Earlier this week, while on record with the entertainment blog The Wrap, Hollywood producer and power-player Harvey Weinstein blithely declared, “It’s a great moment [for black films]… Hopefully it signals, with President Obama, a renaissance. He’s erasing racial lines. It is the Obama effect. It’s a better country. What a great thing.” … Read More
The Grandmaster, the new film from lyrical Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express) is his greatest financial success to date, grossing $50 million in China, where it was released back in January. But that is not the film appearing in American cinemas this Friday. It has been cut by more than 20 minutes, from its 130-minute Chinese edit to a 108-minute US version. Scenes have been reorganized and deleted; new voice-over narration was recorded. And most egregiously, extensive intertitles and documentary-style character identification captions have been added, often to “clarify” narrative turns and new characters that are already abundantly clear to anyone paying attention to the picture. The result is like trying to read a book while someone is sitting next to you reading aloud from the Cliffs Notes. Who thinks we’re this dumb? … Read More
Here’s a story you won’t hear much about outside the film-geek world, but it’s worth hearing: there’s this South Korean thriller called Snowpiercer, which is a giant hit in its home country and has played, to much acclaim, at festivals here in the US. Last November, the Weinstein Company picked it up for distribution in English-speaking markets, presumably drawn both to its genre elements and a cast that includes Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, and Alison Pill. And now, according to director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother), they’re demanding that he cut 20 minutes out of it. … Read More
If there’s one thing you hear a lot in the run-up to the Academy Award nominations, it’s that they’re predictable — that the industry’s “Oscar bait” films are clearly labeled and marketed as such. So maybe it’s just because there was such an embarrassment of cinematic riches in 2012 that there were so many genuine surprises and shocking snubs when Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the Academy Award nominees yesterday… Read More
In perusing this year’s biggest movie controversies, we found ourselves discussing matters a good deal less trivial than last year. Make no mistake, there are some tempest-in-teapot situations here: ratings woes, questions of reappropriation and hagiography, and (god help us all) frame rates. But we also grappled with issues of artistic responsibility and racial representation, and with the ongoing question of the very health of the form itself. Join us after the jump for a stroll through the year’s memorable movie controversies, won’t you? … Read More
As a general rule, we try to steer clear of “Oscar blogging” this far ahead of the game — it’s a subset of online film writing that too often amounts to announcing that any fall release that generates a fair amount of early-screening praise is suddenly an awards contender that is totally, unexpectedly changing the game. It’s become a pretty silly ritual that we all go through every fall, particularly as more moviegoers and writers come to realize that the Oscars are an essentially meaningless horserace that seldom if ever genuinely reflects what is actually the best of the current cinema.
But gauging trends among the fall prestige pictures — the best foot that Hollywood puts forward every year — can be valuable; it gives us an opportunity to read the tea leaves a bit, to see what studios are hoping to accomplish, and what they would at least like our perception of them to be. And that’s maybe why this year’s Oscar pre-nomination race has become so interesting: because it’s so dominated by big studio releases. … Read More