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Posts tagged ‘Irish’

Oscar Hallowe’en!BOO! It’s Scary Out There for a Contender

Joy1EddieandlilliIt’s Oscar Hallowe’en! Boo! Did I scare you? Not as much as some of the box-office news is scary for some of the Oscar Wannabee Contenders. “Steve Jobs” has just about died at the Box-Office. Michael Fassbender in the title role might not even get nominated! As I said before about “The Joy of Typing”(my title for “The Social Network”) who in the Academy wants to see a movie about the Internet? NO ONE.

Some Academy members don’t even HAVE a computer. You have to call them on the antiquated machine known as the telephone. Or worse, WRITE THEM A LETTER. Some don’t even have email.

They hate the Internet with a vengeance. It’s changed their world in too many ways, none of which they understand, or like (Don’t believe me? Look back at few years at “The Joy of Typing”)

Also sinking like a stone at the B.O. is, sadly, “Suffragette.” Women will love this movie. Men will hate it and the Academy as I’ve always said is made up of the SWORM. The Straight White Old Rich Men, who dominate Hollywood(and the Oscars) since the dawn of time. They’re gonna hate it, since there is NOT ONE sympathetic male in the entire movie.

And “Suffragette”s lack of relatability (to men) will sink it at the Oscars and Carrie Mulligan’s very good performance, too. Perhaps…Sad for Carrie. But good news for Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn.” “Suffragette’s lose, may be the charming, small period film’s gain. “Brooklyn” I mean. As Brit Carrie goes down with her ship, Irish Saorise will rise with hers as the token femme Celt.

A film that is also going to scare all the other contenders is the upcoming “Joy”. With Jennifer Lawrence once again being up for Best Actress for her role as a house-wife who turns into a mega-businesswoman. A single mom, at that. And if you can find it(it’s not hard. It’s everywhere now.)on the Internet, the trailer REALLY looks great for Jennifer to perhaps do it again and win a SECOND Best Actress Oscar.  She’s a star. She’s under 25. She’s box-office. It’s David O. Russell-directed(again) and it’s going to be her v. Brie Larson in “Room.” You mark my words.And strangely Brie Larson’s character is ALSO named Joy. So it’ll be Joy v. Joy at the Oscars this year in the first time in AGES since we’ve really had a race going on in that category.And that IS a joy!

Cate Blanchett’s excellent “Truth” is also tanking at the box-office so she’ll probably be nominated for her other upcoming film “Carol.” But having won so recently for “Blue Jasmine,” I don’t think they’ll give her a third Oscar this year, though Jennifer Lawrence very well may be looking at her second.

Also looking straight at a second Oscar is Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”. Based on a true story(see above^) and featured magnificently in VOGUE with Lupita N’yongo on the cover with a spread that shows his remarkable transition. Lili Elbe one of the first, if not THEE first transgender pioneer, is such a tragic figure. It may also tug at the Academy’s hard heart. I think it will. Eddie makes a beautiful girl. His performance as Lili is nothing short of incredible. He’s even better than he was in “The Theory of Everything” which he won Best Actor for last year.

NOT scaring anyone is Johnny Depp’s “Black Mass” another mis-fire. People admire his performance as Whitey Bulger, a mob informant/killer (Haven’t we seen him in this role before?Wasn’t it called “Donny Brasco”?) Critics like HIM, but not the movie and It’s not scaring up much $ either. Though “The Martian” is! And that could be our Best Picture winner, BTW. And could garner Matt Damon a nomination as Best Actor.THAT is the red elephant in the room.

Also, everyone is afraid that it just may be Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar year FINALLY. But “The Revenant” is still to be seen. I didn’t think it would be ready in time, but it looks like it is. Will the public embrace it more than “The Martian”? Hard to say. And Ridley Scott, “The Martian”s director has never won an Oscar, though his film “Gladiator” did.

So BOO! And Happy Hallowe’en, dear readers, dear cineastes! I’m BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!

