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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

BYOB – Return to L.A.

It’s yet another travel day… to be followed by another on Wed, heading to the San Francisco International Film Fest…
You’re up.

50 Responses to “BYOB – Return to L.A.”

  1. Crow T Robot says:

    So what’s the deal? It’s almost May and I’ve only been to the theaters twice this year. Sarah Marshall and The Bank Job. Both were pretty “meh.” But even still, I can’t remember a year in my movie addicted life where I’ve seen just two before summer.
    Weirdness is everywhere. The streets here are emptier than I’ve ever seen them, our gurus the critics are being pink slipped, the Oscars have become just another awards group (quick, what won best picture this year?) and even the throwaway hits like “Horton Hears A Who” aren’t really hitting.
    Could it be that cinema is in some kind of not-so-great depression?

  2. leahnz says:

    well, i got some really interesting titles today out of the ‘2 for $10′ dvd bargain bin (bless the bin, i’m a single mum so i’m – how to put it kindly – rather frugal with my entertainment dollar, i stretch that sucker as far as humanly possible…)
    i purchased: ‘the indian runner’, ‘gorky park’, ‘slackers’, ‘seven’, ‘angel heart’, and ‘eternal sunshine’ all for a grand total of $30, so i’m stoked. i’ve seen all of them before but i really dig each film for one reason or another, so in they go to my collection…more of a drawer really…but i’m getting there.

  3. sloanish says:

    I went to three movies this weekend. Maybe you take a chance and see something that might not be spectacular?
    DP, why in the hell would someone like Jeremiah Wright try to sabotage Obama? Or does he not understand what he’s doing?

  4. bluelouboyle says:

    Crow t Robot – you’ve missed good stuff this year. For edgy mainstream stuff see Cloverfield and the amazing RAMBO.
    For more cerebal movies – check out Battle for Haditha, an amazing docu-drama about the Iraq Haditha massacre. Not sure if it has been released in the US though. (It has in the UK)

  5. jeffmcm says:

    Crow, I’m right there with you – it doesn’t help that I thought Cloverfield and Rambo were both garbage, in my personal opinion, no offense to BLB. The best movie I’ve seen all year was a minimalistic Romanian abortion drama. After that, lesser efforts from great directors and some entertaining schlock. It’s kind of depressing.
    I’m sure Wright isn’t consciously trying to sabotage Obama – his words now are coming from the same place that they were coming from in the first place – speaking his particular version of truth to power. And honestly, the more Wright there is in the media, the less able they are to keep playing the same Youtube clips over and over again, which is ultimately a good thing.

  6. bluelouboyle says:

    I know all the hype and crap surrounding Cloverfield got annoying, and the party scenes were way too long, but I still think it’s a very effective, intense thrill ride.
    There’s nothing wrong with that – after all, film is a visual medium, primarily designed to entertain.

  7. IOIOIOI says:

    A depressing year for movies so far? Really? Come on! Any year that features something as ridiculous as DOOMSDAY cannot be all that bad. Good to know Jeff has somene to commiserate with on these boards. Everyone needs a downer buddy. Nevertheless; the age of STARK is almost upon us. FINALLY LIFE HAS COME BACK… to the cineplexes.

  8. scooterzz says:

    crow — take a look at ‘in bruges’ and ‘charlie bartlett’ for a couple of pleasent early ’08 surprises…
    also, saw ‘iron man’ last night….it lived up to everything good i’d heard about it…

  9. Me says:

    I finally caught up with Cloverfield on DVD this past weekend and thought it was reasonably good until the characters started acting really unbelievably dumb. But it was a cool way to make a Godzilla movie, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it (in a popcorn way).
    Also saw Lars and the Real Girl and after all the good reviews, I just didn’t like it very much. Gosling had too many twitches, and really didn’t create a very sympathetic character, which was what the whole movie hinged on (with the rest of the town going out of their way because they love him), so it all sort of fell apart for me. That said, I thought the supporting actors and actresses did a damn fine job of almost carrying the movie without him.

  10. I can understand only seeing a couple of movies if you live outside of NY/LA.
    I just watched Eddie Murphy’s Raw on DVD, which was interesting. It’s frightening that those sort of skin tight leather outfits were ever considered okay to wear but anyone, especially a man. Yikes. Still, pretty funny I guess.

