Hi, Mom! (’70), Sisters (’73), Phantom of the Paradise (’74) and Carrie (’76) — these four films constituted the glory days of Brian DePalma. For me the Carrie finale with Amy Irving and the flowers and the hand was the absolute DePalma peak. It never got better than this.
On one level this poster for Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon‘s Central Park Five conveys in a rather clunky way that the doc deals with race. On another it implies that the subject — the 1989 Central Park Jogger rape case and the five Harlem youths who were wrongly found guilty of the crimes and imprisoned for years — will be treated in a stark and simplistic fashion. In a way that’s true. Here’s my Telluride Film Festival review.
Watch out for alleged journalists who giggle together after a screening of some popular, well-reviewed film that allegedly connects on some basic emotional level. I was sharing an elevator with a couple of people I know after a private screening of a film I really like, and they were giggling like 13 year-old schoolgirls….”Hee-hee-hee-hee.” That meant they were dismissing it for some perceived failing. “Fuck are you laughing about?,” I snorted.
After last Tuesday’s Anna Karenina screening at RealD I walked by a group of 20something giggiy girls. I gave them the dirtiest look imaginable as I silently muttered to myself, “You’re laughing…laughing at one of the most brilliantly conceived and stylistically audacious films of the 21st Century?” (Movieline‘s Jen Yamato was standing with this group, and confirms the women were “mixed” on the film, “but I wouldn’t say it was because the material was heavy…if I was giggling post-film (and that’s totally possible) it was probably because I was basking in the afterglow of Aaron Johnson‘s man beauty.”)
If you’ve just come from a private screening or an allegedly strong, emotionally intense film or one that obviously stands out in terms of ambition if not execution, try and find the class to not giggle in the elevator on the way down or in the hallway outside the screening room. If you didn’t like it convey your views and feelings in subtle tones of regret, but don’t have yourself a cheap laugh. I’m suggesting this as a form of etiquette. You don’t have to show politeness, of course. If you want to devolve into teenage giggling spasms, knock yourself out.
The only part of this Joe Wright-directed Chanel No. 5 spot that doesn’t quite work is the line “dreams take over.” My dream of being a successful hotshot journalist came true, but for most people dreams die or shrivel up or never quite happen. Or they get sensibly downsized. Or gradually forgotten about.
It must have been tough for Pitt to say these lines just so. My understanding is that he was paid about $4 or $5 million for this.
Notice how quickly Felix Baumgartner drops and how his body turns into a little speck in roughly three or four seconds. And then compare that to the six-second drop that Daniel Craig takes off a bridge at the beginning of Skyfall. First Tony Scott and now Baumgartner — reality trumps the 007 bullshit.
Update: Yes, of course…a much thinner or lighter atmosphere 23 miles up means you’ll fall much faster. Heavier molecular density slows falls that happen only a few hundred feet off the ground. But there’s still a reality vibe from this video that kicks the shit out of that opening sequence in Skyfall. “Oh, go on…you’re too much of a realist!…the Bond films aren’t about realism” But they used to be, to some extent.
A few days ago a Tom O’Neil-fed notion about Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables becoming a “monster” Oscar sweeper crept into the conversation. Okay, maybe. But a couple of nights ago a counter-notion was implied (i.e., not firmly asserted) by a fellow who knows a Les Miz contributor. The notion is that it might be more of an acting vehicle thing (particularly benefitting Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway) than an overall Oscar fireworks thing. A solid, admirable, workmanlike job but that’s all.
This is joined in my mind with observations…reminders, I mean…from Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil as well as Glenn Kenny on yesterday’s Oscar Poker that the Les Miserables material is familiar and classic and not exactly thrilling in and of itself, and that the stage musical is over 25 years old and quite traditional and retro-defaulty by today’s standards, and Tom Hooper‘s innovation of having the actors sing live on the set is (this was a Kenny riff also) doesn’t necessarily mean that the film will work splendidly. Live singing may seem to some like an exciting new approach to shooting movie musicals, but what will finally matter is whether or not Les Miserables works altogether…whether the entire working mechanism harmonizes in a way that inspires “wow, that was truly exceptional!” or “that was an entirely respectable rendering of a classic musical that was all the rage in London and Broadway back in the ’80s.”
If the latter impression dominates and Les Miserables becomes merely one of the Best Picture contenders instead of (according to O’Neil’s maddeningly coy tipster) possibly the Best Picture contender, then you’ll have an uncertain and perhaps even mysterious Best Picture race on your hands — an egalitarian race without a frontrunner or heavyweight contender, a competition among jacks and knaves and outliers without a big gorilla (or gorillas) that everyone’s looking to beat.