Brit Jack O’Connell Triumphs Over Miscasting in “Unbroken”

Unbroken 1The young British actor Jack O’Connell’s biggest triumph over adversity in the torture porn epic “Unbroken” is making the audience believe he is an Italian American. Director Angelina Jolie WHAT were you thinking? I ask you. Does the above ^ picture look even remotely like an Italian? He looks Irish, if anything, and it turns out he is a through and through Brit.

So the audience has to suspend their disbelief for quite a large chunk of the early part of the movie that is receiving mixed critical reaction, and I think I know why. It’s the casting. Don’t tell me that Jolie couldn’t’ve had her pick of any of the young Italian stallions that abound States-side. But no, she has to go to England to cast this super-hot, young, working-class Brit with washboard abs. Angie, he’s CUTE, but not Italian at all! And to add insult to injury the SECOND lead in this film about WWII is played by Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson’s son, who is IRISH!

So we’re supposed to believe that these two dive bombers who get stuck in a life-boat for 47 days, after their airplane gets shot out of the sky by the Japanese, are AMERICANS?!?

There seems to be something, well, broken about “Unbroken”, and I think it’s this. Both leads are NOT  UNBELIEVABLY Americans!

As this overlong film wears on and on and on (are they NEVER to be rescued from that lifeboat?) I had to admit O’Connell, as he was beginning to suffer and starve, began to get to me.

And by the time the INCREDIBLY over-extended, over-done, over-heated second half of the film takes place in the several  horrific Japanese prison camps that Louie Zamperini (yes, that’s his real name, and he was an Olympian track hero, and a real person, and 100% I.T.), O’Connell is suffering and suffering and getting punched in the face and hit and caned and starving, and being kicked and well, just about everything you can think of, and yes, it’s all true,  you do begin to feel for O’Connell as an actor and how in the world did he ever endure all this, AS AN ACTOR?

This is the main problem with “Unbroken” I feel. It’s the casting and as good as O’Connell gets towards the end of the picture, you are always aware that it’s a PERFORMANCE. He doesn’t draw you in. You observe him. You admire his acting chops. When you should be feeling the tortures of the damned. Well, actually, you DO feel like you’re being tortured. I left with a headache, there was so much audience-torture going on. Who’s gonna sit through this? Masochists? Is there that big an audience for plain, unrelenting torture? In the end, he does survive, of course, to tell this tale of horror, but YOU, the viewer barely do. I left craving an Ibuprofen.

I don’t think the Academy is going to sit still for this at all, as they watch their screeners, (or should I say screamers?) of this  true horror epic over the holidays.

Jolie’s work is really the great Roger Deakins’ work. The cinematography is picturesque in the classic Hollywood way, and it’s extremely beautiful. Even the torture scenes are perfectly lit and shot.

But Angelina Jolie in her sophomore directing stint, hired the cutest, hottest, masochistic young actor she could find. And he IS CUTE! Blue eyes, cheek bones, incredible physique. Jack O’Connell is clearly going to survive this debacle of a debut and go on to quite a healthy career, despite the pain and agony he has to endure in “Unbroken.”

The ones who are suffering the most are the poor audiences.There’s so much torture and so little uplift at the end, it’s really a cheat. Angelina just got fixated on the S&M of it all as Louie draws the sadistic attentions of the Japanese Prison Camp guard whom they call “The Bird”(rock singer Miyavi) hits him again and again and again.

Last year’s “The Railway Man” starring Colin Firth and an incredible Jeremy Irvine as the older and younger believably British Brit P.O.W.s in yet ANOTHER Japanese prisoner camp, were MUCH more effective, and the torture scenes were there, and were harrowing, (Irvine gets waterboarded!) Because they were a resonable length.

In “Unbroken,” the same scenes don’t work as well,because they go on for sooooo lonnnng. Same with “Bridge Over the River Kwai” the classic ’50s David Lean film this tries to emulate. Lean, who was a film editor, before he became a great director, knew when to yell “Cut!” Angelina Jolie does not.

So rent either “The Railway Man” and/or “River Kwai”, and you’ll have a much better time. “Unbroken” could break you.