  11. movieman says:

    I second Scooter’s enthusiasm for “In Bruges” and “Charlie Bartlett,” and I’d add “Definitely, Maybe,” “The Bank Job,” “Under the Same Moon,” Clooney’s underloved “Leatherheads,” “Shine a Light” and even “21” to the list of worthwhile 2008 films.
    And “Paranoid Park,” “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “Married Life,” “The Duchess of Langeais,” “Stuff and Dough,” “The Counterfeiters,” “Summer Palace,” “Lost in Beijing” and “Jellyfish” if you’re lucky enough to be living in a city where they actually opened.
    If not, there’s always Netflix.

  12. scooterzz says:

    kam — we pretty much thought that red outfit was ridiculous back in ’87 too……

  13. jesse says:

    Yikes, movieman, I definitely wouldn’t tell anyone to go out of their way, or even on their way, to see Charlie Bartlett or 21.
    Still, I’ve seen several very good movies this year. The best, Snow Angels, had a pretty spotty release (it only played for about a month in NYC, which is roughly the equivalent of two or three weeks at a regular multiplex). But I also really enjoyed In Bruges and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Be Kind Rewind, which got wider releases, especially Pettigrew and Rewind.
    And there have been some flawed but very enjoyable comedies: Leatherheads, Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama. And I enjoyed Cloverfield. So that’s not too bad for what are supposed to be the deadest four months of the year. Still, I feel ready for the summer crush.

  14. movieman says:

    Jesse-
    No love for “Charlie,” huh?
    “21” is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but I enjoy Luketic’s slick, facile style (“Legally Blonde,” “Tad Hamilton”) which perfectly suited the material. I also thought that Jim Sturgess did a terrific job.
    I liked “Snow Angels” enough, probably more than any of DGG’s previous films (anxious to see “Pineapple Express”), and “Miss Pettigrew” and “Cloverfield” were both perfectly okay for what they were.
    (If “Cloverfield” had been any longer, though, I might have lost patience with the herky-jerky handheld video thing.)
    “Rewind” was too precious by half for me: it’s probably my least
    favorite Gondry flick to date.
    As for “Sarah Marshall” and “Baby Mama,” I wanted to like them more than I did.

  15. doug r says:

    C’mon, Jet Li is cool and Jackie Chan is frikking AMAZING in Forbidden Kingdom. Looked like they had a lot of fun making it.

  16. doug r says:

    Cloverfield? Just about threw up watching in the theater. Much better on video.

  17. The only film I can really recommend whole-heartedly to any film fan from earlier this year is In Bruges. I would recommend Harold and Kumar to the stoners and Funny Games to the type of people who like that sort of movie, but other than that, it’s been a pretty light year. That being said, I haven’t seen Sarah Marshall, Snow Angels, or The Visitor yet.

  18. movieman says:

    Whoops; I forgot all about “The Visitor.”
    That’s definitely one of 2008’s better-than-average releases so far.
    Saw that in Toronto last fall (along with “Paranoid Park,” “4 Months” and “Married Life”) which might explain my brief memory lapse, lol.
    And although it doesn’t open on the coasts until Friday, I’d add Harmony Korine’s “Mr. Lonely” to the mix as well.
    That was another Toronto ’07 movie, and it’s haunted me (in a good way) ever since.

  19. LexG says:

    OLIVIA THIRLBY OWNS YOU. (And yet I missed “Snow Angels” because it played for like 11 minutes even in L.A.)
    I’ve seen thirty movies this year so far… I don’t know, I guess “The Eye” and “Deception” and the aforementioned ridiculous DOOMSDAY aren’t most people’s idea of a fruitful use of their time and money, but in general anything I’m remotely interested in seeing, ever, I’ll try to catch it, usually as a matinee.
    This isn’t directed at the original poster, but in general when people claim (as they often do) “I’ve only seen two movies all year,” either you a) don’t really like movies that much, or b) aren’t particularly adventuresome in your taste. Which is fine… I’ve only seen one baseball game this year, but I don’t go around in August saying “Baseball sucks this year, I only went to Dodger stadium one time.”
    Then again, if I see 100 movies in a year, I tend to rate about 60% of them as decent or above… either I’m not that fussy, or I just love movies and love going to them. This year alone, I’ve particularly enjoyed “Cloverfield,” “Funny Games,” “In Bruges,” “Cassandra’s Dream,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” even was amused by the hokey likes of “Jumper” and “10,000 BC” and “21” — none of which might be objectively “good,” but I for one can’t imagine not seeing that kind of thing on a big screen.

