We've got our hands full this week with the goings-on of our devout movie makers and players so let's get into the headlines that are shaping what you'll be seeing at the cineplex or scraping off the underbelly of some Bit-Torrent client near you:
Monday, March 13, 2006:
THE BOX OFFICE FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 12th
1. Failure to Launch: $24,411,322
2. The Shaggy Dog: $16,310,058
3. The Hills Have Eyes : $15,708,512
4. 16 Blocks: $7,411,016
5. Madea's Family Reunion: $5,749,355
1. In case you haven't seen this coming: The world loves its rippled ab-ed Matthew McConaughey. It may seem like some cruel genetic joke that this hayseed gets to keep making films but the box office is almost secured even before his movies start shooting. The thinker types, those who are poised nakedly on a pedestal with their clenched fists under their chins, ruing that crazed conga drummer's fortune, might feel compelled to say you have no idea how it happens but the simple fact is that people like their entertainment served warmly with a serving of mediocrity on the side. It's not a slam, it's not a judgement of the collective intelligence of the people of America, it's just fact that the guy serves a purpose and knows how to milk his position in life. It doesn't change the fact that I wish a case of non-lethal but highly communicable herpes spreads all over his person but I'm fine with knowing how these things shake out in the end.
2. THE SHAGGY DOG? Parents need movies to punt their brood to and this is just an example of a rather tepid remake that shows you *exactly* why Disney will always stand to make a profit on most anything they put their mousey little fingers on. The imbalance of the number of kids movies vs. adult movies at the theaters across this great land show why most any and every kids movie that gets released is gobbled up like some wanton pit bull let loose on the Gravy Train wagon train guy from those commercials way back when. (Extra points to those who can honestly visualize the vicious dismemberment of that twitty little man and his lasso making his way through the Formica laden kitchen nook, unannounced.)
3. Like Jeff Spicoli said in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH: "Awesome. Totally awesome." Screw the Oscars, this movie is saying, this movie is about having a emotionally throttling experience. It's wanton violence at its best and just because we all can talk about movies intelligently it doesn't mean that we all aren't above a little empty, hollow horror. Wickedly done and executed this movie shows that it is still possible to have fun at the movies. Just don't bring your significant other, brother, sister, mother, father or anyone else who does not know that they will, at some point, be driven to disown/disavow your bond with them about halfway through this picture.
4. Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis. I think I'm trying to say something good about this movie but since writing his name a couple times only triggers thoughts of how this film is going to vaporize from my list in a couple of weeks only to reappear at my local Blockbuster where it will take up seven or eight shelves in the GUARANTEED section of their store in a few months; I don't think the demand for another movie where Willis plays a disheveled cop is there in the marketplace anymore. SIN CITY is an exception because, ta-da, the movie wasn't all about him.
5. It fills me with great delight to see that niche audiences can make a difference in getting a film noticed, considerably, at the box office. It's not a black thing, it's not a white thing, it's a marketing thing. By stumping and campaigning for this film at the grassroots level it makes me believe in the power of people making a difference, not the advertisers on 5th Avenue. Sure, spend 5-10 million on a few television spots that will get great exposure but what currency does that have against the power of word-of-mouth? The answer is right here in the numbers. I never saw one commercial for this film yet its success astounds even blowhards like me that believe in those having the best campaigns are the ones who really clean up at the box office.
Tuesday, March 14th, 2006:
I LOVE BUSH
Paul Haggis. Heard of him? That little flick he did a couple of years ago, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, did pretty well for itself. His directorial debut? CRASH? Yes, it did well too.
I didn't very much care for it. Really, when you come down to it, I had a real hard time with the choices that were made when it came to dialogue and execution of it. I am not sure if it was just me, it wasn't, or if it was just my reaction against his soft MILLION DOLLAR BABY, it isn't, but I didn't believe anyone in CRASH could ever exist in a natural existence with the rest of the people in this world. Are bigots who are so bold as to voice their hatred against an entire race willing to do so in the manner in which these "characters" do so? Terrence Howard's run-in with Tony Danza, Matt Dillion's outburst with a black office worker, Ludacris' eloquent soliloquy on race relations is jarringly unbelievable in the face of his impending thievery but that's all overlooked as it was voted Best Picture. Haggis is back on that high horse again, this time with his work on "Against All Enemies." Written by Richard A. Clarke, the book is a memoir of how the Bush administration handled the Al-Qaeda threat both pre- and post-9/11.
I am actually looking forward to seeing how Haggis, only handling directorial duties and acting in a "supervisory" position as far as the script is concerned, molds and shapes this rather interesting book. I hope that there is some safeguards in place to prevent Haggis from shifting to supervising the script to including a scene where Condeleeza Rice and G-Dub come together in a slow montage of Vaseline-tinged camera work as George talks about race relations, loving each other in the Lincoln bedroom as ol' Condi sings "Maria" from West Side Story after their loving has come to an end. Hey, one can hope...
Wednesday, March 15th, 2006:
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF "THE 'RAT"
Director Brett Ratner hasn't yet made his own nickname public in interviews but I'd like to think it is "The 'Rat." It's funny, amusing, juvenile and completely crazy, much like the following diary entry that "The 'Rat" wrote as a part of UK Telegraph's attempt to capture a day in the life of a Hollywood director, screenwriter, wannabe and producer. By far, and we're talking a Barry Bonds-ian home run distance after a good "juicing," Brett's is the most entertaining. On the level, between you, me and the tree, this is the best evidence why fanboys need to be worried about the impending doom about to be delivered unto the X-MEN franchise. Please enjoy without my meddling. I will though, in italics, make my own observations here and there:
8am I'm incredibly busy at the moment, so I get up early despite having had a bunch of people - Paul Allen, Quincy Jones, Salma Hayek - over for dinner last night. My housekeeper prepares my breakfast and, while I eat, my assistant, Mike, goes through my call sheet - all the people I have to call today and all the people who've called me. On an average day I receive about 50 phone calls. Normally there are about ten things happening simultaneously.
