Khat Ban is a herb that has been part of Somalian tradition for hundreds of years. It is a chewed upon Amphetmaine-like substance that causes excitement and euphoria. In Peter Greengrass’ riveting “Captain Phillips”, the pirates that are about to take over Richard Phillips’ ship chew on Khat Ban to overcome the nerves and fears that come with taking on such a mission. The brilliance of Greengrass’ film is how we get to know these pirates not as villains but as impoverished third world human beings with not much to lose. We’ve all heard about Somali pirate takeovers at sea in the news but the topic has never really been given a Hollywood treatment until now. Which makes the film even more interesting. Greengrass touches upon many themes, including the negative effects of globalization and the isolation of such impoverished third world nations. Somali actor Barkhad Abdi is exceptional as Muse, one of four pirates trying to overtake an American cargo ship 145 miles off the Somali coast.
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” – Emerson
There is no doubt that America is changing. You can feel the old ways reaching out their talons to pull us back into the past but it isn’t going to work. With asshats in silly costumes representing the Tea Party driving our government to shut down for the first time in 17 years (because things were better when women didn’t have the right to vote and we owned human beings as slaves?), all to prevent President Obama’s implementation of healthcare, which is now the law of the land and a live-saving relief to many.
But big change often requires a shift in perspective. Most of us hold onto what we’ve been taught to believe, even if it goes against the grain of progress. We can count on the younger generations to come at their future with an open mind. The rest of us will have to wait it out, rejoicing or suffering as the change comes down upon us.
The current Oscar race — or the films that display the most vitality within it right now — represent a range heroism. Not for God and country so much, but for individuality and resourcefulness. Probably the most resonate of these at the moment is Paul Greengrass’ magnificent Captain Phillips, which had its Los Angeles premiere last night, with the real Captain in attendance. How easy it would have been to make a film where a hero defended a ship against evil invaders — just give them a bigger boat, perhaps, better clothing and weapons, do not humanize them in any way. But Greengrass and screenwriter Billy Ray were determined to tell this story truthfully, not through the lens of nationalism. Therefore it’s not possible to watch Captain Phillips without feeling for the gunmen.
Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis – The must-see concert event of the year unfolded in New York and will air on Showtime on Friday, December 13, 9pm. The music in the film, under the care of the brilliant Burnett, is one of the things that makes Inside Llewyn Davis one of the best films of the year. Oh yeah, and a couple of guys named Coen, whoever they are. A whole gallery of photos have been released, with Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Jack White, Elvis Costello, Adam Driver, Carey Mulligan and more. WOW, right?
In competitive years for Best Actor surprising results have often emerged. When Jack Nicholson for About Schmidt was up against Daniel Day Lewis for Gangs of New York, Michael Caine for the Quiet American and Nicolas Cage for Adaptation, Adrien Brody won for The Pianist. In 2011, when George Clooney for The Descendants was up against Brad Pitt for Moneyball, Demian Bichir for A Better Life, and Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Jean DuJardin won for The Artist. When Ian McKellen for Gods and Monsters was up against Nick Nolte for Affliction, Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan, Edward Norton for American History X, Roberto Benigni won for Life is Beautiful.
The New York Film Festival is just begging. First up, Paul Greengrass’ exceptional Captain Phillips, surely one of the best film of the year, received a standing ovation at opening of the fest. Slight spoiler alert in the Hollywood Reporter’s take on the event:
At its conclusion, the film received a prolonged ovation — which turned into a standing ovation once a spotlight was placed on Greengrass and the Somali actors in a box above the rest of the audience (Hanks had to leave early) — from a crowd that included Sony Classics co-chiefs Michael Barker and Tom Bernard; the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Argo Chris Terrio, who’s writing a script for Greengrass now; and the Oscar-nominated actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who starred in Greengrass’ 1999 TV film The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The general sentiment among New Yorkers at the screening and the Harvard Club after-party — at which Greengrass and particularly the Somali actors were the center of attention — was that the film has a strong shot at scoring a best picture Oscar nomination and an even stronger shot at bringing Hanks his first acting Oscar nom in 13 years, particular for his work during the final minutes of the film, which left much of the audience in tears.
The two newcomers to the Oscar race will be Spike Jonze’s Her and Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Many of the films that have been making the festival rounds will again show up in New York, Inside Llewyn Davis, All is Lost, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Nebraska. These films have, for the most part, been “vetted” already, meaning, they’ve been reviewed by critics and appreciated by audiences.
The trailer was fabulous but Foxcatcher is out for Oscars 2013. Sony Pictures Classics announced today that the pic isn’t ready yet for this year and will be bumped to 2014. Why do I get the feeling every movie is getting out of 12 Years a Slave’s way?
Foxcatcher is directed by Bennett Miller and stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. The true story from Wikipedia:
Mark Schultz is the brother of the late Dave Schultz, who also won a Freestyle Wrestling Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympics. The Schultz brothers and the Banach brothers became the first brothers in U.S. history to win Olympic Wrestling titles in the same Olympics. However, the Schultz brothers are the only brothers in U.S history to win Olympic and World titles. The Schultz brothers won more NCAA, U.S. Open, World, and Olympic titles than any American brother combination in history. On January 26, 1996, Dave Schultz was murdered by multimillionaire paranoid schizophrenic John Eleuthère du Pont, the founder of “Team Foxcatcher”. Four months after Dave’s murder, Mark competed in UFC 9 and won.
AFI Fest 2013 will run from Nov 7-14. Saving Mr Banks kicks off the program on opening night and Foxcatcher follows with its world premiere the second evening. Inside Llewyn Davis will close the festival.
