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Entries in Wild (19)

Tuesday
May302017

Wonder Women: Cheryl Strayed 

Let's get Wild, everyone, and start cheering on "wonder women" in our lives! 

By Spencer Coile

As writers we are told to write about what we know. For many, this includes film, television, or anything pop culture related (hello, everyone). For Cheryl Strayed, what she knows best is her own life. Growing up in a home with her two siblings, mother, and abusive father might have been enough, but it was only after her mother's death in 1991 (as Strayed calls it, her "genesis story") and eventual spiral into drugs and promiscuous sex that she chose to trek from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, a journey of 1,100 miles. 

Fear not, for those wishing to experience this quest with Strayed! It is all detailed for us in her masterful 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and its 2014 film adaptation film starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan262017

America's National Parks are Vital Film Treasures

The American motion picture industry owes as much to its National Parks as the government who keeps them awe-inspiring, safe, and pristine; had President Lyndon B. Johnson never designated the Redwoods as federally protected land, who knows if there would even be an Endor for Return of the Jedi’s Ewoks to jam out on “Yub Nub." As our current presidential administration continues to show a combative inclination to incinerate their importance, it’s more important than ever to appreciate these wild lands as not just rugged pockets of natural splendor but a playground of our imaginations captured through film.

After all, a visual medium demands a compelling backdrop and it’s not just our science fiction stories – your E.T.s, your Planet of the Apes adventures – that respectfully depend on our country’s organic back lots. America the Beautiful has historically doubled as a treasured resoure and favorite filming locale for its national (and international) film industries. Thelma & Louise shot its climactic send-off in Canyonlands National Park, countless westerns called the Monument Valley of the Colorado Plateau (which is chocked full of federally reserved land) home, and even comedies like ¡Three Amigos! have used Arizona’s Coronado National Forest as milieu for its many jokes.

I keep returning to Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild as an exhibition of all that the diverse West Coast wildnerness has to offer along the Pacific Coast Trail. Without the National Parks and Forests there wouldn’t even be an Oregon mountaintop for Reese Witherspoon to thrust her malfunctioning hiking boot off. This is where the stakes get personal when we don’t support our National Parks: less empassioned actressing. 

What are some of your favorite movies - domestic or international - that hike upon America’s purple mountain majesty or weave through its amber waves of grain?

Wednesday
Feb182015

Best Actress. An Oscar Thrill & Personal Ballot

It's just four days until Oscar and I remain stunned and overjoyed that god* will be taking home her first Oscar. I can scarcely believe it. I thought it would be a nail biter given that this never happens. It's true we're about to get our first fiftysomething Best Actress winner in 62 years and I couldn't be happier about it! Given Oscar's very limited idea of what constitutes great acting (let's face it they were never going to "get" how well Scarlett Johansson was embodying a inhuman alien psyche distracted by curiousity) they didn't have much to choose from this year. But we cinephiles did. Best Actress is always a tough category for the actressexual, so I truly wish I had 8 nominees each year. I truly do. Of course then I'd weep for the 9th. You're always going to have to leave people out.

I force myself to narrow it down to 12 semi-finalists each year for a happy dozen before I make the final calls so here's a last shout out to a dozenish favorite leading ladies of 2014 (in alpha order) though this time it's a baker's dozen because I had to include the baker's wife albeit in her other incarnation this year.

Let's hear it for this incredible work. (Weak year my ass)

  • Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow
  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
  • Essie Davis, The Babadook
  • Anne Dorval, Mommy
  • Luminita Gheorghiu, Child's Pose
  • Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
  • Keira Knightley, Begin Again
  • Agata Kulesza, Ida
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice / Maps to the Stars **
  • Elisabeth Moss, Listen Up Phillip
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

See the Film Bitch Awards Best Actress nominees here!

* Julianne Moore is God.

** I could never understand what the f*** was happening with Maps to the Stars (Globe eligible but not Oscar eligible - what the hell?) so it is not included in my 2014 awards though I would surely have nominated Juli for it. I haven't yet decided if I will consider it for 2015 -- it supposedly opens February 27th -- but it seems to have been lost in the gap between film years. I will never understand this predilection of distributors to confuse potential audiences and critics in year end prizes. Never ever. It fills me with such bile every annum.

Thursday
Jan082015

27th USC Scripter Nominees Turn the Page

Books, books, nothing but books.
Pages, letters, paragraphs and sentences,
Adjectives and syllables and
Consonants and adverbs-!

I said alright,
But it wasn't quite,
Cause he wasn't nominated
For a Scripter last night.

Glenn here, and while Into the Woods did not receive a nomination today from the USC Scripter organization, I just have the prologue stuck in my brain. Still. It will not leave, how about you?

The Scripters award both a film's screenwriter and the writer of the original work. They used to only be open to adaptations of novels, which meant - much like the WGA - certain films were not allowed to be nominated. In recent years I believe they have started to allow comic book adaptations and short films expanded to feature length (like District 9); they've never nominated a stage musical or play adaptation so I'm not even sure if they're eligible. The rules seem kind of vague. Like most organisations that started before the modern award season made for homogenised lineups, the group have some curious wins in their early years including in its first year a film that didn't even get any Oscar nominations (84 Charing Cross Road).

In 1997 they expanded to include nominees and since then have always been quite a respectable award to win (last year's nominations for What Maisie Knew and The Spectacular Now were particularly welcome). They still do not allow for foreign language films, but... well, baby steps, I guess. Last year's winner was 12 Years a Slave for John Ridley and Solomon Northup, but what do you think will take the prize this year? The hiking woman, the British code-breaker, the gone girl, the physisist's wife, or the stoned investigator?

