Quentin Tarantino is suing his neighbor, fellow Oscar winning writer Alan Ball over Ball's pet macaws, which "emit blood-curdling screams." Fair enough! But Tarantino's lawsuit is ridiculously worded, and starts off by quoting Goethe: "He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." Good grief. Here's more of the lawsuit:
Stephen Colbert turns 45 today. Harvey Keitel is turning 70. Stevie Wonder is 59. Vogue publisher Tom Florio is 53. Tim Zagat is turning 69. Legendary divorce attorney Raoul Felder is 75. Writer/director Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) is turning 52. Dennis Rodman is 48. Twilight star Robert Pattinson is 23. Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker turns 43. P.S. 1 founder Alanna Heiss is 66. Former Guggenheim Museum director Lisa Dennison is turning 56. Social fixture Amanda Cutter Brooks is 35. And Miss California Carrie Prejean celebrates her 22nd birthday today.
The Vampires Give Back. An operative deep undercover in Tampa writes us: "I am stymied as to why Sam Trammell and Rutina Wesley ("Sam" and "Tara") from HBO's True Blood are in my office's conference room giving out autographs and pictures with all 500 of the employees in my Tampa, FL cable company's office. Is it normal for a show to bring its actors on a tour of Florida suburbs to shake hands with call center employees, tech staff, etc.? Is this kind of grassroots PR work a good sign for the show, or a bad one?" Gee, we don't really know, though when we stop to think about it, the Austin Nichols and Luke Perry John From Cincinnati Visits A Surf Shop Near You! tour did come just weeks before its cancellation. Take from that what you will. [Defamer]
Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to peaks, valleys and pratfalls among the latest new movies in theaters. And finally, after consecutive weekends when we thought God had up and abandoned us with the feral makers of College and Disaster Movie, we have some real films to write about. So read on for our typically expert preview of what's what at the box office, including Coen surprises, Alan Ball atrocities, potential ladyfights, timely new DVD's and one melodrama to rule them all. As always, our opinions are our own; you simply can't fake this kind of refinement, taste and acuity. WHAT'S NEW: So Burn After Reading is good — more admirable than likable, really, with the Coen brothers returning to their parched well of overmatched dolts in possession of objects way beyond their ken. This time it's Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand attempting to blackmail a CIA analyst (a bracingly potty-mouthed John Malkovich) whose "memoirs" they've found lying on their gym's floor; Tilda Swinton and George Clooney join in as awkward archetypes of paranoia and aloof, striving America. If we sound glib, that's Burn for you — a plot- and style-allergic screwball comedy that succeeds primarily as an almost-clean break (even Pitt's character is ultimately a red herring) from two decades of recycled Coen tropes.Alas, it's 20 years too late for some moviegoers, whose Coen aversion will keep Burn and its high-octane ensemble around $16 million for the weekend. That might be enough to surpass the De Niro/Pacino miscarriage Righteous Kill for second place overall, but we don't think anybody will overtake The Family That Preys — or, excuse us, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys. The distinction matters, too: Even with 1,000 fewer screens than Kill, the dude is a box-office witch with a cult following and increasing crossover juice (Kathy Bates!) that'll push Family to $19.5 million in three days. Not that we've seen it — Perry doesn't avail his films to the press — but it's still fascinating stuff; we'll have more on him here later in the day. Also opening: The chatty, mostly misleadingly titled Young People Fucking; Takashi Miike's acid-trip spaghetti Eastern Sukiyaki Western Django; the flashback-y Jewish family drama A Secret; the enviro-alarmist doc FLOW: For Love of Water; and Matthew McConaughey's shirtless adventure Surfer, Dude. THE BIG LOSER: Here and elsewhere, we've made little secret of our disdain for Towelhead, Alan Ball's thoroughly revolting, exploitive, amateurish, illiterate and borderline retarded sketch of molesty, multi-ethnic suburban ennui. It's not worth getting into again — that's what Google's for — but look at it this way: Warner Independent Pictures didn't fold because it couldn't compete; it was poisoned. If you pay money to see this movie, you could be next.
