One of this pundit's biggest disappointments last awards season was how little traction Tilda Swinton received for her stunning turn in "I Am Love." That was partially due to the film's release date, the former Academy Award winner's unavailability to campaign for the picture in Nov. or Dec. and a limited push by U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures. A year later, Swinton has another acclaimed performance ready for Oscar consideration in Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin."
I have a confession to make. I genuinely think "Puss in Boots" is entertaining, funny and a significantly more original movie (even surreal) than what you'd expect for a "Shrek" spin-off. However, my judgement may be a tad clouded. As my friends have consistently remarked, I'm a male 'cat lady' in the making with two kittens under my wing (Phoenix and Sookie). Granted, you can only blame my parents for raising me amongst them. In fact, there is photographic evidence of our two cats (Charkey and Nutmeg) literally sleeping my crib when I was a newborn "protecting me" and no doubt cementing this lifelong feline bond (note to young parents: this is a big no, no). But, I digress…
Watch: Angelina Jolie tackles the Bosnian War in her directorial debut 'In The Land of Blood and Honey'
No one should be surprised that when Angelina Jolie took the time out of her busy schedule to direct her first feature it wasn't going to be something frivolous. The film would have to speak to her passions and her world view. Enter "In The Land of Honey," an original drama set during the height of the Bosnian War in the 1990's where a Serb (Goran Kostic) and a Bosnian (Zara Marjanovic) try to co-exist in a detainment camp after having a previous romantic relationship before the conflict. In a new trailer released today, it appears the trust between the couple begins to waver as the war goes on.
They have been producing and screenwriting partners, but it's been quite awhile since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appeared on screen together. The two buddies first set the industry on fire when "Good Will Hunting" debuted in 1997 and ended up with an original screenplay Academy Award in the process (of course, their lack of writing in the years since has only fueled rumors they had a lot of help on the script, but that's another story). While the media often had the two Boston natives joined at the hip, the only other films they have starred in together in is Kevin Smith's "Dogma" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." Meanwhile, Damon has had a very steady and successful career thanks to the "Ocean Eleven" and "Bourne" films, but Affleck suffered through a good decade of up and downs. Now that Affleck has made a name for himself as a successful director with "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," both gents have publicly stated they expect to work together again soon. That time appears to be now.
NEW YORK - Brett Ratner has seemingly done the impossible this awards season. With one move, convincing his "Tower Heist" star Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars, he's made the industry and public generally intrigued about watching this year's Academy Awards. And after last year's disastrous production that's no easy feat. The news also excited many old school Murphy fans waiting for yet another comeback from the iconic comedian. Whether that occurs with "Tower Heist" remains to be seen, but during a press conference for the comedy thriller in New York today, Murphy's hosting duties became an obvious subject for discussion.
The 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced this morning and the results must have made the folks at Fox Searchlight very, very happy. The mini-major landed eight nominations including key best feature nominations for "The Descendants" and "The Tree of Life." Focus also has to be thrilled with "Beginners" strong showing in the feature and ensemble categories. "Take Shelter" shows some life by also landing feature and ensemble kudos.
While 20 minutes of Christian Bale in "The Flowers of War" were shown to potential buyers last month at the Toronto film fest, we're now getting our first trailer for the epic film from Chinese director/award-magnet Zhang Yimou.
Although there hasn't been talk of anyone launching a best actor campaign for Bale (The film doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet), don't automatically count the Oscar winner ("The Fighter") out of the race.
"Flowers" also stars Sigeo Kobayashi and the always reliable Paul Schneider ("All the Real Girls," "The Assassination of Jesse James").
But the real star is the gorgeous look of the historical drama (shot by Zhang's regular DP Zhao Xiaoding), based on a true story about a Western priest (Bale) struggling to help save a group of students and prostitutes during the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937. There looks to be plenty of drama, action, sensuality and politics on hand. At roughly $90 million, "Flowers" (formerly known as "Heroes of Nanking") is China's most expensive film ever.
Although the dialogue is in Mandarin, Japanese and English, "Flowers" is China's entry in this year's foreign language Oscar race, and will likely do well there, as Zhang has had several films nominated in the category.
After a number of high-profile martial arts films ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," "Curse of the Golden Flower" and last year's less well-received "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop"), the Academy could very well eat up Zhang's return to the 20th Century historical drama that served him so well in "To Live" and "Raise the Red Lantern." Having Bale in the lead won't hurt either.
Watch the new international trailer here:
The more you learn about Elizabeth Olsen's performance in Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" the more remarkable it becomes. Whether talking to Durkin, her co-stars John Hawkes or Sarah Paulson or even Olsen herself, you have to wonder how quickly the 22-year-old will be battling Jennifer Lawrence or Kristen Stewart for the title of bet actress of her generation. But first, let's focus on "Martha."
Hollywood's most powerful organizations released a joint statement today calling for the release of six Iranian filmmakers including director Jafar Panahi and actor Marzieh Vafamehr. Lauded as one of Iran's greatest living filmmakers, Panahi is serving a six-year jail sentence under house arrest and is banned for making any films for 20 years. He recently appeared in the critically acclaimed pseudo-documentary "This Is Not A Film" which screened at the Cannes, Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Vahamehr is an actress who was given a year in jail and 90 lashes for appearing in the 2009 film "My Tehran For Sale" (her fate is currently under appeal). Along with other filmmakers who have been imprisoned for their work, Hollywood's creative community has taken a rare stand together against these injustices.
This pundit certainly isn't one to fuel a fire for no reason, but the eyebrow raising move this morning by the usually classy New York Film Critics Circle deserves some closer scrutiny.