Posts Tagged ‘The Cove’

Showbiz Kids: The Oscars, Charlton Heston and Steely Dan

February 3, 2010

Before we begin, there are two important things to remember about the Oscars. The first is the Charlton Heston Rule. That rule is that the Academy is made up of a lot of people like the late Charlton Heston—old fogeys with traditional tastes. Wonder why Crash beat out Brokeback Mountain or There Will Be Blood didn’t take best picture in 2008? It’s not a hard or fast rule, but think about what your grandmother might vote for. There are a lot of retired actors and techies out there who have a say in what wins.

The second rule has been inaugurated this year. It’s the Steely Dan Rule. What do the ‘70s jazz-funk duo have to do with the Academy Awards? You might remember in 2001, their disc Two Against Nature beat out stiff competition from Radiohead’s Kid A. The reason commonly given was that the producers, engineers and other tech-heads who made up the Recording Academy wanted to recognize the painstaking approach Fagen and Becker took in the studio. Two Against Nature didn’t win because it was filled with great tunes like “Do It Again.” It won because, to a group of voters who use their ears for a living, it sounded great.

It’s this latter rule which makes me think that James Cameron is going to have a good night. Avatar is pretty much a turkey as far as movies go and a staggering display of kitsch. There’s no denying, however, that legions of effects people have spent a lot of time making it look good. That effort will, Squally thinks, be honored by the Academy. Cameron also gets the credit for marshalling that effort. Say what you want about Avatar. Like Titanic it took a guy with a genuine Napoleon complex to put it on screen. The Hurt Locker may be the better movie, but it’s still a more modest achievement—especially in terms of box office. At least Kathryn Bigelow gets a chance to work again, which nobody was expecting after The Weight of Water Avatar’s victory, though, is somewhat bittersweet. That the movie should be honored with a best picture nod when wiser heads understood that its acting and script were somewhere around the level of that Tucker Max flick is a pop culture crime of the highest order.

So now onto the rest …

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Oscar Nominations: The Long List

February 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a learning experience. Apparently when Anne Hathaway reads out the Oscar nominations, she doesn’t have to sully herself with announcing the titles in the Best Animated Short pack.

The only real surprises here are a mixed bag for the Best Supporting Actor role (Did The Lovely Bones ever get released?), which Christoph Waltz is now a dead-cert to nab. Then there’s the Best Actor nomination for Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner (well-deserved) and In the Loop getting a Best Adapted Screenplay nod. The Yanks really liked that movie.

Here were the nominations read out at this morning’s press shindig. The list will be updated shortly.

UPDATE: The complete list of Oscar nominations is as follows. Predictions and commentary will take a little bit longer.

BEST PICTURE

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

BEST DIRECTOR

James Cameron (Avatar)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

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New Directors, New Films, Old Themes

March 25, 2009

ndnf-2009A few months ago, NPR ran a rather gratuitous item of how reviewer/jester Mike D’Angelo was raising money through his blog so he could go to Cannes. Why he couldn’t just stay at home and wait for the good movies to come to the United States like the rest of us was beyond this blogger, but we came to understand his dilemma on finding that there’s a Hollis Frampton retrospective on at the Anthology Film Archives this weekend. Anybody want to lend a broke blogger $9 to see Zorns Lemma? Thought not.

All of which is a way of saying that reader, we are poor. Hence, reader, we will not be attending the New Directors/New Filmsseries running at the New York’s MOMA and Walter Reade Theatre until April 5. Much to our shame, we didn’t even realize the festival was on. Fortunately, other writers are paid to pay attention. What follows is a summary of what to see if you’re seeing ND/NF 2009.

In the Village Voice, Nick Pinkerton looks at the 39th edition of the fest and decides yep, it’s old. And that you never know what you’re gonna get. But you can get a good idea via the paper’s useful interviews with film directors Ondi Timoner (We Live in Public), Esther Rots (Can Go Through Skin), So Yong Kim (Treeless Mountain), Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls), and Louie Psihoyos (The Cove).

Other writers take a more structural approach. In the New York Times, Stephen Holden wants him some of that A.O. Scott/Richard Brody bloodbath, boldly affirming what he calls “social realism” as “humanistic art with an educational frisson.” That’s the keynote of this year’s fest, with something of an “internationalist tone.” Indiewire’s Howard Feinstein identifies “home” as a key theme, although the way he expresses don’t half make the head hurt:

Be it a villa or shanty, a dwelling is a sacrosanct extension of our bodies, our psyches, our values, our souls, humankind projected into architectural form.

Grab some aspirin, and take a survey of what to expect (and with trailers) after the jump.
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The Slate: Indian Summer’s Eclipse is Expendable

March 12, 2009

eclipse1

  • Eclipse finally has a director. After Drew Barrymore flirted with taking on the Stephenie Meyer novel, it’s going to be Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) who will be sitting in the director’s chair and making sure it’s strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. The film needs to be ready for June 30, 2010, so where this leaves Bayona’s Hater is a question best left to somebody who actually follows this stuff for a living. (Variety)
  • The great news is that somebody is making a Dirty Dozen for the 2010s. The bad news is it’s Sylvester Stallone. Charisma Carpenter will join the cast of The Expendables as the token chick among Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Jason Statham and a few straight-to-video faces. The aging bad-asses will be dropped in an anonymous South American country to overthrow a dictator in meaty style. (TV Guide)
  • Atonement director Joe Wright is taking on Alex van Tunzelmann’s Raj book Indian Summerand putting a big, fat tracking shot right in the middle of it. The novel focuses on Lord Mountbatten’s handover of imperial power to Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, who happens to be shtupping Lady Mountbatten. Expect lots of linen, stiff upper lips, racism and heat … this beastly heat. (Variety)
  • Heathers, the high school comedy beloved of anybody who ever wore shoulder pads or did a bad Jack Nicholson impression, could be headed for Broadway sometime in 2010. The music is being written by Larry O’Keefe (Legally Blonde), the lyrics and book by Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness). Who will play Veronica? Kristen Bell was sighted taking part in early readings. (Hollywood Reporter)
  • Break out the tuna! The Cove, a Sundance-approved documentary that might also be titled Swimming With (and Slaughtering) Dolphins, has finally got a happy ending. The film has become something of a Cinematical pet project, and now the site happily reports that Roadside Attractions has picked this puppy up for a July 31 release, just as soon as they’re done filleting. (Cinematical)