COLUMN: FILM CLIPS
A few thoughts compiled on a wet, blustery, but ultimately disappointing, Saturday afternoon. That was a storm? Noel, we hardly knew ye:
On sports radio the other day the question was being tossed around as to why Peyton Manning, and not Tom Brady, is the favored TV pitchman among pro football players. The consensus was that Manning has wider appeal among "regular" guys, while Brady - because of his looks and supermodel girlfriend - is deemed too "elite" to click with the masses. In cinema terms, Manning is a character actor to Brady's movie star.
While on the subject of athletes and movies, it's well known that the Farrelly brothers love to cast Boston jocks in their movies. Everyone from Cam Neely ("Dumb and Dumber") to Roger Clemens ("Kingpin") to Brady ("Stuck on You") have made appearances in their comedies, most often as goons and geeks. So looking at the Red Sox roster, and considering which player would be least inhibited in front of the camera, I'd say it's even money that Jonathan "Riverdance" Papelbon gets the call from the Farrelys.
The obnoxiously overwrought hype for "Bee Movie" - was there a media platform that Jerry Seinfeld didn't pitch the movie from? - was an example of diminishing returns, at least for me. Certainly, Seinfeld made a lot of money for NBC during his sitcom's heyday, and, yeah, a little back-scratching to push his film is to be expected. But the generous promotional deal he was handed by the network (all those ad spots on "The Office," the appearance on "30 Rock," etc.) could only have been achieved if Seinfeld were holding the bound and duct-taped family of NBC President Jeff Zucker hostage. By the time the movie opened last Friday, I hated the letter "B."
Add Emile Hirsch to the Hollywood Starvation Club. The "Into the Woods" star dropped more than 40 pounds to play Christopher McCandless, the idealistic wanderer who starves to death in the Alaskan wilderness. Hirsch shrinks before our very eyes as the fat and muscle disappears, leaving his body a skeletal facsimile of what it had been at the outset of the film.
As dangerous as it obviously is, dramatic weight loss by a normal-sized person to play a role has become a relatively common career move. Tom Hanks ("Cast Away"), Matt Damon ("Courage Under Fire") and Christian Bale ("The Machinist") all shed substantial weight for movies, though not always without consequences. Damon, who dropped 45 pounds from his 5-foot-11-inch frame to play a heroin-addicted soldier, was left battling a serious adrenal gland disorder.
Those of you who have seen "Dan in Real Life" may be wondering if the gorgeous rambling house Steve Carell and his extended family spend Thanksgiving week in is, in fact, a home on the Rhode Island shore - the movie's setting. As a Rhode Islander, I had my doubts. The estate looked suspiciously Long Island to me. (Beyond that, the notion of "beach house" to my family was a wood-shingled shack probably not much bigger than a poolside cabana. Beach houses were used for quick meals and sleeping; nobody actually lived in them.)
As he so often does, Roger Ebert points us to the truth. In his weekly Answer Man column, the critic reports that the house does exist in Jamestown, R.I., just across the bridge from Newport. The place even has a name: Riven Rock.
Talk about critic-proof. Of the 61 films listed in the Critics' Consensus ratings in the Sunday T&G, "Saw IV" was ranked lowest-rated movie, with a score of 2.4 out of 10, among the nation's critics. But this past weekend it scored highest on the only list that counts, earning the top spot at the box office with $31.8 million.
Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") could be Cate Blanchett's less glamorous older sister.
Attorney Arthur Edens' (Tom Wilkinson) monologues in "Michael Clayton," in which he damns his work as a corporate lawyer, made me think of TV anchor Howard Beales' (Peter Finch) rants about the sad state of television in "Network." Both characters, suffering from mental illness, take bold, shocking action to bring attention to the worst abuses in their professions.
Time magazine's Richard Corliss made an interesting, though understandable, inclusion to his Top 25 Horror Movies when he cited "Bambi." When you think about it, "Bambi's" inclusion makes perfect sense. Was there ever a more shocking moment for generations of young moviegoers than the killing of the doe's mother? Were "Bambi" made today rather than in 1942, the Disney company would have been court-ordered to funnel some of its theme park profits into a therapy fund for all those traumatized kids who refuse to let their mothers out of their sight.
With "The Heartbreak Kid" behind him, couldn't Ben Stiller have gone on hiatus for a while? Just to recharge. He's a funny guy, but sometimes watching him frantically act out his characters' neuroses onscreen, again and again, feels like being trapped in a bad marriage. According to IMDB, Stiller is already on the hook for three pictures in 2008, and two in 2009. Happy new year(s).
CUTLINE: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has been making the rounds to promote his new film, "Bee Movie."
PHOTOG: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS