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Entries in foreign films (211)

Sunday
Feb092014

I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going to Link It Anymore

CHUD James Franco to direct a film based on the making of bad movie everyone obsesses over which I haven't seen The Room. You guys, I can't even with Franco's lack of focus. I mean I don't dislike him. I think he's interesting but he is way too scattered. 
In Contention on Santa Barbara's Robert Redford tribute
Guardian Valentino makes a gauche error, pimping the fact that Amy Adams carried a Valentino bag to PSH's funeral stating they didn't know it was a funeral photo. Um, everyone is in black and they look abso-depressed
MNPP who knew that Fran Kranz from Dollhouse had that chest under his clothes and why on earth didn't Joss Whedon exploit it on that oft-horny show?

NY Times Maureen O'Dowd wonders what Network's Paddy Chayefsky would think of today's click-driven world with its total monetization of every editorial decision
Awards Daily a BAFTA members favorites
Coming Soon Gravity becomes only the third film (after Avatar and The Dark Knight Rises) to earn over $100 million from IMAX screenings alone
Variety the ongoing saga of "Alone Yet Not Alone" continues. It's now selling briskly and nominated for the faithbased MovieGuide Awards 
i09 will The Runaways -- if Marvel ever makes it -- be their Godfather?
Salon talks to the director of The Great Beauty on Italy's Oscar dreams. (For those who are not aware Italy has the most Oscars in the Foreign Film category though France has the most nominations.)
Slate "You Still Have Control" Samantha Geimer ("The Girl in the Shadow of Roman Polanski") once again proves herself the smartest most well adjusted and least hysteric person in the room when it comes to the topic of sexual abuse cases - and she lived it! This is a must read for anyone who has struggled to move on from past traumas. 

And the Most Terrifying News of the Week
We're hearing from Coming Soon that John Travolta will be playing Gummy Bear, or Gummibear if you prefer or are European, in an upcoming animated film version of the yummy treat. The character designs look hateful, really and not much like the actual food stuff.

Frankly, I don't see the point in a Gummy Bear movie when the deliciousness was already twice immortalized via Robot Chicken and Hedwig and the Angry Inch...


Luther: You must like candy.
Hansel: I like Gummi Baerchen 

Thursday
Feb062014

Meet the Berlinale Jury

The 64th Berlinale begins today in Germany - a press conference for Grand Budapest Hotel is streaming right now. It's the second of the six most powerful and premiere-heavy festivals each year, which schedule like so: Sundance -January; Berlin -February; Cannes - May; and the September glut of Venice, Telluride & Toronto. Like most of the biggies Berlinale has multiple juries for multiple types of awards, major and niche. But here's the main competition jury presided over by former Focus Features chief James Schamus. 

The Jury, The Competition Films, and Oscar History after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb012014

Maximillian Schell (1930-2014)

The most famous Austrian born actor prior to Schwarzenegger, and Oscar's favorite Austrian/Swiss actor ever, died overnight at 83. Maximilian Schell film debut came with the German anti-war film  Kinder, Mütter und ein General (Children, Mother, and the General) but it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling. 

He won a role supposedly through a misunderstanding/accident in the Brando/Clift vehicle Young Lions (1958). Global fame was just a few years away when he co-headlined the mega-star cast of the seminal Oscar Bait giant Judgement at Nuremberg (about Nazi war crime trials) with Hollywood legend Spencer Tracy and they were both were nominated for Best Actor - it's a oft-repeated fallacy of modern Oscar campaigning that people say that splits your vote and prevents you from winning; see also Amadeus. Schell also won the Golden Globe for that film. (As Rhett from Dial M for Movies pointed out on Twitter this morning, his death makes William Shatner (!!!) the sole surviving credited cast member from the courtroom classic)

Schell was quite gracious in his Oscar win and his acceptance speech is well worth watching. I'd argue he was fully aware of why he won ("honoring the movie"*) and I love that he doesn't do just the usual cheek kiss but actually a little bow/handkissing...as diva Joan Crawford warrants. 

Schell had a fine and long run as an actor with two more nominations following his win for The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) and Julia (1977 -- and yet another example of a double nomination in the same category. His co-star Jason Robards won that time). He won his second Golden Globe as recently as 1994 for a TV miniseries and a Lifetime Achievement Bambi in Germany just 5 years ago, which coincidentally was the same ceremony wherein Christoph Waltz, a clear modern equivalent of Austrian/Oscar love, won for Inglourious Basterds.

Schell's talents were many, though, and also behind the camera. He turned to filmmaking within a decade of winning Best Actor. His first two feature films First Love (1970) and The Pedestrian (1973) were both nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category for Switzerland and West Germany respectively. And then his first documentary Marlene (1984) which was about his legendary Nuremberg co-star, was also nominated in its category. That's a lot of awards love and a long and full career worth remembering. 

*Judgement at Nuremberg couldn't really win much elsewhere. 1961 was the year of one of Oscar's true phenomenons. West Side Story made nearly a clean sweep of its nominations winning 10 of its 11 Oscar nominations! Nuremberg only bested it in the Adapted Screenplay category where musicals have historically had a very hard time winning. Only two have ever managed: Going My Way (1944) and Gigi (1958). 

Saturday
Jan182014

The Curious Case of The Grandmaster

Dancin' Dan here with a fun bit of Oscar trivia after nominations. When Wong Kar-Wai's gorgeous The Grandmaster didn't make it into the Best Foreign Language Film category. I wasn't surprised. Wong hasn't had much luck with the category (his masterpiece In The Mood for Love was also submitted but Oscar passed on it) and the new film, based on the life and work of Ip Man, has been divisive. I feared that this would spell doom for Philippe Le Sourd's stunning cinematography, thought Nathaniel had been predicting its nomination there for some time, but was heartened by its somewhat surprise inclusion in the ASC's seven-wide field. To my delight, upon looking at the full list of nominations, not only was Le Sourd nominated, but so was William Chang for the film's sumptuous costumes!

Which sets the mind racing... How many films that missed out on a Best Foreign Film nomination been nominated in other categories?

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec212013

Randomness: The Hunt, Film Scores, Burlesque Memories

I'm experiencing something a bit like ADHD today. I've started several articles none of which got past a few lines and worked on a few oscar chart updates or revisions none of which ever felt like I'd finished (visualdocumentary and music / sound charts). And I also spent some time stressing about Sundance which starts in less than a month and which The Film Experience will be covering. But mostly my head has remained a jumble of criss-crossed movie thoughts, so in the effort to get unstuck, I'm just blurting out a handful of random ones, a couple of which might feel familiar if you follow me on twitter.

• I'm curious to hear what your favorite film scores of the year because in this regard, I'm not sure I have any! I tend to be a fan of Alexander Desplat's work but I can't even remember Philomena's score which I saw so recently and which one assumes is an Oscar shoo-in on the composer's name alone. (See also: John Williams and The Book Thief)

• January 16th is going to be insane: Oscar nominations, Sundance's Opening Night, and the "Critics Choice" ceremony are all taking place within 12 hours of each other. Spread it out a little, showbiz! Seriously.

• I watched The Hunt last night, Denmark's finalist for The Foreign Film Category. Mads Mikkelsen is always super and his face, so full of confusion, disbelief, and hurt that's cutting as deep as the lacerations on his face from town beatings. He won Best Actor in Cannes way back in May 2012 and if the film wins its Oscar category in March 2014 The Hunt may well serve as the new poster boy reminder of how deeply strange global cinematic culture is in terms of distribution models. I've heard that people get seriously worked up about this movie, loving or hating it but frankly, either reaction is, um, foreign to me. It's an effective drama, and wholly plausible -- see also the Meryl Streep drama A Cry in the Dark (1988), a predecessor in how ugly "guilty as soon as your accused" mob mentality can be -- at least until the ending which seems tacked on as failed provocation. But it's also not doing anything particularly interesting cinematically or in the screenplay. I expected more from Thomas Vinterberg, who once made the genius Festen/Celebration (1998) which was famously snubbed by Oscar despite causing quite a stir with cinephiles. And I kept feeling like the final scene was shot at the same house where The Celebration took place. Am I crazy or is this true?

• I was at a party the other night (not a film crowd) and an older gentlemen, hearing that I was a film critic, asked me what my favorite movies were. When I got to "Woody Allen's Manhattan" he interrupts... "you mean Annie Hall?"

• Back to the foreign film finalist list, 3 of the 9 finalists each year are selected by special committee with the other 6 coming from popular vote. So which films do you think are which? I'm guessing the committee shoved Cambodia's The Missing Picture and maybe Bosnia's A Day in the Life of a Iron Picker but otherwise I can't suss out which film needed a committee boost since the other 7 finalists strike me as having obvious wide appeal Oscar hooks.

• Today Burlesque was on Oxygen and it remains insanely watchable. "Wagon Wheel Watusi"! It's not a movie that reveals something new everytime you watch it but rather a movie which just reconfirms everything you felt the first time and heightens it. It's RIDICULOUS but in a good way. And it's nice that Kristen Bell got Frozen since Burlesque has a bad case of Yentlitis -- "Only the star may sing even though we've cast a bunch of people with musical chops in this!"

• Finally, I don't know why I didn't tell you this sooner but I swear to god, last week I dreamt that Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Blue is the Warmest Color. When I woke up I tried to go back to sleep since I didn't want this nonsensical actressexual dream to end. It's been haunting me ever since...

No wonder I can't concentrate!

What's going on in *your* movie addled mind?

Friday
Dec202013

Foreign Film Frenzy... The Finalist List 

Though I love the constant excitement of December as much as anyone if there is one single element of awards season I could seize control of, it would be the annual Best Foreign Language Film race. Every year at about this time I've managed to procure 15 or so screeners from the 60+ entries and they're neatly stacked near my TV waiting for a marathon holiday watch & write session. And then most of them get the axe and they're never seen. I'm not proud of this -- you shouldn't skip a movie simply because Oscar isn't interested -- but I am also a human being who lives on planet earth and writes about the Oscars so my time is naturally extremely limited and compartmentalized and stretched thin every November through February. Would that the studios and AMPAS could spread out the timing a little. So my apologies to films from Latvia, Turkey, Croatia, India and the rest that I really had every intention of investigating. 

The other thing I would instantly change is Oscar's obsession with the number nine - ten is so much more symmetrical! Ten is a better number because it would also soften the blow to the eventual snubbees who wouldn't feel (correctly) like the majority of their peers got the part when they didn't. 

THE FINALISTS

 

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
    currently in release in the States
  • An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
    from the director of the Oscar winner in this category for 2001, No Man's Land
  • The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
    unceremoniously dumped from the documentary finals, it now has a second shot at Oscar
  • The Hunt (Denmark)
    from the director of The Celebration which was one of Oscar's most infamous snubs in this always crowded category
  • Two Lives (Germany)
    Liv Ullman appears!
  • The Grandmaster (Hong Kong)
    Wong Kar Wai and his Asian superstar actors. 
  • The Notebook (Hungary)
    Hungary's best shot in ages to return to Oscar after a very long drought 
  • The Great Beauty (Italy)
    which just cleaned up at the European Film Awards 
  • Omar (Palestine)
    from the director of Paradise Now, nominated in this category in 2005

 

NOTICEABLY ABSENT
Saudia Arabia's Wadjda, which was a hit in arthouse theaters, widely tipped to be a frontrunner for the Oscar won't even be nominated now. That's got to hurt. It wasn't a good year for childhood narratives, actually, despite Oscar's tendency to reward that in foreign language films. They also passed on moving forward with Australia's The Rocket and Singapore's awards magnet Ilo Ilo. With all the other leading kids dropping out of contention this year, Hungary's tale of two boys will look singular. I'm also bummed that they skipped Nepal's entry here if only because I fear I'll never have the opportunity to see it now (no screener).

PERSONAL PET 
But the one I'm gutted bout is Chile's Gloria which is top ten list worthy in any language. I fully expected it to be nominated because it's just so delightful but with depth. Now it will be deprived of a much wider audience which is terribly sad. I don't know how committed the distributor is as it's due in January but I've seen it happen all too often that when a film fails to be nominated it suddenly disappears from future release scheds. IF you get a chance to see it, do!  (If Annette Bening or [insert name of any charming 50something movie star] isn't snapping up the remake rights, she's insane.)

MY PREDICTIONS

Thursday
Dec192013

Animated Feature Contender: Rio 2096

Tim Brayton will be looking at several of the contenders for Oscar's Animated Feature race. He previously reviewedThe Wind RisesErnest & CelestineFrozen, and Letter to Momo. This week: Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury.

At times, one is reminded to despair for the English language. We have before us a certain Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury, named in the original Portuguese Uma História de Amor e Fúria, a superior title on two levels. One is that the “Rio 2096” business is an inelegant distraction. The other and more important thing is that in almost every Romantic language, the words for “story” and “history” are the same, and plenty of writers have gotten mileage out of that fact through the years. At any rate, describing Rio 2096 as something that’s both story and history at the same time is merely accurate. Whereas describing it as something that takes place in Rio de Janeiro in 2096 is accurate-ish, though it reeks of marketing to an audience that remembers when “adult animation” and “used-up future” were basically synonymous, back in the 1990s.

Click to read more ...

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