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The Turning Point (1977)

"This film is like Beaches long lost relative." -Mark

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, this film's 2 Best Actress nods should've gone to 3 Women" - Yavor

"I really loved Tom Skerritt in this. I think he deserved a nomination for Supporting Actor." -Tyler

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Tuesday
May262015

Review: Tomorrowland

Michael C here. Last week I was here to announce that one of my anticipated 2015 titles exceeded my expectations. This week I need to come to grips how another of my most anticipated could miss the mark so badly.

Like the theme park from which it takes its inspiration, the future in Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is not a tangible thing, but an idea, a gleaming Jetsons cityscape forever just over the horizon inspiring the better angels of our nature with its promise of utopia. It’s not “the future”. It’s THE FUTURE! 

Unfortunately, where Disney World can get away with organizing a collection or attractions around nothing but a spirit of uncomplicated hope, a movie needs to build a structure around those feelings, and it’s there that Bird’s film struggles. It aims to stir the soul but its impact is dulled as it gets lost in its scattershot, thinly conceived screenplay. Enjoyment of Tomorrowland depends on one's ability to appreciate its vibe of retro optimism enough to overlook how far short it falls of its lofty ambitions...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May262015

Peggy Link

Theater Mania Juliette Binoche to return to the stage with Sophocles' Antigone
Playbill interviews Laura Benanti 
Variety the charming animated fable Song of the Sea takes Best Picture at the Irish Film Awards. Have you seen it yet? It was very nearly my favorite of last year's animated pictures. 
Guardian interviews Vincent Cassell on his disturbing Australian drama Partisan with a look back at his now-classic breakthrough in La Haine (which might get a sequel)
Variety critics hash out the best and worst of Cannes together with the most fascinating split being on Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin which Debruge finds "impenetrable" and for which Chang expresses rapturous love. (Note: they also seem to admire Carol more than love it - which is why I've always been less bullish than most early Oscar prognosticators in assuming AMPAS's future love for it)
Nick Davis, Tim Brayton, Ivan Albertson and Amir Soltani continue their collective committed Cannes 1995 retrospective hitting films like Shanghai Triad (I loved that one at the time!), The Madness of King George, and Todd Haynes classic [safe]


Sad News
The Guardian reports that 1960s superstar Omar Sharif has Alzheimers
Kenneth in the (212) RIP to Anne Meara aka "Mrs Sherwood" in Fame (1980) but was also a multiple Emmy nominee and Ben Stiller's mamma
In Contention in case you hadn't heard John & Alicia Nash, the subjects of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind were died in a car accident Sunday 

Popcorn Season
Coming Soon lists the "15 biggest disaster movies" but skimps on older films with only four movies listed that existed prior to 1996.
CHUD new pics from Ridley Scott's Martian featuring Matt Damon's space suit (the costume designer is Ridley Scott regular, Janty Yates) 
Empire shares new Ant Man images
/Film in more 'franchises never die' news, the Conan series may be revived as The Legend of Conan with Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the barbarian in his older years 
Observations on Film Art on the waning thrills of CGI comparing The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings and Mad Max Fury Road to the general contemporary action film
Pajiba Captain America Civil War is filming and thus, lots of photos from the set
The Dissolve has a long read on genre movies that followed in the wake of Star Wars: Flash Gordon, Superman, and Star Trek and where they went right and wrong
David Johns does a Law & Order style Daredevil edit. Good job 

Showtune to Go...
This morning we chatted briefly about the upcoming Peggy Lee biopic so why not a little Peggy for the afternoon? Enjoy this Peggy Lee & Judy G medley that kicks off with "I Like Men"

Tuesday
May262015

A Letter to Todd Haynes

Dearest Todd,

Never ever under any circumstances take another 8 year break from the cinema. The reviews for Carol (2015) read at times like an ecstatic mirage, dehydrated desert critics stumbling upon a Haynes-flavored pool. Its weird ½ an actress prize at Cannes, for the unexpected ½ at that, feels somehow fitting given the prismatic way you like to view identity (Velvet Goldmine, I'm Not There, etc).

I can't tell you the joy I felt this morning waking up to the news that you've added a third project (!!!) to your upcoming slate after so much hibernation. Of the two we already knew about a TV series set in a 1970s commune sounds the most promising; it's an underexplored rich topic in terms of time period and political content -- you're counter culture enough to do it justice. The other project, the Untitled Peggy Lee Biopic is a swell idea, too. You're the one filmmaker who is creatively incapable of making a dully traditional biopic (Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story / I'm Not There) and Miss Peggy Lee lived through all your favorite eras. We already know that its star Reese Witherspoon can sing thanks to her Oscar winning role as June Carter Cash and though we can't quite picture her as one of your muses a la Moore (Far From Heaven / [safe]) or recently Blanchett, we can picture her as a Barbie doll and we know you like those. At any rate, the part is a good fit for her. Peggy has so many classic songs, she was indominatable enough to serve as one of the original inspirations for Miss Piggy and that six decade career / four failed marriages surely contain plentiful dramatic fodder.

But the happiest news may well be the newest. You're planning to adapt Brian Selznick's children's book Wonderstruck for Killer Films??? How wonderful. That bifurcated tale featuring a boy in the Seventies pining for his father and a girl in the Twenties dreaming of an actress should provide ample spark for your formidable creativity. 

an image from Wonderstruck

You're 54 now, Todd. There are only so many years in a life. I'm not telling you to rush through these next projects but please never ever under any circumstances whatsoever take an eight year break from the cinema again in which we only get a remake of something that was already more than wonderful enough to begin with (Mildred Pierce). It was a painful drought.

Your forever fan, xoxo

Nathaniel R

Monday
May252015

Two Women. Two Questions

First a Question For You
Have you ever been baffled or resentful of an Oscar win (any category) only to finally see the picture and go "Oh, okay. I get it" and feel sheepish about your past dismissal (even if it wouldn't quite change your vote)? 

Such was the case with me and Sophia Loren's Two Women (1961) the only 1960s Best Actress win I hadn't seen, largely because I was so angry about it growing up given my intense love of Natalie Wood, who lost her best shot at the statue (Splendor in the Grass) in the peak year of her popularity (West Side Story). But when the Walter Reade screened Vittoria de Sica's Two Women this weekend I decided to fix the gap. Sophia was terrific, particularly in the final act when the movie takes quite a dark turn (in some ways it's a very strange film, a mix of lightly charming Star Vehicle, brutal Neorealism, and Melodrama)

My Turn. "Ask Nathaniel..."
Once you've answered my question in the comments, ask me one! (It should not be Sophia related. I just needed to ask you that question.) I'll answer two handfuls of your questions tomorrow night in the Q&A column.

Ready. Set. Go...

 

Monday
May252015

Holidayland at the Box Office

Memorial Day Weekend 4 day estimates are in and though it was a week weekend overall - Tomorrowland was soft which is quite scary since its budget was decidedly not -- but the three top holdovers are all bonafide hits with moviegoers.

Tomorrowland reached for a giant pot of gold, came up short.

TOP FIVE WIDE
May 22-25 Weekend
01 Tomorrowland NEW $41.7 
02 Pitch Perfect 2 $38.5 (cum. $126) Review
03 Mad Max: Fury Road $32.1 (cum. $95.5) Review & Podcast
04 Avengers: Age of Ultron $27.8 (cum. $410.9) Review & Marathon & Podcast
05 Poltergeist NEWbutOLD $26.5 

If you adjust for inflation Avengers: Age of Ultron might end its run as only the seventh highest grossing superhero flick of all time behind (in this order) The Avengers (2012), The Dark Knight (2008), Spider-Man (2002), Batman (1989), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Superman (1978), though the latter is within reach if it can hold its theaters. Which is not to say that it isn't a massive hit; the sequel shouldn't have any problem topping the 2015 box office unless the final Hunger Games film unexpectedly outgrosses all previous installments or there's an anomaly American Sniper like behemoth somewhere in the next 7 months.

In other notable news, The Age of Adaline and Ex Machina both lost nearly half their screens to new releases but continue to do respectable business. Meanwhile, Far From the Madding Crowd keeps expanding and now has $6 million in the bank domestically. Well done Fox Searchlight for a costume drama without bankable stars and with good but not 'give this all the Oscars!' reviews. (See, other prestige-loving distributors? Not everything needs to be released in December.) I've been meaning to review it. Soon, my darlings... possibly even today. 'Let no man steal your thyme!'  And at the arthouses Sony Pictures Classics had a decent weekend. Wild Tales is inching ever closer to $3 million in the US (which is a big deal gross for foreign films these days -sigh) and internationally it's much bigger, the biggest smash from Argentina since the Oscar winning The Secret in Their Eyes (2009). And finally Saint Laurent is currently the number #1 platform release with $210,000 so far and playing at 59 locations.

What did you do for the holiday?

Monday
May252015

From Dope to Adam Jones: New Posters Roundup

Manuel here to try and help us catch up with the barrage of new film posters (and trailers!) that have dropped these past few days. It’s hard to keep up, what with Cannes, Eurovision, singing along with the Barden Bellas and furiously following Mad Max. Here are six posters you may have missed:

Musically Inclined: A #TBT double feature

The Sundance hit (review here) gets an appropriately 90s-tinged and sunny poster that features a pretty fun tagline (“It’s hard out there for a geek”) while the film adaptation of the gloriously 80s cartoon gets a Snapchatty poster (telling you everything you need to know about its intended audience) which looks as broody as that underwhelming first trailer.

Tearjerkers: Docs to sob to

Word from Cannes was pretty ecstatic about the former and for those who loved Senna and Amy Winehouse this should come as no surprise; knowing this, the poster goes for simple iconicity becoming Amy’s own signature beehive (Could Oscar make up for that Senna snub come next year?). The Slamdance doc on the Batkid “Make a Wish” story goes for heartwarming, giving us perhaps the peppiest nod to the darkest of all contemporary superheroes. If you want to get your hankies ready, there are trailers for both films.

Twice the Bradley: Can you sell a film on Bradley’s star power alone?

That’s a valid question. After three consecutive Oscar nominations and coming off two gargantuan hits which topped the box office last year, Bradley Cooper is front and center in the posters for Cameron Crowe’s Aloha and especially on John Wells’ Adam Jones. That may be enough for some people, but these marketing efforts left me wanting. That said, can we talk about the supporting casts on both of these films?

Which of these six films will you be catching in the next few months? Did you also do a double take when looking at that headshot-ey poster for the culinary-centered Adam Jones and/or gay-gasped when you saw the gorgeous Amy poster?

 

Sunday
May242015

Review: Chocolate City

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad...

So ballsy: Chocolate City, a black rip-off of Magic Mike, actually name checks Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike (2012) twice -- once in its opening scene even! -- and names it lead character Mike. In one conversation its strippers even dismiss Magic Mike for being 'only a movie' as if they're authentic fantasy workers in a documentary.

Not ballsy enough: Chocolate City has zero actors as brave as Matthew McConaughey what with his g-string ass up to the camera writhing and no actors as nonchalantly nude as Channing Tatum doing that birthday suit bathroom strut. If you're aiming for an even cheaper riff on one of the great low budget success stories of recent cinema (Magic Mike grossed 24 times its meager budget globally; hits are generally lucky to quadruple their budgets) shouldn't you exploit what your mama gave you?

B movies throughout time have been energized by their trashier instincts. Not so much this one. This Mike (super cute Robert Ri'Chard) is practically a saint though he goes by "Sexy Chocolate" while naughty on stage. More...

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