The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced recipients of the 2014 Honorary Oscars, to be presented at the annual Governors Awards ceremony in November. Writer and actor Jean-Claude Carrière ("The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"), Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro," "Spirited Away") and actress Maureen O'Hara ("The Parent Trap," "The Quiet Man") will receive Honorary Awards, while, singer/songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte will receive the organization's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
TELLURIDE — With all the reindeer games going on in the fall festival world, a lot of the drama and mystery surrounding Telluride's perennially on-the-lowdown program began to seep out like a steadily deflating balloon this year. Toronto, Venice and New York notations of "World Premiere," "Canada Premiere," "New York Premiere" or "International Premiere" and the like made it all rather obvious which films were heading to the San Juans for the 41st edition of the tiny mining village's cinephile gathering, and which were not. But the fact is, if you're in it just for the surprises — or certainly, for the awards-baiting heavies — you're never going to be fully satisfied by the Telluride experience. That having been said, this year's program might just be the most exciting one in my six years of attending.
Ivan Reitman's "Ghostbusters" celebrated its 30th anniversary back in June, but with a new 4K theatrical re-release on the way from Sony, today has been dubbed "National 'Ghostbusters' Day." Well, of course we should do something special.
VENICE - When high schoolers Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) successfully fix up a couple of single teachers in Amy Heckerling's seminal teen hit "Clueless", the pampered girls coo "Old people can be so sweet!" as the targets of their matchmaking begin to enjoy a tentative romance. The joke is on the naive teens; we're laughing at their blithely patronizing attitude towards their elders. Would that all films were as smart as Heckerling's Jane Austen revamp.
A release date has been set for the police thriller "Triple Nine" from director John Hillcoat ("Lawless," "The Proposition"), which stars a slew of Oscar winners and nominees.
VENICE - Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act Of Killing" was an incredibly uncomfortable watch for many reasons. Not least its close alignment - narratively, if not morally - with Indonesian death squad veterans, as they re-enacted the atrocities they had committed in the style of their favorite films. "The Look Of Silence", styled as a companion piece rather than a sequel, redresses the balance. This time, the surviving family members of Ramli, one of the the victims, are the focus, and the style is appropriately restrained.
VENICE - Truth or dare? This is a game played by two characters in magnificently acidic metatextual comedy "Birdman." It's also the film as a three-word question. Truth or dare? Real stage actor or star? You can have your artistic integrity, or you can have a hit. You can go Method, or you can really fly. You can be Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), or you can be Birdman (Riggan Thomson). Initially, "Birdman" poses as a trenchant critique of the seemingly endless parade of men in capes that is the summer blockbuster season (Michael Fassbender and Robert Downey Jr. are name-checked as fine actors currently otherwise occupied), but it's actually rather more nuanced than that.
VENICE - NBC's "The Office" rang frequent laughs from Dwight Schrute's beet farm, with glimpses of backwards Cousin Mose and his feral antics proving particularly fertile ground for comedy ("And as of this morning, we are completely wireless here at Schrute Farms, but as soon as I find out where Mose hid all the wires, we'll get all that power back on.") This kind of vaguely unsettling boys-on-the-farm vibe is played straight in "The Goob", a character piece that has atmosphere to spare, and whose minimal plot is helped along by the happily original setting; this might be the first film shot in Norfolk to premiere at Venice.
Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor Richard Attenborough, who delighted cinema audiences across some six decades, has died, according to his son. He was 90 years old.
Ava DuVernay's "Selma" is going to come around at a particularly noteworthy time. Yes, it's been 50 years since the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and yes, it's been 49 years since the passing of the voter rights act. But as we look around today, it's perfectly clear: the more things change, the more they stay the same.