Archive for November, 2007

“Me,” still ticking. Roger, not anymore.

Friday, November 30th, 2007


Roger Smith, the controversial GM executive whom Michael Moore stalked to fame, died yesterday. In Moore's movie, he was the co-star who wasn't quite there -- a real person whose decision-making changed a region and a metaphor for the demise of American labor. His passing is prominently featured on Moore's website.

Here is the AP obituary.

Rambo – Trailer 1b

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  Rambo - Trailer 1b
Twenty years after the last film in the series, John Rambo (SYLVESTER STALLONE) has retreated to northern Thailand, where he’s running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world’s longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo, who lives a solitary, simple life in the mountains and jungles fishing and catching poisonous snakes to sell, has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on their way to the war-torn region. That all changes when a group of human rights missionaries search out the “American river guide” John Rambo. When Sarah (JULIE BENZ) and Michael Bennett (PAUL SCHULZE) approach him, they explain that since last year’s trek to the refugee camps, the Burmese military has laid landmines along the road, making it too dangerous for overland travel. They ask Rambo to guide them up the Salween and drop them off, so they can deliver medical supplies and food to the Karen tribe. After initially refusing to cross into Burma, Rambo takes them, dropping off Sarah, Michael and the aid workers... Less than two weeks later, pastor Arthur Marsh (KEN HOWARD) finds Rambo and tells him the aid workers did not return and the embassies have not helped locate them. He tells Rambo he’s mortgaged his home and raised money from his congregation to hire mercenaries to get the missionaries, who are being held captive by the Burmese army. Although the United States military trained him to be a lethal super soldier in Vietnam, decades later Rambo’s reluctance for violence and conflict are palpable, his scars faded, yet visible. However, the lone warrior knows what he must do...
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Rey Gallegos

Mad Money – Trailer

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  Mad Money - Trailer
Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) is shocked to learn that she is on the verge of losing her home and comfortable upper middle class lifestyle when her husband Don (Ted Danson) is downsized from his job. Armed only with a decades old English degree and years as a dedicated mother and corporate wife, Bridget is forced into the unfamiliar labor market with no job skills. Finally, she accepts the only position she can find—janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank. The one-time suburban mom soon discovers she has more in common with her new co-workers than she thought. Bridget forges an unexpected bond with Nina (Queen Latifah), a hard-working single mom with two kids to raise, and Jackie (Katie Holmes), an exuberant free spirit with nothing to lose. Caught up in a system that underestimates their talents and keeps their dreams just out of reach, Bridget, Nina and Jackie set out to even the score. After a lifetime of playing by the rules, the three devise a plan to smuggle soon-to-be destroyed currency out of the supposedly airtight Reserve. As the unlikely crime syndicate amasses piles of cash, it looks like they have pulled off the perfect crime—until a minor misstep alerts the authorities. With more money than they know what to do with, the women are pushed to the limits of their ingenuity to stay one step ahead of the law!
Directed by: Callie Khouri
Starring: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson, Roger Cross

The Band’s Visit – Trailer

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  The Band’s Visit - Trailer
The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel to play at the opening of an Arab Cultural Center. Dressed in full regalia and observing all military police protocol, the members of the orchestra are at a pivotal time in their careers. It’s not just the political nature of an Arab military police band playing traditional Arab music in Israel that makes this event so important; budget cuts and many reorganizations have threatened the continued existence of the Orchestra. Faced with the heavy burden of this assignment, the stoic conductor Tewfiq (Sasson Gabai) is determined not to foul their excursion. Despite all Tewfiqs efforts, it’s not long before problems arise. The band arrives at the airport with no one there to greet them. Stranded and unable able to contact their Israeli hosts or the Egyptian consulate for help, Tewfiq decides that the Orchestra will persevere with its assignment and orders, and designates Khaled, a sauve young ladies man (Saleh Bakri), to ask for directions. Khaled and the station agent struggle in English, Arabic and Hebrew to communicate, but despite their best efforts, the Orchestra is sent to the outskirts of a small forgotten Israeli town in the desert. Faced with an unknown landscape, and disgruntled and hungry men, Tewfiq brings the men to a small café in the nearby town and humbly asks the proprietor, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), for lunch. Not wanting the turn the Orchestra away, Dina invites the men to stay with her and a few of her friends. To punish Khaled for his earlier subordination, Tewfiq orders Khaled to stay with him at Dina’s, while the other men break up and follow their hosts for the night. Dina brings the two men to her modest apartment where they begin to discuss not the political issues that divides their two cultures, but it’s the intimate details of their personal lives that bring the trio closer together. Before long, Dina’s wry, playful self-confidence, and undisguised sexuality make Tewfiq immediately uncomfortable. Regardless, she is persistent in her attraction to the older, serious Tewfiq, and after some prodding from Khaled, the melancholy band leader reluctantly accepts Dina’s invitation to dinner. The proud Arab man in his powder blue military uniform and the free-spirited Israeli woman make an odd couple at the local restaurant, but her persistent compassion breaks through his gentlemanly demeanor and the duo form a bridge of understanding. With the older Dina and Tewfiq gone from the apartment, Khaled decides to tag along with people closer to his age and convinces the shy and insecure Papi (Shlomi Avraham) to let him join as the fourth wheel on a double date night at a roller disco. When Papi fails to court the girl his cousin set up as his blind date, Papi turns to the suave Khaled for advice. With a little prodding and a lot of direction, Khaled helps Papi break the ice with his date. Meanwhile, the other band members, headed by second-in-command Simon (Khalifa Natour), stay with Itzik (Rubi Moscovich), which ultimately lead to tensions with his family and to revelations about fulfillment that cross cultural boundaries. When the band leaves in the morning for their intended destination, it is clear that their unplanned detour was worth the trip.
Directed by: Eran Kolirin
Starring: Ronit Elkabetz, Sasson Gabai, Saleh Bakri, Uri Gavriel

