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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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Entries in Project NIM (3)

Friday
Nov182011

Oscar News: 15 Documentary Finalists. Major Snubs Are Mandatory.

The Academy have announced their finalists in the Best Documentary Oscar category. Guess what isn't it the running anymore: Senna, The Interrupters, Page One: Inside the New York Times, and The Carrier! And that's just the biggies off the top of my head without research.  Amir was just pontificating about Senna's Oscar hopes and he's hardly that movies only über fan. People will be up in arms. I suppose it wouldn't be the Best Documentary Feature, that storied and oft-controversial category, without these anger-making decisions. Remember when Grizzly Man got the boot? I know, right? Unthinkable though that still is...

The finalists are...

 

  • Battle for Brooklyn (RUMER Inc.) 
  • Bill Cunningham New York (First Thought Films)
  • Buck (Cedar Creek Productions) 
  • Hell and Back Again (Roast Beef Productions Limited)
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)
  • Jane's Journey (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)
  • The Loving Story (Augusta Films)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (@radical.media)
  • Pina (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
  • Project Nim (Red Box Films)
  • Semper Fi: Always Faithful (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)
  • Sing Your Song (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)
  • Undefeated (Spitfire Pictures)
  • Under Fire: Journalists in Combat (JUF Pictures, Inc.)
  • We Were Here (Weissman Projects, LLC)

The highest profile films here are Buck, Pina (also eligible in Foreign Film), Project Nim, and Paradise Lose 3: Purgatory... but that's almost a whole shortlist in and of itself so expect more drama ahead.

Who are you rooting for and which snub makes you crazazy? 

 

Thursday
Jul072011

I Vant To Link Your Blooooog

Frankly My Dear what's behind the Dreamworks Paramount animation split? It is all the panda's fault?
Playbill God help us all. Suri Cruise is making her first movie appearance in the musical Rock of Ages (2012). 
Daily Beast Were Waiting For Guffman's Corky St. Clair and Marcus Bachmann "Separated at Birth". oh lol, good hearty life-affirming lol. 

Cinema Blend OMG first images from Amy Heckerling's Vamps with Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter and Sigourney Weaver, though no one has fangs! Remember when we thought that movie might get Michelle Pfeiffer? Sigh. Good times. So glad SigWeavie got it if we couldn't have La Pfeiff. Speaking of vampires, if you haven't checked out the latest True Blood episode review, please do.

Old Hollywood Notable moments in pre code history: The Sign of the Cross
IndieWire wonders if James Marsh (Project Nim) is the new Werner Herzog, equally at home in documentary and narrative worlds.
Towleroad P.S. I really liked that film, the Nim documentary (and more links if you just can't get enough.)

Finally... thanks to Super Punch for pointing out this old proposal for a Batgirl costume (in the Alicia Silverstone days). The illustrator Miles Teves was proud of this.

I regret that my idea of the cut-out Bat symbol window on the chest, showing a little skin and cleavage, didn't survive into the final suit. I thought it was kind of clever, and added just the right amount of wholesome flirtiness to the character.

But he knew it wouldn't work for Silverstone's proportions. More at his website.

Tuesday
Apr192011

Nathaniel in Nashville Pt. 3: It's A Zoo

In the previous festival post we were speaking briefly of "normal" movies versus festival choices. Here's a prime example of an odd thing that developed whilst movie watching... I ended up seeing virtually three documentaries in a row about our "friends" in the animal kingdom. This triple feature started out normally enough with just one movie. With Charlie Chaplin's The Circus coming up tomorrow for "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and circus epic bestseller adaptation Water For Elephants opening for Easter weekend, circuses were heavy on me  brain. So I thought I'd take in a documentary called One Lucky Elephant about a circus performer and the ongoing ethical dilemma of wild animals being enslaved to provide us with entertainment. I love elephants and I did actually ride on one as a kid.


I did not actually play "Boy" in a leopard print loincloth whilst riding on an elephant with daddy Tarzan (Buster Crabbe version) but that's how I'm remembering it for my illustrative amusement. Knowing myself as a young boy, it's also probably what I pretended I was doing at the time.

Have you ever had this experience? (The elephant riding not the Tarzan fantasies.)

I don't even recall in what context this elephant experience happened (state fair???). Virtually the only things I remember about it were that I was terrified and thrilled simultaneously and that I had never ever ever felt something living that was that enormous moving. The sensation is different than riding a horse (which I hadn't done at that point in my life) and the elephant was such a behemoth force of nature that it was almost like being jostled about while floating on waves if the waves were solid, dense, wrinkly and alive. Bizarre. 

But watching One Lucky Elephant, which is getting a theatrical run in the summer I believe, and which Oprah has picked up for her TV network, I felt pangs of guilt. If we weren't so fascinated by animals, would they be enslaved and taken from their families to entertain us?

The movie was about a man who had raised a baby elephant "Flora", made her the star of his travelling circus and realized in his later years that the elephant would long outlive him and parting with her was a economically and geographically complex problem and also fraught with emotional upheavals. Flora, like so many captive elephants, does have a heartbreaking violent episode in the movie that doesn't seem to mesh with her personality otherwise and one of the rich threads of the movie is the circus owner's painful realizations that this animal who has lived with him for her whole life is still unknowable. There was a terrific intense Q&A after the movie -- people have such strong feelings about the animal kingdom -- and I recommend seeing it if you get a chance. You can read more about the movie here

After that I joined some of my festival friends who were super into the idea of seeing Project NIM, which I believe Katey had recommended to us a few podcasts ago. It's the new film from Oscar winning documentarian James Marsh (Man on Wire). Snce my mind was just reeling from all these animals-in-captivity issues, I figured "Triple Feature" and finished it off with the French documentary Nénette about a very popular but miserable Orangutan. Nénette is like a non-fiction simian counterpart to Eeyore she is so bummed out about her life in the Paris Zoo.


I must say that I've never seen documentaries so closely related in theme that feel so illustrative of the Hollywood Blockbuster vs. Difficult Art Film equation. Nim is slick, mainstream and eager to please. Nénette refuses to care about whether or not you're enjoying yourself and expects you to come to it. As all honest movie-lovers know, there are pleasures and junk to be found at both ends of this divide. I wouldn't label Nénette junk at all, don't misunderstand, but in this case I just couldn't deal with the difficult art film.

NIM, which covers the life story of Nim Chimpsky, raised by humans and taught to sign until he is abandoned to science is hugely accessible, very funny, and then completely disturbing; it's going to be a huge hit (at least insofar as documentaries go). Meanwhile, Nénette is morose, contemplative and monotonous; There is no arc, no release, no story, just you looking at the animal. Nénette is almost like a trancy tone poem on all the topics these three films adress: human fascination with animals, our inability to stop anthropomorphizing, the misery of captivity, questions without answers "what are animals thinking?", and how our relationships to animals are often extremely telling about our relationships to people.  I'm quite sure I was absolutely in the wrong mood for Nénette. Either I had had too much of the topic or I just couldn't go with its complete lack of narrative and spotty context free information. I didn't enjoy it at all. I admired what I thought was an attempt to force you into noticing all the projections we do on animals by playing constant human voiceovers -- some funny, some thoughtful, some merely white noise -- but the visual withholding just angered me. I need more variety in a film and I couldn't even get a sense of how think the glass was surrounding Nénette or even how small or large her prison was, was because the movie, was so monotonously confrontational about making sure you were always considering Nénette's eternally sad very expressive face.

previous Nashville posts