Tag: George Clooney (Page 2 of 5)

It’s trailer time: “The American” without tears

Roger Ebert — there’ll be a bit more about him later tonight — always says that movies are not what they’re about, but how they’re about it. If so, this new film starring George Clooney is a real test of that thesis because, as pointed out by Jay A. Fernandez, premise-wise “The American” isn’t going to win any prizes for originality. Watch this and I think you’ll see, but if any of you English majors are expecting an adaptation of Henry James’ subtle romance, The American, think again.

Okay, so the trailer doesn’t make the hugest impression and how many “one last job” movies about professional killers and other hardcases have we seen over the years? Still, it’s all in the telling and movies are not trailers. This is the second feature from Anton Corbijn, a rock video director who has worked with U2 and Depeche Mode. His biopic of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, “Control,” is unseen by me but has won numerous awards and wowed critics. The screenplay for “The American” is by Rowan Joffe (“28 Weeks Later“), adapted from an acclaimed novel by the late Martin Booth, A Very Private Gentleman.

It’s worth noting, however, that the character in the book is not an assassin but an expert gun-maker for assassins. A fine moral distinction, I guess, but it would be nice to learn about those expert gunsmiths who always turn up in these stories. There was a character like that employed by the ruthless murderer of “The Day of the Jackal” back in 1973. Of course, the Jackal was doing one last job himself.

A movie news midnight ramble.

It’s a bit late for a Friday night news dump –and most all of  you will be reading this on Saturday morning — but here’s the news…

* Chris Evans has been offered the part of Captain America, but will he accept?

* Christopher Nolan’s multi-star Philip Dick-esque new movie is generating interesting, of course.

* That word about Tim Burton doing an stop-motion version of “The Addams Family” going back to the characters’ cartoon roots struck me as a perfectly reasonable idea. Charles Addams brilliant cartoons have never really be transferred to the screen in quite the fashion they deserve, so why not take another whack, says me. I any case, the whole story appears to be premature.

adams2* Demi Moore and Nia Vardalos: Twitter heroines.

* Friday’s over now. Is Leo the Lion closer to having a new tamer?

* Speaking of lion tamers, Carl Icahn is at the Lion’s gate. (Sorry.)

* Wow, Jeff Bridges was really a lock for the Oscar. George Clooney did his classy Cary Grant thing again and voted for him. Weirdly enough, much as I just about worship Bridges, I actually think Clooney was better in his nominated role than Bridges in his.

* Christoph Waltz wowed the world as Col. Landa, but what he really wants to do, aside from being America’s new go-to bad guy, is direct, at least once. Good for him for striking while the iron is hot, and it’s very hot for him.

* Woody Allen is having second thoughts, it appears, about casting France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, in his new movie.

Carla-Bruni-Nicolas-1

* The ultra-hawkish rightwing’s answer to having more successful political thrillers is apparently the same as their longstanding and unchanging prescription for foreign policy: more mindless brutality, please. On the other hand, I might pay to see Gene Simmons’ head explode in a ball of flame, though I’m not advocating it.

* Which is not to say there aren’t some conservatives who don’t have something to teach us liberals. The subtly and thoughtfully right-leaning cinephile Bill Ryan, via Dennis the C,  takes apart the latest highly irritaining controversy involving the always irritaining Armond White.

* I can’t say I actually know the man really at all, but film distributor turned filmmaker turned back to film distributor Jeff Lipsky and I have a bit of history (discussed in my interview with him from 2007). His thoughts on returning to the biz are some interesting inside baseball and most of them seem to make a fair amount of sense.  His movie love is sincere, even as his tastes are quite different than mine. And it’s interesting and hopeful to see an Indie guy still excited about theatrical filmgoing. But why on earth does he feel the need to single out the aforementioned Armond White for praise? I could go on…

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Already seen all of this year’s Oscar-nominated performances? Consider some of the actors’ earlier work.

Jeff Bridges, “The Last American Hero” (1973): Even though Bridges’ character is named Junior Jackson, this flick does indeed tell the tale of NASCAR driver Junior Johnson. Based on the story of the same name in Tom Wolfe’s essay collection, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, those who go in expecting a straightforward racing story will be impressed by the way the film explores its characters.

Morgan Freeman, “Death of a Prophet” (1981): Everyone remembers Denzel Washington’s titular performance in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” but the man formerly known as Malcolm Little had already been portrayed by several other actors by that point, including James Earl Jones (“The Greatest”), Dick Anthony Williams (“King”), and Al Freeman, Jr. (“Roots: The Next Generations”). For these purposes, however, we’re exploring the TV movie which bore the subtitle “The Last Days of Malcolm X.” In truth, you’ll get a heck of a lot more insight into Malcolm X’s life and times by way of Lee’s film, but you can’t say this isn’t an interesting trip back in time.

Colin Firth, “A Month in the Country” (1987): Based on the novel by J. L. Carr, Firth – who plays Tom Birkin, an artist who has been employed to carry out restoration work on a Medieval mural discovered in a church in Yorkshire – offers the kind of performance that no doubt left those who saw the film wondering for many years why the man hadn’t yet become a household name. Here’s hoping that the film will finally get a proper DVD release one of these days.

George Clooney, “Red Surf” (1990): It’s kind of hard not to make a “Point Break” comparison when you look at this verrrrrrry early Clooney film, wherein he and Doug Savant (Tom Scavo on “Desperate Housewives”) play a couple of surfers with a penchant for crime, but the big difference between the two motion pictures is that most people tend consider “Point Break” to be a cult classic of sorts, whereas “Red Surf” often ranks even below “The Facts of Life” amongst Clooney aficionados. It does have at least one thing going for it, though, and that’s Gene Simmons. If you loved him in “Runaway” and “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” you’ll love his work here, too.

Jeremy Renner, “Dahmer” (2002): There are a lot of better films in Renner’s back catalog, and there are certainly a lot worse (four words: “National Lampoon’s Senior Trip”), but this is one which, while certainly not for all tastes, is better than you might expect. Renner plays Dahmer, and it’s the kind of performance that, had this been a ’70s TV movie, could’ve done for him what “Helter Skelter” did for Steve Railsback. Actually, come to think of it, maybe it’s better than it wasn’t made in the ’70s. (When was the last time you saw Railsback in anything?)

Midnight movie news

Well, depending on how long this takes.

* The Oscar voting deadline passed today and the big story ’round the town was on the punishment meted out to producer Nicolas Chartier, whose over-aggressive e-screeds against “Avatar,” and in favor of his own, “The Hurt Locker.” He’s banished from the ceremony. Still, as Nikki Finke reports, don’t feel too bad for him, if you feel bad at all, and I’m not sure why you should.

Wouldn’t it be nice — and naive — to think that stuff like this actually affected no one’s vote, in any direction?

* I like Tim Burton‘s work and dislike Timur Bekmambetov’s films, but the two nevertheless insist on working together to produce “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” based on the book by the author of the also soon to be filmed “Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.” The reportedly erratic but extremely talented writer-director David O. Russell, who infamously got into a scuffle with George Clooney over the treatment of extras while making 1999’s “Three Kings,” is “circling,” Mike Fleming says.

* Hef on Bogie. And, when you think about the Playboy mansions, almost everybody really does come to Hef’s, or wants to, anyway.

Joseph Gordon-Leavitt* James McAvoy leaves a “cancer comedy” for mysterious reasons and Joseph Gordon-Levitt jumps on board, reports THR‘s Gregg Kilday. McAvoy’s pretty good, but that still might be an improvement.

* Martin Scorsese is so busy these days I get tired just reading about him. Oh, and that gangster film with De Niro is starting to take shape, alongside at least three documentaries about Fran Lebowitz, George Harrison, and the history of British cinema, including much, I’m sure, about his old friend and mentor/influence, Michael Powell — the greatest director even many cinephiles barely know. Oh, and elsewhere he discusses the possibility of making films “like ‘Precious‘” in 3-D. I see his point about how the technology could theoretically be used to enhance intimate stories. I guess. Maybe.

* I meant to mention this days ago, but this lawsuit over the fictional destruction of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in “2012” is based on the fact that the statue is covered by copyright — something one usually doesn’t think about for iconic statuary. In any case, I really just wanted an excuse to quote Matthew Belloni‘s opening to the story:

With apologies to the Coen brothers, Columbia Pictures is learning the hard way not to f— with the Jesus….

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