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Entries in Clint Eastwood (23)

Monday
Dec082014

Best American Films & Television This Year? 

Does production money really equal nationality? The American Film Institute does many wonderful things in the world including the highly enjoyable AFI film festival in Los Angeles each year (free for movie-lovers! and not many things are) but each year I feel the side-eye urge when they announce their top Ten American films and TV programs.

They use a shifting jury each year but I always wonder how they choose those jury members because the lists often betray an obvious desire to be "relevant" when it comes to TV usually including a defining popular hit even if the quality is shit (Look, I think "trash" has a place in "best of" lists but it needs to be good trash and How to Get Away with Murder is, frankly, bad trash. Poorly written, unevenly acted. Etcetera. I watched it and wrote about it, so I know) whereas with movies they seem quite beholden to Oscar buzz each year, often opting for films that don't fit their criteria as a result (The Imitation Game is a movie about Engand, starring British actors and directed by a Norwegian) or which haven't opened; this year's top ten list, which includes 11 films so AFI is even worse at math than I am, is 36% movies that haven't opened yet. 

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE MOVIES OF THE YEAR

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman (Or, the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Nightcrawler
  • Selma
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash 

Aside from Nightcrawler you could have lifted that list from virtually any 15 wide Oscar Best Picture prediction chart (like uh my own) and simply extracted the other British film (Theory of Everything), the film that opened the longest ago because "old" things are gross (Grand Budapest Hotel), Gone Girl (even though the AFI usually does try and throw one zeitgeist blockbuster into the list so its absence is surprising and at the very wrong time when we're trying to get people to notice Carrie Coon! ) and there it is, no thought processes required beyond Oscar-watching expertise!

Here is my favorite tweet about the list from A24 Films which missed...

 

 

And my own because, you know, i WOULD waste the question this way...

 

 

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

  • The Americans
  • Fargo
  • Game of Thrones
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • Jane the Virgin -keep hearing this is great. guess I should watch
  • The Knick
  • Mad Men - here's to consistent pleasure even if the half season is a cheat
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent - brilliant. addictive

this is what i'll be remembered for ??? *shudder*

WHERE IS BOB'S BURGERS!?!?!? My heart just pooped its pants. 

 

Tuesday
Dec022014

National Board of Review's Most Violent Awards

Glenn here with the NBR results as they come to hand. They used to be the first awards of the season to announce their winners, but now the National Board of Review are trumped annually by the Gotham Awards and the NYFCC in the merry-go-round that is award season. I maintain that unless you're a guild, your absence is more or less moot. However, it can definitely help get your name and face out there to be acknowledged early and often. The NBR is where the likes of Moulin Rouge! and Amy Ryan made it known that they would be forces to be reckoned with. What did this 105-year-old group select this year? Let's find out...

NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW WINNERS

  • Best Film: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
  • Best Director: Clint Eastwood, AMERICAN SNIPER
  • Best Actor: (tie!) Oscar Isaac, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR and Michael Keaton, BIRDMAN
  • Best Actress: Julianne Moore, STILL ALICE
  • Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, BIRDMAN
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
  • Best Original Screenplay: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, THE LEGO MOVIE
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, INHERENT VICE
  • Best Animated Feature: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
  • Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Appears to not exist this year?
  • Breakthrough Performance: Jack O'Connell, STARRED UP and UNBROKEN
  • Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre, OBVIOUS CHILD
  • Best Foreign Language Film: WILD TALES (Argentina)
  • Best Documentary: LIFE ITSELF
  • William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman
  • Best Ensemble: FURY
  • Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing, producing and starring in TOP FIVE
  • NBR Freedom of Expression Award: SELMA and ROSEWATER

What exactly does Clint Eastwood have on these people that they give him an award for almost every single movie he makes? Best director for American Sniper and a placement on their top ten (below) seems... extravagant.

 

 

Anyway, it was a big day for A Most Violent Year winning three big prizes including best film. Will this film fall alongside the likes of Quills as a NBR best picture winner without a corresponding Oscar nomination in the same category? That super, ultra, very-very late release date still makes me worried. Whatever the case may be, the NBR loved it and good on A24. Ever the wealth-spreader, the mysterious organization liked The Lego Movie enough to give it a rather shocking (although not entirely undeserved) screenplay win and top ten placement, yet Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 took out the animated film prize. They consolidated their breakthrough prizes into one award for handsome Jack O'Connell. Fair enough, I suppose. Meanwhile, after Jennifer Kent's win at the NYFFF and now Gillian Robespierre's win at the NBR, women directors are staking a claim to breakthrough director awards in 2014!

