a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2014

Wonderful Christmas Treat! “Bing Rediscovered” on PBS

Bing 1http://http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/bing-crosby/bing-crosby-rediscovered-about-the-film/3448/

You have a wonderful Christmas treat coming at you, dear readers, dear cineastes, PBS’ American Masters is going to be presenting to you in honor of the 60th anniversary of the film “White Christmas”, a terrific, charming, delightful, and also a bit frightening, “Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” It will air on Tuesday night December 2, and be repeated the day after Christmas, Dec.26. Check your local listings.

I’ve watched it twice now and it’s the perfect holiday movie, reminding us of how much a part of all our early lives Bing Crosby was. “He was like family,” one of his biographers says. Narrated by the great Stanley Tucci, it’s a no-holes-barred look at a very complicated, and some could say troubled man.

Alcoholism ruled and nearly ruined his entire life. It led to a troubled marriage. The early death of his beloved wife Dixie, at 44 from ovarian cancer. How much his and her drinking led to this, we’ll never know, and then we find all of his four sons by that marriage died one right after the other, young, too, and two of them suicides.

He got it right though with his amazing second marriage to Kathryn, who appears in the film with her three happy surviving children, one of them, Mary Crosby, became a well-known actress herself. She shot JR, if you remember on “Dallas.”

And none of his family nor any of the interview subjects including Michael Feinstein, hold back or mince words. And oh that beautiful music!

“Bing Crosby Rediscovered” is filled with marvelous, archival footage going all the way back to his early days in vaudeville!

The late Bob Hope, of course, his great on-screen comic partner, for all those “Road” movies in the ’40s is heard in voice-over. Rosemary Clooney’s  melodious singing and speaking voice is also heard commenting on how much Bing meant to her. She starred opposite him in “White Christmas.”

I remember so well the day my mother brought that red vinyl Decca 45 RPM record home from Macy’s in the Bronx. It was an event in my childhood. And how we nearly wore out the groves on it, as we listening endlessly entranced by just the THOUGHT of a white Christmas in the Bronx! It seemed an impossible, beautiful dream.  I don’t think we ever had one.

But you’ll have wonderful Christmas memories and many more delights awaiting you in “Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” It’s essential viewing for the Holiday Season. Click on the link above to see a sneak preview and don’t miss it!

Oscar Front-runner Eddie Redmayne~Three Years Ago

Oscar front-runner Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything” in  a chat with me a mere three years ago for “My Week with Marilyn”. Part One.

Thomas Sadowski Shines in Quirky Rom-Com “Take Care”

Thomas SadowskyThomas Sadowski, a rising young leading man, a star if ever there was one, shines in the quirky, dark rom-com “Take Care.” It’s written and directed by Liz Tuccillo, a writer on “Sex and the City”, and the marvelously titled “She’s Just Not That Into You.” It’s a genre piece to say the least. But it’s fighting to get out of the Rom Com box.

And it does this by focusing the film on of all things ~ extreme physical disability after a car crash. The heroine, or should I say, protagonist? Frannie is played by former Elite model and Oprah discovery of the ’80s, Leslie Bibb.

She has a very difficult role to pull off  as the super-selfish, vain crash victim. Who has chosen the daunting, if nigh impossible task of caring for herself, ON HER OWN, in a fifth floor walk-up apartment in NYC, when one arm and one leg are, if not in plaster, then incapacitated by slings and pins, etc. They will all come out, of course, because this is not a tragedy, but it veers that way when we are forced to examine Frannie’s extreme crisis situation.

And “Take Care” functions that way best, actually, by making the audience confront the actual examples of day-to-day dealing with extreme disability.

Of course, Frannie will not take the easy course nor  will Ms. Truccillo, which would have her recover from her injuries in the comfortable, caring home of her sister in New Jersey. And of course, that wouldn’t be interesting, would it? Where is the drama? Why watch THAT?

