I personally think it’s way too early for Oscar talk and don’t care too much about the International FIlm Festivals (and won’t until someone decides to send me to Venice to cover one), but that’s what going on this week.  There’s nothing worth seeing at the movies (Bangkok Dangerous??) and fall TV hasn’t even started yet.  Time to go back to bed.

  • In this week’s Gold Derby blog at latimes.com, Tom O’Neill confronts the question: could Peter O’Toole beat out Heath Ledger for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar?  Then he goes on to describe O’Toole’s latest vehicle, Dean Spanley that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, as “lollipop sweet” and “a nice Disney or Hallmark pic.”  The whole (imagined) conflict is at the core of how basically unimportant and random the Oscars are.  How could Ledger’s Joker even be in the same category as a curmudgeonly but sweet grandpa?  The question I want to confront is: How do I get a cushy and completely unnecessary job like Tom O’Neill?

  • As Capone at Ain’t it Cool News noticed, the revamped syndicated show of “At the Movies” – the show that brought Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert into pop culture and forever associated them with thumbs – premiered this week with new hosts Ben Lyon’s (E! Entertainment Television) and Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies).  Yes, they’re both named Ben.  I didn’t catch it, but I did see some clips on their websites and it is truly saddening.  This bastion of film criticism and passion for movies is now nothing more than another E! News Live.  I also get a violent urge to punch Ben Lyons in the face every time I see him.  It would be doing him a favor, since I think he has too many teeth.
  • Remember in Minority Report when all the posters and billboards that Tom Cruise walked past would beam ads into his brain?  Well, in Japan, THE FUTURE IS NOW.  SoftBank Mobile has teamed with movie poster company NTT Data, Hitachi and smart chip maker Gemalto to make pic posters which will beam trailers, stills and more into the cell phones of passersby (if they request it).  This techonology, known as Near Field Communication (NFC) is cool, but I’m still kind of scared of the future.  Unless Samantha Morton is going to be there.
  • Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler took home the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival on Saturday.  The film stars Mickey Rourke as an aging pro-wrestler who strikes up a romance with Marisa Tomei who plays an aging stripper.  Can we say “type-casting”?
  • Turns out that Europeans love ABBA even more than Batman: Mamma Mia! was No. 1 overseas this weekend with $15 million.  At home, Bangkok Dangerous took the top spot with $7.8 million, barely edging out Tropic Thunder which made $7.5 million in its 4th weekend.  Yes, it was a slow weekend.
  • And in yet another worthless (I’m just jealous) LA Times job, Rachel Abramowitz spent this week trying to cast Sarah Palin’s Lifetime movie, despite the fact that a few pages away John Horn insisted that Politics isn’t good for Box Office.  She came up with Demi Moore, which is a choice I have to applaud.  Though I’m personally still pulling my covers over my head and pretending Sarah Palin is just a bad dream.  Like Freddy Krueger.

Photo by Ryan Baxter Photography