a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for August, 2013

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Meet Dave Quay! A Star is Born!

Stephen Holt introduces multi-talented young actor, filmmaker, clown Dave Quay, recently graduated from the prestigious NYU Grad Acting program. He’s appearing in a new play “The Rufus Equation” in the NYC Fringe Festival and prepping his own clown show “Until Next Time” for the New York Clown Festival in late September in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Camera & Editing ~ Michael Grinfeld

Meryl Streep in SUPPORTING for “August”??? I don’t think so…

One of the wackiest things I’ve heard in ages is Meryl Streep being announced as going Supporting for “August:Osage County.” Her character Violet Westin is an award-magnet bravura tour-de-force kind of role.It’s clearly the lead. It won Deanna Dunagan, a Chicago actress who debuted the part on Broadway a Tony Award.

Her co-star Amy Morton was nominated for the role of Violet’s confrontational daughter, but lost to Dunagan at the Tonys. Julia Roberts is playing this difficult part in the movie version, and we all wish her well. And hope she outdoes and confounds expectations, as I think she will.

Putting Meryl in Supporting leaves Julia as a Best Actress likely nominee, as we’re talking about her chances, too, at this moment. And then Julia on her own could get all the “August:Osage” votes, the thinking most be. She and Meryl could split the vote were they BOTH put in this category, both in Best Actress.

Putting Meryl in Supporting then pits her AGAINST Oprah Winfrey for “Lee Daniels’The Butler”. Both are Weinstein films? WHAT is Harvey Weinstein thinking? He’s also got a pretty good shot with Octavia Spencer for “Fruitvale Station.” Sharon Stone is also a likely nominee as Linda Lovelace’s straight-laced mother in “Lovelace.” Those are ALLLLLL Harvey’s films!

Now, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences allows its’ members to nominate actors and actresses in whichever category it chooses to put them into. So like the year Kate Winslet won Best Actress for “The Reader” even though Harvey campaigned her in Supporting for that movie.

If you may remember, that year Kate W. won BOTH Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes, who do follow the studios dictates.

So I think this is all just publicity palaver to get people to talk about “August:Osage” and ALLLL the wonderful performances by women I’m sure it contains. I can’t wait to see it at the Toronto Film Festival in a few weeks.

I think the Academy will put Meryl in the lead, and Julia, too, if they both deserve to be their.

And WHY is this all happening? Fear of Cate Blanchett’s great “Blue Jasmine.”

“August: Osage” after Toronto is going underground and will not be seen again or screened until Thanksgiving. Harvey’s release plan EXACTLY for “The King’s Speech.” But this ploy is so outlandish, it may lead Academy voters to vote for none of the “Osage” actresses and is just handing the win over to Cate Blanchett. Or is it?

Stay tuned. Drama ensues.

“Breaking Bad” Season 5, Ep.9, Really Season 6, Ep.1

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

Everything that I predicted would happen in my last post happened. Hank figures out Walt is Heisenberg, the evil drug lord he’s been seeking. Hank’s implosion takes up most of the episode and he doesn’t quite know how to handle it, to put it VERY mildly. He punches Walt out in a tremendously impactful finale moment in his garage. The coming down of a closing garage door in the background at this moment is spectacularly simple and spectacularly ominous as it symbolizes that the lights are going to go out on Walt’s world.

Dean Norris as Hank is at his absolute best ever in this episode. He’s verging on a heart attack and absolutely losing his mind over the revelation that Walt is Heisenberg. Hank also senses that Skyler, Walt’s wife(Anna Gunn) is somehow in a this too. And she is. But he has no idea how much.

And Walt tells him that all his “theories” are “ridiculous” and that he can’t prove a thing. Walter tells him that he “will never spend a day in a jail cell” and “if he wants to pursue this”, he’d better “tread lightly”

I love the emphasis multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston gave to the words “TRED LIGHTLY.” He was threatened Hank as much as Hank was threatening him. Brilliant scene brilliantly played.

Jesse, (two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul) is losing it, too. He’s incredibly depressed because of the death of the young boy who got shot at the site of the train heist. Nothing Walt can do or say can seem to snap him out of it. The writers are going out of their way, it seems, to make Jesse sympathetic, as his curtain is ringing down, too. He wants to give away all his money to the grand-daughter of the late Mike, who he doesn’t know, but senses, is dead.

And Walt, as we the audience know, killed Mike in the last episode of the last season. But Walt is lying his head off to Jesse that Mike is still alive. And Jesse only half believes him. With good reason.

