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Entries in Philomena (12)

Friday
Aug122016

Posterized: Director Stephen Frears

Streep & StephenThe "Posterized" series has fallen into a 'totally inconsistent director' zone. Last week we looked at Woody Allen's filmography, full of impossible peaks and embarrassing valleys and everything inbetween. The 75 year old British director Stephen Frears hasn't had peaks that are quite as dizzy from the genius altitude but his valleys aren't as cringeworthy as Allen's, either. He's a safe middle distance director that critics and audiences and Oscar can all love, albeit not stay married to. He's made 22 features over the course of his long career which began with 1971's Gumshoe after which he disappeared into epidodic British TV for a decade or so until his movie career really started to sizzle; My Beautiful Laundrette put him on the global map. But did he ever really top that breakthrough?

For all the ups and downs that followed, the consistency is his love for actresses: he famously directed Helen Mirren to her Oscar, and he's worked with Glenn Close, Judi Dench, and Michelle Pfeiffer twice each.

It's a busy summer for Frears.  He's prepping a third feature with Judi Dench called Victoria and Abdul, he's added Meryl Streep to his grande dame arsenal via Florence Foster Jenkins, and he'll receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 22nd Annual Sarajevo Film Festival which starts today.

All the Frears theatrical posters are after the jumpHow many of his films have you seen?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan272014

Podcast: Sundance Debrief and DGA Reactions

On this week's special cross-country podcast recorded live from Utah, Nathaniel welcomes back Katey Rich in New York, Nick Davis in Chicago, and special guest Guy Lodge, also in Chicago en route to London. Guy and Nathaniel share their Sundance favorites, the chief crossover being Richard Linklater's Boyhood

Other Topics include: The Producers Guild of America and Directors Guild winners and what that might mean for 12 Years a Slave and Gravity come Oscar night, categories where we'd enjoy ties on Oscar night, and favorite "overheard" bits in movie theater lines regarding Dallas Buyers Club and Philomena

You can listen to the podcast right here at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments! 

Which tie would you love to see this year?

Sundance Debrief and Oscar Ties

Friday
Jan032014

WGA Prefers 'Buyers Club' To Llewyn Davis Inside Greenwich Clubs

The Writers Guild of America has spoken, choosing their favorite scripts of the year in film and television. They repeat an interesting move from yesterday's Producers Guild Awards in that they've (somewhat) unexpectedly acknowledged Dallas Buyers Club, which few people thought was a strong contender outside of the male acting categories, while skipping the Coen Bros Inside Llewyn Davis for honors.

The nominations with commentary are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec092013

The AFI Lists. Useful or Redundant?

Earlier today we heard the AFI Lists for film and television. I immediately wondered what purpose they served. There are so many lists these days that are like spotlights on "CONSENSUS!" that the very act of publishing them feels redundant. With so many talking heads commenting on the Oscar race each year, both full time specialists and average reporters who become part time "experts" by virtue of, um, grist for the content mill, consensus is no longer an interesting thing to "find" or "capture" because it is so very inescapable.  AFI's list looks EXACTLY like an Oscar pundits chart, whereas in year's past they seemed to be about 70% Oscary 10% populist and 20% random. In fact, it looks the Gurus of Gold made it!

The AFI Top Ten (Motion Pictures)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
AMERICAN HUSTLE
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
FRUITVALE STATION
GRAVITY
HER
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
NEBRASKA
SAVING MR. BANKS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET 

In fact it's identitical to the current Gurus of Gold top ten chart but for one switcheroo: the pundit chart includes Lee Daniels' The Butler instead of Fruitvale Station. Interestingly enough, both Best Picture hopefuls come from the Weinstein Company who are our usual Oscar champs but seem to be struggling with traction this year. In fairness, The Butler was never expected to place during "critic's week" but if it doesn't perform well at SAG and the Globes in a couple of days, it's Oscar dreams will die.

This can only mean two things:

 

  1. The AFI committee this year is secretly composed of only BFCA members and they're aiming to exactly predict the Best Picture race.
  2. It's a weak year for British pictures in terms of American traction. Since the AFI only looks at American pictures, strong British Oscar contenders sometimes automatically make the AFI list more interesting because they have to look elsewhere to fill the top ten. The only exclusion that might not be worrying awards strategists today is the exclusion of Philomena (also from Weinstein Co!) which is directed by, written by and stars Brits... and therefore ineligible. 

 

The American Film Institute also releases a television list for some reason despite the name of their organization. That went like so...

The AFI Top Ten - Television
THE AMERICANS
BREAKING BAD
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD WIFE
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
SCANDAL
VEEP

And I think it's a (slightly) more interesting list in that it looks a little more like the AFI lists of yore in that it's partially awardsy but also kind of guilty pleasure buzz-sensitive. Or maybe it's just more interesting because people can actually enjoy these shows instead of the movie list which is (sigh) heavily titled towards movies that have just opened or haven't opened... just like the critics awards. It's still fairly Emmy correlative but there's no Homeland or Modern Family so that's something. I haven't had time to write about it but I am head over heels in love with / in lust for /  in awe of Masters of Sex, which is the single best show on television at the moment. It's so assured, so fresh, so perfectly cast... and weirdly gets better every single week. I really can't get over it. I look forward to each new episode like I haven't looked forward to any tv show's new episode in years. 

Sunday
Dec082013

Podcast: Philomena Catching Fire

This week NickNathaniel, Katey, and Joe discuss the blockbuster Philomena and that little arthouse indie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Spoilers you might want to avoid for Philomena are here (32:00-32:20 / 35:00-35:30).

Some questions that need your answers in the comments:  Is Jennifer Lawrence better as Katniss than in her Oscar roles? Would The Hunger Games be better as a TV series? What is going on in the Hemsworth family gene pool? Is Philomena at 98 minutes too padded or too short or, paradoxically, both? And how many nominations can it hope for having conquered the auntie demographic?

You can listen here or download the conversation on iTunes

Philomena: Catching Fire

Wednesday
Nov272013

Russell vs. Mansfield: A Guide to Recognizing Your Ja(y)nes

abstew here. Dame Judi Dench returned to theaters this weekend with the Oscar-buzzing Philomena. (She gets Oscar buzz for nearly everything she's in. She even makes it happen with James Bond films!)

I had a teacher that used to say

Ask me my three favorite actresses and the answer is: Judi Dench, Judi Dench, Judi Dench.

And as great as Dame Judi is in the film, Steve Coogan (who also adapted the screenplay) is equally strong as the investigative reporter helping Philomena, Martin Sixsmith. The two play off each other well in a salty, sweet relationship.

There's a scene in the film which is bound to catch the attention of cinephiles...

They enter the convent where Philomena's son was taken from her ('The Sisters of No Mercy,' as Sixsmith snarkly calls it) to investigate what happened. On the wall in the waiting room is an autographed photo of actress Jane Russell. Coogan stares at the picture and when the Sister he's meeting with comes in, he asks, "What's Jayne Mansfield doing here?"

"I think you mean Jane Russell," the Sister corrects him.

They then have an exchange where Sixsmith tries to remember which one is which and ultimately remembers that Jayne Mansfield (not on the wall) is the one who got her head chopped off in a car accident. Which seems to be the only thing people seem to remember about poor Jayne.

But it all made me wonder: How well do you, TFE readers, know your Jane Russells from your Jayne Mansfields? Below are 10 factoids. Try to guess which fact is about Jane Russell and which is about Jayne Mansfield. After guessing, click on the read more at the bottom for the answers!

 

MANSFIELD or RUSSELL? TEN FACTOIDS
Try to guess which fact is about Russell and which is about Mansfield. After guessing, click on the 'read more' at the bottom for the answers!

1. Born in Bryn Mawr, PA with the name Vera Palmer. 

2. Was a Playboy Centerfold in the early years of the magazine and appeared in every February issue of the magazine for 4 consecutive years

3. A censorship debate with the production code about the amount of cleavage displayed in the film delayed the release of her film debut 2 years after it was filmed. It didn't get a wide release until 5 years after it was filmed!

4. Won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer - Female

5. Known for her curvy figure, Bob Hope once joked, "Culture is the ability to describe <this actress> without moving your hands."

The look of disdain on Sophia Loren's face is priceless!

6. Starred in television commercials for the Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra and the 18 hour bra line "For us full-figured gals".

7. Both actresses were each married 3 times and mothers to multiple children, but she is the mother of the Emmy award nominated star of TV's Law and Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay.

8. Formed a gospel singing quartet called The Hollywood Christian Group. Their song, "Do Lord" reached 27 on the Billboard charts.

9. Her signature color was pink. Her Beverly Hills mansion was painted the color and named "The Pink Palace". And long before Mary Kay representatives were doing it, she drove around in a pink Cadillac.

10. Has her feet and hands immortalized in cement in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

And now, a musical break before the answers. It'll be the gayest thing you'll see all day:

Click to read more ...