If there ever was a good year to have a Scorsese movie bumped from the Oscar race it’s this one. Most of our collective disappointment is about not seeing the movie this year. (No one really cares much that it will or won’t compete for the Oscars, except Leonardo DiCaprio fans but we’ll get to that in a minute). The race is already too crowded with contenders, both in the Best Picture and in the Best Actor categories. Add to that, several films are waiting in the wings — American Hustle, Foxcatcher, Her, Saving Mr. Banks, Walter Mitty. It’s possible none of these would make the same kind of massive impact any Scorsese movie would have made, as in the parting of the Red Sea where everyone gets out of its way.
The films in this year’s race have so far been somewhat melancholy, even films like Inside Llewyn Davis and Labor Day. There is sadness everywhere. Wolf of Wall Street would be very different from all that came before it but also it might be the right film at the wrong time. It might not get the attention it deserves because it doesn’t quite fit into the Oscar theme this year. No matter what happens the movie is going to make bank and with any luck be one of the best films Scorsese ever made.
Word is that the current cut some have seen of Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street clocks in at just under 3 hours. Is Marty seriously being pressured to trim it down closer to 120 minutes? Just because of an arbitrary time constraint predetermined months ago?
Slash an hour of a movie Scorsese says he’s happy with — just for the sake of squeezing in one more showing per day? Since the concept of sitting still for more than 2 hours of Scorsese is so unthinkable? Which 30 minutes would you want to cut from Casino or The Departed?
178 mins – Casino
175 mins – The Wolf of Wall Street
170 mins – The Aviator
167 mins – Gangs of New York
164 mins – Last Temptation of Christ
151 mins – The Departed
146 mins – Goodfellas
139 mins – The Age of Innocence
138 mins – Shutter Island
134 mins – Kundun
129 mins – Raging Bull
128 mins – Cape Fear
126 mins – Hugo
UPDATE: Roger Friedman at Showbiz411 is now saying he’s heard The Wolf won’t be released this year.
I’ve confirmed with sources the Wolf will not be at the door until next year. Disappointing for everyone, but good things come to those who wait… [Earlier] There have been rumors of three hour versions. The movie will not make its November 14th release date. Paramount is saying maybe they’ll make it for Christmas.
But that seems unlikely. Scorsese is committed to running the jury at the Marrakech Film Festival from November 29th to December 7th. That’s basically two weeks shot in the schedule. When Scorsese agreed to be the jury president he thought “Wolf” would already be in release. But rushing now, and having to be away for two weeks, seems impossible.
Nicole Kidman’s starring role in Grace of Monaco has just been pushed to next year. Now, Kris Tapley is reporting that it’s possible Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street will be moved to next year, like Shutter Island did. It’s a matter of editing, and needing more time overall, apparently. What a drag that would be. Very few films can survive a jump like that. If it happens this will be the second collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese to do it, and the second DiCaprio film in a row (after Gatsby did it the year before).
Meanwhile, many films are still big fat question marks, like American Hustle, Monuments Men, Her, The Counselor. But it’s only October. There is still plenty of time.
Martin Scorsese, like Woody Allen, like Steven Spielberg continues make vital, memorable films and shows no sign of slowing down. If they’re editing that means he’s working alongside the meticulous Themla Schoonmaker and that makes it worth the wait. But here’s hoping it finishes in time for this year because no film is more highly anticipated.
The best thing Rush has going for it in the Oscar race is that it has a great Oscar story attached to it, and that is that Ron Howard couldn’t get the thing made and had to scramble around for funding — kind of amazing when you think about it. How could anyone say no to race cars and Chris Hemsworth? Maybe the mild bummer of it being a true story that doesn’t have a crowd-cheering climax so much as a thoughtful rumination on risk taking versus valuing safety first. Given that Rush opens with Hemsworth having sex with Game of Thrones’ uber hottie Natalie Dormer, it should be an easy sell, giving women dragged along for the ride with their “interested in race car driving” dates a thrill from the outset. I don’t get where all of this doesn’t add up to great box office.
Rather than ranking the movies this time, the Gurus of Gold have instead put the top movies and a second group of films they were less sure of or haven’t seen. Movies I think will or might be in I put in my lower group — it isn’t a top ten, however. It is still too early to rank any kind of reliable top ten. This is an attempt to curb the madness a bit.
A movie only the French could have made. And if you look up sensuous in the dictionary there will simply be a picture of this movie. Whatever punishments the director put these women through it produced an exceptional work of art.
2013 will end up being about a lot of things when the dust settles. It will be yet another year where most of the films in the Best Picture race are driven by the male narrative — give or take a Gravity. It will be the year that directing vets like Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, George Clooney, David O. Russell take on the new guard, like Steve McQueen, JC Chandor and Ryan Coogler. It is the first year under the Academy’s first black female president, the first year into Obama’s second term, and the year the Supreme Court voted to dismantle a key component to the Voting Rights Act.
While we can’t yet know the outcome, there are a few things we do know. One of those is that, for the first time ever, black filmmakers are on a level playing field. This is the week Lee Daniels’ The Butler hit $100 million. He’s the first African American ever to be nominated for director and picture. To date, only two African Americans have been nominated for Best Director at all.
At the same time, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave won praise from critics out of Telluride, then did the same out of Toronto, winning the Audience Award. Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station emerged strong out of Sundance and Cannes.
Because of the individual success of these three films and these three filmmakers, both in terms of critics and with audiences, it continues to feel awkward to put them in the same category simply because they are black filmmakers, and not the traditionally dominating white, male status quo. While that fact is notable, what’s even more notable is that they’re also telling important stories of our collective past, with a focus on the history of African Americans.