Good Morning Hollywood, August 18: ‘Swan’ Songs

Pundits swoon for “Black Swan,” and go deep (too deep?) with “The Expendables”

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, pundits swoon for “Black Swan” and go deep (too deep?) with “The Expendables.”

Everybody’s writing about the trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” (poster below) which debuted online on Tuesday. Nathaniel Rogers: “I can barely type for the shaking.” Empire: “you can count us as very, very excited to see the whole thing.” Peter Knegt: “a great late summer tease for what could be a very exciting part of the fall festival circuit.”Jeff Wells: “Pretty damn intense.” Kris Tapley: “It looks like an absolute stunner.” Greg Ellwood: “The picture is a true awards season contender.” Katherine Riley: “It's like a ballet version of Showgirls! But actually cool and creepy, not just campy.” There are lots more, with a few comparisons to “Single White Female,” some salivating over presumably steamy Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis action, and questions about whether the film might be either too much like a horror film, or too weird and David Lynchian, to vie for a Best Picture spot. I’ll leave the last word for JB Moore, commenting on the Hot Blog: “This looks like Showgirls meets Suspiria meets The Fly. I’m there.” And the trailer is here.

Black SwanDo you think people might be reading too much into a big, dumb action flick? I’d say yes after seeing Steven Zeitchik’s exploration of “The Expendables,” which tries to position the film – whose entire raison d’etre, as far as I can determine, was to put a whole bunch of (mostly fading) action heroes in one place – as not only a deliberate throwback to 1980s-style action movies, but as a cinematic rebirth of “easy American heroism.” But maybe that has nothing to do with the success, Zeitchik says, as he ponders the relationship between cultural and geopolitical upheaval and action-movie politics. I don’t think it requires much pondering: I mean, it’s a big, dumb action movie that blows stuff up and has a whole bunch of tough guys in it. People think it’ll give ‘em some bang for their buck. End of story. (24 Frames)

Zeitchik’s L.A. Times colleague Patrick Goldstein then wades in on the “Expendables” story, which allows him to do one of his favorite things: see what conservatives think about Hollywood’s latest product. But Goldstein is surprised to find that the Right doesn’t view Sylvester Stallone’s opus through a single, ideologically-driven lens: turns out some of them like it, some don’t, and they can’t seem to agree on whether it’s properly patriotic or not. Maybe because politics were completely irrelevant to the people who were making the movie … (The Big Picture)

Sylvain Chomet, the French animator who was Oscar-nominated for “The Triplets of Belleville,” talks to Trevor Johnston about turning an unfilmed script by the iconic writer, director and star of “Playtime” and “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday,” Jacques Tati, into his new film, “The Illusionist.” The influences run deep (no close-ups, for one thing), and so do the family conflicts that have made his film unexpectedly controversial. But the spats aren’t likely to have much impact on the stateside release of a film that, sight unseen, looks likely to be a real player in the Oscar animated-feature race, which often finds room for one film made outside the U.S. studio system. (Time Out London)

As its high-profile film festival approaches, Toronto’s politicians discuss the issue of public funding of the arts. Martin Knelman reports that at city hall meetings on Monday, various arts organizations (including the festival) made their pitches, and the city council voted to remain with the current goal of spending $25 per capita on the arts by 2013 – that’s almost double the $13 spent when the plan was originally formulated seven years ago, but far short of the $86 spent in San Francisco, which Knelman calls “a competitor city comparable to Toronto in many ways.” The fly in the ointment is that one of the city’s three mayoral candidates would almost certainly not support increased arts funding – and that one, Rob Ford, is currently leading in the polls. (The Star)