No one needs awards coverage this deep
Kris ties the knot today
Okay, we haven't done of these in a while -- welcome (back) to Cinejabber, your weekend open thread to kick around whatever's on your mind film-wise or otherwise, while we seek life beyond the movie theater.
This weekend, however, the biggest event in the In Contention family has nothing to do with the box-office blocks being predictably busted by "The Hunger Games," the current industry hot topic of Variety going up for sale or, indeed, anything to do with the movies whatsoever. Today, I'm happy to remind you, a certain guy we all know and hopefully love, Kris Tapley, is getting married to his longtime partner and fiancée, April Smith. And I'm sure I speak for us all when I say I couldn't be happier for them.
Not to get into speech mode or anything, but Kris has been an invaluable friend and colleague to me for over four years now, and it pains me that I can't be in Los Angeles to share the most important day of his life with him. I had the pleasure of meeting April in London back in 2008, and know what a special and storied relationship she and Kris share; I was delighted to hear of their engagement the following year, and am thrilled it's all coming together today.
Fledgling distributor Adopt Films has U.S. rights to Miguel Gomes's film
We're not quite past the first quarter yet, but I feel comfortable saying that if December arrives and Miguel Gomes's "Tabu" isn't on my Top 10 of 2012 list, we have one hell of a year ahead of us. This Portuguese black-and-white marvel was, as I rather gushingly wrote back in February, the highlight of an unexpectedly strong Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize for Innovation. It stands comfortably as my favorite film of the year so far, which sounds like fainter praise than it is.
Earlier this week, a Portuguese trailer surfaced -- and while the absence of subtitles might leave you a little confused, the glimpses of its swoony imagery and soundtrack should hopefully give you some idea of why I'm so besotted with the film. To be honest, even with subtitles, chances are you wouldn't be much the wiser as to what's going on in this enigmatic fusion of contemporary absurdist comedy and luscious period romance -- though you would have a clearer sense of how rhythmically and poetically written it is atop its more immediate sensual delights.
The long-awaited adaptation opens today
It's heeeeeere. "John Carter" may have got blockbuster season off to a false (if unseasonally early) start, but the real deal arrives today -- Gary Ross's adaptation of Suzanne Collins' young-adult publishing phenomenon "The Hunger Games" has been breathlessly anticipated for months, if not years, and early box-office numbers (not to mention a broad swathe of reviews) already suggest the hype has not been misplaced. I confess I haven't seen it yet. Ill health got in the way of press screenings this week, plus I've been dutifully catching up on the book -- which, rather to my surprise, I found entirely captivating. So I'll be queuing with all the other excited punters this weekend; in the meantime, if/when you've seen it, be sure to share your thoughts here.
The Oscar winner gives the performance of her career in 'The Deep Blue Sea'
First off, apologies for the slow business around here this week. As some of you may know, Kris is on leave, occupied with the small matter of his wedding on Saturday. And while I'm supposed to be keeping things on track in his absence, I've been hit by a mystery illness this week that hasn't done much for my posting efficiency. Unfortunate timing on my part, but things are looking up -- do bear with me.
One item I've been meaning to write that got unduly waylaid this week is a review of Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea," which I saw at the London Film Festival last October and has been waltzing in and out of my mind ever since. It finally lands in US theaters tomorrow, and while I'm still hoping to finish an appraisal of the film as a whole -- which, as you'd expect from as rigorously mannered a stylist as Davies, is as fascinating in the ways it doesn't quite coalesce as in the instances it quite gloriously does -- I'd like to pre-empt that discussion with an unqualified endorsement of its standout feature: the astonishing lead performance of Rachel Weisz.
'Downton Abbey' creator claims his take will "set the record straight"
For some reason, amid the building media hype about the release, I feel oddly disinclined to see "Titanic 3D" -- neither because I fear, as Roger Ebert bemoaned, the defacement of some kind of masterpiece, nor because I so dislike the film as to make an active point of not revisiting it.
That said, I somehow haven't revisited it since December 1997, though it certainly hasn't slipped from memory. What I remember fondly of it (and there's much to go under that column) I remember vividly enough not to crave a reminder. I also remember much that was lunky and crass and tin-eared, none of it likely to be remedied by an extra dimension. The film's charms are, in my mind, irrevocably tied to conditions of who and where I was when I first saw it, aged 14, smack in the middle of the demographic that rather infectiously lost their collective minds for it that summer. (Yes, I was in the southern hemisphere then.) Historical epic it may be, but it's a teenage time-capsule piece for me, and coating it in the ubiquitous 21st-century veneer of state-of-the-art 3D seems somehow anachronistic. I'm not claiming it's rational, but it's why I'm personally resisting.
Check out her award-caliber performance on iTunes and Video On Demand
We spend so much time in the blogosphere looking forward to things that we don't always notice, or at least sufficiently discuss, worthwhile work that is ready for viewing right away. For so many films, all conversation about them ceases the second they become available to audiences -- which is least kind, of course, to small specialty items that need sustained chatter to prod the viewers they deserve.
This is a roundabout way of expressing my regret that Liza Johnson's independent drama "Return" -- which I saw and greatly liked in Directors' Fortnight at Cannes last year, and had been looking forward to spotlighting closer to its release -- actually hit US screens last month, and amid the flurry of Oscar-related coverage, I somehow didn't notice.
Hey, better late than never. The film, a modest, intelligent entry in the growing American genre of post-Iraq war-at-home studies, may have largely vanished from theaters, but Focus Features has made it available on iTunes and On Demand, and you owe it to yourself to dig it out. More pointedly, you owe it to Linda Cardellini, who has quietly delivered the performance of her -- or many an undersung TV actor's -- career here.
Allen's newly titled 'To Rome With Love' set for a June release
Having hit paydirt less than a year ago with "Midnight in Paris" -- which, in case you've forgotten, became the highest-grossing film of Woody Allen's career and nabbed him a fourth Oscar to boot -- Sony Pictures Classics is clearly keen to woo the same audience that fell for the film's romantic European charms to his next effort. Originally dubbed "Nero Fiddled," Allen's latest has been granted a new title that couldn't sound much more cannily focus-grouped if it tried: "To Rome With Love."
If you loved what Woody did for the City of Lights, one imagines the marketers thinking, just wait until you see him in the Eternal City. And fair play to them: with "Paris" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" standing comfortably as Allen's best-received films of recent years, perhaps including the location in the title has become his lucky charm. (Meanwhile, uninformed viewers could be forgiven for mistaking the film for another entry in the popular recent series of portmanteau films that has given us "Paris Je T'Aime" and "New York, I Love You.")
The filmmaker talks his latest film at SXSW
AUSTIN, Texas - When you live in a world filled with newscasts reporting terrible acts of inhumanity, reality television shows that celebrate terrible values and actual people who use their value system as a weapon against others who don’t share it, it feels like there’s plenty of motivation for almost any filmmaker to create a film like “God Bless America.” But if you ask writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait, he said the idea was inspired by decidedly more mundane circumstances: “It was a Christmas present to my wife, so the catalyst was me being a cheap husband.”
Goldthwait, of course, has been working for decades in Hollywood creating iconic characterizations and hugely successful comedy routines with a singular, supremely distinct voice. (It helps that he actually used a fake one for so many years.) But as a filmmaker, he said that the ideas for films like his latest come from what he shares in common with others, not how they stand apart. “It kind of was like a love letter to her, because Roxy and Frank’s conversations are the same ones we have at home. And I always say that the key to a good relationship isn't liking the same things, it’s hating the same things, because that will make a very smooth road."
Latest glimpse of Ridley Scott's sci-fi blockbuster has internet abuzz
So, what did you see over the weekend? "21 Jump Street," possibly -- though to judge from recent chatter on Twitter and elsewhere, no new release got people more excited over the past two days than the 150-second trailer for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," the possible "Alien" prequel with a dream cast headed up by Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender. Multiplex junkies and critics alike have been drooling over the possibilities since the first teasers debuted months ago; each new scrap that gets released seems only to heighten expectations.
Some readers asked why we haven't chimed in with our own take on the latest trailer -- it's certainly not because we aren't psyched for the film, which ranked at #3 in our Most Anticipated of 2012 list. Kris, of course, is on pre-wedding hiatus, though I'm sure he'd have thoughts on it otherwise. I, meanwhile, have no thoughts whatsoever on this or any other "Prometheus" trailer -- not least because I have painstakingly avoided seeing the lot. My no-trailers diet is still in effect for the most part, and I'm far too intrigued by this on-paper proposition to spoil my appetite now.
This year's fest offered films from good to bad, but almost nothing great
AUSTIN, Texas - After 10 days and seemingly hundreds of films, the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival closes this weekend. In typical form, I saw almost none of the ones that ended up taking home trophies. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of film festival coverage – you try to be strategic, see things that received good feedback from others, and when possible, stray into auditoriums in your spare time hoping to uncover a gem. But even after six days, I missed the Narrative winner, “Gimme the Loot,” and the Documentary winner, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” as well as the Audience winners for the Narrative (“Eden”) and Documentary (“Bay of All Saints”) categories.
Nevertheless, I saw quite a gauntlet of films programmed to play during the festival, including several that preciously appeared at Sundance, such as Craig Zobel’s transgressive “Compliance” and Joe Berlinger’s “Under African Skies.” But even the wonderful “21 Jump Street” and the thrilling “The Raid: Redemption” were easily among the best films I saw. Both of those appeared essentially as stopovers en route to their theatrical releases, whereas a lot of selections build buzz at festivals like this one, and the fate of many others hung in the balance in a very real way based purely on the response of attendees.