<p>Kris Kristoffersen in &quot;Heaven's Gate.&quot;</p>

Kris Kristoffersen in "Heaven's Gate."

Credit: United Artists

Venice honors Michael Cimino as 'Heaven's Gate' gets another close-up

The festival will premiere a restoration of the director's ill-fated 1980 film

For a film that a lot of critics continue to believe is a disaster of momentous proportions, Michael Cimino's epic flop "Heaven's Gate" has received an awful lot of second chances. The vast period western is one of Hollywood's most enduring cautionary tales: made on the back of Cimino's Oscar triumph with "The Deer Hunter," it fell prey to the director's hubris as it ran catastrophically behind schedule and over budget, ruining United Artists as it grossed not one-twentieth of its then-massive $44 million budget.

Critics may have piled onto the already woebegone film, both in its 219-minute premiere edit (still a feat of restraint compared to the five-and-a-half-hour edit Cimino originally had in mind) and the studio-shredded 149-minute version prepared for general theatrical release, but the rehabilitation has been steady and dedicated over the years. Originally unveiled in Competition at Cannes, it's since been given other illustrious platforms from to recoup its credibility.

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<p>Al Pacino in &quot;Dog Day Afternoon,&quot; one of Spike Lee's 15 favorite films.</p>

Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon," one of Spike Lee's 15 favorite films.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Spike Lee joins the listing game

As his latest joint hits theaters, he reveals his Top 15 films on iTunes.

After lying low in TV-land for a few years following the damp squib that was "Miracle at St. Anna," Spike Lee seems to be all over the place this month. His latest feature "Red Hook Summer" -- a loose follow-up to "Do the Right Thing," which Kris partially saw in Sundance, and rather liked -- opens Stateside today to mixed, if not unsympathetic, reviews.

In a few weeks, he'll be unveiling his new documentary about Michael Jackson, "Bad 25," at the Venice Film Festival -- where he'll also be receiving a career achievement award. Finally, his long-mooted remake of Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy" is moving forward, with shooting set to begin in New Orleans this autumn, and Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley attached to star.

On another note, he's also jumped on the list-making bandwagon we've all been on since Sight & Sound's poll results last week, revealing his own Top 15 Films Of All Time -- not via Sight & Sound (he didn't participate in the 2002 poll, and doesn't appear to be involved with this year's either), but through an iTunes playlist of sorts. What a time it is to be alive, folks.

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<p>Jimmy Fallon on &quot;The Today Show&quot;&nbsp;in&nbsp;London</p>

Jimmy Fallon on "The Today Show" in London

Credit: NBC

Jimmy Fallon: 'I won't be hosting the Oscars.'

Who do YOU think should get the gig?

I didn't bother weighing in on last week's scuttlebutt that Jimmy Fallon was in talks to host the 85th annual Academy Awards, mostly because I was on the road in Texas, but also because I just couldn't see it happening. While ABC may not have veto rights on the Academy bringing in two NBC stars (the other being "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels) for its Oscarcast, I still don't know that you'd want to ruffle the relationship all that much.

Also, with Hawk Koch newly minted as AMPAS president, it's unlikely he'd want to carry on something brought in by exiting president Tom Sherak. Surely he'll have his own ideas. I suppose it's still possible Michaels could produce (along with former AMPAS president Sid Ganis, who the LA Times reported last week was also in the mix), but one giant commercial for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" always seemed to me like it would be a bit of a stretch (not to mention a bad creative approach, at least in my opinion).

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<p>&quot;Vertigo&quot; topped Sight &amp; Sound's critics' poll, but did it feature in my Top 10?</p>

"Vertigo" topped Sight & Sound's critics' poll, but did it feature in my Top 10?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Lists: My top 10 films of all time

How I voted in Sight & Sound's decennial critics' poll

For a week now, Sight & Sound's decennial critics' poll of the Greatest Films Of All Time, the results of which are awaited by cinephiles with all the eagerness of over-sugared rugrats on Christmas morning, has provided ample discussion fodder for the film-focused blogosphere.

The Top 100's seemingly inexhaustible avenues for statistical breakdowns (How many Asian films? How many post-1968 films? Which directors received the most votes collectively? Which films fell the farthest from their 2002 placing?) are still being explored, the number-crunchers matched in enthusiasm -- or lack thereof -- only by the sniping commentators inevitably displeased with the results. Why is the list so old? Why is it so stodgy? Why is it so white? Why is it so male? Why are my own subjective favorites not accounted for? Many talk of the list as if it's compiled by some unified committee with a patent agenda against cinema from many of our lifetimes, an aggressive boner for silent cinema and a vindictive urge to take Orson Welles down a peg or two.   

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<p>Clint Eastwood in &quot;Trouble with the Curve&quot;</p>

Clint Eastwood in "Trouble with the Curve"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Trouble with the Curve' trailer adds Clint Eastwood to the Best Actor race

He wasn't finished acting after all...

So it turns out Clint Eastwood was just kidding when he indicated that "Gran Torino" would be his final on-screen work. A solid Best Actor push from Warner Bros. that year didn't yield pay dirt, but it got the conversation chugging that the studio is sure to use again this year: He may have four Oscars, but he's never won for acting.

With that in mind, "Trouble with the Curve," from director Robert Lorenz (a homegrown Eastwood guy who's worked with the icon for years), could be a means to that end. The new trailer -- serendipitously launched on the 20th anniversary of "Unforgiven" -- plays it light but "meaningful" with its tease of an aging baseball scout (Eastwood) and his relationship with his daughter (Amy Adams) on a road trip.

