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Entries in film critics (147)

Saturday
Dec052015

The Link Awakens

Vulture every lightsaber in the Star Wars franchise ranked. Solid rankings actually and I rarely say that about other people's lists ;)
NPR
talks to Harvey Keitel about his role in Youth
Coming Soon
Trainspotting 2 is officially a go. The entire principal cast returns to reprise their roles. Ready for round two of Ewan McGregor as Renton?
i09
Ryan Coogler may follow up Creed behind the cameras of Marvel's Black Panther (2018)

LA Times Directors of Room, Love and Mercy, Brooklyn, Sicario and more discuss nailing crucial scenes
People Sisters "The Farce Awakens". Tina Fey & Amy Poehler are going head to head with Star Wars on December 18th
Interview Magazine talks to Jake Lacy (Carol), our favorite "square" boyfriend at the movies
In Contention Laverne Cox helps with the Tangerine Oscar campaign
Awards Daily the current BFCA scores for several movies. It's always amusing to see how this lines up with their actualy nominations (which arrive on December 14th)
BroadwayCon it's pricey but theater fans are getting their own convention this January. A big list of theater favorites (Alice Ripley, Jonathan Groff, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kerry Butler, etcetera...) already confirmed as guests
The Tracking Board has a ton of information and downloadable PDFs of 2015's Hit List, the best as yet unproduced specs

Old Queens We Love
Hey we were as surprised as you that they all showed up in the news feed on the same day
THR Kathleen Turner speaks about equal pay in Hollywood and reveals new plans -- a King Lear adaptation starring her. I just died reading that. She is so amazing on stage.
THR two time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson sticks toe back in the acting waters after years of retirement... from acting at least
/Film Barbra Streisand is supposedly going to direct a Catherine the Great movie. I'll believe it when I'm in the theater. She's as bad as Warren Beatty about kicking back at home and occassionally promising to work. It rarely happens!
Vulture Sir Ian McKellen improvised a song for Beauty & The Beast but Bill Condon didn't put it in the movie!
The Stake discovers how funny Carrie Fisher is with an old bit from SNL. That's a good thing about the Star Wars revival since she's a national treasure. Read her books!
Wall Street Journal talks to Carrie Fisher who gives good quote as usual.

Was there ever a point when you thought, ‘I don’t want to do this new movie’?

Never. I’ve been this character for 40 years, why would I not? Because I’m going to be associated with Princess Leia more? There is no “more.” And I’m a female working in show business, where, if you’re famous, you have a career until you’re 45, maybe. Maybe. And that’s about 15 people.

List Mania !
Guardian is doing a top 50 countdown daily... they're almost to the top ten and for US readers they've already covered lots of films you loved from 2014 (Mommy, Birdman, etcetera) some from 2016 (The Lobster) and 2015 goodies like Steve Jobs, Sicario and Tangerine (way way too low at #48)
BOFCA
released their awards and they yelled "what a day. what a lovely day" giving Mad Max Fury Road five prizes. As we stated last season, we're no longer going to follow / write about all the regional critics awards - just the one's that are long running with history. Why? There are nearly 40 of them now and most debuted in the past 10 years. It's too much and only important in the cumulative. But we'll probably link up like this.
Time Magazine recently hired Stephanie Zacharek (good choice, Time) and her top ten list is here: It's topped by Spotlight as so many top ten lists will be and includes both Hollywood triumphs (Creed) and indie sensations (Tangerine). Love what she writes about I'll See You In My Dreams:

How do you know when there are no surprises left in life? The surprise is that…you don’t. In Brett Haley’s gentle but potent comedy, veteran actress Blythe Danner plays a seventy-ish retired schoolteacher, long widowed, whose staid life takes a sharp left when two men appear on the scene almost simultaneously: Pool cleaner Martin Starr is the kind of platonic friend you meet only once in a lifetime; silver fox Sam Elliott is the love interest you never could have planned for.

Must Watch
I shudder when I see mashups like this to think of the man hours in making them. Adele's "Hello" cobbled together from a huge variety of movies...

Wednesday
Dec022015

NYFCC Winners

 The New York Film Critics Circle takes their sweet time each year debating their "bests" and shouldn't we all? Nevertheless it's agony for awards addicts like us, the excruciating wait times that commence between 9 AM EST and continue for hours. With lunch break. If you want to have a laugh at my expense I tried to predict the winners as part of the Gurus of Gold chart this week (update: This year they wrapped up by 1:00 PM though so all is well. The only thing i got right in my predictions was Carol for Film/Director)

A bit of Oscar adjacent history: In the past 20 years of their long long history (they're octogenarians now!) they've selected 4 films that went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars, 11 more that were nominated and 5 that were critical darlings and eventual Oscar players but were shut out of the big race (Leaving Las Vegas, Topsy-Turvy, Mulholland Drive, Far From Heaven, United 93). Which is a long way of saying they have refined if not quite populist taste but they're never too far afield of Oscar's wheelhouse. Do they influence the Oscars? It's tough to say. The Film Experience's position is, generally speaking, that no single critics group influence voters beyond pointing them at films... but the NYFCC and LAFCA are the ones the industry cares most about and are most likely to let in... at least to pique their interest in particular films and performances.

So here we go...

Best Film Carol
Best Director Todd Haynes, Carol

It's worth noting, as Sasha Stone did, that very few directors have ever won Best Director twice at the NYFF. The list includes Martin Scorsese and Kathryn Bigelow and now Haynes. Carol was the big winner of today's announcement taking home 4 prizes.

Best Actress Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Actor Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Best Supporting Actress Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria
Best Supporting Actor Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

But not in acting. That said these are wonderful choices for the prizes, going out of their way to remember Kristen Stewart's amazingly naturalistic engaging work as Binoche's personal assistant in Sils Maria. That performance has already won her a Cesar Award in France but since she's not campaigning things will probably stop here. Saoirse Ronan and Mark Rylance will surely go the distance to a nomination in Best Actress and Supporting Actor and both could well compete for the win... though we'll have to see the whole field before we really get into that.

The strangest thing is to ignore the supporting campaign (a legitimate choice to make everyone supporting in such an ensemble film) for Keaton and give him the Best Actor prize. But he gives the best performance in a film filled with good work so hurrah!


Best Screenplay Carol, adapted by Phyllis Nagy from the Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt"
Best Cinematography Carol, Edward Lachman

A thousand times yes. The whole team on Carol was doing exquisite work. That's why we asked them all why they were such geniuses. NYFCC are Todd Haynes fans (as all truly outstanding people are) and they gave Far From Heaven 5 awards in 2002.

Best First Film Son of Saul d. László Nemes
Best Animated Film Inside Out (Pixar) d. Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen
Best Documentary In Jackson Heights d. Frederick Wiseman
Best Foreign Language Film Timbuktu (Mauritania) d. Abderrahmane Sissako
Special Award William Becker and Janus Films
Special Award Ennio Morricone, composer

Son of Saul looks fairly unstoppable for the Foreign Film Oscar this season so the race to watch is probably the nominations themselves. And whether Son of Saul can expand into other categories... which it wants to. As previously stated in the Documentary Finalist post it's odd that the Academy's documentary branch continues to pass on Frederick Wiseman's documentaries considering that they are routinely greeted with "masterpiece" level reviews; he's never been Oscar nominated.

That's it. On a scale of 1-10 how happy did today's announcement make you?

WE'LL LET CATE BLANCHETT HAVE THE FINAL WORD SINCE CAROL WAS THE BIG WINNER...

 

Tuesday
Nov032015

YES, NO, MAYBE SO: Anomalisa

Coco here, ready to talk about the trailer for Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa

YES

- Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine... Even if you don't love Synecdoche New York, a Charlie Kaufman project deserves enthusiasm.
- We don't get enough stop-motion animation in our screens, and even fewer animated movies aimed at adult audiences.
- In a sea of computer generated mediocrity, it's always nice to see a strong voice be inspired by the medium of animation, which seems to be a good way for auteurs to find revitalizing force. Think, for example, of Wes Anderson's wave of success after Fantastic Mr. Fox. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov022015

"Suffragette" Shoulders into the Oscar Fray

Is “Suffragette” faltering under the weight of overly high expectations?  With its impressive pedigree and unimpeachable subject matter, Sarah Gavron’s historical drama about the militant wing of the British suffragist movement seemed poised to be a strong Oscar contender for this fall.  Now, as we move towards the holidays, its status is looking uncertain: reviews have been mixed, and it’s drawn criticism for everything from its limited narrative focus to the limited screen time of Meryl Streep, who receives top of the line billing for a role that’s essentially no more than a cameo.  

If there’s a common trend to the criticism, it’s that the critics seem mostly preoccupied with what the movie doesn't do rather than what it does.  “Suffragette” is less a historical chronicle of the suffragettes than a snapshot view through the eyes of one (fictional) working class woman who’s accidentally and at first reluctantly drafted into their ranks.  It’s a study of what circumstances would drive such a woman to join a movement that would seem to hold no immediate benefit or attraction for someone in her position.  [more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul142015

Q&A: Friday Nights, Voice Work, Underseen Gems

You asked some questions. I'm finally answering them. You know how this works. Please do chime in in the comments. The whole reason we do the column is for participatory flavor and that includes a pinch of you! Our Question of the Week which is Friday Night Lights themed is, annoyingly, from "Anonny" (how about a name?) so he/she gets to choose our next banner topic! (And how about our current "joy" banner. I put Jessica Lange in it for the first time and no one notices!?)

What is it, a crime? Is it a crime to look at Lange?

Pat Carroll recording UrsulaJAMES: Does the trend now that animated films only use "names" for voice work mean that we'll never see the likes of Pat Carroll again?

That would be among the greatest of cinematic tragedies. Unlike seemingly many TFE readers, though, I don't actually share an interest in voice actors getting Oscar nominations. But as with motion capture and the much discussed pioneering case of Andy Serkis, I do think this is where Oscar is really dropping the ball in terms of never giving out special achievement statues. I can't even remember when the last one was -- was it for Toy Story (1995) before there was the Animated Feature category? Pat Carroll's work as Ursula is the single greatest voice performance in the history of animation. (Team Experience shamefully put her in only 3rd when we took a poll)

The days of specialized voice talent getting prime opportunities like that are gone but there is hope: Pixar uses celebrities sometimes but they don't rely on them exclusively the way Dreamworks and other lesser studios do. And sometimes their "celebrities" aren't exactly household names so they aren't using them for advertising purposes, but because they genuinely love the voice. Wasn't Richard Kind a great choice for "Bing Bong" in Inside Out

DEBORAH: If you could choose one lesser-known movie each from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that everyone should see, what would they be (and why)?

THE ANSWER AND EIGHT MORE QUESTIONS AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May182015

Inside Out at Cannes: the critics approve

We have a new Pixar film!

Two years after Monsters University failed to actively offend or actively entertain most of the world, the studio's 15th feature, Inside Out premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival today. The consensus of critical opinion is that it's a strong work if not quite among the studio's best. While nobody I've found has tried to compare it to the recent run of not-that-greats including Cars 2 and Brave, it seems fair to assume it's a return to form.

Here's a quick tour of some of the reviews so far, in descending order of enthusiasm:

"...promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story."
-Peter Debruge, Variety


"This is a humane and heart-wrenchingly beautiful film from Docter; even measured alongside Pixar’s numerous great pictures, it stands out as one of the studio’s very best."
-Robbie Collin, The Telegraph


"It hasn’t anything as genuinely emotionally devastating as Up, or the subtlety and inspired subversion of Monsters Inc. and the Toy Stories which it certainly resembles at various stages. But it is certainly a terrifically likeable, ebullient and seductive piece of entertainment."
-Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian


"It can feel didactic in a way that the let-the-pictures-tell-the-story elegance of "Toy Story" and Docter's own "Up" never did... However, once the gigantic machine is up and running, these issues mostly fall away like booster engines from a space rocket."
-Jessica Kiang, Indiewire


"It’s an audacious concept, and Docter’s imagination, along with those of his numerous collaborators, is adventurous and genially daft enough to put it over."
-Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

Those of us stuck hundreds of miles from the Croisette have to wait a while yet to make up our own minds - Inside Out hits the States on June 19. These early reviews have done a mostly good job of calming down the little voice inside my own head that's been terrified that Pixar would be stuck in a gear of high-achieving mediocrity for the rest of time, though "hey, this is a fun and good movie!" isn't quite the overriding level of passion that the studio used to produce from film after film after film.

The Voice Cast in Cannes

Still, it augurs well that, at a minimum, we're going to have a pretty snazzy piece of creative and moving entertainment at this time next month. It's a great feeling to actually be looking forward to a Pixar movie for a change, and not nervously counting down to the release date while praying "please don't suck". "Not one of their all-time masterpieces" will be good enough to get through these last few weeks of waiting!

Saturday
May162015

'Cate Blanchett Will Slay You'

Next Season on the WB This Season at Cannnes: Cate, the Cinephile Slayer

It's not really "news" per se to share the information that Cate Blanchett has won another round of extravagantly positive reviews for a performance; that's kind of her thing, and habitual happenings aren't news. But the early round of Carol reviews are in and everyone loves it. 

 The adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel "Carol" (or "The Price of Salt" depending on when it was published) about a married woman (Cate Blanchett) carrying on with a younger shopgirl (Rooney Mara) has been our Most Awaited feature for two years running in our annual We Can't Wait series. It's been EIGHT YEARS since Todd Haynes had a movie out. To prevent overhyping, I'm not going to fully read any reviews but here are some blurb whore quotes that could sell tickets whenever they decide to release the movie.  My gut says December and I'm not happy about waiting that long:

And the acting slays you: Cate Blanchett, especially, somehow leaps over her own highest standards with a subtlety that’s little short of phenomenal.
-The Telegraph 

A superbly realised companion piece to his 50s Sirkian drama Far From Heaven... creamily sensuous, richly observed."
-The Guardian

The success of the material ultimately rests on the formidable strength of its actresses, both credibly buried in their roles."
-Indiewire 

Carol is both a beautiful miniature and a majestic romance"
-The Wrap 

Oscar Trivia For the Road...
The last time Cate indulged in the lesbian angst subgenre she was the younger woman and she and her co-star were both Oscar-nominated as were the Screenplay & Score. Coincidentally the last time Todd Haynes had a real Oscar hit, the film also received 4 nominations and also lost each of its categories. Will history repeat itself? Against my better judgment I skimmed several reviews and frequent mentions of the films "quiet" and "restraint" and "careful pacing" don't make it any kind of Oscar slam dunk, but then again Oscar is only icing. What's more important is this --  new Todd Haynes cake! 

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