Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And the Hosts of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards Are:

In a surprising and refreshing decision from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, James Franco and Anne Hathaway have been confirmed as hosts of this years Oscar telecast.  They're both the youngest hosts on record, further proof behind the Best Picture Top Ten, that the show is courting young people.  Good choice; next they can stop nominating irrelevant old-foggy films-- that would be nice too.  I'm just joshing; that will never happen.

But both are engaging, talented performers who have proven themselves, comically and dramatically, and it's nice to shake things up, especially since the event gets stodgy ever now and then.  Franco, who in the past two years has thrown himself at everything-- Pineapple Express, Milk, Eat Pray Love, the oddball "General Hospital" appearances, and currently astounding in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours--  seems primed at the position to be the next great thing that's been hanging around him since Freaks and Geeks, and the James Dean biopic he made then years ago.  However, with that a problem poses: he's likely to be nominated this year for 127 Hours, a host and a nominee might prove a bit tacky; what is this the Emmys?

Hathaway likely won't have to worry about that, since her Love and Other Drugs flick is getting tarred and feathered by the critics, but like Franco has a warmth and general gamesmanship about her that might make her a perfectly amicable emcee.  Her short duet with Hugh Jackman at the 2009 telecast, I thought, was totally delightful.  The former Disney princess has emerged into a movie star, with the help of The Devil Wears Prada, Brokeback Mountain, and her glorious Oscar-nominated work in Rachel Getting Married.

I'm ready; it can't be more awkward than Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in last year's strangely timed, and just off ceremony.  Of course, we will wait until February 27th, until then I'll stand pleasantly curious and cautiously optimistic.

Gotham Award Winners

The winners of the Gotham Awards, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, are:

  • FEATURE: Winter's Bone
  • BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR: Kevin Asch, Holy Rollers
  • BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
  • ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE: The cast of Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone nabs the first award of the season, on it's way to I'm sure a slew of Independent Spirit Award nominations, and a possible Best Actress slot for it's leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence.  Debra Granik's wrenching film, which nabbed the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival is such a strong film, I hope it plays well to the finicky members of Academy, who might embrace the film if they than get over dark subject matter.  It's a finely calibrated art film, astutely and confidently made, and features a handful of terrific performances, notably Lawrence, John Hawkes, and Dale Dickey, who seriously should get some supporting actress honors, especially since that category looks mighty sparse this year!

Holy Rollers was a blink, and you miss it, specialty film from last spring, that also debuted at this Sundance Film Festival, centering around Hasidic drug runners.  It's the other 2010 film starred Jesse Eisenberg.  While the film had an overly programmed feel to it, it was still fairly made.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sight & Sound Ten Best of 2010

Seasons Greetings, and as the mad rush of the holidays are now upon us, so are the end of the year film sweepstakes, which will start with a seemingly never-ending, perhaps exhilarating, sometimes highly irritating bang next week with the announcement of the National Board of Review winners.  I love this time of year; I hate this time of year-- mostly however I obsess upon it, ever hopeful.

Sight and Sound, the highbrow British film magazine that's been around since 1932 named it top ten (or specifically twelve) of 2010.  It's a master list consisting of 85 credited film critics including Amy Taubin (Film Comment) and Kenneth Turan (The Los Angeles Times).

1) The Social Network (David Fincher)
2) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
3) Another Year (Mike Leigh)
4) Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
5) The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
6) Winter's Bone (Debra Granik)
(tie) I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
8) The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
(tie) Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
(tie) Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzman)
(tie) Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
(tie) A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)

