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Entries in Carnage (12)

Wednesday
Jan182012

Ray of Link

Rope of Silicon early commercials starring the ascendant Michael Fassbender
W Magazine a horizontal pictorial of Fassy. I am more and more worried he'll be the surprise snub at the Oscars. I really am. May my prophecy fail me!
NY Times a profile of George Lucas on the eve of his supposed retirement from blockbuster filmmaking. But first Red Tails (2012)
24 Frames Octavia Spencer is getting choosy about her roles but Hollywood is still not awash in leading roles for acclaimed black actresses.

Pajiba on Michelle Williams body body body GQ photoshoot.
Guardian offers a guide of 20 pictures to watch for at the Sundance Film Festival which begins... tomorrow!
Low Resolution Carnage cast power rankings
FlavorWire on TCM's ten most influential silent films. See, The Artist is good for cinema. People are looking back. Silent films are so wonderful. I hope you've seen a bunch of them.

Kenneth in the (212) fans "react" to Madonna winning her second Golden Globe. LOL.
Boy Culture I knew Matt would have smart things to say about the Madonna Globe win and Elton John's ridiculous pissiness about it. Matt on Madonna's "ungracious" speech. 

What was narcissistic about Madonna's sweet speech, anyway? She accepted an award and thanked her co-writers and her leading lady. Sure, she forgot to self-flagellate, but...

Hee!

Guardian Speaking of The Artist. I knew we'd eventually get a story about total idiot moviegoers. Seems some people want their money back because they didn't realize it was a silent movie. Excuse me, I amend. Not idiots, Assholes. Silent films can be just as amazing as sound films.  
In Contention on the costumes of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Ultra Culture 14 Things That Armie Hammer looks like in J Edgar. Hee
Paper Mag has the season 5 poster for Mad Men but to give it context they include all the others too.

 

If you must know, not that *I'm* counting, that is 67 days away. How will you spend those days?

Wednesday
Nov092011

God of Linkage

A Socialite Life This is not Kate Winslet (to your left). This is Kate Winslet's new wax figure at Madame Tussauds. They went so recent what with the choice of that Emmy dress.
Vulture Stephen Dorff always gives great interview. He's mouthing off about chest hair and nipples on the set of Immortals. He said no to man-breasts for his workout regimen.
IMP Awards as predicted Carnage couldn't keep that brilliantly loud and colorful French poster look. Instead it had to go completely generic and dullsville for American audiences. Do NOT let your movie look like a unique experience; no one will buy tickets! 

The Wrap Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson and Tom Fucking Waits (!) will star in Martin McDonagh's new action comedy Seven Psychopaths. Eeep, love the cast, love McDonagh (Six Shooter, In Bruges). Make it be good! Please make it be good.
Deadline Jake Abel may be the male lead opposite Saoirse Ronan in The Host. They both appeared in The Lovely Bones.
The Playlist Elizabeth Olsen and Glenn Close to team up for Therese Raquin. Wasn't Kate Winslet supposed to do that once onscreen? The first time helmer is Charlie Stratton who will also write the screenplay.
MNPP [NSFW] doubles up on love for Dominic Cooper in The Devil's Double

and Ugh. How cute are these new We Bought a Zoo posters?

They make me want to love the movie muchly even though I pretty much hated the trailer.

small screen
Vulture Glee's Sue Sylvester Problem. Good piece. It's still a wildly inconsistent show three seasons in. 
Tyler Shields shoots the cast of the best new drama on television, Revenge.

I'm so addicted to this show. Are you watching? But I'm mostly addicted for the magnificent throwback performance from Madeleine Stowe (not pictured) rather than the hottish men so don't let this shot fool you. That said I ♥  Gabriel Mann, far left, who I've always liked as an actor but never to quite this extent. Speaking of... I did not see his recent plot twist coming at all.

P.S. I can't get over how Ashton Holmes (not pictured) looks nothing like he did as Viggo's son in A History of Violence. I barely recognize him six years later.

