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Entries in moviegoing (60)

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.

 

Saturday
May162015

Cannes: Then and (Right) Now

Imperator Furiousa cleans up nice for CannesAs Cannes moves past that opening night international glamour, and into its heavy screenings opening weekend, there's a lot of reminiscing going around as well for those that aren't attending: Keyframe is looking at the 1985 festival -- which was heavily criticized for being too American --  to see what it tells us about the 2015 festival. And, of course, over at Nick's Flick Picks, Nick is looking back at 1995. He has corralled several critics to talk about and rewatch those films too, but that part hasn't been posted yet. Can't wait! But here's a little about what's been happening at the festival if you are, like 99.9% of the world including me, NOT in the South of France right about now, but wish to think about it intermittently. 

Out of Competition
Mad Max Fury Road premiered at Cannes just as it was opening in theaters. That's a good excuse to get celebrities at your premiere and stay in a global conversation but, as good as the movie is -- and whoa it's thrilling (easily the best Mad Max film and the best action film since probably the last time James Cameron made anything) though I think maybe "the sistine chapel of action filmmaking" might be overstating it a little -- why go to a movie that's in theaters when you're at this kind of Best of World Cinema That Will Probably Never Make It to Really Big Screens Near You? Which is not to say that you shouldn't go. You absolutely should if you're not at Cannes. It's INSANE. And that is a high high compliment since most movies with insane premise play things so conservative in their mise en scene, you know? Michael's review will be up shortly and I'm sure I'll talk about it more too.

Woody Allen's PARKER POSEY: THE MOVIE... excuse me, Irrational Man, has also premiered as his movies do, Out of Competition. Our friend Tim Robey offered delicious shade in his review:

The word “murder” arrives in the script the second Kant, and his theories of human reason, pop up at the start. Like the superb Crimes and Misdemeanors, and also like Match Point, this contains a killing...

But honestly, I don't care if it's another mediocre effort from Allen. I'm so excited that Parker Posey got a big part again in a movie that people will actually see. And I love that she totally stole the show at the events with her incognito wacky glamour.

Supposedly Inside Out, another mainstream English-language film premiering there, is also a return to form of sorts for Pixar, but pardon me if I take this Oscar buzz with just a giant lick of salt - I think the days of Pixar (and maybe animation in general) being up for Best Picture are over. Those kinds of runs don't last forever and once people stop thinking of you in that light, it can be hard to return. 

"The Lobster" character posters

Competition Buzz
Gus Van Sant, who has won big at the festival before, won't be repeating. His latest, Sea of Trees, which stars Matthew McConaughey as a suicidal man visiting Japan, was not well received. That's putting it lightly if you just skim the THR or Variety reviews. I'm choosing not to read or even skim reviews on The Lobster, but from what I've heard your guess is as good as mine to what it actually is and if it's great at being whatever that is. Our Little Sister, a Japanese family drama has been warmly received for being touching without being sentimental and Sony Pictures Classics will distribute in the US.  

The buzziest title thus far is the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul. It's winning very generous reviews and it's also a debut feature which means that even if the competition jury surprises by stiffing it -- every year the press acts like they know what the jury will do and it never works out that way -- it could still win the Camera D'Or (which has a separate jury, just for debut films). Now we have to wonder if those titles will be the Oscar picks for Japan or Hungary.  I'm going to assume yes on the latter so I've updated the Foreign Film wild guesswork on the Prediction Charts.

Finally...
Yes, we will have another fashion lineup soon. But for now please accept our vote for the worst person in Cannes this year: Russian celebrity Elena Lenina. This is a film festival. Imagine sitting behind her at any of these premieres. Her 'do is suddenly your protagonist, whether its a Holocaust tragedy, a Woody Allen dramedy, or an insane action flick. Screw the narrative. 

True confession: Even when I see a person with high hair completely outside of movie scenarios like, say, on the street or in a talking head box on the news or several tables away at a restaurant my first thought is always 'oh god, please don't sit in front of me at the movies!'.

Be considerate of the comfort of your fellow moviegoers, readers -- shave your head!

Sunday
May102015

Avengers... and Saint Laurent? Round Two

Don't judge but I went to see Age of Ultron again. I picked the earliest show of the day on a weekday in a neighborhood theater that is generally empty for early showings because I wanted to see it free of mass frenzy / noise and a seat far away from the screen - completely different than last time. But get this. I walk in to a jam-packed theater and I spy like one empty seat way back 'guess I'll sit there,' Only to be stopped by a woman who tells me that this is a field trip for the high school and ALL of these seats are taken.

A HIGH SCHOOL FIELD TRIP ... TO SEE A SUPERHERO MOVIE. Who do I call about where my NYC tax dollars are going? How is this educational unless this is a business school and the students are studying Marvel's world-domination tactics?  (The only movies I got to see on field trips in high school were French ones for French class.)

WIDE RELEASE BOX OFFICE
May 8-10 Weekend
01 Avengers: Age of Ultron $77 (cum. $312.5) Review & Marathon & Podcast
02 Hot Pursuit $13.3 NEW Review
03 Age of Adaline $5.6 (cum. $31.5)
04 Furious 7 $5.2 (cum. $338.4) Review
05 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 $5.1 (cum. $58)
06 Ex-Machina $3.4 (cum. $15.7) Review
07 Home $3 (cum. $162.1) the rise and fall of Dreamworks
08 Woman in Gold $1.6 (cum. $26.9) 
09 Cinderella $1.5 (cum. $196.1) Review
10 Unfriended $1.4 (cum. $30.9) 

Five More New Releases
The D Train $.4 (1004 screens) Review
5 Flights Up $.2 (87 screens) 
Noble $.2 (175 screens)
Maggie $.1 (79 screens) Review
Saint Laurent $.03 (4 screens) Review

For what it's worth, despite a shitty seat and lots of noise and cel phone activity in the theater (argh) the movie was more enjoyable this time around after expectations had settled reasonably. Expectations are like that floating city, in this cumbersome analogy comin'atchawatch out!, in that the higher they rise the more billions of people die when they crash back down to earth unless Iron Man

... I lost the thread.

In fact, I was almost agog at how elegant Joss Whedon could make such a cumbersome thing. Which is to say that it's about as graceful as something this gangly and multi-limbed could hope to be on the day it's first learning to walk if you know what I mean. Should you ever see it again, clock how many disparate agendas the screenplay and direction is asked to address in virtually every scene and you suddenly won't be as bitchy about this "disappointment". The second time around the Scarlet Witch's arc is much stronger since the plot clutter dissipates but the Thor digression is still a f***ing mess and though the trip to Hawkeye's "safe house" is a much needed breather it's way too long, losing the action-packed momentum. And it doesn't help that the scene to rev you back up, the hijacking of "the cradle," is the weakest action setpiece.

Meanwhile in Limited Release
Saint Laurent, France's Oscar submission from last year, finally opened this weekend, too. It occurred to me the other day that in the rush of Oscar campaign madness last season (and two very fun trips to LA) I never shared the story about the time I went to that French party in Saint Laurent's honor.

Here I am speaking to Gaspard Ulliel, probably about his penis.

Well it does have a glorified star cameo in the movie!

He was actually quite chatty and for all my significant qualms about the movies length and its last half hour when we jump forward to Yves Saint Laurent as an old man (and lose Gaspard in the process), he's terrific in the movie and it's quite memorable (the movie I mean -- get your minds out of the gutter). I still remember certain brilliant sequences vividly. Anyway, I would have mentioned this much sooner but distributors like to strike when the iron is cool and it's just now hitting theaters. The highlight of this party was meeting Brenda Vaccaro and Jacqueline Bissett - they were freaking hilarious (which I was not expecting) and teasing each other about recently meeting Idris Elba (at a different event). My point is this: I'm now desperate to see them in a buddy comedy.

Sadly I lost my phone in LA and with it many notes about these tiny celebrity run-ins. *sniffle*

But let's get back to the present tense. I saw Age of Ultron and a few eppys of Grace and Frankie and otherwise I played with friends who were visiting from out of town.

What did you see this weekend?

Thursday
May072015

When do you see movies? When do you like to read about them? 

An open question for all readers. We've often expressed disdain for the internet model (prevalent on most well-read movie sites, even the good ones) in which the bulk of conversation about a movie happens BEFORE its release. But what to do about it? We try our best here to talk about movies mostly after they open (with the exception of the YNMS series, Oscar predictions and short news bits) which has surely cost us readers in the anticipatory-madness of current online culture. However one thing we're not good about is knowing when to discuss films. WHEN DO YOU SEE NEW MOVIES? Are you at the movie theater every week? Do you VOD? Do you rent DVDs? Do you just bit torrent everything (naughty-naughty)? Or are you totally beholden to when Netflix decides to stream something if, in fact, they ever get around to streaming it at all? (Netflix, once a godsend for cinephiles, has become something of a curse.)

It used to be so much simpler when there was just one release date but now viewing is so staggered between so many types of services, subscription and pay-per-view models, and so many exclusivity windows that it's hard to even have a DVD column that's anything close to relevant. (It's the chief reason, I believe, why piracy has grown so large and rampant: there are just too many obstacles to audience seeing a movie they want to see when they want to see it). I ask these question because so many movies we've discussed in the past but perhaps in not as much detail as we should have are released each week on DVD. Recent newbies that I've wondered if we should discuss again or in more detail (links go to previous coverage) include: The Last Five Years, Miss Julie, Mr Turner, Selma, Fifty Shades of Grey, Paddington, Mommy, The Boy Next Door, Inherent Vice. And each week brings new titles fitting that same criteria. In the coming weeks Beloved Sisters, Blackhat, Still Alice, American Sniper, and Leviathan among others arrive. 

Any thoughts on the problem of staggered viewing and how to unite us all?

Wednesday
May062015

10th Anniversary of 'Mysterious Skin' and Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Actor

Glenn here. Look, we all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a child actor, and a pretty good one, too (that scene where he got skate in the face in Halloween: H20 is very memorable). But let's not kid around here. It wasn't until the release of Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin in 2005 that most really started to take him seriously. One year later he starred in Brick and he's only continued to rise up the ranks as a popular and critically respected actor. Looking back, I can't recall if his presence was as exciting to me in this film as Michelle Trachtenburg from Buffy, but looking back now he's certainly one of the reasons the film holds up.

It's actually rather appropriate that the 10th anniversary of Mysterious Skin should occur now at around the same time as New York Magazine's article entitled “Why You Should Go to the Movies (and Do Other Stuff) Alone” has been getting shared around on social media. You see, Araki's film was the first film I ever went to see at the cinema by myself. I travelled to Melbourne all on my lonesome, without friends or family who I usually convinced to join me for a day at the arthouse, and caught a screening of the movie that had amassed so much controversy in the local media. There were threats of it being banned after a 'family organization' (code for fundamentalist "won't somebody think of the children" noddies) demanded a review of its already very restrictive R18+ rating which is the Australian equivalent of an NC-17. Given the history of sexually graphic films being banned after similar action - titles like Romance and Baise-Moi - I knew I had to see this film. And fast!

MORE...

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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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