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Entries in film festivals (235)

Monday
Mar302015

TCMFF Wraps with Hollywood History & more Shirley MacLaine

Anne Marie here in Hollywood, reporting on the end of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

The 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival came to a close last night after four days. Though the theme of the festival was History According to Hollywood, the diverse programming of the festival showed that not only was TCM celebrating historical events and the films that portrayed them, it was also highlighting the this histories of the films being made, and - most importantly - the shared histories of the audiences that watched them.

It's impossible to cover everything the TCMFF screens (though The Black Maria did try), so instead I attempted to focus on the diversity of the programming. I watched Greta Garbo kiss a woman and renounce her throne for a man in Queen Christina. I watched two Pre-Code Hollywood musicals, Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant and 42nd Street. I saw Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in a Tennessee Williams-penned movie called Boom! that was so bad that it made Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick look like Meryl Streep. I saw Christopher Plummer honored twice, but as a result missed Sophia Loren. I had three festival highlights: the French Revolution film noir Reign of Terror, a program of single reel films run using a hand-cranked projector from 1905 (have you seen a short called The Dancing Pig?), and the newly restored 1919 Houdini film The Grim Game, constructed from the only surviving complete print.

But by far, the most valuable asset to TCMFF is its star power. Reader's choice film discussed after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar282015

Christopher Plummer Honored

Anne Marie providing your concrete connection to TCM Classic Film Fest.

Besides the Oscars, there may be no symbol more Hollywood than the handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theater. As legend goes, Norma Talmadge walked through wet cement while theater entrepreneur Sid Grauman was finishing construction on the Chinese Theater, and the accident gave the showman a rock-solid idea. Whatever the tradition's origin, ever since the Chinese Theater opened in 1927, thousands of starstruck tourists and Hollywood hopefuls have made their way to the theater's courtyard, where they can marvel at the timeworn hand-and-footprints of everyone from Bette Davis to Tom Hanks to the cast of Harry Potter.

Yesterday morning, Christopher Plummer joined the ranks of cemented cinema stars. [more]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar262015

TCM Classic Film Festival Starts Today!

Greetings and salutations, cinephiles! Anne Marie here, reporting from sunny (and hot) Hollywood, CA as the 6th annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off. For the next four days, I'll be reporting what's new (and old) at Hollywood's largest festival devoted entirely to celebrating the classics. 

This year, the theme of the festival is "History According To Hollywood". Films range in period and subject from the French Revolution (Reign of Terror), to the American West (My Darling Clementine), to the Civil Rights Movement (Malcom X), and the Apollo missions (Apollo 13), with historians and even an astronaut onhand to lend perspective. Of course, it wouldn't be TCM if they didn't roll out the red carpet for icons of a bygone era of the silver screen: Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, and Ann Margaret will discuss their films before special screenings. And tonight, the entire festival kicks off with the 50th Anniversary of The Sound Of Music, with Dame Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in attendance.

However, the TCM Film Festival has courted some controversy this year for exactly the wide range of films that they are celebrating.

After the festival schedule was announced, TCM fans took to social media to denounce it as "too new" and "lacking true classic film." Adding to the controversy was the decision to screen many films digitally, instead of on film. Sides were taken, articles were written (the best explanation is courtesy of The Black Maria), and all of it seems to boil down to one question:

How do you define a classic?

 

Is a Classic film defined by age? Quality? Time and place of origin? By expanding this definition to include films that are only 20 years old, are we adding diversity or devaluing already great work? Film is, comparatively speaking, a very new artform; only a little over 100 years old. It's been regarded as "legitimate" art for less than half of that. Considering that movies are still new and ever-changing, maybe we should focus less on labels and more on celebrating what's been accomplished in a century.

Today, dear TFE readers, you get to choose what you think is a classic. Below are five films being shown at TCMFF. On top of the daily updates, I will go to whichever of these five you choose, and report back on it during the Monday wrap up. So, I'll ask again: how do you define a classic?

What Should Anne Marie See at TCMFF?
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (1961) w/ Shirley MacLaine0%
LENNY (1974) w/ Alec Baldwin, Dustin Hoffman0%
42ND STREET (1933) w/ Christine Ebersole0%
MALCOLM X (1992) w/ Spike Lee0%
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) w/ Keith Carradine, Peter Fonda0%

Wednesday
Feb112015

Where My Girls At? Taraji, Helen, Geena

Did you catch that insane Fox news thing (I realize that sounds redundant) about Hollywood emasculating men by making women the heroes of all movies. Haha. They're so dumb. And also: WE WISH. A new study suggests that we're reaching record lows with only 12% of Hollywood films having female leads and a gross drop in percentages of roles when women pass the age of 40. So I figure it's time for a very brief Where My Girls At roundup of women who are currently wowing. Only 3 this time.

Taraji
Check out the gorgeous new photos and interview with Empire's Taraji P Henson from Uptown Magazine. I want to rename that show EMPIRE or (The Unexpected Ghetto Fabulousness of Cookie) because she just owns that show. (Lee Daniels, one of TFE's favorite actressexual filmmakers, is such a blessing to women of a certain age. I'd personally argue way moreso than Ryan Murphy because they get to do work just as crazy and show-offy but the results are often better and they don't have to play second fiddle to Jessica Lange.) Anyway,  I like that Taraji is particularly frank in this inteview and has interesting "employ tunnel vision" advice on careers. Hers has had its ups & downs, including in awards buzz. Take this bit for example:

While celebrating the variety of black talent currently on-screen, becoming distracted by her peers’ success, however, is not on Henson’s to-do list. With a tightknit, mega-watt circle that includes Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall and Sanaa Lathan, tunnel vision is imperative. “If you don’t stay in your lane and you start looking around, you’ll go crazy,” she says. “I use to have this crazy thing with Amy Adams, and I love Amy Adams. You see her [consistently] getting nominated, as she should, because Amy does good work. But, it’s like, ‘Well, I did good work too.’ But if you choose to stay in that place then you become miserable. It’s a pity party and nobody cares. I’m human, so I’ve done it. But I check that because it’s ego and it’s the devil.” 

Helen
Helen Mirren, the world's sexiest 69 year old, continues flaunting it because she's got it. Here's her cheeky new ad for L'Oreal...

 

Geena
Geena Davis's reign as an A List actress gives good nostalgia now considering how many good movies she made in her heyday. She debuted in a small role in the Best Picture nominated classic Tootsie (1982) and her roles rapidly increased in size in the 80s in classics like The Fly (1986) and Beetlejuice (1988) culminating in an oscar win for another Best Picture nominee The Accidental Tourist (1988). By the time the 90s hit she was a major star (see big hits and feminist classics A League of Their Own and Thelma & Louise). But her reign was short and her career died a still kind of inexplicably swift death in 1996 after two high profile action flops. It was literally the year in which she turned 40. She didn't show up on the big screen again until 3 years later when she was suddenly reduced to the sidebar mom role in the children's hit Stuart Little. But she's become a very vocal activist and gender equality warrior since then. Her latest move is the creation of the Bentonville Film Festival which debuts this May which will showcase female roles, diversity, and family friendly movies. As a moviegoer with a deep love for Ms Davis, I seriously looked into going for The Film Experience but just don't have the funds for it so I'll be reading reports in early May with enthusiasm. Just sad that I won't be one of the lucky film journalists that get to write them. *sniffle*

Wednesday
Feb042015

Sundance. That's a Wrap for 2015

Michael and I had a lot of fun covering this year's Sundance for you, though we definitely missed Glenn this time around resulting in less films covered. The more is always the merrier with movies. Here is a complete list of our 29 reviews in alpha order by film in case you missed any or to use as a reference guide when the films reemerge in the real world.

Tomorrow we'll talk favorite performances and Oscar (we realize it's way too early) but that's a separate conversation. Here's to Sundance 2015!