Tuesday
Nov012011

Feinberg & Friends

Scott Feinberg started a podcast at the Hollywood Reporter a month back. Each week he has a different guest and it's yours truly this week. I haven't listened to it but, then, I was there during the recording so that should count. (I have the same mundane problem as most of the verbal world in that I hate hearing my own voice. Editing my own podcast --returning soon-- is enough torture in that department.)

We're discussing Best Picture, Costume Design, actresses who bare it all for the gold man, the double-supporting-actress nomination, and category placements for Carnage (everyone has officially gone supporting!) among other quick topics. Have a listen...

Thank you to Scott at the Hollywood Reporter for the conversation. We always love to talk Oscar.

Monday
Oct172011

NYFF: Second Opinions 

Serious Film's Michael C. here. The New York Film Festival just wrapped up its strongest year in recent memory, so I thought it was worth tossing in some additional thoughts on titles that Kurt and Nathaniel already weighed in on. We'll follow this up with a podcast. (coming soon!)

Carnage - Although it is difficult to spot any instance of Polanski's Carnage stepping wrong, it is just as hard to shake the empty feeling that follows in its wake. Deprived of the electricity of live performance the source material is revealed to be a sharply crowd-pleasing exercise in presenting obvious truths in the most entertaining way possible. The skill that went into the production from top to bottom cannot be dismissed, but still, for all the polished craftsmanship Polanski brings to the table he can't quite hide the artifice of the whole production. One never really believes it. Read my full reaction.  

A Separation - Asghar Farhadi's deeply absorbing drama ranks as the best film I saw at the NYFF. Farhadi recalls the best of Krzysztof Kieslowski with his ability to depict how our choices reverberate and ricochet through the world with consequences that could never be anticipated. Having secured a qualifying release date A Separation demands to be included on the Best Picture roster. Read my full reaction.

My Week With Marilyn - A waste of a great Michelle Williams performance on a shallow coming-of-age story with no real insight about the real person behind the image. The only thing that separates the protagonist from the rest of the people who want a piece of Marilyn is that he has a better seat from which to gawk. Read my full reaction

Pina - I was more excited for the idea of Pina than the execution. A 3D tribute to a brilliant dancer seems like a great use of the gimmick for once, but Wim Wenders insists on frequently interrupting the dance sequences with underwhelming info segments just as they are gathering momentum. Alright for what it is, with many memorable images, but it could have been much more.

Martha Marcy May Marlene - A strong debut from writer/director Sean Durkin with a very fine lead performance from Elizabeth Olsen as the escapee from a cult with a psyche as fractured as the title suggests. Durkin attacks the potentially sensationalistic material with an intelligence that impresses. He never once goes for the easy melodrama and as a result this foreboding story has a ring of truth and a tension that never lets up. As good as Olsen is in the lead, the performance that wowed me is John Hawkes in his second great supporting role in two years as the seductive cult leader. 

The Kid With a Bike - I second everything Kurt said. An extraordinarily moving film and the best child performance since The Sixth Sense.

A Dangerous Method - The big disappointment of the festival for me. Not an terrible film by any stretch, but a disjointed one, which never gathers any momentum as it continually leaps forward in time. As a result, the actors are left struggling to create believable character arcs the script doesn't support. Keira and Viggo fair the best playing characters that range from wildly hysterical to quietly enigmatic, respectively. It is Fassbender who suffers the most as the movie is never able to connect to the torrent of emotion supposedly churning under his surface.

The Artist - One of the biggest outpourings of cinematic joy since Amelie hit theaters a decade ago. If I have one minor complaint that prevents me from doing Donald O'Connor backflips off the wall (like Nathaniel did) it's that the story of the washed-up silent film star is simple in the extreme. But when the filmmakers tell this simple tale with such an explosion of creativity, and all the story beats go over like gangbusters, why quibble? Jean DuJardin is so charismatic in the lead role I wouldn't be surprised for him to get the Oscar just so everyone can have an opportunity to see him smiling on stage.

*

We hope you enjoyed our NYFF coverage.

Friday
Sep302011

NYFF: "Carnage" 

Though critics screenings have been well under way for some time, tonight is the official opening night of the New York Film Festival. The kick off film is Roman Polanski's Carnage, about which we should undoubtedly say a few words. And then scream them, as we lose our composure.

Moviegoers who have seen Yasmina Reza's hit play "God of Carnage" in any of its many stage productions, had just cause to fear a film version; it's very much a work of the stage. What if they cast the two young boys whose stick-wielding playground tussle prompts all the (psychological) carnage between their parents, who meet to discuss the fight? What if the movie leaves the apartment where the entire play takes place? What if the actors can't handle the tricky satirical tone that has to be rooted in internal drama but stylized enough to extract external laughs?

The first two fears involve the dread "open it up" problem that hover like dark storm clouds over so many stage-to-screen adaptations. If you don't "open it up" you run the risk of your movie feeling weirdly hemmed in and even cheap. If you do "open it up" you run the risk of arbitrary and awkward resizing that feels more like nervous approval-seeking then an attempt to serve the material. With Roman Polanski, an expert at claustrophic storytelling, guiding the tight-quarters squabbling perhaps we shouldn't have worried.

The trouble-making sons of Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Jodie Foster and John C Reilly) and Nancy and Allen Cowan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) do appear in the film but in a wonderfully smart and ambiguously played framing device. This change from the play stays magically true to the spirit of the source material but is also entirely new and right for the change in medium (which is EXACTLY what adaptations should strive for). So the first thing Roman Polanski does right is that even though we do technically leave the confines of a realistically sized New York apartment (i.e. small) both visually and physically (the apartment building's hallway), we never once feel as though we've escaped the crowded private hell of two married couples. For a smartly succinct 80 minutes (it happens in real time) you are trapped with the parental quartet and their justifiable concern: what to do about a violent encounter between their children. The comedy and drama of the play-turned-movie are the ways in which said real and justifiable but basic-sized problem morphs, twists, pivots, wiggles, shrinks and expands -- it just can't hold its shape -- until it's a series of problems both microcosmically petty (home cooking, name calling, cel phones) and gargantuan unsolvable (Genocide! Corporate Greed! Marriage!).   

For the most part the actors all do solid work. Christoph Waltz, in the film's best and most nimble performance, ably suggests that Alan is a bit of a sadist and the only one who is actually enjoying all the squabbling and suffering (until he isn't). John C Reilly has the biggest about face, appearing to be the most accomodating character (and the dullest actor) until alcohol and aggravating phone calls from his mother loosen him up. Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, two of the screen's most formidable actresses are both good. Kate is best with Nancy's comedic outbursts  (her weak stomach and quick inebriation, just as in the play, provides some of the most memorable moments) but one wishes for more character detail in the inbetween when she isn't the focus of the scene. Foster has the most difficult role. Penelope is an extremely uptight and self-righteous Africa-obsessed mother and she's the one character that's simultaneously the worst at keeping it together and the one most concerned with keeping it together. Though Foster has fine moments her comedy is the wobbliest; one ends up pitying Penelope more than laughing with or at her which is a strange place to end up inside of a viciously dark comedy. Still, there's a certain go-for-broke original bravura in Foster's vein-popping despair (hers is the performance least like the original play's), that one has to admire it even while one mentally recasts. 

As Carnage winds down... Stop. Winds down? Yes, though Polanski often comes up with clever angles by which to watch the four characters interact, the film does run into some trouble with momentum which the play didn't have. The hallway scenes offer new and funny ways of thinking about the fact that the couples can't seem to end their evening even while their hatred for each other grows, but they strain credulity as well. If you're that close to leaving... There are strange lulls just as things are reaching fever pitch, and the ending itself is one of those and weirdly sedate.

Despite Polanski's very smart and controlled approach to the material, one almost wishes he'd taken a page from Jodie's book and just gone jugular. He employs so many different techniques to keep you visually stimulated: depth of focus, variety of shot lengths, staging, camera stability (things get a bit shakier in time with the copious alcohol) that one almost wants to scream at him to commit to one of them, embrace it feverishly and "DO IT UP REAL BIG LIKE!!!" Take your cues from Winslet's ugly vomiting, Foster's whiny-screaming or Christoph Waltz's man-pouting and let your hair down a little. Lose your composure. Risk bloodying yourself up but good.

