Here’s shocking news: Nothing offends Americans anymore. Or, at least, nothing in the daring comedies now in theaters.
Say ”movie star” and chances are, your first association isn’t Frances McDormand. Sure, she’s had an Oscar nomination, for 1988’s Mississippi Burning, and a Tony nomination, too, for 1988’s A Streetcar Named Desire. She has the connections: Her husband is director Joel Coen; friends include Susan Sarandon and Holly Hunter. But McDormand doesn’t want to do the celeb thing, and between her offbeat looks, which can range from haunting to homespun, and her preference for low-profile parts, no one’s asked her to.
Woody Harrelson and Patricia Arquette will be there; Robert Redford won’t. Cannes — still the world’s preeminent film festival — opens its 12-day run May 9, and with the final selection of films due this week, these are Make Nice With a French Official days for movie distributors, to whom a Cannes win guarantees a gusher of publicity.
PICTUREThe English Patient
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECTBreathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien
DIRECTOR Anthony MinghellaThe English Patient
FILM EDITING Walter Murch The English Patient
ACTOR Geoffrey RushShine
Read any published screenplay, and the first thing you may see is a note from the author telling you how pointless it was to write the thing in the first place. ”Trainspotting is an incredible book…but still I didn’t see it as a film,” insists its adapter, John Hodge. ”I hope the army of admirers of Michael Ondaatje’s novel forgive my sins of omission and commission, my misjudgments and betrayals,” pleads The English Patient’s writer-director Anthony Minghella.
Hollywood 2 a.m. A young movie executive is tossing and turning in bed. He gets up, flips on his laptop, and begins typing out a memo. No, not a memo — a MISSION STATEMENT. Suddenly, the answer to his moral dilemma becomes clear: fewer films, less money, more attention to artistic integrity. He entitles it ”The Things We Think And Do Not Say…”
The Wonder Year
Your article was right on the money (”1999: The Year That Changed Movies”). We haven’t seen filmmaking of this caliber since the 1970s. The brilliant work produced this year could not have happened without the pioneering films of that decade and some films earlier in the ’90s. American Beauty could not have happened without Fargo, and Go would never have seen life without Pulp Fiction. As for Being John Malkovich, I have no idea where that came from!
There’s no question that this immaculately envisioned comedy of errors, told largely in close-ups of a dorky, ever-smiling policewoman (Frances McDormand) who unravels a botched kidnapping scheme, was among the year’s peak moviegoing wonders. But is Fargo also among the year’s best videos? Yes and no. The missteps, delusions, and naivete of the felons involved play out so broadly across the bleak Minnesotan snowscapes that they hold up hilariously on TV screens, even through impulse repeat viewings.
I don’t know where you’re reading this from, but where I’m WRITING from, it’s 101 degrees, roads are liquefying into icky pools of tar, and even New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani is too prostrate from the heat to snarl. Apart from watching the duffers at my brother-in-law’s country club set the 17th hole on fire with a misaimed fireworks display on Monday night, about the only entertainment I’ve had lately is renting any video featuring snow, icicles, or frostbite.
“Fargo“ ‘s William H. Macy is in final negotiations to star as the superhero The Shoveller (who gained his powers by discovering King Arthur’s shovel) in the upcoming film “Mystery Men.” The Universal movie is based on the Dark Horse comic book of the same name and costars Geoffrey Rush as villain Cassanova Frankenstein.
This project is the latest movie adaptation of an offbeat comic: Dimension, having found success with two films based on the “The Crow,” is developing a horror franchise created from a soon-to-be-released comic, “Ghosting,” about fraternity hazing gone wrong.
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