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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Thursday
Dec012011

David Cronenberg on A Dangerous Method & the "Parallel Universe" of Oscar

Cronenberg hard at work on "A Dangerous Method"I met the great filmmaker David Cronenberg one morning this fall shortly before a screening of his latest work at the New York Film Festival. His new film A Dangerous Method, which just opened and will be expanding throughout the month in theaters, is a historical drama about the birth of psychoanalysis. In the film Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and his protege Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) are torn apart over idealogical differences and Jung's treatment of a young woman named Sabina (Keira Knightley).

Cronenberg in person was talkative, articulate and fascinating. He was even good natured about the sordid topic of Oscar (incredibly the reknowned auteur has never been nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe or even a DGA prize!).

His ease with conversation might surprise people who only know him through his often unsettling films. The night before our interview I'd been at a party and when I casually mentioned I'd be interviewing Cronenberg the next day I heard the strangest funniest responses: "Don't get in a car with him!" "Don't let him touch your portals!" and so on. Other amusing warnings followed as if he were a frightening character from his movies.

I relayed this to Cronenberg as icebreaker when we sat down...

Nathaniel: Do you find that people regularly have odd conceptions about you based on your films? 

DAVID CRONENBERG: Well, you know, I haven't done horror films for a long time so it's strange that it's sticky. I've talked about this before but Marty Scorsese told me he was terrified to meet me -- we did meet and became very good friends many years ago -- but he said he was terrified and then shocked to see that I looked like a Beverly Hills gynecologist. And I said 'You were afraid to meet me? You're the guy who made Taxi Driver?!'

a small sampling of his often deeply troubling films

It was a long time ago. But he had seen Shivers and Rabid and maybe The Brood and he found them incredibly overwhelming and terrifying. He of all people should know and I suppose if Marty could make the same mistake...

The relationship of an artist to his art is a complex one. It's not one to one. It's not like you make romantic comedies therefore you are romantic and fun. On the contrary we know that most comedians are really nastily, hostile, spiteful vindictive people.

Nathaniel: Does your work ever scare you then, when you see it back?

CRONENBERG: I don't normally watch it. I can't watch my movies as though they're movies. They're documentaries of what I was doing that day. I'm the last person to be able to tell you objectively what my movies do or don't do.

Nathaniel: As an auteur you obviously have had recurring thematic elements Do you think about your past work when you're working on something new?

CRONENBERG: No. I completely don't. That's why if someone should say, it has happened, that A Dangerous Method doesn't feel like a Cronenberg film. I don't know what they're talking about. I mean, I know what the cliches are. But to me, they don't realize that the first movie I made was about a psychiatrist and his patient. It was a short, my first film. So for me this is business as usual. To me that just reveals their ignorance. I'm not saying that in a vindictive way but it just means they don't really know my work or understand it. That's the way I feel.

Nathaniel: It's actually very much like your work in terms of the concerns. You've done a lot of films that had psycho-analytic elements. Did you ever worry that this was maybe too on the nose, given that? Like you're going back to the womb or the source of it all.


CRONENBERG: No, No. It's exciting to do that!

[MORE AFTER THE JUMP: including his collaboration with Viggo, awards season lottery tickets, and the modern trend of directors tinkering with their old movies.] 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec012011

Congratulations to the Movie-ish Grammy Nominees !

Given that roughly 193,026 musicians can call themselves Grammy nominees for the first time or again in the wake of last night's announcement (so many categories), we'd like to congratulate those nominees that are somehow connected to the movies. But before we do that, tell me who has your vote for "album of the year"?

 

I have the Gaga and Adele CDs and love both. Do you recommend the others?

Anyway... Silver screen type nominees & best music videos after the jump
Including: Val Kilmer, Patton Oswalt, Daniel Radcliffe and more...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec012011

Complete the Chastainy Sentences...

If I could ask Jessica Chastain one question it'd be this:  ________________________________________.

She's the new _________________ because  ______________ .

When I heard she won the first Supporting Actress award of precursor season I thought _______________________ .

I really hope she works with _________________ and plays __________________ .

 

Wednesday
Nov302011

Music, Mistletoe and Michael Caine: 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'

Kurt here. If you love Christmas, odds are there's an incarnation of A Christmas Carol of which you take ownership. For me, it's a stage production performed annually at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. For you, it might be the 1938 Joseph L. Mankiewicz classic with Reginald Owen. And for a special few, it's The Muppet Christmas Carol, a film that proves how effectively one beloved property can be used to refresh another. The worlds of Jim Henson and Charles Dickens intertwine rather beautifully in this 1992 musical dramedy, whose Muppet stars pull the Yuletide tale out of mothballs, but don't crank up the contemporary jabber so far as to brand it with a born-on date. The comedy is all about that distinct Muppet attitude, which, as the new Muppets film seems determined to emphasize, is as timeless as "Bah Humbug."

