Lots of rumblings from the lab over at the Academy these days. Details have surfaced on what to really expect from that big May 4 membership meeting and today the organization has announced that entertainment industry magnate David Geffen has donated $25 million to the Academy's ongoing Museum of Motion Pictures project, which is enough to land his name on the big theater planned for the space. Hawk Koch sure is making a lot of waves on his watch.
The lineup for next month's Cannes Film Festival is announced next week, and while much of it is still shrouded in mystery, at least one title we're certain will show up (and one of those we're most eagerly anticipating) is Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi's "The Past."
The Iranian director of the Oscar-winning "A Separation" has never played the Croisette before; "A Separation" and his 2009 breakout "About Elly" were both Berlinale premieres, but it's time for a move up the hierarchical festival ladder. And given that Farhadi's latest is a French production, Cannes is the obvious place to unveil it -- most likely in Competition. (It opens in France on May 15, presumably simultaneously with its festival premiere.)
As I wrote in yesterday's best-to-worst overview of Danny Boyle's filmography, the otherwise cutting-edge "Trance" is something of a trip back in time for the Oscar-winning British director -- a return to the slick, sprightly genre filmmaking he routinely practised before "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours" elevated him to prestige status. That's not to say the film is a triumph. As eye-and-ear candy, it pretty irresistible; as psychological thriller, for all its convoluted structuring, I thought it shallow, rather silly stuff. (You can read my thoughts in more detail, for Time Out, here.) Still, there's much fun to be had here, and our colleague Drew McWeeny was more seduced than I was.
Expect a good time, then, but don't expect a third straight Best Picture nomination for Boyle. (A Best Cinematography nod for Anthony Dod Mantle's molten vision of modern London, however, would be well-deserved.) If you see it this weekend, be sure to check back and tell us what you thought -- and do vote in the poll below.
I have a feeling most movie-going audiences will be hitting up "Jurassic Park 3D" this weekend. Universal staked out the perfect territory to unleash this one and grab some more cash for what was already a record-breaking box office wonder to begin with. I've written my appreciation of the film as well as the 3D conversion, and we've also offered up a list of other past films that we might consider seeing in 3D if the conversions were up to snuff. Now it's time to hear what you took away from this one.
Again, Spielberg's film picked up three Oscars 20 years ago, but the night was dominated by his other effort, the Holocaust drama "Schindler's List," which itself picked up seven. Two decades on and the director is still capable of delivering spectacle in one hand and drama in the other, witnessed just two years ago with "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse." There are few filmmakers who could bring something back around and make it as big as "Jurassic Park 3D" is likely to be. If you get a chance to see it this weekend, come on back here and give us your thoughts, particularly on the 3D conversion. And feel free to vote in our poll below.
The online geek press is lined up and ready to love Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," and I've been wondering lately if they might be doing a bit of a disservice to it with such overwhelming hype. I've read the script, which has surely been studio-noted and then some since. It was elegantly written by Travis Beacham and what's most exciting is that an original concept, without the benefit of built-in fandom, got this kind of love in the studio system. So I'm looking forward to it, definitely. I just wish the noise would die down just a little bit, that's all.
In the meantime, the project has allowed Del Toro the chance to break out something like "Crimson Peak," a haunted house picture that could use the success of something like "Pacific Rim" to find its footing. And people are lining up to be a part of it, as Deadline today reports that Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone and Charlie Hunnam have all signed on to star. Hunnam also stars in "Pacific Rim."
After inking a deal with worldwide sales firm Aldamisa International in February to tackle her first directorial endeavor since 1996's "The Mirror Has Two Faces," Barbra Streisand has settled on a project: a love story based on the relationship between photographer Margaret Bourke-White and author Erskine Caldwell.
It's been interesting watching British critics dance around Danny Boyle's "Trance" (which opened in the UK last week, and hits US screens tomorrow), squaring the film's superficial genre pleasures with the director's unlikely new status as a national treasure. Boyle has, of course, been regarded with affection for some time now, both at home and abroad, but in the last five years, his career has taken a turn for the prestigious that wasn't easily seen coming.
I always found that my taste tended to line up quite a bit with Roger Ebert's, particularly when it came to our favorite movies of all time. His list of 10 best ever overlapped with mine in three instances, while other films he loved -- such as "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" -- were certainly among those I held sacred.
With the unfortunate news of his passing this afternoon, I thought I'd go back and read his thoughts on the films that popped up on my list, which I published for the first time last May. Many of them were a part of his "Great Films" series and soaking up his insight seemed like the best way to remember him today. Check out blurbs on each, linked to his respective pieces, below.
When the news landed two days ago that a meeting of the entire AMPAS membership had been scheduled in May, with "the future of the Academy" as its theme, Kris speculated that it likely wasn't as dramatic as it sounds. "One should not expect major issues like the number of Best Picture nominees or the Academy's calendar to be on the table in any significant way," he reminded us. "Those decisions are left to the elected Board of Governors."
Legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert stepped away from his perch but two days ago. Calling it a "leave of presence," he wrote that he was taking time away from the usual to work on a number of projects, and also noted a recurrence of the cancer that he had already fought off once (which silenced his voice in speech, but certainly not in print). It was as if it was the job that was keeping him here, the work at hand. And so today comes the news: Roger Ebert is dead.