Many of the obituaries of Elizabeth Taylor focus on her complicated private life, and earlier sex-kitten roles, omitting her performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It’s arguable as to whether that’s a better movie than Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but her performance in it is one of the greatest in any picture ever made.
Taylor was the biggest superstar in the world, and her modern equivalent in terms of fame would be Angelina Jolie – it says something about Hollywood’s declining cultural significance that although she’s the most famous film actress in the world Jolie hasn’t actually made any movies that are lasting, or really even any good. Taylor made a lot of dross but she also performed roles written by Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Gore Vidal and Dylan Thomas.
Dave Weigel reviews Atlas Shrugged Part I:
Anyone who’s seen a SyFy Channel original movie in which a mutated insect battles a mutated amphibian will be comfortable with the production quality. Anyone who’s seen a faithful Christian adaptation of a Bible story will be comfortable with the style of adaptation—as much original text on-screen as the screen can hold. The actors and scenes are there to present Rand’s philosophy to the Twilight and Nicholas Sparks set.
Apparently the movie opens with Galt convincing Midas Mulligan to strike and set up Galt’s Gulch. If you’re making a film in which the absence of bankers leads to the collapse of the economy you’re probably not in touch with the zeitgeist. Or the newspapers. Or reality. Weigel’s conclusion about the confused message the movie sends out:
This installment of the movie ends with Dagny hiking up Wyatt’s property to see the oil wells he set ablaze when he left to join Galt. He left a sign, daring the bureaucrats to take it over: “I’m leaving it as I found it.” But he’s not leaving it as he found it. He bought mineral rights, made a profit, and left the land with a lot less oil and a few more towering infernos. This may be a sign that Aglialoro and Kaslow made a successful allegory: It’s open to an interpretation that they never intended.
Me, I would have opened it with the collectivisation of the 20th Century Motor Company. That’s a great scene.
Via Stuff, Wellington may or may not have the insufferable tweeness of a ‘Wellywood’ sign inflicted upon us, but the city of Detroit is set to get:
Plans for a statue honouring RoboCop, the half-man, half-machine crimefighter of the 1987 movie, are moving ahead after a group of Detroit artists and entrepreneurs raised more than US$50,000 (NZ$66,220) via Facebook and an online fund-raising site.
“It hit a sweet spot. It’s a fun and funny idea to build a statue of RoboCop,” said Jeff Paffendorf, who helped lead the project inspired by a whimsical suggestion sent to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing via Twitter last week.
Just as the 90s was the golden era of hip-hop, the 1980s was the golden era of insanely quotable action films and Robocop is one of the finest.
What else is there to say?
Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
The Herald’s seventh worst columnist is not a J R R Tolkien fan:
I don’t know what possessed a successful Kiwi film-maker to choose a fey English fantasy for his big number. Lord of the Rings was the book to read in 1971, then deservedly it died.
I tried to read it, four times I think, mainly because it was a gift. It said nothing to me.
Cult books have a short shelf life. Tolkien had done his dash by 1972 and I can’t recall much discussion of his books for the next 30 years. Then Peter Jackson remembered it. He would have been a child when the book was being read and he made a child’s movie of it.
I was a child when I read Lord of the Rings (somewhat subsequent to the early 70s) and I really enjoyed it; and big budget movies are made for children so of course it was a child’s movie. It’s not really accurate to say the book ‘died’ after 1971. In most of the readers polls conducted in 1999 and 2000 Lord of the Rings was voted the most popular book of the century, an indication that many grown-ups liked it too, before Jackson’s movies were made. W H Auden thought it was better than Paradise Lost (although I’ve always been fond of Edmund Wilson’s description: ‘a combination of Wagner and Winnie the Poo’.)
Most of Roughan’s complaints – he didn’t like the movies, they attract the wrong sort of tourists for the wrong reasons – seem to stem from his irritation that money is being invested and people are paying attention to a part of New Zealand that is not Auckland. You’d expect our so-called national newspaper would be a little less provincial about these things.
