Sunday, March 29, 2015

Archive: January, 2011

POSTED: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 11:29 AM

Harvey Weinstein says that the 12 nominations nabbed by The King’s Speech on Tuesday, when the Academy Award contenders were announced in Beverly Hills, speak to “the great ensemble work” of the actors, to “Tom Hooper’s masterful direction,” and to a “majestic” story. In a very quick phone interview, the co-head of The Weinstein Company also spoke proudly of Michelle Williams’ best actress nod for Blue Valentine, the TWC release that traces the emotional trajectory of a couple’s relationship. That’s 13 nominations for his little specialty house.

Weinstein expressed frustration that Ryan Gosling, Williams’ co-star, didn’t get a best actor nod. But he acknowledged that “it was a very crowded, competitive field… and I’m just glad that this daring film was recognized. I’m focusing on the positive.”

A couple of years back, many in the media were writing The Weinstein Company off. The new indie distributor, founded by Harvey and his brother Bob after they sold Miramax off to Disney, was in debt, with few hits and some costly diversions in TV, on the web and in publishing.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 2:25 PM

This is from the production notes for The Illusionist, opening in Philly Friday, Jan. 21 -- and a movie everyone should see! Director Sylvain Chomet, who adapted Jacques Tati's final screenplay -- and whose Tour de France tour de farce The Triplets of Belleville, was nominated for best animated feature in 2004 (losing to Pixar’s computer-animated Finding Nemo) -- explains it like this:

“My insistence on hand-drawn 2-D graphics comes from the fact the technique gives a more ethereal charm to the art, ensuring the story is always a pleasure to behold, even during moments of inaction. The strength of 2-D in my opinion is it vibrates and it’s not perfect, just like reality, in fact. Imperfections are important when you are dealing with a story about human characters. It adds to the realism, makes it even more potent. And 2-D is created by humans. CGI is good for robots and toys, less [so] for humans. I want to see the work of an artist on the screen, not a machine whose visuals are too neat, shiny and clean. I prefer me and my pencil – not me with a laptop!”

POSTED: Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 3:56 PM

Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous 1935 salute to Nazism and Adolf Hitler, is playing at the Roxy Theater near Rittenhouse Square – and, in fact, is being held over for a second week. The other screen at the venerable twin theater? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

“I think it’s one of the most important films of the 20th century,” says the Roxy’s owner, Bernard Neary, about his decision to book Riefenstahl’s stirring documentary, shot at the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg attended by some 700,000 zealous supporters. “It’s amazing how a film like this seems to be in the consciousness as universally reviled, but then nobody’s really seen it…. If you mention Triumph of the Will, people look at you and say, `Oh yeah, it’s that terrible movie made by that German filmmaker.’

“But have they seen it? Not too many people have, really, except for clips on the History Channel.”

POSTED: Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 2:36 PM

Julia Roberts hosted a screening of Biutiful for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week, doing her best to drum up support for her Eat Pray Love co-star in his wrenching turn as a Barcelona black-marketeer in the thus-far-little-seen Spanish-language entry. The Oscar-winning actress (for Erin Brockovich) is campaigning for a best actor nomination for Bardem, whose performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s gritty, sprawling drama is truly one of the greatest things Bardem has done: sad, subtle, visceral, totally there.

“He’s raw and completely open to sharing every emotion this character has,” Roberts told EW staffer Dave Karger. When asked why she thinks Bardem has been virtually ignored this awards season -- no Golden Globe or SAG nominations, and only a few critics citations (although Bardem did share best actor honors for his Biutiful work last May at Cannes) – Roberts said, “I think the movie hasn’t gotten the exposure. You don’t know where it is. It’s like this hidden little jewel. Especially in this particular season, people don’t hunt for things. They just take what you throw in their face.” Here's the link to the EW item.
 
Biutiful opened in New York and L.A. just in time to qualify for Oscar consideration. It bows in Philadelphia later this month or early next. It’s a strong film, but Bardem’s portrayal of a small-time hustler trying to put his life in order is beyond strong – it’s the stuff of greatness, really. Hear! Hear! to Roberts for making some noise. 
POSTED: Monday, January 3, 2011, 4:57 PM

Anne Francis, the Hollywood siren whose leading men included James Cagney, George Raft, Glenn Ford and, most famously, Robby the Robot in the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, died yesterday, January 2nd. She was 80. Here’s a publicity shot from the film. (Leslie Nielsen, who died in late November, was also Francis’ co-star in Forbidden Planet.)

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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