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Entries in Joy (16)

Tuesday
Apr252017

Q&A: JLaw at the Top, Chris Pine's Future, Trans Characters in Cinema

Bob Fosse on the set of LennyApologies dearest readers about the slow rollout of various columns this month. April is such a weird month, isn't it? What can you do. So you recently asked a bunch of questions and here's 11 answers!  I hope you'll speak out on these same topics in the comments to make this more conversational. I do actually love to hear your opinions, too! xoxo

EDWARD: Have you ever wanted to make a movie?

NATHANIEL: The short answer is "no". The medium answer is I think it might be fun to work on one once, to have the experience (the areas that most interest me in terms of my own potential skills are casting and editing). But my basic feeling is that I love movies too much to commit to one only for years on end as so many filmmakers seem to have to do. The long answer is that I have fantasized about it but usually only in the context of becoming a great director of modern movie musicals since Hollywood so desperately needs someone who is inspired by / committed to that genre specifically. We need a new Fosse/Minnelli/Berkeley/Donen  roughly a billion times more than we need a new Scorsese/Spielberg/Tarantino/Malick/Kubrick/Whomever. There are always people trying to be that latter group of guys!

MARK: If you could bring back any movie star deceased back in a Peter Cushing Rogue One style cameo who would you choose.

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Monday
May092016

The Furniture: Joy's Emerald City of Home Shopping

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber on Joy, now available on DVD and Bluray

It seems impossible that production designer Judy Becker has only received a single Oscar nomination, if not supremely unfair as well. At the very least, she should have snagged a second nomination for Carol. Her resume includes such diverse triumphs as We Need to Talk About Kevin, Brokeback Mountain, Shame and I’m Not There, as well as a neat early credit as a set dresser on Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. And so it seems totally appropriate that Becker is the first production designer to merit a repeat appearance in 'The Furniture'.

Becker’s most fruitful collaboration has been with David O. Russell. She's worked on every one of his features since The Fighter and she earned her lone Oscar nomination for American Hustle. Her sets for Joy, particularly the charismatic QVC studio at the film’s core, are among the best design work of last year. They also make quite a one-two punch with Carol, Becker showing a remarkable affinity for the stylistic underpinnings of American shopping. [More...]

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Saturday
Feb272016

Film Bitch Awards - Best Scenes of Multiple Kinds

We're nearly finished* with 2015 Film Bitch Awards, our own annual year in review yearbook/party and of imaginary Oscar ballot (well, half of it is that). Today the remainder of our Best Scene categories with six final scene categories. This group hands more nominations to films from the top ten list of course but for highlights to point out here on the blog before you click over, we're using films outside the top ten list. 

Obviously this page (and post) of awards contains mild spoilers so if you haven't seen the films and wish to stay pure, these are not the awards categories you're looking for. Here is one nominee I felt the need to gab about (maybe you will too?) from each category...

BEST KISS
While Creed was mostly ignored by the Academy, chances are its big box office (which significantly outgrossed Stallone's last two attempts are reigniting the franchise) will insure a big career for Michael B Jordan. Can Tessa Thompson hope for the same (it's always trickier for actresses of color)? They're wonderful together. Especially endearing is the scene in her apartment where Adonis makes up a godawful wrap and they end up collapsed on the floor, caught up in the moment. It's an upside down shot from above and they're something beautifully innocent and pure but also sexy about this kiss. (Later they'll bring the heat in a proper sex scene at Rocky's house. "but what about your Uncle?" / "He old!" Ha!)

SEX SCENE
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort By the Sea was mercilessly trashed upon arrival but this was always going to be its fate. The Jolie-Pitts are extremely mainstream-famous. And household name blockbuster stars that the public has longed to see paired again onscreen aren't supposed to reunite for an indulgent overly serious tribute to Euro art cinema of the 1970s. That's for the other kind of movie star, like the Julianne Moores and the Ryan Goslings of the world, whose filmographies are built on eclectic sensibilities and crisscrossing between the ittybitty and the giant. But By the Sea isn't without its moments. The best scene, repeated in different forms like a musical riff, is when the couple sits on the floor in their hotel room and shyly watches another younger couple (Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud) make love in the next room through a peephole. It's beautifully sympathetic and tragicomic, an estranged couple tiptoeing back to intimacy through surrogates.


OPENING SCENE
David O. Russell's Joy is an easy movie to quibble with. It often feels like five different movies that haven't reconciled themselves. This problem (?) is embedded right in its prologue which jumps from inside a stylized soap opera, to Diane Ladd's wonderfully expressive fable-like narration, and back to the soap opera but this time "outside" of it through a TV set, and into little Joy's bedroom where she makes a castle and theorizes about her possible superpower (maybe she doesn't need a Prince?). Ladd's Grandma guides us through this collision of styles and ideas with an expertly dropped line about Joy's creativity that doubles as a guide to how to watch and make ambitious movies.

The patience to figure it out."

Will Joy grow on us with time? Perhaps it might. Perhaps we quibbled too much. Perhaps Russell didn't have the patience to truly figure this one out but there's a lot to figure therein.

ENDING
Spotlight may have the most mellow finale we've ever nominated in this category but there's something about its sober work ethic and the core ensemble wide shot, with Walter "Robby" Robinson centered, that really lands emotionally and elevates the film. His phone rings and they all just return to work. Where they've always been.

Spotlight..."

CREDIT SEQUENCE
I've been disappointed these last few years that it's more and more common for films to have virtually no credits at the beginning and double up at the ending. So shout out to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which has great opening and closing credits. The opening credits would be spoiler-alert central if they didn't come at you so aggressively with machine-gun montage speed. The ending credits are even more stylish --both an homage to the TV show and film appropriate -- with action frames from the film outlined by the wicks of time bombs; this movie is a blast.

[Read more about these two sequences at The Art of the Title.] 

MISCELLANIA - A DOZEN FAVORITE SCENES
When writing about the Film Bitch Awards I often revisit a whole bunch of movies in clip forms, particularly the earlier releases that are blurry int he memory. Here we are at the end of the prize-giving and here comes Diary of a Teenage Girl and it suddenly looks just as good as everyone claimed it to be (I was previously in the admired but only admired camp). It was easy to turn certain movies off after checking the scene in question but I kept getting sucked into this film, as if it were the first time. One of the best moments is an animated interlude "The Making of Harlot" where a 'Beautiful Junior,' getting it on with Minnie, remarks upon her aggressive sexuality with something like judgment in his voice (though he's benefitting). Giant Minnie, holding him in her King Kong paw, turns away, with a single teardrop and casts him aside. True movie magic.

THE COMPLETE "BEST SCENES" CHART

* Only three categories left to announce (Limited Roles x2 & Line Readings). Can you believe we're actually going to finish this year before the Oscars**?! Wheeee. We'll announce those three categories plus all the Gold Silver and Bronze medals at some point in the next 24, ya dig?

** Okay technically I won't have finished, damnit. I never named the Animated Feature nominees (we only go 3-wide here) because I was trying to see Boy and The World before voting. So we'll be finished with everything but that category.

Tuesday
Jan052016

The Confusing Art Directors Guild Nominations. Is "Crimson Peak" Period? Where is "Carol"?

Coco here, ready to talk about the Art Directors Guild and their wacky nominations. 

Usually we reserve the term category fraud for when lead performances are nominated in less competitive supporting categories, but the Art Directors Guild suggests we expand the definition. The Guild divides its film categories into period, fantasy, and contemporary, which makes senses. But this year's nominations suggest the division between the three categories are rather arbitrary. (The Film Experience is on the record saying that categories only matter if you follow the rules, so maybe the ADG should read this piece by our beloved Nathaniel.)

Anyway, here are the nominations:

Production Design (Period Film)
Bridge of Spies - Adam Stockhausen
Crimson Peak - Thomas Sanders
The Danish Girl - Eve Stewart
The Revenant - Jack Fisk
Trumbo - Mark Rickner 

Thomas Sanders's gothic sets are gorgeous, but Crimson Peak is a movie about ghosts. The production design is not historically accurate either unless gigantic bleeding houses used to actually exist in the real world. How is this not in "fantasy"?

The question one everyone's mind has to be "Where is Carol?" Judy Becker's designs are not only richly detailed, but they're integral in a film that's all about its precise visuals. It's worth remembering, though painful: Todd Haynes previous 50s masterpiece, Far From Heaven, did not get an Art Direction nomination from this guild or from the Oscars (!!!). 

Meanwhile, Trumbo continues its inexplicable love affair with awards voters.

More surprises and category confusions after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan042016

ACE Noms Ignore Spotlight, Love Joy. What is Happening? 

The ACE Eddie Nominations are out and as usual there are some real head-scratchers. The guild nominations that precede Oscar noms tend to throw something or other for a loop in terms of perceptions of what the industry loves. Or perhaps it's less complicated than we always assume and it's merely that those who vote on awards just don't see that many movies. Guild types are often more busy making movies than watching them after all.

One head scratcher: I'm not sure how we've ended up in a world where Joy, David O. Russell's latest ode to Jennifer Lawrence, is nominated for its editing. I don't mean to pick on the picture as I actually think it's far better than its reviews imply and am happy to have company with Nick and Jose on this; it seems fairly obvious that the nation's film critics are working through their David O. Russell issues now that he's made a woman's picture. But for all of Joy's underdiscussed strengths the editing is not one of them. This is no mark against any of its four editors who've done great work in the past but it's fairly obvious that they're struggling with a film that is so multi-toned and multi-authored and possibly unfinished and trying to make the most of its competing impulses and weird detours. The picture struggles to find its rhythm throughout. 

But let's not pick on Joy because people have been way too mean to it. The nominees and more thoughts are after the jump. 

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Wednesday
Dec302015

Contrarian Corner: Age is Just a Number As J.Law Dazzles in 'Joy'

Jose continues our new series Contrarian Corner in which team members who feel very off-consensus about a particular topic can work through it... 


One of the most surreal moments in my life occurred when I was able to speak to Winona Ryder about Jennifer Lawrence. Like J.Law, Ryder became the “it girl” early during her career, and during the early 90s earned back-to-back Oscar nominations and critical/commercial adoration. Unlike J.Law, Ryder wasn’t able to make the most out of what fame and screen maturity had granted her, as she was denied serious parts because of her age. She looked “too young” to play “older parts”, and reached a point (i.e. her 30s) where she was “too old” to play younger parts. Perhaps because she has the good fortune of staying away from social media, Ms. Ryder was unaware of the constant criticism J.Law faces whenever she teams up with David O. Russell.

I don’t even know how old she is. I always thought she was the age of her characters”

Kudos to Ms. Ryder for reminding us that films are all about suspending our disbelief.  [More...]

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