So instead we’re posited with the difficult equation of believing that narcissistic Frannie is going to coax her “Devil” of an ex-boy-friend to come over to aid her in her hour of need. Though he patently can’t stand her.

And neither can the audience, until Devon the Devil in the form of the winning Thomas Sadowski turns up, and the film really starts to happen.

She has cared for him when he was recovering from colon cancer, and now wants him to return the favor. And we can certainly see why he does NOT want to take on this screaming mimi of a difficult patient.

The film fails in the casting of Ms. Bibb in the pivotal role of Frannie. It really requires some actress/comedian like Jessica Chastain or Scarlett Johansson to be in that role. As it is Ms. Bibb wears out our patience until the adorable, reluctant Devon, acquiesces to her demands, and thereby hangs a rom-com. Devon is involved with ANOTHER super-neurotic girl-friend, a blonde this time. Frannie is a brunette. And we all know where this plot is headed LONNNNG before it gets there. But Thomas Sadowski is so perfectly believable in this far-fetched role, that he makes this difficult film enjoyable.

Where is the Carole Lombard when you really need her? Oh right, she died in a plane crash in WWII.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall 1Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers-of-theater and to all my Facebook friends, fans and readers!

Tom O’Neil at Gold Derby Now Thinks “Theory of Everything” is Going to Win Everything! And I Agree

Theory 1Oscar Pundit Extraordinaire Tom O’Neil makes me feel like he’s reading my mind! Once again! And I totally agree with him! He’s written a very stirring piece about “The Theory of Everything” being the “Dark Horse Best Picture winner” as well as Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking winning Best Actor! And he’s right!

Tom is so passionate about the Oscars, as am I, and you can read his wonderful article right here ~ http://www.goldderby.com/news/7736/theory-of-everything-eddie-redmayne-oscars-entertainment-13579086-story.html

Tom O. puts it all right out there. On the line. And already this season, he(and Gold Derby) actually influenced the race by placing Patricia Arquette in Supporting Actress, and then IFC obediently followed suit and campaigned for her there. He’s doing it again with “The Theory of Everything” and I think he’s right on.

I felt the same electric thrill when I saw it for the first time at TIFF at the first press screening. It was pure cinematic magic. Everyone in that room felt it.

Then the biggest tip-off of all was, as I was leaving the theater, I saw Rex Reed and Roger Friedman involved in a very spirited, absorbing discussion. “The Theory of Everything” had just blown their sharp Oscar-watching minds, too.


Independent Spirit Awards Announced, No “Imitation Game,”No “Wild”, No Reese

Tilda 2Marion Oscar1Birdman 1The Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning in L.A. No surprise that “Birdman” & “Boyhood” did very well, but “Selma” which STILL is in post-production broke through in several categories. However, the TWC’s big awards player “The Imitation Game” was nowhere to be seen!

Some faves of mine did pop up. Tilda Swinton, who is being honored at the Gothams here in NYC on Monday and Marion Cotillard. Both were nominated for Best Actress for “Only Lovers Left Alive” and “The Immigrant.” Would that Mlle. Marion could crack the OSCAR best actress race for ANOTHER incredible performance in the Belgian film “Two Days, One Night” which was another of her incredible performances in French. C’est la Vie! C’est la Guerre!

However, I was NOT surprised to see that neither “Wild” nor its’ leading lady, Reese Witherspoon turned up. It was a VERY tedious film. I watched the whole damn thing and STILL didn’t know why she was doing all that hiking. No Laura Dern in Supporting either for “Wild.” So not only was “Imitiation Game” shut out, “Wild” was, too!

Shut in, IOW, nominated also in as many categories as “Boyhood” was Jake Gyllenhaal’s marvelously creepy “Nightcrawler.” Yay!

THx to Hitfix for the list!

See the full list of nominations below:

Best Feature
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Love is Strange”

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”
Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
David Zellner, “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”

Best Screenplay
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, “Big Eyes”
J.C. Chandor, “A Most Violent Year”
Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Jim Jarmusch, “Only Lovers Left Alive”
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, “Love is Strange”

Best First Feature
Ana Lily Amirpour, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Justin Simien, “Dear White People”
Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Gillian Robespierre, “Obvious Child”
Anja Marquardt, “She’s Lost Control”

Best First Screenplay
Desiree Akhavan, “Appropriate Behavior”
Sara Colangelo, “Little Accidents”
Justin Lader, “The One I Love”
Anja Marquardt, “She’s Lost Control”
Justin Simien, “Dear White People”

John Cassavetes Award
Jeremy Saulnier, “Blue Ruin”
Eliza Hittman, “It Felt Like Love”
Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens, “Land Ho!”
Dave Boyle, “Man From Reno”
Chris Mason Johnson, “Test”

Best Female Lead
Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”
Rinko Kikuchi, “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
Tilda Swinton, “Only Lovers Left Alive”

Best Male Lead
André Benjamin, “Jimi: All Is By My Side”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
John Lithgow, “Love is Strange”
David Oyelowo, “Selma”

Best Supporting Female
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
Carmen Ejogo, “Selma”
Andrea Suarez Paz, “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”
Emma Stone, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Supporting Male
Riz Ahmed, “Nightcrawler”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Alfred Molina, “Love is Strange”
Edward Norton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Cinematography
Darius Khondji, “The Immigrant”
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Sean Porter, “It Felt Like Love”
Lyle Vincent, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Bradford Young, “Selma”

Best Editing  
Sandra Adair, “Boyhood”
Tom Cross, “Whiplash”
John Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Ron Patane, “A Most Violent Year”
Adam Wingard, “The Guest”

Best Documentary
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, “20,000 Days on Earth”
Laura Poitras, “CITIZENFOUR”
Debra Granik, “Stray Dog”
Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders, “The Salt of the Earth”
Orlando von Einsiedel, “Virunga”

Best International Film
Ruben Östlund, “Force Majeure”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Ida”
Andrey Zvyagintsev, “Leviathan”
Xavier Dolan, “Mommy”
Lav Diaz, “Norte, the End of History”
Jonathan Glazer, “Under the Skin”

Robert Altman Award
“Inherent Vice”

Special Distinction Award

Piaget Producers Award
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson

Someone to Watch Award
Ana Lily Amirpour, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia  , “H.”
Chris Eska, “The Retrieval”

Truer Than Fiction Award
Amanda Rose Wilder, “Approaching the Elephant”
Darius Clark Monroe, “Evolution of a Criminal”
Dan Krauss, The Kill Team”
Sara Dosa, “The Last Season”
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/birdman-boyhood-selma-lead-the-2015-independent-spirit-awards-nominations#v4s51biGLUv5lUet.99

“Finding Neverland” on GMA Thanksgiving Morning

MMorisson 1MMorisson 1“ F I N D I N G   N E V E R L A N D ”










New York (November 24, 2014) – Producer Harvey Weinstein announced this morning that ABC’s “Good Morning America” will host a special, behind-the-scenes musical performance from his Broadway-bound musical, Finding Neverland,  on Thanksgiving morning, at approximately 8:30 a.m.  The performance will kick-off a multi-part “GMA” series that will follow the highly anticipated musical to its Opening Night on Broadway next spring.  As previously announced, Finding Neverland, starring Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, Laura Michelle Kelly, and Carolee Carmello, will begin previews on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46th Street), and will open on Wednesday, April 15.


Finding Neverland co-star and Olivier Award-winning actress, Laura Michelle Kelly, and the show’s composer and multi-platinum, multi-award-winning singer/songwriter, Gary Barlow, will perform a selection from the musical on the top-rated national morning television show live from Times Square.


Mr. Weinstein commented, “We are excited to be bringing a taste of this magical musical to homes on Thanksgiving morning, and we look forward to sharing more from the show with ‘GMA’ audiences as we get ready for our Broadway opening.”


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