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Archive: February, 2010

POSTED: Tuesday, February 16, 2010, 1:01 PM

Interviewed recently about the books that influenced him when he was writing his gothic pulp novel, Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane cited, among other sources, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. With its mix of the insane and the ghostly, that seems just about right, and if Martin Scorsese didn’t look at the eerie 1939 William Wyler adaptation when he was prepping the Shutter Island shoot, he… well, he probably did. (He looked at Vertigo, Out of the Past, Laura and lots of other titles.)

And now Andrea Arnold, the Scottish writer and director behind the beautifully disturbing kitchen sink coming-of-age drama Fish Tank -- currently at the Ritz At the Bourse -- is gearing up for a new version of Wuthering Heights. (No, it’s not the sink that’s coming of age, it’s a troubled, angry, 15-year-old girl.) Arnold, who comes from a realist tradition that’s more Ken Loach/1960s British New Wave than it is the roiling late-Thirties Hollywood melodrama, has long expressed an affinity for the Bronte sister’s sole novel. Robert Bernstein, producer of the new adaptation, told the Guardian last month thatAndrea has previously said that the only book she would ever direct would be Wuthering Heights, because of the passionate, impossible love story at its center and its elements of class divide…. It’s a very lucky coincidence for us that we’ve found each other.”
 
And lucky for audiences, I’ll wager. Arnold expects to cast and shoot in the coming months.
POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 11:46 AM

One of the editors here gave me a hard time for not getting more agitated in my Oscars nominations story about some of the slights, snubs and outright omissions on the list of candidates for the 82nd Academy Awards.

As the guy who said Fantastic Mr. Fox was not only the best animated film of the year, but the best cussin’ any-kind-of-film of the year, one would think I’d be peeved that the only recognition Wes Anderson’s stop-motion gem managed to get from the Academy was nods for best animated feature and best original score. No best adapted screenplay nomination (from the Roald Dahl book), no best actor for George Clooney, nor actress for Meryl Streep (they had to be satisfied with their respective salutes for the lesser endeavors, Up In the Air and Julie & Julia, instead).

Well, what can I say? After months of championing this brilliant existential caper movie and its portrait of a marriage, its trenchant examination of our innate animal instincts - and not to mention its compelling use of tweed and corduroy – I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Fantastic Mr. Fox is not a mass appeal  thing. Maybe if Sandra Bullock had been in it, and the sport depicted was football and not whack-bat, Anderson’s ingenious and charming classic would have been recognized as THE INSIPRED WORK OF ARTISTRY IT IS!
(Deep breath.)
Other neglected films/performances/contributions in -- or not in -- the roster announced Tuesday, as far as I’m concerned:
Nothing but a costume kudo for Jane Campion’s exquisite Romantic poet romance, Bright Star (Abbie Cornish over Sandra Bullock, I say).
No props for Michael Stuhlbarg, who stars as the tormented 1960s college prof in the Coen Brothers’ best picture nominee, A Serious Man (not to be confused with Colin Firth, who was accorded an Oscar nomination for his role as a tormented 1960s college prof in A Single Man).
And In the Loop for best adapted screenplay? (Insert your colorful Armando Iannucci Britspeak expletive here.) What should have gotten that slot: Scott Cooper’s adaptation of the Thomas Cobb novel, Crazy Heart. Or, hey, have I mentioned Wes Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach’s brilliant reexamination of the Roald Dahl children’s book about a fox on the prowl for chickens and high-alcohol apple cider?
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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