Film Bitch History
Oscar History

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"They're saying this is for Adam Driver what Kramer vs Kramer was for Dustin Hoffman. More about him than about her.  Scarlett, to me, is the open question. By now it's Driver vs Phoenix for best actor." - Melchiades - Andrew

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Entries in Pauline Kael (6)


Berlinale 2019: Juliette Binoche, delights & disappointments, and the festival winners

Seán McGovern concludes his coverage of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Juliette Binoche presents the Golden Bear to Israel's Nadav Lapid for his drama "Synonyms"

There is a bittersweet conundrum with film festivals, that no matter how many films you see, you still only get one colourfully subjective corner of a greater kaleidoscope of stories. But you do get a sense both from the conversations you have in line and the energy on the ground as to what you absolutely must see. Each year we ask the same question, no different for the 69th Berlinale: was it a good year, or a bad year? The answer is... a resounding shrug of the shoulders.

Not that the festival was without worthy winners. In typically pluralistic European style, a veritable bread basket of awards were given to a range of films both in the main competition and beyond, led by our “beautiful” president Juliette Binoche. I don't know if it was a translation thing, but the amount of times that Binoche was referred to as “our beautiful president” during Berlinale was insane...

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Doc Corner: Movie Stars - Fonda, Kael and Dukakis

by Glenn Dunks

DOC NYC is still going in New York, running until this Thursday the 15th. We’re looking at just a very small selection of films screening at the festival including these today based around three iconic names in American cinema: film critic Pauline Kael, and Oscar-winning actors Jane Fonda and Olympia Dukakis.

I noted on social media as I sat down to watch my screener of Rob Garver’s biography that there were certainly worse ways to spend one’s Sunday evening than surrounded by the words of the late, great Pauline Kael and an abundance of film clips. Sometimes a film can give you exactly what you ask for and that’s exactly what I received from What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael about the much loved (and loathed) film critic...

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Today in Film History. Meow

It's Father's Day. Happy Father's Day. It's also Juneteenth. The day in which the nation commemorates the end of slavery in the mid 1860s (though like most holidays the actual timeline involves several days and months and years and lots of political manuevering -- see Lincoln and be reminded what a mess governing and policy making and constitutional debates always are). June 19th has another history civil rights event in 1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act (see Selma) so exercize your right to vote in November. People are always trying to deny people that right, and if everyone voted, we'd be in such better shape. Now on to cinema...

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

Good god, woman. Let it go.1865 Dame May Whitty, two time Oscar nominee is born in Liverpool. Remember her all caps obsession with winning that damn flower contest in Mrs Miniver
 The first Nickelodeon (an early form of the movie theater) opens in Pittsburgh. By 1910 there are thousands of them and an estimated 26 million Americans visit them weekly. Can you imagine how popular film blogs would be - sniffle. The movies shown in them get longer and longer...

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Vidiocy Karina Longworth on the great Pauline Kael vs Meryl Streep wars
In Contention London Film Critics choose Cate Blanchett and Barkhad Abdi for honors (among others)
The Guardian on the Australian Oscars basically being one long party for The Great Gatsby (which won nearly every award it was up for)
Tom & Lorenzo what Cate Blanchett was wearing to that same event

Thompson on Hollywood TIFF is laying down the law with studios/filmmakers -- no more sloppy seconds due to Telluride "surprises"
Vulture how hot is Anna Kendrick? Improv class hot 

More on Philip Seymour Hoffman
TFE Amir already honored him here in case you missed it.
Kenneth in the (212) covering every major newspaper
Punch Drunk Critics told us that Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal for depression era creepy drama Ezekiel Moss...but this was the day before P.S. Hoffman died so who knows what will happen now. Sounds like a good project though
E Online tells that he hadn't yet finished filming his scenes for the two Hunger Games: Mockingjay films.

Slate strong piece positing that one particular scene in Boogie Nights made the actor a star
The Atlantic has a piece on PSH's talent that fascinated me. It's very well written but its thesis is EXACTLY the opposite about how I always felt about him as an actor, claiming that his greatest gift was understatement. I think he almost never understated anything... which is why he thrills people so much in big moments but also why I did not like his performance in Doubt at all (way too bold when that role needs exceptional restraint to cloud the issues, hence the title) and why my three favorite performances of his I consider very atypical because they have these lovely quiet non red-faced & screaming layers and subtle details. But it's a really good read. 


