Friday, April 30, 2010

April. It's a Wrap

This past month was such that I barely remember its existence, a whirlwind of too busy, too scattered, too tiring, too much. Ever had one of those months? If you're just joining us or if you had one of those months, these highlights from April will feel like brand new posts. Read away...

Funny Games or Funny Girl?

on The Blind Side
Cannes lineup so much to get excited about, don't you think?
Streisand's 17 a quick perusal of Barbra's entire screen career. Isn't it weird how big stars never used to take supporting roles? In that entire screen career she was almost never second-billed.
who's the blonde? how are you liking this special quiz series?
Oscar Predictions the first golden guesswork of the year was unveiled. If you commit it to memory, you can laugh at me later!

I had a lot of help during this difficult month and I want to say a hearty thank you publicly to the guest contributors...

Hand Me My iPad Hal Jose ponders sci-fi fantasies come true
We Can't Wait: The Tree of Life the latest nature-loving epic from Terrence Malick nabs the top spot in our collectively impatient and quite diverse 2010 "Summer and Beyond" countdown
Modern Maestros: Michael Haneke
Robert continues his excellent series on contemporary directors with this astute look at the cinema's chief provocateur
Judy Davis Glenn praises this Aussie's Brilliant Career
"He didn't get out of the cock-a-doodie car!" Craig remember Kathy Bates in Misery

Coming in May
Before making any new promises, we must try to clear up the clutter of old ones. Nevertheless, Iron Man 2, Sex & The City 2 and Cannes (vicariously) are certainties.

Red Carpet Lineup: Tribeca Blowout

red carpet lineup. random celebs who've been out and about this week...

With Tribeca handing out their awards last tonight and me coming back to life (things have been crazy) I thought we'd talk about some people attending New York's glitzy festival. I'm asking a comment question in red for each of them because I'm "reader discussion guide" annoying like that. Maybe I should have been a T.A.? Tribeca doesn't have the same prestige or art-driven mentality as the far older New York Film Festival (always in the fall) but it does pack theaters all over town, offer up a diverse 'something for everyone' slate and bring out the celebrities in droves. To hawk their films. Though I did see Ben Stiller and Denis Leary as audience members at the religious satire The Infidel.

from left to right
  • Ellen Barkin plays a sullen drug addict in The Chameleon and she'll start her Shit Year at Cannes next month in the Directors' Fortnight lineup. Is her career revving back up or is this another Oceans 13 false alarm. Do you care?
  • Mark Ruffalo seems to be letting himself go. Maybe it's just a 'between projects' kind of thing. Though, when is he between projects? Always working. I'm already stealing myself for disappointment if he doesn't get the credit he deserves for sly great work in The Kids Are All Right. Will he ever be Oscar nominated?
  • Kirsten Dunst is on the comeback trail despite being only 28. Today is her birthday! She was at Tribeca because she directed the short film Bastard. Are you rooting for her comeback?
  • Melissa Leo can't say no. That's my theory because she's made 15+ movies since Frozen River (2008) -- no joke -- and she's in two miniseries this year too (including Todd Haynes' Mildred Pierce). Should she be saying yes to everything? Riding that Frozen River momentum til it stops paying dividends.
from left to right
  • Andy Serkis came to town with his BAFTA nominated star turn in the rock bio sex & drugs & rock & roll. I wondered a few times if he could get any Oscar traction for it. Pro: there's the disability factor AND the biopic factor. Con: It's probably an unfamiliar rock story to most AMPAS voters and they like familiar. I admit I didn't know the story either. Do you know Ian Dury and The Blockheads?
  • she who must not be named was in NYC for My Own Love Song. You know how I felt about the trailer but believe me I don't want to be this frightened to go near her work. In all honesty I was really hoping to get back on board but then came that trailer. I even tried to give her a new nickname Zeéeeee which is vowel-accurate and friendly-like. Are you rooting for her comeback?
  • Christy Turlington is my favorite model of all time. But I realized sitting in the audience of her new documentary that it's weird to have a favorite model of all time. Because what can you do other than look at them? With favorite actors there's all sorts of imagination connection, storytelling, catharsis, etcetera. There I sat thinking "she's pretty" and my thoughts pretty much ended there. Unlike many of her supermodel peers from the 90s, she didn't try acting. But after marrying Ed Burns she is trying filmmaking. For a good cause though! Visit the website every mother counts. Have you a favorite model of all time ever?
  • Patricia Clarkson starred in a travel drama called Cairo Time in which she misplaces her husband in Egypt. Somehow I missed it even though I love my Patty and also enjoy her co-star Alexander Siddig. Bad planning me. Why do people go to the desert on vacations?

