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Thursday
May192011

Melancholia Fallout

I really hope that all the press conference controversy surrounding Lars Von Trier's Melancholia doesn't hinder its awards chances if it had any to begin with. Ioncinema's critics panel loved the movie but at least one distributor has already bailed. I am usually quite amused by Lars Von Trier's ease at manipulating the press with his outrageous comments -- everyone falls for it every time! Suckers -- but this time, sadly, his mischief may affect his film's chances to be seen. Which... argh. It's so anti-art to be offended by someone's peronality and therefore reject their work in its entirety and, worse, prevent others from seeing it.

Lars is always making his actresses uncomfortable

This type of moral outrage at bad-taste humor can often snowball in uncomfortable ways. I'm already worried that The Five Obstructions project with Martin Scorsese, which sounds thrilling, will end up derailed as well. Lars Von Trier has apologized but because he is also Lars Von Trier he's been making inflammatory follow up comments as well about enjoying the persona non grata designation.

I haven't been reading Melancholia reviews other than skimming blurbs. I'm most intrigued by IndieWire's description of the film as Von Trier's Rachel Getting Married because, well, who wouldn't want to see that? I was also intrigued by Hollywood Elsewhere's comment about Kiki's lead performance:

She's never operated in such a dark, fleshy and grandiose realm.

Though maybe you can disregard that one, since Mr. Wells doesn't seem to have a sense of how accomplished Dunst's filmography actually is. The Spider-Man trilogy sure did pull the wool over everyone's eyes in terms of her versatility and the general strength of her filmography. Rich at FourFour hasn't yet seen the movie but he sure loves Kiki's performance at the press conference.

ANYWAY... My increasingly anti-review stance is getting uncomfortable for me as a blogger/pundit/critic/loudmouth. I tend to talk more about movies AFTER their release and the world has definitely trended away from me (gulp) there, preferring to exhaust conversations before moviegoers can join in. I haven't decided quite how to work around this yet. See, I knew way too much bout LVT's Antichrist -- to connect this train of thought back to Melancholia -- before seeing it and it was very frustrating for me. What should have been a shock-fest instead was just "oh, here comes that part. I see what he did there." I know in my soul that the modern habit of digging for all and every piece of information for each new movie before experiencing it beforehand (a kindred spirit to the now commonplace Oscar-fanatic trend to take adamant Oscar sides before seeing the performances in question) is detrimental to the magic of the movies. But how to stay informed without spoiling your own capacity for surprise and joy?  Are you also struggling with this? It's been getting progressively worse over the past 5 or so years. I wonder if this will cycle back culturally to valuing secrets or if it will just get worse?  

My favorite shot in the Melancholia trailer. So evocative and childlike

If you released The Crying Game (1992) in today's moviegoing climate, for example, I bet it would never have taken off and nagged several Oscar nominations. (Oscar nominations that were completely deserved, mind you.)  Its whole campaign was about keeping the secret (which wasn't exactly a last minute twist) and by the time people staring knowing the secret before seeing it -- thanks to one of those Oscar nominations -- it was already a "must see" film.

My train of thought has jumped the rails. Back to Melancholia. Do you think the jury will dare give it any prizes, if they were already so inclined, given that Lars von Trier has been expelled?

Related: Yes No Maybe So Melancholia
Interview: The Return of Kirsten Dunst, A Very Good Thing

Wednesday
May182011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Tarzan the Ape Man"

In Hit Me With Your Best Shot, we look at a predetermined movie, and choose what we think of as its best shot. We're taking a break next week (change of plans) but please consider joining us on Wednesday, June 1st for Moulin Rouge! You have two whole weeks to pick a shot. That'll be a theme week right here at the blog "Spectacular! Spectacular!" 10th anniversary (5/30-6/03).

This week's film is TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932) which kicked off the most popular stretch of this enduring franchise. (You know some reboot has to be just around the corner). In this particular outing that famous jungle swinger (Johnny Weismuller) sweeps sexy Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan Centennial!) right off her feet and into the air (and water) until she's flat on her back in his tree house. I'm speaking literally. Jane is kind of a slut.


I mean that in the nicest way. She Jane! Respect must be paid.

But even Jane's own father is all-too aware of her sexual allure. In what has to be one of the weirdest introductory father/daughter scenes in film history, she changes in front of him and when he tries to look away, she scolds him with multiple flirtatious "darlings".

You don't often hear about Tarzan in discussions of "Pre-Code" movies,

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May182011

"True Blood" Witches. True Blood Watchers?

I've been on a True Blood tear, catching up with Season 3. I haven't enjoyed it nearly as much as Season 2 (the peak) partially because the Big Bad "Russell, King of Mississippi" (Denis O'Hare) wasn't half as interesting, dynamic or amusing as immortal maenad "MaryAnn" (Michelle Forbes) from Season 2. Plus, I've missed the comedy gold that sprung up in the religious cult satire subplot which starred Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), the ensemble's undersung hero. Yes, everyone loves his body. But he's arguably the most gifted comic in the cast.

