Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spot the difference with Ondine.

There must be something in the Irish water. The Secret of Roan Inish back in 1994...
And, now, Ondine.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lady Justice wept today.

Things aren't looking up for my favourite actor of the noughties. Nicole Kidman has prepared yet another two nails into the coffin that was once a spectacular career. Her agents really must be in a panic as she is attempting to emulate Tom Cruise's successful cameo in Tropic Thunder with Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Cruise enjoyed a (brief) resurgence of popularity thanks to his stint but he had Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black. Sandler and Aniston are as poisonous as Kidman when it comes to filmmaking of late and the combination is unlikely to be fruitful. This, however, is nothing in comparison to the continuing deterioration of her 'pet project', The Danish Girl.

While I can adore the prestigious directing style of Lasse Hallstrom (I'm looking at you Chocolat), I cannot see how this will compliment the unconventional tale of the first post-operative transexual. I'm imagining a conventional (wo)man-overcoming-adversity tale with Oscar signifiers galore. Bad! Kidman should just leave that sinking ship...even Charlize Theron, equally unlucky in her choice of roles post-Oscar, had the brains to jump!

Someone shake Kidman now! She must be as bored as we are with her career.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

7 days until...

Despite the lack of competition amongst the nominees, I am excited to see it. Adam Shankman, the man behind this year's show, better have some tricks up his sleeves after dismissing the Original Song performances and continuing last year's trend of inviting teen stars to present awards. I do hope that one of his (many?) tricks is the return of last year's acting presentations, with past winners celebrating each of the five nominees individually before announcing the winner.

How good would it be to have Julia Roberts for Sandra Bullock? Olivia de Havilland for Meryl Streep? Julie Andrews for Carey Mulligan? Kathy Bates for Gabourey Sidibe? Kate Winslet for Helen Mirren? That would be wonderful. I suspect that this style of presentation won't feature this year, but perhaps there is a way to top it? We will see. In 7 days. Hoorah!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My facial expression as I watch Up.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Witnail and I's kitchen x4.

If it was up to certain people this is how my kitchen would look like. Help!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wo-wo-wo-WOW!

Barbara Windsor voices the Dormouse in Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland. How did this piece of information only reach me now?!?

Update: Windsor was chosen by Burton for the role. Apparently he loves her - as I do - in EastEnders and the Carry On films. Hear it for yourself! Hoorah!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Confessions of a KST-aholic. And a quick tickle of Blue Moon.

Blue Moon. A film I would probably never have seen if it was not for Kristin Scott Thomas (the obsession has been reignited), and is definitely not one of her greatest films. It should, however, be recognised as one of the few films to make me feel sea sick for its realistic presentation of life on a boat (James Cameron thankfully didn't perfect this in Titanic!). A cross between Eyes Wide Shut (good) and Speed 2 (bad), this relegates Scott Thomas to the role of obedient wife who lets loose when her husband (Hugh Grant) attempts to stray. It is unfortunate that we, like Scott Thomas, are only enjoying ourselves when she is given this freedom for fun. This is the moment when the film decides not to take itself too seriously and - finally! - allows the audience to laugh at its meek protagonist. Deciding he wants to bed the femme fatale (Emmanuelle Seigner), Grant comforts her that his wife is tucked up in bed. Her response? "She's looking right at us". Cue a glamorous Scott Thomas who finishes what Grant started and beds Seigner. A mixture of revenge and celebration infuse her step towards independence that is cut short short with the murder of Seigner, leaving Scott Thomas and Grant embracing lovingly as their destination looms in the background.

The film is nearly as tragic as its finale. The 'exploration' of sexuality and commitment would be intriguing if it were not the overly camp nature of the depiction of fetishised sex present here. It too often veers on parody and is embarrassing for all the wrong reasons. The luring of Grant, and explanation of Seigner, could easily exist without such farcical representations of sex. According to the special features, Jack Nicholson was on set to grin along as the actors performed their self-consciously 'scandalous' scenes. And I'm sure many a cad would find themselves grinning along with the film, but that may be the limit of its appeal now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A tale of woe.

It seems written that I will never watch the "down and dirty" Romance & Cigarettes. Three copies = three mishaps. The first DVD - a second-hand purchase - could not play past the first ten minutes. The second DVD - a first-hand purchase in Italy - disappeared during my journey home. The third DVD - from my local library - played perfectly until the 60 minute mark and then continued to freeze, skip and frustrate. And before you ask, I did clean the discs!

Is this coincidence? Should I take it as a hint and avoid the film? Or is it all my fault?!? I like to think it is a tale of film being able to tease, in fitting with Kate Winslet's seductress. That performance alone will ensure that I will find a pristine copy so I can watch the film in its entirety! I do hope it is worth it...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tickling The White Ribbon.

