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Sunday
Jan232011

Links Episode #2,011

Tang Wei acting againPop Matters Jane Fonda is here to talk fitness -- not the movies! Though the first question does both. Interesting interview from Matt Mazur.
Carpetbagger Sundance has a new 'it' girl Felicity Jones
Asia Scene visits Tang Wei on the set of her new film
Nicks Flick Picks kicks off his Best of 2010. Yay!
The Hollywood Reporter Anthony Hopkins for the Hitchcock bio? Ewww.
Pop Matters "10 things i'm already sick of in 2011" heh. some people can't ever be pleased.
Kenneth in the 212 Jake Gyllenhaal on the Q train. I love seeing celebrities in the subway. It's so rare. One spots them far more frequently above ground here in NYC.
Your Movie Buddy what... you don't wanna stay in the Star Gazer Suite from Blue Valentine? Why the hell not?

Finally, have you been reading all the pieces about whether or not The King's Speech can defeat The Social Network? Some subjects just take on a life of their own whether or not they're yet relevant. Some say it can, some say it can't but you know what I think it all comes down to? What their nomination tallies are like come Tuesday morning and how large The King's Speech's box office (and roughly parallel, the audience fervor) grows. These are the principle reasons why I haven't jumped into the debate. The competition for Oscar is an entirely different race, after the nominations. Don't you think?

Saturday
Jan222011

Eye Candy: Visual Effects, Makeup and Animation

It's 2 days and 15 hours or so until Oscar nominations! Late tomorrow we'll do final predictions but until then, the FiLM BiTCH Awards continue wherein I share my own ballot of "best of the year".

Rapunzel lays down the law

If you read the top ten list, you already know my Animated Feature finalists (though I cheated a bit on the grounds of: if Oscar can keep changing the number of nominees, I can adjust as I see fit, too!). Each one of my nominees Toy Story 3, How To Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Tangled has at least one other nomination to show for it in another category, too (you can see a tally of nominations thus far at the bottom of the sound categories).

Visual Effects
You know what's funny? My single favorite visual effect of the year is the Winklevii in The Social Network but just as you can't really nominate a film for costume design just because it has one good dress, I didn't end up nominating it in that category

I generally applaud the use of visual effects as a supporting mechanism rather than as the goddamn raison d'etre of a film's existence. And it also just missed because as I was drawing up my charts I suddenly started giggling about how indulgent it all seemed. Why cast twins when you can spend millions playing with your technological toys?! Maybe this is why True Grit just barely misses my makeup nomination, too. Did they really need to go to that much work to make Barry Pepper hideous when he's a strong enough actor to sell dastardly and dangerous without any false grody teeth? I'm just thinking aloud here. Join in the debate at any time.

Dakota self applies in The RunawaysHere are my Visual Effects and Makeup nominees.
[You'll have to scroll down a bit to get past the wall of Black Swan posters in the unfinished categories.]

If you're wondering why Tim Burton's Eyesore in Wonderland is nowhere to be found it's because I think it's overworked in virtually every department. I don't mean to impugn the significant talents of all involved -- and you should skip this paragraph if you're tired of me bagging on it (I'm tired of me, too) but the film will not go away -- but it just doesn't work. It's probably a simple matter of direction but when makeup artists know that Johnny Depp will oversell the "mad" part of "mad hatter", for example, do they than have to work so hard that even an actor playing it straight would look crazy in their designs? Wouldn't something lower key have provided helpful balance, even whilst remaining within the basic register of INSANITY. 

And when you choose to make Anne Hathaway of all people unattractive, and it's not part of the character concept that she be so, I just can't go with you to the places they're going. White wig, white gown and...black lipstick? I'm dying here.

Anyway... I prefer makeup just like I prefer my visual f/x, supporting the narrative brilliantly whilst only drawing attention to themselves if they're the main show and should.

once again the nominees

And finally we end with a Black Swan makeup tutorial because it's amusing and we loved the Avatar tutorial this girl did last year.

She just wants to be perfect!

Saturday
Jan222011

David O. Russell ♥ "The Royal Tenenbaums". Rosie Perez ♥ "The Fighter"

When I lived in the northern Brooklyn, I used to hop on the G Train to visit the Museum of Moving Images in Queens with some regularity. I haven't been in years but they've redone the museum and they're holding special events and courting press. A few days back Spike Jonze interviewed David O. Russell about The Fighter. You can listen to the whole hour long event if you've got the time. But I thought I'd share two weird bits and two interesting anecdotes if you don't have the full hour.

David O. Russell and Spike Jonze discuss filmmaking

Two weird things

1. Spike Jonze's laugh is strange and delightful and just as weird as Natalie Portman's

2. About 34 minutes into the conversation Rosie Perez interrupts the interview because she has to leave the event early but doesn't want to leave without telling Russell how much she loved The Fighter "I laughed. I cried". There's just no mistaking that voice! (And there's one Oscar ballot to consider.)

Two anecdotes of interest

1. David O. Russell really really really loves Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). He claims to have seen it over 50 times. He talks about his change of heart with the movie.