from left to right
  • Amanda Seyfried was starting her Letters To Juliet tour. Dominic Cooper walked her down the aisle -- I mean the red carpet -- for the premiere. Do you like them as a couple or do they give you painful flashbacks to Mamma Mia?
  • Guy Pearce should maybe be hired for Christian Bale's health scare roles. I'm just sayin'. He was in town for a special screening and discussion of Memento. Do you love Memento?
  • Sissy Spacek was promoting Get Low. I didn't like the movie -- which I saw before the festival and which most people do like for Oscar noms -- but it sure was nice to see her again in a substantial role. Still waiting for another In the Bedroom, though. What's your favorite Sissy? Other than Carrie I mean.
  • <---Brian Geraghty was the unofficial poster boy of the 9th annual Tribeca Film Festival. He was a home invader in the erotic thriller Open House, a muscley redneck brother-in-law in The Chameleon and he also appeared in Kiki's short Bastard. It's like Melissa Leo's Frozen River longtail... only with The Hurt Locker. Thoughts?
* Renée Zellweger

Summer Diva: Tony or Carrie?

Click on the photo to go to my Summer Preview @ Towleroad...

Mr Stark and Ms Bradshaw. Summer arrives

Where I ask important questions like...
  • Carrie Bradshaw or Tony Stark: Which narcissistic diva in shiny clothing are you anxious to spend time with again?
  • Barely legal hairless teen werewolf or "Face" with a hairy bod?
Summer brings out the real deep questions, people! Answer them.

First and Last, Space

the first image after the opening credits and the last before the closing credits

Can you guess the movie? It's part of a famous franchise.

Still stumped? Highlight for the answer: It's STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME
For all quizzes, click on the first and last label below.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modern Maestros: Todd Haynes

Robert here, continuing my series on great contemporary directors. This week a director who I knew little about despite loving almost all of his work.  But knowing how popular he is here I knew I'd have to tackle him eventually.  So I gave myself a crash course, not on the films which I already knew, but on the man.  And what a discovery indeed!

Maestro: Todd Haynes
Known For: Art movies about society, identity, music and more masquerading as non-art movies.
Influences: A long list: Jean Genet, Stan Brakhage, Hitchock, Chantal Akerman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Douglas Sirk (of course), Oscar Wilde,  Orson Welles and on and on and on.
Masterpieces: Far From Heaven and I'm Not There
Disasters: None.
Better than you remember: I doubt many people who actually saw Velvet Goldmine really disliked it, but it is better known for being a commercial flop than for being a quality film.
Awards: Oscar and Globe nominated for writing Far From Heaven. Spirit Award winner for Directing Far From Heaven (and nominated for just about every other movie he's made.)
Box Office: Over 15 mil for Far From Heaven.  That Oscar recognition helps.
Favorite Actor: Julianne Moore in three films.

Todd Haynes has been fooling us, and he's very good at it.  For a little while now Haynes has been tricking us into thinking he makes conventional prestige appeal films.  It's a good trick for someone who truly makes art films.  Since his debut (as part of the New Queer Movement) he's been masquerading art film as pop film successfully, in the 90's by mixing moods like the horror meets suburban quaintness Safe or the Ziggy Stardust meets Citizen Kane Velvet Goldmine.  But the real slight of hand was Far From Heaven.  A movie that seemed to be and was a big awards player (thanks a lot to Julianne Moore, not to mention Hayne's own talents) and yet no one noticed that it was still an art film at heart.  Homage is one thing, but Far From Heaven could be Haynes attempt to make a film entirely inside the reality of another director (with the benefit of fifty years of cultural perspective).  Just as we thought he'd hit the mainstream, Haynes fooled us again with a film so star-laden it had to be accessible at the least.  Instead we got I'm Not There a confounding enigma that required more audience dedication and participation (though it was worth it) than anyone expected.  Anyone except perhaps lifelong Haynes fans who already knew the trick up his sleeve.

I'm Not There was almost audacious in its suggestion that a musical biopic could be more than an extended dramatized Behind the Music episode.  And we shouldn't be surprised that this breakthrough should come from Haynes, for whom music has been one of his favorite subjects.  Muscians naturally lead him toward his favorite topics: how our environment shapes our identity, and how we conform to or rebel against that force.  For musicians their environments are constantly changing, often antagonistic and usually result in a person becoming self-destructive, retreating from the world or fragmenting their own persona.  Another familiar topic for Haynes: women, and as usual the aggressive ever changing cultures that force them to confront their identities.  As for men... sorry guys, we're really just not that interesting.  Unless of course we're gay, and thus perfect for Haynes' cinematic touch.

 Two identities, shaped by the world.

Stylistically don't be fooled by how much his films are influenced by past cinema.  Haynes is his own man. Even when a film lives in another's reality, Haynes has the talent to make it his own.  Later this year Haynes may fool us again.  He's hard at work on the much anticipated Mildred Pierce miniseries, starring Kate Winslet.  Here's a story that fits in perfectly with the director's consistent exploration of women and their place in the world.  But where is the secret art film hiding inside?  We'll all be waiting to see.  Because we all keep coming back.  We're all fools for Todd Haynes.  Nomatter how many times he keeps fooling us.

The Innocents.

Jose here to celebrate one of the greatest acting duets of all time, who today also happen to share a birthday.

In Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence Michelle Pfeiffer (52 today) and Daniel Day-Lewis (53 today) play doomed lovers in 1870's New York City. She's the Countess Olenska, an outcast returning to American society where she's met with quiet hostility and he plays the reserved Newland Archer, who happens to be engaged to the Countess' cousin (Winona Ryder).

Marty fills the movie with nuances that had been uncharacteristic of his work at the time but works his visionary camera moves and Thelma Schoonmaker's vibrant editing seamlessly into a plot that usually would've been done in a less "flashy" style. What we get with this technique is a perfect embodiment of Edith Wharton's tale of repression in contrast with the modern NYC Marty eventually captured in his earlier films.

Never is this repression and stylistic wonder more perfect than in a scene where Newland finally declares his love for Olenska.

After a jealous fit, worthy of a lover, Newland confronts Olenska. As she turns around he begins to kiss her neck.

Soon they embrace, as Olenska sobs and Newland unleashes the "revolutionary" he thinks he is.
Any skeptical people who thought Pfeiffer and Day-Lewis had no spark, would have to eat their words during this moment.

It's only a few seconds later that Marty introduces one of his dazzling stylistic methods. The mood changes from fiery passion to forbidden romance as the camera and cuts become smoother and we only listen to Olenska's words while the images show us the context.

As if we were reading from the book; our imagination providing the images with the aid of narration not limited by the mouth movements of the characters, we listen as Olenska says
You couldn't be happy if it meant being cruel.

If we act any other way I'll be making you act against what I love in you the most and I can't go back to that way of thinking.

Don't you see I can't love you unless I give you up.

The camera then zooms out to reveal them in the kind of embrace Wharton probably dreamt of while writing this scene. Like the ornaments in the Countess' house, this image of them remains frozen in time, a souvenir of the love they never come to fulfill.

Today might be their birthday but The Age of Innocence sure feels like a present made for me.

