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Demme (RIP) and His Players

"Yes, Demme was special. So much energy, tension and subversive fun." - Edward

"Demme had great range I specially liked his comedies like Something Wild" - Jaragon

"I really, really, really NEED Beloved to be revisited and reappraised." - Kermit

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Michael O'Shea (The Transfiguration)
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Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Entries in racial politics (92)

Thursday
Apr272017

Familiar Faces: The Jonathan Demme Players

by Nathaniel R

Dearest reader, as you've probably heard by now the director Jonathan Demme has passed away at 73. He died due to esophageal cancer. I had run into him at a screening of La La Land  this past September and I took the opportunity to tell him how much Rachel Getting Married  meant to me (he joked about being first with interracial weddings for Rosemarie deWitt onscreen). Then we talked Swing Shift for a little bit as we had just discussed it on this very site. I was so saddened by this yesterday that I couldn't do much but tweet my farewells. The words wouldn't come out for a lengthy piece but then, surprise, I remembered I'd written the following piece that was never published (oops) to coincide with the release of Ricki and the Flash (2015). I filled in a few of the blank spots and adjusted some verbs to reflect the past tense but this surprisingly doubles as what I probably wanted to say about Jonathan Demme yesterday and couldn't. It's about his favorite actors but looking back, it's a fitting tribute because what American director was more curious about literally any kind of person he might find with his camera?

Jonathan Demme was one of America's most interesting and surprising directors. Though he's now best remembered for the modern classic The Silence of the Lambs (1991) it was actually something of an oddity in his filmography being the only horror film and, in some ways, the most classically controlled. In other ways though it's a traditional Demme picture. It features actors doing unexpected or suddenly signature electric work, weird musician cameos (what the hell is one of the members of 80s synth pop band Book of Love doing in there?), and diverse casting where most films would go with the default heavily male white cast. In fact, Silence might be his most white/male movie but that's part of its plot...

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Thursday
Mar302017

Power Linkers

Mashable the 8 main excuses Hollywood uses for whitewashing, and why they're all bunk in this day and age
Film Doctor 5 amusing notes on "Evil Disney Hegemony" and Emma Watson as Belle
The Muse Rich Juzwiak on the recent LGBT scraps thrown in mainstream Hollywood movies. Frankly I've been insulted, rather than thankful, by both of them. I just saw Power Rangers and I cannot believe people are crediting this movie with being LGBT inclusive. The Yellow Ranger never even admits she's queer. She just stays literally silent (and you know what silence equals) when someone asks if she has a girlfriend.

 

David Poland distributors are considering shrinking the theatrical release window again. Is this just suicide? (I hate to be an alarmist but I totally agree with David Poland's thinking here
Women in Hollywood interviews The Zookeeper's Wife author Diane Ackerman
Time lists the 50 best podcasts right now. I almost never listen to podcasts. Probably because I have no commute. I should get on that.
Pajiba on the costs of running independent film sites - ugh this hurts to read. It's so hard and we dont even do half as well as they do!
IndieWire Paul Thomas Anderson's fashion drama gets a Christmas day release 
World of Reel the early reactions to the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are actually positive 
Awards Daily talks to composer Trevor Morris (as much as I hated Iron Fist, I liked his work on it!) 
Broadway Blog Bette Midler's super gracious moment with an understudy on Hello Dolly! 

Finally, Two Directing Offers of Note
Joss Whedon might write & direct a Batgirl movie. The deal is supposedly close to happening but he had such a terrible experience with Warner Bros on his Wonder Woman screenplay (and such a difficult time with Marvel on Avengers: Age of Ultron) that this is quite a surprise. The money must be really good but we keep hoping he'll create an original television series again soon rather than reshaping other people's brands. 

Jordan Peele is being considered to direct both Akira and The Flash at Warner Bros thanks to the huge success of his directorial debut Get Out. But both those projects seem so troubled. The first because every iteration Hollywood has dreamt up for Akira includes removing its very Asianness (goddamnit Hollywood, just stop. Asia is an enormous enormous market for movies. You make no sense!) and the second from DC's habitual superhero and filmmaker interference problems. Wouldn't it be better if Peele follows his own muse? That worked pretty damn well for him the first time.

