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Sunday
Mar292015

Shirley MacLaine talks "The Apartment" at TCMFF

Anne Marie here in Hollywood, reporting the way it crumbles. TCMFF-wise, that is.

Shirley MacLaine knows how to command a room. TCM Classic Film Festival honored the Oscar winner's 6 decade career with a screening of The Apartment last night, but when MacLaine  made her entrance to a standing ovation at the TCL Chinese stage, it was clear that the honor was all ours. Dressed in red & black sequins (reminiscent of Doris Mann), MacLaine sparkled with charm. But it's not just her incredible charisma. When a sound glitch caused feedback, she turned with a mischievous gleam in her eye and called out,

"Whoever's in charge of that: Fix it!"


Much of that no-nonsense professionalism Shirley MacLaine attributed to her friend, legendary director of The Apartment, Billy Wilder...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar282015

Attending the Mad Men "Black and Red Ball"

Margaret reporting from Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, television phenomenon Mad Men screened its final premiere, and I had the pleasure of attending to represent The Film Experience. This premiere leads off the second half of Mad Men's seventh and final season. While introducing the episode, AMC President Charlie Collier spoke to the legacy of the show, claiming that:

in the history of television, there will be a permanent line of demarcation: Before Mad Men, and After Mad Men.''

It's a strong claim, but it's true. 

 

Compare the television landscape of today to the television landscape of a decade ago, and the influence of Mad Men's success is evident. Certainly without that show AMC would not have taken off and there would be no Breaking Bad, nor The Walking Dead. The Americans, Downton Abbey, and Netflix's entire original programming arm also owe Mad Men a sizable debt.

The Event
In celebration of their achievement, the cast and crew gathered in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles which housed the Oscars for many year. The Pavilion isn't new to Mad Men either, the foyer having played the lobby of a Rome hotel in season three. 

Margaret and Jordan attending for The Film Experience

 

Nearly the entire cast was present except for Elisabeth Moss (currently on Broadway) and Jessica Pare. When Robert Morse was called on stage he practically held court, and all but did a soft-shoe. Jon Hamm was, understandably, like the class president, high-fiving everyone and adorably rough-housing with little Bobby Draper when he seemed to get restless. And finally, Kiernan Shipka who we watched grow up on the show, is now unnervingly tall and very poised. 

The mutual respect and love among the team was evident, and the program reserved special (and richly deserved) praise for the visual artists who gave Mad Men so much of its richness: cinematographer Chris Manley, production designer Dan Bishop, art director Christopher Brown, set decorator Claudette Didul, props master Ellen Freund, and the genius costume designer Janie Bryant whose work on the show is so long overdue for an Emmy. Christina Hendricks clearly adores them giving enormous hugs to everyone.

Coming up on seven full seasons, Mad Men has pulled down four Emmys for Best Drama Series, traced the decade of shifting cultural history between 1960 and 1970, and has inspired more spiraling fan theories than its cast has smoked cigarettes.

 

Keirnan Shipka, Jon Hamm, and January Jones at the event on Wednesday

So how does it end? The first of the final episodes, true to the series spirit, plays it close to the vest. It riffs on the show's established intertwining themes (sex, business, identity) but it's a little looser, a little more relaxed. (As if they knew that the TFE readership would be on the look out for a "Mad Men at the Movies" reference, they toss off an aces Mildred Pierce joke midway through.) The pace is unhurried, as ever, and where the slow burn will flame out is still anyone's guess. TV has changed so much since Mad Men arrived. How will it change once it's gone?

Mad Men returns to AMC for its final episodes on Sunday April 5th, 10/9c

Saturday
Mar282015

Superheroes, Shakespeares, Stonewalls, and Series Endings

Lukewarm off the presses: Here's a collection of things we didn't get around to talking and/or linking to for your enjoyment or conversation prompting. We always hope for both. And I'm always hoping to empty out my "things to write about immediately" desktop folder... which is never emptied out.

• Terrence Malick's new movie (the one right after Knight of Cups) will be called Weightless (no cracks about how skinny Portman, Blanchett, Fassbender, and Rooney Mara, who star, are) but it's about music and its set in Austin. Apparently there's Madonna, Bob Dylan and Arcade Fire songs or something? Who knows. In truth I don't know why I'm sharing this info. Fact: Malick movies are only interesting in the watching of them, not in the hearing about their development since that's always totally vague.

• Glenn Kenny wrote a lovely piece about his mother's love of Alfred Hitchcock movies (she recently died) and he brings up an interesting point about how older audiences of either gender remember and loved his work. Do you know what your parents favorite Hitchcock's were?

• Look! It's Jeremy Irvine in action director Roland Emmerich's first gay drama Stonewall (2015) -- that and plenty of other things are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar282015

Christopher Plummer Honored

Anne Marie providing your concrete connection to TCM Classic Film Fest.

Besides the Oscars, there may be no symbol more Hollywood than the handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theater. As legend goes, Norma Talmadge walked through wet cement while theater entrepreneur Sid Grauman was finishing construction on the Chinese Theater, and the accident gave the showman a rock-solid idea. Whatever the tradition's origin, ever since the Chinese Theater opened in 1927, thousands of starstruck tourists and Hollywood hopefuls have made their way to the theater's courtyard, where they can marvel at the timeworn hand-and-footprints of everyone from Bette Davis to Tom Hanks to the cast of Harry Potter.

