BERLIN - Just as no book should be judged by its cover, no film should be judged by its title -- though that doesn't stop us from occasionally doing so anyway. It's fair to say that any expectations set up by the title "Two Men in Town" are met by French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb's drab, western-infused thriller: it features at least two men, it's set in something more or less resembling a town, and it's sufficiently listless to make you believe no one could be bothered to think up something more flavorful. "Two Magnificent Men in Town." "Two Men in [Insert Town Name Here]." I'm just spitballing.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Friday night ended up providing one of the most emotional moments I've seen in all my years of attending the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It came at the end of a very long evening saluting the career of actor Robert Redford, one that wasn't even long enough, actually, as the timeline had to top out at "Ordinary People" lest the celebration spill over far too much. And it was a grace note representative of the heart of this festival.
Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips" hasn't missed a beat since that pair of surprise Oscar misses in the Best Director and Best Actor categories a few weeks back. The film pulled out a Best Adapted Screenplay WGA win last weekend and Friday night it routed fellow Best Picture nominees "Gravity," "Her" and "12 Years a Slave" to win the ACE Eddie Award for dramatic feature film editing. "American Hustle," meanwhile, bested "Nebraska" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" to claim the comedy/musical prize.
Filmmaker/editor relationships may not have the iconic status of relationships between directors and certain actors or producers or even cinematographers, but there are exceptions to this. For instance, no one has been as integral to Martin Scorsese's career as Thelma Schoonmaker. Much of Steven Spielberg's work has been shaped by the great Michael Kahn.
Usually these sorts of collaborations are marked by something special at the core of the relationship, and over the past decade, a similar one has begun to blossom in this light: Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse. Rouse has worked on nearly all of Greengrass' films, dating back to 2004's "The Bourne Supremacy," and even though their collaborations number just five, to think of one artist without the other is now a bit difficult.
To say this awards season has not gone as expected is something of an understatement. No one could have anticipated that perhaps the closest best picture race this century would be overshadowed by twenty one year-old allegations surrounding Woody Allen and his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. After almost two decades of silence, a series of tweets during the Golden Globes from Mia Farrow, Dylan's adoptive mother, and her brother, Ronan Farrow, has snowballed into a dramatic series of statements that has once again dragged these unproven allegations into something of a public spectacle.
Not everyone was expecting "Captain Phillips" writer Billy Ray to take the WGA Award last weekend -- though Kris, I believe, called it. Anyway, it seems to have been a popular win, and while he seems unlikely to repeat that triumph on Oscar night, it's nice to see one of the season's most formidable also-ran films get a moment in the sun. Ray himself has now written a good piece about his experience of writing the film -- in which he refuses to claim much credit: "I like the feeling I get when I'm working on a true story — a sense of authenticity, that I'm really reporting and not just writing ... [Phillips], like the movie itself, is real and unvarnished, imperfect but thoroughly human. I always felt there was a real nobility in that; my job was simply to capture it. In that sense, it's really Captain Phillips who wrote this movie — I just wrote it down." [LA Times]
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio hit the stage at the Arlington Theatre Thursday night as co-recipients of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Cinema Vanguard Award. A two-hour discussion, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy, covered all bases of their 12-year pas de deux, including, of course, their introduction to each other's work.
The unexpected love thrown to "Dallas Buyers Club" by the Academy was on of the best surprises when the Oscar nominations were announced last month. The film's 6 nods are a testament to the moving direction of Jean-Marc Valle (he earned an editing nod), the smart script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and, obviously, the career best performances from stars Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner and other unheralded members of the film's ensemble. McConaughey and Leto are the frontrunners in the best actor and best supporting actor categories respectively and have deservedly swept the equivalent Golden Globe and SAG Awards honors.
It's taken five weeks, but 2014 finally has a great movie on its hands. No, it's not "Boyhood," any other selection from the Sundance Film Festival last month or Lars Von Trier's slightly overrated "Nymphomaniac." It's Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel." That's no disrespect to Richard Linklater's buzzed drama, it's no doubt great. "Grand Budapest" is very different from "Boyhoood" or any other film that screened in Park City. Simply, Anderson's latest is an example of an auteur at the peak of his cinematic powers.
BERLIN - At no point in its fleet runtime does anyone break into an actual dance routine -- and honestly, someone probably should -- yet the average Busby Berkeley musical barely contains as much regimented choreography as Wes Anderson's dizzy, chintzy and improbably touching "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Cast members don't walk; they glide, skip and occasionally pop into the frame as if released by a lever. The camera doesn't pan or track; it whirls and soars. The mise-en-scene is pulled into shape via an intricate operation of cogs and pulleys -- some of them visible. All moving parts -- cars, trains, bobsleds, even actors -- run like artisan-built clockwork toys.