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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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Entries in Al Pacino (8)


Not Much Divergence In These Box Office Grosses

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (argh. that title) mirrored its predecessor with roughly the exact same opening weekend take. So it kept its audience but didn't grow, which might not bode well for a long life or the blind greed now-common decision to split its final movie into two parts. The reviews are worse this time. Nevertheless it's the 4th big hit for divisive Shailene Woodley out of only 6 movies so we're stuck with her for a long time to come. The other interesting mirroring going on is with Cinderella. While it hasn't been posting numbers quite as big as its Disney live-action predecessor Maleficent day-by-day, it's been close surprisingly close despite no Jolie-sized starpower. In other words, it's going to be far more profitable; despite looking more beautiful and lux it costs HALF AS MUCH to make.


01 Divergent: Insurgent $54 NEW
02 Cinderella $34.4 (cum. $122)  Review
03 Run All Night $5.1 (cum. $19.7) Review
04 The Gunman $5 NEW 
05 Kingsman: Secret Service $4.6 (cum. $114.5) Review
06 Do You Believe $4 NEW
07 Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel $3.4 (cum. $24.1)
08 Focus $3.3 (cum. $49.4)
09 Chappie $2.6 (cum. $?) Review
10 SpongeBob Movie $2.3 (cum. $158.7)

01 It Follows (US) 32 Theaters $.3 (cum. $.5) Review
02 What We Do In the Shadows (New Zealand) 134 Theaters  $.3 (cum. $1.8) Review
03 Wild Tales (Argentina) 81 Theaters $.2 (cum. $1.1) Review
04 '71 (UK) 116 Theaters $.2 (cum. $.6) Review
05 A La Mala (Mexico) 123 Theaters $.1 (cum. $3.4)
06 Mr Turner (UK) 79 Theaters $.08 (cum. $3.8) Review & Interview
07 Love & Lost (China) 24 theaters $.08 NEW
08 Red Army (84 Theaters) $.07 (cum. $.5)
09 Danny Collins (US) 5 Theaters $.07 NEW 
10 Deli Man (US) 38 Theaters $.07 (cum. $.3)  

'71 looks good to hit 1 million IF it can keep its theaters for another couple of weeks (which is a big question mark since its per screen average isn't super strong). Critically raved horror film It Follows and Oscar nominated comedy Wild Tales continue to do strong business while slightly expanding. The latter just passed Leviathan's gross domestically which puts it behind only Ida from its competitive pool in the US market. That said Wild Tales is by far the most popular of last year's foreign nominees, having already grossed $25 million globally. Al Pacino's star has seen more bankable days. Did The Humbling ever even open after its Oscar qualifying release in December? And now Danny Collins made under $100,000 in its tentative 5 theater launch.

What did you see this weekend?


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Dog Day Afternoon"

Forty years ago today, Sonny Wortzik held up a bank on a hot Brooklyn day. It did not go well. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) was nominated for six Oscars -- the kind of nominations that go to well liked contemporary pictures that aren't thought of as particularly "visual" achievements -- winning only for Best Original Screenplay, but it's actually quite beautiful to look at. Credit, then, to director Sidney Lumet who understood the frantic extremes of humanity better than most auteurs, the casting director and the fine actors who are riveting yet absolutely recognizable as people who might actually be bank tellers, cops or pizza delivery boys  and the cinematography by Victor J Kemper whose camerawork and lighting ably capture the flickering nuances on faces and add considerably to the film's sweaty moody desperation. 

Consider these two shots: the first is Carol Kane as a bank hostage and Lance Henriksen as an FBI man.

They're shots that define what "Character Actor" means or at least what it should -- God, what faces!

Click to read more ...