"the human head weighs 8 lbs"

<--- Blog Stage Awwww, tiny cute person Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire) is all grown up. Just celebrated his 21st birthday.
Empire file this one under: extremely odd news. Seems that Lynne Ramsay of Morvern Callar and We Need To Talk About Kevin is planning a sci-fi film inspired by Moby Dick. Of all things.
i09 ZOMG! Y'all know about my strange "Dazzler" fetish from all of those Red Carpet convos where the mutant superhero x-woman disco star kept coming up. Now an artist has reimagined her as a man.

Clutch Magazine
Occupy Hollywood
Aint It Cool Looks like it's more crime dramas for director Ben Affleck rather than another filmed version of Stephen King's The Stand.
Fashion Telegraph a clothing line based on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Make it stop! I think Joanna at Pajiba said it best when she said... 

I’ve always wanted to dress as a mentally unstable, violent victim of abuse."

Animation Kung Fu Panda becomes an animated TV series next month. 
Self Styled Siren on James Wolcott, Pauline Kael and critic wars
Indie Wire has a list of the Cinema Eye nominees, honoring documentary filmmaking the top category goes like so.

The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
Senna (Asif Kapadia)
Project NIM (James Marsh)
Position Among the Stars (Leonard Retel Heimrich)
Nostalgia For the Light (Patricio Guzmán) 
The Interrupters (Steve James) 

 I keep meaning to write about The Arbor. So fascinatingly heavy and interesting.

Even the Blind Film Critic knows that Tom Cruise isn't quite right visually to play "Jack Reacher", his upcoming franchise role...

In Ye Olden Times when Tom Cruise used to get cast in roles he wasn't right for -- hi, Lestat! -- it could easily be blamed on his #1 position in Hollywood's star structure. But what's the excuse now? Hmmmm...



Oscar Horrors: Jonathan Demme, Silence'd

Editor's Note: in this new series we're exploring Oscar nominated or Oscar winning contributions to the horror genre to get you in the right mood for Halloween. For this edition I've invited first time contributor Mayukh Sen, to offer up his provocative thoughts on an Oscar winner -Nathaniel.

Here lies... Jonathan Demme's early career. There was a time when he was the most promising young American director of his time.  But we lost all his potential the minute he won his Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Demme was a humanist in an era that desperately needed one.  He loved people, and he possessed grace, sensitivity, and a lack of condescension toward his working-class characters.  Kind of like McCarey or Renoir, he had a way of illuminating human flaws and virtues without passing judgment and was capable of expressing patience -- talents many directors lack.  Demme's universe seemed unhinged by the good-evil binary that pervades how many artists render America's lower- middle class. He refused to make human idiosyncrasies seem foolish or naive.

Around the time of Lambs, though, Demme lost one of his salient characteristics – lightness of touch.  Demme seems conscious of the fact that he is directing a “thriller”, and thus that he must downplay his sometimes offbeat, pop art-influenced aesthetic impulses for us to digest the narrative’s direness.  And, though he does still demonstrate considerable compassion for his characters, Demme seems more interested in asserting Clarice Starling's singular heroism than probing the moral ambiguities of the other characters.

This may seem like a petty complaint, but watch some of his earlier works – Caged Heat, Last Embrace – and you’ll understand what exactly we're missing from the old Demme.  Pauline Kael, one of Demme's earliest champions, said it best when she criticized Lambs for treating pulp as art.  She was right -- there’s nothing urgent or passionate about it.

This has happened with many directors. Post-Last Tango, Bertolucci never achieved the sensuality that characterized Before the Revolution or The Conformist.  Success brought upon more ambition, and the intimacy of his earlier work was lost.  

A part of me will always remember Lambs as the point at which Demme jumped the shark. Though Lambs is effective and, at times, fascinating, it doesn't have the charge of early Demme.  At best, his subsequent films function on the level of interesting failures.  I’m afraid that Demme's school of satiric humanism is unlike anything we'll ever see from him again, and I attribute this to his acceptance at the hands of the Hollywood elite.

16 More Oscar Horrors
From The Exorcist through the Fly and on to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane...