Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench in Notes on a ScandalEvery time I see a character brought to life by Cate Blanchett I come away feeling slightly changed, a bit smarter, as if I've been propelled forward just a tad. By turns endearing and naive, then thrilling or even frightening, Blanchett is always fun to watch and has the chops to carry any scene.

Even when she plays a distasteful character -- as she did in "The Shipping News" as Petal, the elegantly trashy skate who strings along a feeble and needy putz (Quoyle, played by Kevin Spacey) just for sport -- she still engenders empathy, often to the point of seeming to be exactly the kind of person you wish you knew in real life. The more risky the role the more she rises to the challenge, as in "Bandits" (who else could have pulled that off?). Sometimes, she is the very best thing about a given movie, as she was in "The Gift". Other times she is flat-out and conventionally just plain good, as she was in "Elizabeth". She is also one of the few actors whose mere presence in a movie is enough to make me want to see it.

She is seen next portraying two complex characters (it's almost redundant to say this about the roles she takes); one is a prostitute in "The Good German", the other a teacher who has an affair with a sixteen year old student in "Notes on a Scandal" (pictured with Judi Dench). NPR's Melissa Block talks with Blanchett.

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Al Gore on Saturday Night Live's Weekend UpdateNPR has a couple other good stories from the past few days: A talk with Tina Fey, the first female head-writer at Saturday Night Live (as well as writer of "Mean Girls").

Kim Masters on the obstacles black actors face in Hollywood and why Will Smith is the biggest movie star in the world.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can DVD cover

DVD review by Alan Green
December 26, 2006

Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Frank Abagnale Jr., who is known as one of the best con men in history. He is pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). While Hanratty is fictional, Abagnale is not, and some background may help. This is from Frank Abagnale's website:

His rare blend of knowledge and expertise began as a teenager. More than forty years ago he was known as one of the world's most famous confidence men as depicted in his best-selling book, "Catch Me If You Can." He cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries over a five-year period. Between the ages of 16 and 21, he successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, a college professor and a pediatrician. Apprehended by the French police when he was 21 years old, he served time in the French, Swedish and U. S. prison systems. After five years he was released on the condition that he would help the federal government, without remuneration, by teaching and assisting federal law enforcement agencies.

What teenager has the talent to do this? And, if he has the talent to accomplish this, why does he? While “Catch Me If You Can” is breezy entertainment, it's also a subtle exploration of the need for meaningful relationships and the lengths to which people will go to fulfill this need. Even the title, “Catch Me If You Can” -- suggesting the tease of someone who wishes to be pursued -- hints at this.

So, why did Abagnale embark on this life of crime? As good stories always do, this one leaves plenty of room for interpretation. During the court proceeding of his parents' divorce, the judge asks Abagnale to choose who will live with, his mother or his father. Faced with a decision he could not make, Abagnale runs away. He pays his way by writing checks -- even after the account runs dry.

This is the point at which the average teenager would have gone home. But, Abagnale is far from average. He keeps going, becoming better and better until he elevates the simple act of writing bad checks to a self-taught, finely-honed craft. He did this, I believe, so that someone would chase him. That's quite a leap, I know, but the mechanics of this psychology make a lot of sense. Having been unable to choose which parent to live with Abagnale runs away for the same reason most kids do -- to have the parents pursue them, for attention, to incite concern, or to rekindle love if it is threatened. Once he decided he wasn't going home writing worthless checks would have been a practical solution for two problems: it was a way to get money to survive, and a way to have someone continue to pursue him -- even if that someone was the FBI.

Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can. Directed by Steven Spielberg

Ridiculous? Could be. But, if anyone could have done such a thing for such a motive it would have been Abagnale. This is a guy who, as a teenager, pretended to be a Secret Service agent so convincingly he fooled FBI agents. Abagnale had just been caught by the FBI in a motel room full of fake checks and the equipment to produce them. He (Abagnale) convinced the FBI agents that he was part of a Secret Service team that had just arrested Abagnale and had taken him away. (This really happened). After consoling the FBI for their missed arrest, Abagnale left, taking check-printing equipment with him as evidence, and got away. That's gamesmanship, and Abagnale was just the kind of brilliant emotionally injured kid who could have written bad checks, and pretended to be an airline pilot, a doctor, and a college professor, just for sport, just to be pursued by Federal agents.

Did Frank want to be caught? Did the FBI become his surrogate family, replacing the one which had disintegrated? Why not? This is the kind of story you can't make up. Any screenwriter who did would be thrown out the office. This kind of thing only happens in real life, not in fiction. It's the kind of thing you can't believe unless it's true.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can

”Catch Me If You Can” is directed by Steven Spielberg and is probably his best movie. It doesn't have the flash of a marauding shark or digital dinosaurs, but has a more heartfelt exploration of the human condition. This is one of those rare DVDs that I watched in one sitting.

Spielberg's camera is, as usual, flawless. John Williams' bad-boy progressive improvisational 50s jazz score is pretty toe-tapping and sneaky, and makes a fine accompaniment for the material. The set design is a wonder, recreating the 50s and 60s so organically it doesn't feel like a put-on. This is a two-disc set, and the extras are worth a look.

Frank Abagnale's story makes a good case study. Was he successful because of talent? Or, was it naivety? Or, was it a disregard for the risk? It's open to interpretation. “Catch Me If You Can” is a lot of fun to watch, and Abagnale's story is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

This is also an inspirational story of turning bad experiences into good things. Today Frank Abagnale Jr. is a security consultant who makes a fine living advising banks and agencies about how to prevent fraud. In one of the DVD featurettes he says, “I've developed technology today that's found on just about every driver's license, card title, birth certificate, passport,currency, around the world.”

Not bad for a runaway teenager.

Directed by Steven Spielberg; written by Jeff Nathanson, based on the book by Frank W. Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding; director of photography, Janusz Kaminski; edited by Michael Kahn; music by John Williams; production designer, Jeannine Oppewall; produced by Mr. Spielberg and Walter F. Parkes; released by DreamWorks Pictures. Running time: 140 minutes. This film is rated PG-13.

