Friday, April 23, 2010

Nashville Wrap Up (Part 1)

Howdy y’all. Excuse the twang. I’m just back from Nashville (last night was their closing night) but now I have already plunged headfirst into freelance work for the Tribeca Film Festival. I miss my Film Experience baby but I’ll be back to regular posting duties on May 1st. I had hoped to write up several of the features I saw in Nashville to give you a better picture of this trip to the longest running film festival in the south but we’ll have to cover those films as they emerge on DVD or theatrical instead. For now a quick dashed off note about the festival’s main slate.

a poster for Applaus hangs over the moviegoing crowd


Narrative Competition
The winner was a blast of color and song, a Russian musical actually. The plot was weirdly reminiscent of John Waters Cry Baby only gender-flipped with a side of boys-who-can't-stop-dancing from Swing Kids (Anyone remember that?). It's squares vs. hipsters opening is thrilling but the first musical number almost derails it for sheer confusion before things really get hopping. It's not always a smooth ride but it's most definitely a ride. It gets better as it goes and the ending is a knowing hoot, contextually the title in a way that just about anyone will understand. Recommended! Bonus points: Giving us lots of Oksana Akinshina who you'll undoubtedly remember fondly from Lilja 4ever. She's all grown up now and ravishing, fully convincing as the unknowable dream girl "Polly" who gets the story rolling.

<--- Grand Jury Prize: Valeriy Todorovskiy’s Hipsters
Honorable Mention: The Be All End All
Best Actor: Anton Shagin, Hipsters
Best Actress: Paprika Steen, Applause

It probably won't surprise you to hear that my great takeaway from this festival was a performance by an actress. I was on a separate jury so I didn't vote on the main competition but I was both enormously pleased and as far from surprised as it's possible to be to hear that they were rewarding Paprika Steen for her portrayal of an alcoholic actress Thea in this Danish film. Not only is Steen sensational as the trainwreck actress but she's also blistering as "Martha" who Thea plays in a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf that keeps tearing holes in Thea's own narrative with its constant intrusions. I loved this performance -- it's a monster, fully deserving of the closeups it's continually granted -- and I loved the movie, too. You may remember Steen for her intense work in the dogme breakthrough Celebration (1998). She's just riveting in Applause and I'm hoping that the film, which has been working the festival circuit for some time, finds distribution so I can demand that every last one of you see it.



12 comments:

CoolSprings said...

This year was the best Nashville Film Festival ever! We saw so many great movies and are sad its over.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Man, for a moment I thought the Danes had beaten me to a big screen adaptation of one of my favorite musicals. This sounds just as interesting, though. I haven't seen a lot of Scandinavian cinema (just two Bergmans and Let the Right One In), but I'm yearning to see more.

Edna E. Mode said...

did you get to see TiMER?

vg21 said...

I remember Swing Kids! I love the music, so I had to see the film and it wasn't bad, as I like films about the WWII era. + Kenneth Branagh and Robert Sean Leonard, who could resist them?

vg21 said...

Applaus is in cinemas here; this time I may be lucky to live in Europe - one of the few occasions:). I was planning to watch it, so now I will probably go tonight.

Liz said...

Did anyone see James Keach' new feature, Waiting for Forever with Blythe Danner, Richard Jenkins and Nikki Blonsky?

NATHANIEL R said...

@Edna -- i did. i'll try to write about it soon.

@vg21 -- let us know what you think.

Benji said...

I saw Applause at the London Film Festival last year. Paprika Steen and the director where there for a Q&A afterwards, which was really nice.
She gave a great performance, extremely intense, and it's quite amazing how she carries the whole film. If the international release of the film is handled correctly, she could be a major award player, I think.

Jose said...

Damn distributors!
But thank g-d for European DVD imports.

Edna E. Mode said...

Woohoo! I love Emma Caulfield and I've been waiting for taht movie like for forever hehe... I soooo want to see it and see what Caulfield can do with a lead in a film...

jbaker475 said...

I heard about this a few weeks ago on IMDb, and I've been trying to find it ever since. Any idea if the DVD is out yet (or if it's headed to major US cities soon)?

D.J.xray said...

I saw Applause at Virginia Film Festival. Paprika Steen gave another excellent performance. I hope she can win the Oscar