Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Men Who Stare at Links

Streep Tease An evening of famous Meryl Streep monologues performed by men this Saturday, September 5th! You Los Angelenos better be going to this. I want to hear everything. Someone buy me a ticket. And a plane ticket!
The Big Picture Matt Damon getting a lifetime achievement prize? He's 38! Does that make 40 the new 70 instead of the new 30?
The Auteurs Daily asks the question I've been asking myself silently: How is Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon German enough to be Germany's official Oscar submission this year?
Awards Daily shares the BFCA's best rated films as a preview for the Oscar race. They fail to mention that the BFCA's "scores" throughout the year don't usually end up directly correlating with their "Best Picture" field. They'll ditch high rated films if they don't think they can score big Oscar nods, just watch.

Kenneth in the (212) continues his one man crusade to remind people that Ryan O'Neal was the "Brad Pitt of the 70s"
My New Plaid Pants finally forgives David Fincher for Benjamin Button
Movie|Line on True Blood's breakout blonde, Alexander Skarsgård. Do you think the producers of Thor are regretting their casting decision these days? (I personally lost all interest in that Norse God superhero movie when they passed him by.)

And finally, our long (mostly) lost Ewan McGregor back in the lead (yay!) for a movie that probably won't suck (The Men Who Stare at Goats) with an exceptional cast (on paper). Feel free to rejoice but only parenthetically since... who knows, really?

Be excited now or sensibly wait until November 6th to do so. Your choice.

I feel it's worth noting that the movie was directed by George Clooney's extremely less famous frequent partner-in-crime and two time Oscar nominee Grant Henslov (pictured left) who writes, acts, directs and produces... and supposedly even forked over the money for Clooney's first professional headshots 27 years ago. Let's hear it for Grant and for all the talented multi-hyphenates out there that make their movie star friends look even more fantastic than they already naturally do.


Ms.Berkowitz said...

honestly, I don't think Matt Damon deserves a lifetime acheivement award. He put out good performance, did a couple of fun movies, and wrote a good script with a much less talented friend. I'm sure his best work is ahead of him but why him? Isn't there worthier actors? Even brad Pitt deserved it more not that I'm saying he should get one yet. Who decides these things?

whitney said...

Who's letting McGregor attempt an American accent again? Honestly, Ewan, accept it: you're a beautiful Scot.

Benji said...

It is a fair discussion about whether "The White Ribbon" is German or Austrian, but it is arguable both ways.
The production companies are to equal parts German, Austrian, French and Italian. The movie is filmed in German (which makes it either German or Austrian), in Germany, with a cast of mostly German actors.
The difficult factor is where to categorise director Michael Haneke, who was born German, but is of Austrian nationality now.

I was a bit surprised by the selection, but I personally think it makes sense when analysing it this way.

anna said...

About "The White Ribbon":
If Austria had picked it, you could have easily asked how it is "Austrian enough". It's set in Germany and has a predominantly German cast. Haneke even named it "The White Ribbon: A German Children's Story".
I guess, the real problem is that the films have to be submitted by a country in the first place. "The Counterfeiters" was a German-Austrian co-production as well (Ruzowitzky said it was 50/50), but ended up winning for Austria.
Imo, the academy should get rid of that stupid rule, would make things a lot easier...

anna said...

Btw, does anyone know whether it's possible for a director to keep a country from submitting their film? Say, if Haneke wanted the film to represent Austria instead, would he have any say in this?

Tim said...

When it comes to Haneke, I think a lot of people don't realize just how strong his ties to Germany actually are. He was born in Germany, his father was German and he even started his career on German television.
I'd still call him an Austrian director, but there's no denying that his connection to Germany is strong. Personally, I don't think he'll mind representing Germany at the Oscars (if the film is indeed nominated).


anna -- directors can reject the submission. Didn't Kaurismaki remove his film from contention when Finland tried to put it in (not his nominee but the next time they tried to submit one)?

as for the country submission rule being removed and making things easier. Wouldn't that then make it even more complicated? How would they control the amount of entries?

I realize this branch has problems but AT LEAST they make their voting team watch the movies (something few other categories do)... and how could they do that if anyone could submit. They'd have 10s of 1000s of movies to watch in 2 months time instead of 70.

anna said...

Yes, I see your point. I still don't like it though... ;)

Iggy said...

I think a movie should have the nationality of its director, unless the production is entirely/mostly from a different country.

