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Entries in Steven Spielberg (33)

Wednesday
Sep252013

NYFF: Like Father, Like Son, Like Excellent

TFE's coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival (Sep 27-Oct 14) is picking up pace. Here is Glenn discussing Like Father, Like Son

That foreign language category at the Oscars just continues to be a lightning rod for controversy (or "controversy" drummed up by eager beavers wanting get extra attention for their movies). Nathaniel already discussed some of the issues of that category as pertaining to the French non-selection of Blue is the Warmest Colour. Even curiouser than that, however, was the selection of Japan. Let's face it, a three-hour lesbian drama was always going to be a stretch for a nomination even if it did qualify and even if France did select it. Japan, however, appeared to have a slam dunk in the form of Kore-eda Hirokazu's Like Father, Like Son.

Even if we ignore the fact that it also won a big award at Cannes (the Jury Prize) from Steven Spielberg's jury and that the man himself has snapped up the rights for a remake. Even if we ignore that it's issues of frought father and son relationships put it in line with many other winners from the category. Even if we ignore that it's more refined palate, less scrappy and hip, is the sort of thing voters in this category tend to err towards. Even if we ignore all of that, the fact remains (for my two cents, at least) that the film is just really very good.

I, nor many other western audiences it would seem, have seen Japan's selection. The Great Passage. It may not only be a great film and I'm sure an Oscar nomination would make its producers double proud given the stink that has been raised by the American distributor of Kore-eda's film (the same company that is releasing Blue is the Warmest Colour - double ouch!). Still, it’s curious that Japan didn’t choose the Kore-eda when it seems to perfectly made for the ghetto category. I know it sounds entirely selfish and commerce-inclined, but I enjoyed Like Father, Like Son so much that it would have been nice to see it vying for the statue. It’s such a quality production that surely audiences, spurred by a nomination, could have turned it into a mild hit. Its likely February release now looks rather foolish and presumptuous, but it’s easy to see why the distributor thought they had a winner on their hands.

Like Father, Like Son is a wonderfully effective film about two families from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds who discover their babies were swapped at birth six years earlier. It sounds kind of silly and ripe for turgid melodrama, but it’s handled sublimely by the Kore-eda. He doesn't settle for simple sentimentality, but instead allows his characters to stumble, make bad choices, attempt to redeem themselves, and try to do what's right. The difference in their class background (one family is affluent, the other working class), their differing philosophies on raising a child (one fosters independence, the other family), the myth of motherly bonds, and their own individual sense of right and wrong are challenged by the sudden familial discovery.

Their world is very identifiable and it’s no wonder Spielberg wants to remake it. There are likely tears to be shed, but it earns them through the strength of the performances, especially by Ono Machiko and Yôko Maki as the wives, and the emotion wrung out of the complicated central story. It's also rare to see modern day Japan presented with such visual panache with its juxtaposition of cityscapes and rustic "authentic" locales. Whatever happens to the film now that it's out of foreign language competition, I just hope audiences get to discover it. Spielberg's future remake can only help audiences discover this affecting gem of a film. 

Tuesday
Jul302013

Curio: Making a Scene

Alexa here, returning from a break (moving is hell, folks) to share some film art for your Tuesday. I recently came upon these ink and marker drawings by Jim Ferguson and felt like they reinvigorated my love of classic Spielberg. Jim illustrates scenes from these and other classic and cult films, with a knack for choosing the perfect moments, both iconic and unexpected. 

These are some of my favorites from his enormous portfolio (six more scenes after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul112013

Emmy AND Oscar-Nominated Documentaries

The eligibility of documentaries for awardage from both that lusted after winged woman (Emmy) and the coveted naked man (Oscar) is a labyrinthine maze from which we would never exit were we to foolishly enter. In fact, someone needs to make a documentary about THAT to sort it all out. Documentaries leave strange crumbs all over both the big and small screens on their long walking journey through often complicated and extremely protacted "releases".

I bring this up because a portion of the Emmy nominations were announced today (like The Grammys there are hundreds of categories) in the non-fiction fields of news and documentary. I was surprised, for example, to see Semper Fi: Always Faithful, The Loving Story and We Were Here as nominees. You may recall they were all Oscar finalists (though not nominees) back in 2011 and now they're up for 2013 Emmys! Actual nominees from that Oscar year show up too, particularly those from the Best Documentary Short category. I thought we'd highlight a few categories in case you've seen any of these films. They might be familiar to you even if you spend more time in theaters than in front of your television. 

OUTSTANDING INFORMATIONAL PROGRAMMING - LONG FORM

OUTSTANDING HISTORICAL PROGRAMMING - LONG FORM

Awesome cinephile Vito Russo with fellow AIDS Activist Elizabeth Taylor

  • The Loving Story -HBO Documentary Films
  • Vito -HBO Documentary Films (read our interview with director Jeffrey Schwartz. Vito Russo wrote the groundbreaking book "The Celluloid Closet" which is all about the problems of LGBT presence in Hollywood films. That book and his AIDS activism are his legacy. This doc was also nominated for "Best Research")
  • Jesse Owens - American Experience PBS
  • We Were Here - Independent Lens PBS [Available on Netflix Instant Watch]
  • Nostalgia for the Light -POV PBS

And there are several other categories of non fiction programming too like "arts and cultural, science, and economic" . Finally, all the fields seem to unite under the umbrella category "Best Documentary" which has six nominations, all of them previous Oscar nominees or finalists except for Nostalgia for the Light, which nevertheless had a movie awards presence winning Best Documentary at the European Film Awards and winning a WGA nomination as well. That said I should note that this is no guarantee that how the docs aired on television is the same way they aired in cinema since documentaries can shape shift as they switch mediums and details of their stories continue to emerge. Some get much longer and are divvied up into segments for news programs. 

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Project NIM -HBO Documentary Films
  • Saving Face - HBO Documentary Films
  • The Loving Story - HBO Documentary Films
  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom - HBO Documentary Films
  • Hell and Back Again - Independent Lens -PBS 
  • Nostalgia for the Light - POV PBS

Do you like docs and if so have you seen any of these films?

P.S. Of Note: 60 Minutes won a nomination for "Outstanding Interview" for their profile of Steven Spielberg during Lincoln's run. If winged Emmy is anything like naked Oscar, it won't win its category. 

P.P.S. The Emmy nominations most people talk about when they talk about Emmys are the ones that will be announced a week from today on July 18th. We'll talk about those soon!

 

Wednesday
May152013

Kidman in Cannes. Part 1.

Jose here. The Cannes Film Festival starts today and I think we all can agree that the most important thing about it this year is the fact that Nicole Kidman is on the jury. Right?

This year's Competition Jury, as Nathaniel has already pointed out, might very well be the real life equivalent of The Avengers, with Nicole being reigning Queen of them all I know Spielberg's the President, shut up...  so during the next eleven days, we'll cover Nicole sightings, as we watch her fiercefully conquer the world of auteurship and wonder what some of her most beloved characters would think about what she's up to... 

The first Nicole sighting took place Tuesday evening as she showed up to the Jury dinner. 

Who She Wore: Dior (hmm is she trying to steal the spotlight from the damoiselles de Dior?)
Which Director She's Trying to Lure: When I first saw this, I immediately thought David Lynch, because I thought it was blue…turns out everyone else rightfully saw it as black and now I keep thinking Wong Kar-wai because this dress screams In the Mood for Love.
What Suzanne Stone-Maretto would think of this: "I'm on TV! Let me shine!"

Two more Kidman looks after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr242013

Ladies and Gentlemen and Kidmaniacs, I Give You The Cannes Jury

Cannes is just three weeks away and the final jury lineup has been announced. We knew Steven Spielberg would head the jury but his team was still semi-secret. They are...

Just months after competing for an extra Oscar, they'll be discussing other people's movies

Competition Jury

  • Daniel Auteuil (French actor/director)
  • Vidya Balan (Indian actress)
  • Naomi Kawase (Japanese director)
  • Nicole Kidman (Australian actress/producer)
  • Ang Lee (Taiwanese director/producer/scriptwriter)
  • Cristian Mungiu (Romanian scriptwriter/director/producer)
  • Lynne Ramsay (British scriptwriter/director/producer)
  • Steven Spielberg (American director) PRESIDENT OF JURY
  • Christoph Waltz (Austrian Actor)

 

Only one thing is certain about the outcome based on the composition of the team: By May 26th, Nicki's auteur lust will devour their collective imagination and they'll surely be competing for her hand in filmmaking. Which one of these directors will she work with next? (I mean, besides Steven Spielberg who Kate Capshaw aside, isn't particularly excited by actresses.) Can her first Romanian picture be far off? I'd most love to see what Lynne Ramsay could wrangle out of Kidman but I assume that Ramsay might have difficulty getting funding for her next picture given the ugly fallout from her sudden departure from Jane Got a Gun

Some years ago I made this visual and it still applies. But you just change the names as the years go by and Kidman recalibrates her attacks. Always plotting for legacy, that one!

Despite the media blitz that accompanies Cannes headliners, the competition jury is never the only jury at Cannes. It's just the one with all the headliners. There are multiple less glitzy but not necessarily less talented juries overseeing other prizes as well. 

Short Films Jury

  • Maji-da Abdi (Ethiopian actress/producer)
  • Jane Campion (New Zealand, director) PRESIDENT OF JURY
  • Nandita Das (Indian actress/director)
  • Semith Kaplanoglu (Turkey, writer/director/producer)

Un Certain Regard Jury
This jury decides who to spotlight in the realm of up-and-coming filmmakers (the ones Cannes isn't yet ready to include in the Competition lineup. Last year their prize went to the Mexican feature After Lucia which Amir wrote about here.) This jury lineup has not yet been announced but Thomas Vinterberg that handsome Dane who made the dogme masterpiece Festen (A Celebration) in the late 90s and whose current  feature The Hunt is winning him the best reviews he's seen since that startling debut will preside over this jury.

Can't wait to see which films they all embrace... and which auteurs win Nicole Kidman's hand.