Friday, October 26, 2007

Now Playing: Before the Devil Knows You're Dan in Real Life

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead -Director Sidney Lumet (Network) is gunning for a sixth Oscar nomination for directing. Remarkably he's never won. His not so secret weapon this time? Returning to the heist gone wrong crime subgenre which served him so well in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). The new film stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as desperate brothers robbing a jewelry store (a word on them) and Marisa Tomei the wife and sister-in-law (more on her). The poster, pictured left, is cute but entirely misleading. This is no comedy but a rapid descent into multiple personal hells.
Bella A romantic drama that won the People's Choice @ the Toronto International Film Festival last year (just now making it to US screens. Strike while the iron is...cold. I know it's probably not the film's fault but I am sick to death about the general media perception that festival success doesn't translate to real success. How can we know? Maybe it would if films came out when they were being talked about rather than 6 to 18 months later)
Lynch A documentary on Lynch's creative process on INLAND EMPIRE.
Music Within Ron Livingston stars as hearing impaired Vietnam vet Richard Pimentel, who finds new purpose in fighting for Americans with disabilities.
Rails & Ties Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden star in this drama
Slipstream Anthony Hopkins wrote and starred in his own directorial debut

Dan in Real Life An advice columnist (Steve Carrel) falls for a woman (Juliette Binoche) who is dating his brother (Dane Cook) --oops. I love Steve Carrel but I love pancakes more so the poster image (right) always makes me crazy. Don't waste the pancakes Steve!
Saw IV I've never seen one of these movies and I'm quite pleased to have gone without.

Two precious films get the biggest expansions: Ryan Gosling's sex doll loving in Lars and the Real Girl adds a number of screens and Wes Anderson's passage to India The Darjeeling Limited is now in wide release. The Expansion of Jesse James By The Unsupportive Warner Bros seems to have ended though ---argh. Why aren't they pushing this harder? How do you spend the money on Brad Pitt (!) and not take the film wide?


Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Should I see "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" or not?

Is "Lars" different from "Love Object," which I loved.

The Brad Pitt film is completely tanking so why flush money down the toilet taking it "wide" when it's not even doing anything "narrow"?


i don't even know LOVE OBJECT ?

it's tough to say on before the devil... a lot of people will love it so I hesitate to say skip it. but i didn't love it... but that said it's very intense and if you like dynamic crime films with rather large acting (it's PSH and he likes to go big) than yes, go see it.

in regards to the Pitt thing: i understand that argument except for that I think hiding films from view (which is what this sort of release ends up looking like) only sends the message that the film isn't good. And it is. and if they can open BUG wide... shouldn't they be opening everything wide ;)

Paul C. said...

Part of the problem is that about 10 prestige-type movies have opened wide in the past three weeks. Maybe something like Assassination of Jesse James might have stood a chance had it not been competing for the audience with Michael Clayton, We Own the Night, The Darjeeling Limited, Lust, Caution, Gone Baby Gone, Rendition, Things We Lost in the Fire, Lars and the Real Girl, and Dan in Real Life. You might be able to get away with that with movies geared towards teenagers, but the studios have forgotten that adults- the primary audience for most if not all of the aforementioned titles- don't necessarily see two movies per week in the theatre. You've got to give them room to breathe, and to build word of mouth.

The strange thing is that several of the titles I've listed didn't even appear at the major festivals this fall. Something like Dan in Real Life or even Gone Baby Gone might have been better off released in July or August. Sure, it would have faced off against the blockbusters, but seeing as how a lot of people were still seeing Once and Waitress around that time, there was obviously demand for something besides big-budget bloat.

Also, Bella isn't the first Toronto Audience Award winner to have its distributor sit on it for months and months. Zatoichi won the award in 2003, but the Weinsteins released it so stealthily late the next summer that you'd think they were trying to keep the movie a secret.


paul --i agree that that's part of the problem. But Hollywood has trained people NOT to go to the movies until their "season" rolls around. Smart adults who like movies rather than loooooove movies probably don't think much about the movies until the fall because for years now that's the only time Hollywood will release anything they want to see.

people like myself and presumably many of you go year round but we aren't the norm.

Hollywood has constructed huge neighborhood ghettos of seasons...

EARLY FALL: serious films that might not take off in the early fall.
LATE FALL: serious films that might be breakout hits in the late fall early winter.
WINTER: whatever gets nominated for oscars (widen it) + bad movies you can sell to the less finicky crowds or stuff you have to contractually release but don't care about. the january dump
SPRING: movies that might be hits but probably won't in the summer where it's more competitive.
LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER: likely blockbusters
LATE SUMMER: same as spring.

by now it's a chicken and egg thing. If you buck the trend you might fail but isn't that partly because everyone knows when all types of movies come out?

now i'm just blabbering. i'll shut up. I just hate the way they release thing. Variety all year round please

Anonymous said...

Annette hammy Bening is always big and you love her. PSH is a much better actor and you're always so so on him... Don't understand you.

(Anyway, his big performances are never too big they don't need to be big. And he's capable of beatiful and touching little turns, like his angel in Magnolia. Bening is always bigger than her parts. That's why we love Meryl Streep and her understatement class in Prada).

This is not Hopkins' debut, by the way. Remember August.

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

"Before the devil..." is an amazing and surprising effort for a 83 years old realizer. It seems a lock for an original screenplay nod and I sincerely hope consideration for Lumet and Finney at director and supporting actor races. B+.

P.S.: Nathan, have you already seen Juliette Binoche's cover for French Playboy? I think it deserves a full post.


for the record PSH's work in MAGNOLIA is my second favorite of his performances. I thought he was very good in CAPOTE too. But the Magnolia turn is literally the only one I've seen where I felt like he was holding back. He starts off strong and subtle in Before the Devil... but again it gets way too big for me... even once you take into account how big it needs to go.

Annette Bening is big too, sure. But the difference is that she's generally playing theatrical characters... I'm not sure where you're getting that she's "bigger" than the parts. They're usually divas. PSH is often not playing BIG characters and he's still playing them big.

Bottom line: I don't think he's a terrific actor. I think he's a talented actor but one who doesn't reign himself in and who doesn't interact enough with the other performers (i always feel like he's showing off rather than in the scene) Worst thing about Talented Mr Ripley. Worst thing (well second worst) about Cold Mountain. The reason I didn't like State and Main. And unwatchable in Flawless.

But take heart: in this argument you are unarguably in the majority. 98% of people who watch movies agree with you. or thereabouts ;)

Keith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

She is kind of stupid. Streep showed us again - you don't have to scream and be hysterical to play a diva. That's an old lesson (like Davis in Dark Victory, for example), but Bening always plays the same notes. But I give you Open Range, Bening has a beautful turn there.

On PSH, what can I do if I love his "hate-me" part in Ripley and think he is the best thing about Cold Mountain? I wouldn't like to finish this talk with "you're in the majority" because I really think he's great. But you're too biased against him, or I'm too pro-him.

I just can't convince myself he's not great.

That means I am anticipating this movie, not only because of him, but also for Sidney Lumet. Love Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, but what was his last great movie? Running on Empty?

-cal roth


I'm not saying that PSH is bad in this film or that he's a bad actor. Merely that I think he overdoes it often and that he's overpraised whether he's very good (see Capote) or downright terrible (Flawless)

People think I'm biased against him but the fervor for each and every performance he gives, regardless of fluctuating merit, has convinced me that the if I am heavily biased with him so is everyone else (just in the opposite direction)

I'm not asking you to doubt his greatness. if you enjoy his work that's great. that's one of the many reasons we go to the movies for performers we love.

I think everyone has actors that they naturally respond to more or less than others. if that's bias than it's bias...

I run into this same problem all the time with Kirsten Dunst. It baffles me that so many people hate her when she's proven so many times that she has great range in style and sensitivity to the characters she plays but people seem to just hate her regardless. I can't figure why. So yes I can imagine that my PSH thing comes across that way to the true believers.

but I'm not without hope in these things ;) Like I said. I agree that he's wonderful in Magnolia and Capote.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on Dunst, but I think she needs a little stage work. I'td help her to grab roles that are not so ... imagetic? She, like Johansson, depends on how the directors films her.

You could say that about all actors, but you still could see Julianne Moore delivering great acting no matter how stupid the director is.

Dunst depends on camera - like that nouvelle vague performers, her acting is just be open to director to use her and show some humanity.

Moore can do this, too (she can do everything), but if she needs, she can act by herself. Jodie Foster also has this skill. (Bening, by the way, always acts by herself).

Theater would give Dunst confidence to act with some independence, just in case she has to carrie a movie, or even act without an endearing camera work.

Look at Johansson. When a director doesn't care too much about her, she can't act! Dunst's case is not that bad, but I can see her great sensitivity being lost because a director can't see it to capture it. Stage would teach her to better project her emotions.

Anyway, she has been lucky enough to work with directors that really want to show her at her best. That's why her career is so good.

(This is a little bit confusing?)

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

dunst's problem is not her acting pre se it's her smugness in thinking she is this julia roberts style star that a films success depends on her like spiderman 3 when in fact she has never ever been a box office star but somehow she thinks she is & global star yet no one hear in the uk knows her name half the time,i did a survey of 500 people and gave them 1000 female stars to name and dunst names was one over 3 quaters did not know,it's her air of superficiality.

Anonymous said...

oh and surprisingly sandra bullock,sharon stone & michell pfeiffer were on top. was top.

Glenn Dunks said...

I don't really understand what anonymous wrote - did you ask 500 people to name 1000 actress or gave 500 people a list of 1000 actresses and asked them who they knew or asked 1000 people for 500 actresses or... and if so people don't even know here then how do you know it's this apparent air of superiority (or whatever) that makes it so.

Besides, if you said "She was in Spiderman and Bring It On" I'm sure plenty of people would recognise her then.

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance for a nomination for Juliette Binoche in "Dan in Real Life"? Is there any chance for a supporting nominee? The academy LOVES her too much. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

The reason for this fall season glut is that too many films are opening wide and not enough films are being given a platform release. We complain that films aren't spread out year-round, but we are a fickle, niche audience that have always wanted these films to come out year-round. We'd go see "Lars and the Real Girl" if it came out the last week of December or in July if we had the opportunity. But most people aren't interested in what film buffs or Oscar nuts want to see, and that's why they're biting the big one at the box office right now. These films have to build an audience -- it's just the reality of the marketplace. It's scary, b/c there's going to come a point soon where the only kinds of films that open wide are either "Transformers" or "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" kind of crap, b/c people aren't bothering to see "Jesse James" or "Into the Wild" or "Gone Baby Gone". It's not about the quality of the films, but about the moviegoers' lack of discernment in the kinds of films that they're willing to shell out their bucks for. But we're the ones that suffer in the end.

Anonymous said...

i gave them 500 pics and asked them to name a if they recognised them and then if they could name them yes thy recognised but could not name where everyone could reclognise sandra b,sharon s,meryl s,demi m,julia r,judi d,halle b,helen m,c zeta j,renee was more known as bridget jones even glenn close,reese witherspoon & charlize theron were more name known.