Quicklinks
Top Links
biography by votes awardsNewsDeskmessage board
Filmographies
overviewby type by year by ratings by votes awards by genre by keyword
Biographical
biography other works publicity photo galleryNewsDeskmessage board
External Links
official sites miscellaneous photographs sound clips video clips

Connect with IMDb



2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 1998

3 items from 2006


Ask the Dust

3 February 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Much admired by Charles Bukowski and occupying a hallowed place in the literature of Los Angeles, John Fante's slender 1939 novel "Ask the Dust" pulses with the bruised but hopeful poetry of outsiders' yearnings. The love-hate romance at its center involves not only the tug of war between writer Arturo Bandini and waitress Camilla Lopez but the tension between WASP America and the rest of us, self-realization and shame, the skyward-reaching city and the wild natural continent.

Screenwriter Robert Towne, a great chronicler of Los Angeles in "Chinatown" and "Shampoo", would seem the perfect big-screen translator of the influential book, here taking the helm as well as scripting. To an extent he is, but Towne also inexplicably softens the story's noir edge, lapsing into melodrama and hammering at his themes instead of delving deeper into his characters. Despite what are likely to be mixed reviews, the project's literary/cinematic pedigree and topliners Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek will be certain lures when the film opens March 10 in limited release, after its world premiere at the Santa Barbara fest.

Towne's fourth directorial outing is an exceptionally handsome evocation of 1930s Los Angeles (shot in South Africa), with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel ("The Passion of the Christ") casting the proceedings in a burnished desert glow, a dreamy grit like the Mojave sand that permeates the city streets. The film is faithful to the book's tone of dark ache and much of its detail and for the most part terrifically cast. But Towne can't overcome an essential challenge of the material: Arturo and Camilla are constructs and ciphers as much as they are vivid characters -- difficult roles, to be sure. Neither the screenplay nor the actors manage to get far under their skin.

The story opens as Arturo Bandini (Farrell), subsisting on oranges and cigarettes and six weeks in arrears on his $4-a-week rent, ponders what to do with his last nickel. It has been five months since the good-looking young man arrived in L.A. from Colorado, with high hopes, an Underwood and a suitcase full of copies of his one published story. Determined to be a great writer of fiction, he rents a furnished room at the Alta Loma, a residential hotel built against the slope of Bunker Hill.

Arturo meets Mexican beauty Camilla when she's waiting tables at the Columbia Cafe, the downtown establishment where he spends that last nickel on an a cup of undrinkable joe. Their attraction quickly finds expression in cruelty. With a pointed stare at the huaraches in which Camilla glides about the dining room, Arturo takes great pleasure in shaking her out of her haughty self-confidence, arousing her shame about not being a "real" American. A pas de deux of one-upmanship begins, each expertly finding the other's sore spots -- easy to do when their insecurities are nearly identical. In the unenlightened parlance of the day, Camilla and Italian-American Arturo are both "spicks," a point Towne's script stresses repeatedly. It also adds an excruciating bit of business in which Arturo teaches Camilla to read English.

Towne's grasp of the story's existential core is shaky, but he turns the story's central romantic episode into a piece of exquisite cinema: Arturo and Camilla rushing naked into the moonlit Santa Monica surf, their exultation quickly turning to angry tussling. With haunting imagery, Deschanel captures the beauty of the two leads, tossed by the silver waves.

Farrell puts across the conflicted, virginal Catholic boy beneath the swagger, pretending to be worldly while fearfully resisting the more experienced Camilla's bold overtures. The film doesn't shy away from the ugliness of their strange courtship, but their games grow tiresome and never accrue much emotional weight. Losing steam in stretches of flat melodrama, the film lapses into bathos, nearly veering into "Love Story" territory.

Playing a character quite a bit younger than herself, Hayek has never looked more beautiful, and Camilla's tempestuous spirit finds full expression in her performance. Still, the sense of who Camilla is doesn't deepen as the story progresses. For his part, Farrell often struggles to indicate anything beyond observer Arturo's surface reactions, and the character remains opaque, even in a disturbing interlude with Vera Rivkin. Idina Menzel ("Rent") is heartbreaking as the wounded soul who sweeps into Arturo's room like a Santa Ana, all devouring gaze.

There are plenty of tantalizing performances at the edges of the narrative, especially the wonderful, pitch-perfect work by Donald Sutherland (who starred 30 years ago in the film adaptation of another revered L.A. novel, "Day of the Locust"), playing Arturo's dissolute neighbor Hellfrick. Eileen Atkins contributes a nuanced cameo as the landlady with a distaste for Mexicans and Jews, and Jeremy Crutchley makes an impression as informative barkeep Solomon. Providing the amused, avuncular voice of real-life American Mercury editor H.L. Mencken, Arturoıs benefactor and deity, is real-life critic Richard Schickel.

Towne and Deschanel never lose sight of Los Angeles as a naive, impermanent interloper, most dramatically in an earthquake sequence full of buckling pavement and crumbling buildings. The South African landscape is an evocative if not an accurate substitute (there's nary a Joshua Tree in sight). Dennis Gassner's production design and Albert Wolsky's costumes re-create the period with fittingly subdued detail, as does the music of Ramin Djawadi and Heitor Pereira.

ASK THE DUST

Paramount Classics

in association with Capitol Films a Cruise/Wagner, VIP Medienfonds 3, Ascendant production

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Robert Towne

Based on the novel by: John Fante

Producers: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Don Granger, Jonas McCord

Executive producers: Redmond Morris, Mark Roemmich, David Selvan, Andreas Schmid, Andy Grosch, Chris Roberts

Director of photography: Caleb Deschanel

Production designer: Dennis Gassner

Music: Ramin Djawadi, Heitor Pereira

Co-producers: Galit Hakmon McCord, Kia Jam, Andreas Schmid

Costume designer: Albert Wolsky

Editor: Robert K. Lambert

Cast:

Arturo Bandini: Colin Farrell

Camilla Lopez: Salma Hayek

Hellfrick: Donald Sutherland

Eileen Atkins

Vera Rivkin: Idina Menzel

Sammy: Justin Kirk

Solomon: Jeremy Crutchley

Voice of Mencken: Richard Schickel

MPAA rating R

Running time --117 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


Ask the Dust

2 February 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Much admired by Charles Bukowski and occupying a hallowed place in the literature of Los Angeles, John Fante's slender 1939 novel "Ask the Dust" pulses with the bruised but hopeful poetry of outsiders' yearnings. The love-hate romance at its center involves not only the tug of war between writer Arturo Bandini and waitress Camilla Lopez but the tension between WASP America and the rest of us, self-realization and shame, the skyward-reaching city and the wild natural continent.

Screenwriter Robert Towne, a great chronicler of Los Angeles in "Chinatown" and "Shampoo", would seem the perfect big-screen translator of the influential book, here taking the helm as well as scripting. To an extent he is, but Towne also inexplicably softens the story's noir edge, lapsing into melodrama and hammering at his themes instead of delving deeper into his characters. Despite what are likely to be mixed reviews, the project's literary/cinematic pedigree and topliners Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek will be certain lures when the film opens March 10 in limited release, after its world premiere at the Santa Barbara fest.

Towne's fourth directorial outing is an exceptionally handsome evocation of 1930s Los Angeles (shot in South Africa), with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel ("The Passion of the Christ") casting the proceedings in a burnished desert glow, a dreamy grit like the Mojave sand that permeates the city streets. The film is faithful to the book's tone of dark ache and much of its detail and for the most part terrifically cast. But Towne can't overcome an essential challenge of the material: Arturo and Camilla are constructs and ciphers as much as they are vivid characters -- difficult roles, to be sure. Neither the screenplay nor the actors manage to get far under their skin.

The story opens as Arturo Bandini (Farrell), subsisting on oranges and cigarettes and six weeks in arrears on his $4-a-week rent, ponders what to do with his last nickel. It has been five months since the good-looking young man arrived in L.A. from Colorado, with high hopes, an Underwood and a suitcase full of copies of his one published story. Determined to be a great writer of fiction, he rents a furnished room at the Alta Loma, a residential hotel built against the slope of Bunker Hill.

Arturo meets Mexican beauty Camilla when she's waiting tables at the Columbia Cafe, the downtown establishment where he spends that last nickel on an a cup of undrinkable joe. Their attraction quickly finds expression in cruelty. With a pointed stare at the huaraches in which Camilla glides about the dining room, Arturo takes great pleasure in shaking her out of her haughty self-confidence, arousing her shame about not being a "real" American. A pas de deux of one-upmanship begins, each expertly finding the other's sore spots -- easy to do when their insecurities are nearly identical. In the unenlightened parlance of the day, Camilla and Italian-American Arturo are both "spicks," a point Towne's script stresses repeatedly. It also adds an excruciating bit of business in which Arturo teaches Camilla to read English.

Towne's grasp of the story's existential core is shaky, but he turns the story's central romantic episode into a piece of exquisite cinema: Arturo and Camilla rushing naked into the moonlit Santa Monica surf, their exultation quickly turning to angry tussling. With haunting imagery, Deschanel captures the beauty of the two leads, tossed by the silver waves.

Farrell puts across the conflicted, virginal Catholic boy beneath the swagger, pretending to be worldly while fearfully resisting the more experienced Camilla's bold overtures. The film doesn't shy away from the ugliness of their strange courtship, but their games grow tiresome and never accrue much emotional weight. Losing steam in stretches of flat melodrama, the film lapses into bathos, nearly veering into "Love Story" territory.

Playing a character quite a bit younger than herself, Hayek has never looked more beautiful, and Camilla's tempestuous spirit finds full expression in her performance. Still, the sense of who Camilla is doesn't deepen as the story progresses. For his part, Farrell often struggles to indicate anything beyond observer Arturo's surface reactions, and the character remains opaque, even in a disturbing interlude with Vera Rivkin. Idina Menzel ("Rent") is heartbreaking as the wounded soul who sweeps into Arturo's room like a Santa Ana, all devouring gaze.

There are plenty of tantalizing performances at the edges of the narrative, especially the wonderful, pitch-perfect work by Donald Sutherland (who starred 30 years ago in the film adaptation of another revered L.A. novel, "Day of the Locust"), playing Arturo's dissolute neighbor Hellfrick. Eileen Atkins contributes a nuanced cameo as the landlady with a distaste for Mexicans and Jews, and Jeremy Crutchley makes an impression as informative barkeep Solomon. Providing the amused, avuncular voice of real-life American Mercury editor H.L. Mencken, Arturoıs benefactor and deity, is real-life critic Richard Schickel.

Towne and Deschanel never lose sight of Los Angeles as a naive, impermanent interloper, most dramatically in an earthquake sequence full of buckling pavement and crumbling buildings. The South African landscape is an evocative if not an accurate substitute (there's nary a Joshua Tree in sight). Dennis Gassner's production design and Albert Wolsky's costumes re-create the period with fittingly subdued detail, as does the music of Ramin Djawadi and Heitor Pereira.

ASK THE DUST

Paramount Classics

in association with Capitol Films a Cruise/Wagner, VIP Medienfonds 3, Ascendant production

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Robert Towne

Based on the novel by: John Fante

Producers: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Don Granger, Jonas McCord

Executive producers: Redmond Morris, Mark Roemmich, David Selvan, Andreas Schmid, Andy Grosch, Chris Roberts

Director of photography: Caleb Deschanel

Production designer: Dennis Gassner

Music: Ramin Djawadi, Heitor Pereira

Co-producers: Galit Hakmon McCord, Kia Jam, Andreas Schmid

Costume designer: Albert Wolsky

Editor: Robert K. Lambert

Cast:

Arturo Bandini: Colin Farrell

Camilla Lopez: Salma Hayek

Hellfrick: Donald Sutherland

Eileen Atkins

Vera Rivkin: Idina Menzel

Sammy: Justin Kirk

Solomon: Jeremy Crutchley

Voice of Mencken: Richard Schickel

MPAA rating R

Running time --117 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


Who Needs Sleep?

25 January 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- Veteran cinematographer Haskell Wexler turns his camera on his own industry as he peels away the veneer of glamour to expose exploitative practices and inhumane working hours in "Who Needs Sleep?," an informative though not particularly exciting documentary and a plea for safe working conditions for people in his field.

Given the stature of the man holding the camera -- part of the time he's being shot by someone else--the film is not as visually interesting as one would expect. Although Wexler and co-director Lisa Leeman broaden the film by taking a visit to a sleep clinic to learn about sleep debt and raising quality of life issues, his doc will mostly appeal to people working in the film business, particularly when it gets into details of union bargaining, etc.

Shot over a seven-year period, Wexler, who has a folksy, easy going manner, carried his DV camera along as he talked to producers, gaffers, editors and others who labor behind the scenes, sometimes working 15-20 hour days for weeks at a time. One man admits that when he's shooting a film, he is never able to have dinner with his family. Afraid of the repercussions of speaking up or being tagged as a whiner, most are reluctant to complain. Then there are all the wannabes who would jump at a chance to take their jobs.

Fatal car accidents caused by sleep deprivation killed at least two of Wexler's colleagues and their deaths spurred the making of this film. Sleep also may have been a key factor in the death of his friend, cinematographer Conrad Hall, who wrote an open letter urging guidelines for hours on the set. Using Michael Moore, ambush tactics, Wexler confronted officials at OSHA and his own union to no avail.

Wexler has worked with and has access to the best. His interviewees include: John Sayles, Richard Zanuck, Paul Newman, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks Sam Mendes, Caleb Deschanel, Vittorio Storaro and Billy Crystal. »

Permalink | Report a problem


2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 1998

3 items from 2006


IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.

See our NewsDesk partners