October 2, 2003


Generally, we try not to go too overboard around here when it comes to any one particular movie, especially when it comes to films as blatantly commercial and widely covered as School of Rock. However. Speaking for myself, as a movielover, media junkie, former Austinite, and yes, fan of both the film's star and its director, when the Austin Chronicle comes along with a cover package featuring interviews with Jack Black and Richard Linklater, and then, for good measure, tacks on the editor's addendum addressing the long-term relationship between the Chronicle and Linklater, well, that's simply waving too many flags for me to ignore.


It's not earth-rattling stuff, naturally, but there are some fun anecdotes and soliloquies in there. The point in the story of the film's production I find most appealing is that bit where writer Mike White and Black have their package ready, producer Scott Rudin is ready to go and, though several directors express interest, they know they need someone like Linklater to pull it over in the direction they know is right for the movie. I say "pull" rather than "push" because this is clearly a package that wants to be, is straining to be the sort of immediately forgettable formulaic pap popping up on multiplex screens by the dozens weekend after weekend. As David Fear writes in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, at heart, the plot is "the old sap magnet about a superficial dude who learns a few life lessons thanks to some screen-sassy kids, carbon dat[ing] comedywise somewhere around 1986." And yet no one I've heard from or read hasn't been won over, Fear included:

But it is Black's spotlight all the way - his East of Eden, his Beverly Hills Cop. He takes his breakthrough moment and runs with it, and he's largely responsible for the guilty, giddy contact high buzzing around your skull afterward. Those of us who kept hope that he'd finally find something worthy of his peculiar chops can raise the devil-horn salute.

Happy to.

Moving on, the Guardian critics offer capsule reviews of the highlights of the Mill Valley Film Festival - worth scanning because, of course, many of these films are making the rounds at several festivals.

Doug Cummings passes along "glorious news": Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers is headed back to the theaters in January and onto DVD, thanks to Criterion, in the fall of 2004. Should we thank the Pentagon for this revival?

In the LA Weekly, a drama in two acts waiting for a third from Nikki Finke. First, there's her story on John Connolly, a freelancer a "now infamous" profile of Schwarzenegger for Premiere (wouldn't you know it's not at the site, far as I can tell):

Since then, the 55-year-old New Yorker has spent all the weeks of this recall campaign looking even deeper into the background of the actor whose next role is disturbingly likely to be governor. Where the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, ABC, CBS, NBC, and those other supposed bastions of superior reporting (why bother to even mention Fox?) claim to have found next to nothing, Connolly tells LA Weekly he has found a lot.

Enough for a book, evidently, which he'd planned to shop around right after the election in California on October 7. And he thought he had an agent, too. Finke's disturbing "Web Exclusive Update" quotes Connolly: "How do you go from 'Here’s a great American story and a big book' to 'I'll pass'? This is really somebody-got-to-somebody. That's what happened here." Surely there's another agent out there who's smart enough to smell a lucrative deal?

Also in the Weekly: Greg Burk profiles Cliff Martinez, the composer who's scored several films for Steven Soderbergh.

More profiles and interviews:

  • Peter Dinklage in the NYT.
  • Colin Firth and Denzel Washington in Moviehole.

    Wings of Desire

  • And while looking for the Schwarzenegger piece in Premiere, I stumbled across this email exchange between Glenn Kenny and Wim Wenders, followng the release on DVD of Wings of Desire, in which Wenders talks about how to record a running commentary, the DVD as "a valid format for home viewing," City of Angels, of all things (though Wenders defends it) and cinematographer Henri Alekan.

    Bharat Shah, "known as the King of Bollywood," writes the Guardian (brief reports, 1 and 2), has been sentenced to a year behind bars for not reporting what he's alleged to have known, i.e., that mob money was also flowing into the films he was financing. Shocking, isn't it. But: He won't have to do time because, basically, he's already done it. After his chat with the judge, he talked to rediff.com. He sounds relieved, but it may not be over: the Maharashtra government plans to appeal.

    And we'll wrap with Guardian, too: Sandra Smith scans the British film magazines and the online editors offer seven online viewing tips.

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    Posted by dwhudson at October 2, 2003 8:46 AM