Tuesday
Mar212017

Battle of the Links

Today's Must Read
Vulture has an amazing profile on Jenny Slate which also gives personal insight into her career and life and, more surprisingly, her former relationship with Chris Evans. He comes off sounding so dreamy which is not what you expect in a breakup discussion!

Miscellania
Variety the tennis film Battle of the Sexes gets a Sept 22nd release date. Will Emma Stone be back in the Oscar race or will there be no need for a victory lap?
Coming Soon there's a project being pitched in Hollywood that unites classic fairy tale heroines in one story (like a superhero team but fairy tale princesses) 
Collider interviews the undervalued Michael Peña about CHIPs and he reveals that he still doesn't know if he's in the Ant-Man sequel (which seemed foolish of Marvel since he totally stole that movie)

lots more after the jump...

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Wednesday
Mar082017

Someone pitch a "Beulah" Miniseries. Hear me out. 

Imitation of Life (1934) starred Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers who went into the pancake business

On this day in 1902 Louise Beavers born in Cincinatti. Though she was never as famous as the similarly cast Hattie McDaniel she also had her own big film moments in the studio system including the original Imitation of Life in which Claudette Colbert got wildly rich off of her recipe while she Beavers struggled with her light-skinned daughter. FREE PITCH IDEA FOR WRITERS OF COLOR: Don't you think a prestige miniseries on Black Hollywood throughout the years would be fascinating?

More on Louise Beavers and other "on this day" items after the jump...

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Saturday
Mar042017

Pfandom: "Falling in Love Again" and "...Dragon Queen"

Pfeiffer instantly sentimentalized, with a halo no less, in her first scene in "Falling in Love Again"P F A N D O M  
Michelle Pfeiffer Retrospective. Episode 7 
by Nathaniel R 

There are an infinite number of worse people to grow up to look like than British star Susannah York but somehow it's hard to buy that that's who Michelle Pfeiffer would become. Pfeiffer was still a pre-teen when Susannah York hit her career peak, most notably in a string of erotically charged and sometimes controversial 1960s movies like Tom Jones, The Killing of Sister George, X Y and Zee, and They Shoot Horses Don't They (the latter brought her her only, but well deserved, Oscar nomination). By the time Pfeiffer was hitting the movies and cast to play York as a young girl, York's star was fading. York had recently been reduced to a merely decorative alien maternal presence in Superman (1978) and now a young actress was playing the idealized version of her. Hollywood can be cruel that way.

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Tuesday
Feb282017

Only one "woke" at a time

by Deborah Lipp

One of Oscar's best moments. Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari accepting on behalf of protesting Asghar Farhadi

If I may use this year’s vernacular, Oscars are woke. Except, well, they can only be woke about one thing at a time. Last year after the Oscars, I wrote about the powerful “spotlight” (see what I did there?) the Oscars brought to the issue of rape and sexual violence. And I’m going to acknowledge, that yes, that was amazing. 

But rape is so last year.

This year was all about diversity and inclusion. Those are wonderful topics, those are topics that matter to me. The diversity was beautiful to see. The powerful immigrant voices—from Iran, Mexico, and Italy, among other nations—moved me. It was important that people of color were not merely supporting characters—even though the winners were in the Supporting categories, they supported other people of color...

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Wednesday
Jan252017

Asian Actors and the Academy: Triumphs and Snubs

Robert here. On Tuesday British actor Dev Patel became only the third actor of Indian descent to be nominated for an Academy Award. His nomination came amongst a renewed embrace of diversity (which is something to celebrate, but not rest on) after two years of completely white sets of nominees.

The Oscars – and, of course, the film industry at large – have long courted controversy for their issues with diversity, and Asian actors across the board have long been overlooked and undervalued. Often they are cast in flat, stereotyped roles, or as we've been made much more aware of lately, the roles of leading characters of Asian descent are given to white actors. Before Dev there have been several actors of Asian descent whose strong work has garnered them award attention, and even more who were snubbed despite memorable performances.

A brief retrospective is after the jump:

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