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Entries in Angelina Jolie (55)

Thursday
May052016

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

For no reason whatsoever that's what we're blogging at this moment! (Just humor me, okay? My back is in spasming pain.)

1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S. but 151 years later the topic is still on everyone's minds: see TV's Underground (any of you watching this?), the exciting news about Harriet Tubman on the $20 and two new biopics about her in the works, plus recent and current Best Picture types (Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave and possibly Birth of a Nation

1891 - Carnegie Hall (then named Music Hall) opened in NYC so that one day "JUDY! JUDY! JUDY!" could be recorded for posterity

1914 - Movie star Tyrone Power was born and we still don't have a biopic 102 years later even though Zac Efron would be perfect in the role

1927 - Pat Carroll is born so that 62 years later we might enjoy the genius of her voice in The Little Mermaid 

1955Damn Yankees opens on Broadway and quickly becomes the movie Damn Yankees (1958).

1981 - Bobby Sands dies of a hunger strike in prison. His last days inspire a movie which is just extraordinary and introduces the world to the genius filmmaker/muse partnership of  Steve McQueen & Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave). 

2000 - Freshly minted Oscar winner, mesmerizing new screen presence, brother-kissing and blood-vial wearing Angelina Jolie marries Billy Bob Thornton further confusing / fascinating the world. That same day in movie theaters Gladiator opens which delights the world, Oscar voters, and drunk Elizabeth Taylor

Gladiator!  

Saturday
Feb272016

Film Bitch Awards - Best Scenes of Multiple Kinds

We're nearly finished* with 2015 Film Bitch Awards, our own annual year in review yearbook/party and of imaginary Oscar ballot (well, half of it is that). Today the remainder of our Best Scene categories with six final scene categories. This group hands more nominations to films from the top ten list of course but for highlights to point out here on the blog before you click over, we're using films outside the top ten list. 

Obviously this page (and post) of awards contains mild spoilers so if you haven't seen the films and wish to stay pure, these are not the awards categories you're looking for. Here is one nominee I felt the need to gab about (maybe you will too?) from each category...

BEST KISS
While Creed was mostly ignored by the Academy, chances are its big box office (which significantly outgrossed Stallone's last two attempts are reigniting the franchise) will insure a big career for Michael B Jordan. Can Tessa Thompson hope for the same (it's always trickier for actresses of color)? They're wonderful together. Especially endearing is the scene in her apartment where Adonis makes up a godawful wrap and they end up collapsed on the floor, caught up in the moment. It's an upside down shot from above and they're something beautifully innocent and pure but also sexy about this kiss. (Later they'll bring the heat in a proper sex scene at Rocky's house. "but what about your Uncle?" / "He old!" Ha!)

SEX SCENE
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort By the Sea was mercilessly trashed upon arrival but this was always going to be its fate. The Jolie-Pitts are extremely mainstream-famous. And household name blockbuster stars that the public has longed to see paired again onscreen aren't supposed to reunite for an indulgent overly serious tribute to Euro art cinema of the 1970s. That's for the other kind of movie star, like the Julianne Moores and the Ryan Goslings of the world, whose filmographies are built on eclectic sensibilities and crisscrossing between the ittybitty and the giant. But By the Sea isn't without its moments. The best scene, repeated in different forms like a musical riff, is when the couple sits on the floor in their hotel room and shyly watches another younger couple (Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud) make love in the next room through a peephole. It's beautifully sympathetic and tragicomic, an estranged couple tiptoeing back to intimacy through surrogates.


OPENING SCENE
David O. Russell's Joy is an easy movie to quibble with. It often feels like five different movies that haven't reconciled themselves. This problem (?) is embedded right in its prologue which jumps from inside a stylized soap opera, to Diane Ladd's wonderfully expressive fable-like narration, and back to the soap opera but this time "outside" of it through a TV set, and into little Joy's bedroom where she makes a castle and theorizes about her possible superpower (maybe she doesn't need a Prince?). Ladd's Grandma guides us through this collision of styles and ideas with an expertly dropped line about Joy's creativity that doubles as a guide to how to watch and make ambitious movies.

The patience to figure it out."

Will Joy grow on us with time? Perhaps it might. Perhaps we quibbled too much. Perhaps Russell didn't have the patience to truly figure this one out but there's a lot to figure therein.

ENDING
Spotlight may have the most mellow finale we've ever nominated in this category but there's something about its sober work ethic and the core ensemble wide shot, with Walter "Robby" Robinson centered, that really lands emotionally and elevates the film. His phone rings and they all just return to work. Where they've always been.

Spotlight..."

CREDIT SEQUENCE
I've been disappointed these last few years that it's more and more common for films to have virtually no credits at the beginning and double up at the ending. So shout out to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which has great opening and closing credits. The opening credits would be spoiler-alert central if they didn't come at you so aggressively with machine-gun montage speed. The ending credits are even more stylish --both an homage to the TV show and film appropriate -- with action frames from the film outlined by the wicks of time bombs; this movie is a blast.

[Read more about these two sequences at The Art of the Title.] 

MISCELLANIA - A DOZEN FAVORITE SCENES
When writing about the Film Bitch Awards I often revisit a whole bunch of movies in clip forms, particularly the earlier releases that are blurry int he memory. Here we are at the end of the prize-giving and here comes Diary of a Teenage Girl and it suddenly looks just as good as everyone claimed it to be (I was previously in the admired but only admired camp). It was easy to turn certain movies off after checking the scene in question but I kept getting sucked into this film, as if it were the first time. One of the best moments is an animated interlude "The Making of Harlot" where a 'Beautiful Junior,' getting it on with Minnie, remarks upon her aggressive sexuality with something like judgment in his voice (though he's benefitting). Giant Minnie, holding him in her King Kong paw, turns away, with a single teardrop and casts him aside. True movie magic.

THE COMPLETE "BEST SCENES" CHART

* Only three categories left to announce (Limited Roles x2 & Line Readings). Can you believe we're actually going to finish this year before the Oscars**?! Wheeee. We'll announce those three categories plus all the Gold Silver and Bronze medals at some point in the next 24, ya dig?

** Okay technically I won't have finished, damnit. I never named the Animated Feature nominees (we only go 3-wide here) because I was trying to see Boy and The World before voting. So we'll be finished with everything but that category.

Monday
Nov162015

Beauty vs Beast: An End To Hunger

Jason from MNPP here with this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" bidding a... somewhat... sad farewell to a movie franchise that's been kicking for several years now. This weekend The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (gahhhh, that lumbering title) is released, surely set to stomp over the Thanksgiving competition box-office-wise with its stlylishly Fascistic boots. But do we still care? I was a big fan of the books and the movies have all been pretty good but man I am feeling Katnissed out at this point; I'm still not convinced Mockingjay couldn't have been just one movie.

But I've already got my tickets for Thursday's night's show, natch, just like most of the rest of you. We are too small to fight. As for this week's competition I'm putting up my two favorite casting decisions from book to screen, both of whom knocked these roles outta the park...

PREVIOUSLY I think y'all were much more enthusiastic about voting on our poll pitting the Pitts-Jolie against each other last week than you were about actually going to see the new movie they were starring in, judging by its miniscule box office. In the end it was Mr. Smith who came out on top with about 60% of your vote. Wait did I say you were "enthusiastic" More like what STinG said:

"Fuck you for making us have to choose. They're both a perfect fit for each other and their actor. They're both too super cool. They're both the last of the great screwball couples. How can you do this to us?!"

Monday
Nov092015

Beauty vs Beast: Take My Spouse, Please

Jason from MNPP here with this week's edition of Beauty vs Beast, pitting cinema's good guys and bad guys against each other in a polling orgasm of gorgeous vicious oneupmanship! And you'll forgive me for getting a wee bit over-passioned there with my adjectives since this week I'm surrounding us with two of the most gorgeous creatures to ever grace the big screen, much less the marital bed -- this Friday the cinematic supernovas Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt are reuniting on-screen in Jolie's most recent directorial effort, the swooning-in-sunglasses drama By the Sea. (You can read what Nathaniel had to say about the film here.) It's been ten full years since the last time the stars combined their movie star wattage onto one fortunate screen, and that's where we look for this week's contest...

PREVIOUSLY Last week we bonded with James & Co. (bonded, get it, ha ha, sigh) in honor of the latest 007 flick (Did you see it this weekend? Thoughts?) -- looking back at Skyfall it was Daniel Craig himself who left us shaken and stirred over Bardem's baddie, taking about 63% of your vote. Said tom:

"In this case, I vote for Bond. the first half of the movie was just building up the character of Silva and when we finally meet him, disappointment. That isn't completely Bardem's fault, but no vote from me."

Saturday
Nov072015

AFI Fest: "By the Sea" Premieres

Greetings from sunny Los Angeles. I've been offline so I have to thank the team for keeping us up to date in the news. In the interest of not getting too far behind, let's talk about Thursday's opening event.

A rental car misshap nearly prevented me from attending the glitzy premiere of Mr & Mrs Pitt aka By the Sea but I made it in the nick of time. Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt manage the uncommon feat of looking as beautiful as the seaside scenery onscreen and just as beautiful offscreen. They were both glammed up like it was Oscar night in full tux & perfectly groomed hair (Brad) and shimmering form fitting white gown (Angie). Their new film is a marital vacation drama that feels like an uncomfortable fusion of three film types. The first is the enigmatic 60s Italian pictures -- think Antonioni letting Monica Vitti languidly sex up the camera and drive everyone mad while everyone forgets about the plot because "plot? --  how banal!" The second is a kind of meta-interest "vanity project" like a Burton & Taylor joint and I use the term vanity project in the most flattering way possible; no one earns vanity like the great movie stars and both Brad and Angie qualify for that designation. The third is hostile vaguely unreal marital drama erotica. In all three cases the film doesn't go nearly far enough: it needs to be more enigmatic / indifferent to the audience like L'Avventura OR more terrible and superstar campy like, say, Boom!, OR more sexually charged and surreal like maybe Eyes Wide Shut.

It's tough to imagine who the film might satisfy as its mostly inert and repetitious (not a total problem if you like art films), approaches sexually charged material rather timidly (a bigger problem), and is oddly backloaded story-wise which suddenly makes the film feel ill at ease with its languid despair at the last moment "oh, there needs to be A Story" 

But for what's it's worth it's an interesting curiousity. Along with a few truly great moments, it's fun to hear Brad Pitt speaking French and he acts drunk well.

Afterthoughts
It's interesting that Jolie  keeps challenging herself with different types of films even though she doesn't seem like a "natural" at directing, truth be told. I refuse to call her "Angelina Jolie Pitt" -- women need to stop defining themselves as belonging to a man and it's even worse when celebrities do it. Nearly all instances of famous people changing their public name for marriage end in tears and it looks sloppy on filmographies. Joanne Woodward didn't change her professional name to Joanne Newman when she married Paul and look how happy they were and remained for his whole life!

Gena Rowlands at the opening night partyAt the after party, I wasn't able to get close to Angelina or Brad and didn't spot the beautiful French stars Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud (though they were at the premiere as the other couple in the film) but the most famous married movie stars in the world were real troupers hanging at the party for a good long while and speaking to well wishers in their über glamorous duds. The after party did provide one moment of pure movie bliss though: I was able to congratulate Gena Rowlands on her impending Honorary Oscar. It was brief but heavenly. She was gracious and beaming. Sasha Stone snapped the picture of this blessed moment. Thanks Sasha!

More from the AFI fest soon!

Sunday
Oct252015

AFI Fest 2015: Predicting this year's 'American Sniper'

Margaret here. The full 2015 AFI Fest lineup has been announced and it's full of must-sees, from Oscar-campaign heavyweights and indie up-and-comers alike.

Many of the season's most buzzy films have already made a splash at Cannes, TIFF and NYFF, and a few of those will be screening here, but AFI Fest will also as in years past be holding world premieres for a few late-breaking contenders. With the first end-of-the-film-year nominations out (Gotham Awards, always early but never predictable) many pundits would have you believe the shortlists are already set, but there may yet be a few wild cards in the mix.

Last year AFI Fest gave us the world-premieres of two eventual Best Picture nominees (Selma and American Sniper), a critical darling that nonetheless escaped Oscar's notice (A Most Violent Year), and an all-around non-starter (The Gambler). This year the festival will premiere By the SeaThe Big Short, and Concussion, as well as The 33 (already released in Latin America but not yet widely screened in English-language markets). Naturally we're very curious to see which of these, if any, will make the kind of impression it will take to break into the conversation and stay there.

The Big Short: a (comedic?) drama about the bursting of the housing credit bubble in the 2000s. Directed by Adam McKay; starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Oscar loves when comedic actors get serious. Might similar goodwill extend to a director like Adam McKay, who is most famous for his many absurdist collaborations with Will Ferrell? You'll note that the ensemble cast is chock-full of Oscar nominees with atrocious hairdos-- reminds one of nothing so much as American Hustle, which made a killing on nomination morning 2013.  

By the Sea: a marital drama set at the 1970s French seaside. Written and directed by Angelina Jolie, who is also starring with Brad Pitt. As buzzy as it gets: the world's most famous celebrity couple, acting together for the first time in ten years. Jolie's last directorial effort debuted to very healthy box office and decent reviews-- unspectacular, but more than enough to sustain curiousity for her third film. People seem to really want it to be good, and the below the line team (including The White Ribbon DP Christian Berger and The English Patient composer Gabriel Yared) bring a formidable arsenal of talent to the table. But will a romantic drama that's not also a biopic be able to gain traction with Oscar? 

Concussion: a dramatic thriller about the real-life Dr. Bennet Omalu's research on serious brain damage in professional football players and the NFL's efforts to keep him quiet. Written and directed by Peter Landesman, starring Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Albert Brooks. Primed to be a dramatic comeback for Smith, who used to cross back and forth between blockbusters and prestige films much more often. The true story aspect is often irresistable to awards bodies, and it seems that recent-history stories about the investigation of shady dealings by powerful people is a popular theme among this year's Oscar hopefuls (see also TruthSpotlightThe Big Short). But since the trailer dropped, Smith's accent has been the object of many a snide comment-- will we be able to take him and the movie seriously? There are also rumors that pressure from the NFL shaped some of the storytelling, which if true could impact the movie's bite and credibility.

The 33: a true-life drama based on the 2010 Chilean mining catastrophe that trapped 33 miners underground for over two months. Directed by Patricia Riggen, starring Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips. Not only does it have the true-story advantage, but the subject is an objectively impressive and cinematic human achievement. Binoche and Banderas also both have decades of critical goodwill. The response from critics in Latin America (where it has already opened) suggests that it's something of a broad melodrama, which might not win it die-hard fans among cinephiles but certainly puts it in good company with many Best Picture nominees in years past.

Which of these has the potential to go full American Sniper and sneak into 5-7 nominations? Which do you predict will go the way of The Gambler? And perhaps most importantly: which movies on the AFI Fest slate are you dying to hear more about? Nathaniel, Anne Marie, Kieran and myself will be attending and sharing our thoughts.

Thursday
Aug062015

Say What? By The Sea

Amuse us. Add caption or dialogue to this image from the set of Angelina Jolie's By The Sea...

P.S. The film is due November 13th. People magazine reveals that it's actually about three couples, not just Brad & Angie. Now we're totally curious about the other two couples! French hotties Mélanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud are also in the movie so that bodes well.

P.P.S. Here's the teaser... I hate it so much when actresses change their last names after a marriage! Argh