In a memorable moment, he gives away a huge chunk of cash to a rather reluctant homeless man, who just wants some change, not a gigantic wad of bills.

Jesse then continues on his mid-night ride through poor neighborhoods just throwing neatly wrapped stacks of bills on the front lawns of all the houses, some landing in the bushes, some actually going down a drain.

Skyler meanwhile comes full circle to Lady Macbeth. Period. She has a chilling confrontation scene with Lydia, the Madrigal corporate exec, who comes to their car-wash, she is so desperate to talk to Walt about the decline in quality of the meth she’s getting…

He keeps saying that he’s “out of it. I’m done.”

AND his cancer has come back. And he’s undergoing chemo again. And he tells Hank this is their big final confrontation scene. “My cancer has come back. I’ll be dead in a few months.”

Also we see at the beginning of the show, in a teaser before the opening credits, that the White’s House has been abandoned and boarded up. Walt is there to retrieve the Rycin he hid earlier in a wall socket, and there’s graffiti everywhere saying “Heisenberg” in BIG LETTERS all over the front living room wall. And there’s a gate and barbed wire encircling the property and the local kids are using the drained swimming pool as a skate-boarding rink. And a startled woman neighbor sees Walt and drops all her groceries which consist seemingly of nothing but oranges, as Walt says a cheery “Hello Carol.”

“Hello, Carol” and “Tred lightly” both lines of Walt’s delivered by Bryan Cranston, who is on his way to his fourth, or is it fifth(?) Emmy, I’m soooo sure.

I watched this online at http://www.amctv.com, on Monday night, because I don’t get AMC on my cable. But I’m glad I caught up with it. Thrilled actually. And the series-long confrontation between Walt and Hank in the garage was only about five minutes long, but WHAT AN ENDING for this episode!

What’s going to happen on Breakjng Bad tonight? My Guess.

This is just informed speculation, mind you, but with the beginning of the final season of “Breaking Bad’ only eight of them, the options like Walter White’s himself’s are growing more and more limited.

We left off with Dean Norris, who marvelously plays DEA agent & Walt’s brother-in-law Hank, suddenly having his “A Ha!” moment on the john as he reads a dedication to Walt’s in a paperback copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” that Walt has carelessly left in the guest bathroom.

In that now-famous copy of that probably more -read-than-ever book of Civil War-Era poetry, Hank sees a dedication that looks like it’s in Gael Bedeckker’s handwriting. Gael was the mild-mannered(read Gay) meth lab assistant that Jesse( the super-nova two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul) shot in the face a couple of seasons back.

Gael’s presence has emanated down the series, haunting it as it were, and I have to take a minute to rave about the superb New York actor David Costabile who played it so memorably, whose work I first became aware of at NYU Grad Acting in the Class of 1995.

But I do have to say that David’s work then as now with Gael and also in “Lincoln” this year, was always excellent. He also wrote a three person clown show called “The New Bozeena” Bozeena I think was a favorite Polish waitress at a local café on Second Ave. right next to one of NYU’s main building. It was so good it eventually went off-Broadway. He wrote it with Kevin Isola, a fellow classmate and performer, and another NYU chum, and all three I think made it into some group crowd scenes in Jim Carrey’s movie “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Needless to say, with Gael Bedeckker, David stepped into television history with “Breaking Bad.” As have all the leading actors. There’s no small parts, only small actors. And David Costabile is a HUGE talent.

But it’s the writing that stays so excellent, consistently, season after season that is what makes “Breaking Bad” the phenomenon it has been for the past five years.

So you have to ask yourself, what would these writers do with the end in sight? Well, I think we’re facing a blood-bath of most of the leading characters. So something like it.

We know that Bob Odenkirk’s hilariously low-life lawyer, survives because creator extraordinare Vince Gilligan has said in many forums that he hopes that there is going to be a spin-off series of “Better Call Saul.” In the works, as they say.

I think we pretty much can figure that this news of Walt’s knowing Gael and Hank’s “hunch” will profoundly freak out Hank and send him back to reviewing ALLLLL the information he’s obsessively accumulated about the mysterious “Heisenberg” Walt’s Meth Lord Alter Ego. I would say it launches him into a wild tail-spin of emotions. Does he tell his wife? Blabbermouth Marie? Seeing as how these astute writing team of “Breaking Bad” like to prolong things as long as possible, I would say that “No. He doesn’t tell Marie.” At least not in this first new episode.

Hank excellent DEA agent that he is would proceed cautiously. But proceed he will. Will he confront Walt this first episode? That might be one sharp way of ending it. Then we’re left with “What will Walt do?”

