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Entries in foreign films (241)

Monday
Feb162015

Interview: Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz on 'Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem'

Jose here. In Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Israeli goddess Ronit Elkabetz returns to play a part she’s lived with for more than a decade. In 2004, Ronit and her brother Shlomi teamed up as writers and co-directors of a film trilogy that would concentrate on the experiences of a woman as seen through the roles society imposed on her. In the first installment, To Take a Wife, Viviane must deal with being trapped in a loveless marriage to her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian), in 7 Days, Viviane must sit Shiva and come to terms with the fact that she is obligated to mourn despite not feeling pain. In Gett, which opened this weekend on the heels of its Golden Globe Foreign Film nomination (Oscar passed it by), Viviane is trying to gain her freedom from Elisha, but finds that practically impossible given that her husband hasn’t committed any “sins” against her; her request is deemed invalid by the strict rabbinical court.

In the years since her breakthrough in Late Marriage (2001), also an Israeli Oscar submission, and the first Viviane installment, Ronit has become the face of Israeli cinema having delivered brilliant performances in films like The Band’s Visit and Or. Gett also reveals her growth behind the camera with a much more sophisticated directorial technique, as she and Shlomi tell the story from a very subjective point of view. With their use of the camera and precise shots, they allow Viviane to have the freedom of thought society continues to deny her. A perfectly cast ensemble makes the film a worthy spiritual companion to A Separation and Zodiac, in a way, as they all explore the frustration that comes along with endless, inefficient bureaucratic processes.

During their recent visit to New York City, I talked to Ronit and Shlomi about their collaborations, their unique use of cinematic language and how Gett has rightfully become a sociopolitical sensation in Israel.

The interview is after the jump...    

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb152015

A Foreign Language Actress So Nice, She's Been Nominated Twice: Sophia Loren

abstew here. Only 15 women in the 87 year history of the Academy have scored a Best Actress nomination for a foreign language performance. In contrast, British actresses have won Best Actress 14 times. While the Academy has always warmed to Brits, their European neighbors have had to struggle to breakthrough with recognition in the acting races. (There has still never been a Best Actress nominee for a performance in any language outside of a European origin.) The first actress to even score a nomination for a foreign language performance was Melina Mercouri for Never on a Sunday in 1960, over 30 years into the Academy's history. Only two women have actually won Best Actress for a foreign language performance and both those women have the even rarer distinction of being honored twice with nominations for foreign language performances. The first was Sophia Loren who won for 1961's Two Women and was nominated again for Marriage Italian Style (1964). The other is this year's nominee for Two Days, One Night, Marion Cotillard, who won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose (2007).

With her second nomination, Cotillard joins a small but prestigious group of actresses that in addition to Loren includes Liv Ullmann and Isabelle Adjani. Three actresses in three separate languages (Italian, Swedish, and French) that proved their talent was able to transcend language barriers not once, but twice with the Academy. To receive an Oscar nomination is an honor, to do so a second time shows that you've earned the respect of the Academy, and to do it both times for performances not even in English, well, that's a feat reserved only for iconic women like these.

To celebrate Cotillard's place alongside these international legends, for the next few days we'll look back at the three previous foreign language, double-nominated Best Actress contenders. First up, the beauty from Italy that made Oscar history with her first nomination... 

Sophia Loren
after the jump 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb062015

Tack för det, Magnolia. A Blurb Whore Triumph!

Thanks to Kyle Turner (who guest-starred on one our Smackdown podcasts last year) who alerted me to this little blurb on the DVD of Force Majeure (I have not seen the DVD. Just this tweeted snapshot)

I was completely unaware of this and was not contacted by Magnolia Pictures. The quote looks a little weird out of context (the humor is very cerebral but it was, to me and the theater I was in at TIFF, indeed "hilarious") and fused together like that. Here was my original capsule review if you're curious. The film eventually came in at #12 in my Best of the Year list

I guess this means I have to buy a physical copy.

It'll be fun to see this in real life. Especially since it's a Scandinavian film and an Oscar submission and I'm always seeking both kinds of movies out at film festivals. It's just too bad it wasn't nominated. Magnolia recently picked up "Tangerine" which I loved loved loved at Sundance. So feel free to quote away on that, Magnolia!

Sunday
Feb012015

Thin Skins and The Art of Being Snubbed

I've been sitting on half formed think pieces about this one for a couple of weeks deciding whether to publish but here goes...

A very recent article at Wired about journalist behavior at Sundance made a lot of journalists angry. I agree that a lot of movie journalists are jaded (I think that about other Oscar bloggers all the time who don't see to love it like I do). The piece isn't really fair because there are a lot of terribly behaved people of all types of badges at festivals. The type of badge you wear does not influence your behavior, your character influences your behavior. Still there's so much online response and twitter uproar about this that it reminded me of all the potshots taken at Birdman's depiction of a critic (in a movie that is not meant to be taken literally at that). In short: a lot of media writers have thin skins. I'd include myself here I must say but I think it's better to take your lumps quietly than protest too much. (Movies.com had a similarly themed piece on bad movie etiquette but it was more generous and didn't point too specific a finger.)

The uproar over these pieces reminded me of my own discomfort about the way people react to Oscar snubs (or omissions if the "s" word offends you). This season in particular, the Selma situation has provoked a lot of criticism,...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan112015

Golden Globe Foreign Film Panel

It's Golden Globes night. We'll start covering the red carpet arrivals in a half hour or so. If you missed our predictions those were here on the podcast.

 

A neat new tradition for the Golden Globes is this focus on their foreign film nominees -- they are the "Hollywood Foreign Press Association" after all. In this streamed event you can hear from FORCE MAJEURE's (Sweden) Ruben Ostlund, GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM's (Israel) Ronit Elkabetz &  Shlomi Elkabetz, IDA's (Poland/Denmark), Pawel Pawlikowski, LEVIATHAN's (Russia) Andrey Zvyagintsev, and TANGERINES (Estonia) Zaza Urushadze. Interestingly enough -- it's not common -- four of the five Globe nominees this year (all but Gett) are still in the running for an Oscar nomination in the correlative category

Sunday
Jan112015

Awards, Recent Miscellania

It's Golden Globes Night.  Until then let's try in vain to catch up a little.

Oscar Nomination Morning (this Thursday) has some news. For the first time they'll be announcing ALL CATEGORIES at that early morning ceremony we so love. Not just the headliners which is all they used to do followed by the press release list of all nominees. The Film Experience heartily approves! 

Palm Springs International Film Festival wraps up tomorrow but the jury prizes are in and four of this season's Oscar submissions won something: Russia's Leviathan won the FIPRESCI for Best Film and Georgia's Corn Island took an award called "Bridging the Borders". Both are still in the running to become America's Next Top Foreign Language Film. The acting prizes went to films that have already been cut from Oscar's Foreign Film Party. Mommy's Anne Dorval took Best Actress and Winter Sleep's Haluk Bilginer won Best Actor. You can see the rest of the prizes here. Audience Awards have yet to be announced.

That bitch to the right does NOT like Glenn Close's hairstyle. Do you?

Makeup And Hair Stylists Guild will hold their awards ceremony on Valentine's Day on the Paramount lot where Rick Baker, of werewolf fame, and Kathryn Blondell (of Leo DiCaprio and Goldie & Kate hairstyling fame) will receieve lifetime achievement awards. They have 5 categories for film as well as 14 other categories which cover tv, commercials, and live theater. Thus they're far more generous than the Academy's corresponding branch which already eliminated several of their nominees. Curiously their website does not contain the nominees just into about attending their awards show (unless I'm just missing it) but you can see a complete list at Deadline. Guardians of the Galaxy and Into the Woods led their nominations with 3 each including a prize specifically for the Witch which I'm sure will delight many of you given what you've been saying in the comments. The most curious category in terms of a collection of nominees is surely Best Contemporary Hairstyling. They went with: Birdman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar , St. Vincent, and Winter's Tale. Super strange, right? I'd only heard people mocking Winter's Tale... even for the hair! I can't excuse the lack of Tilda's vampire dreadlocks, or Lucy's dye jobs, but I guess there aren't a lot of contemporary films with noticeable hair work this year?

The Casting Guild used to hold the annual Artios Awards in November and their eligibility period was not based on the calendar year. They've shifted it now -- presumably to be more in line with everyone else -- so their eligibility period is fairly long this year which resulted in a curious mix of last year's beloved movies and this year's contenders so you have categories where, say, 12 Years a Slave is going up against Selma (Feature Film Big Budget Drama) and Short Term 12 is going up again Boyhood (Feature Film Low Budget Drama). You can see a complete list at their website. My happiest takeaway from this list is that Short Term 12 was remembered (its casting was effortful and brilliant, if you think about it) and that Pride was honored in the oddly and very broadly titled Feature Film Studio or Independent Comedy category. Pride will be competing with Big Eyes, Chef, The Grand Budapest Hotel, St. Vincent and Top Five. Chef seems like a really weird choice since there was a whole lot of Jon Favreau calling up all his celebrity friends to do him a favor.

Mommy won several prizes from Vancouver critics. But Anne Dorval lost Best Actress!Critics Prizes continue in cities all over the place. We decided we just couldn't cover it all so made firm decisions about how we'd proceed next year -- if you missed that post it's basically that we'll only be covering groups formed before 2000 since there's been an absolute explosion ever since with multiple rounds of press releases  -- some groups have as few as 8 people so they might all be friends in someone's basement, who knows! But since we don't cover them all we'll be just linking up to their awards at other places (though not their nominations) and pointing out areas where they went out on a true limb if there are any. Recent groups that have announced include Iowa which went with all the usual suspects but for Reese for Best Actress,  Vancouver which went for all the usual suspects but for Tilda Swinton for Best Actress for Only Lovers Left Alive and The Overnighters for Documentary (they also have Canadian film awards so it's worth looking at and they were fans of Mommy & Tu dors Nicole) , Oklahoma went with the usual suspects but for Edward Norton in Birdman the world's Official Runner Up for supporting (bad timing for his Oscar dreams I suppose), and they have a fun prize called "not so obviously worst movie" which went to Monuments Men and a prize I don't agree with called "Guilty Pleasure" which went to Edge of Tomorrow but honestly there's nothing to feel guilty about when a movie is really good, which that one is, and you like watching it). Finally, though I probably missed some cities,  Georgia went with the usual suspects but for Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer and the getting less and less unusual Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. They also have a breakthrough award which went to David Oyelowo which is an interesting choice but he's been working too long for me to view him thusly. Still, I get the impulse. He had a big year and he's lesser known.

How prepared are you for the Globes tonight? Make sure to listen to our predictions today if you haven't yet!

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