Indie darling Jim Jarmusch gets into the zombie game this weekend with TheDeadDon’tDie. The comedy was selected to open the Cannes Film Festival last month and it comes with an all-star cast that includes Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, and Carol Kane.
Prior to its French debut in May, the pic was looked at as a potential summer sleeper. However, the Cannes buzz has potentially slowed its walk toward box office success. Reviews were very mixed and it currently holds just a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jarmusch’s largest domestic earner is BrokenFlowers, his 2005 collaboration with Murray. It earned $13 million and is the only title in the director’s catalogue to top $10 million. Audiences dig zombies but with so-so reaction and a smallish theater count of 550, I’m not even certain this will top Flowers.
I’ll predict a sluggish performance for the Dead.
TheDeadDon’tDie opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million
For my MeninBlack: International prediction, click here:
Forrest Tucker’s life of easygoing deception includes telling the woman he’s courting that he’s a salesman. In a way he is. Forrest (Robert Redford) is selling the most pleasant experience imaginable for the bank tellers he’s robbing. He does so with a calm and reassuring demeanor and the occasional megawatt movie star smile. Tucker was a real man who spent his decades doing what he excelled at. He was noted for being a charmer and Redford (in what might be his final role) certainly knows how to play that.
TheOldMan&TheGun is a testament to Redford’s decades of doing what he’s excellent at. Tucker is an outlaw and that moniker holds true for the legend playing him. He’s played other outlaws and the actor that’s championed independent film fits that description.
Forrest’s biggest claim to fame was his ability to break out of prisons (close to 20 times). David Lowery’s feature concentrates more on what put him in the slammer in the first place across Texas and other states. We meet him on a work day as he ambles into a local branch in the early 1980s. He calmly and appealingly tells the teller that he’ll be making an unauthorized withdrawal. The police who interview his marks seem to all say the same things… seemed like a nice guy.
That doesn’t matter much to detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck, a frequent Lowery contributor). He’s bound and determined to catch Forrest and his aging two colleagues (Tom Waits and Danny Glover). Hunt could be at a disadvantage. He seems worn down by his job. Forrest, even at his advancing age, still seems to relish it.
The heart of Gun involves Forrest meeting Texas farmer and widow Jewel (Sissy Spacek). Their potential romance gives him a bit of pause. He’s never ridden a horse. She’s got three of them on her property. It’s apparently on his to-do list. It would seem a life enjoying his lifted money on the farmland might be too. Or perhaps not as his job genuinely brings him the greatest joy.
Watching Redford and Spacek together gives us joy. They’re dynamite together. The stylish flair employed by its director is joyous to witness. The same adjective describes listening to Tom Waits giving a monologue about Christmas in his childhood. On the other hand, Affleck’s role isn’t really fleshed out. The screenplay attempts to give him some back story with his wife (Tika Sumpter) and kids, but it never really takes form. There’s also the matter of the audience not really wanting Hunt to catch his likable prey.
This is ultimately Redford’s show. If this is his curtain call, it’s a relaxed and awfully entertaining one. We’re reminded of the star’s former works in old clips toward the end and I found it emotionally gratifying. I finished TheOldMan&TheGun sporting the same smile that its subject greets those tellers.
In case you didn’t know, there are two major film festivals currently happening. In addition to Venice (which has produced a handful of Oscar Watch posts already), the Telluride Film Festival kicks off today. The opening selection is TheOldMan & TheGun, David Lowery’s latest which reportedly features the retirement role of Mr. Robert Redford. It tells the true life story of Forrest Tucker, a genteel bank robber and prison escape artist.
Early screenings have occurred and reviews are quite positive. However, nothing I’ve seen suggests this will be a factor in Best Picture. Lowery is a critical favorite. Yet even better reviewed features such as Ain’tThemBodiesSaints and AGhostStory didn’t register with the Academy.
The big question is whether Redford gets in for Best Actor. Shockingly, the legendary performer has been nominated only once. That was 45 years ago for TheSting. He has won Best Director for 1980’s OrdinaryPeople. The lead actor looks like it has the potential to be crowded, but this could be voters final chance to recognize him as he says Gun will be his last acting role.
As for supporting players, I wouldn’t look for Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, or Tom Waits to get any traction for their work. Sissy Spacek, on the other hand, could also benefit from her stature as writers are citing her strong work. It’s also worth noting that Fox Searchlight is one of the better studios at awards campaigns.
Bottom line: competition is a key factor, but Redford and Spacek are possibilities.
TheOldMan & TheGun is scheduled for release September 28. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Just over a decade ago, Joel and Ethan Coen finally broke through with Academy voters via NoCountryforOldMen. Premiering in Venice today is their latest effort TheBalladofBusterScruggs. Originally conceived as a six-part Netflix series, the brothers Coen chose to combine this tale of violent Western vignettes into a feature film. Its cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson.
Reviews overseas indicate that Ballad contains great moments and some uneven ones. I wouldn’t expect this to be a contender in Picture or Director. As for its actors, Neeson and Waits have been singled out. Yet again, their inclusion is Supporting Actor could be a reach.
Ballad does stand a better chance at possible recognition for Original Screenplay (depending on strength of competition) and its cinematography.
Bottom line: Ballad could factor into down the line races, but don’t expect this to play in the largest prize pool.
Following an expected theatrical release, Scruggs debuts on Netflix on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…