  • GONE GIRL
    Author: Gillian Flynn; Screenwriter: Gillian Flynn
  • THE IMITATION GAME
    Author: Andrew Hodges; Screenwriter: Graham Moore
  • INHERENT VICE
    Author: Thomas Pynchon; Screenwriter: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
    Author: Jane Hawking; Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten
  • WILD
    Author: Cheryl Strayed; Screenwriter Nick Hornsby

These are the exact same five films that Nathaniel is predicting, although we're not entirely sure what methods this group use to find their nominees. Are they considering Foxcatcher, for instance, which uses a novel as its jumping off point? Presumably they didn't buy into the "Whiplash is adapted" from just the other day, either. And after they nominated Iron Man in the past, one must assume that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't that far off. I must say, doesn't Wild feel like it could drop out of the Oscar lineup at any moment? Apart from Reese it hasn't caught on with awards, which can mean odd films with pockets of feverish love can surprise like an American Sniper (although with WGA that would hardly be a surprise anymore) or Guardians of the Galaxy or, gosh, maybe even Into the Woods? Maybe somebody knows the stats better than I, but how often do films only get actress and screenplay nominations? Was Frozen River the last one? Hmmm... food for thought?

Saturday
Jan032015

Best of the Year Pt. 1: Double the Swedes & Triple the Tilda

With love for last year's cinema.

2015 has a lot to live up to. This past year delivered amazing films from fresh-voiced directors, a good number of them female for a change, and it also came through, unexpectedly, with a surprising spread of high quality empathetic and diverse LGBT cinema. But even if you're stuck in multiplex-only towns, the mainstream also delivered with sneaky overachieving surprises in genres as oft-lazy as superheroes, horror, animation, giant monsters, and crime thrillers. When it came time to draw up my lists I had 30 pictures I really wanted to celebrate. Thirty! 

So let's briefly sum up (alphabetically) the films that just missed the top 20


The Boxtrolls - Laika's boldly grotesque superbly-voiced Victorian fable. 
Godzilla - Smartly reimagined not as reboot but myth returned. The paratroopers. Gah!
Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt's 'full metal bitch' isn't easy to forget. Neither is the film's gleeful rapid fire anarchy in treating Tom Cruise as South Park might. "You killed Tom Cruise!" Repeat ∞
Happy Christmas - No budget? No problem. Just write a warm funny script, film it in your home and hire famous actor friends. Joe Swanberg is living the Cassavettes dream only seems much happier about it.
The LEGO Movie - Excessively clever and fun. But in truth I'd rather it win a Clio than an Oscar.
A Most Violent Year - a slow simmer but Jessica Chastain is at full boil
Nightcrawler - Jake & Rene's bring out each other's best but their character's worst in this amoral nightmare. Great dialogue but man do those laughs curdle.
Two Days One Night - Belgium's Oscar submission is simple in narrative if not in complexity of feeling but Marion Cotillard is impossibly good / real / Oscar worthy
The Way He Looks - In a simply fantastic year for queer cinema (thank god - it's been a while) this was the sweetest offering, a coming of age pic about a blind teenager and his two best friends
Wild Tales - A raucously entertaining Argentinian anthology produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed with skill and wicked invention by Damian Szifron. If you can, see it with a group of friends (comedies are always best that way). I'm already sad I didn't include it in the top 20!

So here we are. Twenty may feel like an indulgent number to settle on for this 2014 countdown party but it comes down to this. No matter how many times I adjusted my "tippity top" movies list I couldn't live without these twenty. They were the ones that refused to budge, that defined the year for me, that demanded top ten placement, refuting the laws of math. To sum up: This cinephile had a great year in the dark. If you were positive I loved it and you don't see it in the top 20, it's tied for 21st! 

The film year is not drawing to a close just yet -- we keep celebrating through Oscar night. But the calendar year is a wrap so here is part one of my favorites roundup starting with a Tilda Swinton double feature...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec292014

Interview: Yves Belanger on Shooting Reese's Face as Landscape in "Wild"

I didn't come up with this analogy but it's a good one: Yves Belanger is like Ginger Rogers to Reese Witherspoon's Fred Astaire in Wild. He does it backwards. While in heels. While carrying tons of camera equipment! 

One of the most beautiful film experiences you can have this year is taking a cathartic hike with Wild. The adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's popular memoir has been praised extensively for its heartfelt actressing but less attention has been paid to the indelible contributions of the men recording and dramatizing the journey. In addition to a fantastic sound mix and accomplished editing, the cinematography by Yves Belanger contributes greatly to this film's evocative journey.

Wild is Belanger's second film with Jean Marc-Vallée and I talked to him about his director, his rapport with Reese and capturing the human face as landscape.

NATHANIEL R: I understand you've known Jean-Marc Vallée for a long time so why did it take so long to work togther? It must be going well since you've at work on your third consecutive feature together.

YVES BELANGER: I met Jean-Marc in 1991. He was starting as a young director in commercials. They matched us together but when he did his first feature, I don't know why, he took someone else. With C.R.A.Z.Y. it was like bad timing - we spoke about it but the money comes very fast and when he was ready to do it I couldn’t. Since Dallas Buyer's Club we are back together. 

Both of your films together have major movie stars. Do you feel you've gone 'full Hollywood' ?

Click to read more ...