July 18, 2001, 10:59 p.m. CST
i realise that payne isn't out to make things 'easy' for the audience, but like todd solondz, he seems to take a cold delight in rubbing your face in the pettiness and frailty of his characters. if i must have a morality play, let it be from neil labute - his movies make my skin crawl but in a good way, if you know i mean (and i'm not sure i even know what i mean, you know?).
July 19, 2001, 1:44 a.m. CST
by Captain Katanga
Election didn't have a heart??? You need to watch it again, it has more heart than 90 percent of films out there...
July 19, 2001, 9:24 a.m. CST
Sounds like some serious Oscar bait for Jack. As good as it gets on downers...?
July 19, 2001, 9:48 a.m. CST
A couple of things: Hopefully the title of this will get changed. It is just way to similar to that horrible looking upcoming series from NBC called 'Inside Scwartz'. I enjoyed election tremendously, but something about Citizen Ruth bothers me still. Every review I read of it, every interview with the cast and crew I saw or read, and every little blurb I read all said that it let both sides of the abortion issue have it equally. All that crap still bothers me. Payne made a PRO abortion film when he made CR...there are no two ways about it. Election was a fine film, but CR was insufferable trash. Payne is much better when he decides to leave his own personal politics out and just make movies. I hope I don't hear a monologue from Jack on how unfair tax cuts are to the poor.
July 19, 2001, 10:26 a.m. CST
by otis von zipper
Citizen Ruth was not a movie I loved immensly, but someone suggested it was PRO abortion. Gotta disagree. Yes, the movie doesn't really explore both sides of the issue, but I would say that it actually doesn't approah the issue at all. The actual issue of having an abortion. Rather, the film explores the radical groups on either side and criticizes them both. If the film is PRO abortion, I didn't see it, and I can't think of how it was expressed unless you think the film just simply expressed a preference for individual choice and didn't suggest that abortion was wrong, which again I would disagree, because I felt some scenes did express that idea. I've written about that much more than I thought I would, so I just wanted to say Election had a great deal of heart, specifically within the character of Tammy, the sister. That film was a real treat, and I anxiouly await Payne's next film.
July 19, 2001, 11:05 a.m. CST
Nicholson has always been a pleasure to watch, not surprisingly, in the role of the dissatisfied, unhappy never-do-wells he popularized in the 70's. Particularly strong in "Five Easy Pieces" and "Carnal Knowledge", his characters are decidely flawed, human. Nicholson can make one sympathetic to some not so savory individuals and I look forward to seeing him do so with "Schimdt".
July 19, 2001, 11:09 a.m. CST
That's where the best films come from. Jesus, look at Kubrick! Did he leave out his own political and socail views. I think you've got it all wrong buddy. That's my two cents anyway.
July 19, 2001, 11:59 a.m. CST
by jeff bailey
I am a huge fan of Election. I think it was a brilliant film. I personally think it is the best film ever made about high school. It's more real then any thing John Hughes ever coughed up. Ruth I didn't think was quite as entertaining or amusing but it certainly had Payne's unique sensibilities. He has a flair for the banal and an eye for the human condition in all it's pettiness. I think he captured it in Election in a way guys like LaBute and Solondoz (who has his moments) don't, in that they seem to set up their characters flaws and appetites and then punish them for it. Payne just seems to stick to letting them be sort of ordinary and fumbling. Not bad people, just sort of stupid and petty. I for one can't wait to see this. But I do have to admit...43 million??? How much was Jack's salary??
July 19, 2001, 2:17 p.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
....ought to be taken out and shot. What the fuck is with you people? It reminds me of the idiots who cackle at the genuine emotion in AI. Why aren't you cackling at SWORDFISH or TOMB RAIDER or THE MUMMY RETURNS, you cretins? Oh, because I guess mediocrity is acceptable (particularly to a mediocre mind). But when an artist really puts his mind and heart out there...embarrassing! Too revealing, too vulnerable! Unacceptable! God, it pisses me off. A glass should be raised to Payne in honor of this movie even if it turns out to suck ass. Why? Because he has the one item you saw almost none of this summer: BALLS. P.S.: Go see Ghost World...if it's not too dark and depressing and fiscally irresponsible for you! (In which case--WHOA! Hey! How bout those raptors?)
July 19, 2001, 2:36 p.m. CST
it's sad, funny, heartbreaking, bittersweet, and the ending is very satisfying (as opposed to almost every other film this summer, including JP3). I REALLY hope Payne successfully translates the story from page to screen and blows the fish out of the water next year when this comes out.
July 19, 2001, 8:49 p.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
I am not an "angry teenager" and I work in the same "arena" you do...with a single difference. I have not so absorbed the Industry-fed jive that permeates nearly all coverage of movies, from the trades all the way to "highbrow" movie criticism, to the point where I would lash out at MAGNOLIA for being made at $40 million. Guess what? PTA is one of the best filmmakers working today, and if his ideas aren't worth $40 mil, then everyone should close up their shop. If the only "fiscally responsible" movies are focus-grouped, test-marketed, blue-chip investments like the same shitty tentpole movies you claim to despise, then whoopee for irresponsibility, I say. The bottom line is this: many good semi-cheap movies could be made for the same price that the majors are now making large bad ones...which, by the way, everyone, even the popcorn-chomping 13-year-olds, despise. Is there not a soul who will pipe up for art for art's sake? A recent article in the LA Times lambasted critics for being "aging" and "out of touch" because SOME of them praised AI. The fact that everyone in the world hasn't gone hog-wild and walked like a grinning zombie toward, say, LEGALLY BLONDE or PEARL HARBOR or whatever the fuck is a sign of being one of those Scorsese-Ashby-and-Altman- lovin' hippie ne'er-do-wells, in that hack's opinion. And by the way: Kevin Smith may be "fiscally responsible." He also could not direct his way out of a rickety outhouse made from popsicle sticks.
July 20, 2001, 11:33 a.m. CST
Lost in this entire debate is the fact that "About Schmidt" cost nowhere near this $40 million figure that's suddenly being tossed about. The movie was actually budgeted at "just north of $30 million," and eventually completed production under-budget and ahead of schedule. So now the question becomes: it irresponsible to spend about $30 million on a comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, and Kathy Bates, co-written and directed by Alexander Payne in his first film since being nominated for an Oscar?
July 20, 2001, 4:50 p.m. CST
But I don't consider "About Schmidt" to be a serious adult drama. Upon reading the script, I think it's a very funny adult comedy with serious undertones. I mean, even some of those sequences that Moriarty alludes to are laugh-out-loud hilarious. And if you've read the script, you already know that one of Kathy Bates' big scenes will ellicit screams of laughter and/or horror (do you know which scene I'm talking about?). "The Pledge" was bleak and depressing (though, in my opinion, an excellent film), and Warner Brothers seemed to intentionally kill it by dumping it in theaters in mid-January. "Magnolia" (one of my favorite movies, and screw fiscal responsibility, my life is better because it was made) is a three-hour plus melodrama with plot elements that many audiences found over-the-top and pretentious. In terms of size/genre/tone, I don't think of movies like that when looking for a parallel to "About Schmidt." Actually, the better comparison would be "Wonder Boys," which had similar themes and a similar quirky sense of humor. Yes, it bombed (and cost more than "About Schmidt"), but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have been made at that budget and with those stars. I think "Wonder Boys" could've performed so much better if it had a better marketing campaign and a more appropriate initial release date (instead of its late-Janurary release). For me, though, it comes down to this: The filmmakers delivered a wonderful movie, and I'll watch my DVD of "Wonder Boys" a dozen times before watching a frame of "Tomb Raider" again. I'm not going to shed any tears if Paramount lost money on "Wonder Boys" because of their crappy release strategy. Nearly five years ago, I was certain that "As Good As It Gets" was going to bomb. It was severely over-budget (over $65 million) with months of reshoots, and the script I read was long, bloated, and filled with subject matter and characters that audiences should have avoided like the plague. And who would've predicted that a dark comedy movie that ended with the hero being killed and telling audience members that they'd all be dead someday, too, would gross $130 million domestic? But "American Beauty" did that and more (a killer marketing campaign sure helped). Fact is, there's really no way to predict how these things will go.
July 21, 2001, 7:25 p.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
Saying "thirty million is too much for a serious adult drama." So a serious movie, not made for adolescents...has to be made at the level of a Lifetime movie? Or--let's be generous--at the level of I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER? I thought the point of Ain't-It-Cool-News was that it was supposed to made up of film LOVERS, not armchair quarterbacks of New Line's third-quarter performance. Ask yourself--is it God or Mammon you serve?