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Entries in Ben Kingsley (14)

Sunday
Mar192017

On This Day: Glenn Close Born, Ben Kingsley Knighted, Sean Connery Bonded

Programming Note: Apologies that we're off schedule on episodes of Pfandom and Three Fittings. Performance anxiety (aka writer's block) at Film Experience HQ. While Nathaniel course corrects...

On this day in showbiz history...
Here are a few cinematic things to think about today March 19th. Which will you feel most festive about?

1859 Charles Gounod's Opera Faust premieres in Paris. There are multiple Faust operas just as there are multiple film versions of the 
1897 Betty Compson (The Barker, 1928), the only Best Actress nominee born in Beaver, Utah (I mean, she'd have to be, right?) enters the world. 
1915 Happy 102nd birthday today to 40s star Patricia Morrison (Dressed to Kill, Song of the Thin Man). Yes, she's still alive!
1947 Glenn Close is born in Connecticutt. 70 years later she still hasn't won her Oscar! She's back on Broadway in Sunset Blvd at the moment...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan252017

Asian Actors and the Academy: Triumphs and Snubs

Robert here. On Tuesday British actor Dev Patel became only the third actor of Indian descent to be nominated for an Academy Award. His nomination came amongst a renewed embrace of diversity (which is something to celebrate, but not rest on) after two years of completely white sets of nominees.

The Oscars – and, of course, the film industry at large – have long courted controversy for their issues with diversity, and Asian actors across the board have long been overlooked and undervalued. Often they are cast in flat, stereotyped roles, or as we've been made much more aware of lately, the roles of leading characters of Asian descent are given to white actors. Before Dev there have been several actors of Asian descent whose strong work has garnered them award attention, and even more who were snubbed despite memorable performances.

A brief retrospective is after the jump:

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct032015

NYFF: Voilà... "The Walk"

Nathaniel reporting from NYFF 53 though this movie is now in IMAX theaters and next week wide for all y'all. This piece was original published in a shorter version in my column @ Towleroad

The Walk  begins in mid air with a jaunty circus-like score from composer Alan Silvestri accompanying the clouds. Our birds-eye view is quickly revealed as just above Manhattan, perched on no less a tourist icon than the Statue of Liberty. That we’re looking at something purely presentational is abundantly clear as crinkly-eyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his first appearance, smiling and speaking directly to the camera. And he speaks with a cartoon French accent to boot. (To be fair to JGL, many real French people sound like cartoon people when they speak English. This is meant as a compliment because who doesn’t love cartoons and/or French accents?). What’s more, at least to these only super-marginally trained ears (I watch a lot of French movies and I took French in high school –that’s the extent of it!) JGL’s actual French sounds impeccable in his subtitled scenes with French co-stars.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's adorableness can be so distracting? Is that why filmmakers keep trying to make him look not so much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt? We already know he can sing / dance / act and in this film he juggles and wirewalks and speaks fluent French. Is there anything he can’t do? 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adorableness can be so distracting! Let’s get back on topic...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Review: Self/less

Tim here. Over the course of four movies starting with The Cell in 2000, director Tarsem Singh has established a very distinct approach to making movies. This basically consists of applying extraordinary, unreal style to thin, whispy stories, not using style to replace substance, but using the absence of substance as an argument in favor of style as a primary storytelling and character-building technique. This has earned him as many enemies as fans, and I don't know if anybody genuinely liked 2011's Immortals, but he's certainly established himself as one of the most distinctive visionaries working in anything like the mainstream.

And now, we find what he just can't do. Self/less is the director's fifth movie, possibly his worst, and beyond question his most generic. The director's biggest and boldest visual gesture is to use a lot of sideways tracking shots. Is this what the loss of the magnificent graphic artist Eiko Ishioka, who designed the costumes for all of Tarsem's previous movies before her death in 2012, means to his aesthetic? Then there's no reason to ever hope for him again. But there has to be something deeper than that, for Self/less shares production designer Tom Foden from all of the director's work outside of The Fall, and he's pretty thoroughly dropped the ball here. There's only one set in the film that feels even slightly distinctive on any level, a sleek grey ultramodern medical lab, and even that feels like a slightly more austere version of a thing we can see in at least three or four movies every year. [More...]

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Monday
Feb022015

How to Train Your Dragon dominates the 2014 Annie awards

Tim here.Over the weekend the International Animated Film Society announced the winners of the Annie Awards for the movie year just ended. DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a huge night, taking six total awards - one of only two feature films with more than one award to its name. This clearly solidifies that film's position as the frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar later this month, and hopefully provides some small measure of comfort to what remains of the beleaguered staff at DWA, which was gutted by layoffs a couple of weeks ago.

Here's the complete list of winners....

Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation)

Directing in an Animated Feature Production: Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon 2

Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production: Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Archibald Snatcher, The Boxtrolls

21 more categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Tim's Toons: The Best Voice Acting in 2014

Tim here. Year-end listmaking mania tends to skip right by animation, with only a glance in the direction of a solitary film that doesn’t tend to reveal much imagination on the part of the listmakers (probably, if you are a critic in 2014, your favorite animated feature was The Lego Movie, unless it was The Lego Movie. But I hear some folks really liked The Lego Movie). The Annie Awards do what they can, but they’re weirdly over-politicized.

All of which is to say, it’s the perfect time, before 2015 has a chance to warm up, to throw a little more light on animated film in the year that was than just rubber-stamping a Best Animated Feature award and moving on. May I present to you this unranked list of

Six Great Vocal Performances from 2014

Alison Brie as “Princess Unikitty”, The Lego Movie
Yes, the exact same Lego Movie I just complained about showing up everywhere. It’s a chronological list, it had to come first. And of the many things that make this movie so delightful, Brie’s sugary embodiment of the flightiest fantasies of children’s playtime is the one that’s stuck the most for me, all through the year. Manic enthusiasm delivered at machine-gun, and outbursts of scorching anger in the same high-pitch register: it’s a straightforward comic turn, but a singularly enjoyable one.

Will Arnett as “Batman”, The Lego Movie
Okay, so I’m a hypocrite. Anyway, Arnett’s self-amused, gravelly take on the Dark Knight is as much a parody of Christian Bale’s growly Batman as anything else, which is a big part of the joke. But it’s also a pretty great performance of the iconic comic book character by itself. Mocking and sarcastic, of course (that is the primary mode of the film’s humor), but with enough puffed-up importance and overclocked drama that it’s absolutely easy to believe that this is a entitled rich guy putting on a show to fight crime.

Cate Blanchett as “Valka”, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Not every A-list award winner has what it takes to do voice acting, and history has witnessed more dreadful celebrity roles in animated features than wonderful, revelatory ones. But Blanchett brings nuance and depth by the bucketful, making a frustratingly under-written part one of the densest animated characters of the year. The social awkwardness that comes from years away from humans, and nervous romanticism while meeting her long-lost husband are all Blanchett’s contribution, not the script’s, and she carries it off while nailing a Scottish accent.

Signe Baumane as “Narrator”, Rocks in My Pockets
Stretching a definition: Baumane is also the film’s writer and director, and it’s not entirely clear that what she’s doing is “acting”. It’s more like sitting down to hear her tell us a story. But what a storyteller Baumane proves to be! Jabbing at punchlines with ebullient good humor, clucking at tragedies with mournfulness that doesn’t turn into outright misery, and pulling out a whole ensemble of affected voices to give life to her characters, Baumane’s treatement of her family history is even more involving and energetic because of her words than her images.

Ben Kingsley as “Archibald Snatcher”, The Boxtrolls
A gutter-born Cockney accent is enough to make Kingsley’s crisp voice almost totally unrecognizable, which is impressive enough to begin with. What elevates this beyond mere success as a bit of celebrity casting gone right is the pathos with which Kingsley invests the character: villains in children’s movies aren’t known for their ambiguous shading, but Snatcher, as performed by Kingsley, has just enough self-deluding desire to fit in with a world that doesn’t want him to come across as deserving our pity as much as our scorn. If I were going to rank these performances, there’s an excellent chance Kingsley would be my #1. (With a shout-out to Sean Patrick Doyle as well who did his singing, too.) 

Takeo Chii as “The bamboo cutter”, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The late Chii’s final performance in a career stretching longer than 40 years is a nimble execution of a stock character rather than an attempt to seriously expand the limitations of that character. He’s a blustering, overbearing dad who bullies the world in attempt to get his daughter all the things she doesn’t actually want. But even through the language barrier, the sweetness of Chii’s performance, and the desperation as he tries to impress and bluff his way into social respectability, come through with touching sincerity and simplicity, the adjectives that best describe Princess Kaguya as a whole.

Who did I miss? What were your favorite vocal performances this year? For the record the Annies nominated these four for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature:  Cyndi Lauper as the voice of Nurse Cyndi - Henry & Me; Andy Garcia as the voice of Eduardo - Rio 2 ; Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Archibald Snatcher and Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of Fish in The Boxtrolls