Do you think Michelle and Daniel are as flawless as I think? What's your favorite thing they've done?

There's Something About Uma

Craig here, asking you all (on her 40th birthday): where is Uma at?

Ah, Uma. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And despite actually being Tarantino's Bride twice last decade. What is it about Uma? She's widely known and adored by many, yet never seems to (quite) make it to the top of the A-list. The likes of Helen Hunt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Connelly, Angelina Jolie and Hilary Swank - all peers and contemporaries - have bagged themselves Oscars in the last thirteen-or-so years. The simple question is: where's Uma's gold?

She's one of the most uniquely beautiful actresses working, but nowadays, more so than in the early '90s, she doesn't often tend to get the recognition come awards season, or even appear on any of those Sexiest Hollywood Stars lists that crop up year-on-year anymore (although, is this really a fair indication of a star's Tinseltown standing anyway?). She has a singular talent and is open and vibrant with her on-screen persona: sultry, yet unafraid to play silly; refined, but willing to be raffish. There aren't many stars who have her particular mix of versatility and charm. And I'm sure some of her peers would have killed to have played Beatrix Kiddo.

Venus Rising: Uma in her first major role, in Baron Munchausen

Her florid introduction to the silver screen came in 1988 in the shapely form of the Goddess Venus (as an homage to Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus') in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It's an entrance comparable to (although it came six years before) Cameron Diaz's similar blond siren walk-on in 1994's The Mask (the year Uma got her first and, to date, only Oscar nomination, for Pulp Fiction). She was newly established and well on the rise back then, but how to define her career since?

Diaz made cartoon Jim Carrey's eyes pop out - and so, too, the cinema-going public's - and has gone on to be one of Hollywood's top female earners. Uma's salary doesn't quite reach Diaz's heights, but she's gained a solid and singular reputation for her - sometime fun, sometimes frank - body of work all the same; and when she's on top form she's often unmatchable. (Diaz may pull in bigger crowds, but she's rarely as risky or as resourceful as Uma: it ain't all about the money!) But since Kill Bill Vol. 2 six years ago - and despite some recent game attempts at more commercial rom-com fare - she hasn't set the film world on fire as once she did. With a whole host of rising stars strutting the red carpet year-on-year where does this leave a talent like hers?

Many a year she's dipped her toes in a variety of genre pools (and there are few genres that Uma hasn't tried and tested). Let's take stock and get an overview here: era-hopping period drama (Dangerous Liaisons, Les misérables, Vatel, The Golden Bowl, Henry & June, Sweet and Lowdown); adaptations of contemporary plays (Tape, Chelsea Walls, Hysterical Blindness, My Zinc Bed); an array of rom-coms (The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Prime, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Accidental Husband, Motherhood); fantastical sci-fi (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gattaca, Paycheck, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief); a pair of franchise-ending flops (Hey, they all have 'em) with The Avengers, Batman & Robin; and a couple of true genre-defying oddities thrown in for good measure (Where the Heart Is, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues).

Left: does Uma get a massive thumbs up from you?

She's played the villainous vamp, the demure ingénue, the good-hearted girl and swift-footed samurai - and a multitude of lead and supporting ladies in between. She has the cool-handed knack for boldly trying out all those different cinematic genres (still a decision to be applauded in today's movie world - especially when many big-name actors all too often stick to the safety of their particular genres of choice).

She's had a fair share of notable roles - the high profile one-two punch of the Kill Bill double, closely backed up by her dance-and-drugs dealings with Travolta in Pulp Fiction (to name two obvious ones), but why is it that when she's either killing Bill or pulping fiction she only seems to gets the high praise? I think it's about time for her to be given the chance to re-shine on the silver screen, to remind us that there's still a vast and varied career path after 40 just around the corner.

But maybe the over-abundance of variety has resulted in her career so far not entirely finding its own groove. Has the wide variety of roles made her an all-too indefinable screen presence? Or has the genre indecision left Uma slightly adrift? She's tried almost everything: where for a girl to go next. Either way, it's a big birthday for Uma. Let's hope the roles keep getting just as big.

