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Entries in politics (114)

Tuesday
Apr212015

Mad Men @ the Movies: "Forecast"

Lynn Lee, here again to discuss this week’s Mad Men

Glen is off to Vietnam but wants a proper goodbye from Betty

Maybe Don Draper should have been a movie director.  His best ads have a film-like narrative and emotional pull, and going to the movies (something we, perhaps tellingly, haven’t seen him do in a while) seems to recharge his creative batteries.  Even now, as he appears increasingly disaffected with the business of selling either his work or his home, he yearns for the kind of high concept that sounds better suited to the big screen, whether it involves the World’s Fair or a fantasy about the inventor of the Frisbee making a million and moving to France.  After all, he’s managed to rewrite his own life story – the public version, at least – like the brashest of screenwriters: from poverty to the penthouse.

[Jane Fonda, Vietnam and more after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar272015

Interview: 'White God' Director Kornél Mundruczó on Twisting Genre, Working with Canine Actors and Opera

Jose here. Kornél Mundruczó’s White God opens with one of the most memorable scenes in recent films, as we see a the desolate streets of Budapest in the aftermath of a canine uprising which has forced all the citizens to stay inside their homes. All except one, a little girl (Zsófia Psotta) trying to find her beloved dog, who unbeknownst to her, is actually the leader of this revolution. While the film has been compared to Rise of the Planet of the ApesWhite God in fact has more in common with two 1960s classics: Spartacus and The Birds, which makes sense considering that Mundruczó has made a career out of paying homage to classic Hollywood films, while injecting them with darker political undertones.

The film was a sensation at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was Hungary’s official submission for the Academy Awards; it could also very well become Mundruczó’s international breakthrough. On the eve of the film’s Stateside premiere I talked to the filmmaker about his career so far, the struggles of working under extreme circumstances and his love for opera.

JOSE: I thought the film was entertaining in a conventional thriller sense, but it was also such a powerful allegory for the rise of right-wing racism in Europe. How were you able to achieve a balance between the two?

KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓIt was really personal, when I started to work on this movie I was really touched by the situation of the dogs inside Budapest. I went to a dog pound, for different reasons, not as a filmmaker, and I was so touched. Sometimes something just steps on your soul, and that’s what this felt like, I felt such a shame, I was in shock, I was part of a system that was supporting this. I wanted to talk about it and I believe that democracy is talking about things, so I decided I wanted to make a movie about one dog in Budapest. When we were developing the script, it was obvious that this was also a great allegory for what is the illness of our society. But this wasn’t something premeditated, I never thought “I want to shoot a metaphor”, I just wanted to tell this story.

Has there been a difference in how the film is received in countries like Spain and Greece which have seen powerful social uprisings in recent years?

Totally huge difference, I have no clue how it will be received in the US, but I feel that there are Eastern souls and Western souls, in France for example, they identified with the major society, but when people saw the movie in Mexico they felt “we are the dogs”. In Eastern Europe, we also felt we were the dogs. We have also had a lot of success in Turkey, which is very curious, since I had no connections with this country at all, but we’ve had lots of comments from there.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar262015

TCM Classic Film Festival Starts Today!

Greetings and salutations, cinephiles! Anne Marie here, reporting from sunny (and hot) Hollywood, CA as the 6th annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off. For the next four days, I'll be reporting what's new (and old) at Hollywood's largest festival devoted entirely to celebrating the classics. 

This year, the theme of the festival is "History According To Hollywood". Films range in period and subject from the French Revolution (Reign of Terror), to the American West (My Darling Clementine), to the Civil Rights Movement (Malcom X), and the Apollo missions (Apollo 13), with historians and even an astronaut onhand to lend perspective. Of course, it wouldn't be TCM if they didn't roll out the red carpet for icons of a bygone era of the silver screen: Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, and Ann Margaret will discuss their films before special screenings. And tonight, the entire festival kicks off with the 50th Anniversary of The Sound Of Music, with Dame Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in attendance.

However, the TCM Film Festival has courted some controversy this year for exactly the wide range of films that they are celebrating.

After the festival schedule was announced, TCM fans took to social media to denounce it as "too new" and "lacking true classic film." Adding to the controversy was the decision to screen many films digitally, instead of on film. Sides were taken, articles were written (the best explanation is courtesy of The Black Maria), and all of it seems to boil down to one question:

How do you define a classic?

 

Is a Classic film defined by age? Quality? Time and place of origin? By expanding this definition to include films that are only 20 years old, are we adding diversity or devaluing already great work? Film is, comparatively speaking, a very new artform; only a little over 100 years old. It's been regarded as "legitimate" art for less than half of that. Considering that movies are still new and ever-changing, maybe we should focus less on labels and more on celebrating what's been accomplished in a century.

Today, dear TFE readers, you get to choose what you think is a classic. Below are five films being shown at TCMFF. On top of the daily updates, I will go to whichever of these five you choose, and report back on it during the Monday wrap up. So, I'll ask again: how do you define a classic?

What Should Anne Marie See at TCMFF?
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (1961) w/ Shirley MacLaine0%
LENNY (1974) w/ Alec Baldwin, Dustin Hoffman0%
42ND STREET (1933) w/ Christine Ebersole0%
MALCOLM X (1992) w/ Spike Lee0%
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) w/ Keith Carradine, Peter Fonda0%

Thursday
Mar122015

Visual Index ~ Paris is Burning's Best Shots

For a film that's less than 80 minutes long, Paris is Burning contains at least that many worthy topics of discussion presenting quite a challenge for Best Shot participants. You could write 80 articles on it on entirely different subjects. The documentary was an instant sensation winning the Sundance Film Festival in January 1991, and opening that summer to big box office ($3.7 million... which was quite a lot for a documentary). It landed on top ten lists, won critics prizes and generated yet more press when it was horrifically snubbed by Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category. The film documents NYC's ball culture in 1987 with a few scenes from 1989. By 1989 you can already feel the scene changing, being coopted, and about to be appropriated for one of Madonna's biggest hits. 

