The 'Take Shelter' star tips his hat to a colleague
I always love it when Variety gets a bunch of actors to wax on about their colleagues' work this time of year. There are a bunch of these: Diane Keaton on Sarah Paulson in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Robert Duvall on Christoph Waltz in "Carnage," etc.
I was mostly stoked, though, to see that my two favorite performers of the year were featured in one of these capsule assessments, as "Take Shelter" star Michael Shannon was given space to praise Woody Harrelson, whose performance in "Rampart" is easily one of the year's best.
I actually sat down with Harrelson for about an hour earlier today on the set of his new film, Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths." He ran through a few takes of a scene with Christopher Walken (which he said blew his mind) and then we headed over his trailer for the sit-down.
The film hits theaters today
Lots of stuff opening this week! Another wide release is the Michelle Williams-starrer "My Week with Marilyn," which didn't really float my boat (even if I did find the performance commendable) when I saw it last month. Still, Roth's recent interview with director Simon Curtis almost has me thinking I like the film more than I really do. Regardless, it's opening wide today and you'll all have your say soon enough (if you haven't already). So when/if you get around to the film this week, head on back here and give us your perspective.
Artists reflect on the impact of the French filmmaker's contribution to cinema
A rather landmark date seemed to come and go less than a month ago with hardly a whisper of its significance: October 26, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the first motion picture ever filmed in Hollywood.
The production took place in the orchards covering the estate of H.J. Whitely, the real estate developer who helped create Hollywood and fashion it with an industry of its own in the early part of the 20th Century. He landed the moniker "the Father of Hollywood" for his efforts. Whitely had convinced David Horsley -- an English-born pioneer of the cinema who, along with his brother, William, had essentially been run out of New Jersey by Thomas Edison and his Motion Picture Patents Company trust -- to run the film test on his property and to lease the Blondeau Tavern at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street in the heart of what is now Hollywood to develop it.
The town's first film laboratory was born the next day in that very space, one soon enough acquired by Universal Studios. And today, maybe fifty paces from those earliest beginnings of the Southern California film industry, Technicolor's shiny new offices occupy prime real estate with a mind to saving the history of cinema for posterity.
Bringing the musical to life behind the scenes
It's been a while since I linked a SoundWorks Collection profile. That needs to be remedied.
It's a pretty varied and fun week at the theaters this holiday weekend, with "Hugo" and "The Artist" making their way to theaters. But if you were to ask me what's worth seeing, I'd double down on "The Muppets" in a heartbeat.
The film is a nostalgia fest built into a massive musical with plenty of tunes in the mix. Naturally, then, it's worth considering the sound elements on the film. Gerard was smart to mention it in a recent Tech Support column dedicated to the Best Sound Mixing category. And I'm happy to see that the SoundWorks Collection has dedicated a profile to that work on the film, featuring interviews with mixer Kevin O'Connell and supervising sound editors Kami Asgar and Sean McCormack, among others. Have a look (and listen) below.
The film hits theaters today
The more I spin away from Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," the more I want to see it again. I still think, as I did when I first wrote about it, that the first half is structured in a way that doesn't embellish the mystery so much as stagnate the narrative, but I'm in love with Ben Kingsley's performance and the final half hour, which is dedicated to Scorsese's passion for the cinema. Meanwhile Guy has posted a new list dedicated to the crafts of the director's films (though I'm shocked the art direction of "Hugo" missed). The film opens today and all this hot air can finally give way to your thoughts on it, so head on back here and offer them when you get around to seeing it. (And check back later today for a big interview piece pegged to the film that will hopefully delight the cinema geek in everyone.)
Offer up your burning queries
Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll address as many as we can in Friday's podcast (which, remember, will be later in the day on Friday). I imagine we'll be talking about "The Iron Lady," the doc short list, things of that nature.
Also: Jim Henson's Muppet legacy and a free-for-all campaign party season
With a DVD/Blu-ray release imminent, Paramount is milking the "Super 8" comeback train while splitting focus with other awards contenders already in the mix. It's always tough to bring the conversation back around on a movie, especially on a summer entertainment hoping to be something more in the eyes of voters. One move was a big screening and reception at the Academy last night in honor of the release, part and parcel of a campaign party free-for-all this season. Director J.J. Abrams recently sat down with Geoff Boucher to talk about the big lessons of small budgets (conservative spending being a particular narrative on that film all year). [Hero Complex]
With the dazzling 'Hugo' hitting screens, we celebrate the technical wonders of Scorsese's cinema
I sat down to watch Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” last night with little idea of what to expect but one thing: that the screen would be awash with some of the finest, most inventive technical artistry that money (or, indeed, imagination) can buy. I was not disappointed: while I’m still sorting out my thoughts on the film as a feat of storytelling, there’s little denying that it’s one of the year’s most lustrous craft showcases, rendered in genuinely eye-popping 3D and buttressing the cinematic valentine it writes to pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès with its own arsenal of visual wonders.
Such expertise is now par for the course with Scorsese, whatever the film: I was cool on “Shutter Island” last year, but still delighted in his own delight in the filmmaking tools at his disposal – even less obviously extravagant works like “The Departed” or “Taxi Driver” are fat with aesthetic and sensory detail. That’s partly down to the director’s own genius, and partly down to the intimate collaborations he fosters with masters of their own craft: to love Scorsese is to love editor Thelma Schoonmaker, designer Dante Ferretti, DPs Michael Ballhaus and Robert Richardson, and so many more who have become part and parcel of the man’s auteur identity.
So Scorsese seemed as ideal a candidate as any for one of our occasional craft-themed lists – here, I’ve selected the 10 below-the-line contributions to his films, ranging from cinematography to sound to production design, that have most amazed me over the years.
The ‘My Week with Marilyn’ director talks Michelle Williams and capturing an icon
Next August marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. Half a century after her passing we find that Monroe remains an enduring figure in our collective consciousness. Director Simon Curtis hopes that the release of his film, “My Week with Marilyn,” will provide audiences with fresh insights into the complex nature of the cinematic icon. Indeed the film's star, Michelle Williams, is receiving consistent Oscar buzz for what many feel is a revelatory, nuanced portrayal of Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe represents both more, and less, than an actress of repute or a captivating movie star in our cultural lexicon. Marilyn, Norma Jean, the human being is often distilled to an image, a representation of an ideal, a desire, or a figurehead. Monroe herself quipped about her status as a sex symbol in her final interview: “A symbol? I always thought those were the things you clashed together.” She laughed with the journalist but went on to explore essential quagmire of being Marilyn Monroe. “See that’s the trouble is a sex symbol becomes a thing," she said. "And you just hate to be a thing.”
Veteran director gets intellectual as his Freud-Jung drama hits screens
If auteur theory has brought us to the point where directors’ surnames become definite articles describing their films (oh, if one had a dollar for every unironic reference to “The Haneke” or “The Polanski” overheard at any major film festival), the apex of auteurist achievement must be the conversion of a surname into an all-purpose adjective, used not only to describe that director’s films, but others as well.
Few of these ungainly adjectives are quite as evocative, or eagerly repeated by critics, as “Cronenbergian,” a term generally loaded with promises of physical and psychological penetration, a vague entry point into an oeuvre critic Tim Robey aptly described, referencing Cronenberg's debut feature, as the director’s “own Academy for Erotic Enquiry.”
“It can be a mixed blessing, obviously, and you could put yourself in the position of railing against your own adjectival success,” Cronenberg says with a dry lilt, his voice genially Canadian where one might expect it to sound, well, perhaps a little more Cronenbergian. “The good part is that it suggests you have a real voice in cinema that didn’t exist before, and that is a major achievement. I mean, Fellini films get called Felliniesque, so why complain? But it can also be a trap that encourages audiences to put you in a box, to the point where people might say ‘A Dangerous Method’ is not a ‘Cronenbergian’ film. And at that point, you bristle, because it’s like typecasting.”