The Hot Blog Archive for February, 2005

Quote of the Day

“That’s what the craven do sometimes… they stand out of the fray… and thump their egos along with their chests… and let others do the fighting.”

Alan Shore on Boston Legal
Episode written by David E. Kelley


Two Oscar Notes

Have you noticed that the old saw about major studios desperately clinging to Oscar, fighting even their own Dependents, has been silent this year? Could it be because Warner Bros gave up the obviously to-be-nominated The Aviator to Miramax for distribution and wasn’t initially prepared or interested in selling Million Dollar Baby?


Did you notice that only two distibutors – Miramax and WB – have more than 6 nominations as entire entities???

If you put Focus and Universal together, you get to 10. Searchlight /Fox and Sony/Sony Classics each total 7. And if you put together ALL of the true indies – and most of these noms are in foreign language and doc – you find 6 total noms.



Does anyone have anything worth discussing… anyone?


Winn Dixie CG Abuse

I am not anti CG at all.

But sometimes, it becomes a hinderence instead of a help. And in the ads for Because of Winn Dixie, it is just that.

I am not a huge dog person, but I do know that people feel their dogs smile sometimes. And when the book that this movie was made from was written, I’m sure that the author was refering to that… and perhaps Winn Dixie “smiled” more or better than others.

But the Termite Terrace wall-to-wall smile that they stick on this dog in the commercial is an embarrassment. And it takes away from the charming idea that a dog really can smile. I can imagine a slight CG adjustment to make the “smile” more evident. But this just sucks… even if it will draw children.


Ad Nightmare

I just saw a Valentine’s Day ad for Finding Neverland featuring The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

Words escape me.

“Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a beautiful romance that’s full of laughter that’s the feel good movie of the year.” Dean Kish,

This kind of reminds me of Turner & Hootch… you remember, the man/dog buddy cop movie in which the dog gets shot to death in the third act. What fun! Bring the kids!

Next, New Line should try “Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Javier Bardem… they just can’t get this hot tamale out of bed… he’s so hot, women travel miles just to be with him… and he’s so gentle, he brings them pleasure without ever thinking about his own needs. ‘This Sea Rages,’ Kyle Kenneth Cartman III, South Park”


Nominee Quote du Jour

“I don’t think that I’m the diva in my household.”

Annette Bening


I Think What Gets Me…

… is not that people like one movie better than the others… maybe even a lot better than the others…

What gets me is that anyone who disagrees isn’t just disagreeing… they have to have something WRONG with them!

Personally, though I like both films, I can’t imagine even considering voting for Ray or Finding Neverland. But others can… others have… others will. Does that make them all morons? I think not.

The funny thing about the nominees lunch the other day… everyone seemed far more relaxed afterwards. And I have spoken to no fewer than a dozen nominees since then. It’s like it reminded them, each in a different way, that they were in this for the art of it and not for the competition.


BAFTAs Are Coming…

Do they mean anything?


Aviator Oscar Spots

Miramax has some truly great Oscar spots running for The Aviator now… and no one else is running anything as often or as well.

These spots scream to me, “This is the most important, biggest, most Oscar movie of the year!” And they use every resource, from Alan Alda to Michael Mann in the pitch, while keeping Marty Scorsese from selling himself.

Harvey Weinstein (and Amanda and Cynthia and the rest of the Miramax survivors) just do it on a different level. And if I were looking to win an Oscar next year, I’d be hiring some of the great former Miramaxers out there and keeping a close eye on the door if and when The Miramax show drops at Disney. The aggression that these (mostly) women show is unique and intimidating, but they are like colonels trained by one of the great generals of all time.


How Could I?

There was a really nice jazz and wine evening last night for Sideways at Vibrato in Bel Air. It was mostly for the “music people” who will be a litle more likely to vote for Rolfe Kent after seeing him and a band perform the score from the film live.

Payne & Taylor & Madsen & London were there… all looking more relaxed than they have in a while… perhaps because the nominees luncheon left them all on a bit of a high.

So late in the evening, a young guy, a journalist, approaches me and we start talking and I do some pontificating… typical me… and a couple of his friends stop by and we say, “Hi.” And I turn around to talk to someone else I know who catches my eye, who happens to be a director, and I have to give him some bad news about a mutual friend. And by the time I turn around again, the guy and his pals are g-o-n gone.

And I’m thinking, “Man, do I look like a cocktail-party-trading-up-asshole!”

Like a 6′ 3″ journalistic Cinderella, no one seemed to know who this guy who said he worked for Entertainment Weekly was or how he got there. But I feel like I pissed in the karmic winds.

If anyone knows who this guy is – or if he reads this – let me know. I feel that I owe him an apology or at least an explanation.


Ghost Rider

The trades are “reporting” that Eva Mendes is going to be in Ghost Rider opposite Nic Cage…

But what does it matter? Mark Steven Johnson is directing!!!!!