So, today on her 40th, if you were a director with a free pick of projects, what gift of a role would you give Ms. Thurman?

First and Last, "You're Messing Up My Hair"

the first image after the opening credits...

and the last line of dialogue
What are you doing? Hey, stop it. Hey, you're messing up my hair, come on. Whoa, whoa. STOP IT. Whoaaaaaaaaaaoooooh.

Hey, this might be a good look for me
Can you guess the movie?
Highlight for the answer if you're still stumped: That's right, it's BEETLEJUICE (1988). You've seen in a million times.

For all quizzes, click on the first and last label below.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cape Link

stale popcorn is counting down the 00s in a comprehensively personal way. Love it
92nd Street Y are you going to the Grease 2 Sing-along?
serious film wonders what film might eventually throw Citizen Kane from its "greatest" throne
hot blog James Cameron discusses science in his science fiction. I love this bit
Asked whether the Alien or a Na'vi would win a fight, Cameron's answer was, "Sigourney (Weaver) would win."
Heh and duh!

/film Ang Lee and the Life of Pi in 3-D
thompson on hollywood talks with Annette Bening about her awards-contender roles in Mother and Child and The Kids Are All Right
natashavc young hollywood '98 fetal flashback: Reese & Ryan
movies kick ass talks up Oscar's 1964 Best Actor race with friends

small screen diversion
critical condition a great thinky piece on Glee's Madonna episode
i need my fix an evening with Glee
what's good... let's hear it for Jonathan Groff's agent
newnownext rich from fourfour visits the set of RuPaul's Drag Race. Lengthy interesting piece with wonderful photos

back to big
Finally, I just wanted to draw your attention to a great reunion pic: Juliette Lewis and Robert DeNiro at the Tribeca Film Festival!

DeNiro showed up at the party for Juliette's latest pic Metropia (she's not in it -- sigh -- just voicework). I mean seeing these two together again is just bananas. The last time I saw them together Juliette was sucking on Bobby's thumb. Which was also bananas. In both connotative senses of the fruit.

At the risk of embarassing one of my best friends, I must ask that if you ever meet Nick Davis you demand to hear his Juliette/Cape Fear voice. It's so unnervingly spot on that the first time he did it for me it made me love both him and Juliette more. And I didn't think I could in either case! So while I'm spreading the link love, please note that Nick is still on his best actress tear having recently written up performances by Ann-Margret, Jane Wyman, Talia Shire and, most controversially, Maggie Smith. Read 'em.

"I was giving Michelle Pfeiffer, bitch"

TV @ the Movies

Did you watch the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race earlier this week? For the final challenge they had to do a catsuit clad catfight and a music video "scene" with RuPaul straight outta 80s era Dynasty. I fully expected the series outcome but I was still disappointed. Scary/beautiful Raven was robbed. She was great all season long but for the finale challenge she was the only contestant who understood and nailed the 80s.
"I'm channeling Lisa Lisa. I'm chanelling Kelly LeBrock. I'm channeling Teena Marie."
Raven (2010) & Kelly LeBrock (1985)

I believe this is the first time in the history of the English language that anyone has said "I'm channelling Kelly LeBrock." Or at least the first time anyone's thought of doing so since the mid 80s when LeBrock had her flash-in-the-pan as the ideal female in The Woman in Red (1984) and Weird Science (1985).

By the time they got to the music video challenge, Raven had a loftier icon in mind.

"I was giving Michelle Pfeiffer, bitch.
I was looking at myself in the mirror.
I was looking f***ing good."
___-Raven on RuPaul's Drag Race
I knew there was a reason I loved Raven best. I get his meaning but I love that you can punctuate the sentence either way: comma bitch to address the audience or capital B Bitch as in the name of said Look... 'giving Michelle Pfeiffer Bitch.' When staring at the mirror with 80s hauteur cool one could conceivably say one was 'giving Michelle Pfeiffer Bitch' and be fully understood.

Example: Michelle Pfeiffer giving Michelle Pfeiffer Bitch.

It's a look.

Lazy Marquee

Snapped with my iPhone outside one of the two big multiplexes on 42nd Street yesterday. It's quite a schedule.

Either someone is too lazy to type out full film titles or this theater is offering some pretty crazy personal services every 2 ½ hours.

[on an tangential note: this photo also neatly encapsulates my biggest pet peeve about multiplexes. If you have 12-25 screens and you're only going to show a few movies at a time, please knock down some walls and give us bigger screens again. Please and thanks.]

Who's the Blonde? (Special Edition)

Can you name the blondes?

A [highlight for the answer] Michelle Pfeiffer in The Witches of Eastwick
Correctly guessed by Vatz and Fernando

B [highlight for the answer] Madonna in Body of Evidence
Correctly guessed by Vatz and ShoNuffLives

C [Highlight for partial answer] Glenn Close in the Safety of Objects
conjoined correct guess from Vatz and Ferdi

D [highlight for answer] Meryl Streep in Defending Your Life
Correctly guessed by Vatz and Janice

Bonus Points if you can also name the films.
Extra Special Bonus Points if you can tell me what all of these women have in common!
[highlight for "extra special" answer] They were all rumored to be in the running or auditioning for or actually cast as EVITA during that films long journey to the screen. Remember that?

Extra Special correctly guessed by RJ (Sing out RJ!). Since Vatz is the first person to ever solve all the puzzles first and simultaneously, he gets to choose a banner theme once the current theme has ended.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do You Ever...?

...go the movies alone?
.......... Or do you always travel with date or in a pack?

Curio: Nate Black's Wood Movie Posters

Alexa from Pop Elegantiarum here. I've mentioned before that I'm always on the lookout for great original film poster art, and currently I'm drooling over these beauties by Nate Black. Nate lasers his poster designs into wood (Baltic Birch, to be specific) and then paints over the design with a hand roller for a distinctive, vintage look. He sells them over at his shop, and at totally reasonable prices to boot. Here are some of my favorites.

San Francisco, with rooftop action, in Hitchcock's Vertigo.

Dolphins populating The Cove.

The Dude's rug.

Bloody boat paddles from The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Une Femme.

Jose here.

The luscious Anouk Aimée turns 78 today.
If you ask me, too few people love her nowadays, heck most don't even seem to know who she is, despite the fact she has worked with some of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

So for those of you who don't know her well.

If you're into auteurs...Anouk's the femme for you!
She has worked with Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada, Anatole Litvak, Vittorio de Sica, Jacques Demy & Agnes Varda, Marco Bellocchio, Robert Altman and of course Claude Lelouch.

If you're an actressexual...Anouk's the femme for you!
She was nominated for an Oscar for A Man and a Woman for which she also won a Golden Globe and BAFTA.
Plus if you think Diane Lane's train scene in Unfaithful was all sorts of brilliant, you have to see how Anouk invents the whole "amazing display of emotions in seconds while riding a train" in the Oscar winning movie.

Also if you liked Marion Cotillard in Nine (one of the few things people agreed on liking about the movie) then you're going to love Anouk's original portrayal of Luisa in Fellini's 8½.

So there you have it, more than enough reasons to seek her if you don't know her and for those of us who already love her to celebrate her existence even more.

Joyeux anniversaire to her.

First and Last, 3.27

the first image after the opening credits
and the last image before the end credits...

Can you guess the movie?

Highlight for the answer if you're stumped: It's RED SONJA!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nashville Wrap Up 2: TiMER, Cleanflix, Jamie Travis, One Too Many Mornings

if you missed part one

I have a small window of time in Tribeca duties so I must wrap the unfortunately brief Nashville Film Festival coverage.

New Directors Competition
This is the jury that I served on along with Lou Harry A&E editor of the Indianapolis Business Journal and actor Brian O’Halloran who you’ll remember from Clerks. It's interesting to watch so many debut features back to back because patterns do emerge in regards to strengths and weaknesses within first efforts. The jury discussions were yet another reminder – as if I needed one covering the Oscars so closely each year – that one man’s treasure is another man’s… anyway, the discussions were lively and fun but so much disagreement! We ended up not spreading the wealth much because we were very divided about our slate of films and even the individual achievements within the films. Our two winners were both films with small casts performing tiny character implosions.

  • Grand Jury Prize: Michael Mohan’s One Too Many Mornings
    I passed over this one at Sundance due to the title and description. My loss. Memorably shot and very well acted (not usually a strength in no budget indies), this black and white comedy brings two old friends together who are both having major life crises, though they're probably not the best sources of comfort or advice for one another. Alcoholism and male commitment problems aren't exactly fresh topics in film but it's all in the execution. There's enough idiosyncratic detail, smart filmmaking and sideways humor to keep this vivid and engaging. I'd eagerly take a second film from any of the people here which to me is a major test of a debut.
  • Honorable Mention: Paul Cotter’s Bomber
    In this dramedy, a quick-tempered son takes his angry dad, a former airforce pilot, and chatty fussy mother on an anxiety-ridden roadtrip. Their vacation agenda is unclear but the father definitely has one. Bomber is a great title, because its clever beyond its literal meaning once you think over the film and the screenplay's construction.
  • Best Actor: Anthony Deptula, One Too Many Mornings
  • Best Actress: Eileen Nicholas, Bomber

I normally only catch a couple of doc titles so naturally I miss any fest winners. I saw City of Borders, an intriguing documentary about a gay bar on the border of Israel and Palestine. It gets good mileage from the depressing irony that the only community that seems to be cohabitating quite peacefully (the gay community) is the community that is reviled on both sides. I also caught the button pushing Cleanflix, about the idealogical/legal war between Hollywood directors and the Mormon entrepeneurs who reedit DVDs to clear them of dirty words and sex scenes (and small bits of extreme violence) to sell or rent them to people who can't handle such content. This documentary must have had a large budget because film clips are expensive to license but Cleanflix is loaded with hilarious examples of before/after
sequences. My favorite was a scene from The Big Lebowski which entirely cuts out Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid) but leaves in the dialogue addressed to her and reactions to her absent dialogue. So weird! Anything to avoid her aggressive bikini clad propositions, I suppose. The Cleanflix company even edits torture porn like the Saw series but draws the line at Brokeback Mountain 'for moral reasons'.

Here's to fucked up value systems!!!

Interestingly enough, I was speaking with the director of a small midwestern film festival after the movie and he asked what side I thought the movie was on? I said "Hollywood's obviously, 'my side'". He had the exact opposite reaction, believing the film came down firmly on the side of the Mormons, his side (though he doesn't share their fear of sex & swear words). Curious. The film gets a bit off track in its final act following the sex-crimes related incarceration of one of the many players in the 'scrub those dirty films' clean business! Oh the humanity.

Music Competition

Shorts Competition
I caught only one shorts compilation but aside from Applaus (see previous post) it was the highlight of my Nashville viewing experience. I'm nutty for the work of Jamie Travis so I knew I had to see the program "The Complete Works of Jamie Travis." I'd only previously see his Patterns Trilogy (trailer) which is one of my most favorite films filmobjects ever. The visually gifted gay Canadian is in demand these days making commercials (he says they like his crisp sense of color) but hopes to make a his first feature soon. The Patterns Trilogy, which charts the obsessive imagined (?) relationship of neighbors Pauline (Courtenay Webber) and David (Christopher Redman), is a weird blend of horror, surrealism, musical, romance and drama but the rest of his shorts (The Saddest Boy in the World, Why the Anderson Children Didn't Come To Dinner and his latest, The Armoire) are all about miserable children who are living outside of our typical reality in one way or another. He's basically a genius.

The Armoire [official site] less cute, more chilling then previous films

I was there to watch Carter Burwell receive his Career Achievement Award in Film Music (writing briefly about his True Grit score -- did you want to hear more about that interview? I couldn't tell from the limited comments.) but heard about these other prizes after the fact.

  • NAHCC Award for Hispanic Filmmaker: Javier Fuentes-Leon, Undertow (previous reviewed from Sundance)
  • GLBT Film: Leanne Pooley's The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
    The artistic director of the fest really wanted me to see this one. Oops. You can't see everything.
  • Rosetta Miller-Perry Award for Best Black Filmmaker: Mario Van Peebles, Black, White and Blues
  • Best Film by a Woman Director: Jac Schaeffer, TiMER
    This romantic comedy has a fertile if ridiculously implausible sci-fi premise (humans are implanted with devices that countdown to the moment when they'll meet their life partner) but whatever problems it has in dealing with its premise, it almost makes up for with pleasant charm. Of course it helps that it pandered to me specifically as soon as its opening scene. I should explain: TiMER reunites Buffy's hilarious demons Anya (Emma Caulfield) and Hafrek (Kali Rocha) in the opening scene! Schaeffer spoils me. Schaeffer must be a Buffy fan and I thank her sincerely for her good taste. For what it's worth -- since other Buffy fans will be curious -- Caulfield acquits herself well as a movie lead. I think she was absolutely Emmy win worthy as Anya (but who in the doctor/lawyer/cop-loving Academy was ever going to vote for a love-hungry money-loving vengeance demon?) and she deserves to work a whole helluva lot more than she does.

Do you miss me when I'm away? I'm feeling needy. Say something!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Christoph Waltz Gives an Award for a Change

<--- Oh look. Christoph Waltz, finally tiring of receving awards for Inglourious Basterds, is now giving them out. There he is (left) giving Best Actress to barefoot Sibel Kekilli at Germany's Oscars "The Lolas". I've never seen anyone accepting a Best Actress trophy while barefoot before but I hope to see someone do so sometime real soon.

If you've never heard the name Sibel Kekilli before, please do yourself a favor and rent Fatih Akin's erotic drama Head On (aka Gegen die Wand) She's got thunderclap force in that movie.
The Winners
Picture (Silver), Editing & Score: Hans-Christian Schmid's Storm, a war crime drama
Picture (Bronze) & Actress: When We Leave starring Sibel Kekilli
Supporting Actor: Justus von Dohnnanyi in Men in the City.
Children's Film: Lena Olbrich & Christian Becker's Vorstadtkrokodile which translates to something like Suburban Crocodiles
Documentary: Ernst Ludwig Ganzert and Ulli Pfau's The Heart of Jenin about a Palestinian father who donates his son's organs to Israeli children even though his son was killed by Israeli soldiers.
Lifetime Achievement: writer/producer Bernd Eichinger

But the night's big winner was The White Ribbon

Picture (Gold), Director, Screenplay, Actor (Burghart Klaussner, "The Pastor"), Supporting Actress (Maria-Victoria Dragus, "Klara"), Cinematography, Costumes, Art Direction, Makeup & Sound: Ten (that's right, ten!) statues went to Michael Haneke's Oscar nominee. That's a record. The previous Lola champ (winning nine) was the wonderful Goodbye Lenin! (2003) starring Daniel Brühl which had, like The White Ribbon after it, a very successful run in the international marketplace.

I was surprised to read the Supporting Actress winner. The White Ribbon had many fine small performances but the statue winner was neither the abused daughter (Roxane Duran) nor the humiliated midwife (Susanne Lothar, who was nominated as Best Actress instead). It also wasn't the teacher's sweet girlfriend (Leonie Benesch) or the rich baroness (Ursina Lardi). The winner was the manipulative leader of that creepy flock of school children that may be sabotaging everyone in town. "Forgive us Father."

Back to Sibel to wrap up. We've also never seen a Best Actress Oscar winner sit down on stage after winning. For all their 'I'm going to faint/cry' affectations, nobody actually collapses!