Carnage (2011) is maybe the best film version one could hope for given the absolute stageyness of the source material but it's good enough that it leaves you wanting one that you didn't dare hope for. B/B-*

Previously on NYFF
Miss Bala wins the "must-see crown" from judge Michael.
Tahrir drops Michael right down in the titular Square.
A Dangerous Method excites Kurt... not in that way, perv!
The Loneliest Planet brushes against Nathaniel's skin.
Melancholia shows Michael the end of von Trier's world. 

* Carnage is unique enough that the grade probably doesn't suggest how "see worthy!" it actually is. It's also the kind of property one might conceivably feel differently about on a second pass. For those of you wondering Carnage's best bet Oscar-wise is an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Since no consensus seems to have formed about "best in show" acting traction will be hard to come by for a shared movie.

Friday
Sep092011

Venice: "Killer Joe", Last Days & Critical "Carnage" Consensus

[Editor's Note: Manolis has been reporting for The Film Experience and the Greek site Cinema News. We thank him for that. You can read all the Venice reports here. - Nathaniel R]

Emile Hirsch worshipping at Venice's red carpet

This is my last report from Venice which I'm writing from Athens. During my last two festival days I caught five films ranging from great surprises to total mediocrities.  

Quando La Notte
This little Italian romantic drama about a troubled young mother and a mountaineer would have benefited immensely by trimming 15 minutes from its running time. The last reel or so of the film is totally unnecessary and unfortunately shows of Cristina Comencini’s weaknesses as both screenwriter and director. The two stars, Filippo Timi and Claudia Pandolfi give very good performances, but they weren't enough to save the film from the Italian critics who just massacred it. Interesting subject matter, mediocre film.

The Exchange
The Israeli film within the Competition section started off nicely. Eran Kolirin's follow up to the much praised The Band's Visit watches an everyman watching his life from the outside; he can't figure how he ended up living the life he lives. He starts to view his life from a different perspective. What begins as a somewhat original premise soon becomes repetitive and by the film's end the story seems to have gone nowhere. But for the most part it's entertaining and Rotem Keinan gives a nice turn in the lead role. 

Faust
This was much anticipated in Venice and many thought that it would turn up to be the eventual winner. I am not so sure. Faust is clearly the work of a master director and I adored Aleksandr Sokurov's previous efforts like Mother and Son, Russian Ark and Elegy but this 140 minute film felt closer to 280. Great imagery and cinematography do not guarantee a great film.  There is too much dialogue in “Faust” about difficult and philosophical matters but not enough time to “digest” all that's being said. The actors were not impressive or to be fair, I was not impressed by the way Sokurov directed them. The movie split the audience with several walkouts and others loving it. Faust is not an easy film and though it is difficult to deny its artistic merits, this is not Sokurov's finest hour.

Killer Joe
The best late surprise of the festival. William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) is back on form with a film that reminded me somewhat of movies from Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Nobody expected this to do as well as it did, but the press reactions were very encouraging. This black comedy based on the play by the acclaimed Tracy Letts (August Osage County, Bug) has several fine performances: Juno Temple is superb, Thomas Hayden Church and Gina Gershon are hilariously pathetic and Matthew McConnaughey gets what may well be his finest screen role.  I would add the phrase “Best Supporting Acting category contenders”, but the film is clearly not the Academy’s regular cup of tea. I can imagine the voters walking out of the screenings at a particularly campy moment (which involves a chicken leg) but I would be very surprised (and delighted) if it does win Oscar traction.

Eva
Another nice surprise. This Spanish sci-fi film from director Kike Maíllo has great production values and a screenplay about a shy man designing robot software which manages to hold the audience’s attention consistently. One of its great successes is that, despite its genre, we never think “imagine what they could do if they had a Hollywood style budget”.

 

 

 

The visual effects may not be many and spectacular, but they are exactly of the quality and quantity that such a film needs. Eva stars the always watchable German/Spanish star Daniel Brühl and the 12 year old Claudia Vega who is a revelation.