WITH: Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Abagnale Jr.), Tom Hanks (Carl Hanratty), Christopher Walken (Frank Abagnale Sr.), Martin Sheen (Roger Strong), Nathalie Baye (Paula Abagnale), Amy Adams (Brenda Strong) and James Brolin (Jack Barnes).

Friday, December 22, 2006

DVDs To Get

Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, DVD
Judd Apatow, writer and director of "The 40 Year Old Virgin", offers his DVD picks, including Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season 1975-76 (nice choice), and the new edition of "Terms of Endearment" with James (don't forget the L) Brooks' (film-school substitute) commentary.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bring Me A One-Legged Woman, A Lumberjack, And A Monkey By 3:15

Inland Empire, Laura Dern, David LynchOkay, now that you're in the mood for something weird, let's talk about David Lynch's new movie "Inland Empire".

NPR has a piece on the upcoming digital experimental movie by the Auteur of Weirdness. If you think "Blue Velvet" was a bit out there, by all accounts "Inland Empire" is dreamscape by comparison.

Even by itself the still of Laura Dern is pretty dang creepy. Lynch fan Matt Forsyth says of the new movie, " far as, like, what actually happened in it I...I really don't know. You know?" Something tells me he speaks for everyone who will see this movie.

Coming in at 3 hours this picture promises to be a challenge both for comprehension and endurance. To see what 'A one-legged woman, a lumberjack, and a monkey by 3:15' means, listen to the NPR story (7 min.) at Weekend Edition Sunday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What Part Of 'Sudden Death' Didn't You Understand?

Christopher Walken in Balls of FuryFormer ping pong champion works undercover with the FBI to expose a tournament in which the winner lives and the losers die.

The competition is hosted by the evil-guy Fang (played deliciously by Christopher Walken), who, when one of the players is executed after losing a match, says, "What part of 'sudden death' didn't you understand?"

Some well-done CGI makes everyone a table tennis pro capable of making impossible shots without trying. Tight writing and lots of references to Kung-Fu/action pics make BOF a lot of fun. This one will put butts in seats. Mongo funny trailer (not so funny trailer also available)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

So...Do You Have Any Experience?

This is one of the most humble IMDB profiles I've ever seen:
IMBD profile Anne Sellors

Via Risky Biz Blog

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Eastwood At 76

Clint Eastwood directing Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo JimaI wonder what I'll be doing when I'm 76 years old. Simultaneously directing two war movies? Possibly not.

That is, however, exactly what Clint Eastwood has done with "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima". Other directors have produced fine work at an advanced age. Certainly, Robert Altman was sharp even through the production of "A Prairie Home Companion", and he was at the top of his form when he made "The Player" and "Short Cuts" at an age when most people have long since retired. Hitchcock was 73 when he made what is my favorite of his films, "Frenzy".

I can't help but admire these guys and hope I'm lucky enough to be productive that late in life. David Thomson takes a look the movies made by directors after age 70, including Renoir, Zinnemann, Kurosawa, and Bresson.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rocky In For One More Round

Rocky Balboa, Sylvester StalloneSylvester Stallone returns as Rocky Balboa in the sequel of the same name. When I first heard of this project I (like many others) thought it was a silly idea. I just couldn't see how it could work -- I was a bit embarrassed. However, a funny thing has happened. RB is gaining some steam. Most bloggers like the trailers and the mainstream press is starting to get behind this picture as well.

Balboa is an aging fighter who feels in his heart that he still has some fight left and, more importantly, owes it to himself to get back in the ring to regain the sense of identity he once had as a champion. Stallone is, well, the same guy. As a movie star, his career has been on the mat for some years now but, it would seem, is not quite down for the count. In fact, from the look of things, Stallone stands a very fair chance of reestablishing himself as a Hollywood player.

But, really, is that what he wants? From the tone of the picture, which is written by Stallone (who also wrote the Oscar-winning "Rocky"), this story is about making a comeback not for personal gain but for personal fulfillment. The same tone can be found in Mr. Stallone's recent comments. In his interview with Sean Smith at Newsweek Stallone says:

"It nags me that I took the easy way instead of the high road. But everyone makes mistakes. I look around at people my age, and I can see it in their eyes--a kind of bittersweet reflection: 'I didn't live the life that I wanted, and now I've got all this stuff I want to say, but nobody wants to hear it.' I was feeling that, and if you don't get it out, it can become a beast that tears you apart."

You hear that and you think 'Well, talk is cheap...' But, Stallone isn't just talking, is he? At age 60 he's got a picture due for Christmas release -- a sequel coming 30 years after the original. Just look at the above still. Come on, who looks that good at that age? How many sixty-year-olds can throw a punch? How many actors can carry a movie at Stallone's age?

Watch the trailers and tell me they don't look good. That cool 'go get 'em' trumpet intro, that cool 'go get 'em' dialogue, and some very nice looking fight sequences. You gotta like it.

Out of curiosity I listened to the NPR interview with Stallone and was surprised by how smooth and articulate he is. I'll admit that's not what I was expecting. This guy has it together and you can't help but want to see the movie after hearing him talk about it. Not only that, but there's something in his voice that says he knows he has a winner -- like a guy who has a lot of money down on a sure thing.

I'm thinking "Rocky Balboa" will do very nice business. A lot of bloggers are issuing a lot of rude (and poorly written) comments about Mr. Stallone and his implausible sequel, but as Sly says, 'It ain't over till it's over'. A little cheesy perhaps, but I can't agree more. It's easy to take shots but talk is, after all, so very cheap. Frankly, I hope the naysaying pretty-boys of the blogosphere get the shit kicked out of them. They certainly deserve it.

When released December 20, "Rocky Balboa" is in contention with a couple heavy-weights -- "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Eragon" -- as well as some artsy offerings, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this upstart sequel come out on top. Nonetheless, no matter how Mr. Stallone's new movie does at the box office, he has accomplished what few actors his age would dare to attempt and, as a result, he has already made an admirable showing. Cynicism is more than convenient and resting on one's laurels is par for the course, but taking your best shot against the odds calls for a real champion. CUE TRUMPET INTRO. Hats off, Sly. Go get 'em Rocky.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

If It Flies, Fine...

