Film Essent Archive for August, 2010

The Summer of Bad Movies

I was reading this article (“Go and Pay to See Scott Pilgrim Now”) on Vanity Fair bemoaning the dismal box office for the pretty wonderful movie SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD. The writer, John Lopez, says, in part:
Listen, if A.O.

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Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

You don’t have to be a fan of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels to appreciate Edgar Wright’s rather brilliant adaptation of the source material for the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. Nor do you have to be a fan of Michael Cera as an actor to appreciate his turn as the title character (in fact, I would suggest that those who complain of being “tired” of Cera or who generally find him to be “one-note” might be very pleasantly surprised by his performance here). Wright, who previously made the terrific zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead, has made a graphic novel adaptation here that is — yes, yes, for what it is, cinephiles — as close to perfect as you could hope to get. It’s pure entertainment, heavy on brilliant colors, fast-cut editing, video game imagery and clever devices, to be sure; but if that’s your thing, you’ll find Scott Pilgrim Vs The World to be a fantastic, frenetic, fun ride.

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The Long Road from Film Fest to Release Date

Whew. Sometimes it takes a looooooong time to get a film from festival play to an actual release date.
I got an email the other day that NESHOBA, which played the Oxford Film Festival in 2009, is finally getting a theatrical showing in NYC. Micki Dickoff’s smart doc revisits the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and follows the trial of alleged ringleader Rev. Edgar Ray Killen, who was finally indicted for the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwermer in 2005.
Dickoff had unprecedented access to Killen and his family in making this film and it is well worth watching. I understand from the director that this is a new cut of the film that is exactly how she wanted it to be, so it’s a bit different from what we saw at Oxford (not sure how different, exactly). NESHOBA opens August 13 in NYC at Cinema Village. The filmmakers and family members of the victims will be in attendance opening night for a Q&A, so go check it out …
… Also from the “it’s about time” charts, I just got an email in my inbox that LOVELY, STILL, the writing/directorial debut of Nicholas Fackler starring Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, is finally getting a NYC release date. I saw this film way back in 2008 at the Toronto International Film Festival, where as I recall, it was well-received by critics, and I could have sworn it had already released, but hey, apparently not.
LOVELY, STILL is a sweetheart of a romantic fable about an aging gentleman (Landau) who returns home from his job at a grocery store one day to find a strange woman (Burstyn) in his house. The two embark on a late-in-life romance that isn’t — quite — what it seems. A smart, warmly heartfelt screenplay and excellent acting, combined with a nice job by Fackler in weaving the whole thing together, make this charming little film worth catching while you can. LOVELY, STILL opens in NYC on September 10.
If you live in NYC, and you won’t be otherwise engaged at the Toronto International Film Festival, go check it out.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook