Sally Potter's period drama just doesn't jell
- Critic's Rating C
- Readers' Rating A-
TELLURIDE – Over a small number of films, Elle Fanning has displayed a transcendent range that many would argue has surpassed the talents of her better-known sister Dakota. In Sally Potter's "Ginger and Rosa," a new drama that premiered Friday at the 39th Telluride Film Festival, the 14-year-old actress once again impresses. This time she makes a mature leap by enveloping herself in a character thee years her senior. Unfortunately, the rest of the Potter's endeavor is a ponderous mess that negates the best aspects of Fanning's performance.
Roger Michell's latest bogs down in problematic romance
TELLURIDE - Actress Laura Linney -- a part-time Telluride resident -- missed the festival last year for the first time in eight years. Well, she's back this year with the film that kept her away in 2011.
However, it was odd to more than a few that the festival decided to plop the world premiere of Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson" in the Abel Gance outdoor cinema this year. It's happened in the past, of course. But somehow, films like "Into the Wild," "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Paranormal Activity" make more sense than a tiny, stuffy drama about a former president's affair with a distant cousin.
But it is what it is, and the movie is what it is, too: problematic. The above logline aside, the film is also about a visit by the royal family -- King George VI and Queen Consort Elizabeth (recently portrayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech," but here taken on by Samuel West and Olivia Colman) -- to President Franklin Roosevelt's Hyde Park, New York retreat on the eve of war. They'd like a little help, you see, but the young king is struggling with confidence issues, while his strong-willed wife is obsessed with appearances ("They want us to eat hot dogs? What are they trying to say??").
Tribute to Jackson's 1987 blockbuster album will air on ABC at Thanksgiving
VENICE - In a strangely programmed day at the Venice Film Festival -- no competition films are premiering, so we're feeling the effects of the slimming-down of the lineup this year -- so Spike Lee is enjoying the plum screening spot with his music documentary "Bad 25." It played for the critics this morning, and had its grand outing this evening, following a ceremony where Lee was presented with the festival's Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory To The Filmmaker Award.
It's the start of what should be a busy publicity trail for the film, a thorough, track-by-track study of the making of Michael Jackson's mega-selling 1987 album "Bad" -- marking, as depressing as this is to contemplate, the 25th anniversary of its release. (How did we ever think we could live so large and get so old?) The film will also play as a Special Presentation at the Toronto Film Festival, and ushers in a lavish reissue of the album itself on September 18, with all manner of bells and whistles. Meanwhile, Lee's two-hour-plus film will be televised by ABC on Thanksgiving in November -- though whether that precludes any form of theatrical distribution in the US, I haven't yet worked out. (It'll surely see the inside of a few more theaters internationally.)
Alan Arkin is fantastic among a superb ensemble
- Critic's Rating A-
- Readers' Rating B
TELLURIDE – The Iran Hostage Crisis is one of the more defining moments in American history, but it has never received its due course on the big screen. That changes somewhat in Ben Affleck’s engaging and entertaining new thriller “Argo” which sneaked at the 39th Telluride Film Festival Friday.
The maverick filmmaker gets another tribute in the twilight of his career
TELLURIDE - What else can one say about Roger Corman? He may think his influence on the film industry has been "overrated," but when future stars like Jonathan Demme, Curtis Hanson, Jack Nicholson, John Sayles, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone cut their teeth under your wing, your mark on the form is undeniable.
That idea was explored in an interview I conducted with Corman last year on the occasion of the documentary "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel." It was on the heels of a David O. Selznick award from the PGA in 2006, Honorary Oscar recognition in 2009, a Fantastic Fest fete in 2010 and a Los Angeles Film Festival tribute in 2011. Indeed, it's become rather posh to toast the maverick filmmaker, whose 400+ features may be on the fringes of cinema, but whose impact on some of its most successful artists simply means his fingerprint will always be on the industry.
