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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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A HANDY GUIDE TO ALL THE OSCAR COVERAGE

"Oh no, what will I do without my daily reminder that Julianne Moore won an Oscar?!" -Steve G

 

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Entries in Oscars (11) (328)

Sunday
Sep042011

Linker, Donor, Oscar, Bye

By now you've heard the rumor, which some sources say is closer to actual fact, that Eddie Murphy will be hosting next February's Oscar ceremony. That's a major get if true since Murphy hasn't performed live in years and years and is the kind of Household Name that Oscar always prefers. I'm sure we'll talk more about this if it pans out. 

Lorell and Jimmy are through-oooooooooh 

No matter how great Eddie is -- should he host -- I know I won't be fully satisfied because what are the chances he'd invite Anika Noni Rose (who you know we love) onstage for something. TRUE STORY: Every single time I hear "Eddie Murphy" since 2008 I hear Anika Noni Rose's glorious voice in my ear. I included the sound clip that plays in my head every time in the post. You better listen!

MEANWHILE...
Have you seen Paul Smith's limited edition beautiful posters for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? They're minimalism and its most gorgeous and they're charitable too. All proceeds go to cancer.

This is my favorite from the batch.

I keep staring at it. But then I love minimalistic art. I think I must need room for my own projections of what an image, movie, or thing might be.

Ashley Judd & Michael Shannon & the aphidslinks!
Sunset Gun revisits Bug, mincing no words: "a masterpiece". I like this movie too but if you ever have a chance to see it on stage, that's where it really wows. So claustrophic and crazy and weirdly expectant of your co-dependency.
In Contention on George Clooney's tribute at Telluride. What a star that man is.
Awards Daily Sasha thinks Glenn Close has a real shot at the Best Actress Oscar with Albert Nobbs as career capper. She also likes The Descendants.
Super Punch stop motion recreation of the Johnny Quest opening credits. "WOW" and also: "What on earth for?" 
Terry Richardson has been shooting Jared Leto again. Those two. 
Movie|Line Stephanie Zacharek with a beautiful ode to Michael Fassbender in Shame and a funny jab at Al Pacino in Wilde Salome.

Today's Must Read
The Sheila Variations on Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre. Can we just cut and paste this whole write-up into her Best Actress FYC ads? Hopefully Focus Features takes a look at it.


Even if you haven't seen Jane Eyre (2011) it's an expansive essay taking on various schools (and limitations) of acting and it even has two beautiful shout outs to two of Nathaniel's all time favorite characterizations: Meryl Streep in Silkwood and Kathleen Turner in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? So I'm sensing that Sheila is a kindred spirit.

Oh and... uh... Happy Labor Day Weekend! 
I tried to take a vacation from blogging this week -- as i hinted in the "best of august" post -- and have now realized that I am unable. Constitutionally unable. Which is why you should all sign on as "subscribers" (in sidebar -- i've added a cheaper option for the brokest among you) so that I can keep blogging from here to eternity. I'm not suited for other types of work because I spend too much time dreaming about the movies.

 

 

I'm not sure what I'll do next weekend when I will actually not have an internet connection and must stare at actual friends all day...and not through a computer screen? GROSS.

Diesel Sweeties designed the perfect t-shirt for people like me -- and maybe you -- who can't stop working.

HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY IF YOU'RE CELEBRATING!

ANIKA DREAMGIRL

Saturday
Sep032011

Jessica Chastain Receiving Her First Award...(of Hundreds?)

Though we've been as curious as any cinephile about the overnight sensation* that is Jessica Chastain (see previous post), allow us to register vaguely mild surprise that it took just 109 days in the public eye in a major way (starting with the Cannes premiere of The Tree of Life) before she's already standing at podiums thanking people for giving her shiny things! In this case the Gucci Women in Film prize.


In reality this is Chastain's second award, one click of research indicates that she won a best actress festival prize in 2008 (Seattle International Film Festival) for a film called Jolene though that didn't see the inside of movie theaters until late 2010 (Have any of you seen it?) But what a whirlwind these past few months must have been.

Madonna presents the Gucci Women in Film Award to Jessica Chastain

What a summer. It starts with a Cannes trip alongside Brad Pitt and three months later she's part of a $100 million hit and Madonna (that's right, Madonna) is handing her trophies. From Brad Pitt to Madonna all in the same summer. Hopefully her eyes have adjusted to travelling in these blinding megawatt circles. 