Critical Consensus
During the Festival, a special version of Variety magazine is published in Venice (half of it in English and half in Italian). In a special chart critics from major publications (Times, Screen, Le Monde, Indiewire, Herald Tribune, La Republica and others) provide their star ratings. It is interesting to see the critical consensus about the In Competition films; English language films dominate with both Roman Polanski's Carnage and Todd Solondz Dark Horse faring much better than expected. Please note that the films competing in the last 2 days of the Festival are not yet included in this chart and this chart will not necessarily reflect the opinions of Darren Aronofsky's festival jury.

The rankings go like so.

  1. CARNAGE - 3.95/5 average (four 5 star reviews)
  2. SHAME - 3.45/5 average (three 5 star reviews)
  3. IDES OF MARCH - 3.45 (two 5 star reviews)
  4. DARK HORSE -3.23 (three 5 star reviews)
  5. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY -3.14 average
  6. A DANGEROUS METHOD -3.11
  7. A SIMPLE LIFE -3.02
  8. POULET AUX PRUNES (CHICKEN WITH PLUMS) -2.95
  9. WUTHERING HEIGHTS -2.95 
  10. TERRAFERMA -2.83
  11. ALPS -2.69 (two 5 star reviews)
  12. THE EXCHANGE - 2.68 (two 5 star reviews)
  13. 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH -2.65 (one 5 star review)
  14. PEOPLE MOUNTAIN, PEOPLE SEE -2.52 (two 5 star reviews)
  15. HIMIZU -2.34 (two 5 star reviews)
  16. UN ETE BRULANT -1.80
  17. SAIDEKE BALAI -1.68
  18. QUANDO LA NOTTE -1.58

 

I personally support SHAME, ALPS, and CARNAGE.

Closing my series of reports from Venice, I would like to thank Nathaniel for the hospitality as well as the Greek site Cinema News, and you, the Film Experience readers.  I hope you've enjoyed the brief reports. Ciao,

-Manolis

 

Thursday
Sep012011

Venice: A Second Take on "Carnage"

[Editor's Note: Ferdi, pictured left, is one of our two correspondents in Venice this year. Which affords us the rare pleasure of reading two pieces on the same movie back to back. I hope you're feeling appropriately spoiled since we're getting original photography and everything! Here's another opinion on Carnage. -Nathaniel R.]

Carnage (2011)
80 acid minutes of poison, screams, metaphorical scratches, literal vomits and memorable laughs. God, this movie rocks. Maybe it’s the original stage material which is so funny, clever and so well translated to the screen. Maybe it’s the eye of European mega-auteur Roman Polanski, who has rarely taken a misstep in his career. Maybe it’s just me: I love movies where all the focus is on the actors branch. The fact is I can’t stop thinking of Carnage since this early morning press screening.

 

What else can I say? You have to sit and watch and have fun. You're taken by the tension of the story without even taking a breath from start to finish. It’s a pitch-perfect arthouse movie, a little, subversive masterpiece about verbal violence and adult hypocrisies; a complex, powerful, crazy kammerspiel that begins, as many of you already know, as a polished comedy of manners and ends as a cruel psychological massacre. 

Christoph and Kate are "best in show" says Ferdi

The pleasure of seeing these incredible actors going so over the top has no price. John C Reilly is surprisingly right for the part, hilarious and totally convincing. Christoph Waltz is once again genius and effortless as in Inglorious Basterds. Maybe the weak link is Jodie Foster who has some great moments that prove she can be very funny but she is too tight and anxious from the very beginning. (She is a great straight-forward physical actress but the part required something more subtle.) In fact, Foster doesn’t really seem to catch the satirical tone of the pochade; she goes more and more hysterical from one scene to the next instead of being multi-dimensional. This is were Kate Winslet excels. She’s the real standout, absolutely exhilarating without even doing too much.

All that said, I don’t see any Oscar play for anyone (Winslet aside, maybe, as supporting actress, but it would be a category fraud, because they all are leads), neither for the movie, which is possible too cynical, dark, weird and beautiful by Academy standards.
Kate Winslet in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta
Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta