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Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne

"I'm stoked that she's now part of the MCU and hopefully be given some good scenes and not be totally wasted." - Iggy

"I thought Sharon Stone had been cast in the Ant Man sequel....Pfeiffer is a surprise here. I`ve read Evangeline Lilly wanted her, Michael Douglas wanted his wife and the studio wanted Sharon" -Eder

 

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Tuesday
Sep152015

Curio: Lucy Liu, Artist

Alexa here with your weekly art break. Lucy Liu made the surprise announcement recently that she'd had a baby boy via surrogate, congrats to her!  In following some links I was also surprised to see that she'd launched a website dedicated to her art, under her own name.

As we've posted before, Lucy had been making paintings under the pseudonym Yu Ling, but now she is ready to unveil new, varied works without the pseudonym.  Her use of media has expanded from painting to screenprint, sculpture, and fiber. 

More pieces after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep152015

McD² 

JA from MNPP here with a little news tidbit to get everybody up and going this morning.

How about the news that writer-director Martin McDonogh (he of In Bruges, always In Bruges) broke yesterday in his lengthy chat with The Guardian, wherein he shared that his next movie will be called Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and it will star the formidable Best Actress winner Frances McDormand - how ya like dem apples?

Franny will play a mother at war with her hometown police after her daughter in murdered; the film is set to shoot early next year. The injection of "dead children" into storytelling does tend towards a downer, mood-wise, but something about these two, McDonagh & McDormand, they make me wonder... we should be wondering what they've got up their sleeves.

I doubt it's that straightforward as it's pretty easy imagining their sleeves stuffed with things tricky sharp and funny, actually. And I'm especially glad Martin's putting a lady front and center (and what a lady!) since Seven Psychopaths got some sausage-fest accusations lobbed its way.

Mostly though, the promise of these two artists coming together just seems immense, doesn't it?I just want it to be that, all that. Good luck, guys.

Monday
Sep142015

Best Actress Happenings at TIFF

To quiet my nerves that you've all vanished -- you know how Tinkerbell dies if you don't clap for her and believe in fairies. That ! only with comments -- a topic that always gets you talking: BEST ACTRESS. I'll say more about these movies soon but for now, an Oscar checklist.

BEST ACTRESS, ALREADY CROWNED
Cate Blanchett is a wonder in Truth. Again. As I said on twitter I used to think she was all technique with no soul but lately she's on fire with both. In the film's first scene she chatters away about downing a xanax which immediately brings Blue Jasmine to mind but Mary Mapes's righteous fury, smug pride, and sense of humor quickly register her as an entirely different character, love of booze and xanax notwithstanding. 

BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATE THAT I'D ALREADY SEEN
I feel as warmly toward Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn as the sun does in that first beautiful teaser poster for the movie. There are some who feel the movie is too "soft" for Oscar play or too romantic and old fashioned but I am keeping the faith because it has cumulative power and the end credits are out of focus... what's that? No? Well they appeared that way through my wet eyeballs!

BEST ACTRESS - NORWEGIAN OSCARS DIVISION
They're called the "Amandas" and this year the top prize went to Ine Marie Wilmann who stars in an incest drama called Homesick. (More on that one soon including a film she's got lined up that sounds very promising.)

BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATES PLAYING AT TIFF THAT I SKIPPED
It's true I passed on seeing Emily Blunt in Sicario,  Sandra Bullock in Our Brand is Crisis and Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in Freeheld here in Toronto but there are hundreds of movies playing here that one might never see again and those three movies all have release dates coming up very soon! I only allow myself a few of those each festival and those were not the few.

The Danish Girl(s). Emphasis on the plural.

BEST ACTRESS WHO THEY'RE SAYING WILL PRETEND TO BE A BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
I'll be sharing more thoughts on The Danish Girl  soon but it hasn't yet fully settled. For now this tidbit: For the first 15 minutes or so Alicia Vikander appears to be playing her character Gerte as far too modern and manic. Yet as the story develops you begin to see her more clearly as a woman ahead of her time and, in turn, she becomes our surrogate window to Lili, too (Eddie Redmayne) since her trans husband can't see herself so clearly at first. Vikander is marvelous at upping the emotional ante and registering Gerte's arc while also dovetailing it with her unchangeable steel as a life partner. The Supporting Campaign, if it comes to pass, is entirely obnoxious and unfortunate. She has as much and possibly more screentime than Eddie and the film is just as much the portrait of their unconventional marriage as it is about transitioning. Since there is, as of yet, no clear frontrunner for Best Actress she could actually be a threat to win. Whichever category she ends up campaigning in late this year, she will be be nominated given a) the year she's having, b) her youth and beauty (remember how they cherish crowning the new girls), c) the juiciness of this role, and d) being in a film that will undoubtedly rack up the nominations.  

BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATE I'M ABOUT TO SEE
"About to" being relative to when you're actually dropping by the site to read this: Brie Larson in Room

BEST ACTRESS, CAREER TRIBUTE POTENTIAL
I'll end with a personal favorite. It's early still and we should all weigh these things until the last moments before declaring our definitive top fives on any ballot but this much is obvious: 45 Years gets a tremendous amount of its weirdly chill power from Charlotte Rampling's complex work. She plays a woman who begins to question the foundation of her nearly half-century marriage when a bizarre message arrives from Switzerland. Two time Oscar nominee Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser) as the husband is also terrific but it's really Rampling's film. She hasn't had this fine a showcase since Under the Sand (for which she should have been nominated). The British legend is still waiting on her first Oscar nomination but she's had the kind of enduring expansive international career (80+ films for multiple countries, including France, Italy, the UK, and the US) and consistently high quality work that really ought to make her an attractive proposition on ballots.

Will AMPAS make it happen or is the race just too thick with contestants

Monday
Sep142015

Beauty vs Beast: Worth Two In The Bush

Jason from MNPP here swooping down from the sky with this week's "Beauty vs Beast" -- I am aware that this series has been heavy on the Hitchcock so far (we've previously covered Psycho and Marnie and Vertigo and Rebecca, oh my) but when I heard TFE was celebrating 1963 all month I could hardly let the chance go by to celebrate one of my fave Hitch flicks, The Birds, which has up til now slipped thru the cracks. (Flown the coop?)

The Birds also features one of the hardest choices we've asked of you so far, if you ask me - I can't be the only one who was rooting for Suzanne Pleshette's sad seaside school-teacher Annie, right? In fact I think it's why she had to [spoiler] go [end spoiler], before the "happy couple" of Melanie & Mitch could head off into the sunset. (A sunset covered with murderous birds, natch.) Although, truer truth be told -- we were all just rooting for Melanie & Annie to ditch Mitch and take off together. Admit it! Well unfortunately that's not your choice today...

PREVIOUSLY Last week marked the 30th anniversary of Smooth Talk, with Laura Dern and Treat Williams playing out Joyce Carol Oates' sexual psychodrama, and y'all came down on the side of Dern, Dern, determinedly Dern, with a full 65% of your vote. We'll give today's quote to Nathaniel cuz why not:

"I saw it years and years ago in my first flush of Laura Dern obsession (so it must have been around Wild at Heart time frame. She's soooo good in it."

Monday
Sep142015

TIFF: Bullied Girls and Violent Boys in Sweden

TIFF is such a large beast of a film festival — hundreds of films, dozens of big screens — that everyone can make their own festival within it. Thus it is that I, Nathaniel, of Danish descent (way back) and rudimentary Norwegian language skills (from also way back but at least in my lifetime), invariably program my own Scandinavian mini-fest each year while I'm here. This year I'm seeing five Nordic films so here are quick takes on the three Swedish entries, which all happen to be about teenagers. And since we were just discussing great High School Films, the perfect topic for September, let's continue that thread...

The Hater and the Hated (well, he *did* kill someone)

THE HERE AFTER
Report Card: In this super tense drama, John (Ulrick Munther), a convicted murderer, returns home and goes right back to high school with his former classmates -- who are also the former classmates of his victim. The students and even his own family are not super jazzed about his return. This directorial feature debut from writer/director Magnus Von Horn is sensitively shot and tough-minded but its best assett is its slow burn patience (without testing the audience's). It builds and builds towards its inevitable bummer conclusion while trying to get inside the impenetrable head of its young protagonist. It doesn't really stick the landing because... well, what is actually the point of all this depressing shit? Still, the 32 year-old director's work is confident enough that I'd line right up to see a second feature. B

Extra Credit: That double meaning title is smart since all of what's "here" for the town and its characters is entirely predicated on the death that came before. 

