Joaquin Phoenix’s “I’m Still Here”

17 09 2010

Casey Affleck, the film’s director, just announced that it really was all a hoax.  I’ve got to say that I think this is pretty amazing performance art from Phoenix, and I’m more than amused by the idea of career suicide as conceptual art.  For those who haven’t been following Phoenix’s antics closely, an in-depth rundown on this project can be found here.  Best actor nomination anyone?  I sure think he deserves it.  I’m in the camp of people who were positive that this was all a fun, elaborate hoax at first, but then as time went on became less and less sure.  I mean this thing lasted for what, 2 years?  That’s a long time to stay in character.

It’s also worth nothing that Phoenix will be back on Letterman (out of character of course) on the 22nd.  Here’s the trailer for the upcoming documentary:

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“Enter the Void” poster/release date

31 07 2010

One of my most anticipated, which was first screened about a year ago, will finally be in theaters on September 24th (though in very limited release).  This is director Gasper Noe’s follow-up to Irreversible, and so far it’s been just as controversial. 

Here’s the awesome new poster:





2 Alien prequels?!?

25 04 2010

Ridley Scott, the man who started it all, is about to start filming the first of two Alien prequels.  Awesomeness.  Click on the link to read the interview where Scott talks about the two films, plus his thoughts on converting and filming in 3D.  Pretty excited for this, especially since Scott’s in charge, instead of an unknown music-video director like most other horror reboots.  Soon we’ll have a Ridley Scott Alien trilogy AND the already epic Alien quadrilogy!  This’ll definitely be way better than having an Alien vs. Predator 3, at least.





Cannes 2010 lineup

19 04 2010

Lots of good stuff.  Disappointed to see that Malick’s The Tree of Life apparently isn’t ready to be screened, and that Schnabel’s Miral was turned down and will be premiering at the Venice film fest instead.  But still, Cannes is always the best and most exciting festival, and I can’t wait to see a ton of the films on this list.  It’s also nice to see Mathieu Amalric and Diego Luna try their hand at directing.  Here’s the complete list:

Opening film
Ridley Scott – ROBIN HOOD (Out of Competition)

In Competition
Mathieu Amalric – TOURNÉE
Xavier Beauvois – DES HOMMES ET DES DIEUX
Rachid Bouchareb – HORS LA LOI
Alejandro González Iñárritu – BIUTIFUL
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun – UN HOMME QUI CRIE (A Screaming Man)
IM Sangsoo – HOUSEMAID
Abbas Kiarostami – COPIE CONFORME
Takeshi Kitano – OUTRAGE
Lee Chang-dong – POETRY
Mike Leigh – ANOTHER YEAR
Doug Liman – FAIR GAME
Sergei Loznitsa – YOU. MY JOY
Daniele Luchetti – LA NOSTRA VITA
Nikita Mikhalkov – UTOMLYONNYE SOLNTSEM 2
Bertrand Tavernier – LA PRINCESSE DE MONTPENSIER
Apichatpong Weerasethakul – LOONG BOONMEE RALEUK CHAAT
(Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives)

Un Certain Regard
Derek Cianfrance – BLUE VALENTINE (1st film)
Manoel De Oliveira – O ESTRANHO CASO DE ANGÉLICA (Angelica)
Xavier Dolan – LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES (Heartbeats)
Ivan Fund, Santiago Loza – LOS LABIOS
Fabrice Gobert – SIMON WERNER A DISPARU… (1st film)
Jean-Luc Godard – FILM SOCIALISME
Christoph Hochhäusler – UNTER DIR DIE STADT (The City Below)
Lodge Kerrigan – REBECCA H. (RETURN TO THE DOGS)
Ágnes Kocsis – PÁL ADRIENN (Adrienn Pál)
Vikramaditya Motwane – UDAAN (1st film)
Radu Muntean – MARTI, DUPA CRACIUN (Tuesday, After Christmas)
Hideo Nakata – CHATROOM
Cristi Puiu – AURORA (Aurora)
Hong Sangsoo – HA HA HA
Oliver Schmitz – LIFE ABOVE ALL
Daniel Vega – OCTUBRE (1st film)
David Verbeek – R U THERE
Xiaoshuai Wang – RIZHAO CHONGQING (Chongqing Blues)

Out of Competition
Woody Allen – YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
Stephen Frears – TAMARA DREWE
Oliver Stone – WALL STREET – MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

Midnight Screenings
Gregg Araki – KABOOM
Gilles Marchand – L’AUTRE MONDE (Blackhole)

Special Screenings
Charles Ferguson – INSIDE JOB
Sophie Fiennes – OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW
Patricio Guzman – NOSTALGIA DE LA LUZ (Nostalgia For The Light)
Sabina Guzzanti – DRAQUILA – L’ITALIA CHE TREMA
Otar Iosseliani – CHANTRAPAS
Diego Luna – ABEL (1st film)





New “Inception” photos

11 04 2010

I’m beyond excited for this, it just looks incredible:





“Battlefield Earth” screenwriter speaks out

30 03 2010

After the Razzies named Battlefield Earth worst film of the decade, screenwriter J.D. Shapiro wrote this hilarious and insightful response:

“Let me start by apologizing to anyone who went to see Battlefield Earth.

It wasn’t as I intended — promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.

It started, as so many of my choices do, with my Willy Wonker.

It was 1994, and I had read an article in Premiere magazine saying that the Celebrity Center, the Scientology epicenter in Los Angeles, was a great place to meet women.

Willy convinced me to go check it out. Touring the building, I didn’t find any eligible women at first, but I did meet Karen Hollander, president of the center, who said she was a fan of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. We ended up talking for over two hours. She told me why Scientology is so great. I told her that, when it comes to organized religion, anything a person does to reward, threaten and try to control people by using an unknown like the afterlife is dangerous.

Nonetheless, Karen called me a few days later asking if I’d be interested in turning any of L. Ron Hubbard’s books into movies. Eventually, I had dinner with John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston, Karen — about 10 Scientologists in all. John asked me, “So, J.D., what brought you to Scientology?”

I told him. John smiled and replied, “We have tech that can help you handle that.” I don’t know if he meant they had technology that would help me get laid or technology that would stop Willy from doing the majority of my thinking.

I researched Scientology before signing on to the movie, to make sure I wasn’t making anything that would indoctrinate people. I took a few courses, including the Purification Rundown, or Purif. You go to CC every day, take vitamins and go in and out of a sauna so toxins are released from your body. You’re supposed to reach an “End Point.” I never did, but I was bored so I told them I had a vision of L. Ron. They said, “What did he say?” “Pull my finger,” was my response. They said I was done.

During my Scientology research, I met an employee who I instantly had a crush on. She was kind of a priestess, and had dedicated her life to working for the church by becoming a Sea Org member. She said that she signed a billion-year contract. I said, “What! Really?” She said she got paid a small stipend of $50 a week, to which I said, “Can you get an advance on the billion years, like say, a mere $500,000?” And then she said as a Sea Org member, you can’t have sex unless you’re married. I asked her if she was married. She said yes. So I said, “Great! That means we can have sex!”

As far as I know, I am the only non-Scientologist to ever be on their cruise ship, the Freewind. I was a bit of an oddity, walking around in a robe, sandals, smoking Cuban cigars and drinking fine scotch (Scientologists are not allowed to drink while taking courses). I also got one of the best massages ever. My friends asked if I got a “happy ending.” I said, “Yes, I got off the ship.”

But if you’re reading this to get the dirt on Scientology, sorry, no one ever tried to force me to do anything.

Even after all the “trouble” I’d gotten into, people at the church liked me, so I read Battlefield Earth and agreed to come up with a pitch to take to studios.

I met with Mike Marcus, the president of MGM, and pitched him my take. He loved it, and the next day negotiations went under way. A few days after I finished the script, a very excited Travolta called, told me he “loved it,” and wanted to have dinner. At dinner, John said again how much he loved the script and called it “The Schindler’s List of sci-fi.”

My script was very, VERY different than what ended up on the screen. My screenplay was darker, grittier and had a very compelling story with rich characters. What my screenplay didn’t have was slow motion at every turn, Dutch tilts, campy dialogue, aliens in KISS boots, and everyone wearing Bob Marley wigs.

Shortly after that, John officially attached himself to the project. Then several A-list directors expressed interest in making the movie, MGM had a budget of $100 million, and life was grrrrreat! I got studio notes that were typical studio notes. Nothing too crazy. I incorporated the notes I felt worked, blew off the bad ones and did a polish. I sent it to the studio, thinking the next I’d hear is what director is attached.

Then I got another batch of notes. I thought it was a joke. They changed the entire tone. I knew these notes would kill the movie. The notes wanted me to lose key scenes, add ridiculous scenes, take out some of the key characters. I asked Mike where they came from. He said, “From us.” But when I pressed him, he said, “From John’s camp, but we agree with them.”

I refused to incorporate the notes into the script and was fired.

I have no idea why they wanted to go in this new direction, but here’s what I heard from someone in John’s camp: Out of all the books L. Ron wrote, this was the one the church founder wanted most to become a movie. He wrote extensive notes on how the movie should be made.

Many people called it a Scientology movie. It wasn’t when I wrote it, and I don’t feel it was in the final product. Yes, writers put their beliefs into a story. Sometimes it’s subtle (I guess L. Ron had something against the color purple, I have no idea why), sometimes not so subtle (L. Ron hated psychiatry and psychologists, thus the reason, and I’m just guessing here, that the bad aliens were called “Psychlos”).

The only time I saw the movie was at the premiere, which was one too many times.

Once it was decided that I would share a writing credit, I wanted to use my pseudonym, Sir Nick Knack. I was told I couldn’t do that, because if a writer gets paid over a certain amount of money, they can’t. I could have taken my name completely off the movie, but my agent and attorney talked me out of it. There was a lot of money at stake.

Now, looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can’t help but be strangely proud of it. Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.

In the end, did Scientology get me laid? What do you think? No way do you get any action by boldly going up to a woman and proclaiming, “I wrote Battlefield Earth!” If anything, I’m trying to figure out a way to bottle it and use it as birth control. I’ll make a mint!”





Opening credits of Gasper Noe’s “Enter the Void”

22 03 2010

This thing’s going to be completely insane.  Early reviews, while not all positive due to the film’s crazy length and the lack of a narrative (both of which I’m fine with), are saying that the trippy visuals are actually “earth-shattering.”  Another reviewer said the visuals even surpass Avatar‘s.  Pretty exciting words for an experimental low-budget film like this.  Apparently it’s also designed to look like 1 continuous take.  I am so, so excited. 

Check out the opening credit sequence below, it’s pretty much the only footage we’ve got so far.  The film’s scheduled to open in limited release in the U.S. sometime in September.