What is it about Daredevil that makes another studio hire him to do an even edgier character?



Super Bowl Spots

The first really good commercials are running on the Super Bowl pregame. DirecTV spots will divide some people. The man walking through his life, which seems to be a bit inspired by Barry Levinson’s Avalon, and is a little bit too clever or something. I really found myself liking it, but somehow I felt distanced in the end.

But there was something of genius about the TVs themselves finding themselves drawn to the satellite. And it features a great reverse view of L.A.’s Orpheum Theater that I have always loved. But there is an odd subtlety that I really appreciate.


The First Great Episode Of Sunday Morning Shootout

My Tivo is probably a little tired of grabbing Guber & Bart’s Sunday Morning Shootout every week. The guys are okay TV… they have much the same problem of Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn… smart guys in desperate need of a host. It’s an interesting coincidence, but I’ve been watching the Super Bowl preview show in between Tivo catchup and the Fox (and other) football pre-show(s) tell the story better than anything I could write. James Brown is not all that interesting. But he knows how to get the four other loudmouth know-it-alls moving through discussion and keeps it moving at a pace. Sunday Morming Shootout has been making minor format changes almost weekly since it started… currently you have 10 paid extras on the fake coffee house set watching the guys talk to talent… they aren’t even pretending to be talking amongst themselves anymore!


My point is that this morning, they had on Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and it was easily the best episode of the show ever. It was one of the best TV half hours about filmmaking that I have ever seen. It was an image-creating appearance by Amy Pascal, who may already be regretting being so honest and open, but the simple truth is, she was tremendous. And Michael Lynton was fresh and smart and honest. If I were Sony, I’d send out tape of the appearance to every journalist they work with.

And it brought out the best in Bart and Guber, who were more focused and more aggressive in their questioning and more into the interview than I have ever seen them…. no sucking up… not overly aggressive… just right.

The answer to the show may well be eliminating the crosstalk completely… or turning the crosstalk into a journalist’s roundtable. But to do that properly, the show really would need to be an hour long… and it might deserve to be an hour long.

According to the AMC site and my Tivo research, there is no repeat of the show during the week anymore. But this was really strong, interesting television.

Good show.


Early Weekend Box Office Analysis

U can fool most of the people most of the time with their comedy offerings. But with The Wedding Date opening to what looks to be an $11 million weekend – strong Saturday night, but no Sunday, even if pandering to young women – they have shown they can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

I haven’t seen the picture, but I would expect that it might be around the same quality of The Guru, 2003’s January romantic comedy dud… that was terrible, but almost likeable, but unsellable. To give Universal its due – though I have watched almost no network TV in the last two weeks, so I am kinda blind here – I get the feeling that they did not go overboard on P&A for this romantic comedy starring an actress famous for playing a single girl who lives with a gay man and can’t seem to find true love here play a girl who hires a beard for a wedding because she can’t find true love. In other words, it’s easier to sell Ben Stiller and a ferret than a TV actress who is playing the same character she always seems to play.

Debra Messing in a female spin on The Man Who Loved Women… that could be a home run. Grace Buys A Date… no.

Of course, the bigger story, which is going so long now that the Energizer Bunny is envious, is another thriller/horror film opening in the 20s with no cast, no franchise, and no evidence of quality. Boogeyman joins Hide & Seek, White Noise, The Grudge, The Forgotten, Resident Evil: Apocalypse… and Saw came close. (Note that four of the six titles are from Sony… perhaps the wheel greasers that made it possible for Universal and Lions Gate.) Can The Ring Two become just the third January-April opening film in history to start with more than $50 million? It’s looking more than a little possible.

In Oscar box office news, the Million Dollar Baby juggernaut slowed a little on Friday, though it is still the chart topper amongst the five nominees. And Sideways continues to do nicely, but not phenomenally, putting more and more irrelevant room between itself and Finding Neverland. And as expected, The Aviator passed Ray on Thursday to become the high grosser in the Best Picture group.

It looks like M$B is going to need one intense surge of energy in the next week if it is to eek out the win against the now neck-and-neck Aviator.


The Upper West Side Has Changed

Manhattan’s Upper West Side has changed again. Walking around this afternoon, I noticed how much less gentrified it has become. Ethnic was in full force.  The range of ages had expanded back to a time more like the 70s.  And the women aren’t as attractive.

Not that I am. The path to me has always had plenty of foliage on it.  And at 40, there is snow that hasn’t been plowed in a while.

But it is different. 

I’m sure when the temperature rises another 20 degrees – it was a beautiful, sunny day today – the short skirts and the parade of skin will turn even the most jaded eye once more.  But that “Oh My God” rush one could get just wandering around this town has moved.  Maybe to Soho or Brooklyn or perhaps into hibernation. 


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Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima