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Saturday
Mar052011

20:10 "A Difficult Person?" Oscar Trivia!

As we close out the film year, another couple of moments from the 20th minute & 10th second of 2010 cinema.

In this scene from Mother and Child, Karen (Annette Bening) has agreed to have coffee with an interested co-worker Paco (Jimmy Smits), who keeps asking her out. Having finally caved, she keeps stressing that it's not a date even though we sense that she likes him.

Paco: I just can't seem to say the right things around you. And I'm trying believe me.

Karen: What do you mean?

Paco: I just feel like I keep putting my foot in my mouth every time I talk to you. I... I just don't know why. Look I'm sorry forget I said that. I don't know what I'm talking about.

Karen: I'm not a difficult person.

Paco: No, I don't mean that.

Karen: You're not comfortable with me.

Paco: No, I am.

Karen: My words are too harsh for you.

And just like that she's out the door, their non-date barely begun. If Mother and Child, had been filmed with a different tone (for better and worse, it's stuck being emphatically sober throughout), this might have been a tragicomic scene. Karen IS a difficult person, her own worst enemy when it comes to her heart and what she needs from others. She likes the guy, but she's always ready to be hurt and therefore never ready to open up.

Do any of you remember when Mother and Child played in Toronto in 2009? There was briefly Oscar buzz suggesting that if it was released in time, Annette Bening would undoubtedly be one of the Best Actress nominees of 2009. Instead the film was held until 2010. It opened in the summer and in the shadow of The Kids Are All Right was quickly forgotten. I have one close friend to this day who swears she's way better in Mother and Child than she was in The Kids... (I don't agree but it's definitely fine work). Given that this performance has its champions, it makes you wonder. If Mother & Child won an Oscar qualifying release in 2009, would it have made a difference for her 2010 Oscar bid. So much of each Oscar competition is a complex set of factors including the very real power of "momentum". (Or was Natalie Portman in Black Swan one of those performances that was just going to win no matter what?)

Though my study suggesting that 50something actresses just don't win the big prize has gotten a lot of attention, I don't think it's impossible. It's just that the decks are stacked against them. Still, the ranks of actors with 4+ nominations and no wins is very slim.

Can Bening win if she follows up The Kids with another popular role right quick? Did any of Jeff Bridges' luck rub off on Bening at the Oscar nominee luncheon? It's been 21 years since her first nomination.

Very Frequently Nominated Actors Who Waited The Longest To Win

  1. Jeff Bridges (won on his 5th nomination, 38 years after his first)
  2. Geraldine Page (won on her 8th nomination, 32 years after her first)
  3. Paul Newman (won on his 7th acting nomination, 28 years after his first)
  4. Shirley Maclaine (won on her 5th acting nomination, 25 years after her first)
  5. Al Pacino (won on his 8th nomination, 20 years after his first)
  6. Gregory Peck (won on his 5th nomination, 17 years after his first)
  7. Susan Sarandon (won on her 5th nomination, 14 years after her first)
  8. Kate Winslet (won on her 6th nomination, 13 years after her first)
  9. Susan Hayward (won on her 5th nomination, 11 years after her first)

Waited The Longest Never Won Despite 4+ Nominations

  1. Richard Burton (7 nominations over a 25 year period) deceased
  2. Charles Boyer (4 nominations over a 24 year period) deceased
  3. Agnes Moorehead (4 nominations over a 22 year period) deceased
  4. Irene Dunne (4 nominations over an 18 year period) deceased
  5. Rosalind Russell (4 nominations over a 16 year period) deceased
  6. Thelma Ritter (6 nominations over a 12 year period) deceased
  7. Montgomery Clift (4 nominations over a 14 year period) deceased
  8. Deborah Kerr (6 nominations over an 11 year period) deceased
  9. Barbara Stanwyck (4 nominations over an 11 year period) deceased
  10. Arthur Kennedy (5 nominations over a 9 year period) deceased
  11. Claude Rains (4 nominations over a 7 year period) deceased

Only 10 Living Actors Have 4+ (Acting) Noms Without a Win

  1. Peter O'Toole (8 nominations over a 44 year period)
  2. Albert Finney (5 nominations over a 37 year period)
  3. Glenn Close (5 nominations over a 6 year period)


4.  Seven other living actors have four (acting) nominations without a win: Warren Beatty Annette Bening though Beatty has a directing Oscar.  Plus: Jane Alexander, Ed Harris, Marsha Mason, Julianne Moore and Mickey Rooney

Will any of them ever win?

As we can see from the lists above, it's pretty rare not to be a winner if you're in the 5+ nomination club. Only 7 actors in Oscar's 83 year history have ever won 5 nominations without winning the gold. Chances seem good that if Close, Bening, Harris or Moore are ever nominated again, they'll win. The problem is being nominated again. It gets harder and harder to find good roles as an actor ages.

Saturday
Mar052011

First and Last, 5.3

the first image (okay, I cheated it's the second so as to be slightly less obvious) from a motion picture and the last line of dialogue

"...and that is exactly what you have just seen."

Can you guess the movie?

The answer is after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar042011

"you'll have your links, your pretty face...♪ "

My New Plaid Pants on Jake Gyllenhaal's next project.
Pajiba on the myth of the ugly-hot woman in Hollywood; they're all hot. There is no female equivalent to Steve Buscemi.
Comics Alliance Annie Leibovitz has more of those Disney with celebrity portraits including what looks like an entirely computer generated portrait of Queen Latifah as film experience obsession Ursula. Does this mean we're supposed to imagine her battling Julianne Moore who was Ariel for Liebovitz last time? It's the 2002 Best Supporting Actress Oscar race all over again.

Wait? The Oscar are over?
Zap2It
Potty-mouthed Kate Winslet F***ing loves Melissa Leo's Oscar speech
Alt Film Guide
Somehow I missed both this trivia and this stupidity: Natalie Portman is the first pregnant unmarried Oscar married and Republican Mike Huckabee has already expressed his dismay at her morality!
A Socialite's Life Our first totally silly 2011 Oscar story!  People  are pretending that Justin Bieber's documentary Never Say Never could be in the Oscar race next year. Note to the gullible: Hollywood is a powerocrocacy, anyone will suck up to someone they perceive as important at a party. It doesn't mean they'd ever vote for their movie to be nominated for an Oscar.


P.S.

I'm meeting with Ludivine Sagnier in a couple of days. She's one of my favorite French actresses with quite a few popular or must-see films under her belt: 8 Women, Peter Pan, Love Songs, A Girl Cut in Two, Swimming Pool, Water Drops on Burning Rocks, etcetera. Any questions you think I should ask her? What's your favorite Ludivine movie?

Friday
Mar042011

Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Editor's Note: This review was originally published last year. Uncle Boonmee is now in theaters, ready to capitalize on its big win at Cannes... uh...10 months ago; way to strike while the iron is hot, distributors! If you're just getting a chance to see it for the first time, The Film Experience would love to hear any reactions.

Uncle Boonmee can recall his past lives. My memory is hardly as uncanny. Recalling or describing Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the Cannes Palme D'Or winner and Thailand's 2010 Oscar submission, even a few days after the screening is mysteriously challenging. Even your notes won't help you.

This is not to say that the movie isn't memorable, rather that its most memorable images and stories refuse direct interpretation or cloud the edges of your vision, making it as hazy as the lovely cinematography. You can recall the skeletal story these images drift towards like moths and you can try to get to know the opaque characters that see them with you but these efforts have a low return on investment. What's important is the seeing.

What's wrong with my eyes? They are open but I can't see a thing.

Most synopses of the movie will only embellish on the film's title. And while Uncle Boonmee does reflect on past lives, he only does so directly in the pre-title sequence as we follow him in ox form through an attempted escape from his farmer master, who will eventually rope him back in. The bulk of the film is not a recollection -- at least not from Boonmee himself, but a slow march towards his death while he meditates on life and the film meditates on animal and human relations. His nephew and sister in law, who objects to his immigrant nurse, visit him. So too does his dead wife and another ghostly visitor on the same night, in a bravura early sequence that as incongruously relaxed as it is eery and startling.

The film peaks well before its wrap with the story of a scarred princess and a lustful talking catfish and then we begin the march towards Boonmee's death, perhaps the most literal moment in the movie. And then curiously, the movie continues on once he's gone. If it loses much of its potency after Boonmee has departed, there are still a few fascinating images to scratch your head over when he's gone.

The bifurcated structure that Weerathesakul has employed in the past is less prevalent this time.  Uncle Boonmee plays out not so much like two mysteriously reflective halves (see the haunting Tropical Malady which I find less accessible but actually stronger), but rather like a series of short films that all belong to the same continuous chronological movie, give or take that gifted horny catfish.

Surely a google search, press notes, academic analysis or listening to the celebrated director Apichatpong "Joe" Weerathesakul speak (as I did after the screening) would and can provide direct meaning to indirect cinema. But what's important is the seeing.

Vision is frequently mentioned and referenced in Uncle Boonmee, whether it's mechanical as in a preoccupation with photography or organic. But like the ghost monkey with glowing red eyes (the film's signature image) says to Uncle Boonmee early in the film, "I can't see well in the bright light." It's the one exchange in the film that I wholly related to and understood. I'm not sure I need or even want to understand, to attach specific meaning to these confounding stories and images. That's too limiting. I only want to see them. Weerasethakul's movie is best experienced in the dark, with the images as spiritual guides. They fall around you like mosquito netting as you walk slowly through the Thai jungle. B+

Friday
Mar042011

News: Dakota's Music, Tom's Hair Metal, Cameron's Hydrophilia, 

Fanning
It seems that playing Cherie Currie in The Runaways (2010) was just not enough girlgroup action for Dakota Fanning. News is she and little sister Elle are maybe doing a biopic about a failed 1960s family band The Shaggs. [src]

 Dakota, The Shaggs, and Elle

Are there any other Fanning sisters we haven't heard of yet to play the other band member(s)? If Dakota is moving backwards in time through musical biopics will we be seeing her and Elle doing The Andrews Sisters biopic set in the 1940s a decade or so from now?  There are not enough pictures, other than war movies,  set in the 1940s if you ask me.

But I'm actually a bit surprised they're in talks to do something together. Dakota and Elle aren't frequently photographed together. The pics accompanying every article about them seem to be from 2008 so I guess I'd pictured them as one of these wealthy corporate families who only see each other when they've scheduled a meeting.

Cruise
I haven't been following the journey of Rock of Ages, the Broadway hair metal 80s comedy, to the screen but it seems that Adam Shankman (Hairspray) has cast one of his reality show alums Julianne Hough opposite Tom Cruise. [src] Why do I not recall if Tom Cruise can sing?  I usually know ALL about which stars have vocal ability... on account of my 'why can't they make good musicals?' obsession. I can't even remember is Cruise is in that awesome Magnolia (1999) "Wise Up" sing-along sequence. In Rock of Ages Cruise will play "an arrogant and charming star at the top of his career." Well... it's only half a stretch then. Will spoofing himself be the key to winning back fans? Or was that what he was trying for in Knight and Day?

Have any of you seen the Broadway musical? I almost went when Tom Lenk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was in one of the replacement casts.

Cameron
I'm going to start a rumor that James Cameron was actually born to a mermaid, he's such a hydrophilic. Maybe he's the illegitimate lovechild of Mr Peabody and the Mermaid? I mean they met in 1948 and he was born in the early 50s. Who is with me? The latest rumor although we've heard variations of it from time to time, is that Avatar 2 is going to be set entirely underwater [THR]. It wouldn't be the first time given the adventures in The Abyss and the the entire trajectory of Titanic. Maybe Cameron should accept his true lineage and direct a live action version of The Little Mermaid. Think of the awesome action spectacle at the end when Prince Eric aims for Ursula. "Get Away From Her You Bitch Sea Witch"

More News?
Cinema Blend says that David Fincher will direct a TV pilot for Kevin Spacey. Did he lose a bet on the set of Se7en or something? In more Fincher-adjacent news, Trent Reznor, hot off his Oscar win for composing The Social Network will both score and act in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter according to BadAss Digest.

Friday
Mar042011

Happy Birthday Chicago

The Windy City is celebrating it's 174th birthday today. Happy Day to all our Chicago readers! Party safe today if you're partying. Chicago is awesome. Not only does it have plentiful good film critic peoples, it's got good cinematic songs!


Which is it for you?
Calamity Jane, Norma Cassady, Sufjan Stevens, The Blues Brothers or the Merry Murderesses of Cook County Jail?

Friday
Mar042011

First and Last, 5.2

the first image and the last line of dialogue from a motion picture...


Yes, it's very peaceful.


Can you guess the movie?

the answer is after the jump.

Click to read more ...