Revolver – Trailer

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  Revolver - Trailer
Gambler and conman Jake Green (Jason Statham) always ran with a bad crowd and it cost him seven years in jail. After his release, Jake becomes unbeatable at the tables using a formula for the ultimate con that he learned from two mysterious prisoners while on the inside. Now, he is ready to take his revenge against Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta), the man responsible for his jail time. Macha is plotting to eliminate his ruthless rival, Lord John, and has staked his credibility on a huge drug deal with the all-powerful Sam Gold. Jake visits Macha at his casino and humiliates him publicly in a game of chance. Macha, fearing more of the same medicine, sends his goons to “take care of” Jake. His life is saved by enigmatic Zack (Vincent Pastore) who, with his equally inscrutable partner Avi (André Benjamin), offer Jake protection. Against his better judgment, Jake accepts. He soon finds himself playing the very last game he wants to be playing, and there is danger at every turn. But, the biggest danger of all comes from a totally unexpected source…himself. It gradually transpires the real conman is in his head.
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, Andre Benjamin

That’s A Wrap!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

We wrapped principal photography on Tuesday.

For those directors out there who shoot these gargantuan, 100 day and more schedules, all I can say is…I’m in awe. Because after 48 days, I was ready to collapse.

The last moments were a bit of a blur, but I know a lot of our crew reads the blog, so I wanted to use this post to say THANK YOU.

Thank you Dave and Tom and Kim and Alan and Dave and Linda and Mychael and Doug and Rupert and Jessie and Mike and Michael and Scott and Jimmy and Leo and Charlie and Billy and Mikey and Carol and Ellen and Joyce and Steve and Michelle and Janeen and Lori and Mark and Keith and Lloyd and Chodo and Chris and Joe and Bob and Jim and Jill and Wilma and Jacq and Adam and Mary and Andrew and Audrey and Ozzie and Lilly and Randy and Tommy and Rob and Alan…

Those are just the names off the top of my head (one of the challenges of directing is that you have to learn a lot of names, and quickly). I thank everyone who worked on the film. Everyone.

Now, a little about the possessory credit.

Before I shot this movie, I hated the “film by” credit. I haaaaaated it. Some director friends told me that actually doing the job would make me change my mind.

They were right.

I now hate that credit even more.

I also want to acknowledge my wonderful cast, who all went above and beyond for me, and showed me great patience while they did it. Drake, Sara, Christopher, Leslie, Marion, Ryan, Kevin, Brent, Jeffrey, Kurt, Dan, John, Rod, Steve and everyone else, from background to star…you were all wonderful to me, and I’m in your debt.

Now the editing begins. Life returns somewhat to normal.

I say “somewhat,” because I spent my first post-shoot day picketing in front of Warner Brothers, but it’s more normal than shooting, at least.

Thanks for bearing with me during my distracted months. I simply didn’t have the ability to monitor the comment discussions the way I like, and things got progressively uglier in there, particularly after the strike. I don’t intend to let that continue. Let’s debate without being personal or cruel (and for my part in the tit-for-tat wars, I genuinely apologize).

It’s a new day.

And new software is coming, I swear.

With a new template!

Reminds me…gotta go bug my web genius…

Woody Gets into a Lovers Quarrel with Spain

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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Woody Allen has always been the man of New York -- and not just because he made a little flick called Manhattan. It's been infused in much of his work, that is, until he headed across the Atlantic. After some UK forays, he headed to Spain to show it love. As he previously said: "I hope I can present Barcelona to the world as I see it, the same way I presented Manhattan to the world as I saw it with my eyes. I want to write a love letter to Barcelona, and from Barcelona to the world." Well, the course of true love never did run smooth.

