Saturday, October 04, 2003
Reversal of Fortune
I heard right but I got it wrong when I wrote a piece five weeks ago about the Coen Bros.'s INTOLERABLE CRUELTY (Universal, October 10). I saw it Thursday night (10.2) in Westwood, and can say without blinking or breaking wind it's the most beautifully written and uproarious dark comedy I've seen in ages, and the funniest, piss-in-your-pants Coen Brothers movie ever.
Yes, that means the yoks are richer, just as intelligent, and demonstrably more gut-splitting than those in THE BIG LEBOWSKI.
It's not too hip for the room, which I suggested might be the case after being told by a plugged-in guy about some research screening numbers. There was some "radical last-minute tinkering centering on the second act" going on last last summer (i.e., additional shooting) but whatever they did it sure as hell worked. The decision on Universal's part to take INTOLERABLE to the Venice Film Festival instead of Toronto did seem questionable given Venice's reputation as an easier critical lay than Toronto, but it didn't turn out to be all that significant.
This is a truly stellar acidic comedy about distrust and loathing between the sexes. It's not too arch in my book. It may have been a gig-for-hire for Joel and Ethan Coen, but they should think about making more mainstream laughers in this vein. They should also consider signing a ten-year indentured servant contract with producer Brian Grazer, because their creative combustion together is sublime.
CRUELTY delivers the single funniest visual gag I've experienced in I don't know many years. I couldn't stop laughing at it. I missed some dialogue in a scene that followed because I couldn't stop.
George Clooney delivers his best performance ever, comic or otherwise -- he's really hit the bullseye this time. Catherine Zeta Jones didn't piss me off like I thought she would and is actually subtle and on-target.
And the Universal spokesperson I quoted in my August article wasn't just "doing his job" -- he was completely on the money.
"INTOLERABLE plays flat-out great," he said. "The Coens maintain their idiosyncratic style but intentionally made a film with an accessible, mainstream appeal that's more associated with Brian Grazer, who produced it. It's a witty throwback to some of the Sturges, Cukor or Hawks romantic comedies that relied on sexual chemistry and verbal repartee, and George, Catherine, Billy Bob and the whole cast are more than up to stepping up to that. You're going to love it."
Clooney plays Miles, a slippery divorce attorney who crosses swords with Zeta Jones' Marylin over the course of three marriages and three torn-up prenup agreements.
As I recounted previously, CRUELTY started as a script by John Romano ("Monk," "Hill Street Blues"). His script was substantially re-written by Robert Ramsay and Matthew Stone (LIFE, BIG TROUBLE), but the verdict came down that their version was "funny but not good enough," according to a producer who was around at the time. This activity happened maybe six or seven years ago. Then Alphaville's Jim Jacks brought in Joel and Ethan Coen to rewrite CRUELTY "for money," the source says.
Then Grazer's Imagine Entertainment worked its way into things. Grazer declared at one stage in the game that Ron Howard would direct, but that never happened. In any event, once Imagine was in "they never left," says the producer. And then later "other directors and producers came and went" before the Coens were lured back to direct.
The rest of what I heard about the film lacking emotion or being overly arch was wrong or short-sighted or whatever. I apologize to everyone connected with this film for whatever negative impression my August piece may have left with anyone. I still maintain that Universal publicity has conveyed a vaguely standoffish attitude towards INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, as if deep down they don't believe in it 110%, but that's neither here nor there at this stage. This sucker works, and it wasn't just me who was laughing last night.
posted by Linus | 1:05 PM
posted by Linus | 12:32 PM
Horror foray. posted by Linus | 12:15 PM
Sellouts. posted by Linus | 12:12 PM
Friday, October 03, 2003
Last but not least is the highly-anticipated DVD debut of Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season, which is set to arrive on January 13th. This two-disc set includes 4:3 full screen transfers and Dolby 2.0 stereo tracks, plus audio commentary with the cast including Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and Bob Weide, an exclusive interview with Larry David conducted by Bob Costas on HBO's "On the Record," additional interviews and episodic previews. Retail is $39.95. - dvdfile.com posted by Linus | 7:18 AM
Sophia Copolla [sic] on The Treatment.
posted by Linus | 7:06 AM
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Nice Dance of Death review by Maiden fanatic Adrien Begrand (superb work, as "Saskadelphia", moderating "Maiden Week"). It's pretty much dead-on, although despite Bruce's impressive "air raid siren" vocals, "No More Lies" is undone by a very weak chorus. Begrand also laments the final trio of songs, and while "Face in the Sand" and "Journeyman" (though this acoustic track is an effective album closer) could have been excised, "Age of Innocence" is a keeper, a rousing piece of melodic, Maiden joycore. posted by Linus | 7:40 AM
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
The voices of politicians. posted by Linus | 7:53 AM
... and a stroke of G. posted by Linus | 7:26 AM
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
No more gardening for you! posted by Linus | 5:36 PM
A finicky spoiled Japanese midget. posted by Linus | 7:21 AM
[Breaking news edition]
I was wondering what Pete Jackson had been up to for the past year or so. New Line Cinema and the Jackson camp have been very hush-hush on his new film, but QV sources reveal that this sneaky New Zealander has finished another one of these LOTR films! The Return of the King, opening on December 17th, is a sequel to last year's smash hit The Two Towers. So now we've got a full-on Tolkien trilogy!
Here's a little sample of the new film.
[PJ UPDATE: Fun Movie News. #026: Naomi Watts for Ann Darrow.] posted by Linus | 7:04 AM
Monday, September 29, 2003
"Save the rocket sauce for when it counts." posted by Linus | 9:30 PM
The Movie Martyr reviews The Brown Bunny. posted by Linus | 9:14 PM
Sunday, September 28, 2003
posted by Linus | 10:06 AM