SANTA MONICA, Ca. -- "The Artist," a nearly silent film, made most of the noise here Saturday at the Independent Sprit Awards, wining for best picture, best actor, best director and its cinematography. It was the latest in a series of good omens for the surprise hit, which seems headed for victory at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.
It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that this year's Academy Awards will amount to a shootout between "Hugo," with 11 nominations, and "The Artist," with 10. Fittingly, they are two movies inspired by love of movie history, the first about the inventor of the cinema, the second about the transition from silent films to talkies.
The 2011 Oscar race seems to be shaping up among the King of England, two nerds, and Rooster Cogburn. "The King's Speech," about George VI's struggle to overcome a stammer, led all nominations with 12. The nerds won eight nominations each for "The Social Network," the story of the founder of Facebook, and "Inception," about a man who hacks into other people's dreams. "The Fighter" followed with seven.
Edited by Marie Haws, Club SecretaryFrom Roger Ebert: Club members receive the complete weekly Newsletter. These are abridged and made public on the site three weeks later. To receive the new editions when they're published, annual dues are $5. Join here.From The Grand Poobah: Reader Steinbolt1 writes in: "Mark Mayerson has been putting together mosaics of all the scenes from specific Disney animated films, and is currently working through Dumbo. Each scene has the specific animator(s) who worked on the film listed above it. This is my favorite post on Dumbo, so far: Mayerson on Animation: Dumbo Part 5 "The only humans we've seen previously are in sequence 3. They are all white and wearing uniforms that clearly mark them as circus employees. When we get to this sequence, the only humans we see are black. As they are disembarking from a railroad car, we know that they are also employees, but they don't get uniforms. The roustabouts are the ones who do the heavy lifting, regardless of the weather. Why aren't the rest of the employees helping? I guess the work is beneath them. Let's not forget that the circus wintered in Florida, at the time a Jim Crow state." - Mark Mayerson; animator, writer, producer, director, Canadian.
From The Grand Poobah: Reader Steinbolt1 writes in: "Mark Mayerson has been putting together mosaics of all the scenes from specific Disney animated films, and is currently working through Dumbo. Each scene has the specific animator(s) who worked on the film listed above it. This is my favorite post on Dumbo, so far:
Mayserson on Animation: Dumbo Part 5"The only humans we've seen previously are in sequence 3. They are all white and wearing uniforms that clearly mark them as circus employees. When we get to this sequence, the only humans we see are black. As they are disembarking from a railroad car, we know that they are also employees, but they don't get uniforms. The roustabouts are the ones who do the heavy lifting, regardless of the weather. Why aren't the rest of the employees helping? I guess the work is beneath them. Let's not forget that the circus wintered in Florida, at the time a Jim Crow state." - Mark Mayerson; an animator, writer, producer, director and Canadian. :-)
This is the transcript of my conversation with Bill Clinton on December 18, 1999. There was a little chat before this where as we were being miked. Clinton talks about the AFI list of the top 100 movies and then switched to the HBO movie, "RKO 281," about the making of "Citizen Kane."
View image No comment.
How good, or bad, does a movie have to be in order to make an impression -- enough of one, anyway, so that you can remember it, or even still feel like talking about it, 15 minutes after you've seen it? Inspired by "The Hottie and the Nottie," Joe Queenan suggests criteria for The Worst Movies of All Time ("From hell") in The Guardian.
Among the movies he considers: "Futz!" (a 1969 satire, based on a hit LaMaMa Broadway production, about a man who marries a pig), Marco Ferreri's "La Grande Bouffe" (1973), John Huston's "A Walk With Love and Death," Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salo: 120 Days of Sodom," Roberto Benigni's "Life Is Beautiful" ("as morally repugnant -- precisely because of its apparent innocence -- as any film I can name"), Kevin Costner's "The Postman," Martin Brest's "Gigli" and Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate." Queenan writes: A generically appalling film like "The Hottie and the Nottie" is a scab that looks revolting while it is freshly coagulated; but once it festers, hardens and falls off the skin, it leaves no scar. By contrast, a truly bad movie, a bad movie for the ages, a bad movie made on an epic, lavish scale, is the cultural equivalent of leprosy: you can't stand looking at it, but at the same time you can't take your eyes off it. You are horrified by it, repelled by it, yet you are simultaneously mesmerised by its enticing hideousness....
View image Ernest Borgnine ("Marty"), Oscar-winner for Best Actor, 1955.
Edward Copeland announces the results of his third annual Oscar survey, this year devoted to the best and worst choices for Best Actor, 1927 - 2006. Survey participants chose Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks and Jeremy Irons among the best best actors, but guess for which films? Worst best actors included Dustin Hoffman, Russell Crowe, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
My own choices are below, after the jump...