  20. doug r says:

    Yeah, Jumper and 10,000 BC were fun. I looked up those ostriches-turns out they actually existed

  21. Cadavra says:

    Caught up with STREET KINGS over the weekend. Much better than I anticipated. Not much more than an R-rated episode of THE SHIELD, but well-crafted, with a reasonably clever plot (what survives from Ellroy, I assume) and a solid cast. Plus they had the wit to not only let Hugh Laurie use his House voice but put his first scene in a hospital.

  22. movieman says:

    Just got a shitload of screeners in the mail.
    Not to pre-judge them or anything, but it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’ll soon be adding “The Witnesses” (love me some Techine!) “Boarding Gate” (ditto Assayas!), “Shotgun Stories,” “Frownland,” “Chop Shop” and “XX/YY” to my list of worthy 2008 releases very soon.
    Or at least some of them.
    And–definitely sight unseen–Wong Kar wai’s “My Blueberry Nights,” even though I’ll probably have to wait for the July dvd release to see it here in Ohio.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed In Bruges, Snow Angels, My Blueberry Nights, Be Kind Rewind, and yes, Doomsday so far this year, but the pickings have seemed a lot leaner than usual.
    My attitude towards Cloverfield was that it was a real wasted opportunity and that a lot of other filmmakers could have taken the same gimmick and made it a lot better.

  24. You know, I gave Doomsday a good review on my blog initially, but I’m not so sure anymore. The action wasn’t edited well and it was awfully derivative.
    Just a thought that I had after watching Freaks and Geeks recently… Is there any reason that Judd Apatow hasn’t got Paul Feig to direct one of his movies? And why did Feig make Unaccompanied Minors?
    I know it’s a little off topic, but it just seems weird that Feig is relegated to shitty movies when he was the actual creator of Freaks and Geeks.

  25. LexG says:

    Feig was front and center on the panel at Apatow’s Paley/roast thingy last month, so I doubt they’ve had any kind of falling out.

  26. LexG says:

    Every time I see a Speed Racer ad, I bristle at that embarrassing shot of the fat kid going around and around in circles, mugging in fast motion.
    I’d bet that shot alone will cost this movie millions of dollars at the box office.

  27. brack says:

    I’ve enjoyed all the movies I’ve seen this year at the theater: Juno, Cloverfield, There Will Be Blood, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with TWBB the only one coming up short for me.

  28. Hopscotch says:

    The Midnight show at the Arclight Dome (one of LA’s nicest for those who don’t know) for Weds. 5/21 for Indiana Jones is sold out.
    More than 3 weeks away. That one is going to be huge.
    Iron Man is going to be big too. Not Indy IV big. I don’t hear any excitement about Speed Racer (then again I’m not 10 years old).

  29. THX5334 says:

    I didn’t know that the Dome’s show for Indy was already sold out. That really bums me out.
    I do remember seeing Phantom Menace at a pretty good theatre in Pasadena because the other side of the hill was all sold out.
    Maybe I’ll hit that one, if I can remember which one it was..

  30. THX5334 says:

    Also, Grand Theft Auto is a pretty incredible gaming experience so far.
    What makes it is the writing.
    I disagree with the Variety reviewer about the parodies in the game being cliche or unfunny to anyone media savvy.
    I think they’re pretty damn funny and the reviewer comes off as a culture snob.

  31. IOIOIOI says:

    I have no idea why you LA folks love that silly dome. The seats blow. The screen is hardly as big or as clear as a screen at one of the bigger theatres in Memphis. Heck. It’s cool in a 1960s kind of way, but a brother loves his rocking chair comfort.

  32. jeffmcm says:

    The commute from Hollywood to Memphis SUCKS at rush hour.

  33. LexG says:

    Yeah, the Dome has history and coolness on its side, but as I’ve mentioned before, the severe curvature makes the picture look distorted, there isn’t stadium seating, and the prime seating distance from that screen is the enormous walkway that divides lower and upper, so you’re either too close or too far away. Sitting on the top level is like watching the movie on a small television.
    Regular Arclight for the win.

  34. Hopscotch says:

    The Dome is a super cool movie experience. I don’t what you guys are talking about. I’ve seen many movies there and have never been disappointed no matter where I sit.
    Best Theater in LA Debate:
    Love the Egyptian (old school theater)
    Love the The Vista (cheap theater, one screen only)
    The big Screen on the Second Floor of the Arclight.

  35. LexG says:

    Arclight screens 3 and 10 OWN the Dome six ways to Sunday.

