a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Corey Stall’

“Gun Hill Road” terrific new transexual indie!

I predict that the critics will be throwing their collective hats into the collective air above them in hailing the arrival of “Gun Hill Road,” a terrific new Indie about of all things, a Bronx teenage transsexual! And that one of those hats may just land squarely on the very pretty Hispanic head of Harmony Santana, the Latino/Latina actor/actress who gives one of the greatest debut performances I’ve ever seen. Is Oscar listening?

Harmony reminds you a LOT of Jaye Davidson of “The Crying Game” who ended up with a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1992 for playing a tranny who was passing who hooks up with the IRA. He lost to Gene Hackman in “The Unforgiven” but that startling nomination is there forever. I thought in one of the first years I was predicting the Oscars on my TV show that he would win. Scott Siegel(yes, he’s been on my show THAT long) said it was gonna be Hackman. I should’ve listened.

The New York Times is hailing Harmony, too, in a full-blown, star-is-born feature article pointing the way to a future career for Harmony and also to PERHAPS major awards kudos at the end of the year. If Jaye Davidson can pull of this Oscar hat trick, Harmony Santana can, too!

And yes, as the New York Times so delicately points out, she IS a transsexual playing a transsexual which is a rarity indeed in features.

Out of Sundance via NYU Film School, it is, believe it or not, the “Thesis Films” of its’ VERY talented young director/writer, Rashaad Ernesto Green, who I knew as a wonderful young African-American acting student at NYU’s famed Grad Acting Dept. He was a memorable, sexy, wounded Brick in a production there of Tennessee Williams’ classsic “Cat on a Hat Tin Roof.” And his classmate Corey Stall played Big Daddy. And Corey is lighting up the screen this year in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”  and he may be Oscar nomination bound, too! I’ve now seen “Midnight in Paris” SEVEN TIMES! An all time record for me!

But back to Rashaad Ernest Green and his wonderful new film “Gun Hill Road”!

Upon graduation, Rashaad had to face the “pounding the pavements” reality of an actors’ life in New York City and this drove him quick smart back to the haloed halls of NYU Film School, this time, to get yet ANOTHER Master’s Degree this time in film.

And boy has he struck pay dirt with “Gun Hill Road”! It’s gone from Sundance to major distribution where it is going to be opening at the Angelika as well as the AMC 42nd St.  this Friday!

If you can’t wait, you can see me interviewing him and Harmony and soon Esai Morales, too, as the jail-house dad, on my You Tube Channel here ~ at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

They’re all going to be famous tomorrow. Or thereabouts.

Woody Allen’s Masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” Sublime! Sublime! Sublime!

I cannot remember dear cineastes, dear readers, dear theater lovers of literature, when I have been so completely, so  madly, so deliciously transported by a new film. And that film is the much hyped Cannes opener “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, 77 and now at the absolute height of his immense creative powers. “Midnight in Paris” left me gasping with delight. It’s his latest masterpiece and may simply be the best film he’s ever made.

It’s so delicious, so delightful, so funny, so superbly acted, and brilliantly written and directed. It’s the first film that I’ve seen since “The King’s Speech” that transports you to an absolute height of cinematic euphoria. And Oscar’s gonna go there, too.

I am so sure that the little Golden Guy is going to be happily boarding that magic carpet ride in the form of a 1920’s roadster that whisks our hapless hero, a frustrated screenwriter and Woody stand-in(natch), Owen Wilson, who turns out to be at the height of HIS career as an actor,  in this film, too. Oscar will clamour aboard that flying flivver and happily take it right to the Kodak Pavillion next February, which is where this film is surely going to end up.

With nominations galore. A comedy winning anything from the Academy is always going to be a fight.

However, the Academy has always loved Woody and they’re going to REALLLLY love “Midnight in Paris”. Woody is such Oscar catnip, it’s almost ridiculous.Oscar considers Woody in a class by himself, so many of his films have been nominated and won! Well, no, that’s not true. I think the only time he won Best Picture was for “Annie Hall” decades ago.

But his actors have continued to wrack up Oscar after Oscar, most notably and most recently Penelope Cruz, in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” which this film resembles. “Midnight in Paris” is shot entirely and beautifully in Paris in the daytime and at night, and France and specifically Paris has seemed to have had the same wondrous effect on Allen’s creativity that Barcelona and Spain did with “Vicky Cristina”

“Midnight in Paris” is just suffused with the golden glow of romance that is true love  (in this case, the love of France and all things French) that is so palpable, it seems like it was shot through a lens covered with honey. And written in a Proustian fever dream. But a reverie only of all things light and sweet.

