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Tuesday
Sep302014

NYFF: Heavens, No!

The New York Film Festival has begun. Here's Glenn on the return of the Safdie brothers in 'Heaven Knows What'.

Heroin addicts roaming around the streets of New York City sounds like a good time at the movies, I know. Don’t storm the cinemas too quickly, okay? Okay, so I am being sarcastic, but anybody who sees the Safdie brothers’ Heaven Knows What is going to need a laugh and a heavy dose of sunshine after bearing witness to this very downbeat film from the makers of Daddy Longlegs (aka Go Get Some Rosemary). Like that 2010 film, the feature debut of Ben and Joshua Safdie as a directing partnership, Heaven Knows What is very confrontational in its imagery like somebody inspecting an open wound and poking it with a dirty finger.

Heaven Knows What is certainly a step up from that Independent Spirit winner, as the brothers become more assured in their craft and storytelling. ...more

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Tuesday
Sep302014

Tomorrow is the Submission Deadline in Oscar's Foreign Film Race

At the moment of this typing 67 films have been announced by their home countries as Oscar submissions and our famous charts are all updated to tell you about them with posters, running times, languages spoken, official site links, synopsis and more. This year's race has three countries who've never submitted before (Kosovo, Mauritania, and Panama). That's not a record since that was also true last year. Can we attribute the continual growth of this category to the general democratization of film now that (nearly) everything is digital and filmmaking is (theoretically) more affordable? Or perhaps it's a sure sign that the Oscar is still one of the most significant icons around the world?

The most exciting news this past week was Russia daringly choosing Cannes hit LEVIATHAN - not the kind of film they normally would send.Other new additions to the chart include Egypt's FACTORY GIRL, India's LIAR'S DICE, and New Zealands THE DEAD LANDS

The most entries this category has ever had was 76 (just last year) but that record is frequently busted. What about this year? My guess is it won't be that many since the films are due tomorrow and we've only heard 66 of them. But, consider this: Ten regularly participating countries are as of yet unannounced. Usually there are a handful of submissions on the official list that weren't covered in the trades or here. And usually at least one previously announced title doesn't appear when all is said and done due to last minute switcheroos by the home country, disqualifications, or politicking of one sort of the other. So my guess is 70-72 competitors this year. I still maintain that the new system of the finalist list that Oscar announces in early January needs tinkering. At nine films it seems cruel so few films lose out on a nomination that was dangling right in front of them. A better and less sadistic and potentially humiliating finalist list would be something like 12 pictures so the majority were runners up. In a general sense though I'm in huge favor of their new culling process; the quality of the shortlist has inarguably improved with all the tinkering in recent years.

Two Biggies Remain Unannounced:

  • ARGENTINA - (5 nominations / 1 win)
    They haven't skipped the race since 1983. Will it be Wild Tales? UPDATE: YES, IT'S WILD TALES. WOOOO
  • CHINA - (2 nominations)
    They haven't skipped the race since 2001. Despite often high profile entries China has trouble getting nominated. Might they submit Coming Home? It does reteam the auteur Zhang Yimou with his original muse Gong Li and their films together have often won a single Oscar nomination whether that was for cinematography (Shanghai Triad), costumes (Curse of the Golden Flower), or foreign film (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern). Their other films together were probably near-misses since they won nominations elsewhere (To Live for the Golden Globes and The Story of Qi Ju for The Spirit Awards)

The following countries which semi-regularly submit have not yet announced:

CUBA has a great contender this year in "BEHAVIOR" but did they actually submit it? They sometimes don't bother.

  • ALBANIA (never nominated)
  • ALGERIA (5 nominations/1 win) - They have a strong record when they submit but they tend to drift in and out of interest in competing unless there's a Rachid Bouchareb film out (he's been their nominee three times: Dust of Life, Days of Glory, and Outside the Law)
  • AZERBAIJAN  (never nominated) - Submitting for almost a decade now
  • CUBA (1 nomination) -  They skipped the last two years but Behavior (reviewed) could be a legit contender for the statue if submitted. Their only nominee was the gay drama Strawberry & Chocolate from 1994
  • LEBANON (never nominated) - Submitting since the late 90s
  • SOUTH AFRICA (2 nominations/1 win) - Since they started submitting regularly in 2004 they've done very well with one nominee (Yesterday), one winner (Tsotsi), and one finalist that didn't quite make it (Life Above All)
  • VIETNAM (1 nomination) -The Scent of Green Papaya, their only nominee, was their very first entry into the category

The following countries which occasionally submit have not yet announced:

  • ARMENIA, AUSTRALIA, ECUADOR, IRAQ, KYRGYZSTAN, and CAMBODIA which was Cambodia nominated for the first time last year with the incredible documentary The Missing Picture. 