Let us rewind back to the debut of The White Ribbon...I had just fallen in love with its director, Michael Haneke, who was the most celebrated auteur of 2009 and this, The White Ribbon, was his best film and "the film of the decade". How could I refuse? Simple, I didn't want such hype to clout my reaction to the film. Now that Kathryn Bigelow and A Prophet have become the auteur and foreign-language film, respectively, of 2010 thus far, I felt it was time to visit this world of Haneke. And I loved it.

Each sequence is embedded with such rich detail, both narratively and visually, that you cannot help but become immersed in this tender character study. It also becomes incredibly more fascinating when viewed within the context of Haneke as a filmmaker and the trilogy of Heimat films. I may not rank it the greatest film of any decade but that is not to say this isn't a wonderful piece of cinema. I found the character of Gustav (Thibault Serie), above, particularly mesmerizing. His (comparable) innocence radiates as a rare source of optimism, of human kindness; if the adult characters were to follow his example we would be watching a very different film. I'm imagining something in the vein of Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Angela would know how to show that boy a good time!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

10 thoughts on...the BAFTAs 2010.

  1. The British have been crowned. Hoorah for Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan. They are incredibly adorable! "Don't ever press send until you've had your fridge repaired". Wise words from Firth. Words that Mulligan wants. Hoorah!
  2. Vanessa Redgrave is such a wonderful person. How genuine her happiness was at receiving the Fellowship. She even made my eyes water.
  3. Pete Docter's speech for Up's win for Animated Film was very cute. I wish my (eventual?) husband would dedicate such a film to me.
  4. Prince William looked bemused the whole time. Could he be regretting his role as president of the BAFTAs already?
  5. Speaking of which...Dustin Hoffman was the most glum member of the audience ever. He wasn't even moved by Vanessa. Grr!
  6. Democracy is overrated. After losing to Sandra Bullock at the Globes and SAG awards, Carey Mulligan now had to lose to Kristen Stewart in the publicly voted Rising Star Award. Boo!
  7. Pairing the theme music to Cinema Paradiso with the montage of the deceased seems incredibly wrong.
  8. Michael Giacchino with Up wins for Music. Come on Oscar!
  9. I love Kristin Scott Thomas. She looked wonderful...if only she had taken Mo'Nique down for Supporting Actress and had the opportunity to strut her stuff on stage!
  10. Jonathan Ross was, as ever, a delightful host. I particularly liked his joke about The Hangover, tigers and Tiger Woods.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Confessions of a KST-aholic.

Last awards season I had Kristin Scott Thomas on the brain (and on the blog). Constantly. Now with my home town of Dublin celebrating this terrific woman with a retrospective, as part of the the Jameson Film Festival, and my new town honoring her with a BAFTA nomination this evening, I felt the need to (finally!) witness her celebrated role in Nowhere Boy.

The film itself is a joy, a terrific debut from Sam-Taylor Wood that somehow manages to feel distinctly fresh despite the restraints of its biopic/coming-of-age tale. She is blessed with a wonderful cast yet, if you had asked me after 30 minutes, I would probably have exempt Scott Thomas. For anyone who has witnessed her misjudged performance in Easy Virtue, you will understand. All stiff upper lip (with half-arsed one-liners) without any empathetic qualities. Scott Thomas can do this in her sleep but I so wish she wouldn't. Perhaps this is down to my own admiration love for this woman who is capable of much more. Regardless, Scott Thomas negotiates this trait through a series of uncompromising scenarios that see her retain her stoic the nature while managing the difficult task of embracing the audience. Her expression of disappointment and joy, as the effort put into a birthday surprise is realised many hours too late, is as beautifully rendered as any performance I have seen. The subsequent moment of revelation - so easily overcooked - is maneuvered through Scott Thomas's restrained outburst where her sparse actions affect the audience more than any expected screaming could. It is one word of the most heart-wrenching performances I have seen.

Also, on a personal note, I was amused that her tenant shared the same name as myself, leading me to ponder my life with Scott Thomas. Just another confession of a KST-aholic!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Between the lines.

The New York Times asked Hollywood's current elite to name their favourite performances of the past decade. This is the result. This is my reaction...

Sandra Bullock: Kate Winslet in The Reader.

While it is very true that Bullock has ties to Germany, there is more than a whiff of coincidence in her choice for noughtie performance. Winslet, like Bullock, not only usurped her Oscar competitors for Best Actress but secured, like Bullock, a Best Picture nomination for her film. Could it be that Bullock admires this power of the 'actress' as well as her stated interest? (Answer: yes).

Jeff Bridges: Mike White in Chuck & Buck.

