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Monday
Oct052015

Beauty vs Beast: Marriage Among the Ruins

Jason here, taking a little break between New York Film Festival screenings to give you this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" -- this past weekend Danny Boyle's film Steve Jobs screened at NYFF to sold-out crowds and from what I gathered very good notices (stay tuned for TFE's take soon; I took that picture to the left myself at the press conference), and I heard that on Saturday night Danny Boyle led the crowd in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to birthday girl, beloved actress, Oscar winner, and icon Kate Winslet.

Kate turns 40 today! We have been worshipping Kate ever since she helped bash in her girlfriend's mother's head with a brick in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, and we've never wavered... well okay we had no idea what anybody was thinking with Labor Day either, but other than that, not ever. Here on her 40th birthday let's give love to one of her best recent performances, one that just happened to coincide with a reunion with the Bogie to her Bacall, Leonardo DiCaprio, who was doing very fine work right across from her.

PREVIOUSLY Last week in anticipation of Ridley Scott's The Martian's looming box office boom we faced off our favorite pair of Red Planet invaders -- well it was Tim Burton's little green men that zapped their way into our hearts, to the tune of nearly 80% of your vote. Sorry Tripods, better luck next invasion. Said Denny:

"ACKACKACKACKLOLOLOLOL The martians from Mars Attacks win for their Frankenstein-ian experiments ALONE. "

Monday
Oct052015

Podcast: Carol Aird of Manhattan, Mark Watney of Mars.

Katey, Joe, Nathaniel and Nick, get stranded on Mars with Astronaut Matt Damon. After rescuing each other they fall for shopgirl Rooney Mara with Cate Blanchett. Yes, we're discussing Ridley Scott's The Martian (now playing at a theater near you) and Todd Haynes's Carol (opening November 20th but surely already playing in your head).

Nathaniel is sick -- apologies for the vocal germs! --  so Katey hosts this one. 

43 minutes 
00:01-14:30  The Martian. How often must mankind save Matt Damon? 
14:31-40:00  The miraculous healing powers of Carol. Struggling with/loving on Rooney's remoteness and Blanchett's range and roll. 
40:01-43:00 Oscar fanfare / Sign-offs

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments won't you? Especially those two prompt questions: What did you think of The Martian and when were you most turned on by Cate Blanchett?

Carol and The Martian

Monday
Oct052015

Xmas Pics Coming Our Way

It's October, so Manuel is here trying to get into the Halloween Christmas spirit. Wait, isn’t it a little early? Perhaps, but these three films are hoping to get you excited about the jolly holidays.

Hope away, holiday movies, but it's hard to be remotely excited about any of these. Still, we're glad Lizzy Caplan & Mindy Kaling (The Night Before), and Toni Collette & Alilson Tolman (Krampus) are getting work. Though, as actressexuals go, Love the Coopers is where it’s at: Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Olivia Wilde, and Marisa Tomei.

You can check the trailer below... 

Bring your own Yes No Maybe So (BYOYNMS) in the comments. And yes, those comments can mostly be about how three time Oscar player Marisa Tomei deserves better films.

Monday
Oct052015

NYFF: Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next

Manuel here reporting from the New York Film Festival, where Michael Moore’s latest documentary had its first American screening after a bow at TIFF last month.

Moore’s Where to Invade Next is born out of the same sense of anger and despair that characterizes his earlier docs, but as he noted himself in yesterday’s press conference, he found a way to funnel that anger in a more productive way. Indeed, while the opening images (which juxtapose anti-terrorism presidential sound-bites with horrific national images from Ferguson and Sandy Hook) feel driven by an unwavering anger at the current state of US affairs, what follows is a rather optimistic portrait of the potential for change, presented, of course, with the irreverent wit that Moore epitomizes.

Tasked with “invading” countries by himself, Moore visits various European countries in hopes of, as he says, being able to “pick the flowers, not the weeds”: finding, that is, the best ideas about public policy that are thriving in other countries in hopes to steal them, bring them back to America, and watch them be implemented. The entire premise was a way, Moore explained, to make a documentary about the United States without shooting a single frame in the United States. Every hot button issue you can think of, from police brutality to women’s reproductive health, from the industrial prison complex to school lunches, from labor regulations to women’s equality, is tackled head on from the outside in. He travels to Italy to learn about their paid vacation policy (8 weeks!). He travels to Norway to visit their maximum security prison (where inmates carry the keys to their cells which come equipped with TVs, and who can use the state of the art recording studio or the expansive library at their leisure). He travels to Tunisia (an Islamic state, let’s remember) to visit their women’s health centers where abortions have been legal since the 1970s and learn how riots by women toppled a conservative government that hoped to repeal those female rights and protections. And so on, and so forth, talking to school cafeteria chefs, factory workers, multinational CEOs, and policemen, from Portugal, Iceland, France, Germany and Norway.

“I am American. I live in a great country, built on genocide and grown on the backs of slaves.” - Moore, candidly summing up what he sees so few jingoistic Americans acknowledging.