Morgan Freeman, Paz Vaga, 10 Items or Less
Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega in "10 Items or Less". Freeman is an actor trying to keep his career afloat by doing a small film set in a market. Vaga is a cashier who befriends him. This looks like one of those charming pictures that will appeal to cinefiles and a small percentage of the general public. WP has an interview with Freeman:

Toward the beginning of the movie, Freeman's character (who remains nameless throughout) tells the man who's driving him to the store why he's considering the movie: "If it flies, fine, and if it doesn't, it won't even count." But the audience soon realizes that although Freeman's character wants to believe that line, it's more like a mantra, and the happy-go-lucky enthusiasm masks a deep fear of failure. For him, clearly, everything counts.

...Freeman says the role, quite frankly, was a relief: "I don't know if you know that I complain so much about all the gravitas that comes my way. I was looking for something light, comical, and this was just like heaven sent," he says, that familiar voice rising with joy. "Everybody who was on the movie was on it for the same purpose. It wasn't just a job, it was an undertaking-- without the gravitas."

Just what you would expect from such an easy-going pro like Freeman. Looking forward to watching this disc.

Complete interview

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Filmspotting #139

Adam Kempenaar and Sam Van Hallgren review "The Nativity Story", "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", and rundown their "Top 5 Good Films From Bad Directors".

The boys perhaps overthink their reviews, but their lists are entertaining and reflect a depth of knowledge. The Top 5 starts at the 53 minute mark.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

News You Can Use

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, dress auctionGuardian reports the dress Audrey Hepburn wore in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" sold at auction for $800,000 at Christie's:

The sleeveless dress, with a tiny 24-inch waist, slit to the thigh and slightly gathered at the waist, is now thought to be the world's most expensive dress made for a film.

Designed by Hubert de Givenchy, the black Italian satin column-like gown was designed for the 1961 film, in which Hepburn as Holly Golightly is seen emerging from a taxi on to a deserted early-morning Fifth Avenue in New York, eating a croissant and looking into the window of Tiffany's.

Such was the success of the adaptation of Truman Capote's novella that Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar.

Scorching. I would have gotten the item but my bid of $790,000 turned out to be laughable. Ouch. How can I go on?

Monday, December 04, 2006

So Lucky To Of [sic] Read This

Lindsay Lohan in A Prairie Home Companion directed by Robert Altman
It's only four paragraphs but my my how sharp the British can be -- especially when a target presents itself. The Guardian reports Lindsay Lohan may portray Caitlin Thomas, widow of the poet Dylan Thomas, in an upcoming biopic. So what? These rumors fly around all day. However, in this case Lindsay is at a disadvantage. Seems she recently said the following of Robert Altman (with whom she worked on "A Prairie Home Companion"), "I am lucky enough to of [sic] been able to work with Robert Altman...He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do...Be adequite."

Well... (Let me catch my breath). Suffice it to say the Guardian doesn't cut Lindsay any slack. They continue by pointing out that, while few actors possess Lohan's 'anti-qualifications' for playing literary figures, many American movie stars leap at the chance to show off their 'slo-o-ower echt Englishspeak' in classy movies about British people who write, read, or just carry a lot of books around.

Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The HoursAnne Hathaway will be Jane Austen in the regrettably and anti-literarily [sic] entitled "Becoming Jane", Johnny Depp as JM Barrie, Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, and Nicole Kidman (although she is Australian, for our purposes she will be considered Americanized by association with Hollywood), who portrayed Virginia Woolf (and her nose) in "The Hours". I mean, look at her -- that piercing gaze, the way she holds the cigarette -- all so clever. You just know this person could tell you how the Electoral College works, or what the longest river in the world is.

Let's face it -- the British sound smarter than us. Once I knew a conductor who spoke with a wisp of a British accent even though he grew up in the Midwest United States. Who can blame him? He wanted to sound better than the average schmo conductor from Winston-Salem or some town in Idaho. From now on I'm talking with an accent and I'm never going anywhere without a book (hardcover, thank you very much). If necessary I'll wear a fake nose and smoke in order to appear more...uh...what's the word? Smart. That's it. I want to look and sound...oh, uh, what was that word again? Oh, yeah -- smart.

Complete Guardian story

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Anatomy Of An Adaptation

Perfume: Story of a Murderer, Karoline Herfurth, Ben Wishaw, Patrick SuskindOkay, it's not so much an 'anatomy' but NYT does have rundown of the adaptation of "Perfume: Story of a Murderer", the upcoming movie based on the novel by Patrick Suskind. Story is about a man who has an extraordinary sense of smell who seeks recognition by creating a perfume -- problem is he wants to make this perfume from a person -- literally. He plans on rendering the body of a virgin in order to make a perfume from her. NYT reports:

The book tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a young 18th-century Parisian born to lowly means but blessed with a preternatural sense of smell. He emits no body odor, a condition that he believes has made others ignore or dismiss him. Seeking to create a scent that will compel the world to esteem him, Grenouille, by then a journeyman perfumer, decides to kill virgins to obtain its components.

Oh, come on. That's a great premise for movie. The novel, first published in 1985 will be re-released this Tuesday. There is an excellent hi-def clip. I may actually go to the theater to see this one.

Complete NYT story

Friday, November 24, 2006

Letters From Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood directing Ken Watanabe in Letters From Iwo Jima
LAT covers "Letters From Iwo Jima" the companion to "Flags of Our Fathers" which tells the story of the Japanese defense of Iwo Jima during the U.S. invasion of that island.

Directed by a 76 year old Clint Eastwood, the pair of films are unique in that they compete against each other for an Oscar, and are distributed by different studios -- and are in two different languages. "I'm now a Japanese director who does not speak Japanese," Mr. Eastwood says.

This picture recreates the conditions the Japanese fought under -- living and dying in underground tunnels -- and the heroic effort of Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi to hold the island against an overwhelming invasion. Eastwood says, "The great futility of war is explored in this picture." And, he goes on to say, "I just think you can say to a younger generation, here or anywhere, that there must be a better way to live than to send 18-year-olds to go die somewhere."