We know from the first episode teaser of Season Five. it’s a year later and Walt has grown all his hair back, changed his name, is living in another state and carrying a sub-machine gun in his trunk. An AK 47.

We also know, since I do listen to all the writers and Gilligan, talking on the Special Features that the new corporate gal from Madrigal, played by Scottish actress, Laura Fraser, is going to have a love interest, but it’s not Walt or Jesse. And we probably see a lot more of her excellent work(you could never tell that her frazzled exec was being played by a Scottish actress!) in Episode One Season Five A as I think they’re calling it.

And Skyler? Who has now gotten the children over to Hank and Marie’s is slowly unraveling. I bet she gets worse. Also the kids being at Hank and Marie’s would be another reason for Hank to keep his mouth shut around Marie…

And RJ Mitte. who is so touching as the cerebral palsied son Walt, Jr. has let it slip that “Hank Jr. faces a decision. He has to choose between his uncle and his father.” So he eventually finds out, too.

So who comes out of this alive? We see Saul, has survived, but everybody else is dubious. It’s a matter of life and death FOR ALL OF THEM!STAY TUNED!

Oscar Thoughts Pre-TIFF ~”August:Osage County” Out in Front

For those of you who MUST know what’s going on Oscarwise Pre-TIFF, it’s pretty clear to me. TIFF is absolutely essential to next year’s Oscar Winner. It is THEEE premiere Oscar launch pad, no question.

Last year, I remember being told there were TWO films I absolutely could not get into if I missed their Press & Industry or P&I screenings, which I
did. Those are the screenings, I, as an accredited journalist, are SUPPOSED to legitmately attend, and didn’t. I missed them both. They were “Argo” and “The Master” and of course, “Argo” won the Oscar.

That’s a pretty good indicator to me. And in recent years past, “The Artist” started there. And the year before that “The King’s Speech” which ended up winning the Audience Award there. That’s a pretty damn good average…and it continues to hold, I’m thinking.

All the major Oscar contenders are heading there “August:Osage County” main among them. And yes, it’s the Weinstein Co.AGAIN. It’s being shown there and only there before Thanksgiving screenings begin around its’ release date.

This is the classic pattern that both Weinstein winners TKS and TA followed exactly. To a “T” Why fix something that isn’t broken, thinks Harvey Weinstein, I’m so sure.

Sasha Stone posits at the always excellent www.awardsdaily.com that Telluride figures into this, too, but never having been there, I can’t say as surely as she can, who goes there every year now.

But she’s right in that even “The King’s Speech” started there. Not Toronto. It only preceeded it by a few days, but still. 

I’ll never forget future Oscar winning director Tom Hooper telling me the excitement he, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush all felt sitting together in the dark at Telluride and they’re sensing the audience’s excitement. By Toronto, it was totally clear to me that it had already won the race. And it did.

New York has had the dubious distinction of recent years in invariably opening the film that comes in SECOND.
“The Life of Pi”, “The Social Network”, “Lincoln”, “Hugo” and with Tom Hanks’ new vehcile “Capt. Phillips,” it looks like that my happen again. In fact, I think you can count on it.

The Industry Poo-Bahs have all decided that Toronto and TIFF are IT as far as Oscar is concerned and I bet every Oscar strategist out there will agree. Of course, Toronto is very risky. It can also sink a  film’s chances, too. It’s a risk you run, and it’s a brutal, competitive, bloody race, this Oscar dash to the finish line.

Which this year isn’t until MARCH btw. So it’s a long race this year too.

Having seen “August:Osage County” on the Broadway stage THREE times, I would place my bet on this pony, as Tom O’Neil, my idol, at www.goldderby.com would say.

I can tell you with surety though, that Harvey Weinstein will schedule an 8:45am press & industry screening at Toronto and that I will line up an hour early to get in. For “The King’s Speech” I remember getting up at 5:30AM to get to the inconveniently located theater on time. AND I was FIRST ON LINE! And the first one in  It was thrilling. And I’m betting I do it all over again for “August:Osage County.”

Video

Melonie Diaz Sizzles in Super-Hot Oscar Contender “Fruitvale Station’

The lovely and charming Melonie Diaz of the much Oscar-buzzed “Fruitvale Station” a Sundance and Cannes sensation that couldn’t be more timely. Melonie reveals that she studied directing at NYU Film School! And discusses her relationship with Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer who plays her mother-in-law in the ripped-from-the-headlines movie.

“Breaking Bad” I Love It! Watched EVERY SINGLE episode!