Each “idea” he hopes to take back after his invasion is at its core, both impossibly simple and also similarly absurd: five months paid maternity leave? sex-ed that isn’t based on abstinence? school lunches that value health over pizza and fries? teachers who value their students’ happiness over standardized tests? a prison where guards carry no guns and inmates have access to kitchen knives? a policy that decriminalizes drug possession? But the ultimate message is utopian in its simplicity: every one of these “flowers” he picked began with small gestures that, like the hammers and chisels that led to the physical dismantling of the Berlin Wall (which Moore witnessed first-hand in 1989 and which alongside the Mandela election helped cement his idea that things can change seemingly overnight), can make all the difference. They also continually hint at words and values that seldom find themselves in American political rhetoric: happiness, curiosity, community, human dignity. That the film ends in a powerful call for women’s equality, suggesting in no uncertain terms that having women in power is a necessary part of political and cultural progress, is perhaps the film’s most surprising element. (Do stay through the end of the credits to find Moore riffing beautifully off of Marvel’s most emulated trademark: the post-credits sequence).

How you feel about the film and its message will no doubt depend on your own political affiliations. Even as the audience at my screening clapped rapturously as the credits rolled, suggesting perhaps Moore was merely preaching to a converted choir that could wave away the tricky logistics that would make these ideas hard to implement wholesale in these shores, I could pick out snippets of dialogue that suggested this choir was a tad more cynical than Moore anticipated: “I mean, it’s so reductive, really.” “Well, but none of that will work here.” “I wish it were that easy!” Where to Invade Next is, in that, classic Moore: a conversation starter that will be greeted with equal number of wolf-whistles as exasperated sighs.

Check out the teaser for it below:

 

Where to Invade Next played Saturday October 3rd at the NYFF, and while concrete release date plans or distribution are up in the air, Moore’ doc is bound to open wide sometime soon.
Sunday
Oct042015

Stage Door: Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51

Stage Door is taking a little trip across the Atlantic, since David is lucky enough to live in London, where TFE deity Nicole Kidman is currently treading the boards in Photograph 51.

Every article announcing Nicole Kidman’s return to the London stage made reference to the infamous review labeling her “pure theatrical Viagra” when she first played in the West End in 1998’s The Blue Room. Seventeen years on, the subject of Photograph 51 could hardly seem more antithetical: Rosalind Franklin’s passion in life is her work, the groundbreaking research into the structure of DNA, her part in which has been forgotten by mainstream history, partially due to her premature death from ovarian cancer before her male peers were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct042015

Box Office: Hit Missions to Mars & Mexico

The Martian is attempting to beat Gravity's October record this weekend. The charts only reflect studio Estimates so we'll see tomorrow for sure. At any rate the all star space adventure (yes, there is much more than Matt Damon therein) is an immediate big hit. Can something this light and fun -- we'll talk about it on the podcast tonight but it doesn't exactly run deep -- make inroads to awards glory? 

In other box office news Sicario continues to perform well surviving its wide expansion with ease. Word of mouth should continue to bolster it because hotdamn it's intense. It's also quite a strange double feature with The Martian (though both are good times at the movies) since  Blunt feels like she's in consistently more danger than Damon even though she's wearing body armor and fully armed and people are rarely firing at her while he's stuck alone on an inhospitable planet without breathable air, lasting supplies, or food.

Finally Grandma, a movie we've been rooting for since January is starting to lose theaters after a totally respectable run. While it never quite crossed over (which is harder and harder to do these days with shorter theatrical windows - see also the similar grossing word of mouth gem I'll See You In My Dreams) it'll end its theatrical run with over $6 million theatrical which is plenty to keep it in play for Best Actress honors (people have been nominated with a lot less) if the campaign is strong and especially if The Globes are there for Lily in Musical or Comedy actress. Do you think they will be?

BOX OFFICE WIDE
800+ screens (Oct 2nd-4th)
01 The Martian $55 NEW Matt's foot-in-mouth tour
02 Hotel Transylvania 2 $33 (cum. $90.5)  Tim on the director Genny Tartakovsky
03 Sicario $12 (cum. $15) Podcast, Emily Blunt
04 The Intern $11.6 (cum. $36.5) Review
05 Maze: Runner: The Scorch Trials $7.6 (cum. $63.2)
06 Black Mass $5.9 (cum. $52.5)
07 Everest $5.5 (cum. $33.1)
08 The Visit $3.9 (cum. $57.6)
09 War Room $2.8 (cum. $60.5)
10 The Perfect Guy $2.4 (cum. $52.6) Review

BOX OFFICE LIMITED
(Oct 2nd-4th)
01 The Walk (448 screens) $1.5 NEW (cum. $1.9) Review
02 Grandma (315 screens) $.4 (cum. $5.8) Poster Blurb, Lily Tomlin's Filmography, Review 
03 Sleeping with Other People (392 screens) $.2 (cum. $.6)  Review
04 Meet the Patels (78 screens) $.1 (cum. $.7) 
05 Talvar (51 screens) $.1 NEW
06 Goodnight Mommy (43 screens) $.4 InterviewOscar Submission
07 Learning To Drive (115 screens) $.1 (cum. $3.1)
08 99 Homes (19 screens) $.1 (cum. $.1) The return of Andrew Garfield
09 Southpaw (303 screens) Re-Release $.07 (cum. $52.2)
10 Un Gallo con Muchose Huevos (112 screens) $.07 (cum. $8.9)

WHAT DID YOU SEE THIS WEEKEND?

I came down with a brutal cold after waiting in line in the cold for an hour for Steve Jobs (and being turned away roughly 15 people before making it inside) so it looks like I'll be emptying my DVR instead of moviegoing *sniffle*