Boos greeted Ramin Bahrani's unsubtle but gutsy film at first Venice screening
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating n/a
VENICE - "God, that was a lot of America," I heard an Italian critic remark to his companion as they slouched out of "At Any Price" at the Venice Film Festival earlier this evening. His tone did not convey great delight at this perceived abundance; perhaps he was among the few but unignorable critics heard lustily booing as the credits rolled on Bahrani's classically involving and unexpectedly robust drama of heartland morality spread thin amid the cornfields of Southern Iowa .
He wasn't wrong, however. America is an almost punitively dominant presence in "At Any Price": we're treated to a complete rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," sung in an assortment of isolated, unlovely voices, midway through the film, while the Red, White and Blue itself is a pronounced presence in many a composition, furling and flapping above characters' heads like a veritable reproach.
What could it mean for his Oscar season hopes?
It had been rumored that the "mystery guest speaker" at the on-going Republican National Convention (which I've avoided like the plague, save for the inevitable Twitter eruptions over this or that nonsensical speech) would be Clint Eastwood. And today, CNN confirmed it.
My question is: why now?
Yeah, Eastwood backed Romney publicly earlier this month, just like he bumped his head and came out for Sarah Palin in 2008. He's long been considered more libertarian than conservative, though. And I've always liked that his work as a director has never seemed agenda-driven (even if I don't like a number of the films). Indeed, sometimes the art would paint a fuzzier portrait of the artist's political leanings. But I guess in the world of "mystery guest speakers" for such a thing, he makes sense.
Plus: Best Art Direction becomes Best Production Design
They just keep going back and forth on this. It really is time to let the category die its deserved death, but in any case, I'll just let the press release convey the news:
"The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has approved additional rules for the 85th Academy Awards. The most significant changes affect the Original Song category, in which there will now be five nominees.
"During the nominations process, all voting members of the Music Branch will receive a Reminder List of works submitted in the category and a DVD copy of the song clips. Members will be asked to watch the clips and then vote in the order of their preference for not more than five achievements in the category. The five achievements receiving the highest number of votes will become the nominations for final voting for the award.
"Additionally, upon the recommendation from the Designers Branch (formerly the Art Directors Branch), the Art Direction award will be known as the Production Design award.
Marion Cotillard, Roger Corman and Mads Mikkelsen will get tributes
MONTROSE, Colo. - I've just landed at the airport and gotten a look at the fresh-off-the-presses release announcing the line-up for the 39th annual Telluride Film Festival. As I await the shuttle into Telluride for my fourth-straight SHOW, and as many of my Los Angeles brethren board the charter flight into Montrose here, let's dig in and see what's in store.
As is custom, Telluride withholds its line-up until the day before the festival really kicks off, but in the weeks leading up to the fest, people are talking and titles start to trickle out. A number of films have been expected presentations for a while now. Some respect the festival's wishes and keep mum about it online. Others don't.
Fest kicked off today with 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist,' but what's coming up?
VENICE - Bar this morning's review of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," which christened the 69th Venice Film Festival (and the first under new director Alberto Barbera's rule) this evening, I'm afraid I haven't offered much in the way of festival foreplay.
I had meant to write up some form of preview piece, but travel preparations were more manic than usual, and Venice itself always offers its fair share of practical obstacles. Since arriving yesterday afternoon at the otherwise delightful flat I'm sharing with two colleagues, we've been trying to solve the riddle of how to run electricity, wi-fi and air conditioning simultaneously without short-circuiting the building's entire switchboard. I'm not going steal Jeff Wells's schtick with a diary of technical woes, but suffice to say we're still working on it.
Anyway, offering up a "preview" after the opening film would be more than a little redundant -- and anyway, yesterday's combined HitFix gallery of our most anticipated titles of the fall festival season, to which Kris and I both contributed, set the festival mood rather nicely. The long and short of it is that I'm here and, with the programme's prime offerings still under wraps -- well, mostly -- I'm excited.