Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and Anne and I will address as many as we can in Friday's podcast. Make 'em good!
Yesterday's news that Michael Fassbender will be hooking up with Steve McQueen for a third shot on goal (after "Hunger" and "Shame") has me excited at the beginnings of a beautiful partnership. Fassbender as Pitt or De Niro to McQueen's Fincher or Scorsese? I think we all respond to successful collaborations and these two are already off to a brilliant start. There's no doubt in my mind they have a lot of magic left in them and perhaps haven't even begun to show us anything. The new film is called "Twelve Years a Slave" and little is known about it as of now, but I'm already pumped. [Variety]
Let's see what else is going on in the Oscarweb today...
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my final date in the 2012 festival calendar -- and for a change, I don't have to spend the night before hunting for my passport. As both my hometown festival and the first one to grant me press accreditation, the BFI London Film Festival is obviously close to my heart. For several years before I gained the absurd privilege of access to Cannes, Venice and Berlin, the LFF was where, for two happy weeks, I'd annually gorge on the arthouse fare I'd frustratedly only read about for months.
Combining thorough cherry-picking of previous festival hits with less exposed pockets of world and British cinema into a broad programme of over 300 shorts and features, with a handful of world premieres and archive gems to make up the balance, it's as comprehensively curated a public-oriented festival as exists on the circuit -- even critics who have already seen many of the programme highlights at other festivals have ample room to make fresh discoveries.
The work of Douglas Trumbull on the legacy of visual effects in film is unmistakable, going all the way back to his work on "2001: A Space Odyssey." He had a hand in such groundbreaking films as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Blade Runner" and also bridged the gap, becoming a director in his own right with films like "Silent Running" and "Brainstorm."
This year Trumbull's work is on full display in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," which features a 20-odd minute analog effects sequence depicting the beginnings of the universe. He could well be recognized by his peers in the visual effects branch of the Academy for his work, and a tip of the hat by the Visual Effects Society is a good start.
The organization has tapped Trumbull as the recipient of this year's Georges Méliès Award, which honors individuals who have "pioneered a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, innovation and groundbreaking work," according to the press release.
If I haven't said anything here (or anywhere else, for that matter) about the passing of Steve Jobs, it's because it seems redundant to add thoughts when others are doing so with much more personal specificity -- about the only thing to be gained from this sad loss has been the outpouring of personal testaments to his culture-changing work, both from those who knew him and those who didn't.
Or those who fall somewhere in between, as in this oddly touching tribute in Newsweek from star screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, a longtime Mac evangelist who cultivated a semi-friendship with Jobs purely by phone -- initiated by the Apple CEO himself. It's not difficult to see how these two quick-witted, hardworking peddlers of American ideals might have found common ground; neither is it surprising to hear that Jobs was a fan of Sorkin's snappy, contemporary writing.
It's been a little over a year since Peter Mullan, that marvelously granitic Scottish actor and filmmaker, hit the festival circuit with "Neds," a vivid, punishing and sadly underseen semi-memoir of working-class adolescence arrested, in which he plays a version of his own brutal, alcoholic father.
It's a film containing what for most artists would count as several years' worth of channelled psychic pain, so it's rather distressing to contemplate the brevity of the breather Mullan must have taken between that project and his role in "Tyrannosaur," a moving, comfort-free study of personal abuse in its manifold forms.
Certain actors' faces are designed for suffering; Mullan's, it seems, more so than most. It's scarcely surprising that it'd be selected to front the feature directing debut of an actor whose hangdog mug has weathered its own share of troubles on camera: Paddy Considine, a frayed English everyman whose unassuming screen persona has nonetheless done little to prepare us for the crimson assault course of physical and verbal violence in "Tyrannosaur."
The release of Mateo Gil's "Blackthorn" last week gave me reason enough to write up a piece I've been meaning to get around to for a while now, and one a number of readers have asked about for a good long while: my list of the best westerns ever made.
Once upon a time I was considering cranking out a list of 50, right around the release of last year's "True Grit," but that quickly became a fool's errand and I abandoned it. If you want something that dense (and a list quite singular and worth debating, I must say), I'd suggest you dig into Time Out London's massive collective published on the occasion of Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff" hitting theaters earlier this year.
As I set out to chart the list, I knew a couple of things. I knew what would have a firm grip on the top spot. I knew a few contenders that were likely to situate themselves throughout, but I wasn't all that sure how my perspective on this or that entry would have changed over the years. So I sat down and re-watched a great many.
UPDATE: I've actually just been reminded that last year Fox Searchlight and Focus Features launched a digital sceener program via iTunes. Those were downloads, not streaming, though. Split hairs if you must, but now that the air is clear...
It's a brave new world. And with online streaming capabilities has come the question of reaching voters with those tools. It seems inevitable that this will eventually become standardized, but then again, I always think of guys like Peter Bart, who literally has people print out his emails for him (or at least he did as of a few years ago). Naturally I think this is the way to go. There should be further testing of the waters with critics groups, however.
For now, a step in the right direction. Paramount Pictures sent out a press release today announcing a program for digitally streaming some of its awards contenders. The first awards-giving body to have access will be the Visual Effects Society, and the first films out of the gate will be "Rango," "Super 8" and "Like Crazy." (That amazing CGI in "Like Crazy" will stand out for the VES, just you wait. #sarcasm)
The studio is teaming up with Deluxe Entertainment Services Group to launch the program, and screeners will go out October 14. Check out the full press release below.
So, Paramount took a risk and dropped an incomplete "Hugo" On the NYFF audience last night. Linked in today's round-up is my colleague Greg Ellwood's aggregation of responses. Even though press attendees were asked not to review the film, naturally, thoughts and comments trickled out throughout the night. And I have to say, I caught a big whiff of politeness from most. The general takeaway seems to be that the film starts out rather stiff and uninspired and eventually becomes an interesting if messy ode to film preservation.
Those of us who didn't attend the fest will have to wait another three weeks or so before Paramount has a complete print to screen. But for now, the film has its 15 minutes. Was it worth it? Probably. After all, no one talking about your film is worse than a few talking about it for a fleeting moment. But the line of the film seems to be set. Not to take too much away from the smallest of reactions, but I'm not sensing a strong Best Picture contender in there. Anyway, let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...
By now it's pretty obvious to everyone that tonight's not-so-secret New York Film Festival work-in-progress screening is Martin Scorsese's "Hugo." Even though Scorsese has done something like this in the past (bringing 20 minutes of "Gangs of New York" to Cannes back in 2002), it's nevertheless a curious move on the part of the master filmmaker and Paramount Pictures. The question everyone seems to be asking is, "Why?"
One can only assume the studio thinks it has something special on its hands and wants to muscle into the fall festival frame before all the other films cannibalize the conversation. Well, one can only hope, I should say. Because if "Hugo" doesn't really have the goods (I've heard iffy things here and there), then bringing it to a heavily scrutinized festival setting with incomplete effects shots and whatnot could really damage the film.
"I've always wanted to make a film in 3D," Scorsese says in a recently posted behind the scenes clip. "The story is something very emotional. Funny at times. It was like a celebration." I hope it's a celebration indeed after tonight's big reveal. Have a look at that behind the scenes clip below.