Thursday, November 29, 2012

Visual Effects contenders for Academy Awards

The Academy has released the short list for the visual effects contenders. This year the all members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Thursday, January 3. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

  • “The Amazing Spider-Man”
  • “Cloud Atlas”
  • “The Dark Knight Rises”
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
  • “John Carter”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”
  • “Prometheus”
  • “Skyfall”
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook lead the Indie Spirit Award Nominations

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook will compete for the Best film of the year at the Inpendent Spirit Film Awards. Bernie and Keep the Lights on were also nominated. Matthew McConaughey was nominated for two award for Kiler Joe and Magic Mike while The Sessions garnered two nominations for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. Seven Psychopaths garnered Sam Rockwell a nomination and Middle of Nowhere continued its awards buzz with four nominations.

Gotham Award Winners

Last Night at the Gotham Awards Moonrise Kingdom took the Best Feature award beating out The Master. Your Sister's Sister also surprised as it won the Best Ensemble Award over Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom.

List of Winners
Best Feature: Moonrise Kingdom
Best Ensemble: Your Sister's Sister
Best Documentary: How to Survive a Plague
Breakthrough Director: Benh Zeitlin-Beasts of the Southern Wild
Breakthrough Actor: Emayatzy Corinealdi-Middle of Nowhere
Best Film not playing a Theater Near You: An Oversimplification of her Beauty
Audience Award: Artifact

Monday, November 26, 2012

Killing Them Softy Review

At one point in the Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly one character utters the words "America is not a country. It's a business." This cynicism permeates the film's 97 minutes and is decorated by satirical touches and a number of grittier instances.

Set during the 2008 election in run-down New Orleans, three lower end criminals concoct a plan to rob a mob-protected card game. They pull off the job, but complications arise for the trio when the mob brings in Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to restore balance to local crime community.

Dominik shows little restraint in this thriller and gets right in the audience's face from the get-go as a voice-over of an Obama speech resounds over black. Suddenly the speech is intermittently interrupted by the credits rolling over and slowly the camera moves toward an opening that feels like a release from the cacophony of the credits. However, as soon as the camera exits the tunnel, it is only to find a disheveled, almost apocalyptic looking New Orleans. The film seems to have a dark aura surrounding it visually until Frankie(Scott McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) show up to discuss a new business proposition. Their repartee is humorous and their pathetic nature juxtaposes nicely with the grimy backdrop. In fact, all the characters in this film, save for Pitt's Cogan, share this common nature, albeit in different ways: Frankie, Russell, and their boss Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) are dumber than they realize; Driver (Richard Jenkins) is the mob's middle man who knows little about how the business operates; Markie Trattman's (Ray Liotta) hubris proves his undoing; and Mickey (James Gandolfini) is undergoing an identity crisis. Continue Reading 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who will win the Gotham Awards?

Tomorrow the IFP will hand out it's annual Gotham awards. We want to know who you think will win the award.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big Apple Film Festival Wrap up!

On Tuesday November 13, the Big Apple Film Festival opened with a amazing party at the Smyth Tribeca Hotel. The party was a mixer for filmmakers to mingle and meet. It would be the start to a weekend full of 150+ films, receptions, parties and awards ceremonies. Today the film festival closes its door with its annual film awards. During the span of four days I was lucky in enough to check a couple of screenings out including our screening. Unfortunately though time did not allow me to check quite as many films as I would have liked to.

On opening Night I was unable to attend but on Thursday Night Messenger screened to to great enthusiasm. It was also incredible to see some friends and crew at the screening. On that same night I was able to attend two screening of which I saw some incredible shorts. Friday night I attended another screening at 8pm and saw another batch shorts and on Saturday I saw Morgan Spurlock's documentary followed by the closing night Party.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hitchcock Review

In a number of his films, Alfred Hitchcock hinted at the difficulty of marriage and its imprisoning and possibly ill-fated nature. In his early work The 39 Steps, the protagonists are handcuffed to one another and pretend to be husband and wife throughout their travails; a later work Rear Window  juxtaposes a number of relationships (albeit from afar) including the start and decline of a young couple's marriage as well as an older man murdering his wife. In Vertigo, a man kills off his wife and another man attempts to manipulate and transform another woman into his ideal. In Marnie, a man blackmails a compulsive thief into marrying him and then rapes her.

Marriage is naturally also the theme behind Sascha Gervasi's new film "Hitchcock," which attempts to portray the dynamics of Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville's marriage during the production of Psycho. The Master of Suspense endured a relatively sound marriage of 54 years with Reville, who worked on a number of his's projects as a supervisor, an editing partner, and writer. It was well known that she was the opinion that he sought most regarding his films.

In Hitchcock, the director is attempting to remake his image with Psycho,  but his obsession over the project forces him and Reville into a number of individual risks including mortgaging their home to self-finance the project. Hitchcock's egocentric attitudes force Alma away as she starts to seek out new avenues for artistic and individual fulfillment.Continue Reading

Silver Linings Playbook Review

The romantic comedy is a much-maligned genre from a critical standpoint. Most of these films are predictable and live and die by cheap one-liners. These poor conceptions are mainly primed to jolt audiences for quick moments, but rarely ever immerse one in the depth and world of its characters. It is rare that a film of said genre truly takes the viewer on that often tread path and leaves them not only enthralled with the journey, but anxiously awaiting to take it once again. David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook fits the latter category of films, reinvigorates the genre, and is easily one of the best films of the year. 

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is being taken home after serving eight months in a mental institute. His one aim is to get his marriage back on track with his cheating wife. One day he encounters Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), another former patient of a mental institute, who is still having trouble dealing with the death of her husband. The film follows the formation of their bond and while one knows the ultimate outcome of the film, Russell does a strong job of throwing unexpected but subtle twists into the proceedings. He also manages to aptly weave a number of unique subplots including Pat's relationship with his football-obsessed father (Robert DeNiro) as well as a number of other minor characters that have positive impacts on Tiffany and Patrick's growing relationship. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Messenger at the Big Apple Film festival

This Thursday Messenger will play at the Big Apple Film Festival making its New York Premiere. Tonight the festival kicked off at the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca and will run for four days Thursday through Sunday. The Festival will celebrate it's 9th year. I'm pretty excited and hope to see some great films.

The Loneliest Planet Review

The Loneliest Planet is a film that marvels its viewer with its depth of vision, its structure, and its potent imagery but feels more like a rough cut than a finished edit.

The film tells the tale of a young engaged couple (Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg) that is traveling through the Caucasus Mountains in the Eastern European republic of Georgia.They have a guide named Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze) who occassionally converses with them in broken english and points out different features of the environment. The three travelers are going about their lives when a major event occurs right in the middle of the film and the reaction to said event tears the couple apart and threatens to destroy their relationship. The simplicity of the story is reflected in its gritty style. The first half of the film is showcased in green pastures and the gorgeous areas of the mountains. The couple and their guide walk together as a group, engage in intimate activities with one another and happiness permeates the ambiance. A fireplace scene has the three teaching each other profanity in their respective languages. It feels like an exercise in naturalism and captures the simplicity of real life. However after the major event, the environment becomes arid, the green pastures are rare, and the characters barely interact with one another. They walk alone and silence permeates the environment as the film weaves itself to an inevitable climax. Continue Reading

SkyFall Review

James Bond movies have not always been sure hits. Over the last 20 or so years, they have tended toward silly affairs that lacked the edge or intensity that marked Ian Fleming's novels. In 2006, the franchise was rebooted with Casino Royale and Daniel Craig and the success was tantamount. That film was gritty and Daniel Craig's coolness added a rugged feel to the film. However, its direct sequel Quantum of Solace hindered the success of that filmThe problem with that film was that it attempted to follow the story of Casino's story despite the fact that there was no more story to tell. Fortunately, the scribes learned the lesson from that one and developed a self-sustained story in the new film Skyfall. The result is one of the best Bond films of all time and one of the best action movies of the year.

This film focuses on a stolen hard drive that has the identity of MI6 agents embedded in terrorist organizations around the world. If the information gets out, these agents' lives would be endangered. The debacle raises questions about M's (Dame Judi Dench) ability to continue leading the secret service agency. Given the franchise's 50 year existence, it seems fitting that the film brings up questions about Bond and M's age and their ability to survive in an ever changing world of modern warfare and intelligence. Continue Reading 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Anna Karenina Review

Joe Wright has always been one of my favorite current directors; Atonement was a film laden with emotional engagement that few films have matched in the last few years and his more recent picture Hanna was an interesting stylish take on the action thriller. Both of these films demonstrate a director not only able to build complex narratives, but to do so with visual innovation and control.

