Late Friday movie news dump

It’s been a long four day week, and the hits just keep on coming.

* Even as A-listers are wrapping up George Clooney‘s Haiti telethon, the Sundance Film Festival is now underway in earnest and under new management, although boss Bob abides, naturally. Anne Thompson has a report from the front. Yesterday, she reported on the notable acquisition of the super-fest, director David Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” — which is not about to whole “when will the next Superman movie come out?” thing or even superheroes at all. Sorry.

More Sundance news to come next week, no doubt. Watch this space.

* Movie City News has compiled the results of 225 Top 10 lists and come out with a top 30 of its own. At the top, “The Hurt Locker” far ahead of nearest competitors, “Up in the Air” and “Inglourious Basterds.” At the bottom of the “best of” lists, Lars von Trier’s horror drama “Antichrist,” the most controversial film in a career filled with controversy.

* Speaking of films at the bottom, the Wrap brings us Forbes’ annoyingly hard-to-read list of the biggest fiscal flops of the last five years in more easily digestible form. Topping the list is the recent adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” which went from Oscar hopeful to complete dud in nothing flat when it came out. There are two films I personally like on this list, “Grindhouse” and “Walk Hard.” Anybody else out there have a favorite on the flop list? In any case, I wonder about the accuracy of the list as it doesn’t include DVD figures.

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Cronkite, the action hero + more

As at least a large chunk of America mourns the passing of Ted Kennedy, today is a day when we honor William Faulkner’s phrase: “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”

* Did you know that the late Walter Cronkite stumbled into a den of Colombian narco-terrorists? The result was that a few years later the most trusted man in America gave testimony before a Florida jury. No surprise, a major conviction resulted. Now, as Michael Fleming tells it, international thrillmeister Luc Besson wants to turn Uncle Walter into a movie action hero, or something close. Interesting.

* Great news for those of us who are involved with cinema’s past here in Southern California. The endangered film program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been given a $150,000 reprieve.

* Something tells me that maybe Vin Diesel is taking that Faulkner quote a bit too seriously. Does anyone want XXX III?

* Martin Anderson of Den of Geek wonders about the future of Blu-Ray in general and a newer superduper 3-D compatible version being tied to “Avatar.”  He’s right about the still-problematic nature of at least some of the glasses and the fact that we quickly forget we’re even watching 3-D after the first few minutes, so there’s a point of diminishing returns for the viewer which might prevent folks from making the large initial investment in the technology. For me, I love 3-D as a novelty for certain kinds of movies, but I really don’t think we need it to become standard. Having 3-D available to me at home would almost defeat the purpose and ruin the fun.

* More deaths: Writer turned film producer turned diarist Dominick Dunne (h/t David Hudson) and widescreen/large format pioneer, Panavision cofounder, cinematographer, and director Richard Moore.

  

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Marty’s mad!

Yeah, I know, he doesn’t look angry — but trust me, there’s righteous movie-loving rage behind those smiling eyes.

Here in Southern California, we might have a health crisis like the rest of the nation, but amongst the burgeoning Cinephile-American community, the hot topic is the scheduled end of weekend film programming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) later this summer. There’s been a lot of apt criticism — and in retrospect I feel I was bit too blithe/fatalistic about it in my first post about it.

A museum should not have to be slave to film fashion anymore than it should take down it’s Chagalls every time there’s an upsurge of interest in Picasso, or vice versa. If the world’s premiere film city can’t have a place — at a museum, for pity’s sake — that shows important films from the past, including ones with limited audiences, then maybe all of film is in danger of losing its sense of history and with it, most of its soul. It’s ironic that a still lingering sense of snobbish diminishment of film as a somewhat lesser art form might play into it. I thought we were well past that.

As Don Scorsese, il capo di tutti capi of film geeks put it:

I support the petition that is still circulating, with well over a thousand names at this point, many of them prominent…People from all over the world are speaking out, because they see this action – correctly, I think – as a serious rebuke to film within the context of the art world. The film department is often held at arms’ length at LACMA and other institutions, separate from the fine arts, and this simply should not be. Film departments should be accorded the same respect, and the same amount of financial leeway, as any other department of fine arts.

That petition is growing, by the way. Particularly if you live in Southern California, but if you care about movies and live anywhere, it’s time to step up and sign on the dotted line. Think of it as your proper obeisance to Don Marty.

  

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It’s money that matters

Filthy lucre is today’s theme in movieland. Really, it’s every day’s theme, but it’s on my mind today.

* Nikki Finke, who actually makes money blogging, notes a pay cut for William Morris assistants, who already work ridiculously hard for the hope of decent money some day, and are expected to work a minimum of fifty hours a week. Presumably they get some overtime (though one wonders if they’re not working actually quite a bit more — Hollywood and Walmart have been known to have a few things in common in the past). They’d better because their boss’s brother is the White House chief of staff. Could get messy, otherwise.

Finke also has an interesting — inasmuch as I can follow it — look at some silver linings amidst the major studio’s fiscals clouds.

* A noted casting change in the third “Twilight” will probably not affect grosses perceptibly, but there’s no stopping those wagging tongues.

* And with all the fuss at Comic-Con, the appearance of anime genius Hiyao Miyazaki got all but ignored by the media, as far as I can tell. “Princess Mononoke” beat “Titanic” in Japan. If it had done so here, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t have been a relative afterthought.

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