.
    The Royal Tenenbaums – a hilarious movie, that she was deadpan great.
    The Talented Mr Ripley – Excellent creepy little thriller
    Hard Eight – Down right brilliant little movie
    Shakespeare in Love – Unapologetically romantic and entertaining to boot
    Bounce – if you actually watch it without prejudice it’s a nice romance
    Emma – Jane Austen done very well
    Se7en – Yes, only a small role, but the film is still great and she’s good none-the-less
    The Anniversary Party – Funny little movie about Hollywood
    Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow – Fun retro sci-fi
    A Perfect Murder – Entertaining Hollywood thriller
    Sliding Doors – highly original and entertaining rom-com
    And before you lambast me for liking Sky Captain or Sliding Doors check out Rotton Tomatoes. Sky Captain is 73% and Sliding Doors is 65%. Even the movies classified as rotton like Bounce and A Perfect Murder are at 52% and 57% respectively. Not to mention Shakespeare, Mr Ripley, Royal Tenenbaums Hard Eight which are on 94%, 83%, 79% and 79% respectively. Also, Emma is 86%, Se7en is 84% and The Anniversary Party and Possession are 60% each.
    But, still, don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if people dislike her but when they say she hasn’t made any good movies then…
    and yeah she’s made PLENTY of shit movies but, er, so have a lot of actors. Why who’s that starring in “A Sound of Thunder”? It’s Ben Kingsley! And, whoa, who starred in “Secret Window”? Johnny Depp! etc
    See I really hate Paul Giamatti but even I can see that “Sideways” was a good movie. Same with “American Speldor” or “Storytelling”. It’s just that I really don’t like him. And even he had “Big Fat Liar”…

  27. jeffmcm says:

    Secret Window is a good fun movie. For Sky Captain to have gotten to 73% on Rotten Tomatoes is a sign to me that it’s a seriously flawed benchmark. That was almost the worst movie of last year.

  28. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Ebert gave it four stars. And while I haven’t read all the others, i’m sure the other 73% of reviews liked it to some degree if they were marked as positive.
    If you can find the FUN in ‘Secret Window’ and not ‘Sky Captain’ then something’s wrong. If you don’t like Captain that’s all well and good but to then turn around and say Secret Window was FUN? That’s crazy talk.

  29. Stella's Boy says:

    Didn’t see Sky Captain, but Secret Window is painfully bad. I wanted to tear my eyes out during that shitfest. Awful movie. And I can’t take Ebert seriously anymore. He gives thumbs up to way too many terrible movies. I forgot the percentage, but it’s insanely high.

  30. Lota says:

    I wonder of Rog’s excessive use of thumbs up is correlated with his illness and confrontation with possible death. I like him, but he seems to like so many things…even things 10 years ago I don’t think he would consider.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin