As Benjamin Franklin once said, "The only things certain in life are death, taxes and a new Woody Allen movie every single year." I paraphrase, but only for the sake of greater accuracy: now 77 years old, the quintessential New York writer-director shows no sign of relaxing his work rate. And why would he? His output is hit-and-miss, but only two years ago, "Midnight in Paris" proved that he can still hit pretty squarely, scoring the highest box office returns of his career and a fourth Oscar to boot.
All-star music festivals are a dime a dozen every summer -- as, for that matter, are film festivals, at any time of year. Festivals that mix the two, however, are still relatively thin on the ground. The US, famously, has South by Southwest in the spring, and for the last three years, the Swedes have taken a leaf from their playbook (right down to the hat-tipping name) with the Way Out West fest, which takes place this year in Gothenberg on the weekend of August 8 to 10.
Fairly soon, the first formal contenders will start trickling into the race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, as individual national committees make their official selections and submit them to the Academy for consideration. It's a trickle that will swiftly turn into a flood as the submission deadline of October 1 nears. Last year, 71 countries entered the race -- an all-time record that could well be beaten this year. But in a race that's all but impossible to handicap at this stage -- dependent as it is on the whims and politics of different countries, rather than the Academy itself -- what are the films we're expecting to see in the mix?
Will the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" be a big awards player at the end of the year? CBS Films is sure positioning it for that but forget all of that, forget the Grand Prix win at Cannes, etc. I just really, really want to see this movie. A Coen film just feels like an oasis in every dreary film year, so while "The Lone Ranger" may be stinking up the multiplexes next weekend, remember, we have stuff like this coming around the corner.
It seems like just yesterday Ben Affleck was on stage at the Dolby Theatre accepting his Best Picture Oscar for "Argo" and one of the more dramatic awards seasons was drawing to a close. Since then we've had a refreshing handful of months away from the fray, but today, we're going to ruin all of that, just for a moment.
Last week Greg, Guy and I offered up our "for your consideration" Oscar picks from the year's first half that we'd like to see remembered come year's end. With that as a launching off point, and with today marking the actual mid-way point of 2013, let's really dig in. How has the year shaped up for awards hopefuls so far?
When Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" crashes into theaters on July 12, you'll only be getting part of the story. The universe of the film was too big for one movie, you see. It inevitably spilled over the edges and left an excess of material without a home, but with so much to say.
I haven't yet had a chance to see "The Heat," but it's one of the summer studio movies I've been looking forward to most this year. Director Paul Feig's "Bridesmaids," if not a home run, made me laugh more than any film of its type in the last couple of years, and I'm a fully paid-up member of the Sandra Bullock fan club. (Why, yes, I do own a "Forces of Nature" DVD. Thanks for asking.) If you haven't been paying attention, this is Bullock's first leading role since winning the Oscar for "The Blind Side" nearly four years ago. Drew McWeeny didn't enjoy the film but gives it a respectable B- rating, while many critics seem to be higher on Bullock's chemistry with Melissa McCarthy than the film itself. Fine by me -- commercial movies headlined by two female stars are rare enough these days that I can accept some compromise. Is this buddy comedy worthy of them? Vote in the poll after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.
This weekend Roland Emmerich's "White House Down" hits theaters. While it's a minor romp that will either delight you or cause you to roll your eyes out of your head, it reminds of that old staple of the cinema: the movie president.
I've certainly voiced my share of regret with regard to Pixar sequels. I'm honestly not against them in principal (some might argue the "Toy Story" films got better with each subsequent installment), but I do understand frustration from those who'd like to see the animation studio steer away from the brand expansion market and back to original concepts.
That said, it's odd to me that "Monsters University" seems to be such a last straw for so many. I couldn't stand "Cars 2," and yes, I'm pretty perturbed at the notion of my favorite Pixar film receiving the sequel treatment while a film that seems to be aching for it -- "The Incredibles" -- remains singular. But I was charmed by the new "Monsters," which landed to one of the biggest openings in the studio's history last weekend. It's not the poster child here, in my opinion.
Nevertheless, it seems Pixar has heard the moaning and taken it to heart. In an interview with Pixar president Ed Catmull, Buzzfeed reveals that the studio is planning to scale back on sequels and aim for one original film each year.
Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" -- a supposed sexual odyssey with a starry cast including Shia LaBeouf, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Uma Thurman, among others -- is currently enjoying such a feverish level of anticipation that it could announce a new typeface for its credits and the internet would collectively freak out for a minute. So it's inevitable that the first, minute-long clip to be revealed from the film has been eagerly seized upon by the web -- and even more inevitable that von Trier has punked us with a wholly chaste clip that, alluring as it is, doesn't reveal much of anything (or any of its famous faces). Come on, you didn't think Lars was going to let the cat out of the bag just yet, did you?