Film Essent Archive for January, 2011

I’d Like to Thank the Academy …

… for announcing its nominations at such a ridiculously early hour during Sundance every year. Everyone in the business who’s already hitting their exhaustion point at the fest really appreciates getting to wake super early so we can hear nominations that rarely offer any huge surprises. But we’ll see.

… Okay, there were a few surprises, pleasant and otherwise:

I’m happy to see Dogtooth get a nomination for Best Foreign; we’ve been talking about that film since Toronto 2009, so it’s nice to see it get some love. But I’ll be rooting for my #1 film of the year, Biutiful, to win the category.

Speaking of Biutiful, how great is it that Javier Bardem got that well-deserved Best Actor nomination? In a perfect world, he would win it, but all things being what they are in Hollywood, you can give the performance of your career as he does here and still be the underdog.

No Ryan Gosling, though, which is too bad. Not sure which Best Actor nominee I would have bumped to make room for him. Bridges, maybe.

And also good to see John Hawkes get the Supporting Actor nom for Winter’s Bone. He’s my pick to win it. Fingers crossed.

On the chick side of things, I’m not unhappy to see any of the actresses who were nominated for Best Actress. It would be easy to get excited about the nominees all being from films with small budgets. Not that there’s anyone from a bigger film I would have liked to have seen nominated, but still.

As for the Supporting Actress noms, nothing shocking there, though it’s probably Hailee Steinfeld’s to lose. Here’s hoping her career survives the dreaded “child nominee” backlash, and that she has someone smart guiding her script choices post-True Grit.

Aronofsky and the Coens got well-deserved director nods. I wish Debra Granik’s name was on that list as well, but at least they tossed her a bone for screenplay. And what? No Christopher Nolan?

Nothing terribly shocking in the docs nominations. Once Exit Through the Gift Shop made the short list, it seemed likely to make the final cut. I hope it wins. And I guess I am going to have to get off my ass and force myself to watch Restrepo.

Good for The Illusionist for at least getting a nomination … maybe that will interest more parents in watching it with their kids. Okay, probably not, but a girl can dare to dream. If it actually beat out Toy Story 3 that would be probably the biggest shocker of the Oscars this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen.

And yay for the Roadside Attractions team for scoring noms for two films, Winter’s Bone and Biutiful. It’s been interesting to watch as Roadside has stepped up into the awards game with some smart acquisitions. Nice guys all around, and I’m happy for them almost as much as for the films, both of which I loved.

Okay, thanks Academy. Back to Sundance.

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Banksy Was Here

It completely made my fest to find that Park City didn’t remove this after last year’s fest, and that it’s largely undamaged by the weather. I was so bummed to miss this last year, and when I stumbled upon this out of the blue this morning I cried out in surprise and excitement, then teared up a bit over how much life has changed since this time last year. Just lovely. Thank you, Park City, for leaving it alone.

Sundance Dispatch: Good News, Bad News

The good news was, I flew Southwest, where Bags Fly Free!(tm) So I was able to bring two bags. Major bonus, because that meant I could bring more boots! And a stash of food cheaper than it would cost me at The Market Formerly Known As Albertsons. The bad news was, my flight was delayed 90 minutes. The good news was, my ticket was Section B, so I scored a window seat. The bad news was, I was dozing as we landed, we had a rough landing, and I whacked the hell out of my head. It woke me right up, though. Memo to self: bring your travel pillow next time. And, we landed safely, also good news.
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Oooh. Ahh. Death Note.

We’re a mix of excited/trepidatious at my house about the news that Shane Black is reportedly on board to direct a live-action adaption of one of our favorite, favorite, FAVORITE manga series, Death Note.
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DGA Docs Noms: Solid … If a Bit Predictable

The DGA announced nominees for Documentary this morning. Nothing terribly surprising about the noms, other than the absence of Exit Through the Gift Shop. Wonder if there’s the feeling that Banksy isn’t a “real” director, or some lingering feeling that the film is a hoax? I can’t really argue against any of the directors who were nominated, though:

LIXIN FAN
Last Train Home

CHARLES FERGUSON
Inside Job

ALEX GIBNEY
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM
Waiting for “Superman”

TIM HETHERINGTON AND SEBASTIAN JUNGER
Restrepo

Looks pretty much like a take on how the final Oscar nominees for doc could turn out. The most interesting thing to me is the presence of both Alex Gibney and Charles Ferguson on the list. Gibney mentored Ferguson through his first doc, the very excellent No End in Sight, and it showed. Now Ferguson hits it out of the park again in a year when Gibney has two docs — Client 9 and Casino Jack and the United States of Money — that could have conceivably been nominated.

I still haven’t seen Last Train Home, which is leading the pack for next week’s Cinema Eye Awards, or Restrepo. The latter, at least, is in my screener box at home and I suppose I should force myself to finally watch it. I know, I know. It’s a great movie. I hear you. I’m just so worn out by war movies, I haven’t had it in me to watch it. But I will.

I would have liked to have seen a little love for Thomas Burstyn, who directed This Way of Life, which is still one of my favorite docs of the year (it has the third slot on my Top Ten Docs list this year). But this isn’t a bad list, overall.

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Samuel L. Jackson and Hockey

The quality on this is crappy, but I laughed out loud when the youth hockey league cult-chants the Bible quote from Ezekial 25:17.

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No DGA Nod for Coens … Really?

Aronofsky.
Fincher.
Nolan.
Hooper.
Russell.

Who’s absent from this list? Joel and Ethan Coen. Who would I have booted out to make room for them? Probably Russell. I liked The Fighter fine, for what it is, but it remains a story where the main character is less interesting than his brother or his sister, and that was a directorial choice. I certainly can’t argue with Nolan or Aronofsky, and wouldn’t argue with Fincher given that I seem to be the only person on the planet who isn’t head-over-hells for The Social Network.
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Nick Cave, Crazy Genius


UPDATE: A reader very kindly pointed out that the soundsuits are created by Nick Cave, an artist and educator based in Chicago, NOT by Nick Cave, the awesome singer/songwriter/musician whose music with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is part of the regular soundtrack of my life. Which is kind of a bummer … the docent I spoke with about the upcoming exhibit when we were at the museum had assured me that this was indeed THAT Nick Cave and he was also very excited about that, but apparently he was misinformed, as was I. Not that it’s his fault, I should have researched further than the SAM website and not just assumed. So, mea culpa.

BUT! The soundsuits are still amazingly cool, and from what I’ve seen they look even cooler in motion when they’re being worn for parades or dancing or what have you than how they look just standing there in stasis in the museum. So hopefully there will be some of that tied in with the Seattle exhibit as well. Post updated to reflect which Nick Cave is which.

The Seattle Art Museum is slated to have an exhibit in March called Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, which will feature Cave’s “Soundsuits.” What’s a soundsuit? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either. We saw a few samples in the African Gallery when we were at SAM to check out the Picasso exhibit this weekend and they are craaaaazy, but in a good way. Here’s a description from the SAM website:

Nick Cave tailors suits that are sculpture, clothing characters that spring out of his imagination. Stately guardians preside in shaggy, day-glow pink hair; polar bears wear sweaters that stick out in humorous places; and dancers are adorned with white beaded filigree crowns. Suits like this have never been seen before. Partly this is due to his choice of improbable materials—buttons, plastic tabs, hot pads, metal flowers, sandwich bags, spinning tops and crocheted doilies—which are used to make visually fierce and impeccably detailed suits.

For more info on Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, including other Soundsuit exhibits and sightings, you can check out this website.

The exhibit runs March 10–June 5, 2011 — which, lucky for you, happily coincides with the Seattle International Film Festival, which runs May 19-June 12. And if you don’t come up to Seattle for our film festival, well, you are seriously missing out, because SIFF would be one of my favorite fests even if I didn’t live here and get to take advantage of all six glorious weeks of it (25 days of fest proper, plus three weeks of press screenings leading up to it). It’s a great time of year to be in Seattle, and now on top of the film fest you get to see some crazy, wonderful, imaginative soundsuits. Awesome.

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Sundance, Top Tens and Critics Groups. Oh. My.

2010 is a wrap, 2011 is here, but for most of us who write in this industry, until we get past February it’s all about Sundance and Oscar. The publicist letters about Sundance slates start hitting inboxes during the Winter Break (I send them straight to the “Sundance” file until after the new year, because I am getting old and grumpy and more hardcore about guarding family time these days) and don’t stop coming until about midway through the fest.

And of course, because the Academy has a twisted sense of humor, Oscar nominees are announced at the asscrack of dawn during Sundance, when everyone is running around Park City trying not to slip on the ice and break anything or freeze to death at a shuttle stop. Or both.
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Quote Unquotesee all »

“Most of these women were in their early twenties. Most of them refused to go any further with him, but a few went to dinner, or to some sort of casting situation, or to someplace private… if the stories were just about some crazed sex addict who approaches thousands of women on the street trying to get laid, I wouldn’t be posting this now. I don’t want to be attacking every Hollywood douchebag who hits on countless women. That type of behavior isn’t cool, but I think it’s important to separate douchebaggery from any kind of sexual coercion. But the women I talked to who DID go someplace private with Toback, told stories that were worse than the women only accosted on the street… So I did what I could do in my impotent state – for over twenty years now, I’ve been bringing up James Toback every chance I could in groups of people. I couldn’t stop him, but I could warn people about him… I’ve been hoping the Weinstein/O’Reilly stuff would bring this vampire into the light (him and a couple others, frankly). So I was happy today to wake up to this story in the L. A. Times.”
~ James Gunn

“BATTLE OF THE SEXES: Politics and queerness as spectacle/spectacle as politics and queerness. Pretty delightful, lovely, erotic. A-

“Not since EASY A and CABARET have I seen Emma Stone give a real sense of her range. Here, she has pathos and interiority and desire. I love the cinematography and the ways in which the images of the tennis icons are refracted and manipulated via various surfaces/mediators. Also, wild how a haircut is one of the most erotic scenes in cinema this year. Spine tinglingly tactile that feels refreshing. Proof that *cough* you don’t need to be ~graphic/explicit~ to be erotic *cough*. Also, it made me want to get into tennis. Watching it, at least.

“There are interesting touches and intimations as to the cinematic nature of sports, & unpacking the formal approach of broadcasting sports.Also, I was here for Sarah Silverman smoking. And also, hi Mickey Sumner!! It’s a really interesting film about the ways in which public spectacle is never apolitical, and how spectacle is prone to assignation.

“There’s this one other scene from BATTLE OF THE SEXES that I love, and it’s the one in the bar. You see Billie looking after Marilyn as she dances. Through a crowd. There’s a paradoxical closeness and distance between them. In the purple light, and the kitschy decor, everything is distorted. But Billie catches a glance and you can feel the nervous swell inside.”
~ Kyle Turner