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Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Only supporting actress winners are allowed to play this role!

"What on earth can Alicia bring to this role, and why bother? Good luck." - Tom F

"How long must we wait for Dianne Wiest as Lara Croft!?" - Mike

 

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Thursday
Jul032014

Yes No Maybe So⁴: Before The Skeleton Tribe Goes To Sleep at St. Vincent's

Hooray. It's time for our weekly dose of hypocrisy. Less than 24 hours ago I suggested you abstain from trailers, and here's a post with not one... not two... not three... but four trailers for you to binge on. It's all for our communal 'Yes No Maybe So' consideration.

Three-pronged thoughts and the trailers to The Skeleton Twins, St. Vincent, The Tribe and Before I Go To Sleep are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul022014

Best Shot Schedule - Final Episodes

The first half of the 5th season of "Best Shot" began with the most robust participation ever. I hope we can kick it back up to that notch for these final  episodes. Here's what's on tap so adjust your queues and join the fun... 

we're risking two enigmas in a row...

Tues July 22nd UNDER THE SKIN (2014)
Scarlett Johansson arrives in alien form in this hypnotic visually driven and disturbing motion picture from disappearing act Jonathan Glazer (Birth, Sexy Beast). If you saw it in theaters you'll want to revisit and if you didn't, you're in for a unique experience. [It arrives for rental and sale on DVD/Blu-Ray on July 14th.]

Tues July 29th CRIES & WHISPERS (1973*)
Since we're celebrating 1973 all July to coincide with the Smackdown, here's your Best Cinematography winner. Ingmar Bergman's extraordinary movie about sisters and death. Cheerful! 

*IMDb lists this as a 1972 picture claiming it was released in '72 in the States (and it's true it was nominated for the Golden Globes that year). I haven't done the research but that's mighty confusing since that would seemingly make it ineligible for Oscar play in 1973. It premiered in Bergman's own Sweden in March of 1973 and was a huge out of competition sensation at Cannes in May in 1973 and was up for five Oscars for 1973 (by some accounts, it was Bergman's biggest hit of all time stateside) so I consider it a 1973 picture. Curiously Sweden made no submission for the Oscars in 1973 though this film would probably have trumped the beloved winner, Truffaut's Day For Night.  

Tues August 5th TBA

Tues August 12th SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1959)
I've been waiting for an opportunity for us all to jump in on Anne Marie's "A Year with Kate" action, so here's our most visually elaborate chance. Her awesome series hits this landmark gothic this week. Since the Tennessee Williams films was directed by four time Oscar winner Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve) and stars Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor (both nominated for Best Actress!) and Montgomery Clift that's five great artists of the cinema all grouped together for our sensationalistic amusement in this insane story of predatory homos, evil mothers, and more... with some of the best taglines the cinema ever gave us outside of Susan Hayward pictures:

...suddenly last summer Cathy knew she was being used for something evil!"

The one they're all talking about"

These are powers and passions without precedent in motion pictures."

[Amazon Instant | Netflix | iTunes]

August 19th TBA

August 26th TBA

September 2nd TBA - SEASON FINALE

Any suggestions. It gets harder and harder to find movies readily available on multiple platforms now that Netflix keeps losing Instant Watch titles beyond endless B to Z grade movies and doesn't care about their DVD business. Can you believe that Collateral, for example, which is only 10 years old is not available for rent on Amazon or iTunes? And not Instant Watchable on Netflix either. I wanted to do that one but I don't think enough people would participate given its bizarre scarcity.

Wednesday
Jul022014

A Year with Kate: The African Queen (1951)

Episode 27 of 52: In which Kate goes to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston, and almost loses her mind. 

When Katharine Hepburn decides to make a change in her career, she does not screw around. Kate’s first film of the 1950s (after a year off doing Shakespeare) was directed by John Huston, was shot in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff on location in Africa, and costarred Humphrey Bogart. When it opened in 1951, The African Queen was a hit, and eventually scored four Academy Award nominations (only Bogie won).

The story of making The African Queen is as incredible as the film itself. Everyone involved almost died at least once. Kate wrote a book on it (add author to her list of accomplishments), and it’s a fantastic read. Relevant to our interests is the fact that Kate got dysentery and dropped 20 pounds, making her already willowy frame even skinnier, a fact that would not be readily guessed from the promotional art:

"One of these things is not like the other..."

