24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Jon Favreau

Hamilton Awards to 'Super 8,' 'Transformers,' 'Cowboys & Aliens'

November 7, 2011 |  4:21 pm

JJ Abrams, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards

Three titans of sci-fi/action movies –- J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau –- found some time to chat backstage Sunday night at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards. It was all light talk and photo ops until the ceremony began, when the filmmakers wandered in separate directions, pulling pieces of paper out of their pockets –- speeches they had written for presenting awards to collaborators on recent projects. Abrams asked to borrow a pen from a publicist, making some final revisions. Favreau stood some feet away, mouthing his speech to himself.

The awards, presented by the Hamilton Watch Co. and Los Angeles Confidential magazine, honored several filmmakers for their work this year. There also was a lifetime achievement award for Vic Armstrong, best known as Harrison Ford's and Christopher Reeve’s stunt double. At the event held at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, presenters were filmmakers and actors who had collaborated with the honorees on various projects.

Abrams presented the film editors award to his longtime collaborators Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, who were honored for Abrams’ summer hit “Super 8.”

“I found two collaborators who could do it all,” Abrams said in his speech. He went on to explain that he wanted to work in the film industry not just to make movies “but to make movies with people like this.”

The two editors were also appreciative and sincere about the director when they talked with 24 Frames on the event's red carpet. Markey said, “I don’t think we would be here without him. I certainly feel we owe a lot of our success to him."

Bay was at the event to support Scott Farrar, who received the visual effects supervisor award for Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which shot to No. 4 on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time.

Host Isaiah Mustafa introduced Bay as a man whose films have “grossed over 400 kajillion dollars,” and the director paid tribute to Farrar with a story about a Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. conference when a reporter asked him if he ever wanted to make an art movie.

“I said, 'Bumblebee is art. Do you have any idea how many hundreds of artists it takes to make these movies?’” Bay recalled.

Favreau presented Russell Bobbitt with the property master award for his work on “Cowboys & Aliens.” Bobbitt talked about his first conversation with Favreau about the film: When he learned that it would be a western, plus it would have aliens, his mouth dropped. He gave the audience a silent, gaping stare and said, “That was what my response sounded like.

“And opening day,” Favreau quipped, taking the opportunity for a self-deprecating jab about the movie’s ultimately poor box-office performance.

“Twilight” star Robert Pattinson also poked  fun at himself, though with a, well, different approach than the filmmakers who had been reviewing their speeches backstage an hour or so before. The actor presented Chris Weitz with an award for directing “A Better Life.”

Following Mustafa’s introduction of Pattinson (in which he claimed the room’s occupants would be screaming were it filled with teenage girls instead of industry VIPs), Pattinson said, “I’d prefer to have the room be full of screaming girls -– then no one could hear how bad I am at speeches.”

Pattinson, whom Weitz directed in “Twilight: New Moon,” began to launch into an explanation of what an artist Weitz is, then cut himself short, saying, “I feel ridiculous. The last time I talked with Chris I was like, ‘Want to go to Coachella and do some mushrooms?'”

Weitz’s first words upon walking up to the microphone onstage were an emphatic “Mushroom soup.”

Armstrong’s lifetime achievement award was presented by Ford, who said he felt like one of the luckiest men in Hollywood when “30 years ago I was hired to do Vic’s dialogue.” The stunt coordinator and stunt double’s award at the event came about five months after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted against creating an Oscar category for stunt coordinators. Armstrong was also given a lifetime achievement award in 2005 by the Taurus World Stunt Awards.

Sunday’s event also honored Yasmina Reza for writing “Carnage” and Agustín Almodóvar for producing “The Skin I Live In.” See below for full list of award recipients.

Award winners:

Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, film editors, “Super 8”

Mark Ricker, production designer, “The Help”
Russell Bobbitt, property master, “Cowboys & Aliens”

Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer, “The Tree of Life”
Evelina De Gaudenzi, short film competition winner
Scott Farrar, visual effects supervisor, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Janie Bryant, costume designer, “Mad Men”

Yasmina Reza, screenwriter, “Carnage”

Agustín Almodóvar, producer, “The Skin I Live In”

Chris Weitz, director, “A Better Life”

Vic Armstrong, lifetime achievement in stunt choreography


'Cowboys & Aliens': Five lessons to take away

'Super 8' seeks an audience among the summer tent poles

Indiana Jones, Superman and Bond: Vic Armstrong’s life in stunts

-– Emily Rome

Photo: J.J. Abrams, left, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards, presented by Los Angeles Confidential magazine and the Hamilton Watch Co., at the Conga Room. Credit: Todd Williamson / WireImage

Mel Gibson gets a boost from Robert Downey Jr.