TOP FILMS
(alphabetical)

  • AMERICAN SNIPER
  • BIRDMAN
  • BOYHOOD
  • FURY
  • GONE GIRL
  • THE IMITATION GAME
  • INHERENT VICE
  • THE LEGO MOVIE
  • NIGHTCRAWLER
  • UNBROKEN

Remember, this is basically places 2-11 hence A Most Violent Year's omission. I don't claim to know how that works, but let's just roll with it. Very happy to see Nightcrawler here as now that the flurry of indie nominations have surpassed, citations for the Jake Gyllenhaal movie may be hard to come by. The rest of the list is pretty standard, although the people behind The Theory of Everything, Big Eyes, Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, Grand Budapest Hotel, Wild and Whiplash will all be a bit miffed that they didn't receive a single token nomination anywhere amidst the NBR's field. Selma, too, being stuck with that kiddie-table "Freedom of Expression" award feels like a disappointment for that team, too.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden)
  • GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIAN AMSALAM (Israel)
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia)
  • TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (Belgium)
  • WE ARE THE BEST! (Sweden)

I think the recognition of Lukas Moodysson's ace teen movie We Are the Best! is my favourite of the NBR's choices. Way to go, NBR! Y'all should go watch it immediately. Three of these films (plus Wild Tales, their actual foreign film winner - again, confusingly) are eligible for Oscar, with the Dardennes' Two Days, One Night now appearing on multiple award lists after the NYFCC yesterday.

Top 5 Documentaries
(In Alphabetical Order)

  • ART AND CRAFT
  • JODOROWSKY'S DUNE
  • KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON
  • THE KILL TEAM
  • LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM

All six documentaries cited - Life Itself won the big prize as noted up top - are on Oscar's 15-wide doc shortlist. That's some good dart-throwing, NBR!

Top 10 Independent Films
(In Alphabetical Order) 

  • BLUE RUIN
  • LOCKE
  • A MOST WANTED MAN
  • MR. TURNER
  • OBVIOUS CHILD
  • THE SKELETON TWINS
  • SNOWPIERCER
  • STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS
  • STARRED UP
  • STILL ALICE

Ignoring the pure idiocy of a list like this that makes no sense (are independent films not eligible elsewhere?), this is a good batch of flicks. Blue Ruin! I was ecstatic to see Stand Clear of the Closing Doors get an acting nomination at the Indie Spirits the other day, and now this little mention. That film is so good and I suggest y'all check it out if you can. It's small, but beautiful. Beautiful can't be used to describe Starred Up starring Ben Mendelsohn and breakthrough winner Jack O'Connell, but I'm glad it showed up, too. Likewise The Skeleton Twins and Obvious Child, two of the best comedies this year that I'm sure the Globes will ignore almost entirely.

What do you make of this year's NBR awards? I'm sure we'll have more to say about them later when Nathaniel returns from hobnobbing with Angelina Jolie and I am salivating at the thought of another hilarious podcast as they discuss Clint Eastwood's magnetic hold over the NBR, but for now did they get it right? Embarassingly wrong? Let us know!

Saturday
Oct112014

YNMS: Tomorrowland, American Sniper, Black Sea

Tonight is the "Closing Night" of the New York Film Festival (Birdman and I'm happy to report that it's wondrous) though there are screenings tomorrow making the title only honorary, really. We'll wrap up soon with Inherent Vice and Birdman thoughts and things we learned at the fest. All the screenings and the first wave of Oscar seeking interviews (coming at'cha soon) have left us seriously behind on the matter of movie trailers / teasers so here are three which you may well have seen already but let's discuss in abbreviated Yes No Maybe So fashion.

TOMORROWLAND
Yes - This does what teasers, hell trailers themselves, should do: intrigues but doesn't give the game away. If only full trailers would follow suit. Come on studios: Help moviegoers rediscover a little something called curiousity. 
No - It's not really fair since he's had a couple of low key years but I'm feeling Clooney fatigue for some reason. Was it the wedding?
Maybe So -According to the vague summaries the story, about a futuristic utopia created by technology, is actually led by Britt Robertson (seen here discovering it via a magic pin) with Clooney in co-lead position as a former whiz kid she enlists to help her get back to this magical place and something something. Like I said: Vague. That's the best kind of pre-release info.

 

AMERICAN SNIPER
Yes - Trailers that are essentially one scene clips with flourishes round the edges to convey a movie are big "yes" moments. This scene, a sniper trying to decide whether to kill a woman or child is properly lose-lose upsetting. 
No - that tagline "the most lethal sniper in US history" paired with "12.25.14" is gross. Thanks for the coal in the stocking, Warner Bros! Merry Christmas to you, too.
Maybe So - It's a Clint Eastwood film. As you know his aesthetic is way too dreary for me to fully enjoy (even the recent musical was dreary!) but this kind of film can get away with dreary and probably should. Don't know about the banal easy juxtaposition of "American family life!" shoved aggressively into this Middle Eastern war zone via all those inserts but I like how mundane Bradley Cooper's voice sounds in this context.

BLACK SEA
Yes - Two obvious things. 1) Submarines and ocean settings in general often make for fine thrillers given the claustrophia or 'all alone in the world' madness. And 2) Jude Law, for all of the unevenness of his career, is always watchable. Isn't it great that "he's a liability" is voiced over our glimpse of Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, The Place Beyond the Pines)? He's anything but a liability in movies but of course he is just that in context since he's so good at playing shifty/dangerous characters. Scoot McNairy is also in it.
No - A cuisinart presentation of the whole movie, albeit without grotesque spoilers just general spoilers that the men turn against each other. But we kinda figured that with the pitch in the first minute. Still, where is the hook to care about this? Or is it assumed we will through that blaring music and fast-cutting.
Maybe So -  Kevin Macdonald. Is the jury still out on him (The Last King of Scotland, The Eagle, State of Play, How I Live Now) or does everyone just expect a range from *shrug* to 'quite watchable' but never great?

Wednesday
Jun252014

Let's Stop Pretending We Don't Have The Talent Base For Great Movie Musicals

Over at IndieWire Max O'Connell writes an impassioned essay about the terrible direction that keeps sinking movie musicals. While I do not agree that Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys is the best-directed musical of the past 10 years (yikes!) the case is stronger than I was expecting that that is at least debatable.

Why does Hollywood have such a hard time making musicals?

Many of the essay's points are memorize / share worthy. I merely wish that Max didn't succumb to the tired notion that there simply aren't enough charismatic stars with musical theater chops for the genre to really be alive again. This notion is brought up nearly every time people talk about the state of the film musical (or when they're casting and have to defend strange choices) but it's just patently false. 

Here's that bit of the otherwise stellar article:

Maybe there aren't enough modern equivalents to Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers or Judy Garland has made it difficult to churn out great musicals on a regular basis.

That last bit might have a lot to do with it: Few movie stars have the song-and-dance skills required to knock a musical out of the park, and not all musical theater performers have the charisma required for the camera. That leaves a lot of directors to choose between Russell Crowe and Pierce Brosnan warbling their way through well-known songs or John Lloyd Young, the original star of "Jersey Boys," who reprised his role in Eastwood's film, showing up and singing beautifully -- but lacking the fire to keep Frankie Valli interesting when he's not singing. There is a third option of pulling a Marni Nixon and dubbing Michael Cerveris singing over Johnny Depp or Patti LuPone over Helena Bonham Carter, but then you've got a star's ego to deal with.

(Sigh)

Repeat after me: There is ALWAYS a better choice than Crowe vs. Brosnan vs. Someone People Have Never Heard Of Who Isn't Great on Camera. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jun222014

Box Office: The Jersey Boys Fail to Entertain Audiences

Amir here with the weekend’s box office report. Every other article today is using the ‘boys versus men’ pun but not us. We will just stick to reporting. The Jersey Boys fell far behind Think Like a Man Too at the box office, barely edging out Maleficent for the fourth spot. Nathaniel described the Clint Eastwood musical as a film “low on entertainment value and low on colour” and audiences seem to agree with him. Since Eastwood kissed Western goodbye with Unforgiven, he’s tackled a lot of genres and themes to varying degrees of success, but a Jersey Boys musical surely felt like an adventure too far before it was even made.  

"Man" opened big. The "Boys" did not.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
01 THINK LIKE A MAN TOO $30 NEW 
02 22 JUMP STREET $29 (cum. $111.4)
03 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 $25.3 (cum. 95.1)
04 JERSEY BOYS $13.5 NEW Review
05 MALEFICENT $13 (cum. $185.9) Podcast

Edge is surprisingly good. But due to its huge budget it's a bomb.06 EDGE OF TOMORROW $10.3 (cum. $74.5) Capsule
07 FAULT IN OUR... $8.6 (cum. $98.7) Review
08 X-MEN: DOFP $6.2 (cum. $216.7) Review
09 CHEF $1.8 (cum. $16.9) 
10 GODZILLA $1.8 (cum. $194.9) Review & Podcast
11 A MILLION WAYS... $1.6 (cum. $40.3) Guest Review
12 NEIGHBORS $1.3 (cum. $145.7)  Review & Podcast

Below Think Like a Man Too, Kevin Hart’s second great success this year after Ride Along, 22 Jump Street beat How To Train Your Dragon 2, something I emphatically predicted would not happen. Still, I maintain that in the long run, Dragon is going to come out on top. On the limited end of things, the biggest name opening is Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur, a kinky, mildly entertaining trifle that is one of the director’s more forgettable efforts – I reviewed it here.

I continue to be nailed down to my sofa and completely enchanted by the World Cup, a far more interesting option than the new Eastwood (especially since I have little affection for his post-Unforgiven career). But I'll get around to Dragon, Jump Street and Obvious Child during the week. What did you watch this weekend?

Saturday
Jun212014

Review: "Jersey Boys"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

 

‘I’m looking for sky blue and you’re giving me brown,' a fey producer sighs when the Four Seasons are in the recording booth. They’re just going through the motions rather than livening up their material. He could just have easily been dissing Jersey Boys itself, Clint Eastwood’s needlessly dull adaptation of the Broadway smash. In truth the band’s performance in this scene isn’t appreciably worse than their performances elsewhere in the movie. If you can’t readily spot differences in inspiration and creative fire from one performance to the next, maybe there’s none to be found?

“Brown” isn’t quite the color of it, though. Clint Eastwood’s aesthetic favors underlit rooms, heavy blacks and washed out color. You’d think that aesthetic would change for a splashy musical but you’d be wrong. I mean, why shouldn’t a musical about a famous band with a gift for hooky pop gems look as depressing / dead-end as a drama about desperate boxers or a war film about an island massacre?

Click to read more ...