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Entries in film critics (98)

Saturday
Dec072013

European Film Award Wi -- what? Scorsesaywhat? 

I watched a bit of the European Film Awards live streaming earlier today and the first sight that greeted me was Anke Engelke looking like she'd stepped out of the Capitol to announce the next Hunger Games. The only thing she got wrong was that her hair and makeup were too demure. Tim said she looked a "teensy bit too lindt bunny" which made me giggle.

While attempting to watch the show I was pulled into an endless twitter debate about misogyny and glorification/condemnation thereof in The Wolf of Wall Street - a conversation which I expect will rage throughout awards season unless the veritable army of Scorsese stans succeeds in stamping out open discussion about the movie's merits; they're weirdly adamant that one should only do adrenaline fueled wolf howls at it which is, I don't mind saying, one of the worst things that can happen to a movie that merits any kind of considered conversation.

SOOOOOO, while I didn't make it all the way through the EFAs and am ashamed to note that I missed Catherine Deneuve's tribute altogether (argh) here are 5 thoughts from the ceremony...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec032013

NYFCC Runners Up?

Redford's nearest rivals, Chiwetel Ejiofor & Oscar Isaac, were tied at a distant second at the NYFCCUnlike some Oscar-obsessed blogs, I don't really see much of value in sharing "runners up" from various critics orgs (running up is not winning and you can't use it as promotion unless the fine print is really really small.)

But, since NYFCC is the first and the oldest critics group, and surprised with 3 prizes for American Hustle we're not yet sick of critics prizes (that happens in about... 12 days? 7 or 8 if everyone goes samey-samey) why not talk their runners up: Lou Lumenick at the New York Post shared how the voting went down and it looks like the "almosts" went like so... Picture (12 Years a Slave lost in a squeaker), Director and Actress (David O. Russell and Amy Adams so the American Hustle voting block was strong in the final rounds. Were they true fans of the film or did they just prefer it to the others when their favorites were eliminated in the rounds of voting?), and Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o). It's interesting that both Actor and Supporting Actor had no strong challenge to the eventual winners (Robert Redford & Jared Leto). Perhaps it means nothing but I find it interesting since, especially in the case of the Oscar race for Best Actor, consensus seems hard to come by as to which actor is most deserving or even which might eventually win.

Why was Redford such a clear favorite here in New York? Is it the sentimental edge from his glorious cinematic history? (That's a pretty damn strong filmography all things considered.)

Tuesday
Dec032013

Do the NYFCC Hustle

The New York Film Critics Circle, the oldest such organization in the country, provided us with a surprise bang this morning. Like Jennifer Lawrence playing with her "science oven" in American Hustle their announcement leaves visible scorch marks, as if awards season has just blasted off like a rocket. 

Whether or not these prizes have a lasting impact is yet to be determined. Some will say that the one-two punch of the Gotham Awards and  NYFCC not awarding 12 Years a Slave with their best feature is a sign. But it may well just be a coincidence and could even be good for the film; it's better to be a wildly special underdog than a frontrunner with heavy baggage when you have three whole months left to carry oneself across the finish line. 

Picture American Hustle
Director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Actress Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Actor Robert Redford, All is Lost
Supporting Actress Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Supporting Actor Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Critics prizes, even the once holy trinity (NYFCC, LAFCA, and NSFC) don't mean as much as the internet likes to pretend. With roughly 30 other critics organizations handing out prizes each year now, and those same critics groups often behaving like Oscar pundits instead of critics, I'd argue that the value of critics prizes has greatly depreciated from market saturation and loss of identity. The thing that constitutes bragging rights these days seems to be domination (who can win the most?) rather than key victories. 

Screenplay American Hustle
Foreign Film Blue is the Warmest Color
Animated Film Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises
Non Fiction Film Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell
First Film Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station
Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis
Special Award Frederick Wiseman, documentarian

Do you think they did the "special award" for Frederick Wiseman solely because they didn't give him best documentary for At Berkeley? And, referencing the most recent podcast, am I the only person who isn't wild for the cinematography in Inside Llewyn Davis?

For what it's worth, American Hustle (which is under critical embargo until tomorrow), is very entertaining and also very fresh in the minds of voters having been screened just this past weekend. And Jennifer Lawrence is also very fresh (and entertaining) in it. 

[More on their voting and runners up here]

Wednesday
Oct022013

Which Films Inspire The Best Reviews?

I have no idea why i illustrated this post with The Impossible newspaper adIf you read The Film Experience I assume you're also the type that absorbs at least a few (and possibly a lot more) film reviews on a regular basis. Now, reviews aren't the founding principle of this blog, as regular readers now. We've always been more adept at commentary on specific angles (performances, shots, Oscar races, single moments, whole careers, etc...), than the traditional "it just opened so let's review it" model.

But lately I've been thinking about why the traditional review is more of a struggle for me to write than other types of articles and I've also been enjoying a moment off-blog where I'm appreciating the beauty of extremely well written ones and hoping they inspire me to step it up. I've long thought about coming up with some sort of series to celebrate great critics.

Which got me to wondering... 

Which films prompt the best reviews?

I don't think it's as simple as "bad movies that are fun to hate" or "auteur movies" or "the ____ genre" ...so I'd love to hear your opinion on the whats and whys. Here's a way to make the question simpler to digest: Which two or three movies this year prompted the most reviews you found interesting and which led you to seek out the most reviews? Why do you think they did that? 

Wednesday
Sep182013

Linking Time

Hollywood Will the ending of August Osage County screened at TIFF be the ending it has in theaters? The film might not be "locked" just yet
Pajiba on social media, celebrity, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Town & Country & BuzzFeed suddenly the internet noticed Clint's son Scott Eastwood (also an actor). I think he looks like a douchey fratboy but the internet don't care. The internet wants what it wants. Weirdly T&C claims he's channeling leading men of the sixties but the only movie star I'm seeing in the photos is a bit of Young Clint Eastwood... the nose mostly.

Awards Daily helps you keep track of the upcoming awards calendar
Sketchy Details yes! another Short Term 12 convert. We must grow and grow, the Short Term 12 fan club.
New York Post check out this Taiwanese movie theater and it's hand painted movie posters
Vulture the final season of Mad Men will be split in two. Mad Men until 2015!  Anything that makes it last longer is A OK by me but I've been reading nasty comments online about it. A lot of "that show has outstayed its welcome" comments (some by people who admit they don't watch it). Sigh. This is why we can't have nice things. If every show on tv was even a third as good as Mad Men at its weakest,  television would be an infinitely better place.
Variety in other Mad Men news, Oscar winner Robert Towne (Chinatown) has joined the writing table for the final season 

Must Reads with a Longer Running Time
New York Times Terrific insightful confessional by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Blue Jasmine, an old Lucille Ball television movie, modern women's picture and "fear of baglady-dom" 
IndieWire surveys critics on the best of TIFF 13. I love seeing survey results but it usually mightily depresses me since as insightful as critics can be I find that they're usually not very strong when it comes to judging acting. Even if Gravity grows on me (possible) I am 99.9% likely to maintain that the star performances are serviceable but ungreat and obviously so. And yet Sandra Bullock has a higher rank in Best Lead performance than Huppert, Gheorghiu, Streep, or Chastain? Absurd.
Peter Taggart very funny conversation about this year's forthcoming Emmy awards and who should win.

Thursday
Sep122013

Links. The Top Three Best Whatevah! 

Serious Film does an all time 5 best cinematography ballot. The best ever?  Hmmmm. Well they're all stunning at the very least
TFE Facebook my 3 favorite film scores off the top of my head. I was surprised as you to scribble John Williams there but what can you do. You give props when due. Yours?
The Film Stage Hayao Miyazaki's retirement is truly final this time (failing eyesight *sniffle*) and The Wind Rises gets an Oscar qualifying release
The Playlist Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac is now two films that will run five hours in total. UGH. I am exhausted by movies wanting to be TV series. Be your best self. Be a  MOVIE. 90-110 minutes is ideal! (Same goes for TV with unrelated stand-alone episodes. That's dumb. You're not a movie, be a TV series.)

Bloody Disgusting James Cameron loves Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. Of course he does!
The Studio Executive is starting a snarky series on 'How to Be A Film Critic'. I don't qualify for the first three how to succeed suggestions (wealthy parents, influential friends, unethical bastard behavior) which only leaves me with the fourth (cock-sucking... also known as sleeping your way to the top), which I have no objection to. But no one famous/influential/wealthy willing to make my career has ever rung me up to ask. #shameless
Yahoo Movies new trailer to August: Osage County 
The Dissolve The Harry Potter world will continue on screen with a (presumably endless) spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. For my reaction to this news, I can only share the brilliant tweet of another...

 

 

 

Must Read (If You Haven't Yet) 
What Was, Is, and Will Be Popular in the New York Times Magazine. A fascinating long read discussing the impossible to define notion of popularity in our fractured pop culture be it television, movies, music, opera, museums, or anything really. Candy bars, even! For example I seriously haven't even heard of the actress that they claim personifies modern TV fame (Pauley Perrette? Who dat?) and I don't know if you've heard but I like actresses a little. The essay has also got awesome sidebar goodies... did you know that "Bella" is the most popular name for both cats and bitches now? (Damn you Twilight). There's even a cute little point about 1000 "likes" on facebook putting some kind of artistic wind in your sails for struggling indie "popularity" in our fractured world, so The Film Experience is almost there. Like us.

Today's Awesomest Review
Cinematic Spectacle Lee Daniels' The Butler  review/reaction in gifs. I lol'ed and it's just so true. Also: perfect punchline.

Thursday
Sep052013

TIFF: Festive Arrivals & Frightening Omens

The signage that tempts me each time I walk from hotel to movie theaterDear Readers,

I am happy to report that I have arrived in Toronto. Wednesday night went smoothly (but for "Best Shot" posting -- delayed. My apologies!) though the long trip to get from the airport to my hotel and press office gave me shudders thinking about Monday night when salivation-worthy titles like August: Osage County & Under the Skin can't really be done unless I miss my flight. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

After arrival had yum dinner with Amir who I think you'll agree is doing a bang up job organizing those "Team Experience" events each month. We then hit a "welcome to TIFF" style critics party hosted by Calum Marsh with so many great writers (fun putting faces to bylines) that I probably shouldn't name any because I'll leave someone awesome out. But you should follow me on twitter for more of that sort of thing.

The topic was so often "what are you planning to see?" which should be the easiest question when you hit a festival but had me flustered each time because I keep changing my schedule. I always tried the safest answer "well, I'm starting with..." but then kept forgetting the title of the movie "Undefebeatable" "Indestructabeatable?"

It's my first time. Be gentle.

Isn't it a beauty? That's the press pass. I consider it a very good omen that snatching it upon arrival was easy as can be. And that it's both green and purple, which are literally my two favorite colors and the ones I always wear (though not at the same time because that's too Arkham Asylum).

But just as I was feeling super confident and excited for the festival, I saw this:

Two of the three Oscars won by Crash (Best Picture and Best Screenplay) prominently displayed at the Festival HQ. Ill omens! O Canada... nobody wants to be reminded of that! The festival is also celebrating David Cronenberg this year but sadly his is not the Crash we're talking about. 

First Round of Movies Next!

 

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