Archive: November, 2010
Good news for Winter’s Bone fans, and for Debra Granik, its director, and Jennifer Lawrence, its star: the Gotham Independent Film Awards, juried by New York-based writers and filmmakers, and one of the first year-end kudo groups out of the gate, gave the taut Missouri Ozarks mystery its best feature prize, and another for best ensemble acting, on Monday night.
The short-list for the 2011 Academy Award contenders in the documentary feature category were announced last week – fifteen titles, vying for five spots -- and the list serves as a reminder (not that any was needed) of what a strong year this has been in non-fiction films. It’s too bad that Marwencol, Jeff Malmberg’s brilliant portrait of a guy you could call an “outsider artist,” didn’t make the cut – but don’t let that stop you from seeing it (playing now at the Ritz Bourse). Also too bad for A Film Unfinished, Yael Hersonski’s absolutely chilling second-look at a Nazi propaganda film shot inside the Warsaw Ghetto.
In ten films now, from his first, Shallow Grave, to his latest, 127 Hours, British director Danny Boyle has shown a propensity for stories about men – or, in the case of Millions and Slumdog Millionaire, boys. He’s talked about making a film with a woman as the central character (“I’ve got an idea for something… which could address that to a degree”), but it hasn’t happened yet.
There’s an especially strong trio of films in the First Person Festival this year – or, more exactly, this weekend (Nov. 13-14). The 9th annual fest of memoir and documentary art is set to screen Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields Saturday at the Painted Bride Art Center. A doc about the deadpan and droll singer/songwriter of the New York band Magnetic Fields, and his (kind of) co-dependent relationship with keyboardist/manager Claudia Gonson, has been expertly shot and spliced by filmmaker Kerthy Fix. Both Gonson and Fix are slated for a Q&A after the show. If you're a Merritt/Magnetic Fields fan, you won't want to miss.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein have had some tough slogging with their Weinstein Company over the past few years – Nine was an expensive flop, The Road and Youth In Revolt were likewise heavily-marketed box office no-shows, the staff was downsized, the budgets cut -- and every few months there’d be a report in the trades or the business pages of the Times or Nikki Finke’s deadline site that the movie-making brothers were in dire straits.
Tell that to the guys who have a debt restructuring deal in place, a slate of new projects, and a certified Oscar magnet on their hands in the form of The King’s Speech. A huge festival crowd-pleaser (it premiered in Toronto), and a beautifully crafted film from British director Tom Hooper (The Damned United, John Adams), the drama about King George VI, the monarch who reigned during World War II, describes the improbable friendship between an eccentric Australian speech therapist -- Geoffrey Rush -- and a reluctant royal with a stymieing stutter -- Colin Firth. Firth, nominated early this year for his work in A Single Man, is on everyone’s list of 2011 best actor nominees – in fact, he’s already considered the front runner.