Now comes Anna Karenina, a bold interpretation on Leo Tolstoy's masterwork. Wright originally set out to make the film in traditional locations, but budget constraints forced him to set his sights on something smaller; in the process he came up with something bigger. His concept sets the work in a theater and it provides a solid metaphor to examine the fa├žade behind 19th century Russian society where appearances dominated people's lifestyles and those who chose to break away from the rules of the infrastructure were cast out like lepers. The main heroine is one such pariah and her decline from the model citizen to an outcast is one of the most complex and satisfying ever written. Continue Reading

Monday, November 5, 2012

British Film Broken leads the nominees at the British Independent Film Awards

Today the British Independent Film Awards were announced with Broken leading with nine nominations. Among other nominees were The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Five nominees and The Imposter. The Iron Lady was also nominated for a few awards though not in the best picture race. Indie hit Ginger and Rosa obtained three nominations while Hyde Park Hudson and Quartet received one nomination. The foreign category saw Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Rust and Bone continue their successful awards trail.

Full nominations

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Amour and Shame lead the European Film Award nominations

The European Film Award nominations were revealed today with Michael Haneke's Amour and Steve McQueen's 2011 drama Shame topping the nominations. Other notable films include Germany's Barbara and Italy's Ceasar Must Die. One huge omission included the Marion Cotillard starrer Rust and Bone.

The Nominees
European Film 
AMOUR (Love)
Austria/France/Germany, 127 min

Written & directed by Michael Haneke
Produced by Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka & Michael Katz

Friday, November 2, 2012

21 animated films in consideration for the Oscars

The academy has revealed that 21 films have been submitted for consideration for this year's Oscars. The list of films includes favorites Brave, Rise of the Guardians and Paranorman. 
Here is the list 
  • “Adventures in Zambezia”
  • “Brave”
  • “Delhi Safari”
  • “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
  • “Frankenweenie”
  • “From Up on Poppy Hill”
  • “Hey Krishna”
  • “Hotel Transylvania”
  • “Ice Age Continental Drift”
  • “A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman”
  • “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
  • “The Mystical Laws”
  • “The Painting”
  • “ParaNorman”
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
  • “The Rabbi’s Cat”
  • “Rise of the Guardians”
  • “Secret of the Wings”
  • “Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas”
  • “Wreck-It Ralph”
  • “Zarafa”

Cloud Atlas Review

Once upon a time in 1999, the Andy and Larry (now Lana) Wachowskis were being heralded as visionaries and revolutionaries of modern cinema. Fast forward 13 years and it is quite arguable that their reputation has been tarnished. Many will point to the much-maligned Speed Racer while others will simply point out how they ruined their own masterpiece The Matrix with two sub-par sequels. While I agree with the former, I certainly disagree with the criticism surrounding the latter Matrix sequels.

In teaming up with Run Lola Run helmer Tom Twyker, the Wachowskis may have actually topped themselves in many ways with their latest film Cloud Atlas, which is one of the most ambitious films of the past decade.

It is extremely difficult to define or explain the concept behind Cloud Atlas. The film showcases six different narratives spread across hundreds of years. [Spoiler Alert] The first story portrays an eighteenth century sea voyage. The second portrays an early 1900s drama between an aspiring musician and an aging composer as they team together to compose a great masterpiece. The third depicts a 1970s mystery drama revolving around oil and energy schemes. In the fourth story we are brought to present day England where an older gentleman's attempt to runaway from a client's criminal siblings lands him in an equally damning nursing home. The fourth story jumps ahead hundreds of years to a Matrix inspired future where females are enslaved as restaurant waitresses and are fed the idea that they are not pure blood humans (even though they really are). The final story takes place even further in the future after the fall of civilization, which blends a tribal past with a science fiction future. During the course of these six intertwining stories, the film blends together a diverse canvas of film genres, themes, characters, races, sexes, and actors in an attempt to showcase the interconnectedness of human experience and existence. Continuing Reading