 

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Lupita wins at the SAG awards! Again!!!!

Lupita wins at the SAG awards! Again!!!!

Last night, I had a double-header, double-booked, my mistake and I chose to go to Broadway to see the “Carol King Musical” which is called “Beautiful” and it WAS beautiful. But more beautiful still was coming home to see Lupita Nyong’Os smiling face plastered all over the internet! The hot news being from the SAG Awards that she in ANOTHER surprise upset had won Best Supporting Actress for her heart-rending performance as the tradgic Patsie in “12 Years a Slave.” I also have finally figured out how to post pictures here! Yay!

It’s taken long enough dead readers, dear cineastes, but I’m tech-tarded, as you know and totally Old School in these new techo matters. But at last I think I’ve figured it out.I’m embarrassed to admit it but it’s true. The Internet is an EFFORT for me.

And also I have to be frank I just couldn’t bare to spend ANOTHER night in where “American Hustle” and Jennifer Lawrence were going to be applauded, and I was right. They were. She wasn’t. But Broadway beckoned and boyoboyo am I glad I went!

A+++ for “Beautiful”. The music! The performance by Jessie Mueller, a recent guest on my show for her Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” in which she played an Indian princess named Lawless,Jessie was pitch perfect in both, and may very well win the Tony this year. She also played her own piano music! As Carole King did! Yes! She did!

They are portraying Carol King as the ultimate hausfrau schlep I’m sure she wasn’t in real life. But here the Ugly-Duckling-who-becomes-a-swan narrative worked liked gangbusters for the typical Broadway crowd,

Lupita is also living out that Ugly Duckling scenario in real life, it just occurs to me. Could her unwashed, scarred and scared Queen of the Fields, be further removed from Vogue’s “It” Girl which she has just morphed into. Her acceptance speeches are touching, beautiful, thoughtful and eloquent as she is. She looks SOOOO happy in this picture!

And for those who must know, this is a VERY strong step closer to Oscar. Next for Lupita is the BAFTA awards in London, and I’m sure she’ll win there, too.

Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto also repeated their Broadcast Film Critics wins. Seemingly all three locked for Oscar now. But HOLT ON!

Neither McConaughey nor Leto will win at the BAFTAS because neither were nominated nor was their film”Dallas Buyers Club”, although all were eligible. Which paves the way, and leaves the door wide open for “12 Years a Slave” to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor(He’s Britsh, and so’s McQueen) , Michael Fassbender for Supporting Actor (he’s Irish) and of course Lupita who’s lovely Kenyan accent sounds British and African and American all at the same time. And for ALLLL of them to make speeches that may thrill Oscar voters right in the middle of the critical voting period. Cate Blanchett will also win at the BAFTA. As expected.

I chose to go to “Beautiful” because I just couldn’t face “AH” that tiny, weasly, little comedy win “Best Ensemble” which it did. But it’s awards glory may stop there. Remember “The Help” winning two years ago? Well….

This year it really ain’t over til it’s over.

Michael Fassbender’s Non-Campaign for Oscar for “12 Years A Slave”

Michael Fassbender’s declaration in the current GQ mag that he’s not going to campaign for an Oscar for his Supporting Role(really a lead) In the monumental “12 Years A Slave” is just a tiny bit disingenuous to me for voila! There  he is on the cover! Looking great, I might add, and very much a winner already.

At Toronto, he seemed to me to be cramming every minute with press time. I sat through a press conference with him and the director Steve McQueen and the rest of the brilliant cast. And he was of course, fascinating. http://www.FascinatingFassbender.com is a website that is worth checking for all things up to the minute on Fassbender.

But at that press conference, he talked openly and freely and feeling about the character of the slave-owner Epps that he embodies so magnificently and so frighteningly in “12 Years a Slave.”

“I don’t see him as evil or a villain. I see him as a person. A businessman who is protecting his property.” I wasn’t taking exact notes, but it was words to that effect that sort of stunned people there when he said it. Because he seems to be the absolute embodiment of evil.

