straight outta Cannes
Guardian wonders why Sofia Coppola is so obsessed with pole dancing. The pole is back for Bling Ring
MCN David Poland has several capsule thoughts on Cannes films. This is my favorite type of festival review since I find that festival environments are not good for full length reviews and yet people persist in lengthy split second reactions anyway. Let the movies marinate. But he hates the explicit gay sex drama Stranger by the Lake and thinks it wouldn't be in the festival it it were hetero explicit
In Contention gives the same film fuller consideration
Apple Daily Tony Leung Chiu Wai -at Cannes for his wife's new film -- meets Ang Lee for dinner. Chinese press follows but the Lust, Caution pair are not reuniting any time soon (shame). Tony tells the reporters that he's seen Zhang Ziyi already, too.
Ultra Culture lists ten selfless acts committed by the protagonist of Fruitvale Station. Just in the first hour! I was kind of worried about a lack of nuance in this buzzy tragic drama and if the character is a complete angel, I wonder if the movie will experience a huge critical backlash when it opens. Most interesting characters are not 100% anything.
speaking of Michael B Jordan
...who is the lead in Fruitvale. You may not know this since I don't talk about TV much but I'm most definitely a fan. He's already done really sensitive affecting work in both Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. /Film is revisiting the rumor that they want him for the Fantastic Four reboot as Human Torch. I'm usually all for color blind casting since it should be about who is the best actor for the job, you know? But there are some cases where it doesn't seem like a great idea and this, to me, is one of them. In fact, I'd pick The Fantastic Four dead last, along with like The Black Panther and Storm, as Marvel Universe roles that should be color-blind casted. One of the peculiarities of FF is its kind of dated nuclear family WASPy feel (I think director Peyton Reed's original concept ten years back about doing it as an early 60s retro-stylized thing would have been so interesting and right for the material). Since they went with Allison Williams as Sue Storm (I like her just fine but she seems as weird of a fit for Sue Storm as Jessica Alba was!) I have no understanding of what they're new concept is. Other than just "reboot and make money!"
Sundance Now revisits Disney's weird sorta wonderful Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - those mid90s post Lion King/Aladdin movies are as underrated as that duo is overrated if you ask me
Guardian Antonio Banderas will headline the flick about the Chilean miners rescue. His career seems to be back on the upswing. Can we blame the reunion with Almodóvar?
CHUD is doing a series of 15 great actors who haven't starred in a comic book film and they started with Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Although really shouldn't that Mission: Impossible 3 movie kinda count?)
Filmmaker Kurt talks with Julianne Moore, "cinema's modest chameleon"
New York Times congratulations to my friend Tom, who composes for musical theater (more on him right here
at TFE soon if...well, I'm not allowed to say just yet), who is now married. His engagment is commemorated with this cute NYT Video!
/Film thinks a limited Christmas opening with a platform rollout in January for the Jason Reitman Kate Winslet Labor Day picture shows faith in the movie for the Oscars. Hmmm. to me the shy December openings with January rollouts are more hedging your bets than total confidence. If there's so much faith you go wide (see Django & Les Miz last year) to get the holiday money.
Oh and don't forget...
Tomorrow night (and the following Wednesday night) are the last episodes of Hit Me With Your Best Shot before a hiatus in June. So if you've been meaning to join us, now's the time. Tomorrow night is Disney's experimental FANTASIA (1940) which were doing as sort of an offhand centennial tribute to Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" which turns 100 years old this month. So pick one image from the Rite of Spring section and your favorite from the movie as a whole. (Or one for each of its six musical sections if you're feeling into it). Next Wednesday is the brilliant Paul Newman as HUD (1963) which I want everyone to see it because it's one of the best movies of that decade. Even if you're not doing a "best shot" rent it so you can experience it in full before reading the articles.
Working as fast as I can through the first wave of Oscar charts. I realize 'fast as I can' this year is snail-paced but you have to agree that this year has been a slow-starter anyway. Not that things haven't started now. Cannes is in full swing and in addition to the awards speculation for the Palme D'Or, Cannes prompts film sales, too, and thus distributor shuffling. Stephen Frears Philomena (currently in post) was picked up by the Weinstein Company and given that they had a full slate already -- especially for Best Actress since they're also representing Streep & Kidman in August and Grace -- it must have been more than Judi Dench that prompted the high priced sale. I've added it to the previously completed charts because it's just one of those projects that felt right to me when I first heard about it. Isn't it about time for Stephen Frears to get his mojo back? I've added that new contender to the prediction charts.
