Two years ago, Rachel Weisz was the unofficial mascot of the London Film Festival, as "360" and "The Deep Blue Sea" opened and closed the fest, respectively. This year, Tom Hanks finds himself in that position, and this year's festival will be bookended by both his Oscar-buzzed prestige dramas. Paul Greengrass' thriller "Captain Phillips" was announced as the opening film last week; now John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks," in which Hanks stars as Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers, will close things out on October 20.
For the third summer in a row, we're revisiting David Milch's classic revisionist HBO Western "Deadwood," this time discussing the third season.
While I once upon a time posted two separate reviews so people who hadn't watched the whole series would have a safe place to comment, almost no one bothered commenting on the newbie reviews last year, and they've been ditched. If you haven't finished the series, just avoid the comments of this review and you'll be fine.
Thoughts on episode 10, "A Constant Throb," coming up just as soon as I'm in command of the all-whore detachment...
Judi Dench was a near-annual presence in the Oscar race for a time, though it's been seven years since she scored her last nomination (her sixth) for her remarkable work as an unhinged schoolteacher in "Notes on a Scandal." I maintain that she deserved the Oscar that year, but she had no chance against fellow British veteran Helen Mirren, who won Best Actress at Venice for her turn as QE2 in Stephen Frears' "The Queen" before bulldozing her way through the season. Which is funny, since that's pretty much the narrative Dench is seeking to emulate with her titular performance in Frears' latest, "Philomena."
When Sharlto Copley was shooting "The A-Team," there were rumors I heard several people repeat about dailies really upsetting some of the execs at Fox because they had no idea what they were looking at. Sharlto Copley's performance had them allegedly terrified and they weren't sure any of it would cut together. I don't really believe the exaggerated lengths that the stories then went on to describe, but I can imagine that the first time he made a film for someone besides Neill Blomkamp, it must have been a major attitude adjustment.
After all, he and Blomkamp are friends first, guys who share this particular world view, this perspective that is shaped by where they came from, and that absolutely affects how you work with someone. When Blomkamp talks to Alice Braga or Matt Damon, I'm sure he's good at conveying what it is he has in mind, but when he's directing "Sharl," as he calls him, that's a whole different level of communication.
I ran my interview the other day with Matt Damon where he was talking enthusiastically about working with Copley and about how amazing his work in "District 9" was from a performance point-of-view. I don't think I fully grasped how much character work he was doing in that film until I rewatched it recently. Now I can see all the little details, all the choices he made in building that character, and I can appreciate them in light of seeing how he approaches the mad dog soldier of fortune he's playing in "Elysium."
Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly posted a chat with John Lasseter about the way things are divided between the three different animation companies that all work now under the broader umbrella of "Disney." Walt Disney Feature Animation has always been the crown jewel for the studio, and many of the biggest landmarks in the company's history have been thanks to the efforts of WDFA. Pixar, which began as an independent studio, now operates with what seems to be some autonomy, but considering Lasseter is part of everything now, I'm not sure I see why they bother with the distinction. I'll be honest... what I think of as Pixar is really just a loose collection of very talented people who, when collaborating, represented one of the best story departments in the industry.
Then there's Disney Toons, and I would imagine the people working there must feel a bit like the red-headed stepchild, especially when the main message of the press materials so far has been "We started work on this as a direct-to-video quickie, but it looked nicer than we expected, so we decided to squeeze out a few bucks in the theater first."
Is that fair? Is that what you should carry in with you if you go to see "Planes"?
As we steel ourselves for the season ahead with early lists of contenders and a harsh spotlight on unassuming films hoping to find an audience, let alone awards traction, it's worth remembering that the list of coulda-been players in a given Oscar season is long and considerable. And if I'm not making the point clear enough early on in that sentence, let me do so now: this is every bit the fault of analysts like me, as much as it is the films themselves, if not more.
Covering the awards season, we forecast, we look ahead, we see how things look on paper and we set sometimes unfortunate bars. Not every film is looking for that kind of exposure, and often enough, the inflated expectations of industry watchers get in the head of many a would-be player only to amplify the eventual disappointment of a dead end. That having been said, there are obviously many films that set their sights on the awards race with the right formula, or so they thought, only to come up empty-handed at the end of the day. We see them every year.
Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman -- who some might call a noted Harvey Weinstein shill -- bloviated about "Lee Daniels' The Butler" under the cover of "Oscar observation" a few weeks ago but apparently no one else could. The embargo is up today so let's get into it. The question on this one is, will it be an awards player or will it just fade out before the season even gets here? A few thoughts...
I have no clue what has happened on "Big Brother" in the past week, thanks to Time Warner Cable and CBS.
From reading Liane's recaps, I know that Amanda, Spencer and Candice are on the block and from various bits of online scuttlebutt, I know that Amanda has basically gone crazy, while Spencer has continued his long run of variably horrifying comments that CBS is choosing not to air.
And from last week, I remember that it's a double-elimination Thursday (August 8), with the regular vote, as well as the always-unsettling Week of "Big Brother" in an Hour wackiness.
Follow along! And forgive me if I lack the con text for certain things. Blame CBS and Time Warner.
"Did they poison my food? Is it cause I'm a girl? / If I puked up some sonnets would you call me "a miracle?"
Neko Case gets fairly specific -- and, thusly, cryptic -- on her new song "Night Still Comes." This swaying tune brings in soul and gospel elements into its killer chorus, and the large chorus that sings her chorus. "You never held it at the right angle," they sing, never naming what "it" is as she relates how a forest consumes her and the ocean dashes her biggest "plans."
"Night Still Comes" is yet another example on Case's next album "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You" of slipping her character's gender into the "Fight." On "Man," she took up a male as its subject, but not just any male: a very male-y male, an archetype of manly adages in song. Here, pairing the term "puke" up with "is it 'cause I'm a girl" makes it really confrontational, even if we still have no idea what the hell is going on.
I'll just mark this as another good one from Case, whose "Worse Things Get" is out on Sept. 3 via Anti-. The album features guest spots from M. Ward, members of The New Pornographers, My Morning Jacket, Calexico and more. Full tracklist and tour dates are below.
Here is the tracklist for "The Worse Things Get":
1. Wild Creatures
2. Night Still Comes
4. I’m From Nowhere
5. Bracing for Sunday
6. Nearly Midnight, Honolulu
7. Calling Cards
8. City Swans
10. Local Girl
11. Where Did I Leave That Fire
Here are Neko Case's tour dates:
8/09 – Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Folk Festival
8/11 – Regina, SK @ Regina Folk Festival
8/24-25 – Monterey, CA @ First City Festival
9/06 – Chicago, IL @ A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party
9/08 – Portland, OR @ Musicfest NW
9/11 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
9/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ Orpheum Theater
9/13 – Santa Fe, NM @ Lensic Performing Center
9/14 – Denver, CO @ The Ellie Caulkins
9/16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
9/17 – Boise, ID @ The Knitting Factory
9/18 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount
9/19 – Eugene, OR @ The Cuthbert Amphitheater
9/20 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theater
9/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
9/26 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
10/04-06 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
10/05-06 – Los Angeles, CA @ Way Over Yonder Fest
10/11-13 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
10/15 – Lawrence, KS @ Liberty Hall
10/16 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/17 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/19 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
10/20 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
10/23 – Nashville, TN @ The Cannery
10/24 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
10/26 – Durham, NC @ The Durham Performing Arts Center
10/27 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Paramount
11/01 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre