The Hot Blog Archive for January, 2012

Back in LAaaaaaah

I was in the land of show for about an hour before booking 3 Oscar nominees for DP/30 shoots and having conversations with 3 studio reps about their Oscar chances in picture and other top categories. So much for the indies!

I’ll be writing about the season again soon enough (tomorrow), but I will offer a simple, “Someone has to demand their Oscar” if anything is going to change from the status quo of the last month.

I don’t get the impression that I missed a g-d thing of note while I was gone. Did I?

Heading To Eccles

The Library Snow Ebert

Exiting Park City

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Best NYT Correction Ever?

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 29, 2012

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described imagery from “The Shining.” The gentleman seen with the weird guy in the bear suit is wearing a tuxedo, but not a top hat.

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Weekend Estimates By The Klay

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Friday Estimates by Grey Klady

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DP/30: Sundance 2012 Interviews Sneak Peek

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Still ‘Dancing

The evolution of my festival experience is… odd. I’ve done more on Twitter than on the blog. Pushing out half hours feels premature (especially without a production person doing it while I am busy on other things), but finding 3 hours to edit a package of interview highlights has been impossible. Today is a slow day… with a radio appearance, 3 movies, and DP/30’s first-ever hot tub interview.

This is probably the least flexible Sundance for me in my long history of coming here… yet I do feel like I am underdelivering to the readers. I also feel like I am getting some perspective that I haven’t over recent years. Damn the treadmill!

My apologies – especially to Glen Kenny – for navel gazing. But the truth is, I’m not sure there is a ton to say about the festival this year that is profound. It hasn’t been groundbreaking, though there are a few trends in films I have mentioned. Was it worth leaving the “real world” for ten days? Well, frankly, covering Demi Moore’s 911 call, Academy nomination reactions, and the mostly meaningless crap in Hollywood this week is no great shakes either. Festivals are sustaining. Spending time with interesting talent is sustaining. Thinking about the show and not the business sometimes is sustaining.

Trying to find balance is hard… especially these days when the speed barrier for meaningless chatter gets broken daily.

Doing DP/30 was, initially, about letting you see what I see while I do my work. And this week, I have not really achieved that goal. I’m not writing enough, long or short (140 characters). I’m not bring you into my interviews within hours. I’m not trying to read your needs.

This too shall pass. And hopefully I will learn from the experience. After 15 years, I am often reminded… the beat goes on… even if you’ve hit a tree.

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Observations On Sundance 2012

Today is Getaway Day for Sundance. It started in earnest on Tuesday, but by the end of today (Wed), the town of Park City will look a lot more like Park City and the city infrastructure that is created each year to manage 10,000+ visitors over a 5 day period will begin to seem excessive.

Every category of festival attendant falls in numbers, by half or more, today. Buyers, filmmakers, talent, journalists, publicists… everything but the great staff and volunteer staff of the fest.

The journey to today has been interesting. The noise around the festival was much reduced this year. There were still dinners and concerts and parties (oh my!). But even over the crazy first weekend, there seemed to be literally half the number of people on Main Street, clamoring for parties and celebrity sightings, than last year or any year in the last 6 or 7. The SWAG houses were here… but in much smaller numbers as well.

What there was, ironically, were more branded spaces by media than in the past. So while there used to be just an EW photo studio, there seemed to be 4 or 5 on Main Street. While there used to be 3 or 4 people from the New York Times in town, this year, there seemed to be a dozen. indieWIRE’s footprint in town was significantly greater than its output of content. And there was even more video going on than last year, which was really the year of the video boom up here. (This was our 5th year producing video during the festival.)

There was a ton of hype going on before the festival about how great a year this was going to be for sales. It hasn’t panned out that way. I have no doubt that in the end there will be a lot of these films rolling out to the same group of veteran and newcoming distributors as we saw here last year and in Toronto in September. And you can’t even say there won’t be some crazy buys, as no one saw Searchlight paying over $6 million to get a movie about a guy in a bed… even if it wins an Oscar for John Hawkes next year at this time. (No doubt they loved the film… but didn’t they look at the grosses for The Sea Inside and Whose Life Is It Anyway?)

There have been some buys – including Lionsgate/Roadside trying to re-create the magic of Margin Call with Arbitrage, which strikes me as comedic – but it’s not been a ferocious market… not even with a bunch of newcomers jumping in a’ la TIFF. (The most interesting newcomer is LD Distribution, aka Mickey Lidell and David Dinerstein, which picked up Black Rock, a challenging sell, but potential big-return thriller with three hot chicks fighting 3 disturbed Iraq veterans to the death.)

The big critical darling has been Beasts of the Southern Wild. The most commercial film so far is Bachelorette. The group “found footage” horror film, V/H/S is a born classic for its core audience. There are a load of great docs, many of which are exposing extreme stories of power inequity in very creative ways… though there is no clear rock star this year so far.

I, for one, am looking forward to the next few days of movies first and machinery second. And away we go…

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Gurus Go For It, After The Nods

The chart

Oscar Nod Morning

Good early morning…

There are few real surprises in the Oscar nominations today.

1. Demian Bichir vanquished Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio to get a Best Actor nomination.

2. Albert Brooks got left out… trumped by Jonah Hill and Max von Sydow.

3. 9 nominations for Best Picture… a surprisingly wide spread.

4. Extremely Close & Incredibly Loud got nominated for Best Picture ahead of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

There are some other quirks out there (like John Williams being nominated twice and Best Song having only 2 nominees), but things are pretty much within the expected norms.

Hugo got the most nominations, 11, though its numerical leap past The Artist‘s 10 is tempered by 3 of those nods being for Sound and Visual Effects, while Artist scored 2 acting nods to Hugo’s zero. (I am personally shocked that Ben Kingsley didn’t get a nomination.)

David Fincher got “finchered” again, missing out on a directing nomination after getting one from DGA, this time losing out while Terrence Malick got in. (Spielberg was also left hanging.)

Congratulations to all the nominees.

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BYOB 1/24/12

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Friday Estimates by Klady

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BYOB: Let The Sundance Begin

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The Hot Blog

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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