My “smart movie-guy friend” just told me that the “phantom-like Oscar oddsmaker” who was predicting only a week ago that Saving Mr. Banks looked like the most likely Best Picture winner…this same guy spoke today to my movie pal and reversed himself: “Banks is done,” he allegedly said. “Over. Won’t win. Not nominated for SAG or Golden Globes. Stick a fork in it.”Read More »
A friend has seen Wes Anderson‘s Grand Budapest Hotel, which will debut at the 2014 Berlinale before opening stateside on 3.7 via Fox Searchlight. “Very Wessy from start to finish, but still very special, very touching and with a little more oomph than standard Anderson,” he begins. “Ralph Fiennes gives it a gravitas that Anderson’s movies have sometimes lacked. I’d rate it way above Moonrise Kingdom, which I quite liked also.
“Grand Budapest Hotel has all the playfulness and detached air that you’d expect from Anderson,” he explains, “but at the same time I felt he’s pushing himself a little more, perhaps not out of his comfort zone but at least he’s stretching within his realm.
“The specter of 1930s fascism looms over the whole affair. Most of the film plays in a fantasy Europe of the early 30’s, but Anderson addresses fascism and impending war without making a film about it. (The ‘S.S.’ is called ‘Z.Z.’ as in ‘zig-zag organization’, for example.) The film is a flashback within a flashback within a flashback — a strategy which gives Anderson the opportunity to show how the once grand hotel has gone to the dogs under communism over time. (more…)Read More »
The Golden Globes and SAG-influenced shifting of favorites in the latest Gurus of Gold posting is nothing short of pathetic. David Poland himself tweeted that he is “stunned, though not really surprised, how much weight my esteemed fellow Gurus give SAG and GG noms in guessing Oscar noms.”
It’s a given, I think, that the mushy-minded Academy won’t support anything nervy or ballsy or envelope-pushy, like American Hustle, or some piece of jolting social criticism like 12 Years A Slave or The Wolf of Wall Street. It’ll be Banks or Gravity or…you tell me. I hate myself for having just written that. I just gave a slight assist to the bad guys!
I wrote the following on 8.24.11: “Every year I ask what could be more worthless or contemptible in the eyes of any fim lover with the slightest trickle of blood in his or her veins than a group of online journos saying, ‘What we might personally think or feel about the year’s finest films is not our charge. We are here to read and evaluate the feelings and judgments of that crowd of people standing around in that other room…see them? Those older, nice-looking, well-dressed ones standing around and sipping wine and munching on tomato-and mozzarella bruschetta? Watching them is what we do. We sniff around, sense the mood, follow their lead, and totally pivot on their every word or derisive snort or burst of applause at Academy screenings.’ (more…)Read More »
Frank Sinatra‘s Upper East Side Manhattan penthouse is for sale. The only aesthetically tolerable area in the entire crib is the upstairs loft bedroom with the dark gray rug. Otherwise the place is a nightmare. Those floors with the godawful copper-colored squares, the Invaders From Mars metal artwork on the wall near the kitchen, the rosey tones in the other bedroom, the general atmosphere of ’60s kitsch. The only reason I paid attention is that I’ve despised and refused to use the term “horny” my whole life, but last night I fell in love with the term “horny as Frank Sinatra.” It was used in Billy Bob Thornton‘s Jayne Mansfield’s Car.Read More »
“Everyone knows that sex sells,” writes Indiewire‘s Boyd von Hoeij in a 12.12 post. “Lars von Trier‘s latest film, Nymphomaniac, has a lot of it. So one might assume its box-office potential is pretty big. But it might not be that cut and dried. With von Trier, it never is.” Von Hoeij notes that Nymphomaniac “screened for the press for the first time last week in Copenhagen. BVH presumably attended this screening, and yet he waits until Thursday of the following week (i.e., today) to post a vaguely worded reaction? Did he have the flu?
“For starters, there’s sex on film and then there’s explicit sex on film — more often called porn,” he writes. “Except this is auteur porn and though there’s a lot of sex, there’s even more time dedicated to character, story and countless intellectual digressions. Not a lot of curious horndogs looking to get off on their favorite stars having explicit sex (via body doubles) are likely to sit through an arthouse film that’s at least double a regular feature’s length. Or are they? (more…)Read More »
Likeliest Best Picture Nominees: (1) Martin Scorcese's Wolf of Wall Street; (2) Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave; (3) Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity; (4) Jean Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyer's Club; (5) John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks; (6) Alexander Payne's Nebraska; (7) Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis; (8) Spike Jonze's Her; (9) David O. Russell's American Hustle; (10) Paul Greengrass's Captain Phillips; (11) Richard Linklater's Before Midnight.
Likeliest Best Director Nominees: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Martin Scorcese, Wolf of Wall Street; Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips; Spike Jonze, Her; Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station; Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, American Hustle; JC Chandor, All is Lost.
Likeliest Best Actor Nominees: Robert Redford, All Is Lost; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf of Wall Street; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Forest Whitaker, The Butler; Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis; Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station; Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight.
Likeliest Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Berenice Bejo, The Past; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County; Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color; Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Sandra Bullock, Gravity.
Likeliest Supporting Actor Nominees: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Jonah Hill, Wolf of Wall Street; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks; Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Josh Brolin, Labor Day.
Likeliest Supporting Actress Nominees: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Amy Adams, American Hustle; Oprah Winfrey, The Butler; June Squibb, Nebraska; Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Likeliest Best Original Screenplay Nominees: Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell, American Hustle; E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher; Bob Nelson, Nebraska; Craig Borten, Dallas Buyers Club; Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station; Asghar Farhadi, The Past; Craig Borten, Dallas Buyers Club; Danny Strong, The Butler; Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha.
Likeliest Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave; Billy Ray, Captain Phillips; Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Before Midnight; Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope, Philomena.
In a discussion of Aisa Harris‘s 12.10 Slate piece suggesting that Santa Claus should be mythologized as a multi-colored dude (or perhaos as a team of dudes of different ethnic origins), Fox News’ Megan Kelly has stated that Santa Claus is flat-out white, which, being of Nordic or Germanic origin, is what he was to begin with. The shocker comes when Kelly says Yehsua of Nazareth was “white.” Oh, really? Judeans were most likely olive-skinned with brown eyes and dark brown or black hair, no? He sure as hell didn’t look like Willem Dafoe or Jeffrey Hunter or that guy who played him in Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s The Gospel According to St. Matthew, I can tell you that.Read More »
This morning’s Golden Globe nominations have at least righted the Robert Redford boat — the All Is Lost star was snubbed yesterday morning by the lightweight SAGgies but nominated by the HFPA for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama. Salutes also in this category for Mandela‘s Idris Elba, 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Captain Phillips‘ Tom Hanks and Dallas Buyer’s Club‘s Matthew McConaughey.
But the HFPA blew it big-time by not nominating The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor. How could they not? Seems inconceivable. The specific cause was apparently…what, Bradley Cooper‘s supporting nomination for his American Hustle performance, which is totally juiced and on-target? That or the steady persistence of Rush‘s Daniel Bruhl, who was also nominated yesterday morning by SAG? No HE beef with Captain Phillips‘ Barkhad Abdi, 12 years A Slave‘s Michael Fassbender or the well-positioned Jared Leto of Dallas Buyer’s Club.
And at least they nominated Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, in…okay, the Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy category. For once I’m half-agreeing with an HFPA/Golden Globe classification in this realm. The other Musical/Comedy nominees are American Hustle (okay…well, kinda), Her (ridiculous — almost nothing comedic about this essentially sad tale of longing and vulnerability), Inside Llewyn Davis (agreed) and Nebraska (stupid call — this is a film that generally puts out ennui, zombie TV-watching, old-guy snarl, economic gloom and — yes! — beer-slurping in taverns). (more…)Read More »
It’s 7:58 am. I overslept. Didn’t go down until 2 am. Okay, so I’ll be the last to file a response to the Golden Globes nominations…big deal. Partly the fault of lingering Asian jet lag, and partly the upstairs gay guy’s fault. He was doing his cackling on the phone routine around midnight, loudly, which forced me to crash on the couch, etc. Message from HE’s New York-based ad guy: “Jesus, no Globes coverage yet?”Read More »
Some of us have been saying all along that there’s something vaguely loathsome about the Disney-kowtowing, reality-denying aspects of Saving Mr. Banks. Mark Harris said “it’s a nice Disney-corporate-retreat film about how studios always know best.” A few days ago I said “it’s Hollywood factory-friendly…the sugarcoat syndrome wins out in the end and the artist goes home in frustration and the movie is a hit.” And now L.A. Weekly critic Amy Nicholson has hit these points double-hard and stood up for the real P.L. Travers.
Leonardo DiCaprio‘s extreme performance as Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street includes a little fourth-wall breaking — i.e., looking into the camera end and explaining directly how amazing or thrilling this or that episode felt like. That got me thinking about other fourth-wall smashthroughs, and then I remembered this Indiewire/Press Play recap. At the 6:24 mark it offers a little clip from Tony Richardson‘s Tom Jones (’63). If I’m not mistaken Jones was one of the first mainstream films to use fourth-wall breaking as a stylistic signature, going there at least five or six times. I’m presuming that a few studio-era films (’30 through the ’50s) dabbled with this device but I can’t think of any right now.
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Jason Bateman‘s Bad Words is “an ascerbic spelling-bee comedy aimed at the diminishing ranks of non-moronic moviegoers. It’s a kind of Rushmore-meets-Bad Santa piece about a pissed-off, close-cropped 40something guy (Bateman) who takes advantage of a loophole to compete against kids in the National Quill Spelling Bee competition, and in so doing bonds/warms up to/gets down with a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) and a 10 year-old Indian kid (Rohan Chand) as he seeks a kind of satisfaction that has nothing to do with winning the $50,000 first prize. Dry, subdued, bordering-on-perverse performances + Andrew Dodge‘s witty-ass, occasionally scatalogical screenplay resulted in much laughter. Some wondered if the film goes ‘too far,’ as one questioner inquired. Trust me, the ‘too far’ stuff is one of the main reasons the film went over so well.” — from 9.7.13 Toronto Film Festival post.Read More »
“I just got home from The Wolf of Wall Street. My jaw is still hanging open. That delayed-effect Lemmon scene deserves its own Oscar.” — from a critic friend, received this evening.Read More »
This morning Dallas Buyer’s Club was announced as one of the five films nominated for SAG’s Best Ensemble award. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are aces, of course, and Denis O’Hare, Dallas Roberts and Steve Zahn obviously hold their own. But I suspect that the main reason for this nomination is that SAG members wanted to nominate Jennifer Garner for Best Supporting Actress but could’t bring themselves to nudge aside Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb and Oprah Winfrey. So they gave her the next best thing on the plate. That’s my theory. If it had been my call I would have nominated Garner ahead of Roberts and Winfrey, no offense.
Anyone who would actually cheer news that the forthcoming Bluray of Billy Wilder‘s Sabrina (Paramount, 9.9.54) will contain a cleavered 1.75:1 image truly has something wrong with them. People have been watching the beautifully boxy 1.37:1 version for decades. The 1.37 is also being shown on Vudu right now — get it while you can! A guy who usually knows what he’s talking about tells me the new 1.75 Sabrina will contain extra visual information on the sides…maybe. But it will definitely have the tops and bottoms sliced off.
I don’t like it when cops overreact to mild disturbances in toney, well-off neighborhoods. It feels pushy and obnoxious. The vibe bothers me. Three or four Sundances ago I was standing outside of Zoom, the Park City eatery, and a little surprised to see no less than three police cars (Park City or State Troopers) parked outside with their radios barking and dome-lights flashing, and three or four officers dealing with what I gathered was some kind of disturbance by a couple of rowdies. No bloody noses, no broken windows…just a couple of assholes who had misbehaved or spoken out of turn. I went up to one of the troopers and said, “You think you guys might need some backup? I mean, this looks like a serious situation here…” The cop had no sense of humor. He gave me a look that said “you want some too, buster?” No sir, I don’t. But this looks chickenshit. Disproportionate. Three cars and four troopers responding to a couple of jerkoffs. It’s theatre and I’m just giving you my review. I didn’t say this, of course.Read More »
The older Tom Cruise gets, the more noticable the bags under his eyes, the more interesting he becomes as an actor. The minimalist, back-to-basics Jack Reacher was a step in the right direction, but this…I don’t know, man. It seems classy and smart and grade-A, but almost like a cousin of Oblivion, the last big, violent, futuristic, CG-driven epic Cruise starred in. This is a solid paycheck gig for Doug Liman, whose best films are still Go, Swingers and The Bourne Identity, in that order.Read More »
Last night I saw Jason Cohen‘s Facing Fear, a gentle but penetrating short doc about the aftermath of an ’80s hate crime, at L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance. A gay homeless 14 year-old, Matthew Boger, was nearly beaten to death in West Hollywood by a gang of Nazi punks, and the guy who nearly finished him off was 17 year-old Tim Zaal. 25 years later Boger and Zaal met again, and now, incredibly, they’ve worked past the nightmares and the guilt and found forgiveness and even friendship. Facing Fear reminds that our past mistakes needn’t rule our future, and that we’re all capable of growth and transcendence. Cohen, Boger and Zaal (a guy who has really evolved in all the profound senses of the term) attended last night’s screening and sat for a q & a. Facing Fear is one of eight live-action docs that have been shortlisted for an Oscar. It seems far too affecting and humanistic not to wind up as a final nominee. And a special shout-out for the cinematography by HE’s own Svetlana Cvetko (Inequality For all, Inside Job).
Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street didn’t actually get snubbed by SAG because only a portion of the membership has seen it thus far. The Wolf screeners didn’t go out (and won’t go out until just before Christmas, I’m told) due to Scorsese’s 11th hour completion of the film, and…well, here’s a brief explanation from Paramount’s hard-working Lea Yardum:
“We did not have enough time to make screeners for SAG and we started screening for them ten days into their balloting so we always knew we were going [to be] at a disadvantage. Based on when the film was delivered [by Scorsese], when we could start screening and when we could get DVDs made, it was a challenge in itself getting enough SAG nominating committee members in to see the film.
Four or five days ago a journalist pal and I were kicking around the award-season prospects of August: Osage County, and I asked him, “No Margo Martindale for Best Supporting Actress?” And he said, “Doubtful — people want nothing to do with that movie. Unfairly, Julia is a better bet than Margo for supporting.” Well, he was right SAG-wise about Roberts being the Supporting Actress pick, but wrong about Osage County — the Weinstein Co, release won a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble and Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress.
Most journalists were shrugging their shoulders about this film after the initial Toronto screening, and now the actors have put it back in the game. There are two worlds, two planets, two separate realms around this time of year. There is the realm of the earnest, devotional, film-worshipping, infinity-regarding X-factor journalists and smarty-pants columnists like myself, and there is the realm of the guilds. The guilds don’t live on the other side of the canyon — they live in another state.
I’ve already riffed about the Robert Redford snub — I don’t want to talk about it. SAG members also ignored the stellar, world-class performances in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street (they actually blew off Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill?) and Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis, which would be at the top of my list of Best Ensemble performances. SAG membership didn’t receive Wolf of Wall Street screeners but the Davis blow-off…c’mon. Think for two seconds about those Llewyn Davis performances…John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Carey Mulligan, the Garfeins, the guy who plays Mel…what is SAG? What is the membership made of? Who are they?Read More »
In an act of what can only be called smug and clueless defiance, Screen Actors Guild members this morning refused to include Robert Redford‘s career-capping performance in All Is Lost among the five SAG Best Actor nominations. I’m not just angry at these tools but…well, confused. Critics and columnists and people who know what’s aesthetically right and wrong have been patiently explaining the inevitability of Redford since Cannes, pointing to the stoic dignity of his historic, all-but-wordless emoting aboard the Virginia Jean. The Redford dismissal is probably more of a reflection of a lack of interest in (i.e., insufficient understanding of and respect for) All Is Lost than a thoughtful response to Redford’s performance, but still…the shallowness!
A journalist friend recently told me about speaking to a very well-known actor at a party. He said the actor had told him he’d popped in a screener of All Is Lost and then turned it off after ten minutes or so. The actor’s explanation went something along the lines of “I saw what this was going to be…all alone, no dialogue, the threat of death…and I quit.” Advanced-age ADD is what home screenings are all about. This is why All Is Lost has to be seen in a theatre, why it has to be paid close attention to. I’m really seething about this. Cauldron of acid in my stomach. I’ve always thought of the SAG membership as a bit whimsical and flakey and on the immature side, but this!Read More »
John Goodman‘s druggie jazzman offers a dismissive little riff during the road-trip section of Inside Llewyn Davis. He basically says jazz musicians are more expressive because they play more notes or chords than folk singers. I’ve seen Davis four times and Goodman’s bit didn’t register, but I suddenly cracked up when I heard it last night during…what, my fifth viewing? That’s what Coen brothers humor is sometimes. “Funny” doesn’t kick in like a Jay Leno joke. It needs to percolate.Read More »
Prior to last night’s Saving Mr. Banks screening at Disney studios, Tom Hanks told Variety‘s Maane Khatchatourian that original “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers (who is portrayed a bit cantankerously by Emma Thompson) would not have been a Banks fan. “She would absolutely hate [our film],” Hanks said on the red carpet. “She would say, ‘Why don’t you make a movie about the poetry that I wrote?’ She would hate this movie. But that’s what’s great about it. But she’d also be here seeing it.” This reminds me of Mark Harris‘s recent tweet that called Banks “a nice Disney-corporate-retreat film about how studios always know best and writers are crazy and only Americans understand emotions.”Read More »
The San Diego Film Critics Society and the Phoenix Film Critics Society have presumably seen Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, and yet they’ve excluded it from their best-of-the-year lists. In my book this suggests a lack of insight and sophistication. I’m presuming they’ve rejected Wolf because of the debauchery — too vulgar, sleazy, outrageous. Did a portion of the San Diego and Phoenix voters equate it with The Hangover Part III or something? Because this is an extremely moral film that operates in the realm of Fellini Satyricon with a nod towards any scholastically respectable study of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The debauchery is a metaphor. The Phoenix and San Diego film connoisseurs are entitled to vote for whatever and whomever they want, of course, but there’s no legitimate excuse for not at least acknowledging Wolf as one of the year’s finest.Read More »
Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor doesn’t belong in a discussion of 2013′s worst films because it was far and away one of the most cunningly written, the most perverse, the most succinctly edited, the ballsiest and…well, probably the most unconventional film of the year, hands down. It was certainly the finest 2013 film that received a failing grade from Rotten Tomatoes (35%) and Metacritic (48%).
I hated Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives, which I saw in Cannes, more than any other film I saw this year…down on my knees, howling with disgust. Amat Escalante‘s Heli is a respectable, highly disciplined Mexican art film, but it was easily the ugliest thing I sat through all year — sorry. Everyone seemed to agree that Adore, the Australian drama about a pair of moms (Naomi Watts, Robin Wright Penn) banging each other’s sons, was a miscalculation for the ages. I found Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s moderately diverting. And I worshipped the black-and=white 3D section of Sam Raimi‘s Oz The Great and Powerful, even though the rest of the film more or less blew. I didn’t find Paul Schrader‘s The Canyons to be all that good, but it wasn’t deplorable. Jobs was a plodder for the most part, but I wasn’t grossly offended.Read More »
HE salutes New Yorker film essayist Richard Brody for selecting Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street as tied for first place among his Best Movies of 2013. Good man! On the other hand Brody has chosen Terrence Wackadoodle‘s To The Wonder as the other top-of-the-list champ…the fuck? Wait, it gets worse. Brody is declaring that All Is Lost and Before Midnight are among the four shittiest films of 2013 (along with Gravity and The Great Beauty). Brody doesn’t literally mean they’re the pits — he means that that in his head, they delivered “the greatest disproportion between the emblazoned ambition and the mediocrity of the result.”
The excellence of John Michael McDonagh‘s The Guard, which everyone liked or loved, all but assures that the Sundance-bound Calvary, which also stars Brendan Gleeson, will deliver the goods. Sardonic Irish dramedy, “a priest tormented by his community,” guns and religion and perhaps a little sex. Co-starring Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillan, Dylan Moran and Kelly Reilly (Flight). Calvary opens in the UK and Ireland on 4.11.14.Read More »