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Oscar History

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Oscar Horrors: Kathy Bates in Misery

"A miracle of a performance." -Mike

"Horrible, unwatchable performance." -Patryk

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The Lumière Brothers' First Public Screening

Sebastian here, stealing sharing a great find by Slate's Dana Stevens, who tweeted out a video of the ten short films by the Lumière Brothers that were first shown to the paying public of Paris on December 28, 1895.

On their website, the Institut Llumière offers a look at the screening's program, handed out to the patrons of Le Salon Indien, a room in the basement of the Grand Café on Boulevard des Capucines.

Unfortunately the Institut's image is tiny and barely legible. So presented here, brought to you with the help of all the latest text-formatting technology, a reproduction, updated to include links to watch the films on YouTube:



14, Boulevard des Capucines, 14

Cel appareil, inventé par MM. Auguste et Louis Lumière, permet de recueillir, par des séries d'épreuves instantantées, tous les mouvements qui, pendant un temps donné, se sont succédé devant l'objectif, et de reproduire ensuite ces mouvements en projetant, grandeur naturelle, devant une salle entière, leurs images sur un écran.



Tribeca: Go Slow West, Where The Skies Are Blue

The Tribeca Film Festival 2015 kicked off this week and we'll be bringing you our screening adventures. Here's Jason on Michael Fassbender's new Western.

Jay Canvendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees the world through rose-colored lenses - that is to say, the name of his on-the-lam paramour is Rose and he sees the world colored by his love for her. In flashbacks we come to sense that Rose's feelings towards Jay are somewhat different, but that's not slowing him down. He will find her and everything will be fine, for their love is a grand and true thing.

Slow West ekes its enviable tension out of dropping Jay's love-dumb perspective down into the Movie Wild West we all know only too well - or think we do, until this movie gets to toying with it - with its brutes and indifference to beauty; what bubbles up is a bizarre, Coen-esque journey of colorful characters marching tho their own drumbeat... usually right across the open wound of Jay's ever-singing heart. 

Nobody more than his protector and companion Silas (Michael Fassbender), who signs up for a hefty price (namely every last cent in Jay's designer wallet) to get him safe along the long road westward to his lady love and spends the the first half of the trip trying to carve some hard sense into the boy. Jay's romanticism, which infects every frame of director John Maclean's gorgeously lensed film (New Zealand stands in for Colorado and it shows in the fantastically-spiced landscape - if Tolkein had dreamed up Shane this is what we'd maybe have seen), eventually proves too much for Silas to true grit his teeth against though, and even the hardened gunslinger softens a bit in the face of such steely porcelain sweetness.

Fassbender and Smit-McPhee have an appealing oddball chemistry, two lanky scarecrows bouncing along on horseback - one china-doll clean, the other bronzed and whittled down by the desert winds. They could be brothers, from another alien mother. The actors find unexpected ways to play off each other, keeping the film's main relationship surprising at every turn, much like the fascinating and arch world around them keeps us guessing at what's coming around every bend. By the time Ben Mendelsohn shows up in his foot-thick bear coat waving around a bottle of absinthe it's pretty clear we've all signed on to a gorgeous but deadly fever dream.


Revisiting Rebecca (Pt 5): Burn It Down, Mrs Danvers

Previously on "Revisiting Rebecca"
Pt 1 - a whirlwind de Winter courtship
Pt 2 - return to Manderley, meet Mrs Danvers
Pt 3 - feel up Rebecca's lingerie
Pt 4 - attend a costume ball but don't jump out the window, young lady!

...And here is Jason, with our final installment.

1:44:50 We fade up from a kiss to a sign reading "Kerrith Board School 1872." It seems so exact it made me wonder if this is a real place, but a quick google comes up with nothing. I assume this, like most everything save the more obvious natural exteriors (the beaches filmed on the California coast, for example), was a set. It seems an odd detail to so prominently focus upon though. My guess is Hitch liked the connection to The Past, with it hanging over everyone – he was never exactly the most subtle with his themes.

In the Hitchcock/Truffaut book the two filmmakers discuss how "the location of [Manderley] is never specified in a geographical sense; it's completely isolated." Hitch actually talks at length about how he sees this possibility of isolation as an "American" thing -- that if Rebecca had been filmed in Great Britain he'd have shown the countryside surrounding the house but filming it in America gave him the possibility of this "abstraction." It certainly helps that whenever we’re seeing the mansion itself it’s always a miniature, and not an actual location. Anyway, here we are... Where ever here is!

Continue on to the final installment

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Tim's Toons: Star Wars - the Animated Misadventures

Tim here. A good cinephile would be able to look around the world and think about the whole range of possible movies in all their splendid variety. Me, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Star Wars ever since the new Episode VII trailer dropped yesterday. That's the poisonous fever bog of nostalgia for you.

So, as long as I'm not going to get my head right anyway, how about we take a little wander through the corridors of Star Wars and animation? Because, golly, talk about being gripped by a dubious affection for a brand name...

At some point, people subjected themselves to all of these things just to get a little tiny bit more of a Star Wars fix. And even if The Force Awakens can't live up to the awesome pileup of top-shelf fanservice in that trailer, there's not any chance in hell that it can be as bad as some of these:

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1979)
Two and a half years after the original film redefined what blockbuster box office could look like, the very first expansion of the universe came in the form of this legendarily wretched variety show that starts with ten damn minutes of people in terrible shaggy suits barking at each other in unsubtitled Wookiee-ese. After which it proceeds to get worse. The solitary highlight, and that's almost solely because of the lowlights surrounding it on all sides, is a short animated sequence by Nelvana in which Luke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca fall for the most transparent con job in the universe and future fan-favorite Boba Fett is introduced. He rides a dinosaur. [More...]

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Review: Ex Machina

Michael C.   returning for review duties. 

Science fiction stories have wondered for ages if people will accept technology that simulates human behavior, but honestly, it probably won’t be much of a struggle. The robots will win in a walk. The urge to empathize is hard wired into the human psyche. I can remember when I was young, watching other kids develop deep emotional bonds to plastic eggs with crude blinking pixel displays just because they were called digital pets. What chance does the species have when a robot arrives with supermodel looks and a subtle range of emotion, one that can take you by the hand, gazes deeply into your eyes and say, “I love you” like it means it? Game over, man...

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Tribeca: Relating to "The Wolfpack"

The Tribeca Film Festival 2015 kicked off this week and we'll be bringing you our screening adventures. Here's special guest Joe Reid on a buzzy documentary...

I thought a lot about Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth during Crystal Moselle's Sundance winning documentary The Wolfpack, now playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. How could I not? The Wolfpack tells the story of the Angulo family, including the seven siblings whose extreme home-schooling meant they were rarely permitted outside their modest Lower East Side apartment. That kind of forced isolation of children is always going to make me think of Lanthimos' dark comedy.

Knowing the premise, you might expect the Angulo kids to end up as warped as those kids in Dogtooth, but they're decidedly not. They speak about their unusual childhood with uncanny emotional intelligence and articulation. And the more you watch The Wolfpack, the more you might want to chalk it all up to the power of the movies.

The dynamite opening to the film sees the Angulo boys' filmed reenactment of Reservoir Dogs (1992), complete with costumes, props, and honestly? Some pretty decent line-readings. You immediately get a sense of how long the boys have had to perfect this production. It helps when you're never allowed to leave your home. These boys are no mere dabblers; they're movie fanatics, with hand-drawn movie art papering their walls; with lists at the ready ranking their personal favorites. They're shown transcribing Pulp Fiction, studying Blue Velvet, poring over Scream. I found myself leaning forward, relating so hard.


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Quick Impressions: Annie Funke's Violent Year

Quick Impressions. There are showbiz dreams embedded in nearly every frame of your favorite TV shows and films. Consider this series a celebration of SAG card holders and free advice for casting directors.

Meet Annie Funke (It's pronounced "funky"). She's only made one movie but what fortune to land such a strong one for your debut! The actress has just two scenes in J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year (2014), just out on DVD & BluRay, as the unexpected heir of a rival company who Oscar Isaac's desperate businessman must turn to for help. While the cast is uniformly fine, there was just something about Annie Funke's pin-drop tense scenes in particular that we just couldn't stop thinking about. We had to know more...

While Funke's first movie and a buzzy breakthrough a couple of years ago in a play called "If There is I Haven't Found It Yet" which she refers to as a "game-changer" have both been heavy dramas it turns out she came up through musical comedy. Because of scheduling conflicts during the casting of A Most Violent Year she thought she wouldn't get the part but here we are. And here is where we'll jump into our conversation...

NATHANIEL: I love musicals and plan to see your next one but it's exciting that you're making waves elsewhere now, too. 

ANNIE FUNKE: As a kid in Oklahoma with a musical theater degree I had no idea that my career would go in any way to tv/film. It wasn't on my horizon at all

But then you got A Most Violent Year from a self-taped audition!

When I showed up on set the first day I hadn't met anyone. That was completely like being shot out of a cannon. [Laughs] 


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