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"Just saw a 7:00pm Thursday night show in Los Angeles. As flawed/imperfect as the film is, its quite winning due in a large part to some heavy lifting by Emilia Clarke. She’s got a real Sandra Bullock/Julia Roberts star power on full display here.-HardyofHearing

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Entries in The Turin Horse (4)


Some thoughts on the language barrier

For some people who live in the United States, this weekend will be their first opportunity to see Norway’s 2012 Best Foreign Language Film nominee Kon-Tiki in a movie theater. Sort of. In point of fact, nobody in the United States, not this weekend nor during the film’s limited roll-out, is going to see the film nominated for that Oscar, unless it’s because they’ve imported the unsubtitled DVD from Europe. Because the version of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s movie playing in the States is a combination of footage from the “real” version that played in Norway, with dialogue sequences re-shot in English. It is, literally, a different movie, with the exact same plot and shot setups.

(The New York Times had a nifty little demonstration of the two versions a couple of weeks back)

We’re not here to rip apart the Weinstein Company for releasing that version (though seriously, it’s pretty dumb – the audience for Kon-Tiki in English is certainly not significantly larger than the audience for the original version), but to consider the greater questions it raises about watching foreign language movies in the first place. I assume that you, like me, are at least a little bit offended by this bit of Anglophonic pandering, and would all things considered, rather see Kon-Tiki in its original version, and the question I ask both you and myself is: why?

Click to read more ...


Sleep Deprivation, Hungarian Potatoes & Oscar Charts

Yesterday morning I had to pass up a chance to see Hungary's Foreign Film submission The Turin Horse which saddened me. But half an hour of footage of peasants boiling potatoes in black and white mixed with three hours of sleep (2011 Insomnia Plague right here!) would not be an ideal match. If I die from operating heavy machinery while sleep deprived (what if my computer falls on me?) please know that it was fun talking movies with you this past decade.

The Turin Horse -- not to be watched without sleep

But good news! This week I will be seeing Mexico's submission Miss Bala (more specifically I'm watching it as you read this), Iran's submission A Separation, Turkey's probable submission (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) and what I suspect will be Argentina's submission The Student which recently received the Academy's official "go ahead, then" despite some initial concerns about its eligibility (something due to the format it was shot in). In other words, it's on! I don't think anyone, even those who say they do, knows what will happen this year with either the executive committee or the nominating groups given how many high profile critical darlings and crowd-pleasing baity entries are already in the mix to split all types of aesthetics in the voting. And we still don't even know about 20 entries including three big deal Oscar countries: Spain (19 noms, 4 wins) update: it's Pa Negre (Black Bread) a Spanish Civil War Drama that won big at the Goyas, Italy (26 noms, 10 wins) and the Czech Republic (8 noms, 3 wins). 

Joshua Marston shot by Andreas Rentz in Berlin, 2011CONTROVERSY
In related news, the controversies we've already noted here are covered over at Deadline in more detail in addition to the new but totally expected story that Albanian's entry "The Forgiveness of Blood" might not be deemed Albanian enough what with Joshua Marston (from California) in the director's chair.

Given that Marston was already booted out of this category once (Maria Full of Grace) due to his citizenship despite his international spirit -- consider that he has yet to make an English language feature -- we are reminded again how frustrating the Academy rules are. You do have to have rules, mind, but there are always casualties when the letter of the law rather than the spirit rules.

Please to enjoy the ever-expanding charts and pass them on! Nobody gives you this category like The Film Experience

Trailer for the Swiss entry and the entire Cuban film (if you can speak Spanish) after the jump.

Click to read more ...


TIFF: "Jeff...," "Hysteria", "Take Shelter" and "Amy George."

[Editor's Note: Apologies from Nathaniel, I've been under the weather and Paolo, who has been so dependable at sending capsules and reviews our way, now has a log jam of them. So many movies to discuss. Enjoy. TIFF wraps this weekend. -Nathaniel R]

Paolo here, discovering that HYSTERIA, a film about inventing the vibrator, isn't based on the recent Broadway play "In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play" although they tackle the same subject. However, some scenes here still look like you might see them in a stage play, set in offices of upper middle class Londoners. These are  perfectly designed offices, with the requisite deep trendy colours of today's period films. The character played by the unrecognizable Rupert Everett is an electricity geek. A generator occupies his office, a Rube Goldberg like thing connected to a feather duster. However, protagonist Mortimer Granville (a composite of three actual doctors played by Hugh Dancy) sees something else in this feather duster.

The comedy in the film is repetitive; how many 'strong hands' jokes can one take even if Jonathan Pryce, playing Mortimer's boss Dalrymple, delivers them so capably? Dalrymple's daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) enters the plot, a welcome break from the 'paroxysms' of Mortimer's clients. Her story line gets dramatic when her East End connections land her in prison but there isn't enough of a struggle to convince us that something bad might truly happen to her. Gyllenhall plays Charlotte with an optimism rarely seen in her darker films. She's also required to speak in a West End English accent alongside real English actors but she's not enough to elevate this film into a genuine crowd pleaser.

HICK, based on Andrea Portes' novel, is a movie set in the middle of nowhere and ends up there, despite the wishes of a thirteen year old girl named Luli (Chloe Moretz). Luli is very knowledgeable of her  provenance, her mother Tammy (Juliette Lewis) giving birth to her in a bar. Her father's no different, the kind of guy who drives into playground monkey bars without hiding the bottle of whiskey in his hand. She decides to run away to Las Vegas even if she's too young to be part of the workforce. The film from this point forward becomes a road movie,  taking place inside cars or at pit stops.

Chloe's child acress 'rite of passage', Take Shelter Oscar buzz, and endless potato boiling after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Vote on the Euro Film Awards (Plus: Oscar Submits)

While I normally approve not of "people's choice" awards -- that's what box office is for -- I do find the European Film Awards a curious beast worth noting each year. They have variety by way of scattershot film culture, there being no unifying "Hollywood" to control them. This year their People's Choice Awards -- which you can vote on and enter for a chance to win a trip to the awards in Berlin -- offers up an odd collection of Camp Comedy (France's star-laden Potiche), Royalty Porn (The UK's Oscar winner The King's Speech), Meta History (Spain's Even The Rain), Message Movie (Denmark's Oscar Winner In a Better World), Neeson-y Thriller (the international Unknown), Fish Out of Water Comedy (Italy's Welcome to the South), Ensemble Drama (France's star-laden Little White Lies), and even Animated Family Film (Germany's Animals United).

And the Nominees Are...

Go and vote... long as you're not planning to help The King's Speech win yet more statues. Cinema-Gods help us all.

Meanwhile the Oscar Foreign Film submissions continue...

Anne Sewitsky’s debut Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig) which we've previously discussed (I heart the trailer) will represent the land of the midnight sun in this year's Oscar race. Previous awards under its belt include the Sundance Festival's World Cinema Jury Prize Dramatic which, if you'll recall, is the same prize that the great Australian feature Animal Kingdom got its first big boost from in 2010. Joachim Trier's Oslo August 31st is the loser in this Oscar scenario but here's hoping that both films get stateside distribution. 

Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse will represent daring Hungary in this year's Oscar race. Hungary nearly always competes for Most Atypical Submitted Film which is bad for their nominatability but great for proof of variety in that odd annual Oscar survey of what's happening in international cinema. This one will need a helping hand from that special committee that Oscar dreamt up to basically force critical darlings on to the nominated shortlist. The new system obviously paid off last year for Greece's Dogtooth. Cinema Underground tells it like so...

Not since Alexander Sokurov’s The Second Circle have I watched a movie that felt so much more like physical endurance than an active intellectual and emotional experience... The Turin Horse is a punishing film.  The people in it are ugly and often cruel.  Their lives are repetitive and arduous.  There is little plot, little action, little change of scenery, but there are plenty of long, long takes in which no words are spoken.   

And that's from a somewhat positive review.

Oscar Foreign Film Pages