For instance, I never thought El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) was Spanish just because it was co-produced by both countries, or because it was a story set in Spanish Civil War and with a Spanish cast. It represented Mexico at the Oscars, and rightfully so, imo. It was Del Toro's story and vision, and as far as the guy is Mexican, the movie is Mexican for me.

I don't know the specifics of Hanneke's nationality, except that he's an Austrian citizen. For me, that makes him an Austrian. Natalie Portman was born in Israel but she's an American, Amenábar was born in Chile but he's Spanish, Bruce Willis was born in Germany but he's American... and so on.

In the end, it all comes down to the bigger country eating the smaller one, imo.

anna said...

@ Iggy

I disagree, especially with your last sentence. Should Germany not be able to submit it, just because it's the bigger of the two countries? The film tells a German story and was made with German money and a (mainly) German cast in Germany, so why should the director's nationality decide who gets to submit it?
Something that should probably also be pointed out: for the German jury to even consider a film, the producers have to submit it first. Haneke seems to be okay with this, so why shouldn't we be?

Imo, the best solution would have been to have it submitted by both Germany and Austria, but since the academy doesn't allow that, I'm okay with it representing either of the two countries.

Chuck W said...

Hate to say it, but I sincerely doubt The White Ribbon will make any dent in the Oscar line-up. No section of the Academy is more conservative and dunder-headed than the foreign film branch, which continually goes for middle-brow pap over anything overly challenging or creative. Just ask Cristian Mungiu or Matteo Garrone.

I can see Haneke's icy formalism really turning off some Academy voters. Any talk of it making it into the final five might as well fall under the heading of "pipe dream."

Arkaan said...

Ehh, whatever. I have a hard time with the idea that citizenship of the director should determine where it's positioned. This seems like a German story and if it could go either way, I'm fine with it going to Germany. The downside is that I think Germany has a number of choices available, whereas Austria seems like it'd be more limited.

Though I don't think Haneke's getting nominated anyway, so it's a moot point.

Iggy said...


All I tried to say it's that in cases like this one, when the money comes equally from different countries, the prevailing nationality (for the Oscars, because rules don't let multiple country representing - I wish they acknowledged that these days many non-American productions have to be necessarily in co-production for financial reasons- but sometimes getting the Academy to acknowledge "reality" surrounding them takes some time) should be the one of the director.)

I don't know, maybe it's because I have a "directorial" view of movies. For instance, I've never shared why the Best Picture award is taken only by the producer/s. And in cases where the director isn't specifically rewarded he doesn't even go on stage, even when "his" movie is the best one. But I digress.

As they say in the article, it's been a matter of being the first one to choose. So, if Italy would have chosen it first, would it have been acceptable as an Italian movie? Would you have seen it as normal if Pan's Labyrinth had represented Spain some years ago even though the director was Mexican?

I think it's a bad move for its chances, Oscar is way too sensitive to any controversy surrounding the movies. The right thing should have been probably what you say, but the rules don't allow it.

That said, I love Haneke and I'm looking forward to seeing this movie (no opening date right now here, according to IMDB).

anna said...

Iggy, we'll just have to agree to disagree. :)
To answer your questions though: no, it wouldn't have been acceptable as the Italian submission, simply because the Italian contribution seems to have been limited to money.
I'm not sure about "Pan's Labyrinth", but I don't think I would have had a huge problem with it being submitted by Spain. I definitely wouldn't have had a problem with France submitting "Caché".
It's still the director who gets to accept the award, so, I guess, I feel his/her country of origin will get some recognition no matter what.

Arkaan, in case you were wondering, the other 10 films that were submitted to the German jury were:
"Nordwand", "Krabat", "Anonyma", "Buddenbrooks", "Berlin '36", "Alle Anderen", "Visionen - Hildegard von Bingen", "Im Winter ein Jahr", "Ob ihr wollt oder nicht" and "John Rabe".

Arkaan said...

So, a quick glance at suggests that "John Rabe" would've been the baitiest. They also had a new Caroline Link film (2002 winner).

Now I'm curious what Austria submits.

gabrieloak said...

I wish I had seen that trailer for Goats before I had chosen my films for Toronto. I left it off my list because it didn't seem like a "must-see."

But at least now I have something to look forward to seeing in November.

gabrieloak said...

About The White Ribbon making the Oscar cut. There is a special panel that can force a film onto the foreign film list if it is so obvious that it was overlooked. That rule was instituted last year, right?

Ryan said...

Oh man... I read about the Streep monolouges in Variety and oldmost died. Can you imagine!?! :)