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Entries in The Hobbit (30)

Friday
Jan172014

The Desolation of Smaug: Accentuate the Positive

Michael back again. Nathaniel recently asked us if any of us had seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Peter Jackson's latest Middle Earth chapter is entering its sixth weekend with $800+ million in the worldwide bank and three more Oscar nominations and it's gone completely unremarked upon at TFE.  But I could feel the life draining out of me as I attempted to review it. Surely the world did not need one more dissection of Peter Jackson’s chronic inability to rein in his material. What’s left to say, save that Desolation has exactly the problems you would expect it to have? Hell, one could get the same from any archived review of The Lovely Bones or King Kong. All the criticisms still apply.

So I junked that review and decided it would be good for the soul to write something positive instead. After all, Jackson is a maddening filmmaker not because he’s some worthless hack but because he frequently buries moments of brilliance in all the sprawling self-indulgence. So with that in mind here is a list of five things I loved or liked about The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug:

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec302013

Stop Trying To Make Link Happen

Clothes on Film gets writers to name their favorite costumes of the year from Stoker through The Grandmaster and on to Spring Breakers
IndieWire thinks Oscar's Cinematography category should be split into two now (computer environments/traditional) as it once was (black and white / color). Co-sign. But then you knew that since I wrote about the problem with this category earlier this year in preparation for Gravity's Oscar win, which will be the 4th heavily computerized film in 5 years to win both vfx and cinematography statues
Buzzfeed Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

Vulture homage vs theft as it relates to American Hustle from Scorsese... and, well, Scorsese from Scorsese. I think comparisons between Russell and Scorsese's movies are largely missing the point -- an accident of release date and sudden divisive critical fervor -- but this is a good read
IndieWire gets really effusive about Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac calling him the next Paul Newman 
Pajiba the 10 best performances from inanimate objects in 2013 from Christian Bale's hairpiece in American Hustle through Man of Steel's tragic victims
Deadline on the use of silence in Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost. Brad from Rope of Silicon and I got into this argument with the Hitfix boys yesterday about Gravity. 'What silence? That score is terrified of letting you deal with silence!'

Today's Wolf of Wall Street arguments
Another 24 hours, another cycle of aggressive shaming of those who don't love it.
In Contention interviews The Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio who does my least favorite thing that actors can do: diss critics who don't like their movie for not getting it. Usually it's better for filmmakers to shut up when they're unhappy with critics. Remember how embarrassing it was when James Cameron got all touchy about negative Titanic reviews?  Joe Reid at The Wire responds with a terrific piece about the disingenuous posturing going on from critics who like to have their cake and eat it, too. 

I haven't been online much today but I'm assuming the response to Leo's statement is drawing big cheers from critics in the Wolf of Wall Street camp.  Careful, people. Just remember how much fun you made of Armie Hammer when he blamed you for The Lone Ranger's failure. 

 

Finally...
Some of you may have seen this a couple of weeks ago but Michael Cusumano, who writes here on occasion, knew he would have to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with family over the holidays so he caved on his decision not to watch the new Middle Earth trilogy. He liveblogged The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) to catch up (part one and part two) and it is awesome. I made the same initial vow and I've stuck to it but I did happen to recently very casually nibble on parts of last year's 3 hour fantasy slop on HBO the other night so that made this timeline even funnier... I agreed with every word regarding the scenes I tasted (but did not swallow).

Monday
Dec302013

Podcast: A Disney Double, "Frozen" and "Saving Mr Banks"

On a quiet Sunday Nathaniel & Katey get together for a Disney Double that we are surprised to realize we hadn't yet discussed as a group.

Is Saving Mr Banks a 'corporation knows best' propaganda nightmare or a rich investigation of artistic compromise or somewhere inbetween? Does the existence of Mary Poppins, automatically make Disney (Tom Hanks) the hero and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) the villain? We're more enthusiastic about Frozen. We see its gears and its formula and we don't necessarily love the song score but it transcends. Katey loves the message it's sending little girls.

Asides, as we do, to: Titanic, Tangled, The Hobbit, Blue Jasmine, and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

You can listen to the podcast right here or download it on iTunes and let us know what you think of this Disney holiday double in the comments. 

Disney Double

Saturday
Dec142013

Oscar Rejects and Finalists: Makeup and Hairstyling

Though it's perhaps unfair to possible future Oscar nominees who are (tentatively) celebrating, the finalist lists that are announced in the categories that have "bake-offs" have an unfortunate side effect: the story by necessity becomes about who didn't make it; "finalist" status is not, we must remember, an Oscar nomination and might not turn into one but rejection is hard fact. The Oscar's makeup branch, though fond of showy prosthetics like old age makeup or fantastical creatures has never nominated a zombie movie and also isn't crazy about horror (despite horror employing so many makeup artists) so I knew the chances weren't great for World War Z or Warm Bodies or Evil Dead or any other genre films though I am a little surprised that Oz: The Great and Powerful was already culled. Yes, Mila Kunis's Wicked Witch looked dumb but this branch's history doesn't always give one confidence that they'll choose well.

Surprising Rejections and Unexpected Embraces after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec062013

VFX Finalists. Which will have the honor of losing to Gravity at the Oscars?

The Academy has named ten films finalists for the visual effects Oscar and now the branch members will screen 10 minute clip packages from each film and make their selections.  Half of these films recede into the ether and the other half enters the history books as "Oscar Nominated" on January 16th, 2014. 

the cavalry in Iron Man 3... soon to be Oscar nominated

TEN FINALISTS

I am clearly not adept at predicting the finalists because two of the film's I had actually predicted for nominations did not even make the list: say goodbye to the Man of Steel and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Other films that Oscar won't even be considering now for this prize include: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Conjuring and The Wolverine. 

Each of the ten films listed above will be able to hide their clunkiest CGI and just show the really great stuff to the branch. Which films will be nominated and share the honor of losing to Gravity? Time will tell but it might be too steep a wall for World War Z to scale since Oscar doesn't like zombie flicks (in any category) and a bridge too far for Thor since he wasn't nominated last time around. Franchise history suggests that the crews on Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit can start fitting their tuxes. If we still had only 3 nominees in this category the nominees would be Gravity, The Hobbit and Iron Man 3. Which means there are essentially only two spots open. Any combo of the others seems possible which means we'll soon be haunted by this agonizing possibility: will The Lone Ranger be forevermore referred to as  'The Oscar-nominated The Lone Ranger'?)

A final tangential thought: I'm glad that we don't have bakeoffs and "showreels" for acting categories. Could you imagine? Not that greatest hits clips aren't how some people experience the acting nominees in the age of YouTube but you can't properly judge a whole unless you've seen all the parts. Even the lesser parts. Each of these ten films will be able to hide their clunkiest CGI and just show the really great stuff. Which films will be nominated and share the honor of losing to Gravity? Time will tell.