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Entries in film critics (101)

Tuesday
May202014

Fantastic Links and When To Blog Them 

The Dissolve Alfonso Cuarón might direct the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The internet seems largely happy about this which puzzles me. I understand everyone likes money but isn't this a huge step backwards after Children of Men/Gravity gave us his full auteurist muscle unbeholden to someone else's franchise? I most definitely think so
Pajiba wonders what was up with that airplane curtain closing wordless scene on Mad Men this weekend? 
The Film Doctor asks 9 questions about Godzilla before realizing he's too old for that shit. (I loved Godzilla so much myself that I've been surprised at the level of thumbs down in comments and online)  
/bent wonders why The Kids Are All Right's director Lisa Cholodenko hasn't yet made a follow up to that financially successful and Oscar nominated feature 

Towleroad one of the Vikings in How To Train Your Dragon 2 comes out as gay kinda. (But ParaNorman will always be first in this regard.)
Antagony & Ecstasy on the intuitive, fluid sensory experience of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and its companion novel
Slate Cliff Curtis, ethnic chameleon onscreen 
Gawker "selfie" is entering the dictionary. But why did it take "steampunk" this long?
MNPP JA zeroes in on one sweaty hairy detail of the Weinstein Co's Cannes preview: Southpaw's Jake Gyllenhaal 
The Wire wonders why the internet is so obsessed with Shrek --  I hadn't realized it was (just goes to show you how the interenet is not at all monolithic in terms of its obsessions  -- but this is an interesting article
The New Yorker if you're still grappling with your feelings about Godzilla here's a smart mixed take from Richard Brody which wrestles with the movies grandeur but lack of complexity and its largely passive human characters

Its scale may feel Biblical, but it doesn’t risk the crises and ecstasies, the sheer moral turbulence provoked by existential menace (cf. “Noah”). The monsters in the movie do monstrous battle, while people—the warriors ostensibly arrayed on the front lines against them—are reduced in the foreground to silhouetted spectators. They are the equivalent of the cutout characters of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” but without the comfort of a screen to separate them from the mayhem...

He Said / She Said
RogerEbert.com, which I always feel weird about linking to, since the link name always implies that Roger Ebert has written something new but he has of course departed from our mortal coil. Nevertheless, I started to enjoy these opposing pieces from  Michael Oleszczyk and Barbara Scharres on David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars until I remembered after the first couple of paragraphs each that I really really really want to go into this one fresh so I can't read anything. BUT if you're not as "sensitive" as I am about reading reviews before you've seen a movie, that's one rave and one pan from the same site so we are now free to call the movie "divisive" as often as we'd like. It's our favorite kind of critical response - homogeneity being so dreadfully dull. Oleszczyk and Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair both rave about Julianne Moore's performance and that's enough to excite me for now without really reading anything!

Speaking of Julianne Moore...

Here she is with Harrison Ford at a party at Cannes. Remember when nobody knew who she was but her walk in The Fugitive (1993) was so grabby anyway? #whowasthat 

You can see more photos from this particular party at Vanity Fair.

 

Thursday
May152014

Cannes Diary Day 1: Trains, Badges, and Nicole Kidman 

Diana Drumm is reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

After delays, a cancelled train and discovering the local bus line just went on strike, I hurried from the Cannes train station in an ill-chosen bulky trench coat, swooping up my overfilled laptop bag. Following my newly made acquaintance-guide who I'd bonded with over the inefficiency of French trains (as you do), we scurried through the maze of narrow boutique and cafe-lined streets. The city is brimming with people: the tanned and about to be sunburned, the stiletto-heeled and Doc Marten-ed, the maddening tourists and the maddened locals. After approximately two turns and nearly body-checking at least three walkers of a more leisurely pace, she stopped and I looked up. There was Guido Contini (Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini’s 8 ½) peering over his sunglasses seductively, with a look that falls somewhere between cheekiness and contempt (let’s just call it “rawr”), plastered on the Palais des Festivals. 

Regaining my breath, heart still pacing, I got into the queue. Four of them actually (bag-check, press badge, press queue, another bag-check) all the while terrified as the clock struck closer and closer to the festival’s first press screening. Praying and stroking my good luck charm (a piece of Errol Flynn’s suit) I made my way up three flights of stairs to a seat in the center of the balcony. The lights dimmed, the curtains separated, and the festival’s Opening Night film, the already much-maligned Grace of Monaco, began to roll. (Full review forthcoming)

Though no one booed, there were enough ill-placed guffaws, lit-up mobile phones and hushed chatter mid-screening to indicate that this crowd was less than enamored with Olivier Dahan’s latest about model turned actress turned princess Grace Kelly. As the credits rolled (sappy music over images of red and white roses), I attempted a mad dash to the stairs in order to get to the Grace of Monaco press conference and catch Her Highness Nicole. Unfortunately, almost everyone else had the exact same idea and the handsome security men proved unbribable.


I was one of those left in the celebrity-less cold. Although tempted to leap over the blockade, I'll save that one strike surely ban-worthy offense for Michael Fassbender. But there she was… An ethereal vision in white, with slightly curled longer-than-shoulder-length blonde hair and oh-so-fair skin (lips as plump as cherries), Nicole Kidman walked briskly by the throng of still-waiting and exiled press, surrounded by a posse and giving off her characteristic aura of A-list-seclusion grace. In the midst of my awe, I attempted to snap a few photos of La Kidman, but all three turned out too blurry for your visual consumption.   

Eating my feelings of slight disappointment, I scarfed down a “Croisette” sandwich (smoked salmon, cucumber, radishes, cream cheese and lettuce on ciabatta bread) and the best tasting in-plastic chocolate mousse ever at a film festival food counter. With time to kill before the next screening (not enough for writing, plenty for wandering), I got my bearings around the International Village and the film market -- look out for Jail Caesar starring Derek Jacobi, not coming to a theater near you. Then I queued up yet again for Timbuktu, which, unlike Grace of Monaco, got laughs in the appropriate places and warm, appreciative applause.

Onto Day Two!

Cannes Diary: Day 2 Grace of Monaco | Day 3 Mr Turner & Timbuktu  | Day 4Amour Fou & The Blue Room | Day 5? The Homesman Press Conference and The Homesman Review | Day 7 Mommy, Maps to the Stars &  Two Days One Night

Diana Drumm, who recently completed a stint as one of 8 young critics to take part in the 2nd annual NYFF Critics Academy became a member of our team this February. You can follow her on Twitter or visit her home page. See her previous posts for The Film Experience here.

 

Wednesday
Apr302014

Link Wars: Episode VII

For those looking for the new Oscar charts, I promise it's the top priority now once all this surprisingly busy April madness wraps tonight.

More Intelligent Life on badass Angelina Jolie and Maleficent
Press Play how modern actors struggle with Marlon Brando's legacy
The Perceptive Eye on military suicides, PTSD and The Hurt Locker 
Pajiba how many romcom tropes can David Wain shove into one movie? The trailer of They Came Together with Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd

Guardian on Bob Hoskins (RIP). "five foot six cubic and bursting with brilliance"
Variety uh oh. Harvey Weinstein and Olivier Dahan STILL fighting over Grace of Monaco two weeks before its Cannes debut
The Dissolve looks back at the 80s comedy classic A Fish Called Wanda
The Sheila Variations returns to Young Adult and Charlize Theron's brilliance therein
Boy Culture Tom Hardy's recent magazine pictorial (which we discussed) regif'ed
MZS. "Advice to Young Film Critics" good advice, too.
Coming Soon Fox has cancelled Almost Human, the cyborg cop show that I kinda liked. I never really wrote about it so I didn't have a chance to talk about Karl Urban's John Wayne voice. Ah well...
Queerty in literal cock-tease news, Zac Efron claims he's willing to show it all on film after all the wet underwear, and horizontal peeing and so on... I guess he's figured out what people like about him. (Save your money, Zac!)
Pajiba 'did someone call for a Tom Hiddleston puff piece?'
Rambling Film 7 things that should happen on True Blood's final season (the 7th). I stopped watching but I concurred with most of these even two years ago. Since Buffy also ended as season 7 is this now the standard for vampiric shows? Does this mean we can be rid of The Vampire Diaries in 2015?

Mean Girls Mania
'we're not just a regular blog, we're a cool blog'...

But we're not the only ones celebrating Mean Girls for it's 10th anniversary today. It's EVERYWHERE. On Amanda Seyfried's twitter feed (do you think Lindsay will mention it today on hers?), in a brief EW group oral history, Vanity Fair's best fashion moments, Boy Culture's reminiscence of interviewing cast members, and probably on any pop culture website you click on today. Important note... This wasn't planned since Netflix's Instant Watch service is all contractual based in terms of timing but the Tina Fey high school classic actually expires today. So it's 10th anniversary is the last day you can watch it on Netflix if you don't own it while listening to our Movie-Long Podcast Commentary while you're streaming it!

You go Glen Coco! 

Casting News
HitFix and every other site on earth has the news: the Star Wars Episode VII sausage party cast has been announced. John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow and since all visual fx spectacles are required to have him (well, he is awesome) Andy Serkis. Those newbies will join the old cast who are reprising their roles in capacities large or small. There is one new girl Daisy Ridley who we are unfamiliar with. Did she get the part Lupita Nyong'o was rumored for? The Guardian did some mild digging into this actress unknown and here's everything they found.

Today's Spotlight Illustration
Glen Hanson, one of my favorite illustrators, posted this on his Instagram. No idea what film he's doing costume sketches for but me likey...

 

Thursday
Feb062014

The Amazing Technicolor Link Blog

Village Voice is Frozen the first Disney movie about girls rather than for them?
The New Yorker asks Richard Brody, film critic, to explain himself. Cute video but omg his desk is cramped
Jezebel somehow I missed this interview where Bryan Singer blamed women for the failure of Superman Returns (2006)... Jezebel, predictably, has words for him.  
The Dissolve has a piece about the toxicity of twitter and its effects on intrafeminist battles. Really interesting and ties into what's been going on with the Dylan Farrow letter I think 
VF George Clooney's advice for posing on the cover of Vanity Fair 
Coming Soon interesting. Dakota Fanning to headline the next film from Miss Bala director Gerardo Naranjo. She'll play a roadie on the way towards self discovery

NY Times Phedon Papamichael, nominated for his cinematography on Nebraska shares his favorite things of the moment from Instagram to the Polish film Ida
Pajiba on the beautiful casting of a new Netflix show: Linda & Kyle & Sissy oh my
Coming Soon got 10 free hours? Amazon Instant Watch debuts 10 new series pilots we've never heard of today but one of them called Mozart in the Jungle has a great team and cast
i09 a movie version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat produced by Elton John, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? Sure why not. But they better get a costume designer that's on point

Cinema Blend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually on track towards filming again. Ha. The saga of this movie is probably more exciting than the movie could ever hope to be. Lily Collins will star.
Coming Soon the original Fantastic Four movies were just terrible and I have literally no optimism for the reboot either despite admiring director Josh Trank's Chronicle and virtually all of the actors individually just not the in roles he's considering them for. His casting is too young, too arbitrary, too non-WASPy. I know it's foolish to lament the lack of role opportunities for hot blondes in Hollywood - Hahaha - but if any superhero role ever was meant for a WASPy blonde and a WASPy blonde alone it was Sue Storm. Kate Mara and Emmy Rossum don't fit the bill and isn't Miles Teller way too young and fun-loving for the science genius gravitas of Mr Fantastic? 

Finally
You know how much we love the topic of age and acting here at TFE. Well on this recent HuffPo conversation they discuss the earning power drop for actresses which comes, they say, at 34. With men their power doesn't drop until their mid 50s.

I started the video aggravated that all the panelists seemed clueless about the disparity when it came to the men... I mean it's so obvious since male actors don't even start their reign until their 30s usually (Leonardo DiCaprio is not the norm, he's a rarity. What's far more common is the Channing Tatums and Brad Pitts of the world who kick around for a bit winning some attention and then *BOOM* supernova at about 30)... but I'm glad they ignored the men and discussed the women. It's an interesting conversation and Lisa Rosman is a critic I liked and she's good on the fly discussing this. I would need to read more about this study to believe the results fully though because from where I sit it does seem to me that actress careers are lasting longer, even in terms of lead roles, than they once did. Obviously Sandra Bullock, even more successful than she once was as she approaches 50 -- and she was pretty successful to begin with! --  is a rarity. And yet in general it does seem to me that the major actresses are having longer shelf lives than they once did. They don't seem to just vanish until their mid to late 40s early 50s now (notice the quick fades of Hunter, Allen, Linney, Clarkson, etcetera) rather than the late 30s early 40s it once was.

Sunday
Feb022014

Links

Vidiocy Karina Longworth on the great Pauline Kael vs Meryl Streep wars
In Contention London Film Critics choose Cate Blanchett and Barkhad Abdi for honors (among others)
The Guardian on the Australian Oscars basically being one long party for The Great Gatsby (which won nearly every award it was up for)
Tom & Lorenzo what Cate Blanchett was wearing to that same event


Thompson on Hollywood TIFF is laying down the law with studios/filmmakers -- no more sloppy seconds due to Telluride "surprises"
Vulture how hot is Anna Kendrick? Improv class hot 

More on Philip Seymour Hoffman
TFE Amir already honored him here in case you missed it.
Kenneth in the (212) covering every major newspaper
Punch Drunk Critics told us that Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal for depression era creepy drama Ezekiel Moss...but this was the day before P.S. Hoffman died so who knows what will happen now. Sounds like a good project though
E Online tells that he hadn't yet finished filming his scenes for the two Hunger Games: Mockingjay films.


Slate strong piece positing that one particular scene in Boogie Nights made the actor a star
The Atlantic has a piece on PSH's talent that fascinated me. It's very well written but its thesis is EXACTLY the opposite about how I always felt about him as an actor, claiming that his greatest gift was understatement. I think he almost never understated anything... which is why he thrills people so much in big moments but also why I did not like his performance in Doubt at all (way too bold when that role needs exceptional restraint to cloud the issues, hence the title) and why my three favorite performances of his I consider very atypical because they have these lovely quiet non red-faced & screaming layers and subtle details. But it's a really good read. 

Monday
Jan202014

Linking

The Stir Laura Linney had a baby despite none of us knowing she was pregnant
The Wire Joe Reid plans to see all 58 Oscar nominated movies from 2013 
LA Times George Clooney pretends to be pissed about Tina Fey's Golden Globes joke 
Gawker loves the idea of Detroit getting a bronze Robocop statue. It needs a hero! 


Film School Rejects
as I predicted Margot Robbie is wracking up the roles in the wake of Wolf of Wall St
Interview Magazine Kanye West interviewed by Steve McQueen. Expect quotables 

tv
/Film what's going on with Nicolas Winding Refn's Barbarella TV series? 
previouslytv "your crotch is not that interesting" on HBO's Looking 
Vulture on the new and improved Lady Edith on Downton Abbey 
Coming Soon Jason Isaacs is joining the Rosemary's Baby tv miniseries as Roman Castavet (good part!) ... and word is that Zoe Saldana may get the famous pixie cut for it

Looking premiered and I missed it. But more when i catch up with it

a chain reaction
NY Times has a piece about why it might be better for the cinema if there were less movies each year. It's an interesting article that I mostly agree with though I wholeheartedly wish that Manohla hadn't felt the need to diss Iron Man 3 which is hardly the best example of junk blockbusters out there -- at least it was trying something vaguely new, making a Tony Stark movie rather than an Iron Man movie essentially. But let's not get distracted. Her piece was provocative asking for curation over consumption for programmers and money people. 
The New Yorker disagrees, arguing that we only get the great discoveries because so many indie films are made. You can't predict which new artists will actually deliver. 
The Front Row takes this as an opportunity to talk about what the purpose of film criticism is in the internet era and then
Mark Harris comments, too
...all of which gives us plenty to think about. 

Monday
Jan132014

Post-Globe Thoughts / Linkings

My apartment gets too much sunlight and I have no window blankets. So I can't see the TV during the day so I can't rewatch the Globes so I can't blog more about them until tonight and then who knows if any of us will be in the mood when I can't so maybe I won't and I just don't know anymore. The tragedy of it all!

Until then, I devour uneaten party snacks and commence with the linkings...

first a few non-Globes items
EW really thoughtful piece on Armond White and why he was just expelled from the NYFCC 
Critic Wire "Should film critics give out awards?" Of course they should. Awards are just another form of evaluation and needn't be thoughtless. They just shouldn't do it badly, ot to "predict" the Oscar race.
THR Tang Wei falls for a money scam. I hope they find the culprits but the greater crime is the career momentum the Chinese government stole from her post Lust Caution. Can we prosecute that, instead?
Dark Horizons Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the upcoming Sandman adaptation 
The Playlist Martin Scorsese on the campaign trail with Wong Kar Wai for The Grandmaster. I still have no firm read on whether or not that is making it into Best Foreign Film 

today's must read 
W Mag John Waters on staying famous once you've achieved celebrity. It's a pretty great read. Consider this bit:

If you’re really lucky, you might survive a disaster, and that’s a sure way to get your Wikipedia page updated if it’s been dormant for too long. My friend Pauline jokes that if she were in an airplane crash with me and she was the only one to die, the headline would read: air disaster! john waters lives. one dead. 

okay back to the globes
Vanity Fair Bobby Finger's imaginary Globe conversations are super. I love Streep's world domination plot (although hasn't she kind of already accomplished that?)
NY Daily News ok, I need to understand whether or not Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence are together. Or are they like Friend with Benefits. Make up your minds!
Variety inside the after parties. Fun(nish) photos of the rich and famous at play
Zimbio more after party pics
TFE I looked back on my Globe predix and was shocked to realize that I did REALLY well (though I generally suck at Globe winner predictions) only missing stuff the mainstream media doesn't care about (but I do) like foreign, screenplay, & both music prizes among the film awards! I even somehow correctly predicted that 12 Years a Slave would only win Best Picture. I guessed HORRIBLY with the TV awards but I've never claimed to know any better there

drawing by Liza Donnellytoday's must see
Liza Donnelly took live-blogging in a fresh direction by live-sketching the Golden Globes. Damn fabulous. 

On That Woody Allen Cecil B DeMille Thing...
Ronan Farrow twitter's favorite fusion of political pundit/celebrity spawn/hot guy, wasn't pleased. Lots of people joined in the Globe-shaming. But really, now. It's so easy to judge from afar but if we are going to deny artists prizes for their work based on their moral character, actual crimes, alleged crimes, grudges people hold against them and the like would we have any prizes at all? I'm not even exaggerating. Prizes for the arts should be about the arts always, and not about someone's character. There's no prize for "Most Nice" or "Best Person" and even if there was, wouldn't showpeople be terrible judges of it? (Including Mia Farrow who is willing to testify on Roman Polanski's behalf but Woody Allen honors are beyond the pale?)
Salon has some issues with it, too, although calling out the Globes for their lack of regular honors to women is relatively speaking, misleading, since they're SO MUCH BETTER ABOUT IT than the Oscars ever have been and only a few sites (like, um, this one you're on right now) take AMPAS to task for it.
Shawn Levy did a post earlier this summer that's especially relevant now, detailing how strong Woody's Oscar history is in terms of directing actors. It's not just strong but it's varied which he gets absolutely no credit for as the article amply illustrates.

Exit Image
Jason at MNPP dubs this Globe after party pic "The Picture That Broke The Internet" and then hedges with a "this could finally be the one to do it" but either way, yes! I mean, at least it broke tumblr. I haven't been on today but I'm quite sure it's dead.

If you somehow squeezed in Tom Hiddleston for a three-way, all the breakings, everywhere.

This awesome image unfortunately reminds that it was a very BRO evening at the Globes with lots of frathouse like back patting going on. This was probably best exemplified by Michael Douglas and Jared Leto's tone deaf acceptance speeches for gay roles (ouch, you really wanna play it like that?) though I think it's unfortunate that McConaughey is getting roped into that conversation because his speech was not offensive and people are stretching ungenerously when they go there, the Leo for Wolf win after that 'supermodel's vagina welcome' (Fey & Poehler, you delight), and a million photos of handsome powerful rich (mostly) white straight guys pointing at the camera, with smug smiles on their faces (lampooned by Melissa McCarthy as Matt Damon on stage in point of fact).

And so on and so on...

Dude.