It’s such a charming  love poem to the City of Lights, it’s irresistible. It sends you into a Rapture.

And what a cast! And How many Oscar winners are there in this one film! ? It’s like the word went out and Allen got the dream cast of his career!

Oscar winner Marion Cotillard has never been lovelier or sexier or more captivating. She plays the love object, the muse of Picasso, Modigliani and nearly every other artist of the past two hundred years, and Mlle. Cotillard, so so sensual and intriguing,completely vulnerable, effortlessly enchanting, but so mysterious, you can see that, yes, she could easily have inspired all these great artists that the film claims she has.

Her incredible character named Adriana is one of Allen’s greatest creations. And in writing a love poem to Paris, he’s embodied that romance in one woman, Adrianna, and Cotillard is so delightful, and endearing and sublime, you just can’t wait til her character comes back onscreen and into the story once again.

It’s one of the most challenging roles that Allen has ever written for a woman and the most complex, and Cotillard meets every challenge stupendously. She has to, for the romance of the film to work. She is Paris. Paris is love. So therefore the glowing Cotillard is Paris personified.

She is WOMAN. All the women who have inspired the greatest of artists, and Cotillard shows you quite simply and quite beautifully that yes, she is all that. She’s certainly inspired Allen to heights he’s never really hit before. A great film maker meets the great screen actress in the best role he’s ever written for a woman. Will Oscar take note? I think so. I hope so.

You come out of the film raving about Cotillard as if she were the essence of all the best in French art and culture, and in this film, she is!

Her only petite problem is that she’s won so recently for “La Vie En Rose” playing an indelible Edith Piaf.

Acting in her own language, it seemed impossible that she, an unknown French actress, would win the Oscar for Best Actress. But I predicted she would. Could her Adriana do the magic hat trick of another win? Depends upon whom she’s up against, but I would be shocked if she wasn’t in the running, dismissed as simply a great beauty playing a great beauty.

Wilson, too.

Owen Wilson is so good in this film that you can’t believe it’s Owen Wilson.

But he is and he’s just terrific, and perfectly cast as a WASP neurotic from Pasadena. Wilson’s West Coast-ness takes away any of the memories of the many previous iterations Allen has wrung upon the character of the hung-up writer. This time a dissatisfied, but commercially successful screenwriter, with an even blonder fiancee, who’s a bit of an hysterical bitch, played by of all people, Rachel MacAdams, also at the top of HER game. She, too, is a revelation.

Oh, and did I forget to mention how funny all these characters are? And yes, they are. Very, very funny. You’ll be quoting the laugh lines for the rest of the season.

Academy Award Winner Adrian Brody does this best work since “The Pianist” as of all people Salvatore Dali! In a very brief cameo, he keeps repeating. “Dali! I’m Dali!” and when Wilson’s Gil explains his time-traveling problems, Brody as Dali quips, “It’s perfectly normal. You are from another century, yet you live in this century.” And Luis Bunuel, who’s sitting with them, mais oui, says to Dali, “Of course you think it’s normal, you’re a Surrealist!”

And Marion’s Adrianna is restless, perpetually bored with Paris in the 1920’s. “There are too many Americans here!” or exasperated with Pablo, “Picasso is impossible! He will never have a successful relationship with a woman!”

Hallucinating Wilson keeps having his big blue eyes popping out of his head, like some great silent screen comedian, as he channels, Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, Harold Lloyd…amazingly…yes, it’s the VERY unlikely Owen Wilson, making us laugh and moving us so magically. He’s playing straight man as it were to Cotillard’s muse, MacAdams’ bitchy fiancee and a supporting cast of unparalleled splendor.

Main among them, as I’ve noted in a previous post, newcomer Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, who just about walks off with the film, and probably an Oscar nomination. And so to may Kathy Bates as a marvelously sensible, warm-hearted Gertrude Stein. “Our house is open to every artist! All are welcome here!” she intones with such bonhommie, you want to move right in to 23 Rue de Fleurus and never leave, which clearly Allen wants to do.

Who but Woody Allen would make Gertrude Stein the most reasonable and warm center of a filmic masterpiece. Which is what “Midnight in Paris” is.

I see Nominations for Best Picture. In a field of ten, a sure bet. Best Director, possibly, for Allen. FOR SURE a Best Original Screenplay and this is it’s almost sure WIN. Yes, I’m saying it now.

They’ll nominate the living daylights out of this magnificent cinematic achievement. Starting with Darius Khondji’s marvelously seductive, luminous cinemtography of the City of Lights, the stunning production design by Annie Seibel that is literally out of this world (and several others) and the sumptuous costumes by Sonia Grande, who makes Mlle. Cotillard comme il faut tous le temps, but it’s the hilarious, moving, beautifully written screenplay that really does leave you gasping with astonishment and delight. Woody Allen redeems himself mightily in “Midnight in Paris” and the many, many Oscars it will get nominated for, this astoundingly simple, but complicated and FUNNY screenplay is the most likely place it will be rewarded.

Also both Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard might be nominated for Best Actor and Actress. It depends on who they are up against. And if they are not dismissed ~ for being in a comedy.

And as I said previously the one with the most buzz out of  the Cannes Film Festival, which it opened, was Corey Stall as Hemingway. That would be in Supporting. And previous Oscar winner Kathy Bates could score ANOTHER Supp. Actress nomination for her lovable lesbian Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein, lovable? Only in Woody Allen’s wild world!

Mesdames and monsieurs, les envelopes, s’il vous plait!

Oscar’s Eyes glimmering and gleaming at Cannes at Corey Stall & Tilda Swinton!

The new Oscar season starts at Cannes. Yes. It does. It’s earlier every year, but this year Cannes seems particularly poised to kick off a few, or more than a few Oscar hopefuls, LONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG race, or stroll, I guess at this distance, to the 2012 podium.

First off, I’m starting with the film that opened Cannes to such tumultuous acclaim, Woody Allen’s new film, yes, ANOTHER one, set and shot entirely in Paris, called, of course “Midnight in Paris.” And Woody, who avoids all such hype, usually, in the US, does turn up in personi and walks the red carpet in Cannes whenever he’s got a film in competition.

And the French are going crazy for “Midnight in Paris” picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics already and on its way to a theater NEAR YOU! Maybe as soon as next week in major cities.

Now I haven’t seen it yet, but people are acclaiming it as one of his best. Although some bloggers like David Poland of www.moviecitynews.com thought it was just “Okay.” Which is it?

Well, one thing is ALWAYS true of a Woody Allen film…it’s a VERY Oscar friendly cinematic situation, especially in the Supporting categories. And the ONE person coming out of Cannes with a bucketful of kudos is unknown Corey Stall, who plays Ernest Hemingway. EVERY review singled him out. And so did Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, who, yes, is there in person, covering every thing on and off La Croisette in fine form at www.awardsdaily.com and also at Steve Pond’s www.thewrap.com

I’m not surprised because I know Corey from his days at NYU Grad Acting, where I saw him ace a WIDE variety of roles, including Big Daddy in a memorable “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. He must’ve been 24 or 25, and he’s not fat. Maybe he was in a fat suit, but he shaved his head and was virtually unrecognizable to me as one of Tennessee Williams most indelibe characters, and Corey made it HIS OWN.  He was transformative, mature-for-his-age and memorable. I can still see him to this day, grumbling out that key word to Big Daddy’s character “MENDACITY!” And you could swear that it was a man in his ’50s or ’60s doing it! And it was young Corey Stall! No wonder his Ernest Hemingway as a young man in “Midnight in Paris” is resonating so strongly with critics at Cannes. It sounds like a perfect meeting of actor and character to me.

C0rey may not win, but he is the one who is being singled out in a star-studded cast that includes Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Marion Cotillard, and that usually means OSCAR NOMINATION! I’m calling it now!

There may be many more nominations coming this scrumptious-sounding film’s way, and I’ll let you know when I see it ASAP.

And then there’s Tilda Swinton, evidently, by all reports, doing her career best in a film called “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin.” Actually, we’ve got to talk about Tilda…Who just doesn’t stop topping herself. I can’t wait to see this film, too.

And coming up at Cannes, or winding up to the Big Finish,  the Grand Finale is Pedro Almodovar’s new film, “El Piel Que Habito” (The Skin I Live In) which is the Closing Night Film. His first film in ages without Penelope Cruz ,but WITH his first break-out International Star, Antonio Banderas.

Lots of Oscar potential here.

But will they go the distance or fade, unfortunately, as the year wears on, like Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” did last year and “Bright Star” did the year before?

But it seems like Woody and Tilda have started their Oscar ball rolling in fine French fettle. Let the games begin!

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