Will this be the one? We'll have to see. The film isn't set for the fall festival circuit, though as I recently indicated, it could turn up at Telluride with a tribute for the actor to kick-start the campaign. It's set for a September 21 release, just three weeks after the Venice/Telluride/Toronto corridor closes and just before NYFF (which, on its 50th anniversary, is looking at a thin field to choose from for openers and centerpiece screenings).

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<p>Marvin Hamlisch with one of his most loyal collaborators, Barbra Streisand.</p>

Marvin Hamlisch with one of his most loyal collaborators, Barbra Streisand.

Credit: AP Photo/Alex J. Berliner

Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch passes away aged 68

'The Way We Were' and 'The Sting' among his most memorable credits

With the Academy recently seeming to do everything within its powers to extinguish the Best Original Song award, the passing of Marvin Hamlisch strikes an especially poignant note. The New York-born composer -- who died yesterday, following a brief illness, at the age of 68 -- was the kind of talent that category was created to recognize, capable of condensing a film's entire thematic and atmospheric undercurrent into a single, inescapable three-minute theme.

It's an art that might seem antiquated and even a little banal to contemporary audiences, as high-end film scoring grows ever less romantic and more esoteric, with pre-existing songs woven organically into scenes, if at all -- the legacy of such modernist filmmakers as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. But the songs themselves haven't faded: everyone can hum at least a few bars of Hamlisch's title tune for "The Way We Were," even if they haven't seen the film. Ditto "Nobody Does It Better," one of the most epic and steel-plated of all James Bond themes, even if "The Spy Who Loved Me" isn't among the franchise's most-treasured entries. In Hamlisch's prime, great movie songs could still separate from, and often exceed, their source.

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<p>&quot;Unforgiven,&quot;&nbsp;one of only three westerns to win Best Picture</p>

"Unforgiven," one of only three westerns to win Best Picture

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven' anniversary marks 20 years of the modern western

Will 'Django Unchained' find Oscar love as the genre forges ahead?

Somewhat quietly, it would appear, Clint Eastwood's western masterwork "Unforgiven" is celebrating its 20th anniversary today.

The film hit theaters on August 7, 1992 and was the last western to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Though to be clear, it's not like it was one in a long line. Only three from the genre have ever taken the prize, with a six-decade drought between 1931's "Cimarron" and 1990's "Dances with Wolves."

Somehow the western didn't spark for the Academy during its heyday. Films generally agreed upon as American classics today like "The Searchers," "Red River," and "The Magnificent Seven" couldn't even manage nominations, to say nothing of Italian triumphs like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West."

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<p>Carey Mulligan in &quot;The Great Gatsby.&quot;</p>

Carey Mulligan in "The Great Gatsby."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Gatsby' release rescheduled for summer 2013

Baz Luhrmann's lavish 3D pic is out of the 2012 Oscar frame

Well, that's disheartening. Every Oscar season has its share of prestige dropouts, and this year's first is a big one: Baz Luhrmann's 3D adaptation of "The Great Gatsby," initially scheduled by Warner Bros. for a Christmas Day release, will now not reach theaters until next summer. (It's the second high-profile title Warners have bumped to 2013, after the all-star "Gangster Squad" was relegated to the January doldrums.)

No precise reason has been given for the shift, with Warner distribution president Dan Fellman simply saying that they want "to ensure this unique film reaches the widest audience possible." You can read that as you will. Perhaps they believe the film has genuinely strong commercial prospects and deserves art-blockbuster positioning. Perhaps, regardless of the film's quality, they're anticipating critical slingshots -- some are inevitable, I'd say, given the scale and eccentricity of the project -- and don't want to subject it to the pressure of a prime awards-bait slot. Perhaps reshoots are on the cards and they simply need more time.

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<p>A scene from &quot;The Master&quot;</p>

A scene from "The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

First public screening of 'The Master' happening right now in Santa Monica (UPDATED)

The film pops up as a 'secret screening' following DCP exhibition of 'The Shining'

Anyone who happened to be on hand at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica this evening for the American Cinematheque unveiling of a new DCP of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" was treated to quite the exciting surprise: the first public screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

A source at the event tells me that, prior to the screening, personnel announced that there would be a "secret screening" following the event and that anyone who'd like to stay was more than welcome. When the lights came up after the closing credits of Kubrick's icy horror staple, attendees were told the secret film was Anderson's much anticipated opus (which will screen at the Toronto, Venice and maybe Telluride and Fantastic Fest film festivals next month).

The film is being shown in 70mm, the director's preferred format of exhibition for "The Master" and one that has reportedly caused issues in lining up both commercial and festival exhibition. Anderson is in attendance (along with Maya Rudolph).

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<p>Spike Lee will receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Award at Venice later this month.</p>

Spike Lee will receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Award at Venice later this month.

Credit: AP Photo/Amanda Schwab

Spike Lee to receive career award at Venice Film Festival

Honor coincides with premiere of his new Michael Jackson doc

You have to like any award that links Abbas Kiarostami to Sylvester Stallone, Agnes Varda to Al Pacino and, now, Spike Lee -- even if it's one of those career achievement prizes determined more by who's going to be in town than anything else. Lee, it was announced today, will be the latest recipient of the splendidly named Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award (named for a film by its inaugural recipient, Takeshi Kitano) at the Venice Film Festival later this month.

It's slightly bittersweet seeing Lee ascend to the realm of golden-watch awards. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was the abrasive upstart instead, but then, it has been all too long since he last made a feature film that shook anything up. (His latest, "Red Hook Summer," received mixed reviews at Sundance in January and opens in limited release next week.) He's arguably made more of an impression in the later career as a documentarian, and the Venice award presentation will immediately precede the world premiere of his Michael Jackson documentary, "Bad 25," at the festival.

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