But an actor, a really good actor, and Fascinating Fassbender is a brilliant actor, ALWAYS has to humanize a character for himself and see the world through that character’s eyes, as he has so memorably done.

He was on Charlie Rose, too, with Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiafor(I think you can watch that on You Tube on http://www.youtube.com/CharlieRoseShow.) So he did A LOT of publicity, and he did it early and now has gone off to New Zealand to film “Macbeth” and HE’s playing yes, Macbeth.

He did a lot of press already and now he feels he’s done enough. After “Shame” everybody in Hollywood now knows who he is, and then when he didn’t even get nominated(I knew he wouldn’t. And said so. All that nudity and urinating on camera! i mean, it was riveting, but the SWORM, the Straight White Old Rich Men, who form the bulk of the Academy were shocked.) And he was devastated when he didn’t get nominated, and now in GQ he says he wants no part of the process, which he found humiliating and this time is going to sit out Phase I of the Oscar season, which is now upon us.

October, November and early December is when you build buzz and the Oscar campaign machinery begins to shift into full gear. Then the nominating ballots are sent out around the holidays and the nominations themselves are announced in January, which is the start of Phase II.

But after the nominations come out in January and he starts winning awards(how can he not? I mean, they ALWAYS award the white guy, even a villain, in a black movie, like they did just last year for “Django Unchained”s Christophe Waltz) and he’ll come back to pick up his trophies the same time Mo’nique did in Phase II.

And this year the Oscars aren’t being handed out til MARCH! Because of the Olympics, so it’s a super-long Phase II.

Like The Terminator, he’ll be back.

I predict these things.

At NYFF, ” 12 Years a Slave”s Magnificent Achievement Dwarfs All Others

“12 Years a Slave” I’ve never really seen anything like it. I feel it is one of the greatest films of all time, Simply one of the greatest films ever made and yes, I saw it first at TIFF, where it leveled all comers, and now over a month later at the NYFF, the impact is the same. Nothing has changed. It’s a month later and really there’s nothing going to stop it.

It won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and this is just the first step in the many, many awards that are going to come its’ way. It’s seriousness makes “Django Unchained” look like a joke. And yes, it did win two Oscars. Both for the two white men who were nominated. Quentin Tarentino who got his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Christophe Waltz, who stunned all Oscarologists (EXCEPT Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com) who didn’t predict it. Waltz won of course for Best Supporting Actor.

This year it will be very, very different at the Oscars I predict. But if we look at the precedent being “Django” as the only other film in recent years to have Slavery as its’ main subject , the white guy in Supporting, this time Michael Fassbender, might just get lucky and win just as Waltz did. He’s playing the evil slave owner Epps, who prides himself in “breaking” troublesome slaves. Being sold to the Eps plantation is akin to being sent to Hell.

And Fassbender, who’s star has been on the rise for years now, mainly due to his other two collaborations with British director Steve McQueen, the harrowing “Hunger” where he lost something like 40 pounds as a Irish hunger striker, based on a true story and yes, also as the lead in “Shame” playing a slightly lighter topic as a sex addict, who is naked for sooo many of the scenes in that film. Also, he’s in “X-Men:First Class” and so he’s well situated to FINALLY be nominated for “12 Years a Slave” and he may win.

The film is certainly going to win Best Picture. Despite “Gravity”s overwhelming box-office achievement this weekend, I don’t think the Academy is ready to embrace 3-D, even yet. And since so many voting members watch the nominated films on screeners or DVD copies of the nominated movies, at home on their television sets, 3-D and certainly IMAX is going to look like not much of anything, compared with the gargantuan thrill it provides on the biggest of Big Screens. It should pass $100 million domestic at the box-office in the next week or two. At most.

But all this is to say that “12 Years a Slave” is going to look just fine on DVD. It’s a film of intense close-ups, and unflinching brutality. And of course, it takes a British director to finally tell the truth of this utterly American horror story that was slavery in the pre-Civil War South. McQueen could become the first Black director to win an Oscar. I think if they give it to the film they are going to give it to him, too.

And also his leading man,  the extraordinary British actor, Chiwetel Ejiafor, who as the freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery, is called upon to do things that no actor in the history of film has ever been asked to do before. He’s breathtaking! The levels of pain AND strength, the inner resources and resilience of spirit he brings to Solomon Northrup are astounding. And his and director McQueen’s intelligence inform every shot. It’s staggering in its’ immensity. But it’s all done utterly realistically and  with total naturalism.

The unimaginable atrocities that are depicted here are ALL TRUE.

And last but not least, we have to praise the Oscar chances, and the rise from complete obscurity of its’ ingénue star, Lupita N’yong’o, the young African-American actress, who plays Patsie, the beautiful slave who endures the most unmentionable cruelty, sexual and otherwise by Fassbender’s evil Epps. She will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for sure, and will give Oprah Winfrey a run for her money in that category.

It’s overwhelmed all comers I feel at the New York Film Festival, just as it did previously at Telluride and Toronto. You see, nothing much has changed since audiences saw it in September. And oh yes, I have seen something like it before! It was also in the capable hands of Fox Searchlight and the name of the film was “Slumdog Millionaire” which debuted and wowed at Toronto and went on to wow the world and win every prize in sight, including the Oscar. It’s one of those kind of years. The word is unstoppable.

Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 5 – Things begin to calm down

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT!

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, finds in Episode 5, things have kind of calmed down after the traumatic experience (for the viewers as well as for the characters) after Lady Sybil Crawley’s untimely death in childbirth The suddenness and the shock value of the death scenes superbly played by all involved is something I don’t think I’ll ever get over. It was one of the greatest episodes in series television history. The impact of the death of  the beautiful, young, titled, rich woman, only 24, hit me more like the death of someone I knew IRL(in real life) than a character on a TV series.

Many people feel that the best work being done today is on series television and not in film, and when you consider Downton Abbey, it certainly seems to right.

And what happened this week?
Well, grief was being played out on every level in the house, upstairs and downstairs and in the Ladies Chamber. The Lady in Question is the brilliant Maureen McGovern, as the beautiful American Lady Grantham. She is utterly devastated by her “baby”s death. And has decided that it is all Lord Grantham(the magnificent Hugh Bonneville)’s fault for listening to Sir Phillip Tapsil’s advice as to how to handle Lady Sybil’s childbirth.

Lady Grantham, Cora, had brought in the local doctor, Dr. Clarkson and he had advised an immediate hospitalization and a Caesarian section last week at the height of Sybil’s birthing debacle and when Lord Grantham and Sir Phillip Tapsil, a fancy London doctor with a title(Tim Piggot), disagreed and didn’t move her, and Sybil tortuously died, we now find Cora blaming Lord Grantham, Robert, for her death.

Cora has banished him from her bedroom and bed, and the scenes between the two of them are excruciatingly painful. Also, grief-stricken is the Irish former chauffeur husband, Tom Branson. Allen Leech is incredibly strong and moving in all of his scenes. And your heart is just with him the entire time as he tries to piece together his shattered life.

Of course, he has his new-born daughter, who survived her mother, whom he now chooses to name Sybil, and he announces this over the dining room table to Lord Grantham, who doesn’t approve. He also forcibly states that he wants his daughter to be baptized a Catholic, like he is. And NOT in any way to be an Anglican.

There is much amusing action downstairs as the focus this episode shifts, surprisingly to Daisy, the former kitchen maid who has no been promoted to assistant Cook.

And everyone has conflicting reactions to Ethel’s continuing to be Isobel Crawley(Penelope Wilton)’s cook and housekeeper.

 

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Year’s Ten Best Pt.2 #5-1 ~The Stephen Holt Show at Tavola!

And here’s the top five of my year’s Ten Best of 2012, the best of the best! With “Picnic”s Matthew Goodrich at Tavola, the hot new Italian restaurant. 488 9th Ave.
This has been one of the best year’s for movies in many, many years, soooo many grrreat films! If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know what I’ve picked before I announce it!

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