Eastwood doesn't hide his anger about war, calling the Bush administration 'naive' for 'traipsing' into Iraq thinking they could hand-deliver democracy to a country that may not have been ready to live with that system of government. He doesn't stop there; In regard to how the audience will react to 'Letters' he says, "And if they don't like it, what can they do to me? Call me an idiot? I just made it the way I thought. All I can do is put it on the screen. And if they don't like it, they can walk out and go across the hall to see 'Borat 2' or whatever."

"Flags of Our Fathers" won critical praise but did not do well at the box office. I believe this is because it was perceived as a 40s- or 50s-style Hollywood cheerleading exercise -- and some critics felt it was a bit melodramatic. "Letters From Iwo Jima" will probably not have that misinterpretation to deal with and should do better business. No matter what though, the importance of these films can't be denied. Eastwood's objectivity, especially coming so late in his career and considering his feelings about war in general, should make these two movies, taken together, one of best examinations of combat produced by Hollywood. Eastwood is just not the kind of director that utilizes cutesy dialogue or sanitized character arcs like those found in most movies, especially war movies from decades past.

When seeking permission to film on Iwo Jima, now a closed military base, Eastwood told Japanese officials and veterans what kind of movie he wanted to make. LAT reports:

"He told us he would not make a simple war movie," says Yoshitaka Shindo, Kuribayashi's grandson, who met with Eastwood to hear what Hollywood had in mind. "He said he would make a human drama about those who fought to protect their loved ones."

These two movies may be overdue. After the war the Japanese did not linger on their defeat, or review it for their children in school. The result is a blind spot in their history and a generation of Japanese who know little of their country's experience at Iwo Jima. According to LAT there has never been a Japanese movie about this battle. Of this Eastwood says, "None of my Japanese actors knew anything about Iwo Jima. You lose 21,000 people! To just ignore them. What would happen if we did that?"

"Letters From Iwo Jima" is doing great business in Japan in limited release and critics are praising this companion to "Flags of Our Fathers".

"I felt I had met my grandfather for the first time," Shindo said after watching the movie.

Complete story at LAT

Easy Listening

Will Smith in The Pursuit of HappynessHere is some easy listening for Turkey Day.
Bob Mondello runs down the yearend high-profile movies including "The Painted Veil", "The Good German", "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", "Children of Men", Clint Eastwood's war duo "Flags or Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima", "Dreamgirls", "Apocalypto", "The Pursuit of Happyness", and gobs more.

Bee Movie

Bee Movie, Jerry Seinfeld
Here's a chance to see what Jerry Seinfeld has been up to.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Children Of Men

Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron, Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael CaineAnne Thompson feels that Universal execs have 'already written off' "Children of Men", directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine.

Thompson gives us the scoop from the premiere after-party, saying the movie "is a brilliant exercise in style, but it's another grim dystopian look at our future", and industry types in attendance were hinting that the movie is "a downer film that was going to lose money".

Hard to argue. The clips I've seen promise an intellectually engaging story, but one that's way out of place as a Christmas release, and way too expensive at a reported $70-90 million. Remember Spielberg's "Munich" from last year? It was a very heavy story, opened at X-mas and totally tanked at the box office -- and Cuaron and "Children of Men" are certainly lower profile than Spielberg and "Munich".

I don't know where all that money went (it's not apparent how they could have spent that much), and think the release date needs to be bumped -- but will buy this one on disc ASAP. The P.D. James book goes on my list, too (something tells me this story is better read than watched, anyway).

Here is an excerpt of Anne's rundown:

But what made the movie so frigging expensive? Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine don't cost so much. It's shot with amazing hand-held cameras and boasts some astonishing long action takes that took days to set up. The filmmakers shut down sections of London to shoot some of the street scenes. There are extras and tanks and pyrotechnics and enormous sets. It's still hard to imagine how the studio could justify spending so much on this movie. But in the long run, they could eke out some coin if this movie lasts in the culture the way Blade Runner or The Road Warrior did.

Well, if she says 'frigging', you know she's upset. I don't blame her. This movie could have been made for, say, 25% of the money they spent. Adjust the budget, release in February, and you might have a successful outing. If "Children of Men" gets the shit kicked out of it at the box office it certainly won't do smart/risky films any good. Now, I'm cussing... Oh, well. At least it'll be a fun disc to watch. Did I say fun? I meant...intellectually engaging.

Anne Thompson's complete rundown

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Capturing Time On Film

Jude Law and Nora Jones in Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry NightsWong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love) is well-known for his propensity for making movies about The Moment. NYT covers the making of Kar-wai's new film "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law, Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, and David Strathairn.

Of the scene that has become known as 'The Kiss', NYT reports:

On a SoHo film set last August, Jude Law and Norah Jones were getting intimate. Repeatedly intimate. To be precise, they had kissed upwards of 150 times in the past three days.

The occasion for this outbreak of passion was "My Blueberry Nights," the first English-language film by Wong Kar-wai, the maverick Hong Kong director turned avatar of cosmopolitan cool. This particular night was stifling as the crew spilled out of Palacinka, a small cafe on Grand Street that was the principal New York location, preparing for yet another take of the scene known as "the Kiss."

It's closing time, and Ms. Jones, the only remaining customer, is slumped on the counter, her eyes shut. A smudge of cream rests on her upper lip, the telltale sign of a dessert binge. Mr. Law, cleaning up behind the bar, gazes at her, slowly leans in and steals a lingering kiss. When he surfaces, the cream on her lip is gone.

On working with a director so obsessed with a single scene.

"I've never worked with someone who's put so much emphasis on a single moment," Mr. Law said between takes one night. "It's extraordinary how he'll take a moment and replay it and slice it up."

Kar-wai works in an improvisational way -- often starting production without a completed script. Of working in this manner Law says:

"I wish we had endless time and endless money," Mr. Law said. "It's not often you get to be part of something like this -- a living story that's still being decided."