  • A nice coup for The Social Network, which holds the notable distinction of being Sight & Sound's first American film to top the list in five years; the last American film to do so was Brokeback Mountain (2005.)  Asides from David Fincher's Facebook movie, the others on the list with prominent Oscar chances are Another Year and Winter's Bone 
  • Uncle Boonme (rated second on the list) is Thailand's submission for the Academy Awards this year; the film previously won the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival; is it wrong that I hope the film gets in just for the awkward sight of watching a famous guy or gal mangle the filmmaker's name.
Tilda Swinton
  • I hope I Am Love (a film I haven't written about, but hope to elaborate on soon) gets something, if not from the Academy, then from some cooler, less establishment film governing body-- the sumptuous look of the film, as well as Tilda Swinton's blistering performance (showcasing even more versatility from that strange, radiant, alien actress by fully being performed in Italian) are too grand to go unnoticed...of course I felt the same way about Swinton's last blistering turn, in last year's Julia, which got diddily-squat.
  • Also notably, the fourth tied film for eight place was A Prophet, nominated last year for the foreign-language Oscar, which interesting was the number one choice on Sight and Sound's poll last year; which raises the question that plagues numerous foreign language and independent films: exactly what year do they belong too?  A Prophet was eligible for Academy Awards last year, however it's American release was in 2010, thus it's repeat on the list.  My head hurts thinking about these matters...I wish it didn't bother me so...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The King's Speech

A truly terrible poster, no?
Filmed with tremendous respectability, refinement, and fussiness, The King's Speech, director Tom Hooper's endearing historical footnote, comes prettily packaged and awards baited, in a style that only the one and only Harvey Weinstein could fully get away with.  The film, fully in line, and indeed a throwback to the mid-90s regime of prime Oscar-bait films Weinstein's previous company, Miramax, often produced, there's a stateliness, as well as novelty to The King's Speech, a masterly pedigreed example of cinematic refinement.  There's really very little to hate in this very-British royalty porn\beating adversity biopic, there's quite a bit to like-- the finely clipped performances from actors who have been down this road before, the nicely textured filmmaking aesthetic from the director of HBO's bravura history lesson John Adams, the gently comedic rhythms from a nicely tailored screenplay (written by David Seidler), the unobtrusive, nicely calibrated musical score.  However, there's little to love; little to stand and cheer about, or get all hot and bothered about.  It's based on a true story, that of King George XI, and his unfortunate stammer, set in a pre-WWII England where his voice was needed most, and when the invention of radio changed the guard from a royalty to become more of a performer than a portrait.  It's true that history may sometimes be unsurprising, but historical films don't have to be staged that way.

Yet somehow, every beat of The King's Speech has a been-there-done-that quality, a connect the dots styling that, while pleasant and in many moments very enjoyable, feels a bit too old hat.  At first we meet "Bertie," the nickname to George VI (Colin Firth), an old-fashioned, disgruntled Duke with a horrible stammer.  His wife, the gently charming Elizabeth, future Queen Mum is played by Helena Bonham Carter, in a return to the land of royals and period productions after her sojourn the past few years of being loyalist to  Tim Burton's cartoons.  The impediment is devastating, one which has afflicted him since his earliest memory, and after a plethora of doctors and treatments, he's understandably disgruntled.  There's a nice comic scene early on, where a quack tells "Bertie" to smoke cigarettes to help the throat muscles and that jamming marbles in his mouth is an effective treatment.  As a sidenote, this may be the first film I've ever seen that taps into the anxiety-inducing fear of public speaking.

Hope comes in the form of a Australian speech therapist, named Lionel Logue (played with vigor by Geoffrey Rush, in a showy, unsubtle, but nicely focused turn of which will surprise no one familiar with his body of work.)  Logue's unorthodox techniques, and confessional, nearly psycho-analyzing style unnerves "Bertie." as a royal family member, and stuffy Brit.  Yet the challenge of accepting the ingratiating Aussie as equal, and surrendering to his comical ways starts to yield results, and a great friendship.  The easy-going, lighthearted charm of the chemistry between Firth and Rush is without question the highlight of the film, nicely balanced with Rush's ham is Firth's inherit integrity and reserve.  It's when the film goes outside their relationship that the spark in The King's Speech starts to falter a bit-- there's a nifty, perhaps even great minor movie in the idea of a stammering future king and kooky speech therapist; it's almost a weirdly effective turn on the buddy comedy formula.

Yet this being an awards contender of a film, there must be added heft, here being the imminent approach of WWII, and the procedural show of how King George became king-- due to the controversial advocacy of his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce), who chose love over the throne in the eyes of a twice-divorced American; a Church of England no-no.  The plotline, while essential, to the narrative feels especially the dullest, despite the always welcome participation of Guy Pearce.  What's left is a king without a voice, desperately in need to communicate with his countrymen, while stock of footage of Hitler, noted for his fine, authoritative speaking skills plays in the background.

There's simple subversion at work in The King's Speech, one point I sort of wish was expanded, the idea of royalty leading a country at the time when a mass communication was starting to take shape.  The idea of king, not only required to action, as call to duty, but to perform, and even in a way, entertain his nation.  It feels especially relevant in the viral age where public servants must play the part, more so than actually be competent at their jobs.  The idea therefore, was that the generation before King George XI, needed have worried about a speech impediment for public approval, just some candid good publicity and few gentle poses.  King George XI needs to play the part, speak it, and sell the idea of a war on his nation.  It's the one thread of the all-too tidy screenplay that feels contemporary.

Yet the films enters the final stretch in purely pleasurable but familiar strides.  Lessons are learned, friendships made, Carter wears pretty hats, all on route to the rote, but rousing conclusion.  At this point, it's really just the inevitable, grand, crowd-pleasing moment where "Bertie" becomes King George VI, addressing and calming the frightening nation, via radio broadcast.  The scene is stirring because Firth sells it with utmost precision, delicate, but with essential gravitas.  However, something still feels missing.  The spark is gone, and The King's Speech remains nothing more than a refined piece of work; what's missing is a palpable emotional current connecting the prim and proper with passionate consummation.  B

Saturday, November 20, 2010

14 Days Until Black Swan

Here's a nifty new one-sheet to my current cinematic obsession-- Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.  Love the awesome glamor shot of Natalie Portman, in full diva stance, while the creepy black feathers blow around her.  On a pure marketing level, including the teaser poster and the hot button trailer which, to my delight, set the YouTube nerds a-flutter, this film is top notch, and I detest blatant marketing plans, not matter how important they are.  Lately, however, what's been on my mind, aside from the great high the film gave my on round one (it lingers and haunts; on first viewing, I even had a few nightmares) is the crazy notion that this trippy, art house wonder might actually get the awards attention it deserves, or maybe not...

On first thought, the idea of a crazy, mind-bendy tale of a destructive ballet dancer on the verge of a nervous breakdown seems on odd fit with the respectable, middle of the road bait films that usually conquer Oscar.  Plus this one has some freaky lesbian sex, that even without nudity, might make even the most liberal, adventurous film-goer a bit uncomfortable.  Bloggers report the success of the certain screenings-- namely the AFI gala premiere last week that included all the important industry types and online awards buzz-keepers, yet I still feel hesitant to really proclaim something like this a sure thing with the Academy.  I have many reasons to worry-- first off, my favorites of the year generally miss the big prize; my taste being far from the middle of the road typically.  Secondly, and this one's a bit trickier-- it's easy to think of personal favorites of any given year, but to put to ones mind in the mindset of an Academy voter is a different thing altogether.  The Academy has a large contingent of older members, one's with often finicky tastes, one reason why so many might champion a royal period piece like this years The King's Speech, which fits nicely into the Academy wheelhouse-- respectable, critically applauded, non-offensive.  Not dissing the film, I haven't seen it yet, but likely no one's going to come out outraged, which may happen with Black Swan-- it's an intense, often very genre-oriented film, and again it has some freaky girl-on-girl sex.

Natalie Portman's bravura performance seems to be the easiest to recognize, for she's  a) very famous and attractive.  b) wonderful in the film, but more importantly, she dances and there's plenty of showy effort put into the film.  c) giving a demanding, quite deeply felt performance, one of which suggest a range and magnitude she's never quite delivered on screen before.  d) got the advantage of a great media hook.  e) very famous and attractive; bears repeating.

