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Entries in Year in Review (105)

Saturday
Dec282013

20:13 for 2013 Screencap Fun: Ghosts, Zombies, Flappers

icymi here's part one.

Screencapping fun! We've frozen early 2013 releases* at the 20th minute and 13th second of their running times. Here's what we found. How many of these have you seen and do you think this moment is telling of the whole?

I had been drunk just once twice in my life and the second time was that afternoon."

In case you are illiterate, Baz Luhrmann's got you covered in his version of The Great Gatsby! (He sure is good at shooting party sequences, though. No filmmaker can touch him in that ultra specific place.)

This next screencap I had to lighten a bit so you could actually see it... Bed sheets are being yanked down... but by what/who?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec262013

Year in Review: Best Ensembles & Best Casting

To the tune of Madonna's "Music" ♫

Hey Mr Director, get your ensemble on, all the guys & ladies
And once the movie starts
don't ever let them stop, they're gonna drive me crazy

People make the movie come together - yeah


As annoying as it was in 2003 when Mystic River was attempting to halt the inevitable Lord of the Rings coronation with a sort of 'people are the best special effects!' Oscar campaign, the sentiment was true and remains so. I've been going to all kind of movies my whole life and  I've yet to see anything that's as remarkable as the happily regular occurence of weird electricity and true magic sparking when fine actors collide, collude, combust or cooperate.

So as we're all celebrating the holidays with our own personal ensembles of friends and family, I thought it would be a good time to honor the most special collections of players in 2013.  I can never let the Screen Actors Guild have the last word on this matter because, though acting is their raison d'etre, they never get this category right, opting for popular Oscar bound films with big casts and not really thinking about the WHOLE cast, and how all those players are interacting and bouncing off or working together. This year, they chose August: Osage County, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and I think two of those are really poor choices (though I like all five films) when you're thinking about the acting collective as opposed to just one or two performances within it. SAG's past history suggests that they're only comfortable with "star" ensembles so they were never going to go for fine teams like Frances Ha and Short Term 12 but why not Prisoners which is a sharp example of stars NOT connecting with each other on purpose. Everyone in that cast is alone since all the characters are horrified by each other (and sometimes themselves), trapped in their own personal grief and grievances.

When you're talking about great ensemble work I think you're also talking about fine direction and smart casting, though there are exceptions. Two fascinating examples of how complicated this all gets in that you can have one without the other(s) are August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. A:OC has a lot of fine actors in it but the director John Wells can't figure out how to see all of them at once, opting too often for shot / reverse shot when he needs to widen the camera or choreograph them differently so we can watch them together. I've never understood why so many contemporary directors have trouble absorbing this concept since their peers who are skillful at shooting group scenes are hardly obscurities. Just watch a couple of movies by David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson (or classic departed directors like Wyler or Altman) and you'll instantly be smarter about ensemble vision; They know exactly when to go to or stay with a two-shot or a three or four or even five shot... Hell, get everybody in there -- the more the merrier! As for 12 Years, I'm on record as complaining about the casting. Too many of its (white) supporting players are too familiar as  faces go which, in a lesser movie, would really derail the existential horror. But there's no denying that when this cast is acting together it's absolutely electric... I still get chills thinking about the way Michael Fassbender leans on his co-stars like they're his furniture and the way the various actors playing the slaves freeze up whenever they're being observed and the multiple nuances of when the actors are willing to look at each other and when they're too scared or smart to. It's all top notch work but if the director wasn't wise enough to let you see this -- and many directs aren't, just stiching 90 minutes of establishing shots and close-ups together and calling it a movie -- the ensemble probably wouldn't be winning as much praise.

Without further ado... My Nominations for Best Casting & Best Ensemble

And, in case you haven't seen THR's Casting Roundtable. I watched it only after making my lists since I didn't want to be unduly influenced but it's completely interesting. 

I only wish they could have found room for Rich Delia and Douglas Aibel, since I'm honoring both this year.

Tuesday
Dec242013

Year in Review: The Bad, The Worse, and the Ugly

I used to make a big fuss over my CINEMATIC SHAME list but this year I'm mostly just feeling the love (see also that "most moving" list share). Nevertheless tradition is tradition, so herewith a few dubious "honors" and outright dismissals from the worst of 2013

WORST MAINSTREAM FILMS
One can avoid a lot of dross if you select your own movies rather than have them assigned to you by an editor. But true terror always finds a way. Let's call this a three way tie. Identity Thief is so stuffed with uncecessary scenes and filler -- the stars don't even meet for half an hour! -- it's practically built to be ignored on cable for decades to come while you putter around your house with your phone in hand and your mind entirely elsewhere -- at least until you notice some bright color combination on Melissa McCarthy and chuckle at a line reading or two before instanteously losing interest again.

Unfortunately there's more. The Counselor, Oblivion, DianaThe Lone Ranger, Jodie Foster and more dishonors after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec242013

Merry Link-Mas

Grantland Mark Harris on The Good Wife and Scandal and TV trends in 2013
Variety on that misleading marketing campaign for Frozen and how it paid off. I feared this would happen, not the success but the "our lie worked!" part. I firmly believe that the movie would have been just as successful if they hadn't lied about what it was. Any movie that drops in the low teen percentile from week to week at the box office was going to be a huge smash hit regardless. People love this one and are either returning or telling all their friends that it's great.

Fun 2013 Lists!
The Wire talks the 13 best SNL skits of the year. I rarely watch the show so this all felt new to me!
The Playlist Redbox's most rented titles in 2013 reveal the immense popularity of Melissa McCarthy. I wonder what she's charging now per film?
Junkee Glenn looks at the best of Queer cinema
Towleroad I neglected to share it but I love this 'most powerful coming out stories of the year' and how did I not write about Maria Bello!
The New Yorker's 13 most read posts
Huffington Post Huffpo reviews the year and all the things white people stole from black people from Miley Cyrus twerking to Julianne Hough's Halloween "black face" and dubs this 'the year of cultural appropriation.' Oh, HuffPo, that's EVERY year in our regurgitated pop culture 

And Check This Out...

click to enlarge

The most popular TV show set in each state as determined by Business Insider. Hat tip to i09 for this juicy discovery. A lot of it is just as you'd expect (The Golden Girls for Florida!, Seinfeld for New York!) but others are more surprising or like memory jogs. If you're from the States do you like your state's representative show?

Thursday
Dec192013

20:13 for 2013 screen capping fun!

Six long years ago I ran a popular series called 20:07 where I shared freeze frames for various films at the 20th minute and 7th second of the film. T'was super fun and popular and every once in a while we bring it back.  So here we are at the tail end of 2013! These are screencaps from the 20th minute and 13th second (or thereabouts - streaming titles do not always promote accuracy of screencapping) from films released this year that are already available for home viewing*

Which of these seven movies did you see? Do they bring back fond memories? 

Feels as if the world is perfect. Like it's never going to end..."

Spring Breakers. James Franco's Alien enters seconds later. It is going to end.

 

Click to read more ...