Bogie’s got biceps! Kate’s got curves! What the hell? This has got to be my favorite example of misleading poster art, and not just because Kate looks hilariously like Rita Hayworth. This poster displays the conflicting image shift that happened for Kate in the early 1950s. The African Queen is the film that launched the spinster phase of Kate’s career. But though romantic glamor was a thing of the past image-wise, romance--specifically sex--would become even more important. 

One sentence plot summary: A theologian thrillseeker and a half-cocked Canadian captain run a rustbucket boat down a river in the Congo to bomb the German navy in WWI. Sex and danger after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul022014

Podcast Part 2: A Smackdown Conversation w/ Melanie Lynskey

ICYMI  Part One of this Podcast & The Smackdown Itself

Starring: Actress Melanie Lynskey, the original creator of the Smackdowns Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu), and your regulars Nathaniel R,  Joe Reid and Nick Davis

Smackdown 1964 - A Companion Conversation Pt. 2
00:01 Back From Intermission & Joe freaks out over Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
04:05 Bette Davis and Baby Jane
07:30 Agnes Moorehead totally divides us
13:30 The Night of the Iguana and its repressed lesbian
16:30 Melanie talks subtext, chemistry and shares an acting pet peeve
20:50 Nathaniel demands a remake and we cast it
24:00 Ava Gardner and Richard Burton GIF-ables
31:20 Not Nominated: Glynis Johns, Irene Papas, and Gloria Foster
34:10 A parting question for Melanie Lynskey

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

THANKS AGAIN TO OUR GUEST MELANIE LYNSKEY 
Her new film Happy Christmas (co-starring Anna Kendrick, Joe Swanberg, and Lena Dunham) is currently available OnDemand and iTunes and opens in limited theatrical release at the end of July.

Anna Kendrick & Melanie Lynskey in Happy Christmas (2014)

(It's funny and endearing. Writer/Director Joe Swanberg really loves his characters and his actual baby son is one of the best babies you'll ever see in a movie -- so much personality!)

Smackdown 64 Companion. Part 2

Wednesday
Jul022014

Running From Spoilers. A Snowpiercer Story

Snowpiercer is confrontational and alien even though the faces are welcome and familiar: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, etcetera....

On my first viewing (there will be another) I tumbled through a cascade of dischordant feelings from revulsion to pleasure, from excitement to confusion, from ehhh? to awe! I'm not sure I quite got to "love" (that takes more time with the chilly pictures and for once I wished the movie I was watching was longer) but it's a must-see with enough ambition and visceral excitement to charge a handful of lesser movies. Why is it in limited release like an arthouse curio? It could easily be sold, and not fraudulently, as a sci-fi action flick with Captain America himself leading its linear (in both sense of the word) charge through a speeding allegory train.

In many years of running a movie blog I have struggled in the chasm between my preferred viewing style (cold, with no knowledge of the movie beyond premise/director/cast) and the reality of moviegoing in the 21st century when you know EVERYTHING in advance. Snowpiercer has been open for exactly 6 days and on only 8 screens in the US and there's already articles at major sites analyzing its ending. Before 99% of its audience ever gets a chance to see it.

Yet somehow, bless the cinema gods, I had escaped ANY knowledge of Snowpiercer beyond the post-production battle over the final cut and its basic premise (Earth has frozen over / Only survivors live on a train). I was intrigued by the eccentric Global cast list and its South Korean director (seek out his inventive monster movie The Host and his incredible actressy mystery Mother) and that was it. Somehow -- and I don't know how I managed it -- I had never seen a single clip or trailer. I was THRILLED the entire time, never knowing what lurked beyond each gate on the train, or how important each actor would be to the plot, and surprised virtually every time by the shifting visuals and forward charging action beats.

Speaking of forward charging: Luke Pasqualino, a 25 year-old British Italian actor I wasn't previously familiar with, is mesmerizing in fleet-footed action as "Grey". He's also ridiculously easy on the eyes despite the fact that the entire cast looks like they haven't bathed in 3 years. Can he be in every action movie now? (I guess I'll have to watch some of his TV work - any recommendations?)

Seeing a movie cold is impossible to do regularly of course -- especially when you run a movie blog and know that the biggest traffic drivers are future-based (trailers, Oscar predictions, casting). That's why most movie blogs focus solely on what's yet to come that endless grind of rumors and speculation, rather than time-travelling constantly like this one does.