Charles Dickens is in fact a character in the film. He's played by Gonzo, who, along with Rizzo the Rat, narrates the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge (a game, sincere Michael Caine) and the spectral Christmas Eve that rids him of his jerkdom. You might think excessive hand-holding would result from having a pair of narrators guide you through a film that already sees its lead and his visitors guide you through second-act flashbacks, but that's never the case here, as Gonzo proves an entertainingly knowing voice and a funny teacher to Rizzo, who's ever-eager to listen and learn ("Why are you whispering?" Rizzo asks. "It's for dramatic emphasis," Gonzo tells him). It's a gentle form of un-dusty, all-ages comedy, and it's a far better rejuvenator than, say, a 3D shrunken-man rollercoaster

The narrating duo also add to a team element that seems to unfailingly manifest when it comes to the Muppets. Of course, the characters are their own traveling troupe (a factor that undoubtedly helps attract flesh-and-blood actors to work with them), but there are subsets of teams that appear within projects, and help to give the comedy that ultra-important communal feel. Jacob Marley, for instance, is given a brother, Robert (wink-wink), so the pair can be portrayed by the hysterical hecklers Statler and Waldorf, who may just offer the most enjoyable books-and-chains preliminary haunt the story has ever seen ("There's more of gravy than of grave about you," Scrooge says to the pair in his blame-it-on-the-food speech. "More of gravy than of grave?" they reply. "What a terrible pun! Where do you get these jokes?"). There's also Bob Cratchit's (Kermit the Frog) shivering team of bookkeeping colleagues, who famously initiate an impromptu Hawaiian dance when their request for more furnace coal is met with the threat of unemployment.  

Watching the film again, I was struck by just how many musical sequences it includes, and they're fine ones at that. The movie begins with the familiar marketplace bustle, through which Scrooge hurries home amid a whole town of scared and scorned onlookers. "There goes Mr. Humbug," they chant, "there goes Mr. Grim. If they gave a prize for being mean, the winner would be him." Even the Muppet-ized vegetables join in on the chorus, shaming the village grump. Later, the central cast members unite for "Thankful Heart," an ending tune that, like the others, was penned by Paul Williams (the score is credited to Miles Goodman). Off hand, I can't recall another Christmas Carol that presents itself as a musical, apart from the usual festivities at the house of Fezziwig (who, here, naturally, goes by "Fozziwig"). The story works great with the songs sprinkled in, and the music has an effect similar to the Muppet comedy: updated, but un-dated.  

What probably nets the biggest laughs is the recurring tendency of Gonzo and Rizzo to get physically involved with the story they're telling, be it by falling off an in-flashback shelf they describe as "old and decayed," or receiving a self-reflexive Christmas greeting from Scrooge himself. Gonzo, in particular, has fun with the different levels of fiction, playing an imaginary version of an author poking around in his own creation. "Great story, Mr. Dickens," Rizzo says at film's end. "You should read the book," says Gonzo.  

 

Wednesday
Nov302011

November. It's a Wrap

I regret to inform you that there is only one month remaining in 2011. It's been quite a year but we weep that it's nearly over. How can this be? In case you've recently rejoined us -- fair weather friend! -- here's a dozen must-read highlights from the month that just was.

How Long Has it Been Since You've Seen Close Encounters? It holds up.
"Consider"... Harry Potter live blogging an FYC ad.
The Covers, The Dreamers and Me JA reminisces about childhood love for The Muppets.
• Do Movies About Movies Win Oscars? Bad news for Hugo, The Artist and My Week With Marilyn.

Nicole Kidman's Perpetual Elephant Love Medley a new biopic for one of our favorites. 
Will "Monty" Consider Bridesmaids a feline Oscar pundit. 
Theodora Van Runkle (RIP) a costuming giant passes.  
Happy 50th Meg Ryan a look back at a supernova career
Mirror Mirror vs. Snow White and the Hunstman a double whammy of fairy tales for our Yes No Maybe So series.

Most Discussed: Roles for Which Meryl Streep was Not Nominated Though her nomination record is insane such roles do exist and Q&A: Favorite Kubrick Films and Grace Kelly casting
Most Popular: "Once More With Feeling" a 10th anniversary celebration of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode.

