Roger & Me is not, by any stretch, a "traditional" documentary in its style or approach to a serious subject - the ravages of unemployment and the consequences of corporate callousness. It is the sobering, not the subversive style that has historically attracted the nominations and the Oscar.
Moore was criticized in some quarters for juggling the chronology of events in his film - and therefore diverging from the painstaking investigatory approach of a PBS documentary. But no one disputed the essential truth of his remarkable movie.
When Variety asked Moore for a comment on his film's conspicuous absence
from the nominees, he said: "It violated two of the principal rules of documentary filmmaking. It was entertaining and people went to see it."
BEARINGS. Though it did well in the United States last year, Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Bear did not attain the popularity it enjoyed in the rest of the world. Before it even opened here, Annaud's superb work had earned $100 million in other countries.
For my money, it is one of the best films ever made about the relationship between man and one of the other species with whom he grudgingly shares the planet. The story, adapted from James Oliver Curwood's 1916 novel The Grizzly King, follows the adventures of a cub and the grouchy grizzly that adopts him.
If you enjoy the how'd-they-do-that? aspect of filmmaking, Josee Benabent- Loiseau's The Odyssey of 'The Bear,' about the staggering logistics involved in the production, has just been published by Newmarket Press. The paperback is a chronicle of the extraordinary and painstaking communion between Annaud, his crew and the many animals needed for the film. The book is a bestseller in France.
WARNINGS. With the one-two punch of Batman and Lethal Weapon 2, Warner Bros. owned the movie marketplace last summer. Now, industry people are saying that the studio could be just as hot this year, cape or no cape.
The Warners lineup includes Martin Scorsese's Good Fellas, starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta; Gremlins 2, directed by Joe Dante, who filmed the original hit; Quick Change, a comedy about the perfect bank robbery, with Bill Murray as director and star; My Blue Heaven, a comedy from Herbert Ross featuring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis; Presumed Innocent, Alan Pakula's version of the best-selling novel, with Harrison Ford and Brian Dennehy; and Memphis Belle, the saga of American bomber pilots in World War II, with Matthew Modine and Eric Stoltz.
After the summer, the studio has The Russia House, with Sean Connery and
Roy Scheider in Fred Schepsi's film of the John le Carre novel; Black Hunter, White Heart, Clint Eastwood's African drama; Quigley Down Under, with Tom Selleck in an Australian setting; The Rookie, a police adventure with Eastwood and Charlie Sheen, and, finally, the much-awaited screen version of Bonfire of the Vanities, with Brian De Palma directing Tom Hanks and Melanie Griffith.
DESTINY RIDES AGAIN. One of Robin Williams' more underrated outings was 1985's The Best of Times, in which he played a man who could never live down the pass he dropped in the big high school football game. Workaholic Michael Caine and Jim Belushi are going to try something in a similar vein when they start shooting Mr. Destiny next month.
The film, directed by Jim Orr, casts Belushi as a small-town guy who struck out in the big one and missed a chance at a lucrative pro baseball career. Caine is the mysterious figure who shows up years later and offers him the chance to find out what would have happened if he had made the key hit.