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Entries in Los Angeles (37)

Sunday
Dec062015

LAFCA Winners (Plus: NYFCO Madness)

 With today's announcement of the Los Angeles Film Critics Associations winner the die is set for critics awards. People can argue until pigs fly about whether and how and to what extend critics awards affect Oscar voters but here is a fairly universal consensus among people in the know: these things only matter to the extent they convince voters to attend that particular screening or put that specific screener on top of their to-watch stack. And the two critics groups that voters hear most about and are thus most likely to be influenced by are the two most prestigious coastal giants, LAFCA and NYFCC (who already announced with Carol winning big).

Will Oscar voters take MAD MAX: FURY ROAD seriously or just think "action film"

LAFCA 2015 Winners
Film Spotlight (ru: Mad Max: Fury Road)
Director
George Miller, Mad Max Fury Road (ru: Todd Haynes, Carol)
Actress
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (ru: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn)
Actor
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (ru: Geza Rohrig, Son of Saul)
Supporting Actress
- Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina (ru: Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria)
Supporting Actor
- Michael Shannon, 99 Homes (ru: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies) 

More and a very cool bit of trivia after the jump via Joe Reid...

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Thursday
Nov122015

AFI Awards: Mustang, James White, and More...

Deniz & AliceThe Los Angeles AFI Festival, presented by Audi, ends tonight with the premiere of Paramount's The Big Short with it's all star (male) cast. But two women we're instant new fans of were the winners. First time feature director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and second time feature director Alice Winocour both had films in the fest (Mustang, which they cowrote and Ergüven directed, and Disorder, which was titled Maryland when it first debuted at Cannes, which Winocour wrote and directed.) Mustang opens in NY & LA a week from tomorrow. Disorder is due in March next year. They're both very much worth seeing so keep an eye on these two very talented women. I know we will. 

NEW AUTEURS AWARDS

Jury:  Inkoo Kang (TheWrap), Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times) and Nigel M. Smith (The Guardian).

New Auteurs Grand Jury Award: Land and Shade (César Augusto Acevedo)
The jury cited it's  "visual eloquence, formal rigor and emotional power" in painting a portrait of a rural family in Colombia and its observations about the explotation of the poor and environmental degradation

more prizes follow...

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Thursday
Jul162015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days

On April 29th, 1992, the Rodney King verdict set Los Angeles on fire. Over 6 days, crowds rioted in South Central LA, protesting the acquittal of four LAPD officers who had been videotaped beating a black man. This was not LA's first race riot, but it came at a fraught time for the city, when the skyscrapers that were supposed to signal the start of a new era of prosperity loomed over widening economic and social gaps. By May 4th, it was clear that though the riots had "officially" ended, they had left a scar on the psyche of the city. Over the next few years, that scar would surface in one of Los Angeles's most prominent exports: film. After the Rodney King riots ended, a series of scifi blockbusters - including Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days - took to the streets of LA to predict the worst for the city's future.

Strange Days (another collaboration between Kathryn Bigelow and ex-husband James Cameron) is part of a group of dystopian action thrillers that cropped up in the wake of the Rodney King Riots. Escape from LADemolition Man, and Strange Days used their futuristic settings to do what science fiction does best: they created an allegory for contemporary fears about violence, inequity, and police brutality. 

Los Angeles is a good setting for a dystopia. Unlike New York City, America's Melting Pot, where people from different socioeconomic backgrounds intermingle on the street, Los Angeles is more a series of villages connected by highways. In LA, communities whose names are synonymous with wealth and prestige set their gates a handful of miles from infamously poor neighborhoods. But the two worlds never meet.

According to the movies, only three groups travel between these separate-but-unequal islands: cops, criminals, and entertainers. Lenny Nero, the protagonist of Strange Days, is all three: an ex-cop turned con-man who sells recorded memories and emotions via a "SQUID" machine - data discs that play directly in your cerebral cortex. When an anonymous donor leaves Nero a clip of his friend's rape and murder on New Year's Eve 1999, Nero and his friend Mace (Angela Bassett) get pulled into a plot that involves murdered rappers, police coverups, music producers, and Nero's lost love (Juliette Lewis). But bubbling under this detective story is a growing sense of unrest between police and the populace.

James Cameron's screenplay sets up a lot of ideas - drug allegory, the nature of memory, police militarization, the right to riot, institutional racism - and it is Kathryn Bigelow's very heavy duty to sort through these themes while also keeping the film on track. Miraculously, she is mostly successful. Though the structure of the script sometimes lags under the weight of its own ideas, Bigelow keeps the film moving at a clipped pace. Her fascination with point of view also becomes literal in Strange Days. the SQUID machines record from first person POV, which Bigelow uses to occasionally comic, often thrilling, and (in one incredibly intense murder scene) chilling effect. By virtue of its technical difficulties, First Person POV can look gimmicky on film, but Bigelow overcomes the difficulties to instead stage a series of fantastic action pieces.

The only failure of the film is not in its setup or its action, but in its conclusion. The complex problems of racism and violence which had occasionally bubbled to the surface - mostly in a B plot surrounding Angela Bassett's character - are neatly solved at the end of the film, though this denoument does give one intense image: a SWAT team beating an unarmed woman. It's probably too much to ask for moral complexity from an action thriller. Though insipred by riots that had proved there were still no easy answers in reality, Strange Days is still a product of its genre; commodified violence for the sake of box office. 

This month on Women's Pictures...

7/23 - K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) - Hands down the most requested film after Point Break, this film follows Harrison Ford racing to prevent a nuclear holocaust via submarine. (Amazon Prime) (Netflix)

7/30 - The Hurt Locker (2008) - The film that put Bigelow's name down in history as the first female director to win the Academy Award is a thriller about a bomb squad in the Iraq War. (Amazon Prime)

Friday
May222015

Weekend Suggestions - Got Any Plans? 

Some people plan weeks in advance but if you're a 'what shall we do this weekend?' last minute type like, my, uh, friend... who never has any firm plans until the last second even on holiday weekends... Here are some suggestions depending on where you live!

NEW YORK CITY
This weekend the Walter Reade has an Italian film program. You can see the Alain Deloin (mmmm) drama The Professor (1972) tonight and I personally don't plan to miss Sophia Loren's Oscar winning Two Women (1961) on Sunday (two showings) since that one is very difficult to find a good print DVD of and it's a rare chance to see it on the big screen. The Maysles Cinema in Harlem is showing Iris (2015), Albert Maysles' last film, all week long with a few Q&As scheduled. The Museum of the Moving image has a Masaki Kobayashi retrospective starting this weekend and you can see the Oscar nominated Kwaidan (1964) on Sunday. Make sure to time your visit so that you can see MoMI's great expansive Mad Men exhibit. I already want to go back to it.

If you're not in the cinema mood (gasp), see one of the Tony nominees. Several of them are super expensive / sold out but you can still get discount tickets for arguable Best Play frontrunner The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and the gorgeous dance musical An American in Paris (reviewed). The cheapest discount tickets that are 100% worthwhile are Chita Rivera in The Visit (the music is gorgeous and it may well be your last chance to see this legend live - she's 82!) and the exuberant funny On the Town (reviewed) but I apologize in advance should you become greatly obsessed with Tony Yazbeck; It can't be helped really, you will. Great sources for discounts are Today's Tix and TDF

CHICAGO
Tonight at 7:45 PM TFE favorite David Dastmalchian will be at the Gene Siskel Film Center to discuss his new film Animals, a tough but teary romantic drama about two small time grifters / addicts. So buy a ticket, won't you? I personally love it when actors create their own work to show Hollywood that they're more than just whatever they've been typecast as.

LOS ANGELES
Always the perfect weather there, right? And they make use of it with several outdoor screenings. This weekend Almost Famous, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Rear Window, and Dazed and Confused at various locations.  

SAN FRANCISCO
The Roxie theater has a double feature of The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) and The American Friend (1977) as part of their "copy & paste" series on remakes and reimaginings. That could be fun.  The Castro has a 85th birthday celebration for Harvey Milk with a screening and fireside chat of The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), the Oscar winning documentary that is one of the greatest documentaries I've personally ever seen. Selling fast apparently so if you're free tonight

LONDON 
There's a "Bollywood Fever" festival at the OXO Tower Wharf today through Monday with 15 different films, a few of which are sold out already.

I freely admit that if I were anywhere near London I wouldn't rest till I'd seen Imelda Staunton doing "Mama Rose" in Gypsy (extended through November!)

EVERYWHERE
Movies available to rent or download from iTunes that are also in theaters OR skipped them altogether are the aforementioned Animals from friend of TFE Dastmalchian and a movie you might not have heard of called Ask Me Anything. I haven't seen it yet but full disclosure, I know people involved: a friend of mine produced it and it won Best Actress at the Nashville Film Festival last year (which I've attended as a jury member a couple of times)! Put it in your curiousity pile if you enjoy Britt Robertson. She's already headlined a few small pictures before her mainstream breakthrough-bid this year (Tomorrowland and The Longest Ride) and this one, about a girl between high school and college chronicling her life on an anonymous blog, is the most recent of them. It was even cited by Taste of Cinema as one of the ten most underappreciated indies of recent year.

 

Tuesday
May052015

What I Saw | Where I Saw It | Why I Loved It

One of our favorite rising actors, David Dastmalchian, is Guest Blogging! Learn his name. He's working with great people -Editor

Photo by Evelyn Leigh"What I Saw..."
-by David Dastmalchian

There are so many films that have a special place in my memory and their impact on my life was made all the more powerful by how and where I saw them.  My earliest memories of film-going are the Kansas City drive-in’s where I caught second-run screenings from the back of my folks old station wagon of Grease, James Bond flicks like View from a Kill and Moonraker, and being in my mom’s arms at the back of the theater at a matinee with my family of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I thought the tarantulas in the opening sequence were climbing the walls of the theater… Here are a few spectacular memories that I will always treasure: 

What I Saw: THE MUPPET MOVIE
Where I Saw It: The Oak Park Mall Cinemas (KS)


This will remain one of the most profound movie-going experiences of my life.  The characters, colors, sounds, music, performances all exploded in front of my little face on the big screen as I sat enraptured beside my childhood buddy, Brian Bishop and his wonderful mother, Kathy.  We went to a matinee at the local cinema and this was one of my first ventures into an actual movie theater.  At that point in my development, the whole “suspension of disbelief” in my imagination was so strong that I believed wholeheartedly that ‘Sweetums’ the monster Muppet actually crashed through the screen in our theater auditorium at the end of the film.  For years I would proudly boast that I had seen the film in a theater where a REAL Muppet made an appearance.  The “Rainbow Connection” became my first on-stage performance in a preschool talent show and my wife even chose the song for her processional at our wedding.   The effect of this film on my life continues to this day.  Several times a year (especially in moments of disillusionment with the entertainment industry), I will watch the final five minutes of the film – from the moment that Orson Welles offers Kermit “The Rich and Famous Contract” through the end.  Go do this now.  Bring the Kleenex.  You’re welcome. 

Continue for three more favorite films

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Saturday
Mar282015

Christopher Plummer Honored

Anne Marie providing your concrete connection to TCM Classic Film Fest.

Besides the Oscars, there may be no symbol more Hollywood than the handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theater. As legend goes, Norma Talmadge walked through wet cement while theater entrepreneur Sid Grauman was finishing construction on the Chinese Theater, and the accident gave the showman a rock-solid idea. Whatever the tradition's origin, ever since the Chinese Theater opened in 1927, thousands of starstruck tourists and Hollywood hopefuls have made their way to the theater's courtyard, where they can marvel at the timeworn hand-and-footprints of everyone from Bette Davis to Tom Hanks to the cast of Harry Potter.

Yesterday morning, Christopher Plummer joined the ranks of cemented cinema stars. [more]

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