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Monday
Jun242013

Why Do Zombie Movies Never Win Makeup Nominations With Oscar?

This is a question I've never been able to fully answer but one that I've asked myself (and probably you) on occasion. Since "Best" quite often means "Most" when it comes to awardage of any kind, what does the Oscar's makeup branch have against the undead?  This question came to mind again while watching Warm Bodies, a minor hit earlier this year which is now on DVD.

Please consider this post an early FYC

After the movie I found myself watching the extras and especially enjoyed "Extreme Zombie Makeover" which charts the evolution of the makeup design by Adrien Morot (who was Oscar nominated recently for Barney's Wedding). It's easy to make Nicholas Hoult look beautiful but how do you make him look sexy AND undead? It's a silly question but the answer is crucial to the success of this particular horror/romance hybrid. Adrien had to make sure he looked like the same species as the other zombies but also sexier. Where do you place the scars? How do you keep the veins in the same exact spot every day? How do you keep your leading man's mouth looking unhealthy without making him unkissable? 

The answer to the latter question involves "zombie juice" --black food coloring with mouthwash! After the juice, the makeup artist would then fuss over Hoults mouth with a q-tip to clean his teeth so you'd still wanna makeout with him despite him being, you know, a rotten corpse. 

The inside of the lip being black is still considered to be sexy somehow but having green teeth that doesn't work!

Hoult preferred his zombie juice strawberry or vanilla flavored. The more you know... ⌒★

P.S. Since zombie movies are still all the rage I loved this little aside from the director when watching the big makeup team transform 100 or so extras at once.

You know it's funny because extras -- when they're playing humans, sometimes extras can overract a little bit. But when they're dressed as zombies and in zombie makeup, they're all like Meryl Streep. They're all just really in character and amazing. 

Monday
Jun242013

Great Moments in Gayness: "Fosse, Fosse, Fosse"

Happy Gay Pride Week Everyone!

Dancin' Dan here to wish you all a Happy Gay Pride Month! When I think about the first gay person I ever saw on screen, I usually think of Rupert Everett in My Best Friend's Wedding, a performance I kind of love in a film that actually has a very gay sensibility. But just recently I realized that there was a much gayer mainstream Hollywood hit which came out the year before that Julia Roberts vehicle : The Birdcage.

Yes, in 1996, The Birdcage was a massive hit. It was also, oddly enough, a prestige comedy - based on a popular French play-turned hit crossover film, directed by Oscar winner Mike Nichols, starring Oscar nominee Robin Williams and Oscar winners Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest (the cast, which also starred soon-to-be-Tony winner Nathan Lane, actually won the Best Ensemble SAG Award that year). It grossed over $100 million. And not only did a good percentage of the film take place in the titular drag club, its two main characters were gay. [more...]

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Monday
Jun242013

"It won't cost much... just your voice!"

I realize it's only* voicework but I'm bit sad that Samantha Morton's voice has been removed from the upcoming Spike Jonze picture Her. She was to voice the operating system that Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with in lieu of, one supposes, flesh and blood options. I thought Samantha was brilliant in insert anything from her filmography here, and even though it was only* voicework, I was anxious to "see" her again.

Morton has the most terrible ratio of talent-to-role opportunities. I don't quite get what's happened to her career as she's one of the best screen actors alive. Still, since the world has a very short memory I didn't notice much mourning online about her replacement when the news broke. Or maybe that's just because Scarlett Johansson, her replacement, is early Aughts popular again. Scarlett weathered the storm of a lame but lucrative patch in her career in which she seemed more model/spokesperson/celebrity than talent. She seems interested in actually ACTING again (see multiple trips to the stage and a wonderful spin on Black Widow the second time around) so I am free to root for her again, too.

Scarlett's voice is a wonder, it's true. But also quite an expected choice for this type of role since her timbre is so effortlessly sexy. I guess I didn't quite expect the obvious from Spike Jonze which is why I'm still processing this news.

Anyway, do you miss Samantha Morton? If you're asking "who?"... please state your age! She couldn't have faded from collective memory that quickly, could she?

When it comes to singing actresses, I'm as greedy as Ursula! In other Beautiful Voice News, Anna Kendrick has been cast as Cinderella in Rob Marshall's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's fairytale mashup classic Into the Woods (2014)... a movie we're tracking closely but very worried about.

Since we first fell in love with Kendrick as evil scheming Sondheim-singing Fritzi in Camp (2003) and haven't ever felt quite that proprietary/excited about her again (but loved hearing the voice again in Pitch Perfect), this is potentially very good news. With Into the Woods and The Last Five Years (just discussed) both arriving in (presumably) 2014, and so quickly after Kendrick's first real success as a headliner (Pitch Perfect) will she be the first modern actress to really embrace becoming a star of film musicals?

Can you already here her version of "At the Palace"? (♥ that song!)

He's a very smart Prince,
He's a Prince who prepares.
Knowing this time I'd run from him,
He spread pitch on the stairs.
I was caught unawares.
And I thought: well, he cares-
This is more than just malice.
Better stop and take stock
While you're standing here stuck
On the steps of the palace.
-Cinderella in "Into the Woods" 

Everyone else in Mainstream Hollywood seems to think of musicals as one-off larks, something to do to say that you've done it or to demonstrate how "game" you are to mix things up. (Though Anne Hathaway won an Oscar that way she's built her massive career on diversity of genre so I'd say she's unlikely to stick to the form or even return to it for some time. Sad face. CZJ was obviously born to do them but it took how many years between Chicago and Rock of Ages?) If Kendrick makes a success of both of her plum movie musical gigs next year, I shall build a shrine to her.  

