I think I'm over the whole "so ridiculous it's fun" thing.
Either that, or I'm waiting until someone actually creates something that genuinely looks like fun before I say that again. Today, the trailer for "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" finally arrives online and I can't help but feel like I'm looking at a parody of a "cool" movie trailer.
Jeremy Renner is so decidedly modern and he and Gemma Arterton appear to have so little chemistry that I'm feeling like even before you get to the film's ridiculous premise, the movie is already hobbled. Sure, it's hard to judge the end result from a trailer, but part of me feels like I'm looking at the new version of "The Brothers Grimm," and if Terry Gilliam failed to make that premise work, I'm not sure Tommy Wirkola (whose "Dead Snow" was fun) is the man for the job.
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I think I'm over the whole "so ridiculous it's fun" thing.
One of the things I'll be doing at the Toronto Film Festival this year is catching up with "Looper," the Rian Johnson film I first saw last year in a rough state. I'm excited to see the finished movie and to sit down with the cast for some interviews.
Today, though, came a firm reminder that my vacation is over. As much as I've loved having time off with my kids as I recharged the battery for what is going to be a very busy month ahead, I was aware that the flurry of work was going to begin the moment I returned. Sure enough, there was a knock on the door this morning and a guy who looked suspiciously like a young Bruce Willis was standing there. He handed me an envelope and said, "You've got a mission. Get to it."
Oddly, he hopped on what looked like a NY bike messenger's bike and took off down my driveway, leaving me to head back inside and look to see what it was he'd brought me and what explanation there was for his actions.
"NCIS" returns for its tenth season in just a few weeks (Tues. Sept. 25, 8:00 p.m.), but the premiere promises to be worth the wait. In last season's finale, Dr. Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis) went into hiding, Ducky (David McCallum) had an apparent heart attack, and a bomb tore apart NCIS headquarters. That explosive ending killed Jonathan Cole (Scott Wolf), while Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony (Michael Weatherly) were trapped in an elevator. While I was only able to talk to de Pablo for a few minutes at the CBS TCA party, I (very quickly) asked her about what's ahead for Ziva and Tony, a pair who've sparked even from the acrimonious beginning of their relationship. Here's what the Chilean-born actress had to say. Very quickly.
After he posted a photo of himself wearing a Santa hat in the studio, there was little doubt that Scotty McCreery was working on a holiday album, although his label declined to reveal any further details.
Now we know “Christmas With Scotty McCreery” will arrive Oct. 16. The stocking stuffer from the “American Idol” winner contains two new songs in addition to a platter-ful of standards, such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells, “Let It Snow,” “The Christmas Song,” “O Holy Night,” and “The First Noel.”
The new tracks are “Christmas In Heaven” and “Christmas Is Coming Around.” Of the latter, McCreery says, “That’s just a great story about Christmas time and really just lifting people’s spirits. Times may be tough, but during Christmas, it needs to be a happy time.”
McCreery, who just started his freshman year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, will make Christmas calls to 100 random fans who purchase the album via his website, www.ScottyMcCreery.com.
Fellow country star Blake Shelton will also release a holiday this season.
I'll make this relatively quick, partly because I have a screening to run to, and partly because we've covered this ground in a previous post. But thanks to Austrian reader Norman Shetler for informing us that his country has selected their entry for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race -- and, as we suspected, it's Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Amour."
"But it's a French film!" I hear some of you cry. Well, no: this is a global industry, after all, and a film isn't defined by the country it's set in or the language it speaks. As a French-Austrian-German co-production, any one of those three countries would have been entitled to submit it. Tidily enough, it's the director's home country that gets the privilege this time.
Green Day abruptly cancelled a headlining performance in Bologna, Italy. Sunday night after lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was taken to the hospital Saturday night for treatment for an undisclosed illness.
[More after the jump...]
VENICE - Almost a week into the Venice Film Festival, the Lido has fallen rather quiet. After a cinephile's superbowl of a weekend that saw the fest's two most generally anticipated films, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," premiere on consecutive days, many journalists are already either heading home or preparing for the exodus to Toronto -- where they'll be able to catch "Passion" and "The Company You Keep," the two high-profile commercial films left in the lineup.
What surprise gems and potential Golden Lion winners lie ahead, of course, is anyone's guess. The smart money right now is on "The Master," still the dominant topic of conversation around the Venice grounds, appealing to jury president Michael Mann's robust sensibilities and taking home the big one. Others think Marco "Vincere" Bellocchio's latest (which premieres later this week) is, on paper, the one to beat. I, meanwhile, wouldn't be surprised to see Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov's dazzling romantic puzzler "Betrayal" (more on that in a later post) take home some major hardware -- nor either of the films reviewed below, though one is from a celebrated French major and the other from an Israeli novice.
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show:"Infamous" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: It's "Dirty Sexy Revenge"
Quick Response: No. Really. "Dirty Sexy Revenge." What if "Dirty Sexy Money" had begun with the murder of Samaire Armstrong's character? [No loss there.] And what if Peter Krause's character were a cop instead of a lawyer and an African-American woman instead of a man? And what if that interloper returned to the family not to keep them out of trouble, but to get one of them in very deep trouble indeed? What you'd get would be "Infamous." NBC's attempt to get in on the Eat the Rich zeitgeist is derivative at every turn, but it's also yet another midseason drama that introduces plot twists at an almost astounding pace, with characters reversing course and changing their colors two or three times in the opening 44 minutes. Hmm... I used a "but" there as if being twisty were a compensation for being derivative. This is the kind of show that you instantly find yourself distrusting every frame because you know that the truth is like a bet on a roulette wheel: You might get a dose of adrenaline each time your number comes around, but until the ball stops bouncing, *nothing* is going to be the truth, so there's no point in investing. Everybody lies and they do it all the time, so what's the point in rooting for the truth? It's the problem "Damages" has always had in its weaker moments, only "Infamous" doesn't immediately have the strengths that make "Damages" shine when it's working. I'm very happy to see Meagan Good getting to lead a show. She's sexy, assertive and Good deserves this shot. But the implausibility of her character's reintegration into this close-knit, justifiably paranoid family comes dangerously close to crushing the entire premise and I desperately hope they don't continue to pretend "Infamous" takes place in a world in which TMZ is King, but Google doesn't exist. And as for the family, they're good, but they're not the Darlings. Victor Garber has played this sort of WASP-y patriarch too many times to be surprising, so we're just waiting and watching for him to turn out to be good-evil-good-evil-good-evil-good-evil... STOP. Ditto with Tate Donovan. I guess that for Donovan, this is better than being cut out of the "No Ordinary Family" pilot and for Garber this is better than "Charlie's Angels," but those are both tenuous compliments. I like Garber and Donovan, but it's good will from past performances than make them appealing here, not anything fresh or new. The rest of the cast is solid and packed with familiar faces, but there's no Donald Sutherland or Jill Clayburgh or Madeleine Stowe to keep you mesmerized even when the formula takes over. No matter how many times you've seen basically this exact same show, you'd still be hard-pressed to find "Infamous" boring. It's not gripping, but it keeps you guessing and we get two or three episodes worth of plot machinations in short order. "Infamous" isn't a great version of an ABC show, but it's a passable version of an ABC show, which makes me wonder how it's going to find an audience on NBC. But I wonder that a lot and that's NBC's problem, not mine.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched every episode of "Dirty Sexy Money," sometimes liking it very much and sometimes gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've watched every episode of "Revenge," mostly gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've also watched every episode of "Scandal" and probably most of the other ABC shows that this is aping. There's no reason I probably won't stick with this for a bit. Yay?
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries
The season is here. "Argo" has sounded the starting gun in the mountains of Telluride while "The Master" has made a strong case on the Lido of Venice. Where will we go from here?
The upcoming Toronto Film Festival will bring a number of possibilities. The Weinstein Company has a few threads dangling, and in typical fashion, will see what sticks to the wall.
"The Sapphires" played well at Telluride after having already pleased crowds in Cannes, but it's likely to move to next year. "Silver Linings Playbook" will get its close-up next, with "Quartet" and "Song for Marion" as lingering possibilities besides. And before long, the moneymaker: "Django Unchained." But at the fest next week, we could see the beginning of an Oscar march for Robert De Niro and some serious consideration for Terrence Stamp, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, etc. We'll just have to see what sticks.
TELLURIDE - Things are pretty much wrapping up at the 39th annual. Monday is generally a great time for catch-up, as the schedule is filled in with repeat showings. Unfortunately, I tend to leave on Monday afternoon each year, so I don't get to use the day productively. But nine-and-a-half movies over the three-day spread is good enough for me. (I won't knock the movie I walked out of. I'll come back to it at some point, as it's generated interesting split reactions.)
The festival this year was more in line with its former identity. A few years of Oscar bait titles -- "127 Hours," "Up in the Air," "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" -- caused an influx of press recently, but things have been more refined this year and last. But in particular, the whole thing was quite subdued this time around. It's the first Telluride I've attended where I didn't even do any interviews, which is also kind of in keeping with its former self. They've never really wanted a strong press presence here. But who knows what might happen next year as the fest celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extra day of programming?