Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood, goes wide this week, and in many ways it’s still something worth checking out, even if it’s a tailor-made suit that doesn’t hang perfectly on the rack. The film lost me for significant swatches in the theater, but it’s bold and nervy — something too many movies decidedly aren’t — and a good portion of its music of course sticks with you, even if you’re not a hardcore Beatles maniac. Also opening this week are Michael Clayton and Lars and the Real Girl, along with Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Sleuth and We Own the Night. More on most of these soon, though I’ll be waiting to catch Elizabeth later, having had to see 30 Days of Night last night, instead of the former’s all-media screening…
While recently chatting up Sleuth, Michael Caine also found time to touch upon The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated sequel to Batman Begins. “I’ve seen all the Batman (movies), and I think by a long way Christian is the best Batman I’ve ever seen,” says Caine. “He’s certainly the best actor — a wonderful actor, as he’s proven in Yuma now,
and (even) The Machinist.”
“Batman Begins I thought was the best Batman ever,” Caine continues, “and this one will
be better. And the big surprise out of this one… although it’s called The Dark Knight, with a
K-N, [is] the Joker. There you’ve got the shadow of Jack Nicholson
looming over you, which is incredible performance. But we’ve got Heath
Ledger, who’s gone in a completely and terrifyingly different direction. He’s
extraordinary, he’ll be the big surprise. He’ll frighten the life out
of you. He did me, the first time I saw him, because we did a rehearsal on the
first day, and we hadn’t met or anything, and he had to come up on an elevator
to Batman’s home. And I think I’m letting friends in, but instead he’s killed
them all and he’s coming up in the lift. So on the first rehearsal, he’s coming
up, and he has like seven dwarves with him — like Snow White, only it’s not
like that. When the bloody door opened on the lift, he came tearing out, and I
forgot every line I had.”
Films are repeatedly referenced as a visual medium, and certainly the release schedule of any given summer slate would bear that notion out. George Clooney’s new film, Michael Clayton, though, opens with a very theatrical torrent of words — a panicked narration about a chrysalis and rebirth. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that the movie is the directorial debut of Tony Gilroy, the writer behind The Devil’s Advocate, Proof of Life and, most notably and directly responsible for this opportunity, the three Bourne action flicks.
Still, the degree to which Michael Clayton remains an exercise in linguistics — personal combat, gymnastics, avoidance and parsing — all while still pursuing its separate narrative threads is fairly impressive, and certainly refreshing and interesting. A loose white-collar thriller in the vein of The Firm, it’s The Insider remade and rechristened with all the coiled, white-hot intensity of a crime thriller like Heat. In fact, the specifics of its plot are almost incidental; Michael Clayton is about how dollar-chasing desperation corrodes character. It’s a study of mid-life crisis and moral awakening filtered through the rubric of a class action legal drama, and as such, the film reminds one of just how devalued language has become, both in life, but certainly on screen.
Clooney) works at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York City, Kenner, Bach & Ledeen, as their in-house “fixer,” a one-man velvet hammer. The movie opens at night, with him being summoned to a private residence after a client has committed a hit-and-run. Soon much bigger problems loom on the horizon for the firm, though. KB&L’s top litigator, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson, above left), has had an apparent breakdown during a Milwaukee deposition in a $3 billion class action suit centering on a carcinogenic field agent.
Making matters worse, it appears Edens has had a come-to-Jesus ethical conversion, and started taking steps to actually aide the case against KB&L’s client, agro-chemical company U-North, and sabotage his longtime employer. The career of in-house U-North chief counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) rests on her ability to keep certain nasty matters from bubbling to the surface, and brokering a settlement on a case that’s been heretofore purposefully dragged out for more than six years. Meanwhile, the firm’s co-founder, Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), sends Clayton into the breach to tackle this unprecedented disaster. In doing so, Clayton must face down the harsh reality of the notion that we become the things we do. For the full review, from FilmStew, click here. (Warner Bros., R, 120 minutes)
Dylan Calaghan has an interview with Feast of Love screenwriter Allison Burnett (who’s a dude, for the record) up on the Writers Guild of America site, and while they don’t talk about the Fame remake he’s currently penning, they do get into the business of adaptations versus spec script grappling, as well as the art of capturing screen romance without getting sappy. For those looking for insights on those matters, it’s a solid, extremely brisk read.
Following the success of Dante’s Cove, here!,
America’s premium gay television network, jumps into more soapy, blended horror
and tongue-in-cheek melodrama with the spin-off The Lair, which unapologetically sprinkles tropes of the vampire subgenre
with some GLBT pixie dust and just the right balance of camp and sex appeal.
Set in a small island town, The Lair kicks off with bodies of young men turning up dead with
gruesome wounds on their necks. The mysterious murders draw the attention of
Thom (David Moretti), a young journalist who decides to investigate, much to
the dismay of his jealous boyfriend. Thom’s search leads him to a private
gentlemen’s club called The Lair, where even the darkest of desires are
fulfilled. While closing in on the truth, Thom is captured by Damian (Shortbus’ Peter Stickles), the leader of
the titular club, and his legion of vampires. Thom soon realizes that his quest
to solve these murders may lead to his own demise.
Co-starring Colton Ford (Naked
Fame) and Beverly Lynne,
among others, The Lair: The Complete
First Season is directed by Fred Olen Ray, the man behind of such cult
films as Prison Ship, Terminal Force, Bad Girls From Mars, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
and Bikini Chain Gang. Available for the first time on DVD through Genius
Products, Liberation Entertainment and here! just in time for Halloween, the
two-disc, widescreen set includes all six episodes of the show, a backlot featurette, bloopers, a racy photo
gallery (hint: shirts quite optional) and a couple trailers for the show. To
take a sample bite, click here, and select The Lair under “Watch It” on the
It’s not really that big of a deal in 30 Days of Night, as they get dispatched early on, but I just returned from a screening of that film tonight, and it made me wonder — is there a vampire or ghost movie where dogs don’t sense the otherworldly creatures? You know, in either a legit genre flick or some sort of Scary Movie parody thing that I’m forgetting? Because that would be a great reversal of expectation…
AFI Fest 2007 has finalized its full slate. The festival, which kicks off November 1 with Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs and runs through November 11, includes seven world premieres, 18 North American premieres, and tributes to legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve and America’s own Laura Linney. Deneuve will receive her tribute before the screening of Marjane
Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s beautifully animated Persepolis, to
which she lent her voice. Linney’s tribute comes before Tamara
Jenkins’s The Savages, in which she plays a woman who has to care for
her sick father along with her brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
The lineup of films at this year’s AFI Fest is as diverse as
the cultures of the 37 countries represented at the festival. The 148
films cover everything from the current political climate,
international events and cultural revolution to well-made and
entertaining dramas, comedies and horror films. For more information, click here.
I was breezing through a working Word file last night and stumbled across this pulled, set-aside tidbit below from Kevin Costner, from the press day for this summer’s Mr. Brooks. His response is to a question about whether he thinks there’s a “killer gene,” or a predisposition to
serial killing that is passed on from parent to child. What’s notable, really, and got me laughing, is that in a straight reading of the quote Costner almost sounds bat-shit crazy, but I distinctly remember it not coming off as such. To wit, though, his reply:
“I don’t really know, I think I don’t really know.
You hear of alcoholism being passed on in genes and stuff like that. I think we’re
the generation that’s just learning about what gets passed on. I mean, our eyes
are opening every day as to what… We go, ‘Oh my God’ …I mean, just about the
time we think a protein diet is the right one, somebody goes, ‘So wrong! So
wrong!’ I mean, every diet, everything’s got something — somebody goes, ‘Wrong!’ you know, four years later. What’s clear is people live under enormous pressure.
There’s too many of us in the city. There’s too many of us… Look, it’s weird
out there, it’s weird out there. I mean, we’re all like some number, you know?
One out of every somebody gets assaulted, and women have it worse. It’s like, ‘What
the fuck?’ I mean, we’re like a percentage of something going bad somewhere. It’s