The following countries rarely submit but you never know:

  • Chad, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Fiji Islands, Greenland, Guatemala, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Tajikstan, and Tanzania 

EXPLORE THE CATEGORY AND SOUND OFF ON WHICH FILMS AND COUNTRIES YOU'D LIKE TO SEE MORE COVERAGE OF RIGHT HERE. 

Pt. 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia - 17 official submissions on this page
Pt. 2 Finland through Panama - 28 submissions on this page
Pt. 3 Peru through Vietnam  -21 submissions thus far

Tuesday
Sep302014

Curio: The Irreversible Image of Monica

Alexa here with some ephemera to celebrate Monica Bellucci's 50th birthday.  I will never forget seeing Irreversible; I was aware of Monica Bellucci before that but nothing prepared me for the impact, terrible as it was, that the film would have. Soon I was consuming every performance of hers (in an attempt to wipe away the imagery of Irreversible), and when I came upon this issue of RES magazine on a newsstand in the city I couldn't resist.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep292014

NYFF: Seeing Isn't Believing in 'Maps to the Stars'

The New York Film Festival has begun. Here's Glenn taking an alternative look at David Cronenberg's divisive Cannes winner 'Maps to the Stars', now a confirmed 2014 contender.

Digital filmmaking has a lot to answer for – much of it good, but a lot of it bad. Its biggest crime, however, may be eradicating David Cronenberg of style. It’s as if the transition of celluloid to digital, which coincided with his swing away from merely a cult name-brand director to one whose films, at least briefly, appeared to be targeting a somewhat more acceptingly mainstream audience (A History of Violence and Eastern Promises certainly), weakened his eye for visual storytelling. Not only is Maps to the Stars a surprisingly ugly film in terms of its garish lighting, messy blocking, and lethargic, bulky transitions, but it’s a distressingly amateur in one in terms of simple camera placement and editing.

Much was made of Matt Zoller Seitz’s plea for film writers to discuss form in more detail. “Form is not just an academic side dish to the main course of content”, he said last year, and while I am not sure what Seitz’s opinion is on Maps to the Stars I can’t imagine he would be too thrilled.

more... 

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Monday
Sep292014

Beauty vs Beast: Camp Goddess

JA from MNPP here, one-thumbing it Vegas-or-bust for a brand new edition of "Beauty vs Beast." Last week if you can believe it marked 19 years since we first slid into the passenger seat beside one Miss Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), just an eager-eyed Pollyanna coming from "different places" on her way to a name written in lights - Paul Verhoven's Showgirls, the most epic ode to g-strings and cheeseburgers and the women who love them that's ever graced the silver screen, electrified... well, not a lot of people at the time actually, grossing only 20 million dollars in theaters. But I was there at my little local movie theater on opening night - I've told this story more times than there are beads maliciously strewn across the Goddess stage but as the lights went down on that first Midnight showing of Showgirls the scattered crowd of older men (they were all older men) sitting around my best friend and I broke into an impromptu chant of the word "Tits!" and I knew I was in for something special. It didn't disappoint.

It has of course gone on to become a camp sensation, inspiring books and musicals and countless more Midnight screenings, where I have no doubt the word "Tits!" will be chanted for time eternal. But the question is... how do you like having 'em?

 

You have one week to vote, and I don't want to see any write-ins for Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul. (But if you wanna toss a vote to a Penny, née Hope, that'll be okay.) Now bring me some brown rice and vegetables.

PREVIOUSLY Have you all finished your milshakes? Have you drunk them up? Did you ever - Mr. Daniel Plainview rode an oil spurt high above the competition with last week's poll, clobbering poor Eli Sunday's brains in once again. Said Carmen Sandiego:

"I voted for Daniel Plainview. They are both horrible wretched people, so I might as well vote for milkshakes! W00t! #teammilkshake"

Monday
Sep292014

but is it a link post?

Awards Daily takes on the unfortunate phrase "but is it an Oscar movie?" in relation (partially at least) to Gone Girl.
Empire Leonardo DiCaprio continues to have a bajillion movies in development. He's now bought the rights toAmerican Wolf which Robert Zemeckis wanted, too
i09 Be careful what you wish for. We've always wanted Christopher Walken in another movie musical. But this picture of him as Captain Hook is TERRIFYING
The Stake good piece on the casting of Vince Vaughn in True Detective 2 and what has happened to the actors original gifts
/bent 10 great queer films by straight directors. This was not prompted by Pride -- which you should totally see in theaters now -- but that also applies 

My New Plaid Pants Frankenstein is so hot right now
Telegraph Profile of Luke Evans who headlines Dracula Untold. This time he actually acknowledges that "Noted Homosexual" business albeit in a very Jodie Foster way
Salon suggests that Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight (which I weirdly have not yet seen) could have been way more fascinating based on the real life magician that inspired it
Guardian so many film festivals happening at the same time. This is a recap of Fantastic Fest in Austin
BadAss Digest investigates why some trilogies will never split up their last film into two parts as is currently the trend. For this we must profusely thank The Four Musketeers?
AV Club really smart scathing review of the new series Stalker and the general problem of victim exploitation on television
/Film The film adaptation of Y: The Last Man is still in Development Hell. Here's what's going on...
In Contention the only SNL actors to win Oscar nominations - can you name all 9 without looking? 
The Guardian on Emma Watson. She continues to have the press hopeless enamored. And I heard random old ladies on the street talking about her UN speech the other day.
AV Club celebrates incest! Perhaps that was a poor choice of words. They're selecting famously incestuous pairs from recent movies & tv from Game of Thrones to August: Osage County

Viola photographed by Graeme Mitchellicymi
Last week the New York Times had fine ass profiles of two of our favorite creatives, director P.T. Anderson and  actress Viola Davis who is our unofficial 'star of the week' since she keeps inadvertedly being brought up in every post lately. Love her quotes in this piece, like...

“I always got the phone call that said: ‘I have a great project for you. You’re going to be with, hypothetically, Vanessa Redgrave, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening. Then I get the script, and I have a role that lasts for a page or two.”

I wish I'd written this
I was trying to voice my frustration about a new terrifying age of lost old movies post-streaming technology on twitter then other day but this KQED Arts article is way more articulate than I was being "For Cinephiles, Netflix is less and less an option." If anyone has a solution or a silver lining to any of this, please speak up! 

Monday
Sep292014

NYFF Surprise! While We're Young: Or, The Kids Are All Wrong

Our NYFF coverage continues with Matthew Eng on this year's surprise screening -- which was less of a secret than usual this year, continually hinted at by the NYFF themselves, even spoiled ahead of time by IndieWire...

Ben Stiller & Naomi Watts star in "While We're Young"

Noah Baumbach is showing his age.

Not that this is the first time, mind you. Anyone who stuck through his exquisitely harsh and thus totally divisive Greenberg will surely remember Ben Stiller’s crusty, titular protagonist sourly announcing to a party full of fuzzed-out twentysomethings, “I hope I die before I end up meeting one of you in a job interview.”

There’s something instantly more pronounced about Baumbach’s evident unease towards the current generational divide in his latest adult dramedy, While We’re Young, in which Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as Josh and Cornelia, a deceptively comfortable urban couple who are surprised to find themselves befriended and seduced by Jamie and Darby, a married pair of kind-eyed, porkpie-wearing, Bushwick-dwelling hipsters, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. What starts as a casual, multi-generational friendship soon transitions into something more consuming, as Josh, a struggling documentary filmmaker whose sophomore follow-up has taken ten years to finish, finds himself both aping and inspiring Jamie, who just so happens to be an aspiring documentarian himself. [more...]

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