When "Blue Jasmine" opened in the summer, its awards talk initially revolved around Cate Blanchett's certain Best Actress nod -- but as the glowing reviews and remarkable box office continued, the conversation has expanded. Speaking about their 2013 Oscar strategy to Scott Feinberg, Sony Classics bosses Michael Barker and Tom Bernard say they're confident the film will receive Best Picture nominations, along with nods for Sally Hawkins, Woody Allen's screenplay (of course) and even the costumes. They also explain their decision to play any festivals with the film, while the conversation extends to "Before Midnight," "The Invisible Woman," and their foreign and documentary hopefuls. [The Race]
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Tom Hanks walked the red carpet with the man he plays in "Captain Phillips," Richard Phillips, Friday at the opening night of the 51st New York Film Festival. Unfortunately, Phillips couldn't make it to Los Angeles for the West Coast premiere of the film tonight, but that wasn't going to stop director Paul Greengrass from giving Phillips his due. Even after his ordeal of being taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009, Phillips has returned to the sea as a ship captain. And as Phillips is actually setting sail this week (according to Greengrass at least), he said hello to everyone at the film's Los Angeles premiere via Skype. It was a fleeting moment, but one that will be remembered by the Academy, guild and industry attendees who will spread their enthusiasm for the Best Picture contender (i.e., it was a nice PR win).
Should we judge "Sleepy Hollow" by the monster of the week or the mythology of the week? It's still an open question in these early stages, as the show finds its way and figures out how to strike the right balance.
It's Hollywood night! That means lots of silly costumes, which is always fun, and some concepts that probably seemed like good ideas in the drawing board stage but shouldn't have been attempted, and usually some not-great music. Anyway, this season stands out in that, even at this early stage, I think it's safe to assume the dancing will be pretty good. Crazy, right?
If the first major creative choice in your latest entry in a franchise irritates and alienates every fan of that property, maybe you might want to rethink things.
Consider this a warning: if you read any further, there's a good chance you're going to have the new book about Bridget Jones totally ruined for yourself, as well as elements of "Dumb and Dumber To," last night's "Breaking Bad," and other things as well. It may be too late, since most of the headlines I've seen today have almost gleefully given it away, but I'd rather give you the choice about whether or not you want to know right now. It seems like more and more often now, the assumption is that you have no right whatsoever to expect that you will remain unspoiled after the split-second something airs, and it seems like even before that now, we're just going to have accept that we have no control over how we digest a narrative.
Few artists have made such an initially strong impression as Lorde, the 16-year old New Zealand singer/songwriter. Her breakthrough, the finger-snapping, cynical “Royals” became the first song by a solo female to top Billboard’s Alternative chart in 17 years... longer than she’s been alive.
Her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” arrives today (30) and it’s a welcome reminder that most 16 year olds have a lot more on their minds than Disney would like us to believe. It’s not always sunny and not everyone is dreaming of which One Direction member they’d like to date.
While “Pure Heroine” sometimes drowns under the weight of its own pretension, most of the time Lorde sounds exactly like how a world-aware, savvy teenager should.
Most tracks are built around loops and beats that she created, and while few reach the insanely catchiness of “Royals,” there’s a lot here to sustain interest. On album opener, the snappy “Tennis Court,” she talks about smiling through the fear as she and her friends hide behind their fake images. It’s the high school in “Heathers” set to a beat.
On “Ribs,” which sounds like it could have been a Lana Del Rey cut, Lorde sings in a low smoky swirl of a voice, but it’s a little hard to take her seriously when she sings, “It’s feels so scary getting old.”
It may not be fair, but it’s almost impossible not to compare Lorde to last year’s “It” girl, Lana Del Rey. Both rely heavily on beats, an often breathy delivery, a certain insouciant mystery (Lorde told Billboard if it were up to her she’d never do interviews) and a made-up persona (Lorde’s real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor). Even though she’s younger, Lorde seems to already have her identity more clearly defined and she’s more self-assured than Del Rey. Plus, the hype preceded Del Rey’s radio success, whereas with Lorde, it was the reverse.
Some of the lyrics verge on the overly precious, as if she’s trying too hard: on the hypnotic “Buzzcut Season” she sings, “I remember when your head caught flame/I kissed your scalp and caressed your brain.” Yikes.
Too much of “Pure Heroine” sounds alike, so when a track like “White Teeth Teens” comes around with its militant, rat-a-tat drums and the kaleidoscope background singing, it’s a nice and needed change of pace. “I’ll let you in on something big/I’m not a White Teeth Teen,” she sings, happy to be seen as the ultimate outsider.
Similarly, with “Team,” her voice rises over the beats, as she she sings in that way that only a teenage girl can: “I’m over being told to raise my hands up in the air/So there...” “A World Alone” starts with a lonely guitar note, as she rides off in the car with an older boy. “Let them talk as we’re dancing in this world alone,” she sings.
If Lorde’s handlers can tamp down the hype and let her story continue to build, it will be fascinating to see where she goes as she develops to find her own voice. She’s off to an auspicious start, but we can hold off on the “voice of a generation” heaviosity for now.
Unlikely 'Captain Phillips' star Barkhad Abdi on learning from Tom Hanks and finding empathy for a pirate
Barkhad Abdi could easily have been a statistic. He might not have made it out of a harrowing childhood alive. He was born in Somalia and lived in the chaos of Mogadishu where he was surrounded by murder, rape, robbery and a lack of structure and government. He was lucky enough to have parents who got him out of there, to Yemen for Middle School and, eventually, a lottery to the United States.
He moved to Minneapolis, but he hated the snow. Every year he would ask himself, 'Why am I here?' He drove a limousine. He was just a mild-mannered immigrant living his life when he was at a friend's house one day and a commercial flashed on the screen: "Casting call. Tom Hanks. Local Somali actors." Well, why not, Abdi figured.
Considering how long they've been a studio and how strong a brand they've created in the global marketplace, Walt Disney Studios seems to constantly be reinventing themselves. Right now, they are in the middle of what seems to be a major shift in terms of identity, turning into a sort of brand-management superstore.
After all, they've got Pixar, Marvel, and "Star Wars" all under the broader Disney logo these days, and I hear there's another mega-brand that they're possibly going to purchase soon. Disney's production slate no longer offers up original material. Instead, you're going to see those brands and nothing else. Even when Pixar makes a non-sequel, it's all about the "Pixar" brand, and that's what Disney is selling over any of their individual titles.
Now it looks like we're seeing another emerging trend at the studio, live-action remakes of their fairy tale classics. "Maleficent" revealed some footage at this year's D23 Expo, and it's amazing how carefully they've worked to recreate the exact look of the "Sleeping Beauty" world and how much every member of the cast looks like the animated versions of the characters. The studio is also making "Cinderella" right now, with Kenneth Branagh directing what he promises will be a very faithful rendition of the story as Disney told it.
NBC's Hillary Clinton miniseries is officially dead
Hours after CNN's Hillary Clinton documentary was scrapped, the Peacock has decided to drop its Clinton miniseries. "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/mini-series development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries," the network said in a statement Monday.
Paget Brewster will return for the 200th "Criminal Minds" episode
"Our 200th episode is going to be a special show," says showrunner Erica Messer. "We can't imagine telling this story without Paget being present."
When I was at the Toronto Film Festival recently, I had a chance to talk to Spike Jonze about his new film "Her" and several other subjects. In particular, I told him a story about sharing "Where The Wild Things Are" with my sons and how it represented a major turning point in the emotional life of my family. He seemed struck by what I said, and I told him that I was planning to write about the experience for my ongoing Film Nerd 2.0 column.
The truth is, I've been struggling to figure out how to write this one for a while now, ever since the screening, and it's been difficult to find the right way in. Even considering how personal much of this column has been, this one has been hard for me to grapple with because, unlike many of these columns, this one isn't all warm and fuzzy. I am well aware that I spend more time talking about my kids in print than some people might like. I have gotten e-mails and comments and direct messages from many people asking me to either scale it back or stop altogether. "I just want to read movie reviews," one guy e-mailed me, "and I don't give a shit what your kids think."
It's nice to see more and more of the year's awards season players being evenly spread throughout the fall festival circuit. Venice got "Gravity" and "Philomena." Telluride got "12 Years a Slave" and "Prisoners." Toronto landed films like "August: Osage County," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." New York, meanwhile, landed the trio of "Captain Phillips," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Her." Even the London film fest got a nice first look at "Saving Mr. Banks" this year.
AFI Fest, as always, is utilized smartly by studios every year. In the middle of Oscar season, it's a great opportunity to make a big splash with a cheap Los Angeles premiere, and films like "Saving Mr. Banks" has already been announced for a US premiere there, though a scheduled world premiere of "Foxcatcher" was nixed last week when that film was moved off its Dec. 20 release date and scheduled for 2014.
Three more films have been set as centerpiece screenings for this year's AFI Fest. The first is a world premiere: Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace," which has mostly avoided the fall festival circuit save for a Dec. 6 Rome Film Festival berth (the day it releases domestically). The second is Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which will segue to the festival for its Los Angeles premiere after world premiering at NYFF on Oct. 5. And the third is Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," which will bring with it a tribute to actor Bruce Dern.