"Time passes. That's for sure."
2015 is 1/12th done and we haven't even fully wrapped up 2014 yet. Slow down, geez. Here are some highlights from that month that was. Please to enjoy icymi
Unjust Pride DVD Sony has put the gay heroes in the closet
Up Close at the Critics Choice Awards Jessica Chastain & more
Tangerine, Grandma, It Follows and The Witch -Our favorite Sundance films
SAG Fashions the pretties
Why Wes? Why Grand Budapest Hotel?
When u think of costumes... do u think of Watts?
The Five Stages of Grief via Oscar nominations
Fairy Tales and Oscar Streep is the first storybook kind of witch (though not the first literal witch)
Best Actress 1977 A short detour discussion
Julianne Moore's Top Ten Pre-Alice Performances - how does your list vary?
What if Into the Woods had been made in 1949?
Excuuzzzzze Me it's the 75th anniversary of His Girl Friday
Coming in February
Oscar Countdown, Black History Month, Valentine's Day, Spirit Awards, Pinnocchio 75th Anniversary, The Last Five Years, and more...
Michael C. here at Sundance
Most of the buzz around Rupert Goold's True Story is going to focus on comedic compadres James Franco and Jonah Hill facing off in a pair of hefty dramatic roles. The fact that they are the biggest names attached means they are probably going to take the heat for the fact that the film comes up short of its potential, but I'm inclined to pin the blame on the screenplay. The stars came to play, but they can only go so far with a material that never digs deep enough into these characters to make their battle of wits jolt to life.
Once you get past the novelty factor, the casting of Franco and Hill reflects back on their familiar personas in interesting ways. Franco, an actor who is priceless in the right role and lost at sea in the wrong one, is used well in a role that capitalizes on his enigmatic quality. Like the public that can't quite pin down the real Franco, Hill's Michael Finkel spends the film trying to get a read on Franco's Christian Longo, a man accused of killing his wife and three children with no apparent motive. Soon after the bodies of his wife and one his daughters are discovered dumped in a river after being stuffed into suitcases, Longo is picked up in Mexico using Finkel's name as an alias. When Finkel confronts him about the identity theft he sees the potential for a great story but whenever he gets close to the truth Longo shuts down and clams up...
Lukewarm off the presses! In a theater article at the New York Times a week ago about the new play Rasheeda Speaking starring Tonya Pinkins, her co-star, the two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest made a statement that quickly raised eyebrows that she didn't have enough work to pay her rent. It came when the actresses discussed the difficulties of finding good roles, which is surely depressing when you're basically a genius. (Tonya Pinkins, for what it's worth, gave one of the all time best theatrical performances I've ever seen in the musical Caroline or Change a decade ago. Idina Menzel winning her Tony was basically as ridiculous as say Benigni taking the one that shoulda gone to Norton or McKellen.)
Once one of the Academy's most frequently frustrating branches, voters for the Best Documentary Feature category have been on an impressive run lately. In the lead up to this year's Oscar ceremony, The Film Experience's Glenn Dunks is joined by Daniel Walber of Nonfics and Film School Rejects for a discussion on this year's nominees (and some that aren't). If you missed their discussion about 1989's Common Threads then make sure you do and join us over the weekend for part two of this look at the doc class of 2014.
Glenn: Welcome back to The Film Experience, Daniel. Before we get into the individual films, I thought I’d ask how you thought 2014 stood up for the documentary form and whether the Academy’s did a good job of encapsulating the year with their nominations. I don’t see anywhere near as many docs as you do so correct me if my reading of the year in non-fiction is off, but I do think this year’s Oscar line-up did a good job of representing the year in documentary: solid, but not truly exceptional. Certainly, some of the best doc’s we saw weren’t even eligible so it was impossible they would show up – like, for instance, both of Team Experience’s best unreleased films, The Look of Silence and Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait – but it was always going to be tough to beat 2013’s all-time great nomination list.
Daniel: Last year was certainly quite something. I wouldn’t necessarily say that 2013 was a much better year for documentaries in general, but rather that the top films were harder for the Academy to ignore. I don’t think anyone thought of The Act of Killing as a contender at first, but the overwhelming critical acclaim made the difference. Most of my favorites of 2014 were a little further from the Oscar radar. [More...]
Nathaniel again, down to my final two Sundance movies. (Michael stayed longer so he has more coming)
The Outsiders. School Ties. Go. Mean Girls. Dazed and Confused... These are movies people often marvelled at after the fact for capturing multiple future stars in the same ensemble before the title of "star" sat completely well on them. Certain movies function like abnormally prescient time capsules in that way and, who knows, perhaps The Stanford Prison Experiment will one day be among them?
It's not that the faces are complete nobodies exactly but, apart from Billy Crudup, as the possibly awful Dr. Philip Zimbardo who is behind the psychological experiment in situational behavior, most of them are lesser known. Or, if they're already rising stars, they don't exactly have that signature role or household name factor just yet.
The Standford Prison Experiment was a famous study from the 1970s in which a psychology professor and his team took a simple ad out in the paper for students to participate in a "psychological study of prison life" for 1 to 2 weeks for $15 a day. Students signed up thinking it was easy money but easy it was not...