The Herald reports that the Hobbit will be filmed in New Zealand:
The Government will introduce legislation tomorrow to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees as it relates to the film industry only.
“This will guarantee the movies are made in New Zealand,” Mr Key said.
Tax rebates will also be changed for Warner Bros, which will mean up to an extra US$7.5m per movie for Warner Bros, subject to the success of the movies.
- Government will tomorrow introduce a bill to clarify law on contractors for the film industry (only)
- A widening of the criteria for major film tax rebates which will come up at US$7.5m per film
- Govt to commit US$10m towards marketing of the films, in exchange for NZ tourism information being included in materials such as DVDs
A very John Key touch, that last point – including a tourism ad on a major studio film DVD is probably worth a lot more than ten million dollars in international marketing costs. Seems to me that the studios demands and the deal made around taxes lets the CTU walk away with their head held high as well – their talking point was that this was about a tax deal all along. I can’t see Kelly being offered a high spot on the Labour list though . . .
The two-hour meeting, which includded New Line Cinema boss Toby Emmerich, ended with no resolution to the Hobbit standoff.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister John Key confirmed there would be more discussions overnight and tomorrow before a decision on whether the movie would be filmed here.
He reiterated that industrial issues had been the major concern of the studios but confirmed for the first time that the studio was also seeking a bigger sweetener from taxpayers.
But Mr Key said the government would not get into a bidding war and the gap between what New Zealand and other countries were offering was more than just tens of millions of dollars.
Key’s public position doesn’t make a lotta sense to me here: if he refuses to ‘get into a bidding war’ and Warners walks after demanding tax breaks then he wears this, not the unions. The government has had the time of their lives stressing the importance of the movie to the local film industry in the wake of the industrial dispute – now they’re quibbling over tax thresholds?
(I had to learn about this from the web sites because the TV news journalists were too busy doing live crosses to attend the PM’s press gaggle.)
Thousands of Kiwis will mobilise across the country today in a bid to stop The Hobbit movies from being lost overseas.
At least 3000 people are expected to assemble in Wellington’s Civic Square, with thousands more rallying in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Queenstown and Matamata in a mass show of support.
The action is timed to coincide with today’s expected arrival of Warner Bros executives for a meeting with the film’s director, Sir Peter Jackson, that will determine the fate of the project.
I’ll be with them in spirit – but there’s gotta be a lot more at stake than the shooting location for a fantasy movie before I’ll attend something calling itself ‘The Rally of Hope.’ I’d imagine that Warners are more concerned that the industrial dispute will increase their insurance premiums than how many people march to support the film. But it is significant that our Labour day marches will be implicitly anti-union.
I felt sorry for Helen Kelly on Q & A yesterday, with Holmes ranting at her and John Barnett from South Pacific Pictures absolving Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand of any blame in the dispute and putting it all on Kelly’s shoulders – when it was the actors that called the boycott and Kelly who managed to get it lifted. Her mistake was her confrontational manner and her unconditional support for NZAE and the MEAA. Her message should have been that their concerns were valid but that the boycott was a mistake that everybody regrets.
If you want more Labour day reading check out Trotter and The Standard on the Hobbit dispute: amazing how similar they sound to the villains in an Ayn Rand novel.
Actors’ Equity committee member Robyn Malcolm told Morning Report this morning she could not believe a request for a discussion around conditions like overtime, penalty rates and transport was enough to derail a multi-million dollar movie project.
I don’t think it was asking for a coffee break that was the problem, I think it was that global boycott of the film you called that got everybody nervous.
If the Hobbit does go offshore then this is a PR disaster for the union movement – whatever the reality, its going to look to the public as if they’ve bought about the destruction of a multi-billion dollar industry that was the source of great national pride, and although the instigator was an Australian union they were facilitated by the president of the CTU who went out of her way to insert herself into the dispute.
Update: Russell Brown has a good overview of Actor’s Equity and their ‘first we’ll boycott the film, then we’ll figure out what our conditions are’ version of good faith bargaining.