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Entries in dogs (32)

Saturday
Oct182014

Foreign Oscar Watch: White God

With London and Chicago Fests ongoing, a few reports from each to cover more Oscar Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Here's our London friend David on Hungary's Oscar submission.

Let me start off, if you'll forgive me, by citing that oldest and meanest of acting adages: the one about never working with children or animals. That seems to be in the heads of every adult we see on-screen in White God, for every single one of them, without exception, treats an animal or a child badly in one way or another. Fortunately for the audience, the film is on their side. Violently so; be mean to a dog in White God and you'll be lucky if you don't get your bloody throat ripped out.

After a prelude in which Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is pursued through a deserted city by a hoard of dogs in what can only be described as a scene from the dogocalypse, we flashback to see what brought the poor girl to this point. Her mother's off abroad for three months, so Lili is being unloaded on her father, Daniel (Sandor Zsoter), a much older man whom neither woman seems to have a particularly sparkling relationship with. He certainly doesn't have much time for Lili, and even less for her beloved dog, Hagen; after a visit from the authorities demanding he pay the requisite fees for a mixed-breed dog, Dad abandons Hagen on the side of a road.

Cue the swelling orchestral score as the devoted mutt bounds hopelessly after Lili's weeping face, and we're left wondering if this is a Hungarian remake of Homeward Bound. Before long, an adorably bedraggled canine sidekick latches onto Hagen, and their escapades eluding the dog catchers could have come straight from the annals of Disney animation. The Hungarian streets of White Godare a shade harsher, and just as Daniel's financial restraints have depleted his compassion, so Hagen finds himself in even more degraded climbs, sold to a man looking for a return to the dog fighting ring; 'this one's still got a heart' the man says, before proceeding to grind that puppyish love out of Hagen - now, obviously, named Max - in a brutal training montage that recalls the brilliant confrontational realism of Amores perros.

As Hagen progresses towards realising the eventual canine collective, Lili is making her own journey, a more generic coming of age story where her own engagement with society's dangerous trappings is tested. Tellingly, the film heavily features her role in a school orchestra, and the resulting orchestral score provides the film with some fittingly grandiose accompaniment for the astonishing dog choreography in the film's bravura final act. It's in these last stretches that White God really makes its mark, a genuinely tense, delectably absurd climax that leaves the Hungarian streets cowering. Narrative notes collide with daring exuberance, but writer-director Kornél Mundruczó is careful to include sobering notes of the reality lingering behind the theatrics.

White God screened as part of the 58th BFI London Film Festival.


21 of 83 Oscar Foreign Submissions Reviewed: AfghanistanArgentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, HungaryIceland, Israel, ItalyLatvia, Mauritania, Norway, PolandPortugalSweden, Switzerland and Venezuela and The Foreign Oscar Charts

Friday
Oct172014

What I have linked, I have linked.

Popwatch Julianne Moore tribute coming in January at the Museum of the Moving Image - let the coronation mark begin
In Contention Pedro Pascal for Ben-Hur and portrayals of Pontius Pilate on the screen
Salon what Gone Girl and Amazon's Transparent have in common
Interview talks to David Cronenberg
iTunes You can buy Norte: The End of History, The four hour acclaimed Philippines Oscar submission on iTunes now if you'd like.
Vulture talks to Kim Dickens from Gone Girl on claims that the movie is misogynist 

 

Awards Daily new trailer for Unbroken. I feel like there've been a lot of these
i09 compares Battlestar Galactica to Outlander given that they're from the same series creator Ron Moore
Criterion is releasing the classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant on blu-ray. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies are not available enough so this is great news
The Hollywood Reporter Clowns of America International (that's a real thing) is pissed about AHS: Freakshow's Twisty the Clown. In related news how come y'all didn't comment on the last AHS post. You led me to believe you were watching it!
Screen Daily Jane Campion developing a second season of Top of the Lake
Latino Review Actress Elizabeth Peña (Jacobs Ladder, La Bamba, Modern Family) has passed away at 55 
Towleroad Ezra Miller feels like surprise casting to me as The Flash in DC/WB''s superhero universe (unrelated: I'm enjoying the CW TV show of the same name thus far. It isn't great but it's light & fun, unlike Arrow which bored me silly)
Towleroad gays on television from ABC's hypersexual connivers & neutered comics to the wider queerness of premium and cable channels
Playbill that stage musical version of American Psycho is still happening and is now looking at fall 2015 on Broadway 

Awwww...
Times one thousand.

It's a teaser for the new Disney short Feast. This short apparently tells the life story of a Boston Terrier solely through his meals. It'll play before Big Hero 6 and we may be looking at a serious Best Animated Short Oscar contender. 

The Divas...
It's way too early to be thinking about Christmas but if you're an early shopper please know that Glen Hanson, an illustrator I just love, has designed a Liza Minnelli holiday ornament. Thanks to Boy Culture for the heads up. The proceeds go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.  If you want one you purchase here.

In other Broadway news, a special tribute to Elaine Stritch is coming on November 17th with performances by (are you sitting down) Patti Lupone, Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Michael Feinstein, and my personal favorite of the theatrical divas of a certain age, Bernadette Peters

So who is singing what? They're keeping that a secret naturally.  

Monday
Sep152014

Box Office Report - No Good Dolphin Tale

Margaret here, back to report on another quiet weekend at the box office. Powered by the considerable force of charisma that Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson supply, home-invasion thriller No Good Deed topped the box office with close to 25 million. In second place is the family film Dolphin Tale 2, which took in decent dollars despite an aggressively bland marketing campaign and the fact that the first one was barely a hit. Guardians of the Galaxy dropped only 22% to third place, and is now the first movie since Frozen to pass $300 million domestically. The Year of Chris Pratt continues.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

01 NO GOOD DEED $24.5 *new*
02 DOLPHIN TALE 2 $16.6 *new*
03 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $8.0 (cum. $305.9)  Review
04 ...NINJA TURTLES $4.8 (cum. $181.0) remember the animated one?
05 LET'S BE COPS $4.3 (cum. $72.9)
06 THE DROP $4.2 *new*

The stealth success story here is Let's Be Cops, which, despite abysmal reviews and release in one of the worst cultural climates for an irresponsible-cop-comedy, is limping towards $75 million and a significant profit margin thanks to weak competition and a shoestring budget.

On the limited side, Dennis Lehane-penned crime drama The Drop outstripped its projected haul with $4.2 million from less than 1,000 screens. Such is the magnetic pull of a scruffy Tom Hardy snuggling a pit bull puppy, to say nothing of the chance to see James Gandolfini's final performance. 

Other notable limited releases include the Bill Hader/Kristen Wiig tragicomedy The Skeleton Twins, which brought in an impressive per-screen average and is well on its way to crossing the important indie-film benchmark of $1 million, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, which is getting an unenthusiastic critical response and middling ticket sales. Perhaps audiences are holding out for the Him and Her twofer instead.

Now that we've hit mid-September there are finally some festival hits and critical darlings trickling out into theaters (which admittedly mostly serves those of us in the country's three or four largest cities). I saw The Drop, in which Tom Hardy was absolutely wonderful and Dennis Lehane was entirely Dennis Lehane. What did you see in theaters this weekend?  Are any of you at festivals getting sneak peeks at TFE's most anticipated? Who wants to talk about Tom Hardy's mesmerizing Brooklyn accent or that baby pit bull?

Sunday
Sep142014

TIFF: Miss Julie or, Acting: The Movie! 

The 2014 edition of TIFF ends tonight and so will Nathaniel's review coverage with Still Alice. Wrap-ups and Oscar updates coming shortly thereafter. Now Liv Ullman's Miss Julie... 

"Kiss my shoe!" Colin Farrell reenacts critical reaction to Chastain's debut film year

This review contains 126 year-old spoilers if you’re not familiar with August Strindbergh’s one act play, which has been adapted to film frequently. The play is about the bored, lonely, and loveless daughter of a Baron, Miss Julie (Jessica Chastain) who enjoys toying with the servants, especially with John her father's valet (Colin Farrell). She flirts shamelessly even in front of his fiancé the cook (Samantha Morton) ordering him to perform sometimes demeaning and not very valet-like duties, like kissing her shoe or bringing her flowers. The story takes place in a single night in which the valet and the lady of the house will consummate their extremely uncomfortable and scandalous attraction with incredibly disastrous results... especially for Miss Julie. If 19th century Swedish country estates had been unionized John surely would have told her what wasn't in his job description. 'Not that. Not that. Definitely not that. You're playing with fire, Miss Julie!'

We understand Miss Julie's maddening hypocrisies straightaway as, when the story begins, she's already ordered the cook to feed her dog "Diana" an abortive dinner since the naughty girl has had sex with the gate keeper's mongrel dog. Foreshadowing 101 anyone? Diana is played by an adorable pug so we'll ignore, for Jess's dignity, that the play indicates that the dog ought to resemble Miss Julie! The pug laps down the meal hungrily and then proceeds to whimper through the entire first scene. This too proves foreshadowing, as yours truly began to do the same. If only Samantha Morton could have scooped me up, as she mercifully does with the confused pup, to carry me out of the screening room! 

