The Einstein who cut this Hitchcock Collection trailer together uses clips of Rope (’48) and Saboteur (’42), which were shot in 1.37, with a horizontal taffy-pull effect so they fill out the 1.85 frame. The nameless technician obviously wanted all the clips to be the same a.r. and didn’t think it would matter. Brilliant.
We all know that Chan-wook Park (Old Boy) is a superior filmmaker, and as nasty as Stoker seems to be the trailer tells you right away it’s going to be a class act with killer, precisely composed cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung. It’s obviously a vague homage to Alfred Hitchcock‘s Shadow of a Doubt with Matthew Goode playing “Uncle Charlie,” although Mia Wasikowska is clearly not playing Teresa Wright — her India character is guilty, gothy and apparently taken with Goode on some perverse level.
I don’t know why they’ve called it Stoker — I thought it was going to be a vampire film (i.e., alluding to Bram Stoker) when I first read the title. The screenplay is by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson. The release date is sometime in March 2013.
Boilerplate synopsis: “After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.”
I identified no one in my description of last night’s sputtering rage parking-lot argument about The Silver Linings Playbook, but Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil has copped to being one of my opponents by posting an explanation and a response. Good on Tom for his manly candor. Here’s a portion of his article and a closing response from me:
The Silver Linings Playbook is “one of those awkward love stories about two social misfits who find salvation in each other’s arms. Arguably, you could say that Silver Linings is thus in the tradition of Slumdog Millionaire or, even better, Annie Hall (both have comedic qualities), but Oscar voters aren’t often smitten with love stories in this race, especially comedic ones. Usually, they believe Best Picture = Big Serious Picture.
“However, the most important quality a winner must have is The Rooting Factor and The Silver Linings Playbook has more passionate fans than the Philadelphia Eagles on David O. Russell‘s silver screen. We saw evidence of that earlier this month during its screenings to critics and industry chiefs at the Toronto International Film Festival, and in a parking garage last night after a screening in Beverly Hills. That’s where Jeff Wells had a pop-eyed meltdown when some of us mentioned the film’s predictable plotting (it’s obvious as hell how the film’s big dance competition will end — and, for that matter, how the love story will play out too).
“But such criticism is quibbling. Overall, The Silver Linings Playbook is extremely well made, deeply felt. It delivers. Of course, it will be nominated for Best Picture, director, screenplay. Twenty of the 23 Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby say Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress. With 17 to 10 odds, she’s a virtual shoo-in. Robert De Niro is in second place to win Best Supporting Actor, (6 to 1 odds).
“What was behind Jeff Wells’ meltdown last night in that parking garage? Why does he adore this film so much? I have a cynical answer that will probably get Jeff mad again, but I think it’s pertinent to this film’s place in this Oscar derby. The Silver Linings Playbook is the ultimate masturbatory fantasy of mature str8 guys. They feel like they can have a failed marriage or two behind them, they can even be a bit loopy in the head and cast off by the world, but, hey, somewhere, on some back suburban street, there’s a hot chick chasing him relentlessly, begging for sex.
“Now consider all of the loopy str8 geezers who dominate the membership of the motion picture academy. Hmmm…maybe The Silver Linings Playbook really is out front…and unbeatable?”
Wells to O’Neil: I honestly felt no horndog feelings for Jennifer Lawrence in this thing. But I felt enormous liking for her character’s cut-through the bullshit, straight-talking manner. She is dead solid real and steady and uncompromised every second she’s on-screen. So for me it wasn’t some fuck-fantasy thing — it’s the “I would love to meet a girl who loves me, sure, but I’d really love to connect with a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t play games or beat around the bush and calls people on their bullshit” fantasy. Big difference.
I loved Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha when I saw it in Telluride, and then I dropped the ball by not filing anything. It’s a much faster, sharper and more high-end Girls without the male-hate factor. It has a buoyant Brooklynesque spirit (principally embodied in Greta Gerwig‘s open, vulnerable performance — a slam-dunk for a Best Actress nom). It captures the under-30 thing with exactitude and panache and heart. And it’s probably the most beautifully photographed black-and-white film of the 21st Century (cheers to dp Sam Levy).
I love Baumbach’s description of Frances Ha in the NYFF press conference video [above] as analagous to a kind of basement-tapes movie in the vein of Paul McCartney‘s first two albums after he left the Beatles.
“I had a wonderful time with Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha,” Jett Wells wrote at the end of the festival. “A critic we spoke to confided that he sensed a slightly possessive boyfriend element, as director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig are a couple. But that didn’t materialize, and Gerwig’s lead performance felt like the most genuine I was ever going to see from her — it was perfect.
“Frances Ha has a floating Brooklyn mumblecore pace and vibe, and is about a 27-year old dancer (Gerwig) who is lost when her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner, daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler), falls in with a rich boyfriend.
“You can’t help but compare to HBO’s Girls, but it’s not that at all. It’s not about gross, uncomfortable-to-watch-sex; Baumbach already accomplished that with Greenberg. The writing is sublime, really tight and filled with pockets of hilarious improvised dialogue. The whole house was giggling and adoring Gerwig despite dealing with a 20-minute delay wen the film began without the center dialogue track.”
I’m serious about the cinematography. Frances Ha was captured with a modest digital camera, and it looks an awful lot like Gordon Willis‘s legendary b & w lensing in Manhattan. Really. I honestly found it more transporting than the cinematography in Michael Haneke‘s The White Ribbon.
Roughly 52 hours before Friday night’s big New York Film Festival premiere, here’s a new, much more story-explicit trailer for Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi (Focus Features, 11.21). My favorite tag line is still “I need a Bengal tiger who won’t drive me crazy” but nobody seems to be on the boat for that.
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has posted a Best Picture rankings rundown. I guess my only question is what exactly has Tapley seen, read, heard or been told that led him to include Promised Land among his top five “Good Bets” alongside Lincoln, Argo, Les Miserables and The Silver Livings Playbook?
Directed by Gus Van Sant (who stepped in when the original director, star and cowriter Matt Damon, had to back out) and cowritten by Damon and costar John Krasinski, Promised Land looks like a boilerplate, standard-issue moral awakening drama about a fracking guy (Damon) — a representative of a natural gas company that wants to exploit a small town’s resources — having second thoughts after considering the human and ecological cost, etc. It might be a lot better than this and here’s hoping, but how did Tapley calculate that it’s a top-fiver?
You want my opinions?
Les Miserables is almost certainly a top contender and…honestly? I really hate to say this but in terms of peception and expectation and hot air it’s probably the front-runner right now. But I hate the mindset that says (a) if a movie delivers pain and anguish and period costumes and angst and big emotion and stand-out performances, it’s Best Picture material but (b) if it’s fleet and sharp and touching and schizzy in a one-on-one, crazy-personal-relationship, present-tense vein like The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s a commercial diversion and a made-for-TVer. Eff that!
Lincoln is not a top-fiver any more. It’ll probably become a big acting score for Daniel Day Lewis, but at best the film itself belongs in Tapley’s “Other Possibilities” category. Why? Ask Guido Bazin.
Ben Affleck‘s Argo is a top contender because so many people consider it a top contender. I happen to think it’s an engaging, well-made caper film that lacks the gravitas and undercurrent of a Best Picture contender. And I say that with respect because I liked it and gave it a thumbs up as far as it went.
Tapley’s Other Possibilities include The Master (should be a nominee in my book, but a lot of older people are going to say “what was that thing actually about?” and not vote for it), Life of Pi (opinions will begin to circulate tomorrow night), Amour (superb, penetrating, very brave film but a very tough sit if you’ve watched a parent die and arguably sadistic in a certain sense — it’s safer to call it a Best Foreign Language winner), Beasts of the Southern Wild (deserves to be nominated), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make Oscar movies because he puts quote marks around everything he writes and shoots — if you want an Oscar you have to man up, plant your feet, look the audience in the eye and tell the truth).
Tapley’s “Dark Horses” include The Impossible (admirable in many respects but doesn’t deliver where it counts), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (never saw it), Flight (look out for this puppy, certainly in terms of a Best Actor nomination for Denzel Washginton), Anna Karenina (one of the most brilliant and exhilarating period dramas I’ve seen in years…top of the mountain) and Hitchcock (likely to be middling, so-so, good-enough film — if anything the stand-out awards attention will be for Anthony Hopkins‘ lead performance).
Tapley’s “Rest Of The Field” titles are Zero Dark Thirty (this is in my top five in terms of faith in Biggy-Boal and general expecations), Moonrise Kingdom (good film, first-rate director but not distinctive or scopey enough to be a Best Picture contender), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (possibly nominatable if WB hadn’t turned tail on the 48 fps format — now it’s chiefly known as the 48 fps turn-tail movie), Skyfall (a Bond movie for Best Picture?), Not Fade Away (not likely but we’ll see), Cloud Atlas (forget it), The Dark Knight Rises (a brilliant, rousing, balls-to-the-wall knockout — first-rate, deserves a nomination, “just say no to Colorado massacre” vote), Trouble with the Curve (nice film but not a chance), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (haven’t seen it), Quartet (haven’t seen it), The Sessions (Hawkes and Hunt acting noms only), Rust & Bone (Marion Cottilard for Best Actress and that’s all), The Avengers (what is that, a sick joke?), Killing Them Softly (interesting, well-acted film but not good enough to be a Best Picture contender…sorry) and Arbitrage (likely Richard Gere nomination for Best Actor),
Andy Williams, the mild-mannered, hugely popular crooner who sang “Moon River” and toplined “The Andy Williams Show” from 1962 to ’71, has died of bladder cancer at age 84. Williams was a nice guy with an easy smile and a smooth voice that was a stylistic cousin of Steve Lawrence, Vic Damone and Perry Como‘s. He was friendly with Bobby Kennedy in the ’60s and supported George McGovern in ’72. But he later turned into a rightie who claimed Barack Obama was “following Marxist theory.”
(l.) the late Andy Williams; (r.) Lauren Bacall.
I always found “Moon River” to be a little too smooth and dreamy and older-person schmaltzy. My favorite Williams tune by far is “Can’t Get Used To Losing You.” I don’t know what the precise term is for the syncopation of that tune (violins and guitars going “bluhk” and then “bluhk-bluhk”) but that’s what made that song — the spare, plucky, off-rhythm of it.
Most online authorities and showbiz biographers (including “Bogart” author Ann Sperber) have claimed that the urban legend about a 17-year-old Williams having dubbed Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not (’44) is untrue. I misheard that rumor and always thought Williams had dubbed Bacall for the performing of “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine” in The Big Sleep. But here’s an mp3 of Williams himself explaining that yes, it’s true…at least as far as To Have and Have Not was concerned. The song he dubbed was called “How Little We Know.”
Here’s a passage from Williams’ Wiki bio:
“Williams was close friends with Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, campaigning for Kennedy ’68 for President. Williams was among the celebrities who were present at the Ambassador Hotel on the night Sirhan Sirhan shot and mortally wounded RFK in June 1968. Williams solemnly sang ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ at RFK’s funeral, by request of widow Ethel. By August 1969, over a year after Bobby Kennedy’s death, Andy and wife Claudine Longet named their newborn son ‘Bobby’ Williams. The Williams’ friendship with Ethel Kennedy endured, with Williams even serving as escort to Ethel, during events in the 1970s. He also raised funds for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, performing at benefit concerts.
“While close friends with the Democratic Kennedys, Williams was a lifelong Republican. On September 29, 2009, he was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as accusing President Barack Obama of “following Marxist theory” and “wanting the country to fail“. He gave Rush Limbaugh permission to use his recording of the song ‘Born Free’ for the theme to the ‘Animal Rights Update’ on Limbaugh’s radio show — in which a portion of the song is then followed by gunfire — saying “Hey, it’s fine with me. I love what you’re doing with it.” The record company later blocked Limbaugh’s use of the recording.”