A special edition of Thumbnails spotlighting coverage of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Rosanna Arquette’s 2002 documentary “Searching for Debra Winger” is so much more salient now in light of the recent reckoning, if a little more difficult to watch.
Marie writes: The West Coast is currently experiencing a heat wave and I have no air conditioning. That said, and despite it currently being 80F inside my apartment, at least the humidity is low. Although not so low, that I don't have a fan on my desk and big glass of ice tea at the ready. My apartment thankfully faces East and thus enjoys the shade after the sun has crossed the mid-point overhead. And albeit perverse in its irony, it's because it has been so hot lately that I've been in the mood to watch the following film again and which I highly recommend to anyone with taste and a discerning eye.
Marie writes: It's no secret there's no love lost between myself and what I regard as London's newest blight; The Shard. That said, I also love a great view. Go here to visit a 360-degree augmented-reality panorama from the building's public observation deck while listening to the sounds of city, including wind, traffic, birds and even Big Ben.
Marie writes: The late John Alton is widely regarded as being one of greatest film noir cinematographers to have ever worked in Film. He perfected many of the stylized camera and lighting techniques of the genre, including radical camera angles, wide-angle lenses, deep focus compositions, the baroque use of low-level cameras and a sharp depth of field. His groundbreaking work with director Anthony Mann on films such "TMen" and "Raw Deal" and "He Walked by Night" is considered a benchmark in the genre, with "The Big Combo" directed by Joseph H. Lewis, considered his masterpiece. John Alton also gained fame as the author of the seminal work on cinematography: "Painting with Light".
The Big Combo (1955) [click to enlarge]
Marie writes: For those unaware, it seems our intrepid leader, the Grand Poobah, has been struck by some dirty rotten luck..."This will be boring. I'll make it short. I have a slight and nearly invisible hairline fracture involving my left femur. I didn't fall. I didn't break it. It just sort of...happened to itself." - Roger
(Click to enlarge)
Marie writes: The countdown to Christmas officially begins the day after Halloween, which this year lands on a Wednesday. Come Thursday morning, the shelves will be bare of witches, goblins and ghosts; with snowmen, scented candles and dollar store angel figurines taking their place. That being the case, I thought it better to start celebrating early so we can milk the joy of Halloween for a whole week as opposed to biding adieu to the Great Pumpkin so soon after meeting up again...
The Academy Award winners for the past thirty years have followed consistent molds, primarily in the categories of Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture. It is a very simple set of templates that I will explain with excessive evidence. This is not to say that the Academy Awards are a conspiracy run by some secret society, although that idea would be quite fun. Rather, at the very least, there is a subtext to American culture that plays out in the ideas and ideals in American cinema, and it plays out consistently. At the very least, I'm illustrating some unwritten ideals in American culture. Whether or not they are healthy or corrupt, they are there in us. So, "Best Picture" is not a great movie; rather, it is a great movie that fulfills the mold.
The bottom line: Casey Affleck thinks of it as a performance and not as an act, and he thinks of "I'm Still Here" as a film, and not a hoax. In an interview where he revealed details behind the making of his controversial film with and about Joaquin Phoenix, he also said:
• David Letterman was not in on the performance, and what you saw on his show was really happening.
• Phoenix dropped out of character when he was not being filmed or in public.
• The drugs and the hookers were staged. The vomiting was real.
I've always thought Tony Stark looked a bit like a porn star. It wasn't just the pencil moustache, though that certainly helped. It was his aura, his veneer of venal virtue, his lascivious lothario lifestyle. Plus he was a right-wing arms merchant with a dodgy heart and a drinking problem, who spent half his time in a robot suit serving shoe-pie to people in full anonymity. Even in the Marvel Universe, where other superheroes were only occasionally allowed to venture into shades of grey, Tony Stark stood out as a genuinely troubled character.
When I caught up with "Iron Man," a broken hip had delayed me and the movie had already been playing for three weeks. What I heard during that time was that a lot of people loved it, that they were surprised to love it so much, and that Robert Downey Jr.'s performance was special. Apart from that, all I knew was that the movie was about a big iron man. I didn't even know that a human occupied it, and halfway thought that the Downey character's brain had been transplanted into a robot, or a fate equally weird.
Water Music From Big Pink: Gwyneth's Oscar meltdown.
From my handy guide on how to avoid making yourself a laughingstock during your Oscar speech, at MSN Movies:
The main thing to remember when you win your Oscar (and you know you will win your Oscar one day -- admit it, you've even practiced your acceptance speech) is that you are immediately faced with 45 seconds during which you can either display grace under pressure or make a complete ass of yourself.
Contrary to Academy legend, Sally Field did not do the latter when she gave the most parodied and ridiculed acceptance speech in Oscar history in 1985. "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect," she said. "The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"
Now, that last part, which came out a bit squeaky, wasn't as bad as many later made it out to be. It wasn't, after all, "You like me! You really like me!" My theory is that the repetitive phrase was memorized in advance (it sounds a bit canned) and that she simply oversold it in the excitement of the moment. Instead of making it sound more spontaneous, her delivery underscored (genuine though the sentiment might be) that this was, in fact, another performance, which felt kind of embarrassing to watch. And audiences can really resent it if you embarrass them, to the point where they respond defensively with scathing sarcasm and mockery.
Don't let this happen to you. Here's some advice for giving your Oscar speech, when the time comes.
1. Get a Grip Why is it that the only people who really appear to lose control when they accept their statuette are the actors? Why don't the art directors and sound editors sputter and wail as if they'd just been spared from lethal injection? If anything, you'd think the actors would be better able to control their emotions than most people.
And you'd be right. You see, actors dig emotional meltdowns, on screen and off. They do it on purpose. It's almost a form of noblesse oblige -- a generous Acting Gratuity (more than 20 percent), if you will: "I will now treat you to an extraordinary demonstration of how deeply I am moved!" And, at the same time, it's a form of grandiose self-inflation and self-abasement: "I scrape and bow to acknowledge how much YOU have honored ME!"
Of course, Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress, "Shakespeare in Love," 1998) just stood there and squeaked like a broken drip-irrigation node, but at least she had the decency to be horrified and humiliated about it later, claiming she'd put her Oscar at the back of a bookcase because it brought back painful memories of her big, pink weep-down.
One of the most divisive Oscar speeches of recent years (some were moved, some were appalled) was the tornado of tears Halle Berry whipped up around herself when she won Best Actress for "Monster's Ball" in 2001. Berry's Interminable Moment-of-Special-Pleading was a gale-force ego storm that threatened to suck up the entire universe. It was like the Big Bang in reverse: "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I'm sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me," blubbered Berry, trying desperately to make the moment big enough for her.
The Halle Berry Best Actress of the Future: "And the Oscar goes to... Nonameo Whatsherface!"
"This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll," she continued, in a name-dropping paroxysm that cried out, instead, for Lloyd Bentsen. "It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened." Yes, because now all nameless, faceless women of color have a much better chance of becoming Best Actress Oscar winners, just like their universal idol, Halle Berry! The odds have suddenly improved from roughly 3,000,000,000:1 to maybe as close as 2,999,999,999:1. Good news for nameless, faceless women of color everywhere!
"Thank you. I'm so honored. I'm so honored," Berry further honored herself. "And I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which His blessing might flow." Which brings us to our next piece of advice ...
Full story at MSN Movies.
TORONTO – At the halfway point of the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, one thing is clear: This is the best autumn movie season in memory. One film after another has been astonishingly good. Critics gathered in the hallways after the Varsity press screenings, talking in hushed tones as if witnesses to a miracle.