No they didn't. Did they?
Oh, those ignorant Brits! The Guardian recently published the results of its public poll for the "40 Greatest Foreign [sic] Films of All Time." Of course, we love these silly consensus games because they offer such a terrific opportunity to express outrage. Like this fellow, who denounces his limey countrymen (and -women) for their cretinous taste in a letter to the editor: Your list of the top 40 greatest foreign films, voted for by readers (Films and music, May 11), serves only to expose the paucity of foreign-language films in the UK, together with a chronic loss of knowledge or appreciation of cinema history. What we get is a hotchpotch of well-worn classics and recent international hits of dubious merit. Your film writers chide the voters too gently. There is only one silent film ("Battleship Potemkin"): no "Napoleon," "Metropolis," "Passion of Joan of Arc" or "The Last Laugh. " Only one other title from before 1945 (Renoir's "Régle du Jeu)"; and no room for Dreyer, Lang, Murnau, Gance, Vertov, Mizoguchi, Rossellini, Antonioni or Visconti (where is "The Leopard"?). Then to find Roberto Benigni's inane and offensive "Life is Beautiful" included is the final insult.Clyde Jeavons LondonYikes! Those Brits should be barred from the cinema! Why, if USA Today were to conduct such a poll, the results would be... probably very similar. (But how do you tell what language the actors are speaking in a silent film when the intertitles have been swapped out? Best Films Not Lip-Read in English?) I have a better idea. Let's do a poll of the 40 best films of all time that were not made in any of the Romance Languages. Or how about the best films of all time in which nobody speaks Welsh. That ought to be comparably enlightening...
"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" is a uniter, not a divider. Critics, at least, are strongly united in liking Borat very much (with RottenTomatoes.com ratings in the 90s the week of its release). But those few dissenters who've hated it have hated, hated, HATED it. But do they understand it? Who is the butt of Borat's humor? Is he just a contemptible bigot? A naive ignoramus? A Kazakh Roberto Benigni with a fat moustache? If he's offensive (in a scatological, un-PC, "South Park"-ish way), what exactly is the nature of his offense? Does he undermine stereotypes or just exploit them? Does he offend everyone equally, or is he more discerning about choosing his targets and how he approaches and portrays them? Is he anti-American? Anti-Kazakhstan? Anti-Semitic? Anti-bigotry? Does he get enough potassium? Or does he cramp your style?
WASHINGTON, D.C. He was an only child until he was 10, and both his parents worked. But you could go to the movies for a dime, he remembers, and he went to a lot of them. "I saw every movie that came my way when I was a child," President Clinton said, "and they fired my imagination - they inspired me. I think it's interesting that I'm 53 years old, and my favorite movie is 'High Noon,' a movie I saw when I was 6."
CANNES, France -- By the time I walked into my hotel after the Cannes Film Festival award ceremony Sunday night, the verdict was already in. Scandale! cried the desk clerks in unison, summarizing the television coverage. Cannes was reeling after a list of winners so unexpected and generally unpopular that the TV commentators were rolling their eyes. The instant verdict was that jury president David Cronenberg, the unorthodox Canadian director, had led his jury into the hinterlands of cinema and camped there.
Q. Seems like the revisionism is already setting in over Roberto Benigni. He delighted everyone on Oscar night, but now Richard Roeper asks in the Sun-Times, "How can he toss around words like 'firmament' and 'tranquillity' and turn such clever phrases as 'oceans of generosity' if he has such a limited grasp of the language?" Roeper also suggests that Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" isn't exactly original. He writes, "I kept thinking, Jerry Lewis is a damn genius. For it was Lewis who explored similar turf nearly 30 years ago in the most notorious unreleased film in history: 'The Day the Clown Cried.' In 1972, Lewis directed himself in the role of Helmut Dork, an emaciated, 77-year-old clown at Aushwitz who entertained children with his wacky antics in an effort to keep them distracted from their ultimate fate." Your reaction? (Charlie Smith, Chicago)
Q. I recently saw Roberto Benigni's terrific "Life is Beautiful," and wonder about a possible oversight. What ever came of the last riddle Dr. Lessing presented to Guido at the dinner party--the one he thought represented a duck? I kept waiting for the answer and it never came. (Matt Ramm, Birmingham, AL)
CANNES, France -- Can there be a Cannes Film Festival without a winner? Is the jury obligated to award the Palme d'Or? Could they send a message by refusing to award the top prize? These and other murmurings and mutterings are growing louder, and they add up to a depressing consensus: Going into the closing weekend, there is no film that seems great enough to deserve the Palme.