Bridges is beginning to grate on me. Yes he is a wonderful performer and a charismatic man, but the overload of his impermeable casual attitude is too much! He is The Dude. His choice reads like an 'impromptu' decision that (sarcasm alert!) somehow manages to be as left field and fun as you would expect. Has The Dude left Bridges with any of his former self?!

Julianne Moore: Sean Penn in Mystic River

This was surprising (and disappointing, I wanted her to fulfill my wildest dream and cite Tilda Swinton in Julia) yet Moore points at "loss" as the strength of this performance...and that is something Moore's characters seem to all endure in one way or another. I want to see her take on Penn's role...NOW!

"I think about Sean Penn....in Mystic River..." - deep!

Jake Gyllenhaal: Peter Sarsgaard in anything An Education.

If it wasn't for the constant puppy-like expression on his face I may accuse Gyllenhaal for not taking this question seriously. Sarsgaard is a solid choice - and as Gyllenhaal's co-star in Jarhead and brother-in-law nicely done - but I need convincing that Gyllenhaal has actually seen An Education. The employment of Sarsgaard's character is not as ambiguous as Gyllenhaal leads us to believe...could this be a purely nepotistic choice?

Carey Mulligan: Saoirse Ronan in Atonement.

So Mulligan only liked the first segment of Atonement, eh? If only Joe Wright would return and refilm that middle segment with Mulligan replacing the comparatively bad Romari Garai? She would seem (now) the perfect choice for the middle Briony. Now Mulligan may expect to parallel the career of Ronan, becoming a youthful beacon of genuine talent.

Woody Harrelson: Ulrich Muhe in The Lives of Others.

Pass! Harrelson is like marmite to me. Despite the terrific choice.

Morgan Freeman: Meryl Streep in anything she has done in the last 50 years.

Short and not very sweet. We all love Streep, but we also love a bit of personality. Freeman comes across as a grouchy elder who gives as little effort as possible. His choice, perhaps, reflects his own career in being a long-standing 'actor' of Hollywood. It is also incredibly safe, just like Freeman's choice of roles.

Christoph Waltz: Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Men.

Waltz could easily satisfy a Jones size hole in Hollywood. Have they replaced him in Men In Black 3 yet? Waltz is probably waiting for that call. Make it happen!

Sam Worthington: Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor anything where he plays more than one character.

He works with a lot of CGI so he's voting with his experience of that. I hope. I guess this means he won't be moving into independent cinema any time soon...

Also, I have never noticed how attractive Mr. Worthington is. Yum!

Vera Farmiga: Michael Fassbender in Hunger.

Farmiga oozes sex, hearing her lust over Fassbender's face (who doesn't?) is charged with eroticism that is definitely misplaced in the world of Hunger. Or is this evidence of some Farmiga fetish?...I think I will stop myself here. Apologies.

Tobey Maguire: Leonardo diCaprio in The Aviator.

This really doesn't require any explanation. Maguires hearts diCaprio. Big time! Disgusting.

Colin Firth: Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman.

Before Firth ventured into A Single Man, he had already explored homosexuality opposite Bacon in Where the Truth Lies. They obviously hit it off as Firth is quite taken with Bacon, an actor who also veers from commercial to indie fair like Firth. Yet Bacon is not as endlessly charming as this man...his failure to place films chronologically is one of those blissfully adorable moments.

Zoe Saldana: Wei Tang in Lust, Caution.

Her beautiful performance in Avatar was no fluke, Saldana will be a player in Hollywood. Her choice of the underrated yet mesmerizing Tang (presumably) exposes her own ambition for such characters. I particularly liked her interest in the sensuality of the character, something that really invigorated her performance in Avatar and - I think it is safe to suspect - will prove a real asset in future roles.

George Clooney: Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose.

Cotillard plays old well. Has Clooney ever played old himself? Is this revealing an insecurity? Perhaps a filmmaker should throw him into the deep end and give film a role akin to Edith Piaf. I dare someone (Steven Soderbergh perhaps?) to do it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BAFTAs 2010 predictions.

My love/hate opinion of the BAFTAs erodes - albeit momentarily - as I anticipate the ceremony itself. Their - adequate - celebration of all things British should finally crown Carey Mulligan with an award (or two!) while I'm just excited to see Kristin Scott Thomas return to the awards circuit (if only she'd win...). The icing on top of this sweet -and very British! - cake would be a win for Colin Firth, yet this win over the eventual Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges, may be too much to ask for. BAFTA, after all, doesn't like to stray too far from Oscar.