Everybody kept telling me for years to watch “Breaking Bad,” which starts its’ final eight episode run tonight at 9pm on AMC, but I never did. I kept thinking “Drugs? A middle-aged professor-type? Bryan Cranston? Who? Meth? What?”

Then Bryan Cranston kept winning Emmy after Emmy for Best Actor…

Then the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that it was honoring “Breaking Bad” “TV’s Best Series” by having an unprecedented marathon run of EVERY SINGLE episode for FREE at its’ Elinor Bunim theater at Lincoln Center, and well, I thought if THEY are doing this….there must be something to it.

So I started watching it all about a month ago and just couldn’t stop! Color me surprised! It was as addictive as the Crystal Meth the series revolves around. Not that I’ve ever taken any or know anyone who has, but you certainly get totally immersed in the Crystal Methamphetamine culture of Albuquerque, New Mexico and pretty soon, almost immediately in fact, I was hooked. 

And yes, Bryan Cranston deserved all those Emmys and so does Aaron Paul, his former chemistry student/protégé/partner as Jesse Pinkham, a name that will in television history.

The Paul/Cranston duo, their whole father/son, December/May relationship is what really holds the series together, I feel. Its’ elucidation and intensely involving evolution over five series and hundreds of episodes breaks new ground constantly in this unbelievably well-done-in-every-way television series, and makes the case for “TV being the new Movie.” Very much like the Ripley novels of the late Patricia Highsmith, “Breaking Bad” takes you from identifying wholly with the milquetoast, underpaid Chemistry teacher Walter White and takes him and us in to the dark underground world of drug dealing and meth making that is very much like Alice going down the rabbit hole, as Walter White follows Jesse Pinkman into a bizarre, meth-fueled world that gets more and more frightening as the series progresses.

Being so late to the party in this case, I would hate to spoil any other late-comers delight by giving away plot points, but just let me continue the praise that has been heaped on Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and the show’s creator Vince Gilligan.

This is very much like a low-budget indie thriller that you never want to end, it’s so riveting, and guess what? It doesn’t end! Not for five TV seasons, with yet more to come! Bryan Cranston proves himself a great American actor here. The former forgettable father of “Malcolm in the Middle” totally blows your mind in episode after episode. His range is staggering. The award-winning “Breaking Bad” writers throw everything but the kitchen sink at Cranston, and he meets their daunting challenges at every turn. An unsung and overlooked character actor well into his middle years has found the role of his career beyond a doubt and risen to the ranks of American’s finest and television’s greatest.

Ditto Aaron Paul’s Pinkham. Pathetic, needy, irritating, whiney, never-wracking, infuriating and utterly adorable, Aaron Paul also proves Himself as one of America’s finest YOUNG actors. And he’s won a couple of Emmys, too. And is prized to win, along with Cranston, Gilligan and the writers, more accolades in the every near future.

The starting premise of “Breaking Bad” is so brilliant, a middle-aged, hen-pecked high school chemistry teacher finds his inner Don Corleone, or as Gilligan likes to say “Scarface”, with a wife who doesn’t understand him, and a son with cerebral palsy, and a brother-in-law in the DEA, who gets obsessed with catching this ever-elusive “Heisenberg”.

Dean Norris is the new King of Cops as the ever-vigilant brother-in-law from hell. It’s taken him five television seasons to eventually come to the startling conclusion that the “W.W.” he has been seeking is living right in his own backyard. He’s on the commode poring over evidence when it FINALLY hits him, which is where we have left them all.

The women in “Breaking Bad” are nowhere near as strongly drawn as the male characters. I hate to knock them now, without seeing how this all plays out, but Anna Gunn(no, that’s her REAL name) as Schuyler White and Betsy Brandt as her sister and the wife of the DEA Agent Norris, are thumpingly ordinary and suburban, but I guess they are supposed to be.

And Ms. Gunn has the daunting task of having nearly all her scenes with the uber-brilliant Brian Cranston, as her husband, and she just can’t hold a candle to him.
As her marriage unravels and ravels again, it’s the “marriage” of Walter White & Jesse Pinkman(Emmy winners Cranston & Paul) that compels us. It’s gone through every single permutation a partnership can go through, every thing except exploring that homo-erotic undertones that it just reeks of. THAT hasn’t been gone in to yet. But there’s still eight more episodes coming our way. We can only hope…

I just wish I had AMC on my channel system. But dear readers be careful about what you read about “Breaking Bad” re: the eight new episodes, there are bound to be spoilers everywhere online once it starts unveiling its’ tightly guarded secrets which start unspooling tonight at nine.

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