Brad to the Bone
Yahoo Movies Another Oscar roundtable I participated in. This time I'm talking Best Actor with Thelma Adams, Sasha Stone and others. I kick it off with more Brad love.
Serious Film on Brad Pitt's winning streak. It's not just 2011.
Press Play stumps for Brad Pitt (Moneyball) for Best Actor. It's weird all the excitement seemed to be in Best Actress until just recently and then Best Actor was all anyone could talk about. Maybe because it still feels like a race?
Flavorwire Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender for a new Cormac McCarthy penned movie?
Guardian Naomi Watts signs to play Princess Diana in a bio directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) called Caught in Flight on the last two years of her life. I guess we need to start thinking about all the 2012 2013 Best Actress contenders.
NY Post Daniel Radcliffe not happy that Harry Potter 7.2 was not Best Picture nominated. And here I thought people had stopped thinking about that.
In Contention Happy 80th birthday for John Williams
Funny Or Die Jean Dujardin auditions for every villain role
Carpetbagger has been doing a series where they invite celebrities to fill out fake Oscar ballots (i.e. non AMPAS members. Today Tabatha Coffey. I always wanted to do this random celeb Oscar chat thing but alas, The Film Experience doesn't have the clout of The New York Times. Someday ;)
Boy Culture excavates an old Madonna interview from when she was only 34 wherein she talks about aging and knows that people will want to put her out to pasture soon. We love that she's living her ideals 19 years later and not allowing that. Given that life expectancy keeps moving up in years, you'd think civilians (who age faster than celebrities!) would stop groaning about celebrities that are "too old" to be entertaining us. I'm pretty sure in 20 years times I'll still rather see Meryl at 83 than, you know, some random 20 year old Hollywood is trying to shove down my throat. May all the talented ones keep working until they croak! This goes for the fresh ones too who are just starting out. Jessica Chastain, pace yourself. We hope to enjoy you when you're 71... if we're still alive!
From left to right: Director Asghar Farhadi (last year's Berlinale winner for A Separation), Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, Director Mike Leigh, Actress Barbara Sukowa, Director Francois Ozon, Director Anton Corbijn, Writer Boualem Sansai, and Actor Jake Gyllenhaal ("Jakey!!!") who the crowd and photographers went wild for the second he stepped out of the car and onto the red.
Sundance is the first major festival of each new film year but Berlinale is always hot on its heels. Will anything as great as A Separation debut there this year? We'll soon hear.
Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.
How does one begin to discuss The Artist in terms of just one distant relative? The film is a paean to all films silent-era Hollywood and enough films stretching far beyond the silent-era including Singin' in the Rain and A Star is Born, to which it owes story elements, Citizen Kane from which it borrows specific conceits and Vertigo... well, we'll leave that one alone. But I think the connection that intrigues me the most is notable not for what the two films have in common, but in how they differ.
The Artist tells the story of dashing silent film actor George Valentin and his fall from grace juxtaposed against rising talkie star Peppy Miller who, in a cruel twist of fate, is an ingenue he discovered. Sunset Blvd enters the world of former silents star Norma Desmond as discovered by aspiring screenwriter Joe Gillis, a world overgrown with bitterness, denial and impending senility.
Sunset Blvd is in a way the anti-Artist. If you started with one similar concept and gave the script to a half-glass-full director and a half-glass-empty director, you'd quite possibly end up with The Artist and Sunset Blvd. The similarities are obvious enough. Both films are about silent stars whose downfalls hasten when "words, words, words" make their way into motion pictures, soon making them quite irrelevant. George Valentin and Norma Desmond suffer the same fate, and the requisite eventual drinking and depression. The only difference is, Norma's "savior" finds her many years too late.
I use the term "savior" pretty liberally here, since this is where the films' paths really start to diverge. Peppy and Joe have enough in common. They're young. They're attractive. They're eager to make it into show business. And they have the one thing that Valentin and Desmond do not: potential. Now keep in mind, that's only true as defined by their genres. In a film noir, potential is a hack and a cynic stumbling into a good idea. In a feel-good film it's the rise of a dreamer.
However, these two have polarized motives. Gillis (our hero mind you) is in it for himself. He's using Norma's help to propel his success. Peppy quite contrarily is using her success to help George. And herein lies the reason these films reach their different conclusions, not to mention the reason why one of them is on it way to the Best Picture Oscar while the other didn't win the prize.
It's about appreciation. Peppy appreciates the classics, the silents, the stars. She loves them as we love them. And as our hero (if we can call her that since Valentin doesn't do anything active to save himself) this love propels her to be one of the most decent, morally unimpeachable movie characters in recent years. And then there's Joe. Joe Gillis doesn't care, and vicariously through him, nor do we, and even further than that Sunset Blvd suggests that very few do, and nowhere included in that few is anyone in show business. It's a dark, cynical accusation that no one cares about the old "wax museum" of stars whose talent built up the picture business. It's a sentiment that's not particularly easy to vote for even if it happens to lead a film that is both brilliant and in many ways, honest.
Which makes me wonder, has much changed since 1950? Certainly we now have home video, we have streaming and the internet. The brilliance of the slient era is more accessible than it's ever been, and that allows for a sizable fanbase. And what about within the world of The Artist? Valentin's discovery of Peppy originally seems like a spoonfull of irony but turns out to be uplifting cinematic karma. If she were not there to save him, would anybody? Would Valentin end up just like Norma Desmond? Would The Artist become a cautionary tale instead of an inspirational one?
The Artist was made in 2011 and takes place in the late twenties, early thirties. Sunset Blvd was made in 1950 and takes place in 1950. Therein may lie the ultimate clue to why these very similar films reach very different conclusions. Nostalgia is always inspirational. Reality, not so much.
Sibel Kekilli out and about in Germany
Love the 'Je T'Aime' tee-shirt. Simple, hot.
She's currently our favorite German actress and we want more after Head On (2004) and When We Leave (2009). Currently crossing fingers that the new exposure from Game of Thrones (she plays "Shae" the courtesan) will open up major doors for her.
Game of Thrones is actually doing all right by our favorite foreign actresses. Next season (two months away) The Netherlands' Carice Van Houten (Black Book) joins the cast as the frightening priestess Melisandre... The Red Lady. Here's a new gallery of photos from season 2.
I wish I liked the show more. (sigh)
If anything can convince me to keep watching it's probably these two. We shall see.
Paramount had a big night at the Visual Effects Society awards. We knew that Hugo was bound to do well given that the VES Statue is already Papa Georges friendly (pictured left). But they won in other categories too thanks to Rango and Transformers. Will all three of those movies take home prizes at the Oscars? Transformers has the biggest hurdle there in all three of its categories but especially in visual effects since its battling Rise of the Planet of the Apes. "Caesar" is probably too agile to fall prey to "The Driller"
Visual Effects Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams
Supporting Visual Effects Hugo: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy
Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Rango: Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch
Animated Character in a Live Action Feature "Caesar" Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds
Animated Character in an Animated Feature "Rango" Rango: Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton
Created Environment in Live Action "155 Wacker Drive" Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Giles Hancock, John Hanson, Tom Martinek, Scott Younkin
Created Environment in Animated "Main Street Dirt" Rango: John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul
Quick recall: I'm sure you remember Main Street in Rango since virtually all the action unfolded there. But if you need a quick memory nudge "155 Wacker Drive" is the building that took such a brutal beating in Transformers, an action sequence that they used so heavily in commercials since they correctly guessed that "The Driller" was their biggest WOW. In fact that action sequence was so memorable that it appears that Battleship wanted nothing more than to remind you of exactly that in their 'Transformers Jr.' Superbowl commercial.
Virtual Cinematography in Live Action: Hugo: Martin Chamney, Rob Legato, Adam Watkins, Fabio Zangla
Virtual Cinematography in Animated "The Dirt Saloon" Rango: Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker
Models "Driller" Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia
Compositing "Skinny Steve" Captain America: The First Avenger: Casey Allen, Trent Claus, Brian Hajek, Cliff Welsh
The rest of the awards were for television and commercials. Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Terra Nova (is that cancelled or not? Confusion) took home most of the prizes. You can see a full list of winners at the VES Official Site. And just because we love it so much, and its such an actressexual fix, let us all gaze once more upon the great "Dior J'Adore" which won Visual Effects in a Live Action Commercial.
Remarkably Charlize Theron's beauty is not computer generated but an actual thing that exists in nature (Good job God!) but mixing in those famous immortals required computer assistance.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on his way to becoming an actor/director. His first dual effort behind and in front of the camera will be a romantic comedy. Interesting choice and one we applaud because lord knows that genre needs fresh voices. Scarlett Johansson is his co-star of choice though apparently there's a second female lead (as yet uncast). JGL will play a lothario. Will ScarJo or the other leading lady reform him? Hopefully this one will skirt the misogyny that was the only thing really dragging the otherwise charming 50/50 down.
I'm hoping Joe and ScarJo will find a way to sing together since it's the one thing they totally have in common besides being, you know, gorgeous movie stars.
Initially I had trouble picturing the two stars together given that he is slim and long and she is short and voluptuous. I'm use to picturing her with much much beefier men (like her shortlived marriage) but after my initial shock I'm liking the idea. Contrast can be very attractive...
On the other hand it may be tough to top his more twinnish love pairing with Zooey Deschanel. [I am always rooting for a "Zoooey" reunion --where are we at with (500) Days of Summer right now? It went through such a weird love/hate thing with the internets -- but with "New Girl" a hit on TV, there's little chance of her returning to the big screen in major roles anytime soon.]
The film starts shooting in April. I wonder if she's still in for that John Carney (Once) movie that was supposed to start shooting this summer called Can A Song Save Your Life? Two movies in a row where Scarlett may actually be acting instead of just posing?! Exciting. Maybe But never fear. Lots of posing coming up as well in The Avengers (2012) -- recently discussed -- and Iron Man 3 (2013).
As for JGL, he's about to have a Jessica Chastain crazy year. Scratch that. A bigger year than that. In addition to directing his first feature he's co-starring in five more, three of them among the year's most anticipated features: Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.
Which upcoming project are you most excited for?
The Film Doctor makes a passionate case for Hawaii and The Descendants... but I'm still having trouble. I just don't think it's very good. And also it's hard to be receptive to the arguments when they start by dissing The Artist. 'Can't we all just get along?' That said I do agree that the final shot is pretty wonderful. Just wish the rest of the movie was.
They Live By Night Awww, there was an Amadeus Blog-a-Thon and I didn't even know about it. Blog-a-thons just don't have as much outreach as they used to. Totally would've done that one.
The Awl (speaking of the 80s...) remembers The Thorn Birds in a funny piece. OMG. I was so into priestly Richard Chamberlain when I was a wee boy.
Cineuropa Iceland's Volcano didn't go the distant with Oscar this year in the Best Foreign Film Category but it's doing very well at home to augment its critical reputation. 14 nominations at Iceland's own Oscars!
Coming Soon. So wait let me get this straight. Will Smith turned down Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) but signed up to work with M Night Shyamalan? Has he never seen these things we call movies? Here's Will & Jaden on the set of After Earth (formerly titled One Thousand Years A.E.). They're filming in beautiful Costa Rica.
Oscar 2012/13 Notes (Too Early?)
Playbill Les Miserables... will all the Oscars belong to it. Apparently they have their sights set on Best Original Song as well. They're giving Hugh Jackman a new number as Jean Valjean.
Empire Tom Felton of Potter/Malfoy fame will play another spoiled kid, Glenn Close's in fact, in Therese Raquin. Now that Close is about to tie Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter for Most Losing Oscar Nominated Actress (6 times) ... I am kind of excited for her to try to beat Peter O'Toole (8 times. no competitive wins). Think she can win attention again for this classic story? I know SHE would prefer to win but it's kind of exciting for US to have someone fighting for these records. Kind of. I mean, we still feel for her. Don't misunderstand
Goings about town(s)...
Los Angeles Readers
Recover from the Oscars in a couple of weeks with some classic animation. On March 7th-11th, the LA Animation Fest happens and there's special screenings of The Iron Giant and Akira, two unmissables. Both are presented by Sean Lennon who is this year's artistic director. Would that the Akira screening could convince Hollywood to abort their current plans and only pursue this live action adaptation madness with Asian leads. More on the fest at its official site.
New York Readers
This Friday the Film Society of Lincoln Center starts a four day tribute to 70s sex symbol Raquel Welch. The brunette bombshell will be appearing at some of the screenings over the weekend. The big ticket is undoubtedly bizarre cult camp object Myra Breckinridge this Friday. She'll be interviewed by Simon Doonan (!) after the screening. No word yet on whether actor turned critic Rex Reed will appear but it would be kind of hilarious for Raquel and him to pose for a photo op I think. The actress will also be at the One Million Years BC, Last of Sheila, and Three Musketeers screenings. You can read more about Welch's allure and legacy at the New York Observer.
Need a suggestion for next weekend? You can't really go wrong with a Barbara Stanwyck Double Feature. Author Dan Callahan (full disclosure: a friend) just released a new book on the legenadary actress and he's introducing two of her most beloved films, the screwball comedy The Lady Eve (heaven) and the western Forty Guns.