  36. LexG says:

    Oh, this just in:
    SCARLETT JOHANSSON’S NEW SONG AND VIDEO OWN YOUR ASS.

  37. I saw MASTER AND COMMANDER yadda yadda at the Cinerama Dome and the weird curvature made it way cooler. Not sure that would always be the case though.

  38. scooterzz says:

    having seen ‘it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world’ (opening day, no less) and ‘e.t.’ (opening day, again) at the dome…..i continue to go just for the nostalgia even though it’s a pretty bad screen…..
    but the arclight is pretty fab…..

  39. scooterzz says:

    lex — last night’s ‘iron man’ was on 10….. it did, in fact, OWN…..jus’ sayin’…..

  40. Joe Leydon says:

    So far in 2008? Well, I really enjoyed Sarah Marshall and Harold & Kumar. But, then again, I also enjoyed The Band’s Visit, Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days, Then She Found Me and Miss Pettigrew — and, yeah, the guilty pleasure known as Semi Pro.

  41. yancyskancy says:

    I’ve managed to see only eleven 2008 releases thus far, all decent to very good. I guess my faves were Cloverfield, The Bank Job, The Visitor and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And I really appreciated what Be Kind Rewind tried to do, even if it didn’t quite pull it off.

  42. Hallick says:

    What? No love for “Step Up 2:The Streets”? Mine all mine…(not kidding)
    I don’t think that the problem up to now has been that there weren’t any great movies at all, so much as that there weren’t any must-see-now movies equivalent to a 120mph pitch (the expectations) getting knocked into the parking lot(the viewing experience). “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is the only 2008 release I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen a lot, but more than two) that had points of hitting brilliance (like the bizarre pig preparation insert).

  43. Noah says:

    The only movies that I’ve seen so far this year that I believe people (and by people, I mean me) will still care about in a few years are Paranoid Park, 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and Cassandra’s Dream. I also will gladly watch Leatherheads or Son of Rambow on cable should they pop up.

  44. movieman says:

    Oh, yeah. Forgot all about “Band’s Visit” and “Son of Rambow” (2 more Toronto ’07 movies for me); liked them both very much, thank you.
    And now that I’ve seen “Iron Man,” I can add that to the pile as well.
    2008 has actually gotten off to a very nice start; it’s just that most of the films truly worth seeing came from the indie sector (what else is new, right?)
    The person who began this thread by commenting that they’d only been to the movies twice this year is probably more focused on the major studio stuff that opens on 2,000+ screens.
    If you’re going to judge 2008 (so far) solely on Hollywood films, yeah, it sucked. But it’s not every year that a major will release a masterpiece like “Zodiac” in early March. ’08 has been pretty much business as usual; indies and foreign fare continue to pick up the slack for all of the studio sludge.
    And it’s “XXY:” I accidentally misidentified it as “XX/YY” yesterday. Sorry, folks.

  45. Cadavra says:

    God willing I ever got to make a film, I’d want the premiere at the Dome. Coolest moviehouse of all, even after dem bums baffled the sound and killed that wonderful ricochet effect.
    THE DOME OWNS! I, CADAVRA, HAVE SPOKEN!!

  46. christian says:

    What with the recent fests programmed by Quentin, Edgar Wright, Joe Dante and next up, Diablo Cody, The New Beverly has transcended all movie houses in LA in terms of sheer cine-cool. I keep ending up there instead of catching the next interchangeable Apatow “must get sex and shiksa” flick.

  47. yancyskancy says:

    christian: I haven’t been to the New Beverly since they revamped a while back. My understanding is that they now have a much better screen. Any other improvements (seats, A/C, etc.)?

  48. christian says:

    Everything has been fairly revamped. It’s really the best deal in town including the cheapest snack bar and it’s important to support them.

  49. jeffmcm says:

    What’s more important than the facilities, to me, is that the movies they show are more interesting than ordinary multiplex stuff, and the audiences are less snotty than at, say, the Silent Theater.

  50. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, The New Beverly is ALWAYS showing stuff I want to see, but I can’t ever seem to find the time to get down there anymore. Also haven’t been to the Silent Movie Theatre since they changed hands, but it sounds like they’re really onto something there. I also used to frequent the Egyptian and LACMA, but no more. I would’ve killed for venues like this back when I was still in Kentucky and Illinois. Now I’m here, and can’t take proper advantage of them. I guess it comes down to time management, but I work a regular 40 hr week and I’m always writing something (or reading, or keeping up with a few TV shows, or catching a current movie, etc.).

Quote Unquotesee all »

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