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Janelle Monae's Breakout Year

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Entries in The Sessions (7)

Wednesday
Dec302015

Q&A: Oscar Ceremonies, Sex Work, and... The Warlocks of Eastwick? 

Soon, we'll be buried in an avalanche of awards news again so tonight a brief respite from the current Oscar race. It's Q&A time. Here are eight reader questions I chose to answer. I skipped anything on Category Fraud because I feel so exhausted by that fight ("though undeterred in my moral superiority!" he says arms akimbo and chin up, like a superhero with cape billowing behind him, sworn to upheld 'the Awards Way') and I might have to freak out all over again on nomination morning so let's ignore it for now.

MDA: What 2015 release that you were looking forward to watching disappointed you the most?

NATHANIEL: It feels stranger to answer with a film I liked, especially one that's already getting a critical rethink by way of surprise top ten placements but maybe Magic Mike XXL? While I admire its super cajzh vibe and its focus on female pleasure, I'm puzzled as to why they went more demure with the sequel when they kept promising it would be more stripperific i.e. what everyone expected from Soderbergh's first brilliant film (which you'll remember was a Bronze medalist for Best Picture right here.)

Another big disappointment was Sisters. It's totally funny don't get me wrong. But that's all it is. It's strange that we know that Tina Fey can write brilliant comic masterworks (30 Rock, Mean Girls) but keeps wasting her star power and comic gift on propping up other people's wildly underwritten cliché-filled scripts. I'm beginning to wonder is she even wants to make another comedy classic? Perhaps she's fine coasting until retirement. But it's hard to not wonder what could be if she'd only apply herself again. 

EZ: I hereby grant you special powers to go back in time and attend an Academy Awards Ceremony of your choosing. Which year do you choose and why?

NATHANIEL: This question sounds nice until you realize the genie has only granted you one wish instead of three.  So stingy!

Retro Oscar Races, Domnhall Gleeson, Bridget Jones's Baby, and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec182012

Beasts of the Precursor Wild

New Podcast ~ Part 2 of 2 
[Part 1 Here]
When we left off we were talking about the Globe Comedy and SAG Ensemble nods specifically and now the conversation continues. We turn to two films which could receive several nominations or none: The Master and Beasts of The Southern Wild and explore other Oscar mysteries too. [With Nathaniel, Nick, Katey, and Joe.]

Topics include:

  • The Master and P.T. Anderson's shift from ensemble to two-man dramas
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild, the outsider film
  • Globe categorizations. Why wasn't The Sessions a comedy?
  • Marion Cotillard is so Hollywood
  • Screenplays, Original and Adapted
  • Cinematography is neither Art Direction nor Visual Effects. Discuss
  • Oscar Stats. Will Supporting Actor be the only acting lineup ever that goes in with all previous winners? 
  • Screener piles. Are AMPAS voters more likely to watch The Paperboy or Compliance?

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the bottom of the post. But, as always, the podcast isn't complete without you. Join in the conversation by commenting!

 

Beasts of the Precursor Wild

Monday
Oct292012

Review: Free Pass for "The Sessions"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad...

When Madonna's "Sex" book turned twenty last week, a common thread of blog coverage was 'tame by today's standards' and I wondered which new standards other people were living by that I wasn't privy to? I'm not talking about private culture -- people have been seeing strangers naked long before Grindr or easily clickable pornography -- but about mainstream entertainment. Which mainstream female celebrity has been running around aggressively in her birthday suit lately? We've hardly made great strides at accepting female sexuality since then. Proof positive: the current political debates. The male body has, on the other hand, become more commonly objectified two decades on but penis sightings are still as rare as they were in the "Sex" book and people continue to make a big flaccid point of being shocked whenever they're visually reminded of their existence... especially in the movies. Find even one article about Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Eastern Promises or Shame that doesn't mention Jason Jr,  Viggo Jr. or The Fassmember; tough assignment. 

This longwinded preface isn't as off-topic as it sounds for a review of THE SESSIONS. The sexually-minded lightly funny new drama stars Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) as Mark O'Brien, a paralyzed man who dreams of losing his virginity from the discomfort of his iron lung. 

more...

 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct192012

Interview: On Casting and Politics of Sex with the Director of "The Sessions"

Amir here. TIFF has been over for more than a month but I still have one interview left to share with you. With The Sessions opening in theaters today, it was the perfect time to share my chat with Ben Lewin, the film's director. We touched upon everything from the politics of sex and nudity in Hollywood to the influence of his own experience with polio on building the character of Mark O'Brien. It's a film I encourage everyone to see because it's surprisingly funny and incredibly heartfelt, and features two of the strongest lead performances of the year. (In case you missed these back in September, here's my review of the film and my interview with one of its stars, William H. Macy.)

 

Amir for TFE: I can’t think of a better place to start the interview than nudity.

Ben Lewin: Neither can I!

Amir: Because, in general I’ve been accustomed to seeing certain types of people have sex on screen in Hollywood films and everyone else’s sex life is barely ever shown, as if, you know, people in their 40s or black people don’t have sex. It’s unbelievable and I really appreciate that we get to see something very different here. Was the film always so explicit since the idea was conceived in your head?

Ben: I think if you read Mark O’Brien’s article, there’s no other way. The essence of it was that he was learning the ABCs, what goes where, what do you do, and I think the explicitness is part of revealing his naiveté and how childlike he was when it came to sex. I was only keeping faithful to his original work, which was really what inspired me. Every time I felt like I was losing my way in the script, I’d go back to his text and rediscover what turned me on in the first place. The first thing that struck me when I read it was the frankness. The explicitness doesn’t make it sexier, it just makes it more ordinary.

My point exactly! Everybody at every age does it. You don’t have to look like a star.

I’d never imagined myself going there though...[MORE]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct142012

Podcast: Lincoln, Pitch Perfect, and the Supporting Actress Oscar

Weeeeee're ba-aaack.

Katey and Joe attended the sneak Lincoln preview at the NYFF and lived to tell the cel-phone free tale. Nick forces yours truly, Nathaniel, into an aca-awkward confession and the only movie that everyone has seen is Pitch Perfect which is clearly 100% appropriate for an Oscar-focused podcast. Certain to sweep!

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Anna Kendrick being so over it in Pitch Perfect.
  • Sally Field being over the top of it in Lincoln.
  • Helen Hunt being on top of it (John Hawkes) in The Sessions.
  • Nicole Kidman killing it in The Paperboy.
  • Supporting Actress doubling up on it.
  • Elle Fanning giggling through it for Ginger & Rosa
  • Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Molly Ringwald (???) and More!

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen to it right here. The more the merrier in this conversation so join in in the comments.

Pitch Perfect, Lincoln, Supporting Actress