Venice, Day 5: Shame, Alps, Wilde Salome & Sal

[Editor's Note: Manolis, TFE's Greek correspondent at the Venice Film Festival chimes in briefly on a very busy screening day. Notes on four films, the last of them a probable prize winner. -Nathaniel]

The Greek entry of the festival divided the critics assembled here, just as Dogtooth did two years ago. The Italian critics that are featured at the Daily Variety issue of the festival here have given it from 1 to 5 stars. So it’s difficult to say what it’s chances are with the jury. In Dogtooth the protagonist was trying to escape from a fake world, but in Alps the protagonist is trying to enter one; she feels she must belong to another reality, not her actual one. Aggeliki Papoulia gives an excellent performance and Yorgos Lanthimos’ fans will not be disappointed. But that said, he won’t win any new fans with Alps.

Wilde Salome
This isn't quite a film or a documentary but something inbetween as Al Pacino chronicles his attempts to make a film out of Oscar Wilde’s Salome shortly after the play was staged in Los Angeles. In Wilde Salome we watch the plays’ rehearsals and see Pacino’s attempts to solve the various production problems that are created by his insistence to film the play simultanously with the live performances. We also watch him researching Oscar Wilde and we get information on the famous playwright through interviews featuring Tony Kushner, Gore Vidal, Tom Stoppard and… Bono. Jessica Chastain is magnetic as Salome and the film will surely be interesting to theater fans. Unfortunately, though Pacino may have had a vision, but he doesn't quite know how to share it through storytelling.

Franco and his star Val Lauren in VeniceSal
James Franco presents and emotional biography of Sal Mineo, or rather a small detail. Sal takes place on the last day of the star's life. Franco relies heavily on close-ups in this very low budget attempt to capture Mineo's spirit, to sketch an emotional impression of he was.  
I did this film for artistic reasons. Making a film is not just for entertainment or to make money."
-James Franco at the press conference
Though the film is slow and overly long, it captures the atmosphere of the time well and it's easy to forgive it its flaws; it's obviously a labor of love. 
Today I also saw the winner of the festival. I don’t know whether it will win the Golden Lion, Director or Actor prizes, but there is no way Steve McQueen’s Shame will leave Mostra empty-handed.
Shame is the story of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a man who has lost his moral compass and wanders New York looking for one night stands, while what he needs is intimacy. Fassbender gives an astonishing performance and manages to combine Brandon's fragile nature with his sexual confidence. The actor presents his journey of despair brilliantly. Carey Mulligan is also remarkable as his sister, a nightclub singer. Her vulnerable blues rendition of “New York, New York” is more than enough to put her in the Oscar race of Best Supporting Actress. The explicit nature of the film and the many nude scenes (including full frontal nudity from both stars) may hurt the film's reception with some audiences and possibly Oscar voters, but McQueen and especially Fassbender won't end the year without popping up at various critics awards. 
The response at today’s premiere was enthusiastic. That five minute standing ovation was an obvious vote of approval for McQueen and Fassbender's post-Hunger reunion.

I'm Linking As Fast As I Can

The Hairpin has a huge piece on Ava Gardner's career, femme fatale posing, and storied romantic life. I always always forget she was married to Mickey Rooney because it just seems so wrong.
My New Plaid Pants Thursdays Ways Not To Die... Fashion Faux- Pwned (Serial Mom)
The Critical Condition looks at three (unfortunate) differences between "The Help" as a book and The Help as a movie. 


Movie|Line first pics from Bel Ami --not an historical epic about the gay porn studio -- wherein Robert Pattison sexes up various actresses we like: Uma Thurman (pictured below), Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas
The Wow Report congratulations Carrie Fisher on her new look. Jenny Craig worked wonders! 
Cinema Blend Universal keeps dropping film projects. What's going on? 
Grantland predicts the Worst Supporting Actress for this year's Razzies. Agreed that Blake Lively's got at least a nomination sewn up for Green Lantern.
Socialite Life Michael Ian Black recalls his sex scene with Bradley Cooper in Wet Hot American Summer. (Cooper is the only holdout so far on a sequel.) 
IndieWire Jim Carrey's video love letter to Emma Stone. So random.

Finally, did you hear about the big Scarface reunion party to celebrate a special edition BluRay release? Scarface himself Al Pacino, Oscar winner F Murray Abraham, 80s character actor Robert Loggia and 80s hunk Steven Bauer were on hand. But without Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (what, was she too busy?) and especially without Elvira herself, Michelle Pfeiffer, what is even the point? I'm assuming Pfeiffer wasn't there because she's filming Tim Burton's Dark Shadows in London at the moment. But if The Avengers cast can leave Cleveland for a 10 minute walk on at that Disney convention last week, shouldn't they have flown La Pfeiffer cross the Atlantic to class up that party a little? 


"Dick Tracy" Q&A with Warren Beatty

Alex (BBats) here, doing a lil’ scouting in LA. Oh my oh my!

BBats and Beatty! This past weekend, I had the pleasure to revisit Dick Tracy (1990) on the big screen courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival.  The film hasn’t aged a day due to that rich pulp style that seeps through every set piece, costume, matte painting, and actor.  The main draw was a Q & A with Warren Beatty after the film! Now, I was battling the flu and taking notes as fast as I could, so keep that in mind and I wouldn’t say anything below was a direct quote.

Beatty stood in the wings as the film’s end credits rolled. Big applause for the film followed and I saw a big smile grow across his face. The moderator brought him out to thunderous ovation (duh). He seemed a little cagey and very careful in selecting his words; this Q & A was for the Los Angeles Times, he pointed out, and would be in print the very next day.

Hit the jump for some Beatty, Dick, and a lil' Bening action!

On Stephen Sondheim
'He did great stuff for this…I’m such a fan of Sondheim’s. Everytime I see one of his shows, I just fall apart on the first song.'

On the film itself
'I’m disgusting because I really do like it a lot.'

Beatty had been attached to the propertry since 1976. The moderator asked why he chose Dick Tracy. Beatty said that he didn’t want to do some picture where everything got blasted around, and that Dick Tracy was this guy who had been around forever and wanted to start a family. He paused and said he thought of it as a gentle picture. (Aside: I love when people call movies "pictures". Super classy.)

This next part is so funny, let's get it right by quoting directly from the Los Angeles Times.

 “Little by little I found myself caught up enough in it to actually go and make a movie about it, because it was hard for me. … I always think of making a movie like vomiting. I don’t like to vomit, but I get to the point where I think, ‘I’d better go ahead and do this, and I’ll feel better.’” 

Everyone  rolled with laughter. The vomiting reference also maybe gives us a little glimpse as to why he hasn’t directed a film since Bulworth (1998). But back to the Q & A.

His desk needs a bucket.

Beatty began to compliment everyone in the cast and the moderator honed in on certain performances and how he cast the roles. Interestingly, Beatty compared the casting process to writing. When you cast someone it's an instant rewrite, even if you don’t change a word.

Madonna sings "MORE" in Dick Tracy and you know you want more, too: Bening, Pacino. Hoffman, Oscars and Dick Tracy sequel nuggets after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Red Carpet: Serious Actresses, Voices of Reason, Flamboyant Firemen.

For this week's red carpet convo, Your Movie Buddy Kurt is back to chat with Nathaniel and we're joined by special guest Guy Lodge from In Contention! We're discussing a couple handfuls of usually cross-platform celebrities who hit the Tony Awards.

Kurt: ‬ ‪i should say first that i did not watch the show‬
Guy: ‬ ‪That makes two of us!‬
 ‬ ‪but i did see NPH's opening number. killer.‬
Nathaniel: Here we go... soak it in.


Guy: WOW where to even begin?
Nathaniel: Let's start at the obvious place. Make up a show in your head that allows for all of these looks to happen. A schizo show it might be...

[long pause]

Guy: ‬ ‪I'm imagining a revisionist take on the Wizard of Oz where a washed-up tennis star, a washed-up Lilith Fair singer-songwriter and a washed-up Julianna Margulies body double all join forces to seek guidance from an all-knowing, black-clad sorceress -- except instead of lacking heart-brain-courage, they simply all lack style. And a mirror.‬
Kurt: ‬ way to make Whoopi the magical negro.
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪I love you, Guy. You've even brought us full circle to TAMMY BLANCHARD's original calling card: that Judy Garland miniseries aeons ago! Tammy is in a sparkly blue number here. I don't think we can top Tom & Lorenzo's comment "serving drag queen realness." But Tammy is a biological woman.
Kurt: She's really out of place here. Has my taste level plummeted or does she look pretty ok?‬


wow. ouch.‬
Guy: ‬ ‪That she's also the best dressed person here doesn't bode well.‬
Nathaniel‪: ‬ ‪Well, I've started with dessert - this is as crazy as it gets.‬
Kurt: ‬ ‪fo realz‬. I really want to talk about Frances but we should probably move left to right.
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪We can hop around. Something is telling me that FRANCES MCDORMAND wouldn't mind that breach of etiquette as she showed up to an awards show in a jean jacket!

Guy: ‬ ‪On reflection, I think Whoopi's actually the best-dressed here -- because she looks more like herself than any of the others. You know she only dresses to amuse herself.‬
Kurt: She's amusing me, too.
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪Is that how you explain WHOOPI GOLDBERG's Queen Elizabeth Oscar look?‬
Guy: ‬ ‪Totally. And remember that purple dress with green leggings she wore to the Oscars one year? Frankly, if she pitched up dressed in a sleek Prada number, I'd be worried about her.‬
Kurt: ‬ ‪very true‬


Nathaniel: ‬ ‪Perhaps one can say the same for Frances, who clearly cannot be bothered to project FAMOUS MOVIE STAR and instead opts for THEATER COMPANY EARTH MOTHER‬
‬ ‪this look is absolutely nuts.
 ‬ ‪She clearly wants to show how serious she is about her craft that she can't be bothered with all this glam-up business... but come on.‬
Kurt: ‬
‪it's a little tooo defiant‬.
 ‬ ‪I was talking to Joe Reid earlier today and he said that he wanted to go on record.‬ 'Make sure someone defends Frances McD' he says. I'm like "ON WHAT GROUNDS?!" and he says "That she's Frances McDormand and can do as she pleases"
Guy: ‬
‪Well, she's Frances McDormand and we love her, but that's as far as the defence goes.‬ Remember the navy dress she wore when she won the Oscar? It was simple and sensible and got the same message across without being fugly.‬
Nathaniel‪: ‬ ‪True Story: I once had a jean jacket and painted Annie Lennox on the back of it (circa SAVAGE cd) and wore it everywhere and everyday. But i don't know that I would have pulled it out for awards night.‬
Kurt: ‬Should Frances turn around then?
Guy: ‬‪Yes, in fairness, we can't see what's on the back of Frances's leather jacket.‬
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪Ha. I think she mentioned some hippie rock band being on that stage last time she was in this very theater.‬. I forget who. Maybe I'm mischaracterizing.
Kurt: from the waist up, she's on her way to see a hippie rock band.
Nathaniel: also she's in Transformers: Dark of the Moon so maybe SHE HAD TO DO THIS to reestablish her Serious Thespian cred.
Guy: ‬ ‪If it has "SUCK IT, VANESSA REDGRAVE" on the back or her jacket in iron-on letters, she's totally forgiven.‬
Kurt: ‬ ‪HAHA
Nathaniel: ‬ Frances nears the triple crown -- just the Emmy remains -- but ‪Vanessa is a triple crowner already
Guy: ‬ ‪As she should be‬

As is AL PACINO. Do you think anyone would notice if Whoopi and Pacino traded headgear?‬
Kurt: ‬ ‪i really like guy's washed up tennis star notion; however, i can never look at Al anymore without thinking of Roy Cohn, and here, Roy just got back from a tryst and still has the dude's underwear on his head‬
Nathaniel: ‪That is so wrong Kurt... so so wrong.‬
Guy: ‬ ‪Whoopi's hat would help Al's look -- if only because it could fall over his face and he'd be spared the embarrassment of being recognised.‬
Nathaniel: Was there a hairplug incident? He had to mprovise last minute and Whoopi would just not trade!‬
Guy: ‬ ‪Maybe the hair is ATTACHED to the hairband.‬
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪...serving drag queen fierceness‬.
Kurt: ‬ ‪is that the evening's theme?‬
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪no, sadly.‬
Kurt: ‬ ‪because frances would be lip-synching for her mother effin life‬

Guy: ‬ ‪Aside from the headband, though, what's up with the ill-fitting suit? He looks like a teenager wearing his older brother's tux to the prom.‬
Kurt: ‬ I was gonna say. Sadly, the vest is actually the outfit's worst feature. it's blinding me‬ and it's enormous.
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪Incidentally since you guys missed the show. Frances's acceptance speech was kinda awesome if a little braggy. She said she's played both Stella and Blanche‬ AND ALL THREE OF CHEKHOV'S SISTERS.
Guy: ‬
‪Rub it in, Frances.‬
‬ That's not easy to boast while wearing that. Rock star.
Nathaniel: ‬ ‪and then implied she thinks this role she won for in "Good People" would one day join the canon of "great parts"‬
Guy: ‬ ‪Yeah, bet she said that about "Handler" in Aeon Flux.‬


IT'S NOT OVER! keep reading for...  Catherine Zeta-Jones inner fire (plus super gay firemen!), and Viola Davis as "the Voice of Reason."

Click to read more ...


Unsung Heroes: The Editing of 'Glengarry Glen Ross'

Michael C. from Serious Film here this week with an appreciation of the craftsman that took what could have been an incredibly un-cinematic project and turned it into one hundred of the most riveting minutes of the nineties.

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Whenever a prominent stage play makes the trip to the big screen it is, without fail, greeted by throngs of film writers questioning how well the material has been “opened up” for the big screen. This always gets under my skin.  Never mind that many, if not the majority, of the most beloved stage adaptations were not “opened up” at all.  No, what gets me is the implied idea that there is something inherently uncinematic about dialogue. As if audiences say things like, “I guess it’s okay when Sidney Poitier tells Rod Steiger they call him Mr. Tibbs, I just wish they were doing something cinematic at the time, like dangling from a helicopter.”

a desperate phone call with Jack LemmonThe truth, of course, is that any film that makes you identify with the events on screen is cinematic. It can take place entirely in a restaurant, a jury room, or the mind of one paralyzed man; if it makes you forget the darkened theater with the sticky floor it’s doing its job.

Director James Foley along with editor Howard E Smith knew this when he made the film of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).  To paraphrase what he says in the DVD commentary, Ed Harris smoking a cigarette is as much a movie moment as Lawrence of Arabia coming over a hill leading a thousand men.  In the lesser Mamet films, the stylized writing can feel stilted and airless, but not this time. Throughout Glengarry we feel as if we are privy to the interior monologues of the characters.   

I could fill ten columns highlighting perfectly constructed moments but I’ll limit myself to three favorites:

Al Pacino's nomination was the only Oscar attention for the film

  • Any discussion of Glengarry has to begin with Alec Baldwin’s legendary scene. It's an audacious move to begin the movie with one actor delivering an uninterrupted eight-minute monologue, but Foley and Smith get away with it largely by breaking the whole sequence down into a series of short scenes – Baldwin belittles Lemmon, Harris confronts Baldwin, Baldwin denies them the leads – that add up to one riveting whole. 
  • There is a perfectly held moment just after Spacey has opened his big mouth and blown Pacino’s big sale and just before Pacino lets loose with one of the most memorable torrents of profanity in film history. It just holds on Pacino’s face as he absorbs what has just transpired, giving the audience an all time great “Uh-oh…” moment watching the fury gather behind his eyes.
  • I love the way the filmmakers relax the film’s tension just long enough to let Lemmon’s Shelly “The Machine” Levine recount what he believes to be his great triumph to Pacino. It’s a small oasis of peace and contentment before the character’s final slide down to destruction. 

Throughout the film there is never a cut for it’s own sake, never a moment where Foley and Smith showoff just to prove that it’s a movie they’re making. Instead they rely on the basic language of cinema to give the bouts of verbal violence an impact that makes most movie violence feel like playing patty-cake.