MAJOR VS. MAJOR: So you know how Jared Leto has that band 30 Seconds to Mars? They got in a dustup with EMI a few years ago—they signed a deal that landed them over 2 million in debt—and Artifact is about them making their latest record This is War while fighting a $30 million lawsuit. There’s a thing rich people never seem to understand, which is that your money means no one will ever feel bad for you, fair or no, and when you are narrating an infographic about major label that begins, “The label gives you and advance. Say $250,000,” you are not appealing to the general public and the thousands of people in bands who are just happy to get a $1000 grant from the provincial government. *Cough.* When your singer is a movie star who’s been famous since his teens, all dramatic framing of him standing pensively on rocks over a Hollywood precipice is missing the point. Not to mention his terrible band.
UNPREDICTABLE: The press conference for The Master, Paul Thomas no longer PT Anderson’s not-really-but-totally-Scientology epic, starts about 15 minutes late. A weird thing happens where Harvey Weinstein appears on the dias to apologize personally, adding “Joaquin [Phoenix] and Paul are stuck in traffic behind, I’m serious, a Jesus Saves parade.” Phoenix doesn’t show; when someone asks why Anderson replies “He’s too unpredictable I have that same tape recorder at home!”
CLEAR EYES FULL HEARTS: David O. Russell’s The Fighter was my favourite film of 2010, so I was excited to see Silver Linings Playbook, despite its copious amounts of walking white toast Bradley Cooper. Cooper stars as a man who’s had a nervous breakdown and returns home to rehab at his parents’ (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), planning to get in shape and get his wife back. A monkey wrench in this plan is Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence, a similar social reject (widow/slut). It’s the first time in his life Cooper has been interesting, and Lawrence renders all thoughts of that YA adult franchise she’s in non-existent. At the press conference the modeator asks Cooper if being named People’s Sexiest Man Alive has an effect on his choices or how he’s perceived. Cooper: “Is that a serious question?”
FRANCES YEAH: Indie power couple Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach wrote Frances Ha together. She stars, he directs. It’s basically a long-form Girls episode (and Adam Driver is even there), wherein Frances bumps around New York apartments, an ill-advised weekend to Paris and a complicated relationship with her best friend. Shot in black and white, that and Gerwig’s naturalistic acting style make it feel a bit My First Film, which is weird because Baumbach makes terrifically self-assured movies (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg) but it’s funny as shit and guess what Gerwig is still the best thing in movies right now.
A SINGLE STINKER: The screening for Passion was packed to the gills, to the point where the theatre manager scolded the crowd for leaving single seats in the middle. “Why is this film so popular?” asked my seatmate. “Lesbians,” I said. “What?” “They really want to see Rachel McAdams kiss a girl.” And she does, sort of, but first she is just terrible as an ad executive who screws over her protégé (Noomi Rapace, the original Dragon Tattoo girl, also terrible). At one point Rapace starts taking sleeping pills and all natural light is replaced by angles and a slanted camera, and look I know Brian De Palma is a stylist and blah blah red but this movie is so audaciously awful, and not in the way that Lee Daniels is awful but he thinks he is a great artist so it’s at least entertaining, but just lazily awful. This is the most I’ve heard anyone laugh and Passion is not a comedy.
THEN WE TAKE, UH, BURLINGTON VERMONT? At an interesting panel hosted by Telefilm called “First We Take Manhattan: Canadian Films in the US,” Geoffrey Gilmore, ex of the Sundance Film Festival and currently with the Tribeca outfit, says that Canada has a “brand identity” problem. “Part of our ignorance of Canadian films is our ignorance about Canada,” he says of America. No solutions are arrived at, but super-producer John Sloss, who I tought would be much older, does rant a little bit about how critics are giving their real estate to “review proof” movies that don’t need the press, which, he admits, “is its own panel.”