On completing "My Blueberry Nights" Kar-wai says:

Over tea shortly before he left New York, Mr. Wong said he was exhausted from the grueling shoot. But far from being fazed by the sense of incompletion, he seemed invigorated: the door remained open, no alternatives had been lost, the story was still alive.

And how might "My Blueberry Nights" end? "I think there will be a second kiss," he said. "But I don't know where."

Complete story at NYT

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Clips From The Host

The Host, Korean horror movie, Bong Joon-hoBloody-Disgusting has 5 clips from "The Host", the Korean horror flick that's breaking box office records, and will be seen in this country soon.

Plans for a Hollywood remake are in the works -- although, I can't imagine Hollywood can match the quality of this film.

Director Bong Joon-ho crafts sequences that remind me of a young Spielberg -- except with more confidence and subtlety. These clips are some of the best I've seen.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fred Claus Is Coming To Town

Fred Claus with Vince Vaughn Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Ludacris, Kathy Bates, and Rachel Weisz
/film has a teaser for "Fred Claus"
. Vince Vaughn is Santa Claus' black sheep brother. Santa is played by Paul Giamatti. Also stars Kevin Spacey, Ludacris, Kathy Bates, and Rachel Weisz. Scheduled for release November 2007 (dang, a whole year). Clip is a hoot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Estevez On Writing "Bobby"

Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater, Heather Graham, BobbyTalk of the Nation has a compelling interview with Emilio Estevez, writer and director of "Bobby":

Emilio Estevez was 6 years old when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, just old enough for the shattering tragedy to leave a lastingimpression.

His father, the actor Martin Sheen was a Kennedy supporter.He brought his young son to the Ambassador Hotel, where Kennedy was shot.

Now Estevez has made a movie based on the Kennedy assassination. Through a series of vignettes, set at the Ambassador,the film recreates the day leading up to the assassination.

Thecharacters live out their lives and personal dramas unaware of the terrible history that is about to be made. Emilio Estevez wrote and directed the film which features an ensemble cast of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Estevez talks about his new film Bobby.

This interview starts rather typically but becomes something special as Estevez describes his fateful meeting with one of the people who was at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was shot. It's almost an unbelievable story -- and very nicely told. Worth a listen.

Complete audio

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, DVD Review by Alan Green

Sarah Silverman in Jesus is Magic
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
DVD review by Alan Green

I first noticed Sarah Silverman when she appeared in "There's Something About Mary", and it was clear even from the few minutes she was on screen she would be a star. She had done a lot of work before TSAM but I had never noticed her in anything except that appearance in "Seinfeld", I think, but it didn't really register at the time.

I don't like comedy. I never have. It's just not funny. "Jesus is Magic", however, is a hybrid of live stage show cut with music videos and short films which is funny in an outrageous way that is impossible to describe, even though her style seems like a tangible thing and makes a writer feel as if they should be able to describe it with words. I'm at a loss. I can say, though, that I couldn't watch "Jesus is Magic" in one sitting because it's too funny. I was laughing too much and had to take a break. I don't think I've ever read anybody say that about a comedy DVD before. This could be the first time. So, even though I can't find the words to describe Silverman's tangible-like comedy, I did need to take a break halfway through her DVD and that says a lot.

Most comedians are afraid. To compensate, they use coarse language for simple gags, but it only comes off embarrassing and superficial. Silverman is crude and endearing, honest and self-deprecating, all the while pointing out society's ridiculous shortcomings. She is razor-sharp and cuddly-cute, and unafraid of any subject matter. She is a cheerleader guiding the audience through a minefield of touchy subjects, and we have two choices; squirm in our seats and sweat, or laugh like fools while we get blown to bits.

She delivers her material as if off the top of her head, and never telegraphs a joke, or tightens up during the delivery, or braces herself in case the joke flops (which never happens, except maybe once, but only for a few seconds). This woman knows she's funny, knows she's good, and doesn't have to try even a little. Silverman wins us over from her very first sentence and doesn't let up for a moment (except maybe once about 45 minutes in, but only for a few seconds).

Like most comedians, Silverman's work is fueled by anger, but in her case the anger is so refined that it imitates intellect, and is somehow transformed into a joyous derision, so that we laugh with her at the most heinous crimes the world has to offer, and love every minute of it, and love her for her brilliant smooth delivery, as in her joke: If God gives you AIDS, make lemonAIDS.

This she sells with fluid smoothness, along with an examination of a bevy of sensitive topics: Rape of children. Religion (including killing Christ again should the opportunity present itself). 9/11. Killing (Ethiopian) babies for jewelry. Sex with children. Being retarded. The rape and murder of grandparents. Childhood drunkenness. Jews (as separate from religion). Anal sex. The Holocaust. Drug use. Blacks, Asians, gays, Nazis, men with small penises. All things hokey. She hits us from all sides with multi-layered jokes with punch lines within zingers within twists, delivered in sections and parts building laugh upon laugh until the audience is helpless.

Silverman's comedy works from the inside out, and will only appeal to people honest enough to admit they're not perfect (but certain the next guy is a schmuck). One doesn't feel distanced watching her act--it's as if she were telling you her innermost secrets over a beer in a bar.

Sara Silverman in Jesus is Magic

Silverman represents an evolution in comedy. Eddie Murphy is to Don Rickles (or Shecky Green, Buddy Hacket, et al) as Sarah Silverman is to everyone else working today. She is more modern, more relaxed, more offensive, and somehow, charming.

If anything in this review offended you even the slightest bit, do not watch "Jesus is Magic". Sarah Silverman, you've got balls and you're better than any three twats combined. (I'm just all).

More DVD reviews at

The Good German

The Good German, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Steven SoderberghSo. That's what a fedora looks like.

Anne Thompson screened "The Good German" in her class at UCLA. Here are some of her impressions:

As Attanasio labored over the script for five years, Soderbergh threw things at him: like, make the female lead a prostitute, and, try telling the movie from multiple points-of-view. Tobey Maguire, who had turned down everything in sight until he read this script, was eager to play a foul-mouthed lout of a soldier who slaps around his hooker girlfriend. Early on, The Good German shocks us with a sex scene between Maguire and Blanchett that signals: hold on, this is not your ordinary movie.

