On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice and Amy Nicholson of L.A. Weekly discuss Kimberly Peirce's reimagining of Stephen King's Carrie -- and Nicholson convinces Stephanie to go see Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.
Photo by Michael Gibson - © 2012 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Screen Gems, Inc. All rights reserved Kimberly Peirce and Chloë Grace Moretz in Carrie.
This week's big local film story is the launch of AFI Fest 2010, which begins tonight with a gala screening of the naked Anne Hathaway movie Love and Other Drugs, and will screen over 60 features over the next seven days, including the local premieres of the latest provocation from Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog's 3-D cave painting movie, and Oscar hopefuls such as Black Swan, The King's Speech, and Rabbit Hole.
You may have heard that tickets to AFI Fest films are free. But how do you get your hands on them? Follow our easy, three-point plan after the jump.
After yesterday's announcement by ABC-Disney that they're canceling the long-running film critic sparring session At the Movies, original thumb-upper Roger Ebert posted on his blog about his plans to launch his own new film review TV show, to be called Roger Ebert presents At the Movies.
Today in Inane Squabbles Between Successful Assholes: James Cameron (ex-husband of Kathryn Bigelow and director of Avatar), and Glenn Beck, Fox News personality and mastermind behind the book and one-man-show The Christmas Sweater--yes, that really exists) are having a media feud!
It started at a press junket for the Avatar DVD release. Cameron was asked to comment on how he thought "global warming deniers" (ie: conservatives) would respond to the fact that the DVD of the green-preaching blockbuster will be promoted in association with Earth Day. "I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads," he began. "Anyone who's a global warming denier at this point has got their head so deeply up their ass, I'm not sure they can hear me." And then: "Glenn Beck is a fucking asshole."
That may be, but he's an asshole/global warming denier who can hear through ass! On his show last night, Beck devoted a three minute segment to making fun of Cameron, partially in 3D glasses. See above.
This incident begs a moral conundrum: how do you root for anyone in a fight where both sides are totally obnoxious?
Kevin Smith's implication that film critics are over-cushioned got swift counterpoint this afternoon: Disney-ABC has announced that it is canceling At the Movies, the long-running film review TV show that was originally hosted by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. When Siskel died, he was replaced by Richard Roeper; when Ebert lost his ability to speak due to a cancer-related surgery, the show was re-booted with younger, much-maligned hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz; when everyone realized that the two Bens were very bad, the show was rebooted yet again, giving us its current incarnation, with hosts Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott, who will stick around through the show's last episode in August.
Phillips & Scott were, to my mind, the best pairing since the original flavor, and it seemed like their version of the show was successful at bringing short-form, informed film debate back to TV. According to the corporate parents' statement, "from a business perspective it became clear this weekly, half-hour, broadcast syndication series was no longer sustainable." The two critics will keep their day jobs, as critics for the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, respectively; Roger Ebert will likely continue to write more than both combined on his blog and Twitter.
After almost exactly a month in theaters, Kevin Smith's Cop Out has made $42.7 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing film directed by the sometime-indie icon, by a substantial margin. Meanwhile, the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan cop-com was a total strikeout with critics, netting just 19% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes--meaning that it appealed to roughly half the critics who gave a pass to Smith's previous noted bomb, Jersey Girl. (Here's where I should probably note that I'm one of the few critics who liked Cop Out.)
Now Smith has done the math and decided that paying customers are better suited to judging quality than professional critics, who generally see movies before their release, for free. If his Twitter output of today and yesterday are any indication, he's going to do something about it.
Last night, Variety broke the news that Sony is launching a new, CGI 3D Popeye franchise. The 1920s-era comics will be adapted by Mike Jones, who was a journalist on the indie industry/film festival beat until he was sacked by Variety in a major editorial lay off a little over a year ago. In their writeup on what would seem to be a major coup for a laid-off writer, Dave McNary and Tatiana Siegel referred to Jones as "a Variety alum" -- as if the cost-cutting, job-slashing trade is a finishing school. That's one way to look at it!
Anne Thompson, who was let go by Variety at the same time as Jones, weighs in on her blog at indieWIRE.
Tonight's SXSW Film Awards began with a speech, apparently conceived at the last minute, by SXSW co-founder and Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black. With negative buzz building against the festival's overcrowded screenings (lines routinely circled blocks, and at some highly-anticipated screenings in small venues, reportedly only a small number of paying customers made it in the door after press and VIPs snagged their seats), Black gave some much-needed perspective on SXSW's history, both distant and recent.
Founded as a "little regional music event" in the hopes that it might draw bands from a handful of neighboring states, Black said, "by the third year, we were international." With the music festival a success, "after seven years we decided to start this cute little film festival." But the SXSW team again thought too small.
"We weren't paying attention, but suddenly Austin had a nationally known film community," Black said, citing big, local names like Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez and Mike Judge as members. "In the old days, we used to all have parties together. Now, we're too busy to even have parties."
According to Black, when overcrowding emerged as the major issue of SXSW 2010 during its first weekend, the festival was once again unprepared for thier growth spurt, and though they couldn't immediately solve the problem of too much demand for a limited supply of seats, they took instant steps to stop the bleeding. "When we sold out the Paramount Theater on badges alone, we immediately took film badges off sale. And started to worry."
It remains to be seen whether or not SXSW Film will be able to solve their scaling problem by next year's festival. And in this distribution climate, it's by no means guaranteed that even the most in-demand films screened here will ever be seen by a mass audience. But tonight's the grand prize winners sure as hell deserve to be.
"It's good to be back home in Austin, Texas,' said Jorma Taccone, Saturday Night Live writer and director of Macgruber, the sketch-to-film starring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig that debuted at SXSW last night. He paused for applause. "Actually, I was born and raised in Berkeley, but you guys make it feel like a home here."
It was the final pause for reaction of the evening. Macgruber, which Taccone said screened not-entirely finished, is an 80s action film spoof played straight, so much so that at last night's packed Paramount screening a good half of the dialogue was inaudible thanks to laughs carrying over from the deadpan joke just before.
Which is not to say that Macgruber is necessarily any good, but as dumbass comedies go, it was an effective palette cleanser after a weekend of uneven indies. The film was given the late-inning, big theater festival time slot that SXSW often accords to studio comedies expected to skew nerdy. The question is: will Macgruber break out like previous SXSW premiere Knocked Up? Or will it go the way of last year's entry Observe and Report--loved by a few, hated by some, and by the vast majority completely dismissed?
James Franco was a no show on Sunday night for the SXSW world premiere of his feature-documentary directorial debut, Saturday Night, a behind-the-scenes look at the week-long production of a December 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live. In his absence, Franco sent an introductory video, shot from a hotel room in Salt Lake City, where he's apparently shooting Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Oddly fractured and cheerfully winky (as if to offer evidence as to how much he's suffering by not being in Austin, Franco complains of Utah, "I can't even watch porn on the internet, because it's blocked!"), Franco's video embodied the spontaneous, non-sequitur spirit that fuels so much hip, successful contemporary comedy. Ironically, the intro made the process documented within the feature seem that much more stodgy and solipsistic.