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Entries in Holidays (85)

Saturday
Nov242012

The Perks of Being Anna Karenina's Guardian

By the end of each and every November I am buried in piles and piles of screeners in addition to screening invites each night (I'm not complaining) that all arrive within the same two week period (I am complaining). To give each film a fair shake you'd have to do nothing but watch movies for two weeks before ballots are due -- I'm terrified at how quickly my Critics Choice voting begins! In order to see all the films you want and rescreen those you have foggy memories of you'd have to a) give up Oscar parties, networking and campaign luncheons, b) turn down filmmaker interviews c) decline visits from family and friends and choose not to attend any holiday parties with them d) abandon your blog, your writing, and any work for clients and consulting jobs and thus all your money and e) refuse to sleep.

As I am unwilling and/or unable to give up any of those things, I admit to a certain distressing ohgodImafailure feeling each November. This is a longwinded way of saying that I'm super far behind and overwhelmed and I hope you'll all be patient though I know your first instinct is probably sympathy-free; "Bitch, you already saw Les Miz. Shut it!"

BRIEF THOUGHTS ON THREE MOVIES I HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT

Rise of the Guardians
Santa isn't the main character but he's the character I kept thinking about while trying to organize my thoughts. Santa has "naughty" and "nice" tattoos and the movie is that way, too. In every respect it's a mixed bag, no matter how many gifts it has stuffed inside. Despite confusing character design (why are tooth fairy and easter bunny so scary looking?) and steady but strange characterizations (Santa laughs a lot but there's no vocalization whatsover that might be interpreted as a "ho ho ho"), the characters were sort of endearing. I really enjoyed Sandman, who doesn't speak but communications through shape-making, and Jack Frost who is visualized here as a teenbeat icy hipster twink. The film is often gorgeous but it's also so over-designed as to be instantly forgettable as it leaps from busy lair to busy lair of these iconic characters. The story is both overly familiar and alien (what's with that 'listen to the man on the moon' messaging?) and nonsensical. Most of it all it just smells weird; that's the aroma of frenzied "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" flop sweat. C-
Oscar? There is still plenty of debate as to which toon will win the Best Animated Feature this year, but given the strength of the field, Guardian's chaotic overkill doesn't bode well for its chances.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Logan Lerman is Charlie, an introverted troubled high school freshmen (hence the title) who finds solace in writing and literature and renewed energy for life when a group of "misfit" seniors take him under their wing. The best moments of this adaptation of the beloved best-seller resonate with tender universality but the screenplay (and I assume source material) are problematic. High school is traumatic enough without actual trauma as ever present backstory. Why all the gilding of such a delicate lily? B+/B
Oscar? Traction would be a stretch in any category given that youth oriented films, no matter how heartfelt and soulfully performed, are rarely recognized. Still... this is a significant leap forward for all three of its principles: Logan Lerman does his best work yet anchoring the film; Ezra Miller proves he has a much wider range than After School and We Need To Talk About Kevin suggested; and yes even Emma Watson -- who longtime readers will know I've been ice cold on -- impresses.

Anna Karenina
Brief Thoughts: If Joe Wright's brazenly theatrical take on this oft adapted classic about a respectable Russian wife who loses her place in society to her obsessive affair with a young soldier isn't the year's strangest film (The Master and Holy Motors fight for that honor), it's still one of the most compelling high wire acts. The stylization, which mostly turns on an ever shifting stage set and constant art and film history referencing, isn't always consistent and the film feels like an almost-musical so often it borders on torture (for musical aficionados at least). But there's something about all the eye-popping scenic changes, grand acting gestures, mobile camera, and plot riffing rather than storytelling that give the film a propulsive self-absorbed energy that dovetails perfectly with the stubborn sexual obsessiveness of Anna herself.  B+
Oscar? The film will undoubtedly prove too divisive for major prize-gathering -- hell, I'm the target audience and even I am of two minds about it -- but it still has a fighting shot at the eye candy categories or, as we like to call them, the Moulin Rouge! prizes (a film it often recalls). If the actor's branch is feeling daring, they might want to take a closer look at Keira Knightley's huge star turn. She's getting braver and more adept at stylization all the time. She's the ideal model for Joe Wright's picture-making. Knightley will never be everyone's favorite actress but there's much to admire in this gutsy editorial posing performance.

Recent Reviews / Discussions
Les Misérables (first screening)
Lincoln (on the podcast)
Skyfall (review)
The Master (with a little Holy Motors thrown in) 
Silver Linings Playbook (Beau's review) 

Friday
Nov232012

Thanksgiving Linkovers

Good afternoon! I only had one piece of pumpkin pie last night so it absolutely cannot be counted as an unqualified success of a Thanksgiving. So, desperate for leftovers (I wasn't even sent home with any spare pie!), I turn to good blogs, the whip cream of this internet pie.

Film Dr. a pictorial primer on Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
MNPP JA's living vicariously through Amanda Seyfried fixation continues unabated
Towleroad homoerotic Skyfall poster 

In Contention the first of countless top ten lists, Cahiers du Cinema finds Holy Motors at the top
DP/30 Jake Gyllenhaal talks End of Watch. Which I still haven't seen. I am a bad Gyllenhaalic this year. (I also missed Won't Back Down
Awards Daily Sasha interviews Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
LA Times Tracy Letts says he didn't alter much about August: Osage County for the screen in his screenplay. So... it's three hours long then? 
MovieLine Noomi Rapace does her best Mick Jagger in a new music video. But is it Mick Jaggery enough? 
Empire Marisa Tomei may co-star in a new Hugh Grant romcom. I can see that pairing totally working.