The Movies We Screened
10,000 Saints (Michael) Manhattan in the 80s with Hailee & Asa
Brooklyn (Nathaniel) Saoirse Ronan grows up in this lovely adaptation of the bestseller
The D Train (Nathaniel) comedy starring Jack Black & James Marsden
Dark Horse (Nathaniel) documentary on breeding race horses
Diary of a Teenager Girl (Michael) sexual coming-of-age drama
Dope (Nathaniel) a hip hop lovin' comic treat
Entertainment (Michael) a comedy from the man behind The Comedy
Experimenter (Michael) not as fascinating as the real experiment
I Am Michael (Nathaniel) James Franco as an ex gay pastor
I Smile Back (Michael) Sarah Silverman in a downward spiral
It Follows (Michael) on the festival horror hit. Will it ever open proper?
Glassland (Nathaniel) mother/son alcoholism drama with Toni Collette & Jack Reynor
Grandma (Nathaniel) Lily Tomlin on a road trip in this great feminist miniature
James White (Michael) Self-destructive character study starring Christopher Abbott
Last Days in the Desert (Nathaniel) Ewan McGregor as Jesus & Satan
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Michael) on the crowd-pleasing Sundance winner
Nasty Baby (Nathaniel) Dramedy from the writer/director of The Maid
The Overnight (Michael) swingers ensemble comedy 
Results (Michael) Guy Pearce in a rom com?
Slow West (Michael) an ambitios western starring Kodi Smit-McPhee & Fassbender
The Stanford Prison Experiment (Nathaniel) true story + rising star ensemble

 

Strangerland (Nathaniel) Nicole Kidman's kids go missing in the Australian desert
Tangerine (Nathaniel) comedy about transgendered hookers in LA
True Story (Michael) Jonah Hill & James Franco in dramatic cat & mouse
A Walk in the Woods (Michael) Redford & Nolte take a hike
The Witch (Michael) This 1630s set Salem horror film took the fest by storm
World of Tomorrow (Michael) another miracle from animating genius Don Hertzfeldt
Z For Zachariah (Michael) post apocalypse with three fine actors
Zipper (Michael) Patrick Wilson in an infidelity drama

Also
Jury & Audience Awards Slow West, Me and Earl, and More...

Sunday
Feb012015

Sundance Award Winners: Slow West and Earl and That Diary Girl

Michael and Nathaniel are both safely back in New York but a few more Sundance reviews are forthcoming as well as an Oscar discussion about the first possibilities for the new film year. The festival closes up tonight for another year and last night, they announced the winners. As with last year when Whiplash one both the Jury and the Audience award, one film took both again this year: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, based on the best seller by Jesse Andrews. Can we expect a similarly Oscar friendly trajectory? 

THE WINNERS

U.S. DRAMATIC

Grand Jury Prize & Audience Award  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Michael's review coming later today. It's said to be a bit Fault in the Stars-ish young people and terminal illness only better. 

Directing Award The Witch, Robert Eggers 
Michael's rave review. A 1630s set horror film about a religious family in Salem. 

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award The Stanford Prison Experiment, Tim Talbott
Nathaniel's Review. This one is based on the infamous 1971 college psychology experiment that's inspired other movies before it.

Special Jury Award – Excellence in Cinematography Diary of a Teenage Girl, Brandon Trost
Michael's review & Nathaniel's quick take. Michael liked it a bit more but expect a lot of talk about it when it's released. With Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, and Kristen Wiig

Special Jury Award – Excellence in Editing Dope, Lee Haugen
Nathaniel's review. The editing has crackerjack timing and is deeply commendable for the first half but why is the second hour so much less taut?  

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan282015

Sundance: Redford and Nolte go on a breezy "Walk in the Woods"

Based on the best seller by Bill BrysonMichael C reporting from Sundance to review a film starring the Sundance Kid himself.

Ken Kwapis's A Walk in the Woods has the misfortune of following not one, but two movies about the restorative spiritual powers of hiking, Tracks and Wild. Taken on its own the story of two estranged buddies hiking the Appalachian trail despite everyone saying they are way too old would probably be taken as a bit too broad, a bit too slight. Following hot on the heels of those high quality titles it feels positively featherweight. A Walk in the Woods is a lark, just an opportunity to take a low stakes tromp through the wilderness in the company of two beloved actors, Redford and Nolte. Some of it is amusing, most of it is agreeable, and if it occasional touches on an undercurrent of loss and regret, it is only in a minor way.

Redford plays semi-retired travel writer Bill Bryson as he has reached the age where every conversation is about ailments and funerals. Despite being semi-retired it all becomes too much for him until he announces out of the blue his intention to hike the Appalachian Trail, a plan his wife takes as tantamount to a suicide attempt. She insists he not go alone, but every friend laughs off the idea of an epic senior citizen trek across the East Coast...

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