· True Blood's premiere drew just 1.44 million viewers—about a half-million better than Tell Me You Love Me, but 2 million short of what John From Cincinnati managed to score in its slot following The Sopranos's series finale. We haven't watched it yet, because we find vampires annoying. Enough with the biting and the capes, already! [LAT]
· "The expression I use is that a 747 can't make a sharp right turn," says studio head Katherine Pope about the dilemma of attracting new viewers to NBC's Life after the show's truncated first season. However, a 747 can make a sharp downward turn, tailspin, then crash and burn. Let's hope Life doesn't. We liked it. [Variety] · Patricia Heaton and Treat Williams will star as the real world parents of a child with Tourette Syndrome in CBS MOW Front of the Class. Instead of swear words and racial epithets, however, the student in the TV version will involuntarily shout out Jell-O flavors. [THR] · Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinksi re-team for Rango, a motion-capture CG animated film about a "pet who goes on an adventure." [Variety] · Val Kilmer, Armand Assante, and Eric Roberts have been cast in indie thriller The Steam Experiment, about "six people trapped and terrorized in an urban Turkish bathhouse," pitched to investors of "Hostel with shvitzing." [THR]
If it's the last thing it ever does — and it probably will be — Warner Independent Pictures is bound and determined to wring every last bit of notoriety out of the $1.5 million it spent last year on Alan Ball's merde du jour directing debut Towelhead. And almost a full 12 months after the film met its Toronto Film Festival premiere audience with a splat heard 'round the world, the doomed mini-major's quest to culturally salvage what's left of the rape-and-racism coming-of-age drama has tapped into yet another free-publicity boon: The Council on American-Islam Relations finally came around the other day to condemn the title Towelhead and urge a name change. We know nobody saw that coming. But things got a little sketchier late Wednesday as Ball and source novelist Alicia Erian each issued statements responding to the CAIR kerfuffle, invoking their minority status to deflect the charge that Towelhead is anything but a cynical tug on the pantleg of jaded viewers everywhere. Their two cents is after the jump, along with a few reasons you should see right through it.This ultimately comes down to the principals hanging themselves by their own ropes, starting with race-card shark Arian:
Like it or not, it's time to let go of any qualms you may have about welcoming a successor to Harry Potter's tween-bewitching throne and embrace what will surely become the zeitgeisty-est franchise of the decade. Twilight is here, it's a little bit queer, and don't even try ignoring it. The dewy, sexy, hickey-adorned film version of the hugely successful books centered around hot teenage vampires has begun garnering its first feature stories in the glossies, and the millions of "fan girls" obsessed with the tales are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. The new issue of EW features the film's two newbie stars on its cover, and the odd photo is setting message boards and fan sites ablaze with criticism from the series' longtime devotees. And angry fans aren't the only obstacle Twilight faces — too-cool-for-school Alan Ball has a vampire show premiering on HBO later this year and, unlike "powdered donut" Edward and "plain" Bella, his blood-suckers sit at the cool kids' table...
We've survived our share of bad movies at film festivals, but nothing quite scrapes the all-time low of Towelhead, the directorial debut of American Beauty/Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball. Upon our viewing of the film (then titled Nothing is Private) at last year's Toronto Film Festival, our disdain for Ball's facile mishmash of pedophilia, racism and "edgy" suburban angst provoked us to level a bounty on the filmmaker's pin head — a bounty we'd like to double after viewing the new trailer. Laugh! at the lukewarm tampon gags. Gasp! at Aaron Eckhart's predatory one-liners. Cry! at Toni Collette's decreasing selectivity. This is but a fleck of the steaming horseshit we expect will bury Warner Independent Pictures in its post-New Line fight for life with corporate cousin Picturehouse, but we still think it merits your suggestions for creative, affordable means of cosmic revenge we might exact in the months ahead.
The Reeler reacts to yesterday's $1.25 million sale of The Aaron Eckhart Molests A 13-Year-Old Girl Project: "Think of it like Todd Solondz remaking Crash in a cul-de-sac, but with twice the tampons and a quarter of the self-respect. Ball makes Paul Haggis look like Robert Bresson. This prick couldn't direct traffic in a two-car garage. The hi-def cinematography is barely carpet-commercial grade, slumping into a blown-out honey hue recalling dive bar urinal spatter. The actors grimace through scene upon scene of button-pushing for button-pushing's sake, from bloody panties to competing American flags to adolescent strip/rape scenarios. So controversial, I know. Or maybe I'm the one being facile; do audiences still actually fall for this 'dark suburbia' boilerplate? Is Alan Ball that cynical, or are masturbating 13-year-olds browsing porn mags the newest, freshest angle in the Are You Shocked, America? How About Now? playbook?" [The Reeler]
Faster than you can say "Dakota Fanning Rape Project," the Toronto Film Festival screenings of Alan Ball's Nothing is Private should produce a level of buzz-building, pre-acquisition outrage unseen since the first reports that universally beloved/feared child star Fanning's cinematic virtue would be stolen at the 2006 edition of Sundance. Outraged Fox 411 gossip columnist Roger Friedman previews his early candidate for Feel-Awful Movie of 2007, in which Aaron Eckhart, perhaps overcompensating for the guilt of cashing his No Reservations paycheck, returns to the darker In the Company of Men/Your Friends & Neighbors material of his early career: