Wally Pfister has been in it for a minute. He started out in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, first as a camera operator and then cinematographer for straight-to-VHS erotic thrillers and horror films with titles like Animal Instincts II, Secret Games 3, and Amityville: A New Generation. But in 2000, he hooked up with director Christopher Nolan for Momento, and he’s shot every Nolan film since (along with Moneyball, The Italian Job, and a few others). Now he moves into the director’s chair, orchestrating a high-caliber cast in the big-budget sci-fi thriller Transcendence (out today). But even if you view it without this thumbnail bio in the back of your head, you might guess the pedigree, because it’s a terrible movie that looks amazing. … Read More
When Freud wrote of female sexuality as “a dark continent,” he might as well have been writing about Woody Allen’s murky understanding of women. The director’s female characters invariably have abundant daddy issues, a slew of neuroses, and affairs with artists, professors, married men. They seek advice from therapists and fortune tellers, they’re tempestuous and stubborn; though they’re sometimes incredibly narrow, they’re often appealingly complex. Allen’s female characters are so obviously amalgamations of his fantasy woman – or rather women, plural – that one might contend they’re part of an ongoing, experiment in understanding women. Following this week’s news that Emma Stone is set to star in the next Allen film, we’ve conducted a little experiment of our own, looking back at the ladies of his canon, matching the women of his classic era with their contemporary counterparts. … Read More
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival drew to a close over the weekend with a flurry of additional distribution deals, as well as a Saturday night awards ceremony. The fest’s out-of-nowhere buzz hit Beasts of the Southern Wild was among the big winners, nabbing not only the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, but the US Dramatic Excellence in Cinematography award. The Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to The House I Live In, an examination of the war on drugs from director Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight). The Israeli film The Law in These Parts won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary, while the Latin American musical drama Violeta Went to Heaven won the Dramatic World Cinema Jury Prize.
True to my history of excellent scheduling judgment, your humble correspondent saw not one of those films during my eight days in Park City, though I did take in — and greatly enjoy — the US Audience award winners The Invisible War (Documentary) and The Surrogate (Drama); the latter film also won a richly-deserved US Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. My favorite film of the fest, Mike Birbiglia’s warm, winning comedy Sleepwalk With Me, won the Best of NEXT Audience Award; another favorite, the wry time-travel comedy/drama Safety Not Guaranteed, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. … Read More
Regardless of how you feel about James Blake’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” on his recent Enough Thunder EP (we were kind of ambivalent, but in his review of the album, Pitchfork’s Ryan Dombal wrote that the song “has the feel of a stiff recital, his vocal undulations ironically sounding less natural without those well-situated sonic accoutrements” and revealed Blake’s “limitations as an artist” — zing!), we think you should watch the new music video for the track, because it stars the lovely and in our opinion underutilized British actress Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Town, Frost/Nixon). We absolutely adore her. And now, thanks to director Seb Edwards’ POV shooting style, we have a pretty good idea of what it would be like to be in a tumultuous relationship with her. We hope for Sam Mendes’ sake that Hall is much more boring than this in real life. … Read More
Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and puzzling over what they may be hiding. We’ve got ten new trailers for you to feast your eyes on this week; check ‘em out after the jump. … Read More
Woody Allen isn’t always the protagonist in his movies — in fact, in recent years, he’s often declined to appear onscreen at all — but we’d be hard pressed to come up with one of his films that does feature the Woody Allen Character. You know him: the neurotic, stammering, death-obsessed artist type who’s always complaining about pseudo-intellectuals. He’s been played by everyone from Kenneth Branagh to Jason Biggs. Owen Wilson is the latest actor to play Woody, in the delightful Midnight in Paris, and the role even fell to a woman once — Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Now, the folks at Filmdrunk have put together a supercut of other actors assuming Allen’s mannerisms. Watch “A Retrospective of Woody Allen Surrogates” after the jump. … Read More
1. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann is reportedly workshopping a version of The Great Gatsby that would star Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Rebecca Hall in the role of Daisy. We’d watch that. [via Deadline]
2. Word is that Brenda Chapman is no longer attached to Pixar’s Brave, which… Read More
Starring Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, and Oliver Platt, Walking and Talking director Nicole Holofcener’s latest work, Please Give, is an unflinching look at liberal guilt delivered with the fiery bite of early Neil LaBute.
A couple eagerly but reluctantly awaits an elderly neighbor’s death so they can expand their apartment into a dream house. The neighbor’s granddaughters (Peet as the snarky and ill-named Mary, and Rebecca Hall as her saintly sister who desperately needs to get into a little trouble) have an uneasy relationship with the pair, but form an unlikely bond with their wise-beyond-her-years 15-year-old daughter. … Read More
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov’s final play, begins with the arrival of Liubov to her childhood estate, which is about to be auctioned off to cover her debts. Kopakhin, a millionaire of peasant origins who grew up with Liubov, has a plan to save the estate and the orchard, and Gaiev, Liubov’s brother, has plans of his own. Nonetheless, the auction takes place just as surely as Godot never arrives, leaving Chekhov the opportunity to play with variations on the work’s major theme: abundant affection coupled with an absence of tact.
Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of the play is in production at BAM until March 8, under the direction of Sam Mendes. We expected nothing short of perfection from Stoppard, but, shockingly, he seems oblivious to the importance of “tact” in the play’s construction. (In one important instance, the line “But you have to, you have to express yourself differently” is flatly rendered as “That’s not the same thing.”) Because the major theme of The Cherry Orchard was lost in translation, the actors are not properly conducted toward a full realization of the play, even with a pro like Mendes at the helm. They’re on their own in this cacophonous production. Some manage to strike the right notes anyway; others are painfully sharp. … Read More