However director Darren Aronofsky may be seen as a sort of an outsider to certain parts of the Academy.  Perhaps because none of the films (even though they are master works in their own right) have ever being Academy-approved outside of it's actors, and there's more than a few caveats to those nominations:
  • Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream (2000)- it's a great performance, but more importantly what probably secured the nomination was that Burstyn is acting royalty, and that level of respect may have transcended the fact that Requiem, while amazing, is a ballsy, daring piece of filmmaking that otherwise the Academy likely wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole; note the film received no other nominations.
  • Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler (2008)- again great performance, but Rourke had the advantage of the great media hook of bad boy comeback story, which never was as reflective of Aronofsky's skill as a filmmaker, even though it should have.  Despite the massive critical reception of The Wrestler, and the fact that it's by far the most emotionally accessible of Aronofsky's work to date (including Black Swan), the film only received acting nominations.
  • Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler (2008)- yet again a wonderful performance, that Aronofsky is a great one with his actors, yet has never been formally acknowledged.  I have a feeling Tomei got in riding the waves of Mickey Rourke, and had the media hook of all her onscreen nudity.
In a perfect just filmmaking work, Black Swan should be able to coast through with a truckload of nominations, and it just might, but it require a far more adventurous spirit from the Academy than we're used to, and for that I worry.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Best Documentary Feature

2010 is a fine year for documentaries, and I've only seen a small handful this year.  The Academy has shortlisted 15 films in the running for a nomination:

Oscar snubbed
Cry foul as always-- this respectable assortment of bio-docs, liberals versus the system polemics, and slice of life dramas make an odd Oscar lineup.  There's not one, but two schools are in trouble films in the mix (the likely frontrunner, Waiting for 'Superman' as well as The Lottery), two inside Iraq stories (Restrepo and The Tillman Story), and even a "fun" movie in the mix (Exit Through the Gift Shop, the one I'm most excited about and least expected-- will Bansky show if it get nominated?)  Of course the question immediately turns to the films that got the snub-- notably the acclaimed Chinese film Last Train Home, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Werner Herzog's 3-D film Caves of Forgotten Dreams, the wonderful Casino Jack & the United States of Money (even though it's director, Alex Gibney, is still a hopeful for Client 9), and Catfish, which shows perhaps more people not quite buying the whole thing.  Shockingly, the Academy didn't shortlist the two well received Holocaust docs (their favorite fetish) An Unfinished Film and The Oath.

Oscar approved.
Financially the most lucrative is Waiting for 'Superman' which is sitting pretty at the box office at $5.9 million, which coupled with Paramount Pictures' endless marketing is presumably the one the beat.  Inside Job, for director Charles Ferguson (whose 2007 Iraq War film No End in Sight is a must see) has made $1.5 million so far in limited release.  Exit Through the Gift Shop and Restrepo, both spring releases earned $3.1 million and $1.3 million, respectively.  Meanwhile The Tillman Story is teetering near the $1.0 million mark, and has a push from The Weinstein Company, while Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and Waste Land just entered the fray in limited release.  Of the 15 shortlisted, I've seen but three-- Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Tillman Story and Waiting for 'Superman,' and so far I'd argue the Bansky meditation on art, and goofy, free associative prankster feel of the film is my favorite of the three, which likely means it's the most vulnerable-- the Academy likes their docs noble and oozing of self-seriousness.  Boo!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Best Animated Feature

Officially announced, there will be only three animated feature nominees at next years Academy Awards.  The ruling comes from a minimum of 16 eligible animated feature must open in Los Angeles during the calendar year in order for 5 nominees to be a possibility.  2010 boast 15 eligible animated films:

  • Alpha & Omega
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Despicable Me
  • The Dreams of Jinsha
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Idiots & Angels
  • The Illusionist
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
  • Megamind
  • My Dog Tulip
  • Shrek Forever After
  • Summer Wars
  • Tangled
  • Tinker Bell & the Great Fairy Rescue
  • Toy Story 3
Is it just me, or is 2010 not quite the wealth of riches that last years was?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

127 Hours

Like many, I would assume, my introduction to the work of director Danny Boyle was his 1996 international breakthrough, Trainspotting, the masterful Scottish film about heroin addicts.  What was so radiant about the film, aside from Boyle's formidable kinetic visual tricks, was the way we focused on the high itself, in all its grimy exhilaration; making what was a difficult movie tackling a difficult subject matter not only vital cinema, but dare we say it: fun.  Since then the inventive British fabulist has ventured in horror (2003's 28 Days Later), science fiction (2007's Sunshine) and sought Oscar approval (2008's Slumdog Millionaire) for the most part without losing sight of the edgy, nervy styling that made an art house champion.  His latest, 127 Hours, I believe comes closest to the transcendent, truly vital cinema that Trainspotting was.  Again, it focuses on a "high," this one not in the form of a substance, but in a lone ranger's exploration; the rush of an adrenaline junkies search for the unknown.  There's added emotional heft for this survival story, as it's based on a true one, that of Aron Ralston, who out in the Canyonlands Park in Utah in the spring of 2003, got his right hand stuck under a boulder, whose only freedom was the chip away as his arm with a dull knife.  The film was based on the memoir by Ralston, entitled Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

In the film, we meet Ralston (played by James Franco) as he's setting out for exploration, by his lonesome, which is felt was he prefers.  He's been there before, and has all the hiking, mountain climbing gear.  There's pretty shots of him mountain biking on the surface of the challenging terrain, all filmed to the hilt, with maximum dexterity by the gifted Anthony Dod Mantle (the Academy Award winning lenser of Slumdog Millionaire, as well as the austere, brilliantly filmed Dogville.)  Ralston is seen as an expert of the great outdoors, throwing caution to the wind-- he's a good ole boy looking for fun and adventure.  He meets two attractive hikers (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) as poses as their guide, showing them the beautiful, albeit dangerous side, that of which would never be endorsed by guidebooks.  The two girls make googly-eyes and pose invitations to meet Ralston again, but as quick as they meet, he's off in the search of something new; he could almost be a poster child for the ADD-generation.

Off exploring in caves, god-knows how many miles away from civilization, Ralston gets stuck.  A rock has pinned his right arm down, his legs dangling the air, and for the first time in Boyle's film, everything starts to slow down, if only for a minute.  We see the giant blob of blood on the side, and a giant close-up of Franco's face, as he nervously tries to relax and focus-- for the first time it just got real, and the high is coming down.  The rest of the film plays sort of like an art-house\grindhouse version of Cast Away, but it's the nervy and visceral way that Boyle makes the claustrophobia of Ralstom's survivalist story so unique, and like Trainspotting, kinda...fun.  Which sort of feels wrong to say, but there's an exhilaration at work in 127 Hours that feels missing from nearly any movie Hollywood has made this year, and even the midst of one man's struggle, and seeming death, the film has an unbelievable way of making not only the fear palpable, but give it such immense scope.

There's few teasing glimpses of relief for Ralston, the fifteen minutes of sunlight in the morning, the sighting of a raven every morning at 9:30, and his camcorder to provide a diary of his journey, or a last will and testament.  Yet the uncanny naturist does fights the entire time-- making a pulley for comfort, and ineffectual rescue, chipping away at the rock with his dull blade for hours on end; there's a sequence when he drops his knife, and the effort to pick it up with his shoe and a twig that would make MacGyver proud.  But the harsh reality is that no one will hear his screams, and his water supply is almost out, and this where 127 Hours becomes almost quietly profound, in the hallucinations of his family he never see again, to the girl he may have wrongly dumped.  Boyle manages to get away with this because he never goes soft on Ralston-- each flashback and such is brought right back to the boulder he's trapped under.  The film wouldn't work nearly as successfully without the efforts of Franco, whose shape-shifting "meta" career is brought to new heights with a performance that's not just achingly physical, but beautifully poignant.  There's a moment when Franco recalls his past love, or sexual experience, and aches at the thought of possibly never feeling that again...he hesitates at the thought of masturbating one last time, and fights it...it may sound silly, but it's one of the most authentic and utterly humane moments in the film.