And Clooney, while he's as handsome as ever, continues to resist playing a conventionally active hero. His lovelorn journalist keeps getting beat up and doesn't know what's going on. The actors had to figure out how to perform in a 40s pre-Method declarative style while fighting their instincts on how to be natural and believable, Attanasio said. Soderbergh is challenging audiences to question their expectations. Will they get a white knight hero who saves the day? A fallen woman who finds redemption? A little romance? Check it out.

Complete story

Monday, November 13, 2006

Simpsons Clip (But, Wait! There's More!)

Simpsons MovieRopeofsilicon has "The Simpsons Movie" clip.

But, wait! There's more! Yes! More! They also have 10 clips from "Casino Royale"! That's right! 10 clips!

Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, James BondHey, I've watched these and they're all good. People are saying this is the best Bond pic ever and I have to agree -- the pithy quips actually move the plot along and have a natural feel (as natural as dialogue gets in a Bond movie), thanks to writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The editing and camera are top drawer material -- nod to director Martin Campbell. The action sequences have a lot of pop while maintaining plausibility (unlike previous Bond fantasies), and the babes are the hottest ever in a Bond film -- bar none. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

Nicole Kidman, Diane Arbus, FurThe Reeler has a podcast interview with "Fur" director Steven Shainberg. Here is their intro:

As reported last week on The Reeler, there's been a lot of weirdness surrounding director Steven Shainberg's latest film Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, which opens today in New York. There's lead actress Nicole Kidman absent at her own premiere, Robert Downey Jr. covered in hair, a combustible exchange or 10 between Shainberg and his critics, and God knows what else I'm missing. But set all of that aside for a second and just consider the film, which is actually a well-made little fairy tale about Arbus' transition from loyal housewife and her husband's photography assistant to being a internationally acclaimed photographer in her own right. It has its narrative flaws, agreed, but it also wields its titular imagination in wildly revealing and magnanimous ways, and should be considered on its own terms rather than those demanding a Behind-the-Musicesque concession to bloodless melodrama.

But enough of me: I asked Shainberg about where Fur came from, where he tried to take it and what he makes of the reaction it has received since its festival roll-out late last summer. It's an intriguing listen.


November 13, 2006

Apocalypto, Mel GibsonWill Mel's recent PR blip vitiate the box office of his Mayan opus "Apocalypto"? How strong will the Latino audience be? From NPR's Morning Edition:

Mel Gibson's new movie, Apocalypto, opens on December 8.

The film is performed entirely in a Mayan dialect and has not stars. So its distributor, Walt Disney Company, faces quite a marketing challenge.

Gibson is hoping to generate support for his project through a grass-roots movement among Latino audiences.

Report by Kim Masters

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Three Types Of Bond Theme Song

Weekend Edition Sunday talks with Andy Trudeau about theme songs for Bond movies.

What is the difference between the 'Story Song', the 'James Bond' song, and the 'Nonsense Song'? What is the only Bond theme song in which the name James Bond is sung?

Learn the answers to these and other burning James-Bond-theme-song-related questions at NPR.

Open With A Bang

Deja Vu
John Frazier, a long-time Hollywood 'powder guy', is the pyrotechnics specialist that is responsible for the above ball of flame from "Deja Vu" which punctuates the opening sequence of the film. Frazier shared an Oscar for best visual effects in "Spiderman 2" and worked on "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor". He was asked by the producer and director (Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott) to create a spectacular and horrifying explosion to represent a terrorist bombing in order to lock the audience into the story.

As for the anatomy of the explosion, Frazier says:

"Each gasoline bomb we rigged would burn off in three seconds if it went off by itself," he explained. "But when you set off 50 gasoline bombs like we did within five seconds, there's a cumulative heat effect that feeds on itself, and which just sucks this huge fireball into the hot air that keeps rising above the ferry. We added a little diesel fuel to give the fireball a red color, and a lot of black dirt, which gives the fireball its dark entrails."

Okay, I know what you're thinking -- nice, but so what? With a little practice I could blow stuff up for the movies, too. But, herein lies the rub -- this ferry, the Alvin T. Stumpf, was returned to service four days after the explosion was shot. Could you do that? Hats off Mr. Frazier. Here's more:

At the end of the "Deja Vu" ferry explosion, 1,000 gallons of the gasoline-diesel fuel mixture burned long enough for the movie pros to simulate what only looks to be a catastrophe. Mr. Frazier and his special effects crew were inside the ferry with fire hoses and extinguishers as the special effects were detonated. New Orleans firefighters stood by but remained out of action.

"The code of a powder guy is that we put out our own fires," Mr. Frazier said. (Another of Mr. Frazier's credos is: Don't hire military veterans trained in explosives -- "All they want to do is rip and tear," he said -- or anyone who claims he loved blowing things up as a child. "They're a little too spooky.")

About the story element, screenwriter Bill Marsilii was brought to tears when he saw the explosion -- but he has good reason:

"I saw these incredible flames, and I just burst into tears," said Bill Marsilii, one of the film's writers, who was standing 300 yards away when the explosion took place last April. "My first thought was 'My God, what have I done?' "

As an aspiring screenwriter in September 2001, Mr. Marsilii stood on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street, near his Greenwich Village apartment, and watched in horror as the World Trade Center towers fell.

And: "One of the unique virtues of a time-travel story like 'Deja Vu' is that it allows you to have your disaster and stop it too," he said.

But he acknowledged that five years after he witnessed the events of Sept. 11, he was treading on dangerous ground by giving today's attention-deficit film audiences such a bang in the first few minutes.

"If anyone sees that explosion and applauds," he said, "then we've totally failed as filmmakers."

