No one needs awards coverage this deep
The second-time director takes on the project of his dreams
Stephen Chbosky (left) speaks with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman on the set of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
Credit: Summit Entertainment
When you've written a hit novel that has taken on a life of its own and become a beloved modern classic, translating it to film might render a bit of nervousness -- particularly if you're taking on the task yourself.
Author Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," published in 1999 and one of the American Library Association's top 10 most frequently challenged books (it has been banned from its share of high schools), took on such a life over the last decade. But for the writer, it was less nervousness than a bit of anxiety and eagerness to actually see the film version through.
International critics' prize honors best film premiered in the past 12 months
Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of "Amour."
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
It's been a great week for Michael Haneke's "Amour." Not only was it confirmed yesterday as Austria's official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, but it played to predictably rapturous responses at Telluride -- reheating the Cannes buzz enough for us to place it in our Best Picture predictions on the sidebar. (We've had it listed in Best Director for a few months now.)
Now comes further good news. Sealing its status as the de facto critics' darling of 2012 so far, it was also just emerged as the winner of the FIPRESCI Grand Prix -- an annual award voted on by the 200-plus members of the international critics' federation, given to the best film premiered in the last 12 months. Haneke now joins Pedro Almodovar and Paul Thomas Anderson as the only two-time winners of the Grand Prix, which has been awarded since 1999. The award is presented every year at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival in late September -- which is why it isn't detemined on a calendar-year basis.
Google+ event to be broadcast in Times Square
"What's a Google+ Hangout?" Abraham pondered.
Credit: Touchstone Pictures
Trailer for trailers and press releases for trailers. What a world. Though I guess Disney's big brou-ha-ha around the trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is a little more understandable given the robust pomp and circumstance they're bringing to its debut.
According to a press release this afternoon, plans have been set to -- stay with me -- launch a Google+ Hangout (for those who didn't abandon the social networking attempt two days in) and premiere the trailer there on September 13. A live conversation with Spielberg and "Lincoln" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt will also be featured. The event will also be broadcast on the ABC SuperSign in the heart of New York's Times Square, and somewhere in there, my head just exploded.
Fans interested in participating are asked to upload a short video to their own YouTube channel with the #LincolnHangout tag explaining who they are, why they are interested in the film and what they would like to ask Spielberg and Gordon-Levitt about the film. And oh, here's the website: www.lincolnhangout.com.
A foreign-language nod is likely, but can it cross over into the general race?
Jean-Louis Trintignant in "Amour."
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
I'll make this relatively quick, partly because I have a screening to run to, and partly because we've covered this ground in a previous post. But thanks to Austrian reader Norman Shetler for informing us that his country has selected their entry for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race -- and, as we suspected, it's Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Amour."
"But it's a French film!" I hear some of you cry. Well, no: this is a global industry, after all, and a film isn't defined by the country it's set in or the language it speaks. As a French-Austrian-German co-production, any one of those three countries would have been entitled to submit it. Tidily enough, it's the director's home country that gets the privilege this time.
Moving away from the American contingent of this year's Venice lineup
A scene from Olivier Assayas's "Something in the Air."
Credit: IFC Films
VENICE - Almost a week into the Venice Film Festival, the Lido has fallen rather quiet. After a cinephile's superbowl of a weekend that saw the fest's two most generally anticipated films, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," premiere on consecutive days, many journalists are already either heading home or preparing for the exodus to Toronto -- where they'll be able to catch "Passion" and "The Company You Keep," the two high-profile commercial films left in the lineup.
What surprise gems and potential Golden Lion winners lie ahead, of course, is anyone's guess. The smart money right now is on "The Master," still the dominant topic of conversation around the Venice grounds, appealing to jury president Michael Mann's robust sensibilities and taking home the big one. Others think Marco "Vincere" Bellocchio's latest (which premieres later this week) is, on paper, the one to beat. I, meanwhile, wouldn't be surprised to see Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov's dazzling romantic puzzler "Betrayal" (more on that in a later post) take home some major hardware -- nor either of the films reviewed below, though one is from a celebrated French major and the other from an Israeli novice.
What will the upcoming Canada marathon have in store for the season?
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
The season is here. "Argo" has sounded the starting gun in the mountains of Telluride while "The Master" has made a strong case on the Lido of Venice. Where will we go from here?
The upcoming Toronto Film Festival will bring a number of possibilities. The Weinstein Company has a few threads dangling, and in typical fashion, will see what sticks to the wall.
"The Sapphires" played well at Telluride after having already pleased crowds in Cannes, but it's likely to move to next year. "Silver Linings Playbook" will get its close-up next, with "Quartet" and "Song for Marion" as lingering possibilities besides. And before long, the moneymaker: "Django Unchained." But at the fest next week, we could see the beginning of an Oscar march for Robert De Niro and some serious consideration for Terrence Stamp, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, etc. We'll just have to see what sticks.
Another lovely SHOW to start the fall festival circuit
Credit: Telluride Film Festival
TELLURIDE - Things are pretty much wrapping up at the 39th annual. Monday is generally a great time for catch-up, as the schedule is filled in with repeat showings. Unfortunately, I tend to leave on Monday afternoon each year, so I don't get to use the day productively. But nine-and-a-half movies over the three-day spread is good enough for me. (I won't knock the movie I walked out of. I'll come back to it at some point, as it's generated interesting split reactions.)
The festival this year was more in line with its former identity. A few years of Oscar bait titles -- "127 Hours," "Up in the Air," "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" -- caused an influx of press recently, but things have been more refined this year and last. But in particular, the whole thing was quite subdued this time around. It's the first Telluride I've attended where I didn't even do any interviews, which is also kind of in keeping with its former self. They've never really wanted a strong press presence here. But who knows what might happen next year as the fest celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extra day of programming?
Stunning as ever in 70mm
This scene from "Baraka" reeled me in 10 or 12 years ago.
Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
TELLURIDE - I've recognized over the last few years that sometime Sunday afternoon at the Telluride fest, I find myself yearning for a break, something different, something I don't feel compelled to write about. Of course, I'll often find myself wanting to write about it anyway, but the lack of obligation going in is the real gift. Last year it was the presentation of a restored version of Georges Méliès's "A Trip to the Moon." This year it was a 70mm presentation of Ron Fricke's "Baraka."
I've mentioned this briefly before, but I was fortunate enough to attend a film school that had a massive archive of prints, one of the top three largest collections in the world at the time. And part of that was a great 70mm selection, from "Aliens" to "2001: A Space Odyssey" to, indeed, "Baraka." I had never heard of the film at the time, though a few of my classmates had. I went in blind and I fell in love. It was a very specific and noteworthy moment for me, an awe-inspiring experience in a pre-jaded time. I've owned the film on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray since and, naturally, it has just never been the same experience.
Dazzling design but muted passion in imaginative adaptation of the Tolstoy tome
Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina."
Credit: Focus Features
In the five years since Joe Wright last fixed his camera on a lissome, silk-swaddled Keira Knightley, he appears to have taken concerted, even hasty, steps away from a reputation he'd never made as much effort to acquire as his harshest critics would have you believe. Those accusing him of safely wallowing in Masterpiece Theater starch, or brashly seizing the mantle of the late Anthony Minghella (already a little moth-eaten from its time in David Lean's wardrobe), seem prompted more by the comfortable middlebrow success of his first two films than the often invigorating evidence on screen.
No one needed another “Pride and Prejudice,” true, but Wright's frisky, grass-stained romp proved you could young up the classics without taking them to Vegas; “Atonement” occasionally buckled under the weight of its formal ostentation, but was bracingly concept-y in its romanticism, doubling back on Ian McEwan's exclusively literary twists with cool elan. It was an impressive one-two, but Wright obviously felt cowed into contemporary material by glib Merchant-Ivory comparisons. The modern LA folk tale of “The Soloist” wasn't as gloopy as it looked from a distance, but it felt like an assignment. Far weirder and more vital was “Hanna,” a daffy girl-oriented chase thriller lent cred and urgency by its full-throttle techno-Grimm styling; his best film to date, it's also the one that had us wondering who Joe Wright, like his equally mutable heroine, really is.
Charisma on two levels in Telluride
Michael Shannon in "The Iceman"
Credit: Millennium Films
TELLURIDE - I'm not the Noah Baumbach subscriber many of my colleagues are. I even choked a little bit yesterday at the premiere of "Frances Ha" when Scott Foundas, in introducing the director, called him "the voice of his generation." But I do think a case may have been made in his latest.
The film is Woody Allen by way of Williamsburg, "Girls" by way of...well, Baumbach. And it's easily his best yet, his most thematically refined outing. And it's been interesting to see some call it his least essential, others his best effort. But few have bad words for it. At the center is a fantastic, flighty portrayal from Greta Gerwig, continuing her indie star rise, but I was once again charmed right out of my seat by Adam Driver.
You'll probably recall him for his work in Lena Dunham's aforementioned HBO series, and yes, he's treading similar waters here. But there's something so charismatic and easy, assured and magnetic about the actor. I'd say when he was on screen, I was most invested in the film. And I hope he gets more and more work.