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Friday
Aug292014

Political Filmmakers & Cute Dogs: A Conversation with Nick Davis

Amir here, to share with you a podcast conversation about my favorite film of 2014. I first watched Jafar Panahi’s Closed Curtain at the Toronto Film Festival almost a full year ago. It was my last film of the festival and I debated long and hard if a late night slot after ten gruelling days of film-watching was a smart idea. Eventually I opted to give my all to the festival. Boy, am I glad I did.

Panahi has been slapped with a 6-year house arrest and a 20-year filmmaking ban in Iran on charges of political dissent but has since twice broken the ban in three years. His first attempt, This Is Not a Film, was a heated, frustrated attempt at circumventing the ban with a DIY documentary made in the confines of his living room, shot partly on an iPhone and reportedly snuck out of Iran on a USB stick in a cake! It made my top ten list in 2011 but Closed Curtain is one giant leap for Panahi toward imposing even more creative authority on his craft under the tightest of limitations.

In this meta-cinematic experiment, Panahi tells us the story of an author who hides himself and his incredibly adorable dog in a seaside villa in northern Iran to overcome a bad case of writer’s block. The world of the film becomes increasingly mysterious and the narrative structure shattered. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways, making the film a challenging experience and a very funny one, too.

I can’t sing its praises enough, which is why I decided to devote an entire episode of my podcast on Iranian films – Hello Cinema, co-hosted with Tina Hassannia – to this gem. We also had a special guest with whom The Film Experience readers are quite familiar. Nick Davis joined us to talk about the film, but given his familiarity with Panahi’s career and Iranian cinema, our conversation went in many unexpected, interesting directions. We talk about the Toronto International Film Festival, the world’s cutest pet, and everything else in between. As you're all aware, Nick is an impossibly charming speaker, so we left this conversation unedited, with all the fun bits included! Have a listen here, and if you’re interested in Iranian cinema, subscribe on iTunes. The September episode of the show will be about Iranian films playing at this year's edition of TIFF.

Thursday
Aug212014

Tim's Toons: All Dogs Go to Heaven, the strangest animated film of 1989

Tim here. We’re talking 1989 this month at the Film Experience, and as any dabbler in the history of animation knows, 1989 is most important for being the year that Walt Disney Feature Animation get back on track after some two decades in the wilderness with the smashing success of the fairy tale musical The Little Mermaid.

That’s not what we’re here to talk about. The Little Mermaid doesn’t need me: it’s a stone-cold all-time classic that everybody reading this has an opinion on already. Instead, I would like to take you to the other animated feature that opened on November 17, 1989, and which crumpled in the face of Mermaid’s juggernaut performance at the box office. That day, y’see, also bore witness to All Dogs Go to Heaven, a film which shriveled up and died in the face of Disney's singing crabs and diva octopodes.

This was the fourth feature made by Don Bluth, who had once been the heir-apparent to the Disney studios until he fled that company during the joyless production of The Fox and the Hound in 1979. Throughout the ‘80s, he and his succession of companies had represented an old-fashioned, back-to-basics alternative to the confused, often unpleasant films Disney was miserably trying to hawk, and his two biggest successes – 1986’s An American Tail and 1988’s The Land Before Time – found him effectively beating his old employers at their own game.

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Monday
Jul212014

Linkpiercer

Guardian Tim Robey has a lovely tribute to TV & film star James Garner (RIP) who I'll always remember best for Murphy's Romance and Victor/Victoria in the 1980s
Pajiba I'm more of a cat person but this gallery of big celebrities with tiny dogs is adorable
Criterion Collection on the painstaking restoration of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Thompson on Hollywood has an in depth look at the VOD decisions involving Snowpiercer from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein (so yes it's very one-sided... but interesting nonetheless)

The Dissolve 'when images match ideas' on Snowpiercer and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
Pajiba has the talk with Marvel about the Edgar Wright Divorce  
Towleroad Andrew Rannells starts soon as Hedwig. (I'm excited. The role is big enough for multiple interpretations)
Theater Mania Michelle Williams wants to keep singing at the Kit Kat Club longer than expected. She's staying with Cabaret all the way through November 9th now (I guess she doesn't have to start promoting Suite Française for awhile still)
Details interviews Wentworth Miller, former Prison Break hunk and Stoker writer, on his career after coming out

And, finally, are you excited for Festival Season yet?

I'm trying to remain calm as I make plans but NYFF isn't making staying calm any easier what with their Opening Night Film (Gone Girl's world premiere) Centerpiece (Inherent Vice) and Closing Night (Birdman which is scheduled for Venice as well). Tomorrow TIFF holds their opening news conference and we'll hear more about their plans as well. Here's some speculation from a Toronto news site which suggests that Reese Witherspoon is going to be a major presence and you can probably safely assume that Maps to the Stars will also be there given TIFF's love of Cronenberg.