Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the six remaining contestants were greeted in the kitchen of the Venetian Hotel with a phone call from host Padma Lakshmi. Padma was hanging out in a hotel room with cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson, and the quick fire challenge was to cook and deliver to them breakfast in bed.
Robin went first (how is she still here?) and made blintzes with goat cheese and pineapple. I don’t like goat cheese, but either way, that sounds disgusting. Eli made a reuben benedict with thousand island hollandaise sauce. Since they were staggered in groups of two, next was Mike and Kevin. Mike made a huevos Cubana with banana puree, and Kevin made steak and eggs. Then it was Jen and Bryan–Jen went with creamed chipped beef and Bryan made a 4-minute egg over corn polenta.
Writer-director John Boorman (“Deliverance,” “Excalibur,” “Hope and Glory”) has never been afraid of taking chances, and that definitely continues in this witty, suspenseful, and flawed 2006 thriller-cum-family drama. “The Tiger’s Tail” reteams Boorman with his lead actor from 1998’s “The General,” Brendan Gleeson (“In Bruges,” “28 Days Later“). This time, Gleeson is a renowned Dublin real estate capitalist with a calm but frosty marriage to wife Kim Cattrall, a strained but affectionate relationship with his Marxist teenage son (Briain Gleeson, the character actor’s actual offspring), and a business on the edge of collapse. All of that, however, is just par for the course until an exact double turns-up and appears bent on the most extreme form of identity theft.
As you might expect, this is a tale full of twists and turns. Unfortunately, several of them are weirdly contrived (think “Trading Places” meets “Ordinary People” with a distasteful dash of “Straw Dogs”) and many moments are just plain overheated –- at times Boorman seems to want to bludgeon us with composer Stephen McKeon’s score. Still, “The Tiger’s Tail” is salvaged by plentiful tension, humor, heart, and some very good performances, not only from Gleeson in a showy dual role, but also from son Briain and an especially moving turn by veteran actress Sinead Cusack. Best of all is a conclusion that takes the film to a place very few thrillers go. In his mid-seventies, Boorman remains a big-hearted filmmaker and this is a messy but big-hearted film.
A few last minute items as the the inglourious weekend gets seriously underway.
* If the movie world had a “Friday news dump” the way they do in D.C., the news that Martin Scorsese’s Dennis Lehane adaptation, “Shutter Island,” has been moved from November of ’09 to February of ’10 might be so handled. No such luck for Paramount as Nikki Finke, Anne Thompson and Screenrant and pretty much every two-bit blogger on the ‘net, including me, has something to say. This is not the first promising film to be so switched. “The Wolf Man” was also shunted by Universal from the traditionally good-movie rich fall to the less auspicious late winter.
Finances are obviously at the root, but speculation is rife on how the move might have been influenced by the Academy’s recent switch to ten awards annually. In any case, I tend to buy at least two of Nikki Finke’s reasons — a simple delay to spread out the financial cost of marketing the film around during tough economic times (perhaps with the hope of a better 2010) and the fact that star Leonardo DiCaprio wouldn’t have been able to promote the film this autumn. Considering they had people already fairly worked about the film, it’s a definite sign of some fragility, I’d say.
* Will the Twitter effect make movies better? Is it even real? Michael Sragow has a decent, yet frustrating, article on the ongoing topic. (H/t Anne Thompson.)
* After making one deal to direct an extremely ill-advised possible “Battlestar Galatica” re-reboot, Bryan Singer has also signed on to do a remake of John Boorman’s King Arthur epic, “Excalibur.” I love John Boorman’s work in general and also tales of chivalry and swordplay, yet I kind of hate (or at least can’t sit through) the original film, which many love but I find unspeakably turgid. So, I guess I’m open-minded about what Singer will do with it. Can almost only be an improvement for me. Of course, neither of these films may ever actually happen. Bryan Singer’s next film is expected to be “Jack, the Giant Killer.”
An interesting note about the 1962 movie version of the fairy tale (one no one ever bothered to tell me…I always thought it was another name for “Jack and the Beanstalk”). Many musicals have had their songs removed to be released in non-musical versions over the years, this is one of the very few where a producer attempted to turn it into a musical after the fact.
* And because everyone else is giving it to you, I might as well also serve up the trailer for Michael Moore’s new “Capitalism: A Love Story.” It made me laugh but of Christopher Campbell, whose favorite words lately seem to be “dated” and “derivative” (but not “delightful” or “delovely”) and his crew of usual suspects mostly think it disappoints. Do these guys ever like anything? Campbell never seems to. In comments, JoblessInTampa has some choice words for the Eastern film geek elites on the issue of being out-of-step.