My choice and a few more words on this landmark film after this gallery of incredible images. PLEASE NOTE: Next week's topic for Tuesday March 17th (St. Patrick's Day) is the classic THE QUIET MAN (1952) set in Ireland starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Like Paris, it's available on Netflix Instant Watch so I expect y'all here Tuesday night with your choices.

PARIS IS BURNING (1990)
Best Shots according to 21 Fine Cinephiles Round the Web

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan212015

We Are the Link

Fistful of Film a wonderful personal take on We Are the Best from a father of girls 
Section Eighty a composer discusses the Oscar-nominated film scores
Coming Soon Milla Jovovich confirms she's about to make another Resident Evil movie, supposedly the final one. She turns 40 this year and started this series when she was but 25.
KCRW Actor Craig Chester believes he's haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift 
Out Alexis Arquette taking no prisoners in an interview. But bizarre that she didn't know her own sister was up for an Oscar! 

 

Indie Wire the lineup of New Directors New Films this year The Tribe and White God are both featured. They feel like anything but "new" to me after a whole year of festivalling but I still haven't had the chance to see either - will they ever open theatrically or just keep doing festivals like this one for a second year?
In Contention most anticipated films of Sundance 
We Recycle Movies you should check out Anne Marie's rainbow countdown to the Oscars
The Carpetbagger welcome to Phase 2 of the Oscars. Also: Mark Schultz changes his tune again on Foxcatcher. I am not saying this snarkily but with concern: this is why we need universal health care and easier access less stigma for mental illness treatment. Something is seriously wrong with this guy 

American Sniper Mania
Grantland excellent piece by Mark Harris on why American Sniper's box office won't help its Oscar run ... "success breeds scrutiny"
Rolling Stone on American Sniper's stupidity - they use a similar comparison to Forrest Gump like the one I tweeted icymi
Movie City News David Poland doing some train of thought hand wringing on the extreme combativeness of theAmerican Sniper and Selma Oscar battle... that isn't really a battle but that people have suddenly made it into one 
Playbill ...but perhaps the worst American Sniper news is that its leading Broadway's Elephant Man revival to cancel several performances due to Bradley Cooper's awards schedule 

Off Cinema
Pajiba the one reason to keep watching Girls 
NYT John Cameron Mitchell returns to Hedwig, the role which made him and also, not so incidentally, brought us a brilliant film director. Make another movie, Mitchell! All three of yours are heaven.
i09 looks at lesser known characters in the public domain. Will any of them be revived? 
i09 they also look at the case of James Bond, now public domain in Canada! But not in the US or Europe.
Towleroad's the story of Björk's new album, released two months early. Sad she broke up with Matthew Barney. They seemed like such an iconoclast match

Saturday
Jan102015

Who you gonna call? Linkbusters

Vanity Fair Melissa McCarthy and other funny ladies in talks for Ghostbusters reboot. I'm rooting for Jillian Bell myself who is mentioned. Yay.
Buzzfeed a definitive ranking of Disney Prince butts - as great as it sounds though I'd place Prince Phillip higher because my imagination works (I love that former Prince BD Wong even replied to his ranking on Twitter)
Vulture let us all worship Charlize Theron who has demanded (and been given) equal pay to her male co-star for The Huntsman. It's not like people went to the first movie for Hemsworth...Insane. Sexism by the numbers.
The Film Grapevine Birdman and the unexpected virtue of Contrivance
A Socialite Life Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone photobomb someone actually trying to take a photo of them

Slate on why Wes Anderson movies have never been popular with the Academy Awards before (presumably) now. Fairly good reasoning
MNPP Wet Hot American Summer will become a Netflix series and the original cast is all returning
RogerEbert.com on the women in Selma: the unsung heroines of the movement
THR Samuel Goldwyn Jr dies 
Theater Mania The Color Purple is coming back to Broadway (already?) with Jennifer Hudson as Shug 

Good Long Reads
IndieWire great piece on the definitions of patriotism and exceedingly pro-gun messaging of American Sniper. Please do not let this film be nominated for Best Picture. It's just not what we need right now...especially given how many people have been killed by guns lately in the States...and still no gun reform.
Grantland Wesley Morris on Selma. Love this sprawling, provocative review / thinkpiece. I've been totally appalled and confused myself at the way the media has latched on to the Lyndon B Johnson depiction but Morris makes a great point here that helps clarify, for me, the anger and nitpicking:

A quick survey of film history suggests that the depiction of racial themes in America has always been the province of white directors, whether it’s something as spectacularly diabolical as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation or the antebellum revenge of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. These great-man movies tend to reflect the aspirations and identities of the people who make them, which is how so many stories ostensibly about black life wind up with white interpolators. DuVernay understands the fraught, imbalanced legacy a film like this pulls her into, and she’s been as fair as she needs to be. This is not a film that undermines or questions Johnson’s ultimate contributions to the improvement of black life in this country. (It very easily could have mentioned the two decades in Congress he spent opposing civil rights legislation.) Inasmuch as there are villains, they are Wallace, Hoover, and Selma’s sheriff, Jim Clark. But because this isn’t Johnson’s story, those accustomed to seeing the president as hero (or protagonist) ultimately seem dismayed by how little of the president there is here.

The bold is mine, not Morris's. People who are angry about Lyndon B Johnson's depiction really ought to look beyond the myth and think about reality. And once they do, rather than be disappointed, they should be as generous as DuVernay is who depicts him as an imperfect man who makes a great progressive decision which changes history.