Finally...
Timothy Brayton, easily one of the best (and most completist-friendly) online film critics, has ranked every single Bond film (with each link going to a new review) the Bond Girls and each James Bond. That's a lot of 007. 

Yes yes. I'll post the results of the readers poll here soon -- sorry for the holiday delay -- but before we are totally Bonded out, knock back a martini with Tim's reviews and lists.

Thursday
Nov222012

Happy Thanksgiving !

I hope your dinner is/was marvelous and the hugs plentiful. Thank you all for reading, donating, sharing, and commenting faithfully over the years! 

This cartoon from the latest New Yorker made me lol. Of all the things I'm thankful for, 3-D is not one of them!

3 Things I'm Thankful For Right This Second

  • You, the readers. Thanks for being here, reading, commenting, donating, and sharing so faithfully and with so much movie love of your own.
  • The Oscars for teaching me to obsess over movies. And then the movies for teaching me to forgive the Oscars and enjoy them for what they are: sometimes maddening but always fascinating time capsules of movie culture and what people loved when.
  • In less than ONE DAY MORE I'll be seeing Les Misérables  !!!

YOUR TURN!

Tuesday
Nov202012

The Link is Not Enough

Thompson on Hollywood 5 things you won't learn about the making of Psycho from Hitchcock
Animation Mag GKids, that indie distributor who is bringing us great foreign animated Oscar contenders has even better news for 2013: A 25th anniversary rerelease of Grave of the Fireflies. You MUST see this movie.
I Need My Fix the motion poster for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Fancy.
Variety ohmygod Pedro Almodovar wants to make a sci-fi movie. I'm living for this. Please do. 

The Playlist seems as if Sam Mendes might do another Bond picture post Skyfall
NY Post on exciting BluRay news for Gypsy, and many other classics
Anna Kendrick proves to her fans that she's tweeting 
Pajiba is very unhappy with Barbara Walters '10 Most Fascinating People' list. Particularly with the selection of our new Oscar host and this memorable bit on EL James of "Fifty Shades of Grey" fame:

I am sick of the way that criticism about this book has somehow morphed into derisively calling it mommy porn... My problem is the same problem I have with Twilight: the national obsession with terrible fucking writing interspersed with a cursory at best and hungrily timid notion of sex.

BadAss Digest the Marvel Studios "Phase One" box set has new features. I read through them and there's no full length documentary of Chris Evans training shirtless to get Captain America's body so there's no way I'm paying $220!
NY Post Watchmen -- you haven't heard that title in awhile, have you -- is getting a collector's edition with a super long cut and more Dr. Manhattan nudity. Too bad the movie is so stiff.
Vanity Fair Amanda Seyfried in couture... and on her relationship with Hugh Jackman in Les Miz and Dominic Cooper's eight-pack. No really.

 Off Cinema
Huffington Post Fiona Apple cancels the South American leg of her tour due to her dying dog. This is so incredibly sad and Fiona Apple is so awesome. Fact.
Gawker Anderson Cooper gets catty with a obnoxious twitter follower 

Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and big Oscar contenders are celebrating with connections both very real and carved (haha) out of thin air. Here's a Happy Thanksgiving from Dreamworks Lincoln 

 

...and one from Fox Searchlight's Hitchcock which you can e-mail to friends and family here.

I'm really disappointed that in this day and age of abundant web animations -- I mean even I can make little animated gifs of my drawings! -- this card didn't have movement. Hitch actually stabbing the turkey would have been sickening.

 

Tuesday
Nov202012

Curio: Hannah on Thanksgiving

Alexa here. Every year on Thanksgiving I make an effort to catch Hannah and Her Sisters, one of Woody's best and certainly my favorite film with a Thanksgiving theme.  Its framing of three Thanksgiving dinners hosted by Mia Farrow's Hannah resembles the three Christmases in Fanny and Alexander (while I'm at it, I may queue that one up for Christmas). Maybe it's the elegance of this structure that makes the film great, as it holds together Woody's wonderful vignettes, especially those amongst Barbara Hershey, Max Von Sydow and Michael Caine. And this scene pretty much summarizes my philosophy of life.

E.E. Cummmings by cartoonist Louie Chin.

I wish I could drag the rest of my family away from the football to watch it with me, but I usually do so as a solitary endeavor in between baking pies. Here, after the jump, are some great little homages and artistic curios in honor of this film I never, ever tire of. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov022012

A Celebrity Halloween

For the first time in its long long history New York City's Halloween Parade was cancelled. But some celebrity fav Halloween parties did go in in London and Hollywood. Here are a few photos.

Let's start with Chloe Moretz and Rose McGowan... primarily because I don't know what they're supposed to be: Is Chloe a crying vampire, a rock and roll devil ... or maybe she grabbed some rejected scraps from Colleen Atwood's costume trunks on the set of Dark Shadows; Is Rose a Christmas Rockette, a Babe in Toyland, or January Jones?

Help me out in the comments (and tell us what you wore on Halloween!). More celeb photos after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct302012

Curio: Rosemary's Bric-a-brac

Alexa here. This Halloween I am taking advantage of the fact that I'm pregnant by dressing as my favorite film heroine, Rosemary Woodhouse. Some may find it in bad taste to dress as the mother of the devil's spawn when you are with child, but I'll use any excuse to celebrate Polanski's masterpiece Rosemary's Baby (1968), which has its Criterion release today.

Rosemary paper doll by Ana Camamiel.

I've ordered my copy, and while I'm at it I may buy one of these these great Rosemary curios I stumbled upon while searching the web for my costume pieces. Tannis, anyone?  

Three more vintage pieces...

Click to read more ...

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