Saigon. Shit. I'm still only in Saigon.
I kid. I am thrilled to be heading into my second full film festival this month, something I'm not always going to be able to say. These are work, and I have suffered a bit of a physical ding on my way out the door to this one. I'm hobbled, as it were, with a torn Achilles tendon, which makes walking and sitting equally painful, but it very different ways. A real pleasure, that. So I did wake up this morning feeling a little bit like Martin Sheen in that Saigon hotel room, groggy and unsure about much.
And even so, I'm looking forward to eight full days of mayhem here, starting with last night's screening of "Frankenweenie 3D," which I just reviewed for you. I also managed to catch a midnight show, because just like in Toronto, many of Fantastic Fest's most potent pleasures will be hidden at that late hour, and "Here Comes The Devil" was certainly a dark ride to take at the witching hour.
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Saigon. Shit. I'm still only in Saigon.
Not to be outdone the day after Fox Searchlight dropped "Hitchcock" on the season, Focus Features would like to remind everyone of its own last-minute addition: Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land." The film, starring and written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, has launched its first trailer and it's clear it's dealing in shades of shifting American values. That could be very powerful this season.
Sometimes, decoding a director's work comes down to one movie in their career, and the case could be made that with "Frankenweenie," Tim Burton has finally created the Rosetta Stone that perfectly encapsulates his preoccupations, his inspirations, and his own peculiar world view. There is biography contained in many of his films, bits and details and a perspective on certain things like suburbia and childhood, and "Frankenweenie" could well turn out to be one of his most essential films in any discussion of who he is as an artist.
John August wrote the script for this new version of the film, but this project sprang from Burton's head and heart. The original version, the live-action short film he made during his first tenure at Disney in the early '80s, was released briefly to theaters attached to the front of "The Black Cauldron," the studio's flawed-but-fascinating foray into fantasy. Along with his other short film, "Vincent," they felt less like auditions for commercial filmmaking and more like art therapy on Disney's dime. The feature version seems to merely expand on the ideas that were already present in the short, but in ways that flesh things out nicely.
Dan and I are almost done with our picks for who should and will win the major Emmy categories on Sunday night. In our next-to-last post, it's time to look at the contenders for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
This week there have been a number of shake-ups, from significant scheduling shifts to new movies for the season to festival premiere announcements. And there are even a few movies to discuss, too. Let's see what's on the docket...
Unless I'm very much mistaken, this might qualify as the first official longlist of the awards season. (Don't get too excited -- you might not have any energy left by January.) The nominations for the European Film Awards -- effectively the Oscars of European cinema -- won't be announced until November 3, but we now know exactly what pool of eligible films they'll be drawn from.
Since voting from the vast selection of European films to play in theaters and at festivals over the past year would be impractical -- especially given that no two country's release schedules are alike -- the European Film Academy instead narrows the field using a system in some ways similar to that of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The 20 countries with the most EFA members each elect one film to represent their country in the awards. Then, over 20 further films -- some from other countries, some overlooked by the national committees -- are added to the list by a panel of EFA board members and invited industry experts.
A review of last night's "Louie" coming up just as soon as I tune in every night for "The Crying Cleaning Lady Show"...
Brothers and sisters don't always get along, but on the new episode of "Mob Doctor" (Fox, Mondays at 9:00 p.m.; episodes also available on iTunes, Hulu and Fox on Demand for free), we see one pair who have slightly weightier problems than who ate the last Pop-Tart.
Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) is a promising surgeon who finds herself pulling bullets out of mobsters to pay off the dangerous debt of her brother Nate (Jesse Lee Soffer). In this clip, Grace puts Nate squarely in his place -- and we're pretty sure he won't be popping by her work to vent his spleen (unless he literally needs to vent his spleen -- she is a doctor, after all) for a while.
AUSTIN -- It's only right that Fantastic Fest's signature event is the potent combination of intellectual discourse, visual culture and blood sport. The Fantastic Fest Debates have become more prominent with each passing year and according to Carrie Matherly, Assistant Director of Fantastic Fest, 2012's crop of showdowns will be no exception.
The premise remains the same: two combatants debate on a topic, and then fight -- or "fight" -- in a boxing ring. This year's crop of four debates includes a couple new twists, in that martial arts will replace boxing in some cases, and the opening fight will feature a woman-on-woman scuffle.
As for the latter, they're siblings -- twins, actually. And both are martial arts experts. And co-directors. And they'll be dressed as Kitana and Mileena from "Mortal Kombat."
Jen and Sylvia Soska, the directors of Fest U.S. premiering "American Mary," will literally kick things off on Saturday at the Debates, on the topic of remakes. "They had a hard time coming up with a topic, because they agree on almost everything," Matherly conceded.
Is Exploding Pants Syndrome a thing?
A review of the "Wilfred" season finale coming up just as soon as I hear you with a French accent...
Now, that was better. After last week's lackluster introduction to the multiple new characters on "Glee," it's a relief to get a second episode more focused on old favorites.
The newbies were all still around (even Marley's lunch lady mom had an encore), but "Britney 2.0" worked better as a showcase for Heather Morris, a reminder the writers really should be using Chord Overstreet more, and a tiny glimpse of what might have been if Kurt and Rachel actually got that New York spinoff. Plus, we saw a real Puckerman back in action.
"Parks and Recreation" is back for a new season, and I have a review of the premiere coming up just as soon as I'm mistaken for Beverly D'Angelo by a Japanese tourist...