Geez, on an average day I only have my job and my family to keep going while trying to figure out which people I am going to try and avoid calling; I need to get my P.O.S. Nissan in the shop and I just know it will be a pain in the ass to coordinate how I'm going to do just that. Note to self: check Pennysaver for available opportunities to assist someone far more important than myself.
9am I get into my Bentley and drive to Fox Studios, where I'm currently editing X-Men. The movie stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and Kelsey Grammer and is going to be awesome. Editing is done on state-of-the-art digital equipment in three different bungalows, and I move constantly between them.
Booyakasha, Brett, you ARE taking care of things in style. Whew. I was worried you would've had to drive yourself to Fox; they say you shouldn't be preoccupied while driving so I am glad you're keeping your mind clear on how to deal with the mess that is X-MEN's marketing campaign. Yes, it IS so awesome, Brett.
11am Conference call with Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo. I'm a photographer as well as a movie director and shot the company's latest ad campaign, starring Nicole Richie.
We brainstorm ideas for the next campaign - what the parameters will be, the type of shoes Tamara wants to feature and so on.
Brett, I know you're not asking my opinion but I am going to toss out a shoe choice for you: stripper heels. Dudes love that, bro. You photograph a woman in stripper heels and I guarantee success. That, too, is very awesome, indeed. Hey, shouldn't you be concerned with X3's progress? Crack that whip!
1pm Lunch at Mr Chow on Camden Drive with Roger Birnbaum, who is producing the next Rush Hour movie. I'm friends with Mr Chow and normally go there for dinner - when it's more of a scene - but it's nice for lunch as well. While I'm there I catch up with Oliver Stone, who's sitting two tables down from us. He's made a documentary on Fidel Castro that hasn't been released yet. I'm dying to see it - I love documentaries - and he says he'll send me a copy. Courtney Love, who's a good friend of mine, is also there. She's sitting at the table next to me with Mike De Luca, the former head of New Line and DreamWorks.
Ouch! Ouch! Sorry, I didn't get out of the way fast enough with all these names dropping so quickly. Courtney Love is all sorts of crazy, Brett. I don't mean to cast aspersions but I heard she's, well, all sorts of crazy.
3pm Back at Fox, I watch the new trailer for the film with the president of marketing. Take a call from June Newton, with whom I'm making a documentary about her late husband, Helmut.
Helmut? I loved that band in the early 90's, man, so that is wicked cool you're doing a documentary on one of the hardest rocking bands that could ever pummel the hell out of Nirvana and Pearl Jam; Courtney would've probably jumped into that fray, though, because I heard she is all sorts of, well, you know. P.s.-The trailer was crap.
5pm Drive home to shower and change for American Cosmopolitan magazine's Fun Fearless Male awards. I'm one of 12 men being honoured, including Pharrell Williams and Matt Dillon. Take delivery of two sets of china - Herend Chinese Bouquet and Royal Copenhagen - which I bought at Gearys in Beverly Hills, and a set of vintage silverware. They are recommendations from Mr Chow's wife. She has exquisite taste.
Congratulations, or should I say cong"'RAT"ulations (See how awesome that sounds???), on that award. I hope you're able to parlay that award win by getting some model to jump on the "'Rat"wagon; geez, does the brilliance of my nickname ever end?
6.30pm Take a limo to the Cosmo party with my grandparents (who live in my guest house) and my girlfriend, the model Alina Puscau. The party is fun. I catch up with Matt Dillon. We were friendly at NYU film school, but I haven't seen him for a long, long time.
Sorry I jumped the gun on that whole model thing, Bro. You are the man and I bow to your ability to not only score one but to tell me her first and last name. These things are indeed important to point out. Also, that's really touching about hooking back up Matt Dillion. I loved him in GOOD WILL HUNTING......I'm kidding. I've found that my love affair, and I am being facetious here as I don't really LOVE him love him you know, started with MY BODYGUARD. I hope you get around to remaking THAT movie soon. That would be really awesome.
10pm Carry on to Penélope Cruz's house. She is throwing a party for Paul Haggis, the director of Crash. All the cast are there: Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton and Don Cheadle.
Huh? Don't mean to serve up a Strunk and White backhand here but don't you mean "All the cast WAS there"? Maybe I'm the one in the wrong as the party might STILL be going on, right now, in the present. If that's the case then how can I get in on that Woodstock/party action? Can I get an invite somehow? I knew Link from ENCINO MAN could party, Fraser's skillz are just mad sick in his role for IN THE ARMY NOW, but, damn, hook a brother up with some of that multi-day-action. P.s.-CRASH? Didn't like it.
1am Back home. Watch a scene from Nikita. I watch a scene from a movie every night before I go to bed. That's where I get most of my ideas and inspiration.
Nikita? Just between you, me and the trees, bud, that was one of Elton John's best music videos. I can see why you cull your inspiration from these kinds of powerful pieces. The love between a gay man in the free world and his heterosexual object of desire in the cold clutches of communist rule would make anyone weep; it did for me. And, you know I'm right, that woman was all sorts of fiz-ine in her furry babushka.