October 15, 2011 | 12:34 am

Mel gibson at robert downey jr. event

The slow but methodical rehabilitation of Mel Gibson in Hollywood took another step forward Friday night, courtesy of Robert Downey Jr.

Dozens of famous faces who've performed onscreen with Downey or directed him -- among them Gibson, Jodie Foster, Garry Shandling, Michael Douglas and Jon Favreau -- gathered to pay tribute to (and roast) the "Iron Man" star at the Beverly Hilton as he received the 2011 American Cinematheque Award.

The evening kicked off with a humorous video of Gibson, Shandling and Jamie Foxx poking fun at Downey. That was followed by a video clip of Foster receiving the Cinematheque Award in 1999 -- and receiving a congratulatory call from Downey, who was then incarcerated in a California state prison after several arrests on drug-related charges.

Numerous other presenters, including Foster, Douglas, and Jennifer Aniston came to the stage and made various references to Downey's long battle with addiction as they paid tribute to his abilities as an actor and his strength in overcoming his substance abuse issues.

Last onstage was Gibson, who starred with Downey in the 1990 film "Air America" and reunited with him onscreen in 2003 in "The Singing Detective" -- Gibson reportedly put up the money for Downey's insurance bond on the project when he was considered essentially untouchable by others.  

Gibson has been inching back into the public eye in the last six months, after he settled the ugly custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend that exploded into public view last year and after his movie "The Beaver" (directed by Foster) finally was released.

Gibson joked that people had warned him about Downey's unpredictability but said he just saw a good guy who was "making a few adjustments." Then, he added self-depricatingly, it was essential to remember that this was Mel Gibson making this assessment. 

When Downey came to the stage, he acknowledged his long friendship with Gibson and quipped that the two had shared the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. We should stage "an intervention" for them, he joked.

Turning more serious, Downey said that "when I couldn't get sober, Mel helped me," keeping a roof over his head and food on his table, and helping him get work. According to Downey, Gibson told him that he needed to find his faith and embrace responsibility for his acts, and if he did so, his life would find new meaning. "Hugging the cactus, he called it," Downey said. "And all he asked was that I help the next guy" in a similar situation. 

"It's reasonable to assume," Downey added sardoncially, "that he didn't expect the next guy would be him."

As Gibson looked at his shoes, Downey proclaimed that Gibson himself had "hugged the cactus long enough" and deserved support. Then the two shared a long embrace as the crowd broke into applause.


Robert Downey Jr. revisits his film career

Robert Downey Jr.'s wife is pregnant with their first baby

'Iron Man 3′ and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era 

-- Julie Makinen 

Photo: Mel Gibson speaks onstage during the 25th American Cinematheque Award ceremony honoring Robert Downey Jr.  at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Friday evening. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images 



'Cowboys & Aliens' Jon Favreau is lassoing up everything

July 27, 2011 |  9:34 am

You may or may not head out to see Jon Favreau's "Cowboys & Aliens" this weekend, but you won't have to go very far to see Jon Favreau. Over the last month, the actor-filmmaker has been more omnipresent than the metallic wrist-device from his mash-up film.

Favreau is going above and beyond many of the promotional stops to tout his new effort. He recently guest-edited an issue of the Hollywood Reporter. On Wednesday night, he's directing an episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He commissioned a "Cowboys & Aliens" spoof video from young filmmakers named Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch and starred in it himself (watch it below). And there's always Twitter, where in the last 24 hours Favreau has shot out eight tweets to his more than 1 million followers.

The director-as-celebrity is nothing new, of course. Orson Welles cultivated a certain aura, New Wave directors in the 1960s were sometimes more famous than the stars of their films, and in the 1990s Quentin Tarantino promoted his own celebrity with an up-from-the-video-store mythology. But the platforms are wider and the publicity opportunities greater now than they've ever been, which gives it all an amplified effect. And Favreau, perhaps as the result of his acting background, is certainly an anomaly these days, when many studio directors are hired hands, and those that aren't (eg, Christopher Nolan) tend to keep a lower profile.

Universal no doubt likes the extra push Favreau is giving the film. "Cowboys & Aliens" is not based on a widely known property, and it straddles genres, so every piece of exposure helps. At a certain point, though, it may be fair to ask how much seeing Jon Favreau will have people going out to see his movie and how much will just have them seeing more Jon Favreau.



Why is Jon Favreau moving away from Iron Man?

When a director becomes a Twitter cowboy

Hero Complex: Jon Favreau leads elite Hollywood posse into wild frontier

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jon Favreau. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA


Around Town: True crime, reel comedy, cowboys, aliens, rock docs and more

July 21, 2011 |  5:30 am


Crime takes over the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Bing Theatre this weekend with an eclectic roster of favorites beginning Thursday with the 1970 drama "The Honeymoon Killers," about the famed Lonely Hearts Killers Raymond Fernandez (Tony LoBianco) and Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler). Humphrey Bogart gives one of his most complex performances in Nicholas Ray's acclaimed 1950 film noir, "In a Lonely Place," screening Friday along with Robert Altman's 1973 version of Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" with Elliott Gould as gumshoe Philip Marlowe. Saturday's early evening screening is Luis Bunuel's surreal 1962 film, "The Exterminating Angel," with David Lynch's offbeat 2001 mystery thriller, "Mulholland Drive," screening later in the evening.

LACMA's Saturday monster movie matinees continue with the 1959's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," with James Mason and Pat Boone; the Tuesday matinee at LACMA features MGM's all-star 1933 comedy "Dinner At Eight," directed by George Cukor.  http://www.lacma.org

Two comedies starring Steve Martin at his wild and crazy best -- 1979's "The Jerk" and 1986's "Little Shop of Horrors" -- screen Thursday at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. The laughs continue Friday evening with a series of shorts starring the great silent comedians Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

Continue reading »

'Cowboys & Aliens' hosts a genre marriage [Trailer]

April 15, 2011 |  2:41 pm

There's a quiet, almost soulful moment at the beginning of the new trailer for "Cowboys & Aliens," when an amnesiac Daniel Craig has dropped in from another world, that suggests an intimacy you don't often find in summer-blockbuster filmmaking. It's not long before it gives way to the necessary quick-cut explosions. In-between, at least, we do get glimpses of a story, which apparently has to do with Harrison Ford's character's family being kidnapped by the aliens and Olivia Wilde's character fearing what the interplanetary interlopers will do to her people, challenges Craig's Jake Lonergan is tasked with when he's not trying to remember who he is.

It's still too soon to tell if the mash-up of westerns and science-fiction conventions will come off as interesting  or incongruous.  What does emerge from the trailer is that the movie doesn't skimp on the western atmosphere — something we suspect will play a lot better in a post-"True Grit" world — and that there isn't as much humor in Jon Favreau's July release as there was in the director's "Iron Man" movies. Still, the western cliche of a horse chase is nicely subverted with pursuit from an alien craft, and at the end there's even a nod to Ford's Indiana Jones shoot-the-swordsman moment from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when Craig one-ups bad guys with a more sophisticated weapon.


— Steven Zeitchik



When a director becomes a Twitter cowboy

Hero Complex: Jon Favreau's popcorn primary

Comic-con 2010: Harrison Ford gives Cowboys & Aliens an otherworldly feel



Comic-Con 2010: Who swam, who sank and who treaded water

July 26, 2010 |  7:30 am


What would happen if every day was Comic-Con? For one thing, we'd probably lose our minds. The show's hype is like lead paint -- a small amount is tolerable, even sweet, but too much leaves you prostrate and numb.  For another, if every day was actually Comic-Con no studio executive would ever lose his job. Every movie is a hit in Hall H, that magical place where dreams come true and where creators and executives can always turn for a validation fix. Thousands of people are cheering and taking cellphone pictures -- how can a film not be a blockbuster? (Here's the link, by the way, to the complete compendium of Comic-Con stories from our sister blog Hero Complex. Some more specific URLs below.)

Yet while a movie's reception at Comic-Con isn't predictive of either the very broadly oriented releases ("Avatar," which drew a mixed reaction last year) or the very fan-centric ones ("Kick-Ass" played extremely well in San Diego but struggled upon release), for the many movies in the vast middle, it can presage plenty. There's cheering and there's cheering; how loud the cheers come, and from whom, does indicate plenty about a movie's prospects.

With that in mind, we decided to run down a batch of movies from the show and offer a few thoughts about how, from where we sat, they all fared.

"Cowboys and Aliens"

The Pre-Con Status: Intense interest in Jon Favreau, the original graphic novel and the genre-jumping premise overcame some early distaste caused by Robert Downey Jr. jumping ship.

The Play: Emphasize the Harrison Ford of it all, let the panelists say very little (they're at a relatively early stage of production) and allow the hybrid-y extended footage (atmospheric period western turns into an explosion-heavy UFO-attack movie) do the talking.

The Payoff: The weird truth of Comic-Con is that sometimes the earlier you are in production, the better off your chances with fans. That helped here.The footage was also different enough from anything else that plays Comic-Con (or the multiplex), helping to make it one of the best-received of the studio panels. There was also plenty of good feeling from Ford's presence, though that's precisely the kind of Comic-Con moment that's long forgotten when a film finally comes out.

"Sucker Punch"

The Pre-Con Status: Zack Snyder could no wrong after "300." Then he did "Watchmen." His new film came into San Diego in an uncertain place.

The Play: Emphasize the "300"-esque stylized violence -- and the bombshell female cast, as about a half-dozen on the actresses joined Snyder for a panel.

The Payoff: The footage sometimes looked as slick and kinetic as "300," and this could be the rare Snyder films that brings in women. But the director wasn't hugely articulate/compelling in his own comments, and  while fanboys always like a whip-snapping woman hero, the panel might have played a little too pink-hearts-and-rainbows (hello, Vanessa Hudgens) to snag the all-important young-male demo. Women, for their part, could be an equally tough sell.

"The Green Hornet"

The Pre-Con Status: Questions about Seth Rogen's ability to pull off the superhero character -- not to mention similar questions about the film's tone -- have bedeviled this serio-comic take on the radio and TV character for a while now.

The Play: Let Rogen trot out his stoner comedy and lock down the slacker segment of the "Knocked Up" crowd, while simultaneously redefine him as as a swaggering hero.

The Payoff: The panel was vexed by the same problem as the trailer: the inability to choose, or find the right space, between comedy and the more serious business of superhero mythology. This one made few inroads at Comic-Con.

Continue reading »

When a director becomes a Twitter cowboy

April 7, 2010 |  7:23 pm

This is how entertainment news goes down in the Twitter era. A director (Jon Favreau) tweets that there's casting news coming imminently on a movie of his ("Cowboys & Aliens"). A blog (Latino Review) postulates that the actor about to be cast is Harrison Ford. A few days later, Favreau tweets that it's indeed Ford but tells followers (all 753,000 of them) to keep mum. "Please stop asking if Harrison Ford is in Cowboys & Aliens. Okay? He is. Please don't tell anybody."

Reporters had their heads spinning upon reading this earlier today. Was Favreau indicating his intentions or just pretending to agree to get people off his back? Was it confirmation or a kind of social-media performance art?

In the end, it turns out, it was the truth. Insiders confirm that Ford will star in the movie. He'll have a part that's described as a co-lead role in the adaptation of the science-fiction western that's scheduled to start shooting (with Daniel Craig as the star, replacing Robert Downey Jr. as the man leading an anti-alien insurgency) this summer.

But there's a larger issue here, one that's going to rear itself with increasing regularity. Like everything else it the world that's happening faster and earlier, directors and stars are Twittering more often. And they're moving the locus of their tweets from the set to the audition room. A director trying to lure an actor -- or one simply giddy about one he's landed -- is going to tell people, even if he's going to do in a faux-hush way that makes it seem as if he's not spilling the beans, a la Favreau.

Of course, running up against this are studios, who generally maintain that any casting news is bad news before the ink is dry on a contract (understandably, as it can force a studio's hand in negotiations). They grumble when it's reporters (who are also going earlier and faster) breaking the news. But when it's their own talent, they're in an even tougher spot. Do they try to muzzle their stars and risk alienating them? Or accept that they have even less control than they previously thought?

Expect a lot more tweets from a lot more people in Hollywood in the coming months. There may not be much that anyone -- studios, reporters or anyone else -- can do about it. The only solution that might, just might, work would be to cast older stars, as it's probably safe to say Harrison Ford won't be Twittering the intimate details of his life. For now.

--Steven Zeitchik

Follow me on Twitter (of course).

Photo: Jon Favreau in "Couple's Retreat." Credit: Suzanne Hanover / Universal Studios


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