February 6, 2008

February 6, 2008

Sneak Preview- Then She Found Me
I had a bad couple of days last week and had entered a mild depressive state but that was instantly lifted as soon as I left the screening room after seeing Then She Found Me, Helen Hunt's directorial debut which will be released in late April. Based on the novel by Elinor Lipman and adapted by Helen Hunt, Vic Levin and Alice Arlen, this film tells the story of April Epner (Hunt), a woman struggling with her desire to have a child in the midst of the disintegration of her marriage (to Matthew Broderick), meeting her birth mother (Bette Midler) for the first time, and then unexpectedly falling in love with an equally damaged man (played spectacularly by Colin Firth.)

This film reminds me of last year's wrenching Away From Her, not in subject matter, but in the almost lyrical intersection of the performances and the script. Why it also reminds me of Away From Her is that Hunt, like Sarah Polley, shows us the women's faces in both their joy and agony. Hunt, as the lead, really puts herself out there and it works. Seeing her facial lines (yes, she does have lines on her face like any normal woman does) made me hold my breath for a moment because there are so few films where you are able to see the truth on someone's face. The film also co-stars Bette Midler as Hunt's mother who had her when she was a teenager and gave her up for adoption. I miss Bette who was so big in the late 80s and early 90s. I was really impressed with the whole effort. Mark your calendars now, April 25th.

I Could Never Be Your Woman Goes Straight to DVD
I've been desperate to get information and the back story on the delayed release and now straight to DVD dump of the Michelle Pfeiffer Amy Heckerling collaboration I Could Never Be Your Woman which has been done for over a year (closer to two.) I contacted Amy Heckerling's office but she wouldn't speak to me because she was hopeful that she might get a theatrical release. But now that there's no chance of that, she let loose to Missy Schwartz at Entertainment Weekly.

What is so spectacular about this film going straight to DVD is that it's not going because it's a bad (like the recent Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Lopez films) it's going to DVD because the film's producer was a crook, has gone bankrupt and screwed up every potential release at every turn. This story is incredibly sad.

Some highlights:

The one thing all parties agree on is that it's baffling that a movie with two well-known actors, [Paul Rudd is the co-star] directed by the woman behind Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, wound up in the home-video refuse pile.
Woman, however, is a subcultural curio. It's a modestly budgeted indie that, while far from perfect, never got the chance it deserved, hitting every speed bump and knocking over every traffic cone along the way.
The inspiration for I Could Never be Your Woman came to Heckerling in the mid-90s...Every day, she felt increasingly ambivalent about working in an industry that promotes unrealistic standards of beauty for young girls and considers women over 40 to be prehistoric beasts.
The screenplay found a home at Paramount, [when Sherry Lansing was still there] but in an unfortunate case of life imitating art, the studio put it on hold. "There was some concern about doing a movie with an older female protagonist- not everybody's favorite demographic..."
She got $25 million in financing from Phillipe Martinez of Bauer Martinez Entertainment who knew nothing about releasing films and to make a long story short he sold off the DVD and most of the TV rights to the Weinstein Company, but then almost got lucky enough to get MGM to release the film, but because Pfeiffer's deal was cut as $1 million up front and 15% of the gross of the top MGM balked. Of course Pfeiffer was blamed. They also seem to blame her for not agreeing to do enough publicity that scuttled a deal with Freestyle Releasing. Very convenient to blame the actress. Give me a break.
So despite positive test screenings, MGM shelved Woman- the same day Pfeiffer was due to board a plane to kick off the PR campaign.
The saddest outcome:
Heckerling doesn't know when she'll direct again. "I don't want to work for the hell of it," she says. "I get offered: 'Here's a girl who's mad at another girl for having a wedding on the same day.' "That'll be a big hit, but I don't want to do that."
If Amy Heckerling and Michelle Pfeiffer couldn't get into the theatres, what does that say for other women directed and women starring movies. This whole story gives me indigestion. Kudos for EW for laying it out, finally.
Full piece: Would You Dump This Woman? (EW)