a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘David Cronenberg’

For Those of You Who’ve Never Seen A Complete Episode…

For those of you who’ve never been able to see a complete episode of “The Stephen Holt Show”, only You Tube segments, here’s a complete, unabridged version of what is aired on TV. Enjoy!

Camera ~ Jack Siberine

Editing ~ Kevin Teller

Theme Music, the Overture from “Kareer Suicide” by Donald Arrington

In NY It Feels Like Snow, but Here Is P-town in the Moonlight

The wind is howling like a banshee trapped amidst the skyscrapers, and it’s so cold out, it feels like Snow any minute, though it’s Spring!

Spring is late this year. So here’s a little Provincetown in the Moonlight Memory, a Summer Serenade. If only it would come!

Another Oscar Hopeful Bites(the Dust) at TIFF “Maps to the Stars” Won’t Fly with the Academy

Well, “Maps to the Stars” which I saw yesterday at TIFF was hyped as an Oscar possibility. Best Picture and down the line, but after seeing it yesterday at a P&I screening I have to say, it’s over.

“Maps to the Stars” by the King of Canada, David Cronenberg has gone out of his way to insult Hollywood at every twist and turn of this dark, dark comedy thriller. And who am I to say that Hollywood  doesn’t deserve this harsh satirical treatment? It certainly does. But poor beautiful Julianne Moore, who is degraded in every way imaginable, certainly doesn’t. She’s a great actress, playing a neurotic, aging, delusional one. And she takes into her home a very creepy Mia Wasakowska(sp?) as a personal assistant from hell. Carrie Fisher herself, in a very funny cameo, foists Agatha on Moore,

But the denouement, which I won’t reveal here, is something the Academy just won’t stand for, and may not even nominate poor Moore,even in Supporting… Is the Academy going to nominate a performance by a poor actress who has a scene on the toilet where she has to pee and fart at the same time? I think not.

But Moore is magnetic and ultimately tragic, and she did win the Best Actress Award at Cannes this year for this abortion…but…peeing and farting…? WTF? When there are people to nominate in Supporting, like Patricia Arquette and Dame Maggie Smith, I think not.

There is also a Justin Bieber-like character in this, but really, his character and plot-like are pointless…All I can say is David Cronenberg has done “it” again.

And again, I’m typing this from the unbelievably quiet press room, where the only sound is typing. And the television broadcasting “The Judge”s press conference behind me on a large screen, but I’m not watching it.

More soon, I am so sure.

Live, more or less, from Toronto.

 

 

TIFF Announces 2014 Slate! Foxcatcher, Maps to the Stars, more

Foxcatcher 1Julianne Moore 1TIFF logo 1Imitation Game 1It’s a starry line-up as always as TIFF today announced its’ upcoming slate of Galas, which always take place at the Roy Thomson Hall, and formal dress is required, and Special Presentations, which almost always happen at the classic Elgin(pronounced “El Gin” with a hard “g”) theatre.

Three of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing are David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” which netted Julianne Moore the Best Actress award at Cannes,

Bennett Miller’s follow-up to “Moneyball” “Foxcatcher” which is about wrestling, not baseball, and the British WWII spy film “Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch( PBS’ Sherlock Holmes to many) as the lead character who is a closeted homosexual.

There are many, many films more that were announced today. Go to Sasha Stone’s invaluable Oscar site http://www.awardsdaily.com for more info. Toronto always has soooo many films, you can’t see them all.

One movie I’ve already seen, today as a matter of fact, was the Dame Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas & Kevin Kline starrer “Me and My Old Lady” with Dame Maggic pulling out all the stops in yet ANOTHER tour-de-force performance that is soooo good I’m glad they are including it at TIFF. She deserves it.

And so now, the Oscar Race officially begins! Could Dame Maggie surprise and make it into the Best Actress race? She certainly deserves it. She’s plays a 92-year-old English woman living in France.  And I’m SOOOO glad I saw it today!

 

 

 

Provincetown Film Festival Wrap Up

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Honoree Patricia Clarkson Exclaims “I’ve Never Been Kissed By So Many Guys!” as Provincetown Film Festival 2014 Wraps Up

Every year one of the unique things the Provincetown International Film Festival does is honor two or three film notables with career achievement awards. This year they were Patricia Clarkson for Excellence in Acting, Debra Winger for the Faith Hubley Career Achievement Award and David Cronenberg for Filmmaker On the Edge.
When I asked her how she liked Provincetown, Clarkson exclaimed “I’ve never been kissed by so many guys!” She told me “No matter how many times you are honored  like this, it’s STILL an honor. I’m thrilled!”
She gave a moving speech to the packed audience at Town Hall,which included her doing an impromptu imitation of Woody Allen directing. Which was hilarious. Allen directed her in two films “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Whatever Works” in which Clarkson shined playing an alcoholic Southern belle, a large role that Allen had clearly written for her. Two of her other films, career highlights both,were shown including “High Art” and “Pieces of April.” The festival opened with her latest film “Last Weekend” in which she gave a moving performance of a mother trying to hold her crumbling family together.
 David Cronenberg was clearly the King of PIFF this year,as in his “Conversation With…” director John Waters, he was able to show an extended clip from his much-anticipated new movie “Maps to the Stars” which was a controversial hit at Cannes. PIFF audiences thrilled to see Cannes Best Actress winner Julianne Moore in a long scene from “Maps” where she is literally freaking out over getting a film role once enacted by her mother as a young girl.
Her mother is appearing to her as a hallucinatory vision as a naked teenaged girl in a bath-tub, who is constantly mocking her. Cronenberg revealed that the film will be shown in its’ scandalous entirety at the Toronto Film Festival in Sept. If Julianne Moore’s performance is as powerful as this clip indicated, she is well on her way to an Oscar Nomination.
Cronenberg responded well to John Waters’ probing, incisive and funny questions. Waters opened with “We’re both obsessed with assholes.” Cronenberg agreed and revealed that he thought “Rehearsals” with the actors for film scenes “were unnecessary.” And when Waters pressed him as to how he has been able to make so many films over his long and varied career that spans decades, Cronenberg said simply “Canada” and credited his native country’s strong and historic government backing of filmmakers, emerging or established.
Debra Winger was evasive and a bit defensive with interviewer B. Ruby Rich. Her answers to questions weren’t satisfying or direct. Though her choice of being a mother to her three sons seemed to take precedence over all else, explaining why her filmography in recent years is so scant. Winger confounded many journos by not consenting to any on camera interviews, only print, though she still looked dazzling at 60.
John Waters, who is the unofficial Mayor of Provincetown, having lived there for over 4 decades, was having a career high of his own, with the success of his latest book “Car Sick” about hitch-hiking across the U.S. from Baltimore to San Francisco. He told me it was Number 8 on the NY Times Bestseller list. He was happier than I’ve ever seen him to be, claiming yet another metier as his own. And his book-signing had lines down the block.
I was thrilled to see the Beatles’ classic “A Hard Day’s Night” in a beautiful, newly re-mastered print with its’ monaural soundtrack and its’ scintillating black and white cinematography making it seem and sound like new. Pre-dating MTV & music videos, it captures the pure joy and craziness of Beatlemania. It was a great joy to see it again on the big screen.
Also in black and white(and color, too) was Nancy Gates’ definitive documentary “Regarding Susan Sontag”. A complete, revealing and intelligent chronicle of this important woman’s ground-breaking life. as an intellectual, writer, mother and lesbian. Sontag, a 20th century figure that I thought I knew, was a much more complex and challenging figure as “Regarding Susan Sontag” brought home.
On the Narrative feature side, I loved “One Chance” the fictional re-telling of tubby Wales cell-phone salesman Paul Potts’ life-transforming moment on “Britain’s Got Talent” when he sang Puccini “Nessum Dorma” and wowed Simon Callow and the judges, and became a house-word name and an opera star literally over-night.
Potts,was a life-long sad-sack with extremely bad luck, as the film details and “History Boys” James Corden enacts him brilliantly. Corden is the overweight British comedian who won the Tony for “One Man, Two Guv’nors” beating Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s “Death of a Salesman” two years ago on Broadway.
I also enjoyed “A Trip to Italy” British Comedian Steve Coogan’s follow-up to “The Trip.” It’s basically an improvised road-tour crossed with reality TV in which Coogan and fellow Brit Comic Rob Brydon, playing wry versions of themselves, riff, joke and eat their way from Piedmont in the north of Italy all the way down the Italian Riviera along the incredibly scenic Amalfi coast.
The mouth-watering Italian food they eat at the sumptuous restaurants and hotels they stop at are their splendiferous co-stars, and, as they say, hilarity ensues.
There were two French films I found disappointing in different measures Roman Polanski’s “Venus In Furs” and “Yves St. Laurent.”  A hit on Broadway “Venus” won a Best Actress Tony  and made a star out of actress Nina Arianda, and she is sorely missed in this French language(for no apparent reason)translation. It’s a two-character, one-set piece and as the uptight director Matthieu Amalric is sensational and Polanski mis-casts his real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner who is clearly in her 40s as the twenty-something aspiring actress. Both “Yves” and “Venus” were far too slowly paced,tedious and annoying at turns.
Also disappointing was “Love Is Strange,” a Sundance hit. A gay film with a very strong premise and a lot to say about gay marriage, it had a very good start and a solid cast (John Lithgow and Albert Molina as the couple and Marisa Tomei as Lithgow’s put-upon caregiver), and its’ heart was clearly in the right place, but it all fell apart with a unsatisfying and confusing ending.
Probably the best film on every level was “I Origins” a sci-fi/romance, er, well, sort of, but thrillingly original and creative and absolutely surprising and confounding and profound, too, in all the right ways. Michael Pitt and Brit Marling give exemplary performances as a team of young scientists in NYC trying to unlock the genetic mysteries of the human eye. And Astrid Berges-Frisby, the monumental mermaid in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” has the most unforgettable cinematic eyes ever. This will launch the Spanish/French beauty into the stratosphere. The direction by Mike Cahill, outstanding.
But Provincetown itself is its’ own greatest character. The village, at the far-most tip of Cape Cod, never fails to disappoint with its’ colorful , intoxicating atmosphere and a town-full of delightfully eccentric artists. Chelsea Handler said it was “gayer than San Francisco” and she should know.
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Oscar ~ “Fault” Shailene Woodley’s triumph or Schadenfreude?