* I realize "only voicework" might enrage some readers and some voice actors! I don't mean it derogatorialy but for whatever reason I've observed that many TFE readers really value voice-only work in movies more than I do. Is this generational and tied to the second golden age of animation? I wonder... I mean I don't want there to be a whole Oscar category (do you?) but I do agree that brilliance is possible within the limitations of acting with one's voice alone. 

Sunday
Jun232013

Reviews: Monsters University & World War Z

This double feature review was originally posted in my column at Towleroad

Another Month. Another Apocalypse

If the world can be powered by screams, as Monsters, Inc and its new prequel MONSTERS UNIVERSITY claim, then we've surely got a surplus to run on for decades to come. The horror genre in all its shapes, sizes and moods (including children's film) has rarely, if ever, been more popular. Brad Pitt warns a surely soon-to-be zombified family in WORLD WAR Z who have holed up in their apartment that "movement is life". They should run! But where are they supposed to run exactly? Zombies, werewolves, vampires, serial killers, and monsters are everywhere on film and television. Even outside the horror genre, dystopias (Hunger Games anyone?) or apocalypse awaits; at some point every superhero and action movie now blows its (budget) load on laying waste to New York City and/or its counterparts across the Globe. If pop culture is mass catharsis for our intangible mood, than we are all terrified children and in need of much therapy. 

Apologies for the armchair psychology but this must surely be why we've made our zombies crush-worthy (Warm Bodiesjust arrived from Netflix as I was typing this, no joke, - Hiiii, Nic Hoult!), our vampires twinkly, and our monsters cuddly. I mean just look at this guy "Art" to your left! He's practically built for wrap-around hugs... 

[More on cuddly monsters and Brad-chasing zombies...]

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Saturday
Jun222013

It's Kind of a Big Link

i09 King Kong the Musical - check out that enormous expressive ape puppet! But what's with that song and the vague speech-impediment style singing?
Bleeding Cool Harmony Korine is recutting Spring Breakers for a "sizzurped" version. Thankfully Bleeding Cool defines "sizzurped" for us
Coming Soon Anne Hathaway to star in The Lifeboat which is not a remake of the Tallulah Bankhead picture but does involve passengers in a lifeboat. Unfortunately since Hathaway is involved you know the internet will want her thrown off the boat or eaten by the other passengers first to survive.

Empire Robert Downey Jr signs up to be Iron Man until he's old and grey. The check must have been big
Empire and here's a handy infographic of the Marvel Universe plans but if you ask me Phase Two looks pretty UNAMBITIOUS considering what they pulled off for Phase One.
/Film the zombie apocalypse at cinemas will last forever. Arnold Schwarzenegger will soon star in Maggie about a father whose daughter is becoming a zombie. No word on who will play the title character just yet
The House Next Door "Poster Lab" takes on the teaser for Anchorman 2 - the 'stache!
Los Angeles Times on Michael Douglas's third act 
Playbill and as you've undoubtedly heard and probably griped about August: Osage County has been delayed and will now open on Christmas Day because the studios just can't help themselves with their Oscar contenders! Christmas or Bust

Off Cinema
Slate Simon Doonan on the American man's Freudian fear of the Speedo. So true and funny.
Vulture on a cute gender-flipped Robyn video "You Should Know Better". Love Robyn. Miss her. 
Towleroad Madonna debuts the trailer to #secretproject which plays like a modern dance music video without a song to go with it but with lots of black and white violence. Why? Who knows with that one. I prefer "Sex" to this "Violence"

Today's Watch
Since Takeshi Kaneshiro (House of Flying Daggers, Red Cliff) is so rarely on my big screens *sniffle* I will settle for watching the world's most beautiful man in an airline commercial for Taiwan.

 

I will buy a ticket for any destination in the world if Takeshi is complimentary with purchase. 

Saturday
Jun222013

Posterized: Disney/Pixar

My review of Monsters University will be up tomorrow but for now, let's revive our supposedly weekly (ahem) series Posterized to look back at all 13 Pixar Features and discuss their chronology and, the fun part, their hierarchy. AND... I just keep gilding this CGI lily,  how they compare to the first 13 DISNEY Animated Features. Yep, throwing a little curveball into the frequent "ranking Pixar" conversations, I am.

Toy Story (1995) 3 Oscar nominations. Won an Honorary Oscar. Basically changed the (showbiz) world forever. [my ten favorite moments from this classic]
A Bugs Life (1998) 1 Oscar nomination (Score, Musical or Comedy)
Toy Story 2 (1999)  1 Oscar nomination (Song). It was right about here that people started arguing for an Animated Feature Oscar category (Tarzan and The Iron Giant were also released this year) but that wouldn't happen for another couple of years. 

And then...

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Saturday
Jun222013

"The East," Or, What Do We Think of Brit Marling? Alexander Skarsgård?

Please allow me to catch up. The following double feature is "old" news by internet standards but since I am valiantly trying to say at least something about everything I see, it won't always be instantaneous. I know that in my role as a well known film blogger of Oscar leanings, I'm supposed to embrace my role as Opinion Maker rather than point out the fluid mutating nature of opinions. But, here's a little secret about me (and I suspect most critics): I don't always have a clearcut opinion. Which is where you come in to today. Here are two blondes I've been staring at intensely lately: Alexander Skarsgård & Brit Marling. They are also busy staring intensely at each other in the eco-terrorism thriller The East. 

Help me solidify my vague opinion of them after the jump!

Click to read more ...