But for now, let's talk about the visual and aural categories. What follows is not my predictions but just a few thoughts to kick off a conversation. You can see predictions on the charts here (for visuals) and here (for sound)
It may finally be Emmanuel Lubezki's year. The truly great cinematographer has always been overshadowed by non-discriminatory love for competing films in his nominated years -- in fact he's one of the very rare frequent below the title nominees that does not require any degree of Best Picture heat to be in the conversation. In fact only 20% of his nominations come from Best Picture nominated films. So you know they really love his work and it's not just coattails from the movies. This year he has the now-important advantage (sigh) of working with a ton of visual effects with his frequent collaborator Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. For reasons that are still unclear to me Oscar voters now view Cinematography as an extension of the Visual Effects category; in the last four years the winners of both categories have been the exact same film. This is a terrible trend since cinematography is an art that's been producing myriad breathtaking works long before anybody had ever heard of CGI. Still... if this is what it takes to finally get Lubezki the Oscar... [more]
Andrew again, with your weekly monologue. Chances are, if you’re asked to remember what films were tickling your fancy a decade ago you wouldn’t turn to Peyton Reed’s sophomore effort Down with Love. I wouldn’t hold it against you. 2003 had many good films, even great ones to offer. Reed's pastiche of the sex-comedies of the '60s was unlikely to be anyone's #1 film of the year but that does not mean it's without ample merits.
When Down with Love opened in May 2003 to unexceptional reviews, both of its stars, Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger, had higher profile releases coming out in December of the same year and by the end of the year few were even thinking about it. Ten years after, less so. But that's unfortunate. The film, like many an homage, does not offer expressly much in the way of originality but as far as well intended romps in the romantic comedy genre go Down with Love ably succeeds more often than you’d expect. We're a few days late in celebrating its 10th anniversary, but for this week’s Monday Monologue here's a reminder of the frothy pleasures of the film...
Since we're in the heat of Tony season, you get TWO screen-to-stage posts this week. Here's the first one (though perversely both shows are not on Broadway and are thus ineligible for those awards)
abstew here. Although often cited as one of the reasons for the death of originality in American Theatre, the musicalization of popular films to stage is hardly new. After all, two Best Picture Oscar winners (All About Eve and The Apartment) were turned into musicals (1970's Applause and 1968's Promises, Promises, respectively) long before Bring It On was cheering it's way to a Best "New" Musical Tony Nomination. (I, myself, am still waiting for the musical version of Death Becomes Her. It already has a musical number! Someone, please, make this happen!) The latest film getting the song & dance treatment (well... song & walking around) is one that I'm sure TFE readers are familiar with, Todd Haynes' glorious Far From Heaven (2002). more...
Hey everybody. Michael C. here.
When the Trekkies complain that the JJ Abrams reboot had abandoned the spirit of the franchise, I understand their point. I am certainly no Trekkie (or do they prefer Trekker? See, I have no idea.) But I was raised on Star Trek: TNG, and while that show was never a gateway drug to the larger Trek universe, it did instill a respect for what the brand could be at its best. Its combination of exploration adventure, an optimistic portrait of the future, and Bradbury-esque ethical conundrums is a potent mix when it’s firing on all cylinders.
So I sympathize when the die-hard fans accuse Abrams of gutting the heart out of the franchise and stuffing the shell with streamlined, box office friendly action. Sure the ship is still the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock are still at the helm, but is it still Star Trek?
At the same time, as a movie fan first and foremost, I also felt the thing to do is judge the movie on its own terms. Should I deny I had a good time at a film because it didn’t meet my preconceived notions of what constitutes a Star Trek movie?
Now that Star Trek: Into Darkness has delivered more of the same hyper-charged fun and kicked off the debate again (Headline from Vulture: Prepare to be Bombarded Into Happiness) I think it’s about time I resolved the issue. Just how upset should I be about the dumbing down of Star Trek?