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Entries in Q&A (46)

Tuesday
Feb072017

Q&A: Overhyped Loveables, Depression Coping Tactics, and Best Foreign Film 

Happy Hump Day Almost! Why do some weeks feel so much like surviving itself is the only goal / triumph? I have let the Q&A column go but we're getting back on the horse and will try to do them more regularly. Here are seven questions from last week and two from a long time ago.

Ready? Let's go! Questions about awards seasons calendar, Brie Larson, director/cinematographer teams, and coping with depression after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul172016

Q&A: Magnani, Cameos, Oscar Ties, and Homoeroticism

I promised a second round of Q&A this week so here we go. Seven more reader questions answered...

Mr W: Do you have any thoughts on Anna Magnani? She's one of my Top 10 Actresses of all time, but I don't think I've ever read anything on her from you.

I do not. Embarrassing to admit but I've only seen her in The Rose Tattoo (1955) which she was wonderful in. Any suggestions as to where to start?

/3rtful: Is there one unsung veteran actress you would like to see get an award season career boost through Ryan Murphy?

There's very few veterans I wouldn't want to see good a career boost. But i'll just name a dozen (and anyone reading should know I could list another 5 dozen with ease -- I shoulda been a casting director). Given that Murphy usually pulls from the 80s and 90s actressing packs (which, one assumes, reflects his formative fandoms) I wish he would throw a bone to Shelley Duvall (though maybe given her rumored mental health this isn't a good idea), Ally Sheedy, Daryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, or Lesley Ann Warren any of whom might be brilliant within his unusually creepy heightened worlds...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul122016

Q&A: Oscar-Free Dames, Supporting Shortlists, Disney Renaissance

Just answering six reader questions this afternoon for time constraints so we'll do another handful later in the week. Thanks for all the great Qs, readers! Here we go.

GSHAQ: Do you feel the gap is widening between the stories told in mainstream movies and contemporary issues? Oops, that might be an essay. 

NATHANIEL: This question hurts my brain but I'll try. I do fear for the health of cinema which directly addresses contemporary issues. For a long time the movies have preferred past-tense filters for social and political issues, once it's safer since history has sorted out consensus. The best of those past-tense films also address the here and now through their resonant power (see: Selma). And there's something to be said for the facility that good genre films have in addressing the way we live via metaphor (The Babadook, Bridesmaids, and Melancholia are MUCH better films about depression than some earnest dramas that directly take it on) Even superhero films can be reflective of the here and now in spite of (or maybe because of) all their mixed messages and contradictory 'have it both ways' politics. I don't think it's an accident that Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, whatever their disparate qualities, are asking the same questions about Might Equalling Right and whether we have the right checks and balances in place for those in power. These are issues that we're facing in very real ways all over the world. But, that said, we do need a reenergized contemporary cinema. If we can only think about tough issues through metaphor or by dwelling on the past, we have some maturation to do as a society!

It's true that movies made in the right-now about the right-now can age quickly (see movies we've recently discussed like Working Girl)  but if they're any good -- and sometimes even when they aren't -- they make great time capsules about the way we were, the things we valued, and the issues that laid claim to our collective mental real estate.  

BVR: Rank the animated movies from the Disney Renaissance (1989-1999). Extra: which is the most underrated?

NATHANIEL: This is cheating and asking for a top ten list but here's a NON commital answer after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May142016

Q&A: Everybody Wants Drop Dead Gorgeous Editing & Combative Personalities

It's the time again: Reader Questions hooray. I picked 8 to answer this week. Thanks to everyone who asked. I can't answer all but who knows - the unanswered might well inspire something down the road, conciously or otherwise. You never know...

MARSHA: Are people like Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump just so evil and insane that they are beyond parody, or are there actors and directors you can think of who could convey their humanity and worldview?

NATHANIEL: Marsha, I promised I wasn't going to talk about politics until September, remember?!? Don't tempt me.  All I will say is that a great actor can perform magic even under impossible circumstances. Remember how deep Julianne Moore was able to go with Sarah Palin?

JB: Can we discuss Drop Dead Gorgeous. In spite of having all the right ingredients, it's never quite hit cult (gay) status like I always assumed it would. Why do you think that is?

lots more after the jump...

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Wednesday
Mar302016

Q&A: Artists in Movies and Uninspiring Best Pic Lineups

For this weeks Q&A I asked for an art theme to celebrate the joint birthday of Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco de Goya on this very day! So we'll start with a few art-focused topics before venturing to rando questions.

TOM: Which film about an artist (in any field of the Arts) that you were not particularly knowledgeable about made you want to see/hear the real work by that artist? 

I vastly prefer non-traditional biopics so I'm susceptible to stuff that piques curiosity rather than gives you a greatest hits. So I like bios like Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993). I have some problems with I'm Not There (2007) which is my least favorite Todd Haynes film but I respect the hell out of it conceptually. In terms of movies about painters I definitely became more interested in Francis Bacon after Love is the Devil (1998) and not just because of Daniel Craig in the bathtub! I already cared about Caravaggio before seeing Derek Jarman's Caravaggio but I hope people see that one, too. 

BRIAN: If you had to recommend a budding Cinephile a movie based on an artist, a work of art, or has artistic themes what would it be?

Hmmm. A lot of movies about painting aren't very good (Watching someone paint being only a notch more interesting than watching someone write). So let's do "artistic" theme and the answer there is easily Amadeus (1984). It's such a useful movie to reference in ways both commonplace ("too many notes!") and contemplative (what makes the difference between competent journeyman skill and true genius?). One of my other favorite "art" movies is High Art (1998)...

8 more questions after the jump

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Wednesday
Mar162016

Q&A: Australian Greats, Leading Men, and Camera Muses

It's time for reader questions. Here are 10 recently asked I'm opting to answer tonight. Join the conversation in the comments. 

INQUIRER: Who do you believe is more worthy of an acting Oscar between Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Johnny Depp, and who do you think is more likely to win one?

This would surprise anyone unfamiliar with the site but Brad Pitt towers over the other two. He's among my all time favorite movie stars. But you've crafted a tricky question because all three men have loyal camps that they've earned. Cruise is the most consistent, always laser focused on Doing His Job in whichever movie. Depp is the most inspired when he's inspired but he's also the laziest. It seems impossible to imagine now but people did not want him to play Pirates like he played it. The studio was concerned. What is he doing? Now people hire him to for Depp shtick and that's what he gives to the point of self parody! Pitt is the most uneven actor among the three but he's also the most endearing, has the best taste, has aged superbly with his talent, and has evolved the most. Years ago I felt certain that all three would eventually be crowned but it's hard to picture now. If any one of them does a moving hit drama when he's an old codger though perhaps he'll get a career achievement prize. If none of them ever win competitively I'd wager that Brad Pitt is the most likely to get an Honorary Oscar. 

This might be as good a time as any to tell you (warn you?) that April will be ACTOR MONTH here at the blog. We talk about actresses so much that it's time for a wee curveball. Any requests?

TABITHA: Why do female movie stars now largely seem to be in their 20's or 60's? There seems to be a resistance to embrace middle-aged stars (apart from Sandra Bullock or Charlize Theron).

I blame this phenomenon entirely on sexism and the patriarchy. It's intrinsically tied to the "Last F***able Day" phenomenon that Amy Schumer named so brilliantly. I think once an actress has passed that threshold of straight men being "ewww she's AGING -- how dare she?" and is now just an older person, who for better or for worse are often desexualized in art, it's easier for people to just enjoy their acting again. That's my 100% correct theory. It's also harder for female stars to age because a huge percentage of them are famous in part because of exceptional beauty which is not necessarily true (certainly not percentage wise!) with their male counterparts.

KEVIN: if you put Meryl on a strict diet of auteurs, who would you pair her with for her next 3 films?

[more Q&A after the jump]

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Wednesday
Mar092016

Q&A: Brie & Saoirse, Superhero & Oscar, Actors & Politics

As promised it's time to answer ten reader questions, pulled from your comments. We'll try to do this weekly for awhile because I don't want you to abandon us in the offseason. "DON'T LEAVE US," he cried out, voice trembling, mascara running. 

Pedro: Who are your top ten actors/actresses that also participated in politics (were appointed/elected to office or just participated in an election but were not elected, for example)?

You guys aren't supposed to ask top ten questions! I have not paid close enough attention to this weird occurrence, so I dont even know who has done this really. The most famous examples are surely Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger with Glenda Jackson a distant fourth. But I have no personal favorites since basically I don't like it when actors shift careers. My 11th commandment proposal: Acting is a rare gift - thou shalt not waste it!

Of course Nancy Davis and Ronald Reagan were no great shakes in the acting department before they became POTUS & FLOTUS so the loss wasn't extreme. We're supposed to be saying nice things about them this week since Nancy just died (RIP) so I'd better just move on before I get myself into trouble since our national fantasy about how great the Reagans were is all kinds of f***ed up and problematic...

But, P.S., I did find it momentarily fascinating when there were rumors that Ashley Judd was going to do it.

DJDeeJay: what's your favorite example of male objectification in a movie?
[The answer and 8 more questions after the jump...

Click to read more ...