Much, it seems at least online, has been surrounded around the graphic nature of the 127 Hours, that of which prompted a few festival patrons to feint.  On this I'll just say that while I wholeheartedly embrace the film, it isn't for the feint of heart-- as exhilarating and validating as I think the film is, it is none the less raw and bloody.  Boyle doesn't shy away from the saving grace towards the end.  I, personally desensitized likely from the crappy gorefests viewed at a young age, handled it, I suppose, as best as one can, but I noticed a lot of fidgeting and uncomfortable viewers in the crowded movie theater with me.  It's nowhere near the gross torture-porn crap like the Hostels or Saws, but it feels more real.  I suppose enter at your own risk, but the risk is worth it, I'd say.  A-

Saturday, November 6, 2010

European Film Awards Nominations

The Ghost Writer
Of Gods & Men
The Secret in Their Eyes
Soul Kitchen

I'm guessing most are familiar with Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, which topped all nominees with the European Film community, and I suppose stands a chance at some longshot Oscar nods.  Honey (Bal) won the top prize at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, and Lebanon (which got a teeny tiny U.S. release earlier this year) won last year's top prize at the Venice Film Festival.  The Secret in Their Eyes famously won this year's foreign film Oscar, so this is it's awards curtain call.  Look out for Of Gods & Men, however which is France's official selection for the foreign language Oscar.  Soul Kitchen is the latest film from the acclaimed director of Head-On, Fatih Akin.

Olivier Assayas, Carlos
Paolo Virzi, The First Beautiful Thing
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Semih Kaplanoglu, Honey
Samuel Maoz, Lebanon

Assayas, the French provocateur of the acclaimed Irma Vep and demonlover, received director honors for the 5-hour Carlos, biography of Carlos the Jackal, the Venezuelan terrorist.  The acclaimed film opened recently in the U.S., but will not be eligible for Oscar consideration, since it premiered on the Sundance Channel.

Jakob Cedergren, Submarino
Elio Germano, Our Life
Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer
George Pistereanu, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle
Luis Tosan, Cell 211

Zrinka Cvitesic, On the Path
Sibel Kekilli, When We Leave
Lesley Manville, Another Year  ------->
Sylvie Testud, Lourdes
Lotte Verbeek, Nothing Personal

Manville, an Oscar contender for Mike Leigh's Another Year is causing quite the category confusion already...the BIFA awarded her a supporting actress nomination, whereas her she's lead.  Of course the European Film Awards don't have supporting acting categories, so perhaps a moo point.

Jorge Guerricaechevarria & Daniel Monzon, Cell 211
Radu Milhaileanu, The Concert
Robert Harris & Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Samuel Maoz, Lebanon

The Illusionist
Planet 51
Sammy's Adventures: The Secret Passage

Nostalgia for the Light
Steam of Life

Bans Ozbicer, Honey
Pavel Kostomarov, How I Ended This Summer
Giora Bejach, Lebanon
Caroline Champetier, Of Gods & Men

Luc Barnier & Marion Monnier, Carlos
Herve de Luze, The Ghost Writer
Arik Lahav-Leibovich, Lebanon

Albrecht Konrad, The Ghost Writer
Paola Bizzarri & Luis Ramirez, I, Don Guiovanni
Markku Patila & Jaagup Roomet, The Temptation of St. Tony

Gary Yershon, Another Year
Alexandre Desplat, The Ghost Writer
Ales Brezina, Kawasaki's Rose
Pasquale Catalano, Loose Cannons

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Tree of Life

From the Desk of Terrence Malick….
We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, JACK, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.

From this story is that of adult Jack, a lost soul in a modern world, seeking to discover amid the changing scenes of time that which does not change: the eternal scheme of which we are a part. When he sees all that has gone into our world’s preparation, each thing appears a miracle—precious, incomparable. Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life.
The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love.

Stop the teasing...I really cannot accept this anymore.  I've been waiting, very patiently for Mr. Malick, ye of intense artistry and such slow to action, to fill my movie-going passion that he delivers.  The Tree of Life is teasing with it's first press material, only a year after it's first supposed release date.  Unfortunately, the movie will take a bit longer to see the inside of a movie theater, thanks of Malick's notoriously "taking his time" approach, and dastardly behind the scenes business crap-- Fox Searchlight Pictures has come to the rescue with plans for a May 2011 release.  This marks Malick's fifth feature film in a 35 year career.  Funnily enough, Malick is already prepping his sixth film, very much out of character...possibly the Clint Eastwood ascetic is kicking in.

Monday, November 1, 2010

British Independent Film Awards Nominations

Four Lions

The King's Speech
Never Let Me Go

Gareth Edward, Monsters
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Mark Romanek, Never Let Me Go
Matthew Vaughn, Kick-Ass


Clio Barnard, The Arbor 

Gareth Edwards, Monsters
Rowan Joffe, Brighton Rock
Chris Morris, Four Lions
Debs Gardner Paterson, Africa United

Riz Ahmed, Four Lions
Jim Broadbent, Another Year
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Adam Gillen, Treacle Junior
Scoot McNairy, Monsters

Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
Carey Mulligan, Never Let Me Go
Andrea Riseborouh, Brighton Rock
Ruth Sheen, Another Year
Manjinder Virk, The Arbor

Andrew Garland, Never Let Me Go
Bob Hoskins, Made in Dagenham
Kayvan Novak, Four Lions
Guy Pearce, The King's Speech
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Tamsin Greig, Tamara Drewe
Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Rosamund Pike, Made in Dagenham

Joanne Froggatt, In Our Name
Tom Hughes, Cemetary Junction
Conor McCarron, Neds
Andrea Riseborough, Brighton Rock
Manjinder Virk, The Arbor

Four Lions- Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell, Christopher Morris
Kick-Ass- Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
The King's Speech- David Seidler
Made in Dagenham- William Ivory
Never Let Me Go- Alex Garland

The Arbor
In Our Name
Streetdance 3D

The Arbor- Tim Barker (sound)
Brighton Rock- John Mathieson (cinematography)
The Illusionist- Sylvain Chomet (animation)
The King's Speech- Eve Stewart (production design)
Monsters- Gareth Edwards (visual effects)

One quibble, why does this awards body choose to put all the "tech" categories into one-- how does a films sound, cinematography, art direction or effects compare to each other, and "animation" is ghettoized further here, why?

The Arbor
Enemies of the People
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Fire in Babylon
Waste Land

I Am Love
A Prophet
The Secret in Their Eyes
Winter's Bone

The British Independents have announced their nominees for the best of 2010-- show of hands, how many have heard of any of these films?

A few of the bigger contenders have arrived already, noteworthy for Never Let Me Go, which has already "supposedly" crashed and burned critically and commercially in the U.S.  The small, incredibly austere Kick-Ass somehow managed top nominations, despite it's shortcomings (I'm not the only one to see them?)

The rest, including The King's Speech, Another Year, and Made in Dagenham will open in limited release in the next two months, on their way to expected Oscar nominations.  I figure, despite no evidence for anything, this will be an easy victory for The King's Speech, which leads all nominees.  One noteworthy thing specific to the BIFA is the first classification of Lesley Manville (Another Year), here nominated for supporting actress; much debate has already been mentioned whether or not the Oscars will view her as lead or supporting-- the consensus shows she'll get in either way at this point from the accolades all the way back to this years Cannes Film Festival.
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