a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Midnight in Paris’

“Cafe Society” Worst Woody Allen Ever? S.O.S. Same Old Story

Kristen Stewart 1As you can see by this ultra glamourous pic above ^ of Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen has cast her against type, as a nice little goodie two-shoes,compleat with bows in her hair and ankle socks, in “Cafe Society”. Her character, Vonnie, has to appear so beautiful that the men in the movie fall madly in love with her. The men being Steve Carell as well as his nephew Jesse Eisenberg. And they’re all very good in this magnificently shot and styled paean to old Hollywood in the ’30s.

But this is perhaps the worst movie he’s ever done.It’s soooo boring. It’s that we’ve seen it all before. Over and over and over and over again. We expect more from the man who gave us “Midnight in Paris”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and his Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” But this is not that. Not by a long shot.

At least his other recent sub-par look at the glamourous life circa 1920 “Magic in the Moonlight” had a very strong performance by Colin Firth. And it’s always the younger woman/older man scenario, but at least focusing as much of this film on the young Jesse Eisenberg, the edge is slightly off that scenario, but only slightly. But it doesn’t last for long. Before it’s back to the Carell/Kristen plot-line. Ho-hum.Or rather ho-humbug.

Eisenberg, an actor I’ve always had trouble liking, is appealing in this, and more amourously aggressive than I can ever remember him being.

Kristen & Jesse 1

But try as they might, he, Carell and Stewart and all of the rest of this capable cast, just can’t rise above this bland, bland script.

I felt like I knew what lines the characters were going to say before they spoke them. Parker Posey, here a bubbly, throw-away blonde, is pretty much just window dressing. Corey Stoll is snidely effective as Eisenberg’s gangster brother.Blake Lively is, well, lively.

The only one who really broke through for me was Sari Lennick of the Coen Bros. “A Serious Man.” As Eisenberg’s hyserical, kvetchy sister-in-law and Stoll’s wife.

The biggest,.most consistent laughs in the film, and there are some, not much, but not enough, the most laughs come when Stoll’s character has killed some hapless or irritating sap, and throws the bodies into a ditch as a cement mixer pours cement on them in clearly a New Jersey setting.

Santa Loquasto has designed “Cafe Society” to a fare-thee-well and legendary lenser Victorio Storaro has shot it magnificently. It couldn’t look more glamourous, or be so empty. What a shame!

Do something NEW Woody!!! Surprise us!!! Don’t bore us…All our lives are too short for drivel like this.

#Woody Allen #Cafe Society #Kristen Stewart #comedy #Hollywood

Colin Firth Strong, Emma Stone Weak in Woody’s (NO) “Magic in the Moonlight”

“I want MAGIC” screams Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams classic “Streetcar Named Desire”. And I was screaming “I want magic, too!” As Woody Allen’s latest “Magic in the Moonlight” unspooled before me and I didn’t laugh once.

It LOOKS Magical. The cinematography of Darius Khondji is simply swoon-worthy. The Riviera never looked so lovely! Truly! But aside from a very, very strong performance by Colin Firth, it’s not much fun. Although Eileen Atkins as his sensible aunt (they’re both British of course) is also very good. But this film that looks like it should be a comedy, is simply not funny at all.

Firth has the challenge of getting up in yellow-face and being a stage magician  named Wei Ling-Soo, who makes elephants disappear and saws ladies in half, and is an extremely pessimistic curmudgeon. He spews venom constantly throughout the film in all directions, which is arresting, but not funny. Unlike the other recent magician in an Allen film, the great Splendini, in “Scoop” who Allen played himself. “Scoop” was set in London with Scarlett Johansonn in the female lead, a role Emma Stone essays so poorly here. “Scoop” was funny and good-natured as “Magic in the Moonlight” is bitter and grim. Good qualities in a drama, like “Blue Jasmine” but not is a half-baked pseudo-farce.

How can this much heightened sarcasm be not funny in a Woody Allen film? Well, for one thing his character seems an utter realist, if not a downright atheistic. Yes, that’s right. This is a film that is about atheism. Or a comedy about atheism. WTF? It’s seems like it should be by Ayn Rand and black and white and set in the ’40s.