Would you want to go to school here? On the bright side it's very liberal -- even former murderers are welcome because  "everyone is entitled to an education". There's no dress code and the lockers are in cute island format. On the other hand it's hickville central, the boys are violent, the girls are bored, and they let former murderers go here. The well meaning but nervous principal/teachers are absolutely flummoxed about how to handle this PTSD pressure cooker that was once a normal school. Can you blame them? 


GIRLS LOST
Report Card: In this drama with supernatural touches, three much bullied teenage besties form a coven of sorts (without calling it that) and end up raising a strange and unusual plant (think Audrey II without the songs or sentience --actually never mind) that transforms their lives. When they drink from the plant's beans these outcast girls are suddenly transformed into boys. The first transformation is the movie's clear highlight but alas, this tale gets bogged in unsteady characterizations and the difficulty of balancing four different topics/causes: trans awareness character arc, closeted gay love, gender inequities, school bullying. Strong on concept but very unsteady in the execution. B-/C+

Extra Credit: You will absolutely marvel at the casting. Somehow they found teenage boys that look exactly like the female leads if they happened to suddenly be transformed into boys. And all six of them are likeable actors. It's the best "same person. different sex" casting of all time after Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton in Orlando

Would you want to go to school here? Well their well funded high school has great grounds and is big enough that even if you're unpopular you can have your little tight knit circle to hang with. But the bullying shit is out of control, and and the gym teacher actively sucks, basically telling the girls to grow a pair when they're distressed at the escalating torments.

GRANNY'S DANCING ON THE TABLE
Report Card: This strange film is a bifurcated affair. One half is an hypnotic stop-motion family history (or tall tales) of twin sister refugees who took much different paths in the world, one becoming a caregiver shut out, the other a wild bohemian prostitute. The other half is the modern story of their shared young granddaughter raised in total reclusiveness by her religious father who is also a shut in. The strawberry blonde is so catatonic and pale she makes Sissy Spacek's oddball young 70s waifs seem positively extroverted and suntanned. She barely seems to exist outside of her head (i.e. the animated portion). The problem here is the balance since one half is entrancing and the other is painfully repetitive and obsessed with its own hopelessness. Animated half: B+ The Other half: C-

Extra Credit: I have a great friend who always audibly groans when the title of a movie gets worked in to the dialogue (I personally love it, though, in part from the reaction it provokes in him). Anxiously awaited the moment, did I. But the awesome title only shows up in visual form during the end credits. Worth the wait.

Would you want to go to school here: Insert that Mean Girls joke about home-schooled religious nutjobs. So, emphatically NO. Plus the teacher is your father and his idea of detention and lunch plan are shudder-worthy cruel.

 

Monday
Sep142015

On Kate Winslet's Oscar Win 

As The Dressmaker makes its premiere at TIFF here's Murtada on its leading lady's controversial Oscar win.

Kate Winslet is back! That seems to be one of the many “comeback” stories this fall season. Reviews for her supporting part in Steve Jobs have been stellar. And The Dressmaker is playing TIFF tonight! Has she ever been away though? Since her much maligned Oscar win for 2008’s The Reader, she starred in a much admired mini series (Mildred Pierce) for which she received multiple awards, worked with Steven Soderbergh (Contagion), Roman Polanski (Carnage) Jason Reitman (Labor Day) and her old Sense & Sensibility friend Alan Rickman (A Little Chaos). Some of these have been better received than others but none, with the possible exception of Pierce, have ignited the passion of even her most ardent fans.

Winslet’s a great actress who deservedly won the highest acting accolade in her profession. Yet there is a cloud above that win amongst Oscar obsessives. It is a somewhat unpopular win that still inflames a lot of passionate discourse even years later. Let’s examine why after the jump.

Click to read more ...