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"How is no one talking about the kids from IT????? They were amazing" - David

"I think Girls Trip makes it. Or st least Tiffany Haddish gets a nod. Right now, I’m thinking both?" - Roger

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Entries in A Pigeon Sat on a Branch (4)

Tuesday
Jan052016

Podcast: The Big Short, It Follows, Etc...

We're just going overboard with the podcasts this month. We hope you don't mind. Here's a little extra conversation between Nathaniel and Nick. (With another podcast right around the corner!) 

40 minutes 
00:01 The Big Short, celebrity cameos, gambling and our own failings
16:40 Nick looks forward to The Revenant & talking about The Hateful Eight
19:45 Foreign Film Finalist List: Ireland's Viva, Denmark's A War, Hungary's Son of Saul.
27:45 Films that didn't make it to the finals like Guatamela's Ixcanul,  and LGBT entries
33:20 How to watch challenging cinema at home on your televisions. Starring: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch and It Follows 

Further Reading for Context:
Nick's Hateful Eight Tweet
Nathaniel's recent Oscar submission reviews
Plus Embrace of Serpent and Labyrinth of Lies

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Big Short & Foreign Finals

Tuesday
Sep012015

European Film Awards - Vote for the 'People's Choice'

Have you ever been to Berlin? The annual European Film Awards will be held there this year just 102 days. As part of their annual tradition if you vote on their People's Choice Awards you can be entered to win a trip to the show.

This year's People's Choice slate (the only category thus far announced) feels slightly more "behind" than usual or perhaps we misremember past years? Generally the EFA titles are a mix of current and previous Oscar seasons (due to scattered release dates) but this year's batch feels especially 2014 heavy. On the down side this means it's less helpful in seeing which films are making inroads to general critics prizes and Oscar love down the road... in that they already have or haven't. On the plus side, potential voters will have seen more of them. YOU CAN VOTE RIGHT HERE... They also have an official facebook page up now.

The 10 Nominees...  

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence d. Roy Andersson
    Just announced as Sweden's Oscar submission! This auteur's unique 'vignettes in absurdist tableaus' sensibility must be experienced to be believed. Reviewed / Best of 2015 (Thus Far)
  • Force Majeure d. Ruben Östlund
    Sweden's acclaimed awards magnet was a big Oscar snub in the Foreign Film category last season... though it was up for Best Film at the EFAs. Is the American remake still planning to go ahead despite being a terrible idea? Reviewed / Blurbed / Top 20 of 2014 
  • The Imitation Game d. Morten Tyldum
    Last year's Best Picture contender qualifies as European because...? Perhaps it's the Norwegian director. But it's a US/UK production so it feels strange to see it here. Past Articles.  
  • Leviathan d. Andrey Zvyaginstev
    Russia's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning hit last season. Past Articles.
  • Marshland d. Alberto Rodríguez
    A serial killer drama from Spain.



  • Samba d. Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano
    Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg headline this French film about a struggling Senegalese immigrant and a woman trying to get her life back together
  • Serial (Bad) Weddings d. Philippe de Chauveron
    A French comedy about a Catholic couple whose four daughters all get married to men of different origins and religions
  • The Salt of the Earth d. Wim Wenders & Juliano Riberio Salgada
    Best Documentary Nominee at the Oscars. On the international journeys of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Discussed
  • Victoria d. Sebastian Schipper
    Winner of 6 Lola Awards. Germany couldn't really select this hard-partying drama about a girl who gets mixed up in a bank robbery for their Oscar submission -- too much English in it -- but it's won raves and a lot of attention for its one take trick. That's right, a 140 minute movie all in one continuous shot without Birdman's tricks. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau star and took the German Oscars (the Lolas) for Best Actress and Best Actor.
  • White God d. Kornél Mundruczó
    Hungary's Oscar submission last season (not nominated), an allegorical film featuring rampaging packs of wild dogs, has been riveting moviegoers since its 2014 Cannes debut. Now on DVD. Reviewed / Interview

I'll have to choose between the two Swedish films for my personal vote. Who gets yours?

 

Tuesday
Jul072015

Halfway: Top Ten (Thus Far) and Best of Miscellania

½way mark - part 7 of 9
It's list time. [cue catchy as yet unwritten TFE jingle here]. We're nearly done with our "halfway mark - year in review" festivities so here is the top ten pictures and a few more Oscar-ish lists for good measure this fine Tuesday.

Top Ten (Thus Far)
in order of official release in 2015

-You know there are people in this world who go on first dates that are perfectly fine and then they wait awhile before they engage sexually.

-That's disgusting."

Appropriate Behavior (USA) d. Desiree Akhavan 
Jan 16th (Screened in January 2014)
Laugh out loud funny and encouragingly specific, it's a shame this Iranian American LGBT romantic comedy didn't break out bigger. It's available for full as a purchase/rental on YouTube.

Shhhh."

'71 (UK) d. Yann Demange.
Feb 27th (Screened in September 2014)
One of the scariest movies I've ever seen, full stop. Jack O'Connell wholly believable as a soldier abandoned in the projects during The Troubles, terrified for his life. 

Of Horses and Men (Iceland) d. Benedikt Erlingsson
Mar 11th (Screened in November 2013 - Iceland's 2013 Oscar Submission) 
It only took a year and half to make it to the States, but this extremely strange tragicomedy (?) about men and their horses is totally memorable. Somehow, despite expert direction and a unique fully formed sensibility, it's a debut feature?!?

7 more pictures after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep072014

TIFF: Vignettes with Mike Leigh

Nathaniel's adventures at TIFF. Day 2

Day 2 was just magical from start to finish with 3 great movies and 1 solid one. Two of the films you've already read about here in Sweden's stellar Oscar submission Force Majeure and Norway's Out of Nature about one man hiking around in the wilderness on a long weekend. I like to think of the latter as Norway's counterpart to Reese Witherspoon in Wild - which I'll be seeing soon - though I doubt Reese takes her clothes off for a wank and runs around starkers. Day 2 was something of a vignette day since I will remember it primarily as the day I saw Mike Leigh twice and hid from the rain with him (long story - save it for the podcast!), the day I scarfed down melted cheese sandwiches with Nick & Joe in an highly unglamorous take-out setting, and a day of not one but 2 great movies composed of vignettes.

WILD TALES. an amazing Argentinian delightVignette films, like their cousin the omnibus, are tough beasts to pull off because you're essentially asking the audience to reinvest in the movie every 20 minutes or so, as if they've stumbled into a short film festival. They're also bound to feel uneven with some segments much richer than others. But here's two films that pull it off with real aplomb...

Argentina's Wild Tales is directed by Damián Szifrón but produced by TFE's favorite Pedro Almodóvar who I imagine is just thrilled with the results. It seems like a movie he would love what with its colorful characters, amusingly melodramatic and twisty stories, and at least three vivid female characters though it's not as actressy as his movies. Let's just say everyone in this six story movie is ...on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, and not just the women. Wild Tales was a big hit at Cannes earlier this year and it might possibly be Argentina's Oscar submission. It's easy to see why since the title is accurate. You feel like anything could happen primarily because not so very many minutes into the terrific opening vignette, it does. It starts just like any movie might with a beautiful woman being chatted up by a handsome older stranger as their flight takes off. But then they realize they have an acquaintance in common. Another passenger overhears them, interrupts and...

No, I shan't tell you more because this movie is best seen cold as the surprises are half the fun. Let's just say this free-fall into insanity sets the tone for the whole film which plays like a highwire act of dark comedy, violent thrills, and romances gone awry. Of the six segments, of which only one is just "good" (that'd be the one starring Argentinian cinema's Mr Ubiquitous Ricardo Darin), I had two favorites. The third vignette takes place on a long stretch of dusty highway where two men piss each other off while driving. Neither of them can let any affront go. It's a stretch of cinema that should make the majority of the world's action directors ashamed of themselves for not bothering to pack in as many thrills and cleverly choreographed beats into 2 hours that Szifron manages in 20 minutes. The final sequence centering on a wedding reception that goes sour and descends into utter chaos is also pretty damn great, and funny too. Don't read anything more about it and if gets released, jump in. A-

VENICE GOLDEN LION WINNER!
Sweden's A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence comes from one of Mike Leigh's favorite directors Roy Andersson. Hence the first Mike Leigh sighting of the day since he came to the show with Mr Turner's primary non-Timothy Spall Oscar contender Marion Bailey. The room was jam-packed with press many of whom were laughing out loud and very frequently which is not all that common in critics screenings, I have to tell you.

A Pigeon... which does indeed include pigeons sitting on branches (albeit mostly offscreen),  bills itself as the final part of a trilogy of what it means to be human. And it starts with three short scenes called "Three Encounters With Death" which are beyond hilarious. I will never forget the ancient little lady hanging tightly on to her purse because she wants to take it with her when she goes. Every scene in the film is its own little continuous shot vignette in which the camera does not move but the things within the frame do, albeit sometimes very slowly. The two most frequently recurring characters are gag salesmen who keep announcing that they're there to help people have fun but are the glummest downers you ever did see, perpetually frowning, failing, frumpy and shuffling as if they're zombies across Andersson's often brilliant mise-en-scène . Not that anyone in the frame looks "alive" per se, since Andersson's figures are nearly all chalky white with a touch of ginger in their hair. The salesmen turned out to be my least favorite running gag in the movie and definitely wore out their welcome a bit though they're super funny at first. My favorite recurring bit was the generic repetitive dialogue heard whenever anyone onscreen answers a telephone. As if all the disconnected oddness weren't perplexing enough, there are three amazing period piece scenes involving warring soldiers, a musical number in a diner, and a slave ship (a very disturbing sequence).

Andersson strikes me a singular director, but there is one comparison point I feel comfortable sharing. I kept thinking of Jacques Tati, because the longer you stare at the sometimes crowded sometimes spare shots, the funnier they become and the bigger their comic payoffs whenever anything changes within the frame you've been visually searching for more things to discover or giggle about. I'm still scratching my head over this film but I'm already kicking myself for having missed Andersson's previous films. Several people have told me that I would love them. They were right and I am a fool for taking so long to get to them. A-

one of many screamingly funny but morbid scenes in "A Pigeon..."

Can you tell that I'm having a great great festival this year?