I fully expect, mind, that many of your typical 62 year-old white male Academy members will default to Les Miserables because of its traditional, classical bones and humanist aspirations and because of its (presumed) showiness and those (expected) emotionally grandstanding performances, blah blah. But if it finally settles in as a highly respectable venture rather than a revolutionary knockout, the stage will be set for some kind of Best Picture street fight.
Les Miserables is the new favorite among the Gold Derby contributors….a sudden “massive shift,” in the words of Tom O’Neil.
To repeat, there’s a wisp of a suggestion floating around (like dandelion fuzz) that Les Miserables may turn out to be more of a striking, highly respectable, performance-driven costumer (with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway benefitting in particular) than a breathtaking, across-the-board, Oscar-sweep phenomenon…a solid, admirable, workmanlike job that may not necessarily inject spiritual adrenaline into the soul…well-made, fine and commendable but, in the words of Richard Masur in Risky Business, “not quite Ivy League.”
If so, as I explained in the above riff, the Best Picture race becomes a brawl, a contest of nearlies and highly respectable not-quiters without any swaggering big dogs.
Argo is some kind of apparent front-runner right now, but you and I know that beyond the “engaging true-life political suspense story” with great period detail aspect it doesn’t have the subtext or enough emotionality to be any kind of big, swinging Grand Poobah hoo-hah. It’s a very satisfying film, a feather in Ben Affleck‘s hat and very well liked (and a likely commercial hit at the end of the day, particularly counting overseas revenues) but let’s not get carried away, Pete Hammond (who put Argo in the top position in last night’s Gold Derby recalculations, and in so doing bailed on Silver Linings Playbook).
Last week’s Lincoln screenings (particularly last Monday night’s at the New York Film Festival) made it clear, I think, that Steven Spielberg‘s A & E drama is going to be a Best Picture nominee without any hope of winning. C’mon, be honest. It’s an acting thing (Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, possibly Sally Field) and a Best Adapted Screenplay thing for Tony Kushner…maybe.
Robert Zemeckis’s Flight (which screens for LA press later this afternoon) may emerge as a Best Picture contender or not, but early reactions suggest that Denzel Washington is all but certain to land a Best Actor nomination, and that he may even wind up as a front-runner, particularly in view of the general opinion that Daniel Day Lewis’s Abraham Lincoln performance is more in the realm of admirable or respectable or highly honorable rather than jolting or live-wire.
Zero Dark Thirty could become a late-emerging front-runner, but the trailers are selling a procedural, a “how it was done” story that follows the Argo fundamentals (top-secret mission, Islamic authorities kept in the dark, suspenseful third-act climax followed by flght to safety). It will have to play on some level like Fred Zinneman‘s Day of the Jackal — a thriller about a plot or mission with an outcome that is common knowledge, but which is nonetheless gripping or highly intriguing from start to finish.
Post-Toronto screenings of David O. Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook have resulted in pushback from certain Oscar bloggers. “This?,” they’ve been saying. “This is what you were so excited about in Toronto? Well, we’re going to stand in the way of that.” I think it’s a guaranteed Best Picture nominee, but the sourpuss-and-sorehead resistance may push it to the sidelines. It’s certainly an acting nomination vehicle (Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper). The naysayers could be overcome, of course, if SLP clicks with the rank-and-file like it has at the Toronto and Hamptons festivals.
The Master has not gone over with that 62 year-old white guy crowd (i.e., the ones who don’t work out as much as they used to), and therefore it’s probably all but finished as a Best Picture contender. Please understand this is not an HE quality judgment or a reflection of what the Movie Godz have decided. Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, for sure, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor, most likely, and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress. Almost certainly a Best Cinematography nomination for Mihai Malaimare, Jr.
For the 179th time, Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make Oscar movies (i.e., ones that resonate on some personal or universal level re shared emotionality or some human condition element). He makes audacious, swaggering, high-style, verbal-flash Quentin movies, and that is why I believe Django Unchained will not seriously figure as a Best Picture winner. Probably a nominee, okay, but Tarantino is a stylist first and last and everybody knows that. He refuses to come to grips with life as it is actually being experienced out there. He makes fantasias that primarily function as self-serving, self-referential acts of stylistic masturbation and ’70s grindhouse nostalgia.
Ang Lee‘s Life Of Pi may be Best Picture nominated — it deserves respect and allegiance — but I don’t believe it has a prayer of winning.
Beasts of the Southern Wild deserves to be Best Picture nominated, and it will be if the Movie Godz hold any sway, but it’s been doing a slow fade over the last few weeks. Just ask Pete Hammond what his Academy pallies have been saying.
The Promised Land trailer suggests that unless it delivers in some sort of wildly surprising way and is much, much better than generally anticipated, it hasn’t a chance.