In the Sundance heyday of the late ’90s, the ubiquity of Steve Buscemi was something that hip people — the sorts who knew his name and how to spell it, as opposed to the casual moviegoers who just felt a twitch of happy recognition at the appearance of that magnificently puffy gaze with its implication of a hangover (not merely enduring, but existential) — joked about over post-cinematheque maki rolls:
“Is it even possible to get an ‘art’ film green-lit without Steve Buscemi? It’s like there’s a secret law in the Hollywood Rule Book, the ‘Buscemi Proviso,’ which decrees that every script has to include a role for him. Dude is everywhere.”
“A theory, chum: Steve Buscemi is the physical embodiment of the green light. He's the human cigar that gets fired when the foreign financing drops into place.”
What was, and is, so annoying about such smug talk is that it trivializes the greatness of the most memorable, unconventionally charismatic, and intelligent character actor at work in film and television today. He's been funny (Reservoir Dogs) and he's been acerbic (Ghost World). In The Sopranos, as the trying-to-be-good Tony Blundetto, his portrayal of recidivism was as brilliant as it was upsetting. With his lead role as Atlantic City gangster Nucky Thompson (Boardwalk Empire), Buscemi has emerged as an antihero for the ages, noble and wicked and cool, and proved that he truly can play anything, even a star. And who else has appeared in so many Adam Sandler films (Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, et al.) and escaped unscathed? Steve Buscemi is the little black dress of cinema, appropriate for any occasion.
2012 has been a remarkable year for testing the limits of trailers, with studios often oversaturating the market with four or five previews before a film is actually released, putting out teasers for "official" trailers, and even deploying the much-hated "teaser for the teaser." While this double-tease phenomenon has been the lowlight in the world of movie previews this year, a high point has been the music that has accompanied the trailers.
It's not simply acoustic guitar into electric guitar with a voice-over anymore. Or just "O Fortuna" or "Gimme Shelter" over and over again. (Well, there was Flight, but ...) Major artists are getting involved, new artists are breaking into the mainstream by way of their inclusion in a big movie's trailer and, in many cases, a trailer (and a film) would be nothing without the wise decision to incorporate the perfect song.
I’ll admit to something embarrassing as a writer: I’d never heard of the word “twee” until I started seeing it in reviews of Wes Anderson’s latest films sometime post–The Royal Tenenbaums. Since then, I’ve noticed it’s the bon mot of choice for quips indicating Anderson makes meticulously stylish movies. Which is kind of like snarking that Scorsese loves tracking shots, or Tarantino writes long monologues. Call me an apologist, but I find his intricately drawn where’s-Waldo worlds of bittersweet nostalgia entrancing. At the very least, I think we owe him for giving us Gene Hackman’s last great film. (True, I haven’t seen Welcome to Mooseport, but you don’t need to stick a fork in a power socket to know what’ll happen.)
How limited is the release of Wes Anderson's new filmMoonrise Kingdom? Well, as this reporter discovered on Friday, it didn't even open in Canada. But even without the powerhouse Canadian audience driving ticket sales, Kingdom opened huge: According to Deadline, it took in an average of $130,752 in four U.S. locations over the long weekend, thus setting a new specialty box office record. (Judging by the crowd I saw it with yesterday on Manhattan's Upper West Side, ticket buyers largely consisted of loud sexagenarians who find solemn pre-adolescents irresistibly charming.)
Regardless of their quality, Wes Anderson’s movies are precious little contraptions. They’re like antique Matryoshka dolls encased in an eighth grader’s volcano diorama and situated in a dollhouse made of Legos and Lincoln Logs. There are small pieces everywhere, assembled just so, from tweedy costuming to crate-dug soundtrack choices to peculiarly named characters (Raleigh St. Clair; Ned Plimpton; Dignan; Oseary Drakoulias; Badger; Ari and Uzi Tenenbaum — we could go on). In making so many uniquely complex choices during his career, Anderson’s become his own brand of cliché: That’s so Wes Anderson is one of the meanest things anyone can say in Brooklyn. His seventh film, Moonrise Kingdom, which opens today in limited release, is as delicate and fussed-over a thing as he’s ever made. It’s also gorgeous, hilarious, and probably the purest distillation of his style as he’ll ever achieve. It’s a parody of itself in the best way possible.
Dan Silver: The pain. The agony. I had tickets to this show, but for reasons to not be shared with the general public I could not attend. So seeing the joy, celebration, and pathos in/around/during LCD Soundsystem’s final show leaves me feeling both sad that I missed what looked like a once-in-a-lifetime event, but also thankful that filmmakers Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern appear to have beautifully captured all the emotion and music of the event (not to mention a festive and crazy-looking Reggie Watts). Our colleague Chuck Klosterman’s line, “When you start a band, do you imagine how it will end?” is still roller coastering around my head. It’s really no surprise that Shut Up and Play the Hits is one of the hottest tickets at this year’s Sundance. I know my buddy Rembert was in attendance that night, so I’m dying to hear what he has to say.