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22 year old star Shailene Woodley’s Oscar chances are on the rise because her new film “The Fault In Our Stars, “is breaking box-office records, and changing the face of the Best Actress Oscar race even this early in the pre predicting season.

Woodley’s searing portrayal of a teen dying of cancer shocked me at the range of pain and power this young woman exhibited in a sad love story of her star-crossed affection for a another dying teen, also a cancer patient, played effectively by Ansel Elgort..

It was the surprise #1 hit at the box-office this week, upending all kinds of expectations and predictions. This micro-budgeted tale of two seriously ill teens has made an incredible impact with movie goers, most of them young females or YA as the industry likes to call ’em, Young Adults.

And Oscar NEVER ignores this kind of vote. The public’s. They vote with their ticket-buying dollars. And they are buying tickets en masse to see this five handkerchief weepie that is leaving audiences in tears around the country and around the globe.

And they are liking the sadness of the doomed duo. They are LIKING crying their way home. This movie about death, death, and more death, as unlikely a topic as that seems, is making them FEEL. Something, one wonders, if they’ve ever thought about before. The Germans have a word for it Schadenfreude.

I sometimes think all great love stories have to have one or two of the young lovers dying. See “Romeo and Juliet.” Who can forget the surprising B.O. success “A Love Story” had in its’ day?

It was a best-seller, and propelled non-actress/model Ali McGraw on to the cover of Time Magazine. And to an Oscar Nomination. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” was the trademark catch phrase that was plastered everywhere that year. The public went in droves to see Ali McGraw die. “Fault” is like that. It’s a neglected genre. But “Fault in Our Stars” has put all this weepiness front and center once again.

And Shailene Woodley’s amazing, dynamic turn as the dying teen is powering this film into the stratosphere of Oscar consideratioiin. By that I mean, a serious film, about death, no less, and cancer, moreover, with a young, a very young actress who confounds expectations, is just the kind of performance the Academy loves to honor. Jennifer Lawrence anyone?

David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” won acclaim at Cannes for the performance of Julianne Moore as an aging Hollywood actress trying to hang on to her youth.I thought it was being rushed out in June, but no.  It’s now opening in the fall, when the season REALLY gets under way. Which is good, meaning the producers behind it, think it has Awards chances.

Out of the Cannes gate, Moore was a clear front-runner. She’s had four nominations and never won. Ditto Amy Adams, who is coming up this fall with FIVE nominations and no win, but she has Harvey Weinstein and his mega-hype-machine in “Big Eyes.” I thought the Best Actress Oscar was definitely Adams’ to lose.

But now with “The Fault in Our Stars” powering to #1 and Shailene Woodley on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine this week, looking almost unrecognizably glamourous, I think she’s here in the Oscar conversation to stay. And the movie, based on a popular YA novel, may have equally surprising “legs”as they say, and stick around to really harass Julienne Moore and Amy Adams come the fall.

I mean, it’s only June and already the Best Actress race is red-hot. If Shailene did manage to win this one, I think she supplants Jennifer Lawrence as the youngest winner of Best Actress in Oscar history.

Or is it just too early to think like this? No. It’s never too early to think about Oscar. Or why are you reading this article?

Cannes Film Festival Award Winners 2014, “Foxcatcher” Most Likely Oscar Candidate

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The Cannes Film Festival was never to my mind a great Oscar predictor. But nevertheless there are those that think it has become more relevant of late. I don’t think any of the below named winners are gonna repeat at the Oscar nominations when they are announced in January. EXCEPT for Bennett Miller, who was named Best Director for “Foxcatcher”, the one American film from Cannes that seemed to emerge by all accounts as a legitimate Oscar contender.

However, none of its’ three leads, Steve Carrell (yes, STEVE CARRELL, giving his first serious acting performance) as the murderous wrestling obsessed millionaire Henry DuPont, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, who received great praise from press and critics alike were not awarded. But don’t worry. Placed firmly in the middle of the Oscar surge season, opening stateside on Nov.17, it is SURELY the one film that is going to be heavy figured into the Oscar conversation. Sony Pictures Classics is releasing it, and they could have done so last year. But the Best Actor race was so crowded they decided to wait til this year, which may have been a wise move. A dark tale of obsession, murder, money and wrestling, it seems like Academy catnip to me.

Best Actress went to Julianne Moore, for David Cronenberg’s Hollywood tale “Maps to the Stars” which is opening very soon in the U.S. Moore plays an aging Hollywood actress, who is on the verge of losing it. Moore is an Academy fave being nominated numerous times, but has never won. You can never count her out. She is well-liked by all in the industry.

Best Actor is British thesp Timothy Spall, who plays the title role of Brit painted extraordinaire J.M.V.Turner In Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner” Spall is a well-respected veteran actor who has never been nominated or won. I’m looking forward to seeing this film, too, when it opens in the fall. It will probably also play Toronto as will “Foxcatcher” most likely. So I’ll see them there.

I was burned very badly in the past when I enthusiastically supported other Mike Leigh performers. Leslie Manville in particular for the last Mike Leigh joint “Another Year” in 2010. She didn’t even get nominated. But Spall is better known here, might have a better shot. We’ll see. 

And ma Cherie Marion Cotillard, once again got nothing. I always feel Cannes doesn’t appreciate her, unbelievably, though I of course do. Marion’s film in contention was “Two Days, One Night” by the Dardennes brothers.

Here’s the winners~

Palme d’Or: “Winter Sleep,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Grand Prix: “La Meraviglie,” Alice Rohrwacher
Prix du Jury: (tie) “Mommy,” Xavier Dolan; “Goodbye to Language,” Jean-Luc Godard
Best Director: Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Best Screenplay: Andrey Zvyaginstsev and Oleg Negin, “Leviathan”
Camera d’Or (Best First Feature): “Party Girl,” Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis
Best Actor: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”
Best Actress: Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars”
Palme d’Or, Short Film: “Leidi,” Simon Mesa Soto
Short Film Special Mention: “Aissa,” Clement Trehin-Lalanne; “Ja Vielsker,” Halivar Witzo

 

 

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