Coming in December: YEAR IN REVIEW MANIA in... 3...2...1

Wednesday
Nov302011

The Scarlet Linker

Hollywood Reporter on the highlights from the Gotham Awards. Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Olsen were apparently big hits.
Tom Shone Best Performances of 2011. Love this fluid quick take annual feature.
I Need My Fix Is Christopher Meloni joining True Blood for Season Five? Could that show possibly contain yet more explosive sexiness?
GQ interviews director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows) and yes he actually talks about Madonna and the divorce.... which...
Lainey Gossip has an interesting take on what he means when he says "I'm glad I made money" in the interview with which I would totally agree if that's what I was sure he meant. But it seems highly interpretable to me. Maybe that's not what he meant at all. 
Stale Popcorn Glenn speaks out on Meryl Streep's anti-auteur tendencies and what's going on with the quest for that third Oscar. Good piece.

Coming Soon Lizard concept art from The Amazing Spider-Man 
Alt Screen get yourself to Film Forum over the next two months and bone up on the silent film masterpieces they're showing.
Liz Smith shares a funny e-mail from showbiz widow Tita Cahn about J. Edgar.

Worst line ever spoken between two men in a movie -  'will you be my number two?' "

Hee. That's just one piece of it.

Telegraph TFE friend Tim Robey pays tribute to the one and only Ken Russell, remembering their last encounter at a screening of The Devils
Perez Hilton Wow. Apparently Meryl Streep donated her Iron Lady salary to the National Women's History Museum
Movielicious offers up this poster comparison, Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War (which I'm not hearing good things about) and Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey (which I am).

Hmmmm... 

My New Plaid Pants Have you heard about this reboot of The Munsters. I'm trusting JA to keep me informed as he's knowledgable on all things Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls) one of the best and most idiosyncratic TV minds out there.
MTV Charlize Theron's 2011 Tour of Comedic Movie Star Amazement continues whilst discussing Snow White and the Hunstman.

I haven't really worked with [Kristen]. I've done some small things with her, but we're about to shoot our big showdown, and fingers crossed for me. It's the big battle. I'm just really, really, really hoping I get to kill her. That is how the story ends up, right?"

[For more on her awesome Tour of Tours check out the Actress Roundtable post and the DGA screening of Young Adult.]

Finally...

 Movie|Line has a great interactive Shame map. You can follow Brandon's ritual around the city. It beats an expensive trip to the Museum of Sex here in NYC. 

Tuesday
Nov292011

Top Ten: My Favorite Muppets... And Yours?

Camilla's favorite muppet is Gonzo. Duh!I'm going to let Kurt close out our Muppet week tomorrow with a holiday-specific post but before we stop oohing and aahing about our favorite felt friends, I just had to share this weird revelation. Over Thanksgiving break, while drinking with my closest friends I asked everyone "What's your favorite muppet?". Somehow I didn't know the answer to this question at all and I was shocked to discover that everyone's favorite Muppet described something very very real about them, though people weren't really giving explanations. For example, one of my friends, who fears nothing more than publicly humiliating himself and is wildly accident prone said "Tie: Fozzy and Beaker", another who is frustratingly cynical and hard to please said "Statler and Waldorf" instantly, and another who is just about the most efficient organized stage manager type you'll ever met said "Scooter". I didn't know that Scooter was anyone's favorite Muppet let alone one of my closest friends! It went on like that around the table, the answers were always telling.

I highly suggest trying this the next time you're partying with your close friends and report back. I feel safe in guessing that you'll be shocked at how well their favorite reflects them... which makes me appreciate this video about the adult personas of the Muppets much more.

For what it's worth I thought I'd list my ten favorites muppets off the top of my head. I'm sure I've forgotten someone I love but such are off the top of your head lists.

Nathaniel's Favorite Muppets


order varies and sometimes someone else will steal a spot away from them.
10 ROBIN THE FROG
09 SWEETUMS
08 ROWLF
07 JANICE
06 STATLER & WALDORF 

and the total favorites. always the favorites.
05 BEAKER
04 KERMIT THE FROG
03 ANIMAL
02 GONZO
01 MISS PIGGY 

Beaker and Animal make me laugh harder than any other muppets. Kermit and Gonzo really hit me emotionally on occassion. Though The Muppet Movie (1979) is clearly the best Muppet Movie, my actual favorite is The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) because it's the one that Miss Piggy just thoroughly owns. I lived for her appearances as a little boy. And what that says about me I can guess but would prefer not to!

YOUR TURN. Please to share yours in the comments. What did you think of the new movie and are you hoping that "Life's a Happy Song" or one of the other numbers from The Muppets (2011) gets nominated at the Oscars