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Wednesday
Oct222014

A Year with Kate: Olly Olly Oxen Free (1978)

Episode 43 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn proves she's not afraid of heights or bad scripts.

Look, I’ll be honest with you. There is exactly one reason to see this movie. It happens around the last third of the film. No, it’s not another moth gown. (Remember the moth gown? I miss the moth gown.) Instead, it’s the sight of a sexagenarian, award-winning, legendary actress dangling from a hot air balloon over a cliff. I’m in my 20s, and I wouldn’t do that without at least a net and a shot of whiskey first. Anyway, if you want to know what it looks like, I’ve made a gif that you can skip to at the end of the post. I suggest you stick around for the rest of this article, though, because we have some strange stuff to address (and also some puns).

Really, of all the yet-untried genres Kate could have landed in during the later part of her career, we should have seen a children’s movie coming. Olly, Olly, Oxen Free (aka The Great Balloon Adventure) is a self-consciously sweet flick about a child named Albie with his head in the clouds (sorry) who recruits his friend and his dog to rebuild his grandfather’s hot air balloon. While looking for spare parts in a whimsical junkyard (junkyards in children's movies are required to be whimsical by genre law), Albie and Company meet the grouchy Miss Pudd, our own Kate. Fortunately for the boys, Miss Pudd’s threats turn out to be nothing but hot air (sorry), and she quickly becomes their confidante and benefactor.

Olly, Olly, Oxen Free is part of that genre of children’s fantasy (like Pete’s Dragon, The Goonies, or even Bridge to Terabithia) that sees the world of a child as a vanishing, secret thing. While the “scrappy kids in a magical world” trope is common enough, this inflated (sorry) level of preciousness seems unique to the 1970s. The movie’s tone is almost mournful. The only adults who understand these boys--Miss Pudd and Albie’s grandfather--are insane or dead. The rest are either absent or rude.

"Did I ever tell you about the time Howard Hughes landed a plane on a beach just to meet me?"

More balloon jokes and an impressive stunt after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct222014

Threads - New Series!

In order to indulge more of TFE's fetish for costume design, in this new Wednesday series "Threads" we'll discuss (briefly) whichever single costume we're most obsessed with that week, from anywhere in time and any filmed medium. Let's begin with a look from Outlander, currently airing on Starz.

I know this will be very shocking and quite impossible to believe if you haven't yet seen the show, but THIS bandage fetish wear on fantasy-man Jamie (Sam Heughan) is not the best costume on display however enticing it may be...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct222014

Exodus: To Links and Blogs

Let my readers go... to other places. Here are a bunch of articles I enjoyed elsewhere or which are worthwhile for their informational newsiness. But come back soon, okay? Okay.

Screen
Dissolve a new Pee Wee Herman movie is "imminent"  
The Dissolve rights to John Carter of Mars have reverted to the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Do you think we'll get another film... and will it be better? 
The Guardian on Renée Zellweger and 'the Actor's face as His/Her brand'. I made a point of not talking about Zeéeeee's looks yesterday in my own post about the photo but this is an interesting non-aggressive non-misogynist piece about movie stars and how shifts to their brand work (or don't).

I was going to link to another Guardian piece about Julianne Moore and Ellen Page's lesbian drama Freeheld experiencing bigotry already banned from filming at a Catholic school but the page started playing really loud Arby's ads (WTH?) so, no. If you appreciate that I don't allow audio ads on this site (unless it's your choice to play the audio as in the sidebar Oscar ads later in the year) than you should maybe donate to the site to help keep us afloat. (see right hand sidebar. Kisses) 

Screen, Superheroics Corner
Pajiba Ming Na-Wen fought herself on last week's Agents of SHIELD for a series highlight. Which other characters should do the same? And yes, the show is actually really good in season 2. Surprise! Last night's episode was really exciting and next week, they'll premiere the trailer to Avengers: Age of Ultron
Comics Alliance talks to Jason Momoa who is excited to embrace his Polynesian heritage as Aquaman. I like Aquaman, and I have no trouble with switching races of known characters - especially when it makes sense (as it would here and similarly I pray to God they don't try to cast a white guy as Iron Fist when they get around to that character since he'd make so much more sense as an Asian). All that said I am not a fan of Jason Momoa - don't respond well to his enormously bulky look and wasn't impressed with him as an actor in Game of Thrones
We Minored in Film Painkiller Jane to get her own movie, possibly beat high profile superheroines to the screen

Off Screen
Vanity Fair Sarah Jessica Parker's unauthorized shoe-stoop photography 
Boy Culture meets Annie Lennox
The Cut The Met's new cleverly titled exhibit on mourning fashions is called "Death Becomes Her". Sadly there is no sidebar exhibit on Madeline Ashton & Helen Sharp. A pity because "I would like... to... talk... about... Madeline Ashton"  

EXODUS: OF COSTUMES AND KINGS
I recently attended a sneak preview of footage from Exodus: Of Gods and Kings. We were shown about 40 minutes of the Biblical epic which seems to be Cecil B DeMille's The Ten Commandments minus Anne Baxter's campiness (pity) remade through the lens of Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Moses is no longer a "splendid adorable fool" but a guylined killing machine (at least in the early action sequence we saw). Ridley Scott's movies are always great looking however they come across otherwise and this one looked suitably gigantic. Especially the plagues and the finale Red Sea chase. I admit I was somewhat distracted worrying about the horses who are dying right and left in these sequences. I will never be able to watch old school war scenes without worrying about the horses, all the pretty horses. Yes I am one of those animal lovers that stays through the end credits to make sure no animals were harmed in the making of anything.

Here's a featurette on the golden costumes by Oscar winner Janty Yates (Gladiator)! She mentions the film's powerful women but they weren't showcased at all in our preview. Sigweavie only got a couple of side-eyes in. I must admit, too, that at our preview I was baffled as to why Sir Ridley kept appearing between the scenes to explain the plot. UM. MOSES. THE BIBLE. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. It's a bit like describing what happens in Noah. Let me guess: Rageful god warning, two animals of every kind, floods!? Actually come to think of it, Moses's story beats are not unlike the Noah template only two animals of every kind is more thousands of only two kinds (frogs/locusts) and the flood is region specific.

Are you planning to see Exodus? Do you like actors in guyliner and gold plated costumes? The latter is a rhetorical question since your answer should be use.

Wednesday
Oct222014

Meryl Streep's Set to Sing Off-Key (& Other News)

Manuel here with some Streeptastic news.

Meryl Streep has just signed on to play Florence Foster Jenkins in an upcoming Stephen Frears film. Florence will follow the eponymous protagonist, a New York heiress whose lack of musical talent didn’t stop her from pursuing a career in opera in the early twentieth century. This should be good news for us Streep fans because it means we may get three back-to-back-to-back musically-centered Meryl films in a row. Remember she’s set to play Maria Callas for Mike Nichols’ HBO adaptation of Terence McNally’s Master Class while she’s currently filming Ricky and the Flash, the Diablo Cody-penned Jonathan Demme film about an aging rock-star. More thrillingly, the Frears/Demme/Nichols triple punch is the closest we’ve gotten in a while to Streep committing to working with top-tier directing talent (no offense to David Frankel, Philippa Lloyd and Philip Noyce).

It’s as if she’s been secretly reading TFE where Nat has constantly pointed out Streep’s aversion to working with high calibre directors (give or take a Jonze or an Anderson detour). It’s thrilling stuff even if it’ll continue the “Meryl gets all the roles” narrative that’s both inescapable and inevitable; she is a bankable actress after all.

I didn’t want to just share Meryl’s news (lest we faulted for playing favorites), so let’s play a game of Six Degrees and offer some more news tidbits in the process:

Frears directed Mrs Henderson Presents which is being turned into a musical at the Theatre Royal Bath next summer. That film starred Judi Dench, who is currently filming the Sam Mendes produced The Hollow Crown, a BBC drama that’s been adapting Shakespeare’s history plays. Her co-stars for this concluding entry include Benedict Cumberbatch, Sophie Okonedo (!!) and Sally Hawkins.

Dench starred in another Shakespeare property back in 1968 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with the Queen herself, Helen Mirren. It has just been announced that Mirren's Stephen Daldry-directed play The Audience, a sequel of sorts to her Oscar-winning role, is making its way to Broadway next Spring.

Daldry directed not only Streep but Julianne Moore in The Hours; Moore is currently filming Freeheld alongside Ellen Page. The film, focused as it is on a lesbian couple's struggle to apply for domestic partnership, just found itself frozen out of a filming location (a Catholic school), presumably because of its subject matter.

Moore starred with in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Ryan Gosling, whose new 1970s thriller, The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black, just added Kim Basinger to its cast. Basinger, who we haven’t seen a while, starred in Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter in 1994 with none other than Julia Roberts. Once the reigning queen of romantic comedies, Roberts famously starred in Notting Hill opposite Hugh Grant... who’ll be Meryl’s co-star in Florence.

Phew! That was slightly harder than I thought.

What other renowned film directors would you like to see Streep work with? What other connections between Streep, Mirren, Dench, Moore and Basinger did I miss as I attempted to thread them all together? Are you hoping that in a couple of month’s time we’ll be able to group these women together because they’re all Oscar winners?

Wednesday
Oct222014

Documentary Short Finalists: A Closer Look at This Oscar Crop

You can watch the Kehinde Wiley documentary here from PBSAs you may have heard, the finalist list for the Documentary Short Oscar has been announced. It is 8 films wide from which (presumably) 5 nominees will emerge though remember in the Aughts when it was usually 4 nominees which is so annoying. (Symmetry please, Oscar). Among those 8 films we have a few about illness (The Lions Mouth Opens, Joanna, Our Curse), one about the arts (Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace) one environmental picture (White Earth) one picture Nathaniel will never be able to sit through because it's about slaughterhouses (The Reaper) which means he can't have a perfect Oscar record this year, and one about a natural disaster (One Child) which killed thousands but which focuses on three families.

The complete absence of World War II / Holocaust related docs will make your Oscar pool way harder this year. Sorry about it. Half the films are in English with Spanish, Chinese, and two from Poland filling the other half. You can read more about these films on the animation/documentary page which has been fully updated this morning with links to official sites and trailers.

For comparison's sake here are the trailers to Joanna and Our Curse. Get this: They're both about families dealing with incurable life-threatening illnesses, they're both from Poland, and they're both debut films from their directors Aneta Kopacz and Tomasz Sliwinski respectively

JOANNA by Aneta Kopacz - trailer for the short documentary (40') from Wajda Studio on Vimeo.

 

You can read more about the individual entries and where to watch the films or purchase them on the updated Animation & Documentary Oscar Chart 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Top Ten: Oscar at the Oscars

"Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself."
- Oscar de la Renta

Jose
here. Legendary designer Oscar de la Renta passed away yesterday at the age of 82. In a career that spanned decades, he became a champion for the curvy female shape, similar to those he had seen growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In what can only be described as an Almodóvar-ian experience, he spoke many times of how he grew up in a matriarchy, "I was surrounded by sisters. My childhood was all women", all of whom helped inspire him as he seeked a career in design under the wing of Spanish icon Cristóbal Balenciaga. By the mid-60's, de la Renta had become a favorite of Jackie O. and as his fashion empire grew, it became known for its devotion to old-style glamour. As gowns became narrower and more modest, de la Renta's remained opulent. It's no wonder he was always a fixture during awards season. Many actresses wore his curve-hugging, Spanish-influenced designs throughout the years, and recently he gave us some truly memorable moments at the Academy Awards, which is why to celebrate his work, we are doing the Ten Best Oscar de la Renta looks at the Oscars.

See the glamorous looks after the jump!

Click to read more ...