In July, Woody ticked off some Catalonians, who were upset that Barcelona was giving so much money to an American filmmaker, rather than than local talent. According to some, Catalan films are faced with much difficulty getting made, so Woody's ease has rifled more than a few feathers. But now, a few months later, the ill will continues and Spain might not want to be Allen's object of affection. The Guardian reports that Mediapro, the production company behind Vicky Cristina Barcelona, says Woody's next two will be filmed "neither in Catalonia nor in Spain."

The reason they're giving -- the "small-minded attitude" of the local press and politicians -- those who complained about Allen's special treatment over the summer. It's not too hard to see both sides -- how this movie could be a good investment for Barcelona, and also how it's a huge slap in the face for the local filmmakers trying to make films there. Stopping this love affair short seems flighty, but then again, Hollywood isn't known for it's lasting love affairs.
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Cary Grant, indiscreet for real

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

My colleague Geoff Edgers's inbox-imperiling Page One story about "the naked hockey player paintings" today brought me to the artist Kurt Kauper's website. Kauper does full-length portraiture, and his latest batch -- the Deitch in New York -- includes nudes of Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson (they didn't know). But I was reminded of Kauper's creepy-amusing oils of a nude Cary Grant from a few years ago. It helps to see them in person. They're huge.

From the Editor’s Desk: Wouldn’t it be Great …

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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... If people stopped bitching about The Golden Compass and, instead, waited to go see the actual movie? Sure, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article, they've "removed all references to the church, the Bible and sin ..." -- but does it really matter? It's a kids film. And I don't blame New Line or director Chris Weitz for wanting to tone down the "heavy" material so that the more fantastical elements of the books could remain front and center. Film is a visual medium after all. The Christian groups are pissed the flick will make kids want to go buy the books and -- God forbid -- learn more about the world. Like the film is some sort of ridiculous gateway drug that could potentially corrupt the minds of millions of children everywhere. The Golden Compass -- it's the new heroin! Here's how I imagine a conversation between child and parent will go immediately after watching The Golden Compass:

Parent: [sweating, shaking] So ... did you, gulp, like the film?

Kid: I liked the talking bear. He was cool. Can we get ice cream?

Parent: So, um [wipes sweat] -- you don't want to become an Atheist now?

Kid: No. I simply want a parent that isn't a complete f**king moron. I want a parent that lets me make my own decisions in life. I want a parent that exposes me to all religions, to all beliefs, and allows me to learn about the world I live in. As a person who represents the future of this country, and this world, I believe I deserve that. So, can we get ice cream now?

Fans of the books are pissed because all the "meat" has been left on the cutting room floor. Oh well. Welcome to Hollywood ... book readers. The Golden Compass will sneak preview this Saturday night in 800 theaters across America. If, come Monday morning, 800 theaters worth of people suddenly decide to swear off the whole God thing, we'll know we have a problem. In the meantime, where are the guys from South Park when you need a good rant on religion. Oh wait, there they are ...

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Hot in 2007: J.J. Abrams (#20)

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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Hot because: Between his slow-boil disaster flick Cloverfield and his upcoming directorial work on a long-rumored re-boot of the Star Trek franchise, the man behind Lost, Alias, M:I III, Joy Ride and even Regarding Henry is getting set for a block-rocking 2008. The Cloverfield build-up has been masterfully slow and insidious. (A note to the marketing team behind The Mist's spoil-tastic trailer -- which should have had a music bed of the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing "Give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now!" as one of the best moments in the film played out in full and completely: Cloverfield is how you do a monster movie trailer.) And for every head-scratching moment in Star Trek's casting (Karl Urban as McCoy? What, Dakota Fanning wasn't available?), the vast majority of the announcements coming out of the project make it sound like Abrams wants to keep Trek on track -- and, with extras only allowed to walk outside in long, costume-hiding robes, under wraps.

How to stay hot: Well, the dream that a plum pitch, smart marketing and geek-tastic ideas automatically means great movie making can be punctured by three painfully sharp words: The Matrix Revolutions. Hype -- even well-handled and hand-crafted hype -- is pretty much irrelevant if the movies are no good, and the fact that the writing team -- excuse me while I ironicize that properly: the "writing" team behind Transformers are also scripting Star Trek doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Abrams needs to spend as much time reading and re-writing Trek as possible -- because re-starting a stalled franchise means you need a strong motor and a place to go far more than just a flashy fresh paint job.

Next up: You might bee surprised!

Gallery: J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrathActress Maggie Q (L) and Director J.J. AbramsDirector J.J. Abrams (R) and actor Tom CruiseDirector J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrathDirector JJ Abrams and actor Henry Winkler
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