The Hot Blog Archive for November, 2007

Sweenie & The Plasma Factory

There is a freaky embargo on Sweeney Todd, given that it had a junket, unofficial reviews are all over the place, it was reviewed by Harry Knowles a month ago, and I (and most of my colleagues) already know what dozens of people think of the film

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Lunch With… Marion Cotillard

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The star of La Vie en Rose talks about making the film.

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Lunch With… Todd Haynes & Christine Vachon

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How did I’m Not There come together? Find out from Todd Haynes and his producer (and producer to much of the indie community), the legendary Christine Vachon.
The conversation…

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A New WGA Direction

While hopes for a brighter week in reality next week in the negotiations is being held out and Bryan Lourd kept breaking the press blackout that existed until tonight, WGA started laying out the next round of strategy for the strike.
“The Showrunners Strike,” as the first month has been called, is pretty much over. The 10 or so showrunners who crossed lines are now done with whatever was pending. Television is as dead as it’s going to get until the strike ends.
The sense inside the union is that hopes for a quick end to the strike are now over. The very real threat that this strike will last until SAG negotiations are done is quickly becoming a consensus opinion. Underlying all of this is the question of when the other side wants the strike to end, because right now, there is little being offered.
The next phase is trying to have a direct effect on the movies that are currently in production… especially showrunner JJ Abrams’ feature, Star Trek. (Apparently, Eastwood’s The Changeling, another prime target, is hidden well enough behind studio walls that the effort to disrupt the show has been set aside.)
There are around 100 scripts that are currently considered within range of being produced at the studios in the near future. Projects do continue to fall through because “the scripts are not ready,” but whether actors are actually supporting the strike of being self-preserving, using the strike as cover for dropping out of iffy projects, is unclear.
Meanwhile, The Committee of Hyphenates, the 1400 or so writer-directors who are in both WGA and DGA, are starting a serious push to get DGA to join in real support of the WGA, as SAG has done.
And as far as the press goes, there is growing sentiment amongst the ranks that the media is being effectively played by – get this – being too encouraging, therefore crushing morale when things like this week it’s-gonna-happen talk or the notion that there would be real Teamster support turns out to be a dead end of nothing new. Guild members are being told not to trust any media gossip… even/especially if it makes them happy.
Personally, my favorite new adjustment by WGA is offering a set dollar amount for how little the union demands would cost the industry… just over $50 million a year. If the AMPTP had a sense of humor – a nasty one – they would just offer the union the $150 million over the three year contract as a flat rate addition to the current contract to change nothing. And if WGA had a sense of humor, they would offer to take the offer of an annual flat $250 per episode for free hourlong show streaming by making it for every 100,000 downloads… which is still only a quarter of a cent per view, which is about what the rate is for network reruns.
Every day I see the whole thing as more like another more familiar battleground… red vs blue… Democrat vs Republican. The WGA seems to be endlessly interested in talking about being righteous. And the money men just keep being about money… maybe it’s not moral high ground, but it is absolutely consistent and quantifiable. The problem is, in a war of public opinion, the Republicans won, against all logic, the last two presidential races.
Michael Moore is doing a quick stop in L.A. soon… maybe he can shake things up.

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Pointing North – The Golden Compass Review

How much do I really have to say about The Golden Compass?
I liked it.
I don

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The Theater Ate My Show!

Ever hear someone talk about a theater actor

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Lunch With… The Actors Of The Diving Bell & The Butterfly

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Meet Mathieu Amalric, Marie-Jos

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Lunch With… The Diving Bell & The Butterfly Production Team

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Meet screenwriter Ronald Harwood, director Julian Schnabel, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and producer Jon Kilik, the team behind the scenes of The Diving Bell & The Butterfly as they discuss the evolution of the project, how it was shot, and how things fell together.
Here’s the 30 minute conversation…
(Coming tomorrow… those who are on camera in the film.)

One Strike Down

Not the one most of you were hoping for…
But at the end of Young Frankenstein tonight, Roger Bart announced that the Broadway strike was over.
Ironically, tonight’s performance had the worst stagehand glitches of any professsional show I have ever seen. However, on the east coast, on stage, things should be back to normal by Friday night.

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No Variety For Young Men

Charlie Koones’ exit from Variety is only surprising in that he lost the battle for the soul of Reed Business. It is more than a little ironic that the new guy is being sold as a web pro, when Charlie Koones has been pushing hard for the web-based future of Variety and associated properties.
My one daliance with Variety was over one such venture. The trouble, I found, was insane expectations for what the web could mean to the paper. It wasn’t enough that Variety be the first, aside from the WSJ (and now, increasingly, the NYT) to build a great web success off of a print business. They were envisioning a web success of significantly bigger levels than any Reed brand had ever achieved, online or off.
Charlie was fighting, according to insiders, Peter Bart’s old-schoolism a lot in the last year, building a web presence over Bart’s not-dead body. It is possible that “the new guy” will move Variety forward in an way that suits the product.
Charlie Koones, by the view of everyone I have ever known and respected, a major builder. And Old Media is still, for the most part, crawling. If Reed was not willing to push it, it is very easy to see why Koones wanted to head into them thar hills while the gold rush is still on. And while it’s not what it was, make no mistake… It’s still on.

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An Open Letter To Roger Ebert from Jeff Lipsky

Dear David,
As I sit at my desk, dressed to the eight-and-a-halves in anticipation of this evening

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I've Got Spirit, How About You?

A rather odd list from the Indie Spirit crew this year. No one can really accuse the group of pandering to celebrity with its version of Best Picture

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Charlie Wilson's War

Charlie Wilson

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By Request: The No Country For Old Men Thread

This is a SPOILER comment thread for No Country… it has been asked for, discussed, avoided, and fought about…
If you don’t want the ending SPOILED, stay out of the thread. You are warned!!1

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Paul Dano, Off-Broadway

Things We Want is the new show from Jonathan Marc Sherman, author of more than a half dozen off-Broadway shows. Having not seen any of the other work, it is hard to put this work into context, other than to say that you can feel from the play that it is a direct descendent of David Rabe

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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