When it first came out -- we were a little bit of group with Wes and Sofia [Coppola]. Wes shared the script with me and I didn't really get it. I was like 'Wes, I don't know if you know this but there's no 375th street in New York. He says "No, I'm making up New York."


When I saw the film I still didn't get it, still didn't really get it and I was a huge fan of Rushmore. The funny thing is how your feelings can change about cinema. So if you don't like any of my movies just give it ten years. [Laughter] Ten years later my son he loves The Royal Tenenbaums and I gotta tell you I just fell in love with it. I see so much brilliance in it. I think it's Gene Hackman's greatest performance and it plays constantly in my car.

He goes on to explain that he has a tv in his car and that he watches the movie while driving "Well, there's a lot of traffic" he says getting a big laugh from the room.

2. The second bit that stuck out for me is obvious but I had never really processed it. Originally Darren Aronofsky (who we were just discussing) was attached and Russell, in explaining what he was drawn to in the material, reveals just how different that film would have been. That's a big "duh" but it struck me nonetheless.

Right now what interests me most is something that's very real and emotional and raw and fascinating in a way that certain characters or people can be. Like, that's an amazing character. That's someone i could watch or look at or listen to for a long time. That's what interests me the most, characters that make my mouth hang open like "WHO ARE YOU?"

When I saw this family in their photo album the mother, you know, with the sisters. Darren's script didn't really have the mother and the sisters as much or the girlfriend. The women were much smaller and it was much more dark about Dicky's dark crime stuff.


David O. Russell with "the sisters"

Now.

Just try and imagine The Fighter without Melissa Leo's energy-sucking presence or Amy Adams' softbodied but hard living bartender. Try to imagine it without the sisters???. I mean, that film... NO! Russell returns to this line of thought much later in the interview when he reveals what a godsend the movie was for him; Mark Wahlberg was returning the favor bringing this to him since he brought Three Kings and Huckabees to Mark.

I had had a bumpy few years of writing many things and tying myself up in knots. That's hard. That can happen. I was happy to have a simple thing that I saw how it could be done, I had a clear take on it. Mark is very loyal to me and very much a protector of me so I knew I wasn't coming in somewhere where I was not going to be able to do what I wanted to do. That's the only way i know how to do things. So I came in and said this is how i see it, this is how I want to do it. They cleared the way and let me do that, the sisters and the mom and the girlfriend being more prominent. They were there in the earlier versions but barely there. They weren't pivotal.

I'm so glad Aronofsky departed. We got this movie instead AND we got Black Swan. It was literally a win/win for moviegoers.

Saturday
Jan222011

20:10 "Det kommer en ny blomma varje år"

Screenshots from the 20th minute and 10th second of 2010 films as we close out the year through awards season. [I may be a smidge off on this one, timing wise, as my counter was all knullade but this'll do.]

Helt utrop!

That's damn amazing. Every godforsaken year on his birthday he gets a framed flower in the post. Who is sending them? Why? The answers are in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

 

Friday
Jan212011

Ear Candy: Best Sound, Score, Songs of 2010

I really am trying to get a move on with my Film Bitch Awards. If you're new to The Film Experience that's this site's annual awards. We've been doing it for (gulp) 11 years... Each year I promise myself to spend more time listening to the movies since my eyes are so greedy and always want to watch watch watch. But movies are not only eye candy. They can also provide significant aural pleasure. 

Some films that sound gooooooooood

So I've now announced the nominees in all the sound categories. mixing, editing, original song, original score and my own special category "best adapted or song score" which is a highly necessary category given that  so many films now use a mix-tape approach rather than relying on one person to provide the music. This weekend we'll try to wrap all the other "standard" i.e. Oscar categories -- as well as do final Oscar predictions -- since that's all gotta be out of the way before Oscar nomination morning. (I don't expect my lineups to match Oscar's much in sound and score but they rarely do so I won't be hurt too much on Tuesday.)

Come back and let me know what you think of the soundscapes of movies like Black Swan, I Am Love, Salt, The Social Network, The Ghost Writer, Burlesque and many more in the comments. (My ears are not as well trained as my eyes but each year I think I listen a little better. Progress)

After the Oscar nomination brouhaha winds down late next week, we'll hit the "fun" categories like Diva, Villain, Best Action Sequence. You know how we do.

Friday
Jan212011

Darren Aronofsky's Familiar Faces: Acting Hierarchy

Black Swan is the fifth feature to come from the lunatic vision of Darren Aronofsky and with his first Oscar nomination pending, let's look back on his career. While Natalie Portman is front and center for the entire hit movie and Mickey Rourke had a similarly feature-length closeup in The Wrestler, Aronofsky is the star of all five pictures. If not, he has to be considered the co-lead. He's not invisible as a director is the point even though he's not onscreen. But which faces has he used the most to sell his masterpieces and/or follies (depending on your point of view)? 

Left: Aronofsky; Right: His parents (I believe) in The Wrestler

Let's investigate.

The Darren Aronofsky Acting Hierarchy
(Quantitatively Speaking)

5 Films

One character actor has appeared in every Darren Aronofsky feature (and so has Aronofsky's dad, no joke). Will they both appear in The WolverineHugh Jackman's 5th go at the adamantium clawed Canadian supermutant? I suspect they will, though one has to wonder when Margolis is getting a bigger part. He's got such a great character face.

  • Mark Margolis -(left) pontificated about in Pi (1998) which was Aronofsky's debut feature. He also ran the sad pawn shop in Requiem for a Dream (2000) where Sara Goldfarb's TV traded hands so many times. He played Father Avila in The Fountain (2006), Lenny in The Wrestler (2008) and he appears in Black Swan (2010) briefly as a patron of the ballet.
  • Abraham Aronofsky - the director's papa delivers a suitcase in Pi, rides the subway in Requiem, works in Ellen Burstyn's lab in The Fountain, is pissed at The Wrestler at the Deli counter, and is also a patron in Swan.

 

the infamous "ass to ass" scene with "Uncle Hank"

3+ Films

  • Stanley Herman is Aronofsky's go-to perv.  He's played "Uncle Hank" twice. Who is Uncle Hank you ask? That's the lech who demands "ass to ass" in Requiem (y'all know what I'm talking about even if you'll forever be trying to block it out). He reprises the role to rattle prim Nina Sayers with obscene gestures on the subway in Black Swan. He also appears in Pi (1998) and in Aronofsky's short film Fortune Cookie. 

3 Films


  • Charlotte Aronofsky is Darren's mother. She appears in Requiem, Swan and she's totally annoyed with Mickey Rourke at the deli counter in The Wrestler.
  • Marcia Jean Kurtz you'll immediately recognize as one of the Mrs. Goldfarb's sidewalk hens in Requiem. She also works the admissions desk in The Wrestler and in the costume department of Swan, onscreen I mean. Amy Westcott and Rodarte did the actual costumes (though only Westcott will be Oscar-nominated, long story.)
  • Ajay Naidu is a medic in The Wrestler, the tortured mailman in Requiem (seriously Mrs. Goldfarb... patience! Look into it.) and Farroukh in Pi.

2+ Films

The first of them...

  • Sean Gullette is the unethical shrink basically paying for the privilege of screwing his patient Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream as she's always short on funds. Since Requiem is a hall of such compromised horrors, you may have forgotten him. Perhaps this will jog your memory: Connelly stabs him with a fork... in her daydreams. Gullette was  also the first, but certainly not the last, of Aronofsky's pool of protagonists-who-are-completely-losing-their-shit (Pi). He also appears in Aronofsky's short film Supermarket Sweep so they knew each other from way back.

2 Films

Will any of them increase their presence in The Wolverine?

  • Gregg Bello is an ER doctor in Requiem and a promoter in The Wrestler.
  • Ellen Burstyn was a legendary actress bereft of challenging material in the 1990s. Aronofsky to the rescue! Her performance in Requiem polished her star again, winning her a new generation of young fans and her sixth Oscar nomination. They reteamed for The Fountain. We're hoping against all hope that Aronofsky gives her another juicy role at some point. Though perhaps it's difficult to picture her in Japan with Wolverine. 
  • Peter Cheyenne is, we assume, Aronofsky's friend since his only two credits are in PiRequiem.
  • Joanne Gordon has a recurring role. She plays "Mrs. Octavia" in both Pi Requiem.
  • Shaun O'Hagan is currently stage managing Nina Sayer's big show in Black Swan --those ballerinas sure are a handful -- but he's no stranger to people hanging by their last threads. He was previously a ward attendant in Requiem.
  • Ben Shenkman, is a familiar face in television and film. You'll recognize from Damages or Angels in America or Blue Valentine among many others. He appears in both Pi and Requiem.
  • Samia Shoaib is a nurse in Requiem and "Devi" in Pi.

What's next?

Hugh Jackman, who gave the best performance of his career in The Fountain, will soon join the ranks of the two-time collaborators in The Wolverine (2012). While it's the sequel to a movie we'd rather not talk about, and will be Jackman's fifth run at the abrasive Canadian mutant superhero, we figure this pairing will reenergize him. At the very least Aronofsky knows from berzerker rages and if a Wolvie movie is ever going to be memorable it's got to sell those better than they've been previously sold.

Gullette, Libatique and Aronofsky

on the set of Pi (1998)

One final thing...

Though these posts are about the colors on the director's pallete (i.e. faces in movies), Aronofsky also reuses crew. His most famous collaborator is the composer Clint Mansell who has written the scores for his entire filmography. Clint also appears onscreen in Pi as a photographer. The twice production designer James Chinlund (Requiem and The Fountain) is another collaborator used onscreen (Requiem's "space oddity") and then of course there's Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer, who lensed all of the films except The Wrestler. He's currently earning multiple critics awards for Black Swan so he may finally turn his Oscar luck around; incredibly he's never been nominated by his peers in the Academy.

 

If you were to appear in an Aronofsky picture, what kind or role would you want to have? Which actor would you love to see him work with again?

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