This news hit me courtesy of luxury style expert Jessica Michault who is trying to make us all jealous with her tweet droppings. Consider this one:

And for what it's worth Ms. Michault thinks Keira Knightley is Oscar-worthy in A Dangerous Method. Not that luxury fashion experts vote on Oscars but they do hobnob with those who do.

 

*"overnight sensation" is nearly always an oxymoron. Obviously Jessica Chastain put in a lot of acting hours prior to this weird explosion of film releases... 

 

Friday
Sep022011

A Dangerous Method: Frozen Surface, Dangerous Interior

[Editors Note: We have two correspondents from Venice this year. And I feel the need to remind everyone that these opinions do not reflect the opinion of management; Nathaniel is without opinion as he is not in Venice. But he is enjoying reading these reports. Here is Ferdi from Italy, critic for, offering us bite sized opinions again. Enjoy. - Nathaniel]

I love David Cronenberg unconditionally and I know from past experience that his movies are not what they seem at the very first. We have to recognize that they always need more viewings, they are so complex. A Dangerous Method is a beautifully shot period piece. It's wonderfully acted movie especially by Michael Fassbender (heartbreaking) and Viggo Mortensen (Brilliant and should be in the supporting actor race). It's about the relationship between Carl Jung, patient-psychotic Sabina Spielreinand Sigmund Freud. Cronenberg has directed period pieces before (M Butterfly, Spider, Naked Lunch) and he's not new to melodrama either (in many of his movies there's a deep melodramatic soul). The origin of psychoanalysis, which explores what is inside the body and invisible to the eye fits his radical cinematic world perfectly. Still, A Dangerous Method seems the least Cronenberg-esque of his movies. Although the score and the  visuals are stunning -- lighting, sets, costumes, all gorgeous and perfect -- there's something missing here. If this frozen, crystallized surface is marvelous, maybe the inside world must be a dangerous place, crowded with demons: sexual repression, animal instinct, guilt, death, desire. And this is the place where Croneberg wants to go. 

Viggo in Venice © Fabrizio SpinettaFassy as shot by our correspondent Ferdi himself!

 

The first section is the best, powerful and alarming, with Keira Knightley sadistically used by Cronenberg as a shouting beast; she vomits out all her inner demons in a physical acting style that's sometimes difficult to watch. When the therapy and the love affair take root, everything begins to slow down. The narrative style normalizes and the movie changes into a beautiful restrained drama packed with visual elegance. There are still some moments blessed with the typical, disturbing Cronenberg-touch but my first impression is that the auteur could have gone further and deeper with this material. 

 

Madonna uses the camera as a little girl who has just received a toy she wants so badly that she forgets to read the instructions. W.E., her second directorial effort, tries to emulate the flourishing visual style of Tom Ford's A Single Man (and even abuses the melodramatic violins of Abel Korzeniowski). It also too closely resembles the narrative structure of Julie & Julia insisting parallelism between two stories: the romance between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and a never convincing contemporary story about a bored and depressed young woman who becomes obsessed with the American adventuress.

 

Let's be clear: W.E. is not a truly bad movie. Last night Un Eté Brulent by Philipp Garrell, which screened in the official selection, was much more awful. It's just that W.E. is very easy to attack. Abbie Cornish is beautiful to watch although her character is ridiculous and Andrea Riseborough is really very good as Wallis , but W.E. seems only a long commercial spot from start to finish. It's empty, superficial and naive and maybe also a little dishonest. It's all about Madonna's obsession with fashion, beauty, richness, music, and British Royals. That's it.

 

Friday
Sep022011

Venice, Day 3: Keira's Confession, Kate's Challenge, Madonna's Stumble

Manolis, from the Greek site Cinema News, reporting from Venice for The Film Experience.

Madonna and her W.E. cast © the wonderful photographer Fabrizio Spinetta who is sending us great shots for TFE. 
Before today's report some thoughts about Madonna's W.E. which I had the privilege of seeing; there were so many people outside the cinema trying to find a ticket. It was difficult to turn your back to Madonna and her W.E. cast who were sitting on the Balcony behind the audience, but once the lights in the Sala Grande were off, you could focus on the openings shots of her film. 

ManolisW.E.

The movie reminded me a lot of Julie and Julia. It has a similar structure but the bonding between the two Wallis’ (Cornish and Riseborough) is more vague and unfocused than that of Adams and Streep. And let’s face it, a Streep this film doesn't have. Andrea Riseborough has the showiest role, but the film doen’t help us connect her character or her motives, or help ups sympathize with her or even understand what she sacrificed for her relationship with Edward (which was Madonna’s aim as stated in the press conference). The love story of the modern day couple (Abbie Cornish and Oscar Isaac) proves more interesting than one of the most notorious love stories of all time. 

 

I think that the biggest mistake that Harvey Weinstein made with W.E. was leaking that it was an Oscar contender. Sure, the film has some chances in Costume Design, Music (a great score by Yann Tiersen and Abel Korzeniowski) and even Make Up (hello, Old Age!) but apart from that not much more. But the script which was co-written by Madonna is unfocused and full of cliches and predictable ‘twists’ . Madonna’s directing style fares slightly better but her visual choices are all over the place. The rich production values help make the viewing pleasant but this is not a serious oscar contender.

 

A Dangerous Method

 

This is already the third film of the competition (after The Ides of March and Carnage) that was based on a play. David Cronenberg's new film is drawn from true life events and the relationship of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Fassbender and Mortensen are excellent giving restraint utterly believable performances of these famous figures. Vincent Cassell is also good in a very small role (six minutes?). The Art Direction of the movie may have also been impressive but I couldn't see the scenery; Keira Knightley was chewing on it. Knightley's performance has caused disputes between the critics here. Some are impressed other's believe it's the film’s fatal flaw. Sorry Keira fans, but I am with the ones who did not enjoy her overracting. She cycles through every facial expression known to human kind. Needless to say that a Best Actress Oscar nomination is not out of the question. Sabina is obvious Oscar Bait and people often confuse best acting with most acting. Other strong Oscar prospects include Supporting Actor (Viggo), Adapted Screenplay and Costumes. 
Cronenberg, Knightley, Mortensen, Fassy, Sarah Gadon, Cassel are all in Venice!
I am an actress so of course I'm crazy."
Keira Knightley confessed at the press conference for the film. Other highlights from the press conference included Michael Fassbender's research for the role of Jung which he said was reading "Jung for Children: The Idiot’s handbook" and Mortensen thanking a fan for giving him a mascot doll of his favorite team San Lorenzo. When asked what he learned about psychoanalysis while making the film, David Cronenberg replied "I found out that of all my actors that are here need psychoanalysis."

 

Mildred Pierce

 

At the Mildred Pierce press conference Winslet suprised most of the audience when she confessed how difficult the role was.
...without question, my most challenging job since Titanic. Working in a TV series is much more difficult than in a film." 
Tomorrow in Venice: the premieres of ALPS (Giorgos Lanthimos Dogtooth follow up), James Franco’s Sal Mineo biopic, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Al Pacino’s Wild Salome.

 

Thursday
Sep012011

Venice: A Second Take on "Carnage"

[Editor's Note: Ferdi, pictured left, is one of our two correspondents in Venice this year. Which affords us the rare pleasure of reading two pieces on the same movie back to back. I hope you're feeling appropriately spoiled since we're getting original photography and everything! Here's another opinion on Carnage. -Nathaniel R.]

Carnage (2011)
80 acid minutes of poison, screams, metaphorical scratches, literal vomits and memorable laughs. God, this movie rocks. Maybe it’s the original stage material which is so funny, clever and so well translated to the screen. Maybe it’s the eye of European mega-auteur Roman Polanski, who has rarely taken a misstep in his career. Maybe it’s just me: I love movies where all the focus is on the actors branch. The fact is I can’t stop thinking of Carnage since this early morning press screening.

 

What else can I say? You have to sit and watch and have fun. You're taken by the tension of the story without even taking a breath from start to finish. It’s a pitch-perfect arthouse movie, a little, subversive masterpiece about verbal violence and adult hypocrisies; a complex, powerful, crazy kammerspiel that begins, as many of you already know, as a polished comedy of manners and ends as a cruel psychological massacre. 

Christoph and Kate are "best in show" says Ferdi

The pleasure of seeing these incredible actors going so over the top has no price. John C Reilly is surprisingly right for the part, hilarious and totally convincing. Christoph Waltz is once again genius and effortless as in Inglorious Basterds. Maybe the weak link is Jodie Foster who has some great moments that prove she can be very funny but she is too tight and anxious from the very beginning. (She is a great straight-forward physical actress but the part required something more subtle.) In fact, Foster doesn’t really seem to catch the satirical tone of the pochade; she goes more and more hysterical from one scene to the next instead of being multi-dimensional. This is were Kate Winslet excels. She’s the real standout, absolutely exhilarating without even doing too much.

All that said, I don’t see any Oscar play for anyone (Winslet aside, maybe, as supporting actress, but it would be a category fraud, because they all are leads), neither for the movie, which is possible too cynical, dark, weird and beautiful by Academy standards.
Kate Winslet in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta
Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta