A cinematic wish for a shana tova from Premium Hollywood

I’m a very secular and nonobservant Jew, so there’ll be a news laden post up a bit later. However, I’m not so devoutly unobservant and secular that I completely ignore the day — even if I only figured out a couple of hours ago that Jewish New Year, aka Rosh Hashanah, began tonight.

Anyhow, I was moved to post my favorite scene from, of all films, Clint Eastwood’s “Bird,” written by Joel Oliansky. In this scene, Jewish trumpeter Red Rodney (Michael Zelniker), after traveling with the band through segregated Jim Crow states as “Albino Red,” arranges a much needed paying New York area gig for jazz innovator Charlie Parker (Forest Whitaker) and crew.

If I remember the rest of the scene correctly, afterwards,  the rabbi says something like, “Most of you boys aren’t Jewish, but you’re good.” I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always found this scene both a little bit funny and extremely moving. (I briefly reviewed “Bird” as part of a series of “The Eastwood Jazz Collection” a couple of years back.)

By the way, the real Red Rodney, born Robert Roland Chudnick, like his friend, Bird, and so many other jazz musicians of his era, struggled with hard drugs for most of his life before reviving his career in the late seventies and eighties. He died in 1994 at age 66.

  

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Oy, what a weekend: A Disney exit and a Toronto bloodbath (Updated)

You may not have heard it, but the movie world’s been shifting on its axis over the last few days. It might not be very pretty.

* Dick Cook, the Chairman of Disney who doesn’t get nearly the amount of press of CEO Bob Iger, resigned just before the start of Rosh Hashanah last Friday night. In the inevitable “did he fall or was he pushed?” argument, the “push” side seems to have the edge and the repercussions are significant, but not completely clear.

The short version seems to be that Cook and Iger simply had different views on too many issues and that the movie side of Disney, Pixar aside, hasn’t been doing quite as well lately as some would like. Cook was, however, apparently rather well liked by such superstars as Steven Spielberg and Johnny Depp, and that might have an impact on such issues as whether not they’ll be a fourth “Pirates” movie. Marc Graser of Variety has more — including the tantalizing suggestion that the job might be Pixar head John Lasseter’s to turn down. Of course, Nikki Finke has yet more of the seemingly endless lowdown.

Johnny Depp and Dick Cook

* Speaking of Disney and its famous recent acquisition, there’s a second lawsuit similar to the one that wrapped a while back regarding the rights to Superman — or not. Let’s just say it’s from the same lawyer and this time the target is Time Warner/DC Comics competitor, the newly Disnified Marvel Entertainment. As described by Nikki Finke, who picked up the story from the comics site Bleeding Cool, this time the creator in question is the late, great Jack Kirby, one of the most respected figures in all of comicsdom and the co-creator with Stan Lee of many of Marvel’s best known characters including the Fantastic Four and the Mighty Thor. (He also co-created Captain America with Joe Simon just months before America’s entry into World War II.) There’s a long history on the whole issue of Kirby’s role in creating these comics in relation to Stan Lee, and there are a number of issues here. Like anything legal, it gets pretty thorny and there’s some pretty “lively” debate among the commenters at Deadline Hollywood.

* Perhaps most significant of all, reporter/blogger Anne Thompson has written a post that’s sent shockwaves through the online film world and probably the actual film world as well — though the news itself is known to those affected. She concisely entitled her post-festival piece “Toronto Wrap: Indie Bloodbath.” The villain here seems to be, at least partly, rising marketing costs — though I’d like someone to explain to me why they are rising as we’re coming out of a recession with a more or less jobless recovery. Nevertheless:

It costs too much money these days to make a dent, a mark, an impression that will create enough urgency in filmgoers to make them go out and see a movie. While Ted Mundorff insists that business is up at indie-branded Landmark Cinemas around the country, and Apparition’s Bob Berney is hopeful that exec changes at Cinemark and AMC will bring a new awareness to booking the right movies in the right locations, the indie market needs help.

With the exception of the high profile deal for a “A Single Man” last week, very little business got done in Toronto and struggling indie filmmakers are, rather than selling their films, paying to have their films released. Terms like “tectonic shift” are being bandied about. Via David Hudson/The Auteurs Daily, we have reaction from my personal movie Yoda, Roger Ebert and Vadim Rizov, who comments on Universal’s recent troubles and its ensuing spending freeze.

The irony is, of course, that all of this comes after a  very successful movie summer. Another chapter, I suppose, in the ongoing realignment of all media, though the timing sure seems odd. Movies will survive, but it’s a most definitely a tough time for all but the most micro-budgeted of indies and the big budgeted productions of ordinary Hollywood, and life’s not exactly a feather-bed for them, either.

UPDATE: Also via The Auteur’s Daily, apparently there’s been some delayed Toronto-related action and some blood just got mopped off the floor. And a little more. Things are, I’m sure, still bad, but perhaps the mood might be a hair less apocalyptic for larger indies.

  

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If I were a crimson pirate

Once again, in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day and Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), we’re pairing clips from pirate movies with scenes from 1971’s film version of the enormously successful musical tale of ordinary life in the Russian shtetl, “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Here we begin with diary farmer Tevye (Topol) fantasizing about an easier life while ripping off the musical stylings of Gwen Stefani.

And now Burt Lancaster break the fourth wall and shows off the acrobatic skills he gained in his early years as a circus performer in 1952’s enjoyably silly “The Crimson Pirate.”

  

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