Here's the new teaser for the fourth season of True Blood. If Fiona Shaw, the sensational stage actress, Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia, and our favorite batshit crazy sociopathic rich lady (The Black Dahlia) is this season's Big Bad, maybe Season 4 will rival Season 2?

Here's the teaser.

Quick show of hands for any TFE coverage?
Please vote.

 

Wednesday
May182011

Beauty Break: Tang Wei & Takeshi

Tang Wei! We're just so happy the Lust, Caution star is working again. Here she is in Cannes for her Wu Xia (2011) photoshoot.

Photographed by Andreaz Rentz for Getty

She also walked the red carpet and hit the parties with another of our favorite Asian actors, Takeshi Kaneshiro.

He's the man Hollywood SHOULD be calling if they really want to skew older for the live action version of Akira as all of the casting reports indicate that they do.

46 year-old Keanu Reeves recently turned down the lead role in the live-action version of the classic anime. We've already griped about the casting, but mostly due to the white washing. That they're ignoring the film being about teenagers doesn't bother us as much since it's so rare that Hollywood decides to go older instead of younger. Takeshi is half Japanese, a decade younger than Keanu, has movie star appeal, and looks superb in action sequences (see House of Flying Daggers among others) so why not him?

Wednesday
May182011

Team Experience: "Maleficent" and More

I'm always curious about your film experiences out there in the dark. That curiousity extends to the contributors here at TFE, not all of whom I know in real life given that they're spread across the globe. You know them, virtually speaking. Hopefully you love them. But I thought we'd ask them a couple of questions each week. Feel free to answer yourself in the comments and join the conversation.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING YOU SAW THIS WEEK?

JA: A tie between every single second of Emmanuel Lubeszki's photography for The Tree of Life (it's a gorgeous film that left me cold), and that probably photoshopped image of Jake Gyllenhaal doing the Grace Jones pose in his underpants. I see beautiful things!

Andreas: John Carpenter's The Thing -- after several viewings, it retains all of its original power.

Robert: Ramin Bahrani's short film Plastic Bag. I stumbled upon it while attempting to keep my Herzog high going after being enthralled by Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Bahrani's film follows and anthropomorphized plastic bag (shades of American Beauty are minimal) and finds itself spiraling into themes of life, death, and meaning and best of all, it's narrated by Werner Herzog himself... as the plastic bag of course!

Michael (Unsung Heroes). The best thing I saw this week was, without question, the montage of drunk cast members from the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. I want an episode length edit of all the improv that went into that scene.

Jose: Since theaters here are only playing four movies (Rio, Fast and Furious 5, Thor and Priest) I re-watched Gone With the Wind in HD. Mind blowing!  Sure gives any new movie a run for its money. It also felt much shorter than Thor.

WHAT'S THE WORST?

Michael : the worst thing I saw, or rather didn't see, was screen time for Rene Russo in Thor. It's been forever since Russo had a high-profile gig and she gets 30 measly seconds of screen time? You can't tease me like that Thor.

Andreas: The first 10 minutes of I Know Who Killed Me. (Nonetheless, I may revisit it later; I'm a glutton for punishment.)

JA: The worst thing I saw was the original ending to Alexander Payne's Election. Truly, stupefyingly awful.

TIM BURTON HAS OFFICIALLY LEFT DISNEY'S "MALEFICENT".

Robert: The marriage between Tim Burton and Disney makes me so sad. They're like two people who were really sexy back in high school, still trying to fit into their cheerleading and football uniforms, telling each other how great they still look, and wondering how that dorky kid Quentin got so popular (this metaphor has gotten away from me). But I still want to like them very much. So I guess what I'm saying is I wish they'd split and find new partners who could convince them to hit the gym... cinematically speaking.

JA: Never much loved Sleeping Beauty as a kid - I was all up in Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia - so I was never attached, beyond really liking the way the word "Maleficent" rolls off the tongue. Maaaalefahcint! I don't understand why people didn't take it up as a name for their children. Little Maleficent would rule pre-school with an iron fist.

JoseMaleficent would serve itself better from a director with an eye for actual Gothic, I say call Jane Campion or Catherine Breillat!

YOUR TURN...

 

Wednesday
May182011

Cannes Check: A Fine Finnish

Robert (author of Distant Relatives) here with more info from Cannes. The Palme found another strong competitor with Aki Kaurismaki's La Havre. Probably the highest profile director from Finland (if you know him from anything it would probably be 2002's The Man Without a Past), Kaurismaki has been off the scene for five years. His return takes him to the French town of the films' title and a couple who attempt to help an illegal immigrant who's being pursued by a tough cop. The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth notes the rapturous applause that greeted the film and says it "now matches The Artist for the biggest, most rousing crowd-pleaser of the festival."

Meanwhile director Bertrand Bonello had perhaps the least desired spot in the fest. His film House of Tolerance about the comraderie in a brothel mixed in with heaping helpings of violence and sex opened the same day as The Tree of Life. But having little attention payed to it, may turn out to be a good deal for him. MUBI has a good rundown of the mixed critical response to the film.