A mere two months ago people were clamoring to see Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" in Cannes. This afternoon, I watched it from my couch. Video-on-demand can be pretty awesome like that. The director's "Drive" follow-up hits theaters and VOD today and I know it's been at the top of a lot of people's lists, so assuming you've seen it or will over the weekend, tell us what you think. I found it to be little more than an exercise, but I guess I'm okay with Refn keeping in shape, so to speak. Guy wasn't too high on it at Cannes either, but that's us. Cut loose with your own thoughts in the comment section here and go ahead and vote in our poll below. And as always, feel free to discuss anything else you might have seen recently. Open thread.
Warner Bros. wasn't shy about screening James Wan's latest horror film, "The Conjuring," which is why my thoughts on the film are now a number of weeks old. They knew they had a tight piece of genre filmmaking on their hands, and that it is; the film is a huge step up for Wan, a patient, rich exercise that doesn't reinvent the wheel but tells a compelling, familiar story with a lot of control and finely tuned atmosphere. "It is enormously confident, and yet it seems to have enough faith in the audience that it doesn't come across as a big noisy assault," Drew McWeeny wrote in his review. But now it's time to hear what you have to say, so when and if you get around to the film this weekend, chalk up your thoughts in the comments section and feel free to vote in our poll. And if you've caught up with anything else you'd like to discuss, consider this an open thread otherwise.
The Weinstein Company has announced it is celebrating "Mandela Day" (today is Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday and, happily, he seems to be getting a bit better after his recent health scare) by dropping a full-length trailer for Justin Chadwick's upcoming "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." It's a bigger slice than that teaser we got last weekend, which was purely about capitalizing on star Idris Elba's presence at the multiplexes with "Pacific Rim."
Admittedly, any statistic in this business can be unique if you make it specific enough, but David Fincher's maiden Emmy nomination this morning -- Best Directing of a Drama Series for the pilot episode of Netflix's "House of Cards" -- brought him to a unique awards milestone. He's now the first person to have been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards... and the MTV Video Music Awards.
So the 2013 Emmy nominees were announced this morning. Poor Kate Mara had engine trouble (her plane, not her) in New Mexico and so Emmys host Neil Patrick Harris filled in at the last minute to announce the lucky names alongside "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul.
Looking over the nominees, yeah, okay, right, that's expected, oh that show's still on?, etc., etc. I rarely find much to get excited about in an Emmy announcement, I mean. I had all my hopes on Rob Lowe's facelift getting a supporting actor nomination for "Behind the Candelabra" and somehow they spring for the window dressing of Scott Bakula. Huh?
My favorite notices, however, came for HBO's "Veep," my favorite comedy show on television right now. Last year it got a handful of looks including, naturally, leading lady Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but this year Tony Hale and (this next part is so awesome) Anna Chlumsky got to tag along in the supporting ranks and that's just awesome.
The Venice Film Festival may be celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, but there's a separate, smaller milestone contained within it: the tenth birthday of the independent Venice Days sidebar. Founded in 2004 by an association of Italian filmmakers to showcase offbeat independent work outside the main festival selection, Venice Days is effectively the festival's equivalent of the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, and while it doesn't get as much publicity, a number of significant films have premiered there over the past decade.
A couple of weeks ago, the news landed that this year's vastly acclaimed Palme d'Or winner, Abdellatif Kechiche's romantic drama "Blue is the Warmest Color," is ineligible to be the French entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. The simple reason: its domestic release date falls nine days after the submission deadline, making it eligible for consideration in the category next year, but not this time round.
I recently caught up with Alex Gibney's terrific documentary "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," a no-nonsense study of Julian Assange's rise and fall that plays, for all our familiarity with the elements at hand, very much as a thriller. Still, the material was bound to make for a narrative film sooner or later, and sooner it is: Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate" opens on October 18, presumably after premiering on the fall festival circuit. Now the first trailer for the film has landed, and it looks to be glossy, smart mainstream entertainment.
Wong Kar-Wai's long-awaited, long-delayed martial arts epic "The Grandmaster" looked to be the dream opening film at this year's Berlin Film Festival, but it received a slightly rude awakening when it finally premiered. I was far from the only critic to voice my disappointment with the film, which bore the scars of work that had been labored over a little too long -- though it still offered sporadic thrills and ravishing beauty aplenty.