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Entries in J Edgar (18)

Tuesday
Sep032013

Team Top Ten: Biggest Awards Season Flops

Amir here, to bring you our newest edition of Team Top Ten. Festival season is in full force. Telluride just wrapped. Venice is going strong. And in just two days, Toronto will set the awards season ablaze (Nathaniel and I will be there covering the flames). So we thought we’d vote on something that captures the spirit of the season.

Sort of.

Looking ahead at this point, there are a lot of films that look like surefire Oscar contenders. Inevitably, some of them will miss out on nomination morning, but at this very moment, everyone’s got their hopes high. Even in a year where unfortunate circumstances led to widespread discussion of racism in America, one can’t expect Mandela, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler AND Fruitvale Station to be nominated, but all four films are certainly gunning for it. So has been the story with many films in the past couple of decades, since the Oscars became the most glamorous political race on the planet and the Weinstein’s at Miramax supercharged awards campaigning.  

We’re looking back today at the films of the past 25 years – let’s call it the Campaigning Era – that looked like major Oscar players this far out in the year, or hell, even five minutes before nominations were announced in some cases, but failed to make a dent of any size. This is Team Experience’s Top Ten Awards Season Flops. Note that this is not a qualitative judgment - some stank, some were superb. But, for one reason or another, they fell short of what The Golden Man deems "Best". In simple terms – borrowed from Team Experience member, Nick Davis – these are the ten films that have the largest gap between their Oscar hopes and their Oscar outcomes. Without further ado… 

Bobby and 9 more dashed-hopefuls after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec282011

"Worst" of 2011. A Quick Purge

year in review part whichever

I use the term "worst" loosely as I am generally not paid to see the obviously terrible films that open all year round. Plus, I'm not feeling the negativity this year. Or, rather, I'm trying not to feel it. With Bridesmaids and Melancholia both speaking so eloquently on the subject of depression this year like some perfect if unlikely double feature (more on that soon) why should I wallow in my own? No, 2011 was a good year for cinema. So here is a very quick purge of the things that momentarily led me to believe otherwise. 

Hell's Multiplex
Hell's multiplex has noisy audiences, crying babies, constant texting, and 50 million miniature screens showing only 50 movies, a million microscopic screens for each sorry movie! All of them requiring 3D glasses... even the ones in 2D. I wisely avoided the films I thought might play there -- if I hear the names Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler or Kevin James or "Part One" I run -- though I inadvertently stumbled on a few grotesqueries. I've no wish to bury amateurish festival films but bigger names and wider releases are fair games. The 8 worst films I saw this year, then, were:

  • Beastly and...
  • I Am Number Four 
    This Double Feature of Dickery tops the list (bottoms the list?), with both of the films starring Prince Charmless himself Alex Pettyfer. What possessed his management to give the go ahead on Beastly in particular in which he must sell -- and sells all too well -- utter despicability of character devoid of all traditional humanity? And selling that so well while playing the hero?
  • Abduction [reviewed]
  • Cars 2 -Cars was Pixar's previous worst film. So naturally all of Cars's worst impulses were jacked up for the sequel. Michael said it best to me when we were leaving the screening "It's like George Lucas deciding to make a Star Wars prequel with Jar Jar Binks as the lead character!"
  • Green Lantern [reviewed]
  • J Edgar - Less outright terrible than devoid of any reasonable expectations of entertainment value or historical insight. Cliche filled stuff spun from complex fascinating real life. [reviewed]
  • The Other Woman [reviewed]
  • Kaboom [reviewed]

 

Michelle & Nicole in widely hated filmsWorst Reviewed Movies of 2011 That I Myself Did Not See
New Year's Eve and Trespass ...yes I have every intention of seeing these two films; I am willing to suffer for my Pfandom and my Kidmania. But I'm no hurry. But those I intentionally avoided include: Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, The Roommate, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Season of the Witch, Red Riding Hood, Dream House, Zookeeper, I Don't Know How She Does It, The Rite, The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Worst Actress
True story Part 1: I had never* seen Vanessa Hudgens act before seeing Beastly.
True Story Part 2: I still haven't seen her act because no reasonable person could call it such. 

Mating Rituals From Hell's Multiplex: BEASTLY

Worst Actress That Has Been Good In Other Things
If you figure out what Abbie Cornish was doing in W.E. besides counting down the days till the shoot ended please share this information. But my guess is that's what was going on because otherwise I can't figure it...

Worst Actor
Let's play "Jeopardy" instead...

Violins, totem poles, Grandma Willow, trees, 'Mr. Pointy', antiques, wardrobe, pianos, chaise lounge, picket fence, Treebeard, staves, matches, witch's broom... 

??? 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov302011

The Scarlet Linker

Hollywood Reporter on the highlights from the Gotham Awards. Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Olsen were apparently big hits.
Tom Shone Best Performances of 2011. Love this fluid quick take annual feature.
I Need My Fix Is Christopher Meloni joining True Blood for Season Five? Could that show possibly contain yet more explosive sexiness?
GQ interviews director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows) and yes he actually talks about Madonna and the divorce.... which...
Lainey Gossip has an interesting take on what he means when he says "I'm glad I made money" in the interview with which I would totally agree if that's what I was sure he meant. But it seems highly interpretable to me. Maybe that's not what he meant at all. 
Stale Popcorn Glenn speaks out on Meryl Streep's anti-auteur tendencies and what's going on with the quest for that third Oscar. Good piece.

Coming Soon Lizard concept art from The Amazing Spider-Man 
Alt Screen get yourself to Film Forum over the next two months and bone up on the silent film masterpieces they're showing.
Liz Smith shares a funny e-mail from showbiz widow Tita Cahn about J. Edgar.

Worst line ever spoken between two men in a movie -  'will you be my number two?' "

Hee. That's just one piece of it.

Telegraph TFE friend Tim Robey pays tribute to the one and only Ken Russell, remembering their last encounter at a screening of The Devils
Perez Hilton Wow. Apparently Meryl Streep donated her Iron Lady salary to the National Women's History Museum
Movielicious offers up this poster comparison, Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War (which I'm not hearing good things about) and Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey (which I am).

Hmmmm... 

My New Plaid Pants Have you heard about this reboot of The Munsters. I'm trusting JA to keep me informed as he's knowledgable on all things Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls) one of the best and most idiosyncratic TV minds out there.
MTV Charlize Theron's 2011 Tour of Comedic Movie Star Amazement continues whilst discussing Snow White and the Hunstman.

I haven't really worked with [Kristen]. I've done some small things with her, but we're about to shoot our big showdown, and fingers crossed for me. It's the big battle. I'm just really, really, really hoping I get to kill her. That is how the story ends up, right?"

[For more on her awesome Tour of Tours check out the Actress Roundtable post and the DGA screening of Young Adult.]

Finally...

 Movie|Line has a great interactive Shame map. You can follow Brandon's ritual around the city. It beats an expensive trip to the Museum of Sex here in NYC. 

Monday
Nov142011

10 Word Reviews: Hanna, Like Crazy, Puss in Boots, Coriolanus

Though I'm happy to have finally banged out a few thoughts on J Edgar, I'm never going catch up without engaging in some quickies. So herewith some miniature takes on things I've recently seen that I haven't written up. (And at the end of the post, a bit more on J. Edgar because you were asking... )

CORIOLANUS
For Fiennes directorial debut he adapts one of Shakespeare's lesser tragedies
10WR: Swings with brutish fists, occasionally landing blows. Impactful locale choices. B 
Oscar? Supporting Actress. It will be all about beastly mama Redgrave chewing determinedly on her own anger. (Fiennes does the spitting for their amusingly Oedipal bond).