Complete story at NYT

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pan's Labyrinth Isn't Just For Kids

Pan's Labyrinth
If you haven't seen a trailer for "Pan's Labyrinth" yet, you may want to have a look. This is a disturbing movie from a director who had a disturbing childhood (see Anne Thompson's piece on Guillermo del Toro). PL is not just pretty pictures (in fact I'm not even sure children should watch this one) -- this movie has strong social commentary and some very graphic sequences. has a beautiful hi-def trailer.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

They Don't Call Him Bond For Nothing

James Bond, Eva Green, Daniel Craig, Casino RoyaleHere's a very British look at Bond:

As far as Bond's erotic life goes, the movie retains one important element from Fleming's 1953 novel: Bond gets tortured - in the nude! - by Le Chiffre, who whips his scrotum with knotted rope after commenting that he has "looked after his body". It's a gamey scene that has caused generations of Bond readers to nurse and then uneasily suppress certain wonderings about the nature of 007's fanbase. These wonderings will not, I have to say, be quashed by Daniel Craig's pert swimming costume. But Craig strikes some very erotic sparks from Vesper Lynd, with some loaded bantering over dinner in a first-class railway compartment, and finally, from him, a dead-straight passionate declaration of love. Sweetly, Bond doesn't have sex with anyone else in the film. Vesper is to break his heart, though, and the movie cleverly shows that all Bond's mannerisms and steely reserve grow from this prehistory of doomed romance.

It is all ridiculously enjoyable, because the smirking and the quips and the gadgets have been cut back - and the emotion and wholesome sado-masochism have been pumped up.

Complete euro review

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Makes del Toro Tick?

Anne Thompson recently hosted Guillermo del Toro, director of "Pan's Labyrinth", at her Sneak Previews class. In her report we get a clue as to the nature of what is becoming known as the 'violent scenes' of Labyrinth, as well as insight into del Toro's make up:

During his violent childhood in Mexico, he was beaten with a chain while a friend was beaten with a bottle in the back of a car. "Unlike the movies, the bottle never broke," he said. He spent time during his high school years "volunteering" at an insane asylum, where he used to walk through the morgue, where illegally aborted dead fetuses were piled up, on his way to have lunch in the cemetary. Hmmm.

When del Toro was 33, his father was kidnapped and held for 72 days as everyone waited. A cop told him that if they found the kidnappers, he knew how to get them to talk. "Break the nose," he told del Toro. "Then move it back and forth."

That's quite the background. Complete piece at Risky Biz

Early Word From London Re: Bond

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Ambrose Heron has seen "Casino Royale" and likes it:

I was one of those at the London screening of Casino Royale last Friday and can confirm that Daniel Craig does indeed prove the sceptics wrong. Credit to the filmmakers for going back to basics with the Bond character whilst crafting an entertaining action thriller.

Complete blurb at

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Flightplan DVD Review

DVD Review by Alan Green

When I first heard the pitch for 'Flightplan', I was impressed: a woman's daughter goes missing during a trans-oceanic airline flight. I had to admit I looked forward to seeing how this premise would play out, and for the most part this movie lives up to the potential of this idea--at least for the first two acts. But then it gives over to a queer mix of realistic human drama and Hollywood contrivance. The resulting third act is a mish-mash that might be described as 'flighty-earnest', whose plot devices are a bit unfinished around the edges. On the other hand, Jodie Foster is so committed to a sincere performance you could almost call the result fierce--and it is this sizzle which one focuses on, not the loose threads of plot. In general 'Flightplan' is a smooth-running, old-fashioned psych-thriller--a crafted homage to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Ms. Foster portrays Kyle Pratt. After a European-style prelude by German born director, Robert Schwente, we find Kyle sitting alone in a subway station watching trains go by and looking quite haunted. Her husband meets her and they walk home in the silence of a snowy night. When they get home Kyle looks around and finds her husband is not there, and only one set of footprints in the snow. She is still traumatized by her husband's death days earlier after he fell off a rooftop, and to comfort herself, imagines he is still alive. It is this emotionally frail character that must, along with her six-year-old daughter Julia, transport her husband's body from Germany to the United States to bury him and start over.

This is the set-up for a classic Hitchcock story design: a protagonist is thrown into a stressful situation, then is wrongly accused, and left to question their sanity. Kyle falls into this role head first as, three hours into the flight, her daughter disappears. After a routine tour of the plane turns up nothing, she asks for help from the flight attendants. They dismiss her as an over-worried mom, and she demands to see the captain. When she pounds on the cockpit door she is restrained by the flight marshal, Gene Carson (played by a sleepy-eyed Peter Skarsgaard).

Here is where Ms. Foster turns on her trademark intensity and there isn't a frame of the remaining movie in which she lets up. Her performance is the most appealing part of 'Flightplan'--she employs such preternatural focus and channels so much personal pain that it makes one sit up and pay attention for fear she will reach through the screen and dope-slap you. The result is that Kyle Pratt seems so real and her circumstance so compelling it's both exhilarating and exhausting to watch as events unfold.

As Act II plays out the script avoids whiz-bang Hollywood devices in favor of focusing on Kyle's emotional trials and how she deals with each new challenge. However, this approach is no more believable than common tricks used in so many psych-thrillers. For instance, when the pilot, captain Rich (Sean Bean) informs Kyle that, as it turns out, it is impossible for her daughter to ever have been on the plane at all, Kyle protests, but in the end, accepts this. In fact, she even accepts the kind counsel of a therapist (played beautifully by Greta Scacchi), who convinces Kyle that she has been imagining her daughter was with her as a way of dealing with the pain of her husband's death. While well crafted in the writing and convincingly executed in the acting, this turn of events is not believable. This holds true for all the plot events remaining in the movie. It just makes you squirm in your seat.

Events from this point on alternate from fatiguing to exasperating. Mere moments after accepting her daughter is not on the plane, Kyle reverses herself and becomes convinced she is. Then, she begins a frantic search. Well as it turns out, Kyle is a propulsion engineer. Not just any engineer--she is the one that designed the engines of the plane she is flying in. She uses her detailed knowledge of the plane's design to access various sections of the craft, including electronic controls and guidance systems. After causing a panic and endangering the lives of everyone on board, Carson is instructed to arrest Kyle.

