COPPOLA VS. PACINO, DE NIRO AND NICHOLSON

Director Francis Ford Coppola has unaccountably castigated three of Hollywood's top stars, whom he has directed in the past, accusing Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Jack Nicholson of "living off the fat of the land" and doing little that is challenging or ambitious. In an interview with GQ magazine, Coppola noted that "Pacino is very rich, maybe because he never spends any money. ... [De Niro] created an empire and is wealthy and powerful. ... [Nicholson] is always wired in with the big guys and the big bosses of the studios." Coppola added, "You know, even in those days after The Godfather, I didn't feel that those actors were ready to say, 'Let's do something else really ambitious." Commenting on Coppola's remarks, the New York Daily News's "Rush and Molloy" column observed, "Some might ask Coppola how he has challenged himself lately. He admits he has been focused on his vineyard and on his resorts in Belize and Guatemala." And L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke remarked, "Is there anything more hypocritical than a judgmental Francis Ford Coppola?"

SONY TO RELEASE CHEAPER GAME/BLU-RAY PLAYER

Upping the competition not only against rival videogame devices but also against rival high-definition video players, Sony announced Wednesday that it will offer a new $400 PlayStation 3 device, equipped with a Blu-ray player and a 40GB hard drive, by the end of this month. It will include a Blu-ray copy of Spider-Man 3. At $400, the device will cost only $50 more than Microsoft's entry-level Xbox 360 and $100 more than Nintendo's Wii. It's also about $150 more than the least expensive HD DVD stand-alone players.

SURF'S UP IS REALLY UP

The animated penguin movie Surf's Up caught a gnarly wave of popularity at the video stores last week, landing at the top of both the sales and rental charts. The cartoon beat out the expected winner, Evan Almighty, which came in second on the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart and a disappointing fourth on Home Media magazine's rental chart.

DAMON PREPARED TO TAKE ON BOURNE IDENTITY AGAIN

Matt Damon indicated Wednesday that he would make another Bourne sequel if only to express his gratitude. In an interview in Tokyo with the French news agency Agence France Presse, Damon said, "Personally, the character means a lot to me because the character has done so much for my career. You know, it put me in the position where I have a lot more choices of kind of movies I want to make." He said that if director Paul Greengrass asked him to take on the character again, "then I would do it, too. ... I don't think either of us completely put the character to bed yet."

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS

The 51st annual Times BFI London Film Festival got underway Wednesday night with the screening of David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises at the 1,900-seat Odeon Leicester Square theater, Europe's largest. The film, set in London, concerns a young midwife played by Naomi Watts, who becomes involved with a Russian mafia family when she accidentally discovers incriminating evidence against them. Wednesday night's audience gave the film a warm reception, applauding after one especially tense sequence. However, the film, which reportedly cost $50 million to make, flopped at the U.S. box office last month.

NEW DELAY IN CHINA FOR ANG LEE FILM

Despite the fact that director Ang Lee has reportedly trimmed about eight minutes of the most explicit sex scenes from his Chinese-language Lust, Caution, the film has yet to be passed by Chinese censors and its release date has now been pushed back to November 1, distributor China Film Group confirmed Wednesday. Pirate copies of the award-winning film, already a hit in Hong Kong (which appoints its own film-review board), are being pedaled on the streets of many major Chinese cities -- presumably without cuts, making the delayed release on the mainland of even greater concern.


Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.