LIKE CRAZY
Crazy College Kids Cuddling Cross-Atlantic 
10WR: Intermittently endearing / annoying, sensitively made. Starter kit for promising careers. B-
Oscar? Unlikely despite early buzz to the contrary. Best Actress is too crowded and romantic dramas don't win kudos for their male leads. On that note, I feel it's worth trumpeting that Anton Yelchin is every bit as strong as Felicity Jones in detailing the first crushing moments of love and the romantic confusion that often follows. Bonus points for giving us the most authentic "drunk but horny, trying to stay awake" face the movies have ever seen.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED
Crazy Post-Collegiate Kids' "NO CUDDLING!" Coitus
10 WR: 100% predictable but funny. Authentically acted despite proud sitcom leanings. C+
Oscar? LOL. But no embarrassment for Portman as post-Oscar performances go -- which it could have been. She's far better here than in The Other Woman. No really.

PUSS IN BOOTS
Puss invades another fairy tale (Jack and the Beanstalk) for treasure and personal redemption.
10WR: Indulgent backstories / setpieces bore. Charms with character and recurring gags.  
Oscar? Seems likely for animated feature but then they did ignore the last two Shrek movies. 

HANNA
in which a teen killing machine is on the run from...  because of... with only .....
10 WR: Carnage-filled collision of fairytales/Catholocism. Ridiculous. Unique. Very watchable B
Oscar? Stylized teen driven genre pieces are not their thing so "No". But how about that Chemical Bros score, eh? Cinematography was compelling, too.


J EDGAR & OSCAR?
Already reviewed and interviewed but y'all kept asking about Oscar. I only have it predicted for two nominations right now, Best Makeup and Best Actor. The makeup is getting mostly bad reviews but bad reviews have rarely stopped them from honoring "Most Makeup" in the past. As for the Best Actor nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio, I agree with Mark who says in the review comments.

I don't want to live in a world where Leo is given out of some sense of obligation but Fassbender is snubbed for his miraculous turn in Shame.

... but we do live in that kind of world, even if this year happens to pan out differently.

Otherwise, I don't see a way the film can find much Oscar traction. The costumes and art direction aren't particularly showy (and it's a crowded year). The cinematography seems to be one of the more divisive elements and historically the cinematography branch isn't as enamored with Eastwood's filmography as other branches tend to be. Even when his films are Best Picture nominated they don't often show up. Unforgiven (Jack N. Green) is the only one of his four Best Picture nominees to receive a cinematography nomination and Changeling (Tom Stern) is the only other one of his pictures so honored.

What's next review wise?
More substantial takes coming on Melancholia and the Scandinavian Oscar submissions...

Sunday
Nov132011

Box Office: Jack and Jill Went Up the Till...

Tarsem Singh's muscley superhero dieties may have topped the box office charts but you could say that the big stars of the weekend were Jack & Jill twice over. Perversely interpreted fairy tale "Jack & Jill" (as voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) from Puss in Boots and twinned Jack and Jill as "acted" by Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill together grossed over $50 million. Jack & Jill is getting the maximum critical bile a movie can get but Sandler remains critic proof; his movies always open. 

Jack & Jack and Jill & Jill

Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (reviewed) opened fairly well for a long obviously dour drama -- DiCaprio & Eastwood both being bankable draws -- but it's true test will be in the next few weeks. Can it stick a landing after the non-emphatic box office and confusing critical reception, the latter which could be likened to a shakycam... it's all over the place!

Box Office (U.S.) Top Ten -Estimates
01 IMMORTALS new $32 
02 JACK AND JILL new $26
03 PUSS IN BOOTS $25.5 (cum. $108.8)
04 TOWER HEIST $13.2 (cum. $43.9)
05 J EDGAR new $11.4 [review]
06 A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS new $5.9 (cum $23.2)
07 IN TIME $4.1  (cum. $30.6)
08 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 $3.6  (cum. $100.8)
09 FOOTLOOSE $2.7  (cum. $48.8)
10 REAL STEEL $2.0  (cum. $81.7)
11 MONEYBALL $1.1 (cum $71.8) [review]
12 COURAGEOUS $1 (cum $31.5)
13 THE IDES OF MARCH $.9 (cum $38.3)

Limited Release
Sundance darlings Martha Marcy May Marlene (which we've been obsessing over and riffing on) and Like Crazy both earned another ½ million each with sizeable expansions. The Brazilian Oscar submission Elite Squad the Enemy Within had the week's third highest per screen average.

The highest per screen average when to Lars von Trier's Melancholia which grossed a quarter of a million in its first real weekend though it's release strategy has been... bizarre (what with the Oscar qualifying -- we understand it had one? -- and then a VOD release preceeding this theatrical release. 

What did you see this weekend?

If you saw Jack and Jill did you feel unclean afterwards?

If you saw Immortals do tell... I didn't get around to it but am curious... given the visuals in Tarsem's The Fall

Sunday
Nov132011

The Amazing Linker-Man

Vanity Fairy Paul Mazursky, who made one of my favorite pictures (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice) recalls its critical reception and then starts his own film reviewing for VF:  J. Edgar and Melancholia.
Wall Street Journal  Baseball legend Yogi Berra sees Moneyball and reminisces about his own history with the movies. Fun piece.
Coming Soon Emma Stone's opening monologue on SNL last night. Andy Samberg's Spider-Man arrives to interrupt her with a new script. Love this bit.

Emma: Ok, Andy, aren't you just redoing the same monologue that Kirsten Dunst did like 10 years ago?
Andy: Uhhh, yeah. Aren't you just redoing the exact same Spider-Man movie from 10 years ago?

Hee.

Awards Daily on the unshakeable charms of The Artist.
Thelma Adams falls for Kirsten Dunst's beautiful bitterness in Melancholia.
Playlist multihyphante showbiz woman Rie Rasmussen is gaga for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained which will "revolutionize Hollywood."
In Contention looks back at early Charlize Theron, pre Oscar Charlize in fact.
Funny or Die Ryan Gosling, the strong and very silent type. 
Serious Film on the makeup in J. Edgar
MNPP while looking at the new EW cover of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo this is what your eyes did.
Towleroad I had a brief chat with Dustin Lance Black about his screenwriting work on Milk and J. Edgar

stagey
NYT Hugh Jackman on Broadway review
La Daily Musto Hugh Jackman on Broadway review

Finally...
Let's end with this tribute to the title design of Saul Bass from Art of the Title...

The Title Design of Saul Bass from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.

There are few things we enjoy more than a good title sequence. Which have been your favorite this year? FYC me for those Film Bitch Awards which begin sooner than you think.

Saturday
Nov122011

Review: "J. Edgar"

Disclaimer #1: This reviews briefly talks about the ending but... duh. It's history.
Disclaimer #2: Everyone has biases and the only people who tend to get in trouble about them are the ones that admit them like me. Generally speaking I think biopics are the dullest of film genres and it takes a strong artistic voice to overcome their persistent nagging limitations.  Generally speaking I do not love the work of Clint Eastwood. Though many critics feel duty bound to praise even his most obvious misfires, I've been accused of the exact opposite approach though I liked all four of his modern Best Picture grabs... (just not in the way Oscar did.)
Disclaimer #3: Clint Eastwood makes me sad because -- though this is not his fault -- he has ruined many famous film critics for me. My favorite living filmmaker is Pedro Almodóvar but I didn't try to pretend that Broken Embraces, Live Flesh, or The Skin I Live In were masterpieces. I don't trust anyone who can't see Eastwood's weaknesses as a filmmaker, his inability to vary up his visual ideas, the uneven "we did it in one take!" acting (it shows), and so on...