Yesterday morning, Christopher Plummer joined the ranks of cemented cinema stars. [more]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar272015

Interview: 'White God' Director Kornél Mundruczó on Twisting Genre, Working with Canine Actors and Opera

Jose here. Kornél Mundruczó’s White God opens with one of the most memorable scenes in recent films, as we see a the desolate streets of Budapest in the aftermath of a canine uprising which has forced all the citizens to stay inside their homes. All except one, a little girl (Zsófia Psotta) trying to find her beloved dog, who unbeknownst to her, is actually the leader of this revolution. While the film has been compared to Rise of the Planet of the ApesWhite God in fact has more in common with two 1960s classics: Spartacus and The Birds, which makes sense considering that Mundruczó has made a career out of paying homage to classic Hollywood films, while injecting them with darker political undertones.

The film was a sensation at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was Hungary’s official submission for the Academy Awards; it could also very well become Mundruczó’s international breakthrough. On the eve of the film’s Stateside premiere I talked to the filmmaker about his career so far, the struggles of working under extreme circumstances and his love for opera.

JOSE: I thought the film was entertaining in a conventional thriller sense, but it was also such a powerful allegory for the rise of right-wing racism in Europe. How were you able to achieve a balance between the two?

KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓIt was really personal, when I started to work on this movie I was really touched by the situation of the dogs inside Budapest. I went to a dog pound, for different reasons, not as a filmmaker, and I was so touched. Sometimes something just steps on your soul, and that’s what this felt like, I felt such a shame, I was in shock, I was part of a system that was supporting this. I wanted to talk about it and I believe that democracy is talking about things, so I decided I wanted to make a movie about one dog in Budapest. When we were developing the script, it was obvious that this was also a great allegory for what is the illness of our society. But this wasn’t something premeditated, I never thought “I want to shoot a metaphor”, I just wanted to tell this story.

Has there been a difference in how the film is received in countries like Spain and Greece which have seen powerful social uprisings in recent years?

Totally huge difference, I have no clue how it will be received in the US, but I feel that there are Eastern souls and Western souls, in France for example, they identified with the major society, but when people saw the movie in Mexico they felt “we are the dogs”. In Eastern Europe, we also felt we were the dogs. We have also had a lot of success in Turkey, which is very curious, since I had no connections with this country at all, but we’ve had lots of comments from there.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar272015

The Story of My Link

Regan Writes has a great recap of RuPaul's Drag Race's upsetting episode this week (Trixie Mattel - Nooooooooo) and since I haven't been covering it, read this instead
The Vagenda on why we need to stop asking celebrities "are you a feminist?"
Dissolve EXCITING news. Gillian Flynn, who did such an Oscar nomination worthy job of screenwriting her own novel (stupid Academy!) will be co-writing Steve McQueen's next movie. That's a team with potential.
Pajiba awesome Gillian Anderson is on the market, ready for "the one" (gender irrelevant)

I turned down one of the big young adult franchises. I know the guy who took the part is buying his Hollywood mansion in the hills now, that he has secure work for three years. But you have to work yourself into a place where you’re respected
-Douglas Booth 

The Guardian has a good interview with the full lipped, exquisitely jawed Douglas Booth (who doesn't like that people talking about his looks so much... awww, be grateful for them, man. It's how you get/got in the door) who says he's choosing his films based almost solely on who is in the director's chair. 
CHUD the creative team behind 50 Shades of Grey are dropping like flies for the sequels. And the stars want raises and the producers aren't budging. What the hell is going on? Just pay them. They helped make it a hit. Greed sure can ruin a good thing. Or in this case a dumb thing.
Coming Soon Julia Louis-Dreyfus is considering the American remake of Force Majeure. She'd be great but why is no one considering not remaking it? 
Lainey Gossip I don't normally share (or even pay much attention to) gossip stuff but apparently Jeremy Renner is getting divorced and it's already quite messy
Yahoo! Movies an oral history of Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), now thirty years old (gulp). Great quotes 
Towleroad Tom Ford is looking at Amy Adams, George Clooney, and Jake Gyllenhaal for his new film Nocturnal Animals. Way to be original with your casting he said facetiously

Franchise Madness. The End is Nigh
i09 Transformers is aiming to become a "connected universe" a la Marvel movies. The end is truly nigh. If all movies want to be is ongoing big budget television series, what's the point of having them? Just watch more tv.
AV Club looks at the latest tv spot for Terminator Genisys. Yes, I know this one's got both old and young Ahnuld but without James Cameron & Linda Hamilton who cares? Time to move on.
/Film apparently they're also starting over with The Smurfs for 2017. 

Almodóvar with his new star Emma Suarez, in preproduction of "Silencio"

Spanish Wonders
El Pais talks about the new Pedro Almodóvar movie (called Silencio)
El Pais also profiles the two actresses who star Emma Suárez & Adrian Ugarte neither of whom have worked with Pedro before. I know he said none of his normal women work work for this one (and he has quite a large repertory company now essentially) so I thought we'd be seeing totally different looks or body types but no. So now I'm curious as to why he didn't stick with his regulars. I suppose we shall see.
El Confidencial first images from Penélope Cruz's new film ma ma (about a teacher diagnosed with breast cancer). I miss her so much! She vanished once she had that baby

Today's Long Read
"How One Direction Helped Me Find My Girls" - this article on buzzfeed is about refusing to feel guilty for the things you love. While I've personally never understood boy band obsessions I get obsessive fandom because I relate... only with actresses and film directors. While I can't say I agree with every word therein -- I don't think all fandom is good for people (sometimes it's just about conformity and not seeking you own aesthetic interests) and I was quite disturbed by one drawing that says "Remember nobody's feelings are more important than your own" because that is a straight up terrible thing to teach people (other people's feelings are very much important and we need to respect them and be generous and kind to each other) but the central premise that boy band obsessions are deemed silly because they are also considered feminine is spot on truth. The writer wisely condemns the double standard: adult men are encouraged to go bonkers over everything to do with whatever sports teams they follow as well as superhero movies but women are deemed silly if they partake in more "girlish" fandoms like boy bands or YA novels.