Not the glamorous 1920s, a period Allen returns to again and again. And he’s done it better. I just watched “Midnight in Paris” for the umpteenth time last night and it delighted and chilled me all over again. I actually got goose bumps from it and from Mlle. Marion Cotillard’s superb performance.

And there were actually French people in it. And they spoke French! Imagine that! In “Magic in the Moonlight” we have the beautiful French countryside, but no French people are in it. At All.

And Emma Stone is very, very weak in this. As a supposed psychic, she’s a little spacey, a little kookie. Her red-hair flies beautifully in the wind. She has lovely large eyes, but Woody seems to have a problem with her overly large forehead which is covered up throughout much of the movie by her own bangs, which is fine and series of tam o’shanters, head-bands and hats with extremely low brows, which would look fine on Marion Cotillard, but on Stone they make her look odd. She is photographed soooo well in fact, she looked liked she’s acting, but she isn’t. The cinematography and costumes were acting FOR her.

I didn’t ever think I would miss Scarlett Johansonn, but in this film, I did. Stone is really out of her depth here, and she shouldn’t be.

I just attended a press conference for this film with Emma Stone notably absent. And Colin Firth when asked about working with her, just skipped the question entirely. “My Best Day?” he was asked, ” I guess the scene in the planetarium at night. I was wet. And I felt wet, so that was good.”

Unfortunately, it’s (no) “Magic in the Moonlight” that is all wet. Sadly.

Every OTHER film of Woody’s recently has been terrific. “Midnight in Paris” was a masterpiece. “To Rome, with Love” was a dud. “Blue Jasmine” won Cate Blanchett an Oscar for Best Actress, and so we were due for another disappointment, and unfortunately, we got it.

I can’t wait for the next one, however. That’ll be good again.

Woody did a press conference in New York today. He NEVER does that. I sensed Flop Sweat and I was right. But Colin saved the day, and Jacqui Weaver was buoyant, too.

Woody said “Life is meaningless.” And he meant it. And then added “Now that I’ve depressed you thoroughly, have a nice weekend.”Magic in the Moonlight 1Magic in the Moonlight 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Diane Kruger saying “Hello” to Oscar as She Kills in “Farewell, My Queen”?

German actress Diane Kruger absolutely KILLS as the doomed Monarch in “Farewell, My Queen” the hot new LESBIAN re-thinking of Marie Antoinette’s final days as the French revolution was about to engulf her. Here’s a wonderful interview with Diane and I hope that although she’s acting in French, the Academy will consider her for a nomination for Best Actress(she’s playing the title role, after all) or Supporting, since her handmaiden Lea Seydoux is really the central character of the film Seydoux, the gamine whom Owen Wilson ends up with at the end of “Midnight in Paris” also shines, but it is Kruger who speaks perfect English with an American accent yet. And whom the Academy is familiar with.

I think Best Actress is a wide-open category at this point. If the French get the ball rolling and choose it as their Best Foreign language selection, it could very well get a slew of nominations. For sure, Best Costumes. And Diane is the one who is most familiar to the Academy since she ALMOST got nominated for “Inglorious Basterds” playing a glamourous German actress/spy. She had the misfortune of splitting that film’s Supporting Actress vote with Melanie Laurent, who was also breaking out in that film as Shoshanna, the Jewish freedom fighter. Will she? Won’t she? We shall see…

In any case, it’s the perfect antidote to the summer overload of ComicBookBlockbusterSuperHero movies. I can barely tell them apart. I thought “The Avengers” was just plain BAD, and was sorry I coughed up the dough to see it. I felt robbed. And THAT crap makes $600 milllion?

But “Farewell, My Queen” is the only really wonderful Oscar-y movie that’s Opening in this Summer of Hell, where the temperatures in New York are hitting 100 degrees Every. Single. Day.

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Tom Hiddleston! Of “The Avengers!” Top hit-getter On You Tube!