This sets the stage for a preposterous plan by the bad guys to convince captain Rich that Kyle is in fact a terrorist who will blow up the plane unless millions of dollars are deposited in a Swiss account. Well, captain Rich buys this at face value and has the airline deposit said cash (which takes a few minutes) then has Carson placate Kyle until the plane can land. And, we haven't even gotten to Act III yet. Suffice it to say the contrivances keep coming, we keep squirming in our seats, and Kyle keeps beating the odds.

On the technical side, the music cues, editing, and lighting all seem haphazard. Camera framing especially seemed always just a bit off. Even the sound effects were metallic and too loud. Mr. Schwentke quotes camera shots directly from two of Ms. Foster's previous movies--'Contact' (directed by Robert Zemeckis) and 'Panic Room' (directed by David Fincher). Unfortunately, neither of these are as good the originals, and one wonders what Mr. Schwentke's plan was. Zemeckis and Fincher display greater technical acumen, and Schwentke would have been better off coming up with something that wouldn't invite comparison to their work. As for the script, there are problems with motivation. The antagonist(s) never explain themselves. Except for wanting money we never know who they are or why they subject poor Kyle to this torment. In the end the desire for money is just not enough to support their actions.

It's Jodie Foster's resolute sincerity that sees us through. She convinces us, sometimes with blunt force, that Kyle is real and somehow, some way, this might just happen to us on our next flight. It's hard to imagine that Kyle Pratt's character could have been portrayed nearly as well by any other actor. 'Flightplan' is as suspenseful as Hitchcock's work, just not as believable. Ms. Foster's performance makes 'Flightplan' a cool, emotionally compelling diversion.

If you liked this review there are others at

Directed by Robert Schwentke; written by Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray; director of photography, Florian Ballhaus; edited by Thom Noble; music by
James Horner; production designer, Alexander Hammond; produced by Brian Grazer; released by Touchstone Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated PG-13.

With: Jodie Foster (Kyle), Peter Sarsgaard (Carson), Sean Bean (Captain Rich), Kate Beahan (Stephanie), Michael Irby (Obaid), Assaf Cohen (Ahmed), Erika Christensen (Fiona) and Marlene Lawston (Julia).

Paramount Scores Martin's Take On The Stones

The Rolling StonesAnne Thompson reports that Paramount has secured the North American rights to Martin Scorsese's feature documentary on The Rolling Stones U.S. tour:

The camera team expects to film more than half a million feet of film at the Beacon, using additional Hi Def, DV Cam, 16mm and 8mm cameras to shoot behind-the-scenes footage. Veteran docu filmmaker Albert Maysles also will provide backstage coverage, while the A-list cinematographers operating cameras in the auditorium will include Mitch Amundsen (2nd unit, "Mission: Impossible III"), Stuart Dryburgh ("The Piano"), Robert Elswit ("Good Night, and Good Luck"), Ellen Kuras ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), Andrew Lesnie ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Emmanuel Chivo Lubezki ("The New World"), Anastas Michos ("Mona Lisa Smile"), Declan Quinn ("In America") and John Toll ("Braveheart").

Full story at THR (via Goingtothepictures)

Christmas Nightmare Every Year?

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Disney is so happy with the numbers for the 3D release of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" they are thinking of making it a yearly event.


Monday, November 06, 2006


Jim Carrey has a psych-thriller coming out called "The Number 23". The trailer is one of the most intriguing I've ever seen.

Official site -- one of the best I've ever seen.

Bored? Start a website

A.V. Club has a roundup of movie star websites, on which they promote their hobbies and various stuff for sale. For Leonard Nimoy it's photography -- mostly nudes and pretty good. Michael Madsen has poetry which is literal-minded, self-pitying, and holier-than-thou (all at the same time) -- plus some pictures (which are also literal). Chubby Checker hawks a truckload of his snacks. Uri Geller sells bicycles which, I believe, are made from old bent spoons. Tony Danza peddles his songs, while David Lynch has some freaky shit (what did you expect?).

Go to A.V. Club for the links

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Best Actor (Female)

Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Ashly Judd, Renee ZellwegerThis year is looking unusually strong for women in film (I'm betting this will be a continuing trend). I think audiences today are looking for more substance from the movies, and that usually means a female lead or a (strong) female protagonist. Corina Chocano takes a look at the crop of Oscar frontrunners with female leads this year:

Already, the year has yielded a wide variety of noteworthy performances by actresses in leading or ensemble roles, some of them in surprisingly womanly milieus. There was Kate Winslet as a depressed suburban mom in "Little Children," Meryl Streep as the intimidating powerhouse boss in "The Devil Wears Prada," Helen Mirren as a beleaguered Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen" and Kirsten Dunst as the teen queen of France in"Marie Antoinette," among others.

And: It could be a blip, it could be a trend, but it beats rapping hookers onstage at the Kodak any day.

I couldn't agree more. To me, it looks like Kate Winslet is the front runner for best actor (female) for her work in "Little Children". Whatever happens this year's race will be much more interesting than usual (and probably more interesting than the race for best actor [male]). Carina's complete story

NPR's Movie Roundup

Flushed AwayNPR covers "Flushed Away", "Borat", and "Hard Candy". If you're thinking the rats in "Flushed Away" look a bit like Wallace and Gromit, you're right. The movie is made by the same producers that gave us the claymation favorites, although for 'Flushed' they digitized the characters. Bob Mondello likes "Flushed Away", asking "How could you not be flushed with joy"? (He said it, not me). For complete audio click one of the above links.

Borat Burns Box Office

Borat"Borat" will take the top spot at the box office this weekend with a take of...ready?...$26 million. NYT (along with everyone else) has a piece on this guy:

With the release of "Borat" this weekend, Hollywood is head over heels over its latest foreign celebrity -- and the feeling, Borat says, is entirely mutual. "I very much love L.A. and Hollywood moviefilm industry, which have given us so many wonderful moviefilm entertainments," Borat tells us. "I very much like a movie call 'ET,' which is about a child with nuclear retardation who live in a cupboard."

The guy oozes funny. Complete profile

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