But I highly suggest trying this experiment - no clips, trailers, reviews - valiantly for ONE movie you're looking forward to this year. Pick that movie. See if it changes the experience and makes that particular film instantly exciting and less predictable while you're watching.  

Wednesday
Jul022014

Bob & Carol & Depp & Tilda

The New Yorker on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice by Paul Mazursky. I love that movie so much
NYT RIP the influential filmmaker Paul Mazursky (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, An Unmarried Woman, Enemies: A Love Story
THR The Academy sues the estate of art director Joseph Wright. His family auctioned off his Oscar for My Gal Sal (1942) for $79,200. (God, imagine how much an Oscar for a famous movie or actor would get!) But auctioning off Oscars is a big big no-no. AMPAS freaks out every time.
Bryan Singer tweets a treament of X-Men: Apocalypse


Daily Mail Johnny Depp on the set of Black Mass. Lots of old age makeup
X-Finity Matt Bomer implies that his Montgomery Clift biopic is on indefinite delay
The Wire Joe talks that Eric/Jason sex scene on True Blood and what a failure the show has been in terms of the gay. Co-sign every word.
The Black Maria on the Hunger Games of the 70s, Roller Ball
The Dissolve in the greatest summer blockbusters
Comics Alliance revisits Batman to look at Vicki Vale, the 1989 version of "Strong Female Character". (I totally forgot Ms Vale was an acclaimed photojournalist - not that it matters)

The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that’s really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way... She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of "Batman", touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness.

Towleroad Adore Delano continues to hit it hard in that tiny assured-media-interest window post RuPaul's Drag Race. Party!
Clothes on Film wonders what happens to contemporary costumes when the movie wraps. Featuring The DescendantsBrick and Silver Linings Playbook
Variety Tom Hardy reunites with Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant 

Tilda = Best
Tilda Swinton has proclaimed that everyone should see Julia because Tilda has great taste. She's so extraordinary in that movie and she should've won her second Oscar for it. (Sorry Oscar nominees of 2009 but you just don't compare)

I made a film with Erick Zonca called JULIA of which I am extremely proud: in the United States it had a very small release by a great little and passionate distribution company called Magnolia.. but there was only so wide they could release it.. PLEASE look for that one.. it is something else.. and I LOVE it.

Her Reddit Q&A is often hilarious. Consider this response to whether or not she's a clone of David Bowie.

The laboratory gave me strict instructions to issue no comment

I'm so proud that I've been a fan of Tilda since Edward II (1991) so she's MINE. I am so proud to have given Tilda the gold medal right here for Julia. The Film Bitch Awards are awesome. *pats self on back* Should really watch that movie again.

Tuesday
Jul012014

Tuesday Top Ten: Unconventional Fourth of July Movie Selections

Glenn here with this week's Tuesday Top Ten. Wikipedia tells this Australian that the Fourth of July, Independence Day, is a day usually celebrated with “fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions and political speeches and ceremonies.” Curious that they don’t include movies since, at least since 1991 when James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day premiered to one of the then biggest opening weekends of all time, the big July 4th blockbuster is an annual trend with the likes of Independence Day, the Transformers franchise, Superman Returns and seemingly anything starring Will Smith.

With the holiday this Friday, most lists of movies to watch over the long holiday weekend will feature masculine, almost brutish titles that celebrate America’s achievements in war and rah-rah bravura (The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan, Top Gun) or the coming of age of a nation and its people in almost gooey fashion (Field of Dreams, Forrest Gump, The Grapes of Wrath). So let's have fun and mix it up. Some of these titles are a bit off of the beaten path and others are outright bonkers, but I think they perform a somewhat patriotic service in one way or another.

TEN UNCONVENTIONAL 4TH OF JULY RECOMMENDATIONS

10. Mulholland Drive
David Lynch loves America. If we all lived in his world then people in small towns would never have to dream of moving to New York or Los Angeles because they’d all be just as interesting as each other. In Lynch’s world – predominantly the (overlapping?) universes of Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway and this, arguably his magnum opus – America is full of weird people doing weird things and he wouldn’t change a thing. Mulholland Drive is the film of a director who loves his home and wants everyone to be as entranced by it as he. In Lynch’s world, the magic of the American dream is alive and well, and even if it doesn’t work out (as, let’s face it, it rarely does) then he’s going to portray it with as much dreamy, sensual beauty as possible.

9 more after the jump...

Click to read more ...