Well, in the sense of sharing the ups and downs of my Internet existence, here’s the guy who’s #1 on my You Tube Channel right now, the great Tom Hiddleston! Who’s having the year of years with “The Deep Blue Sea”,”War Horse”, “Midnight in Paris” and the box-office blockbuster “The Avengers” in which he plays Loki, the villain!And no, I still haven’t seen it. But I’ve seen all his others this years! Love HIM! Part One of Tom at TIFF ’11.

And Part Two is Coming Soon to this blog! Stay tuned!

Oscar Gets “Amour”

Well, this certainly is news! Austria has decided that “Amour” is going to be its’ official submission to the Best Foreign Film race this coming Oscar season. Since it’s by a German director, who I LOVE, Michael Haneke, and maybe it’s German-Austrian financed although the two octogenarian leads,  who are winning raves, act in French, this makes “Amour” kosher. And definitely eligible for a Best Foreign Film nomination and perhaps win.

This is despite Jeffrey Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com not liking a whole hell of a lot.

And to top that off Sony Pictures Classics is deciding to open it in Dec. RIGHT in the heat of the Oscar season. I know, I know. It’s freezing in New York at that time of year, and this is hardly your Christmas-y picture. But SPC, as I’ll now call them, are throwing down the Oscar gauntlet(is that a mixed metaphor?) going full court press with this one.

Although Michael Haneke only gives interviews in German, and the two stars are yes-for-real are in their 80s. But have Oscar buzz will travel. So we’ll be seeing them, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva stateside around the holidays. Or at least I will be seeing them, I hope, in their press tour.

I love SPC’s taste in movies. Last year,  they had “Midnight in Paris” and while it got a bunch of nominations in many categories and won in Best Original Screenplay, they did not move any of the many wonderful performers in that movie from the sidelines to center stage. Like for instance, Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Marion Cotillard as the Muse of many centuries and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein. Not to mention Owen Wilson’s, astonishing lead performance and Rachel McAdams as his blonde bitch of a fiancée.

Although Owen did get a Golden Globe nomination in the Musical or Comedy category, he lost out to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” And who could’ve stopped THAT express train once it left the station???

I can’t stand Wes Anderson movies, so I only go to them, if dragged so I haven’t seen “Moonrise Kingdom” yet. But I guess I’ll have to at some point. I hate when straight men try to do camp. Which is basically what his great “Style” is. Stolen from the Homosexual Handbook. I ought to know. I helped write it back in The Day.

And tomorrow I’m actually going to see “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  I’ll let you know if I think all the who-ha at Sundance and Cannes was justified.

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone’s Heavenly Cannes’ Diaries Delight

I swear sometime I think Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com is the reason for all the continuously  building Oscar hoopla that gets bigger and bigger every year. A one-woman Oscar army she has built up her formidable and must-read Oscar website, which started out as a Message Board ,and then called Oscarwatch.com into a veritable mountain of Oscar influencing.

Sasha just landed back in the States from Cannes, where she outdid herself once again, with her extremely beautifully written and astutely observed Cannes diaries which are very, very moving and absolutely essential to the understanding of what makes the Oscar race tick, and how it all begins. And now, it seems it begins in Cannes.

It certainly did last year with “The Artist,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Tree of Life” and “Drive.” All of which played a major role in the Oscar story of this season just past. And now again, Sasha writes so feelingly and persuasively about the things she sees, and the films she feels deeply effected her this year her diaries and reviews are absolutely irrestible reading. And you know what? She’s usually right on the money. Especially as far as spotting Oscar contenders early. REALLY early, in this case.

Cannes used to be really a catch-all for all the weirdo foreign films, the films the studios didn’t know what to do with, and no big Oscar influencer. This year all that has changed and Cannes may again assume its’ monicker as the World’s Number One Film Festival. Me, I ceded that honor to Toronto for the past 13 going on 14 years.

And what did Sasha like? Well, she tells you in her own voice at a rather incredible podcast she did with Jeffrey Wells, the eternal grouch of www.hollywood-elsewhere.com who like Sasha runs his own very successful website, follows no ruler but himself, and takes no prisoners on his daily movie beat, that she liked “Of Rust and Bone” best.

This is the divine Marion Cotillard’s French follow-up to her Oscar-winning “La Vie En Rose.” Marion is one Best Actress winner who has not let the grass grow under her feet, and has not been content to rest on her laurels, bien sur. Making one strong film choice after the other. Here she is playing an Orca trainer, who after a tragic accident in an aquarium where she works, is left legless.

Sasha mentions this film first in her podcast, which you can find on both her site as well as Jeffrey’s. I hate the title. You almost can’t pronouce it in French and in English, it’s just off-putting. And I don’t think Marion is going to win another Oscar so soon after her Piaf win, and acting in her own language once again. But she’s La Belle Marion, and let me tell you, she is one of the greats, so all bets are off. And if Sasha is mentioning her FIRST at Cannes, for an Oscar nom, in her podcast, then it’s DONE! And it a couple of weeks, she’s in “The Dark Knight Rises” too. She’s hot, hot, hot all over again. And Sony Pictures Classics has “Of Rust and Bone” and they really know what they’re doing with an Oscar campaign. Witness last year’s Best Original Screenplay winner Woody Allen’s sublime “Midnight in Paris,” which you all know I’v e now seen NINE times, and Marion was in that, too!

I don’t know how Sahsa  and Jeff did that magic trick of broadcasting so clearly and so distinctly from the middle of a Cannes Film Festival restaurant! It captures the chaos and also the joy that Sasha and Jeff were experiencing being at Cannes. And guess what? They both sounded supremely happy!

It didn’t matter if they missed films because of the scheduling or time flying by or the color of their badges. Sasha had “a lowly blue” and Jeff was the more high-toned Pink. David Poland was also there evidently for the first time.(I thought he’d been going there for years! But I guess I was misinformed.) and landed a pink badge. And you have to line up for films, and then they let the white badges in first. Then the pink with a “Pastille” or dot. Then the pink badges. Then the blue, then the yellow.

I hate to think what color I’d get saddled with.

You could line up in the broiling Cannes sun and not get in at all! That sucks.

But as I said, Sasha and Jeff sounded sublimely delighted by the whole experience. And it was like dropping in on a conversation between Scott and Zelda on the Riviera. You’ve got to check it out. And hear how Sasha reacts to everything, like I do, as an Oscar possiblity, or not.

Her second favorite film she mentioned was Michael Haneke’s “Amour” evidently a total change of pace for him, his films like the recent Palme d’Or  winner “The White Band,”are usually VERY dark and unrelenting. “Amour” is about a couple in their 8os with Emmanuelle Riva of “Hiroshima, Mon Amour” who is evidently going to give Marion a run for her money for the Best Actress prize as Cannes. And Jean-Louis Trintignant of “A Man and a Woman” is the man in the picture, also, now, incredibly, in his 80s. And Sasha says they are both wonderful and Jeff Wells counters, in their podcast, that he isn’t going to see it at Cannes. Vive la difference!

Who will win the Palme d’Or this year? It’s anybody’s guess. The jury at Cannes changes every year. And celebrity-heavy as it always is, it leads to some surprising winners. Unpredictable, that’s what it is. But we have to remember that last year Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award there for “The Artist” mais oui. So I’m guessing that one of the big winners this year  is going to also be on Oscar’s list, too.

The big American films were all coming up and Sasha, who was leaving early, hadn’t seen them yet. But you’ll feel like you’ve seen them all when you read Sasha’s trenchant, heartelt reviews and hear her and Jeff Wells talk about it so delightfully on their Oscar Poker podcast.

I was at Cannes once, myself, as a movie star, back in the day, with Divine, for the “Alternative Miss World” but that’s another story.

Oscar Voting Closes ~ Sasha Stone Says 9 Out of 10 for “The Artist”!

So as of yesterday, the Oscar Voting for the Best of 2011, closed at 5pm PST. Now what happens? Well, we all just sort of COUNT THE HOURS til Sunday night’s BIG SHOW. And try to figure out what went wrong, or right, depending. Me, I’m just over-the-moon delighted with how incredible an Oscar response the beautiful French bon-bon received. “The Artist” is poised, thinks Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, who lives and breathes this stuff even more than I do, she thinks “The Artist” is going to take home NINE out of its’ ten nominations!

That would be divine, as far as I’m concerned. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Costumes is what I thought would happen. And then Scott Feinberg, STILL the only Oscarologist who’s linked to this site.Thank you, Scott.

Scott ALSO predicted the same number 7, and he even wrote a comment on the previous blog post here, saying so. And no, I didn’t read Scott’s “The Hollywood Reporter” til AFTER I had written and posted mine. And I was kind of shocked that we agreed so completely.

This after last year’s Melissa Leo debacle.

Well, you can look that one up for yourselves. But every time I mentioned the words “Melissa Leo” last year, the hits SOARED! This year, not so much. But any way, Scott and I are now copacetic this Oscar year. And so much so we were predicting the same seven wins for “The Artist!” INCROYABLE! Scott’s at www.thehollywoodreporter.com

Then Sasha said “Nine” at www.awardsdaily.com and I nearly fainted! But she who knows all,(She lives in Hwood, too, so she’s right in the middle of it) thought that additionally Michel Hazanaviscius would trounce Woody Allen for Best Original Screenplay!!!! And she hasn’t been the only one saying that lately.

And that “The Artist”s production designer, who had to work in Black and White, mind you, only, that he would win over Dante Ferretti’s 3D and color work on “Hugo.”

Well, who am I to  disagree with Sasha at a final moment of the season like this?

I’m just over-the-moon about Jean Dujardin’s pulling ahead of G. Clooney with the SAG and BAFTA wins for Best Actor!

The only hold-out for George still seems to be Anne Thompson, who is parsing the possibilities over at www.indiewire.com Anne says that it’s the only interesting race left. The Jean v. George smack-down. Speaking of Tom O’Neill’s favorite word “smack-down, over at www.goldderby.com he has one of his editors Aussie Matt Noble do a very funny video about George Clooney being told that he wasn’t going to win Best Actor. Check it out. It’s hilariously done.  And yes, as Tom states, George will never forgive Matt Noble for this. But the voting’s closed. So it can’t influence voters one way or the other.

That was all done three weeks ago or more when the nominations went out.

And evidently they FLOODED back in, so says Pete Hammond at www.deadline.com

which I have been mistyped as www.deadlinehollywood.com all season. Sorry Pete. Sorry Nikki(Finke). But I’m sure you avid Oscar readers have been all over Pete Hammond’s great pieces all season long. And it IS a season. From Toronto til now, it just doesn’t stop.

And to think that Harvey Weinstein could be TRIUMPHING for a second year in a row, it’s just mind-boggling! Where would “The Artist” be without his excellent producing skills? And his drive? And his uncanny ability to read the Academy voters and play them like violins.

Although I must say, when I saw “The Artist” I DID think “The Academy is going to LOVE this! It’s all about THEM!”

But without Harvey “The Artist” would just be a small tres charmant French film, playing the Festivals and the art house circuit and not the PHENOMENON he turned it into! Bravo! Once again, all of Hollywood owes you bigtime for making the Oscars so exciting again!

And Jean! As I told Jean and Berenice Bejo when I interviewed them back in November in NYC at “The Artist”s press junket, they were going to become VERY famous in America and that they would win the Oscars! And once again, the Oscar Messenger’s message came true. Just like I told Colin Firth and Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” their great Oscar news a year ago last September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

You can see me telling them the good news if you search for Jean DuJardin -Stephen Holt show on You Tube. Or just go to my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and search for it there. It’s gone viral with over 45,000 hits at this point. Ditto Colin Firth from last year who is now up to 92,ooo hits!

And TWC also sent me over the moon with two terrific satellite interviews with Penelope Ann Miller and James Cromwell, also of “The Artist.” They played George Valentin’s neglected, unhappy wife and his loyal Butler/Chauffeur respectively.

And Best Actress???? Well, that’s another topic ENTIRELY! I’ll get into that next!

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