Best Film
Win: An Education
Upset: The Hurt Locker
Wish: An Education

Leading Actor
Win: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Upset: Colin Firth for A Single Man
Wish: Colin Firth

Leading Actress
Win: Carey Mulligan for An Education
Upset: Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Wish: Carey Mulligan

Supporting Actor
Win: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Upset: Alfred Molina for An Education
Wish: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress
Win: Mo'Nique for Precious
Upset: Kristin Scott Thomas for Nowhere Boy
Wish: Kristin Scott Thomas

Outstanding British Film
Win: Fish Tank
Upset: An Education
Wish: In the Loop

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Win: Sam Taylor-Wood for Nowhere Boy
Upset: Lucy Baily, Andrew Thompson, Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson for Mugabe and The White African
Wish: Duncan Jones for Moon

Director
Win: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Upset: Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Wish: Kathryn Bigelow

Original Screenplay
Win: Inglourious Basterds
Upset: The Hurt Locker
Wish: Inglourious Basterds

Adapted Screenplay
Win: An Education
Upset: Up in the Air
Wish: In the Loop

Film not in the English Language
Win: Let the Right One In
Upset: The White Ribbon
Wish: Let the Right One In

Animated Film
Win: Up
Upset: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wish: Up

The Orange Rising Star Award
Win: Carey Mulligan
Upset: Nicholas Hoult
Wish: Carey Mulligan

Music
Win: Up
Upset: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Wish: Up

Cinematography
Win: The Hurt Locker
Upset: Inglourious Basterds
Wish: The Hurt Locker

Editing
Win: The Hurt Locker
Upset: District 9
Wish: The Hurt Locker

Production Design
Win: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Upset: Avatar
Wish: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Costume Design
Win: Coco Before Chanel
Upset: Bright Star
Wish: Bright Star

Sound
Win: The Hurt Locker
Upset: Avatar
Wish: The Hurt Locker

Special Visual Effects
Win: Avatar
Upset: Star Wars
Wish: Avatar

Makeup & Hair
Win: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Upset: Coco Before Chanel
Wish: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Friday, February 19, 2010

Experience? I've never heard of it.

Meryl Streep inexperienced?!?! This couldn't be cuter!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tickling Where the Wild Things Are.

Childhood and, particularly, the hardships of childhood rarely take precedence outside the cuddly worlds of 'children's cinema'. And even then it is rare to have a representation of childhood that treats the woes of its young protagonists earnestly. Where the Wild Things Are is, then, a refreshing reflection on childhood that actually treats its subject with an integrity and seriousness that is predominately ignored when kiddies (and their imagination) take over the screen. And about time too!

What sprung to my mind was that beautiful moment in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Clementine (Kate Winslet) reveals her insecurities as a child, particularly when she states, "Sometimes I think people don't understand how lonely it is to be a child". Where the Wild Things Are seems to take this snippet of genuine pang of loneliness and expand it through its cast of characters; never has childhood been rang so true (for me, at least) in film. This is assisted by a terrific cast and crew who illuminate the source material in a delicate, rewarding manner that will become a cult favourite despite its initial lackluster reception. Forget the Navi of Avatar, I want to escape to these wild things!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ice dance x4

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why I don't go out to the garden.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"What would I do with something valuable?"

Why is Juliette Binoche so sullen? Did she just read this too? And does she also hate that colonialism remains rife, with Hollywood taking the riches of the European industries in the hope to enrich itself?

This proposed remake of Summer Hours - following similar decisions to remake The Lives of Others, Let the Right One In, etc. - will probably develop into some 'worthy' dramedy aiming for Alexander Payne but hitting Lasse Hallstrom; a pleasant yet unfulfilling opportunity for actors to garner award recognition. It isn't an awful development, only a disappointingly lazy one on the part of Hollywood.

In short, this is one film I can wait to see.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tickling Missing.

If you're about to make a film with the aim of relaying complex issues to Western audiences, then take note of Missing. Here is a terrific example of how generic Hollywood can be used as a vital arena for debate, demanding difficult questions and answers, while performing as an engaging piece of cinema.

Last week I praised The Constant Gardner as the prime example of such filmmaking, but I would wonder if that film would be as potent in 30 years as Missing is today? Both are similarly paced, well-written and well-executed yet I cannot help but feel that The Constant Gardner has a stronger tendency to hide behind its narrative than Missing, where its agenda is probed and challenged with unfiltered determination that remains novel within American cinema. Where The Constant Gardner acts as a celebration of the heroics of humanity, Missing is a passionate condemnation of the corruption of Washington (rather than the predominant criticism of the locale authority, in this case Chile). Of course there are heroics in both, but Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes)'s search for his wife is presented as brave while the search of Ed (Jack Lemmon) and Beth Horman (Sissy Spacek) for their son and husband, respectively, is described as a "right...not a privilige"; Missing emits a sense of urgency that is echoed, but not rivaled, with The Constant Gardner due to this factor of choice.

Still, both are wonderful films that succeed in promoting discussion around worldwide injustices and in highlighting the injustices of filmmaking such as Imagining Argentina. Can budding filmmakers please take note?