Yesterday Movieline‘s Stu Van Airsdale posted a Best Picture Oscar chart. The leading ten, he says, are (starting from the top) The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Black Swan,127 Hours, True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Fighter and For Colored Girls.
Look — I thought I explained a while back that Tyler Perry is too mediocre a filmmaker for anyone to even imagine that he might get lucky with For Colored Girls on the strength of it being based on a respected mid ’70s B’way play. He’s a niche director who’s made a lot of money, but his movies make people like me groan. The odds of For Colored Girls turning out even half-decently are not very high. People need to stop dreaming about this film.
And enough with putting FCG on these lists because Perry is the only African-American director in the pack. If FCG becomes a miracle turnaround, great. But no counting the eggs before they’re hatched, and no quotas.
Once the general community comes to its senses about Perry’s film, they need to rally around Blue Valentine. Really, truly. The Best Picture roster needs at least one super-passionate, go-for-broke love story. Plus Blue Valentine fills the slot for the too-cool-for-school John Cassevetes “little movie” category.
Other Alternates: Secretariat is too square and conservative, and it won’t be making enough money to elbow its way in. Mike Leigh‘s Another Year could easily make the grade. The Way Back hasn’t been seen by those who couldn’t afford Telluride. Made in Dagenham is a relatively decent, well-acted film about women getting the wages they deserve in a 1968 Ford auto plant, but don’t get your hopes up.
Why would Brooks Barnes run a recent N.Y. Times story about HBO’s forthcoming Phil Spector biopic with Al Pacino without mentioning the obvious inspiration? I’m speaking, of course, about Vikram Jayanti‘s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, which opened at Manhattan’s Film Forum last June and received lots of publicity and praise during a brief run.
Pacino and screenwriter David Mamet and producer Barry Levinson can say they just decided to make a movie about Spector out of the blue because they know all about his murder case and love his music and so on, but how many people are going to believe them? Spector has been in the slammer for over a year (since May 2009) and had been more or less forgotten until Jayanti’s doc put him back into the conversation three months ago.
The decent thing would have been for Pacino/Mamet/Levinson to give a nod to Jayanti in the article and also toss him a fee for providing the inspiration. Barnes, at least, should have asked the questions or mentioned the doc or something.
Next Wednesday I finally get to see Andrew Jarecki‘s All Good Things, a bad-marriage-leads-to-murder drama “inspired” by the history of rich-guy Robert Durst (Ryan Gosling) and the probably-foul-play-related disappearance of his wife Kathie (Kirsten Dunst) in 1982. My interest is based solely on my admiration for Jarecki’s Capturing The Friedmans, the 2004 doc that was also about creepy weird stuff inside the home of a New York-area family.
All Good Things was originally skedded to open via the Weinstein Co. in the summer of ’09. It didn’t happen and the film changed hands. Magnolia will open it in Manhattan on 12.3.10 “with national expansion to follow.”
Under some protest I saw The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest at last weekend’s Hamptons Film festival, and the same thought I had while watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo returned. Noomi Rapace‘s shark-eye performance as Lisbeth Salander is a bit of a drag. It’s the easiest thing in the world to be impassive and show no emotion, and that’s all she does in both films. She gets all frozen and still and blank-faced, and holds onto this like a gila monster.
I’m mentioning this because a 10.14 Entertainment Weekly/Popwatch piece by Keith Staskiewicz mentions that Rapace has made the Hollywood rounds and is reportedly close to signing onto The Last Voyage of Demeter, a Dracula flick, on top of already-bagged roles in Sherlock Holmes 2 and Mission: Impossible 4. I get the part about attracting female audiences because of the Girl movies, but there’s absolutely nothing happening inside or behind her eyes. She’s a punk mannequin poseur.
As I wrote in a 9.30 piece called “Betty Ann Brockovich“, Tony Goldwyn‘s Conviction (Fox Searchlight, 10.15) is on the rote and humdrum side. It’s one of those come-from-behind stories about a working class woman (Hilary Swank) with a fairly demanding life who achieves the seemingly impossible task of….zzzzzzz. Sorry. Where I was I?
I love how Marshall Fine tries to turn it all around and give Conviction points for being plain and unpretentious and using “straightforward storytelling.”
“There’s no equivocation here — you know who you’re supposed to be rooting for right from the beginning. And the movie tells the story from start to finish, without pausing to show off the director’s stylistic chops at the expense of the film. Linear plots – what a concept!
“Yet there currently is an arm of film criticism that disdains exactly that: movies that tell a story from start to finish, about characters who are human, identifiable and even (perhaps especially) likable. You can throw a stone at any press screening in Manhattan (or any of a number of urban centers) and hit more than one critic for whom that description is their idea of a movie that is stodgy, old-fashioned and not worth their time.”
Fine goes too far, however, when he calls Conviction “an old-fashioned underdog drama in the best sense of the term, the kind of crowd-pleaser that The Blind Side was last year.” It may be the same “kind” of film, but it isn’t as involving or well assembled or top-flighty as The Blind Side — not by a damn sight. Fine then concludes by saying Conviction “could have Oscar potential.” Oh, yeah?
It was revealed last weekend that Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine, which I warmed to after catching a slightly shortened version at the Hamptons Film Festival, had been hit with an NC-17 rating. This morning the pic’s distributor Harvey Weinstein (i.e., Weinstein Co. co-honcho) said in a statement that “we are taking every possible step to contest the MPAA’s decision…we hope they will see that our appeal is reasonable, and the film, which is an honest and personal portrait of a relationship, would be significantly harmed by such a rating.”
Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams in Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine.
The NC-17 rating was given, I presume, because of a couple of simulated sex scenes — one between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling when they’re married, and another between herself and a boyfriend she knew before hooking up with Gosling. Neither is all that provocative. They don’t make you gasp or go, “Wow…pushing the limits here!” They’re just scenes showing people pretending to do the usual-usual…big deal. They’re somewhere between medium and hard R.
There’s also an almost-abortion scene — not graphic but very real-deal in a clinically procedural sense. It shows Williams starting to submit to an abortion procedure with a doctor starting to actually terminate the pregnancy, and then changes her mind and puts a stop to it. This scene may not have been a factor in the ratings board handing out the NC-17, but if it was it’s a very weird and creepy call. Abortion procedures are a fact of modern life, and here’s a scene in which a woman can’t face going through with one, which is obviously a nod to the rightie-conservative pro-life view.