If you've already tuned out I understand and forgive you. That's too many disclaimers but one must approach the ceaselessly idolized Clint Eastwood with caution. Extreme caution is also recommended when approaching J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous half century FBI overlord and mean SOB. "J. Edgar" who is played from sixteen (?) to death by L. DiCaprio is also, as it turns out, an unreliable narrator. J Edgar (2011) is fully aware of this though weirdly cagey about when to reveal it. Rather than encouraging us to look at the man and his actions with clinical wide eyes from the start, it encourages much sympathy with groaner on-the-button lines like 'no amount of admiration can fill the place where love should be.' In fact, it embraces the title man's point of view to such an extent that he narrates the entire movie -- that old groaner device of "telling his story for posterity." His point of view is the only point of view so even his life long "friend" Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) is first viewed only as a menacing shadow behind closed doors, something to be ashamed of. After two plus hours of sympathising and listening to apologies about his behavior (but his mommy hated the gays -- naturally he was fucked up!) he is clumsily retrofitted at the tail end as the movie's Keyser Soze of sorts, only less purely evil on account of all the sad little boy business. But yes, he's been lying all along... or fibbing, if you're still feeling sympathetic.

Though the screenplay needed another few drafts as badly as some of the minor performances needed additional takes, there are brief flashes of the movie it could have been. The Charles Lindbergh and John Dillinger storylines, for example, are enough to fill movies by themselves. We know this because they've made for better movies than J. Edgar. Despite decades of evidence warning filmmakers about this exact "EVERYTHING!" approach, J. Edgar falls for the typical bio-traps. Movies are shorter than novels and definitely shorter than entire human lives and must thus choose which elements are worth dramatizing. Instead J. Edgar, like so many bios before it, crams itself full with cliff notes instead of truly absorbing the text and breathing its ideas. J. Edgar clings to many of the famous storylines and its own suppositions about them as desperately as Hoover clings to Tolson. But it's not just their manly love that's unconsummated; this whole movie has blue balls. Just as you become invested in one chapter or detail, you've lept ahead or backwards and on to another. No one involved in the production ever seems to decided what they found interesting about the material other than "ALL OF IT!"

For their part, the actors do what they can with the unfocused material. Leonardo DiCaprio, ever fond of playing anguished men, gives it his all but doesn't reach the charismatic precision or depth of feeling that he can hit when the material is more focused on entertainment than on SERIOUS ACTING. (In short, we're losing DiCaprio the movie star to DiCaprio the 'Master Thespian' and this is a crying shame.) Armie Hammer is more than adept at the dreamy Ivy League gay catch he plays in the early scenes but loses his way once he's playing a character well beyond his own age. He's swathed in lbs and lbs of prosthetics (maybe he couldn't see his marks? Why do makeup artists think "old" means 130? Why does he look older than Judi Dench?) Naomi Watts, who needed anything but yet one more bleak movie on her resume, is barely consequential at all. Though she embodies "Loyalty" -- we know because J Edgar tells us just that in the constant narration -- you could leave her on the cutting room floor and not lose much. Finally, though she's in little of it, Judi Dench walks away with the whole thing with her devastatingly unsympathetic mother-son chitchat about "daffodils". It's obvious and cruel code for "don't be a fairy!" though she knows her boy already is one. 

"Is that legal?"In the end, though, what burdens the movie as heavily as the extreme prosthetics must have weighed on Hammer and DiCaprio is its utter joylessness. Again Clint Eastwood dully plinks away on the piano at key moments rather than hiring a composer who could have elevated this movie with something more robust and filled with different shades of feeling. The murky cinematography by Tom Stern, is just as monotonous in feeling in addition to being practically monochromatic. Another Eastwood picture all drained of color. Black and white movies are among the most beautiful movies ever made so if you want to make a black and white movie, have at it; consummate the love affair! But none of this "color is too flowery!" business.

Even the early most playful scenes wherein J. Edgar and Clyde are becoming intertwined lack the spark that you can only see in Armie Hammer's eyes. You could stretch and say that the film's entirely bleak aesthetic is meant to represent the joylessness of Hoover's life only if you've never seen a recent Clint Eastwood. That's just how they always look. The movie is an über-drag, long before J Edgar is softly whimpering in his mamma's dress.  D+