Posts published under “On Our Radar”
Anybody who has exchanged more than a sentence or two with me recently has surely gotten an earful of excitement regarding the upcoming release of DisneyNature’s latest natural world doc, Chimpanzee, which follows a 3-year-old chimp named Oscar (well, named by the filmmakers) as he is orphaned in the jungle and eventually adopted and raised by a grown male chimp, which is apparently some rare shit in the jungle. Watch the trailer HERE and try not to cry. In DisneyNature’s consistently exceptional output (including 2007′s Earth, 2009′s Oceans, and 2011′s African Cats) the filmmakers don’t pull any emotional punches to keep from upsetting the kids–the life or death, kill or be killed, eat or be eaten realities of the wild are very much in the forefront of these harrowing adventures, but they very rarely veer into animal torture porn territory. Unlike say, National Geographic Society Films, which regularly produces phenomenal natural history docs as well, but can be a bit more ruthless about showing the audience the worst possible image they would ever hope to see…and then continue showing it until the viewer is left drained and emotionally exhausted. There’s a particular scene in NGSF’s The Last Lions that is the saddest, most heartbreaking depiction of animal suffering I’ve ever seen–and the scene’s final “money shot” is lingered on just a bit too much. (I cannot go into specifics without making Kimberly cry FOREVER.) It is brutally honest. Well, brutal, anyway. NG is also known for creating narratives out of a random collection of footage, like in their also excellent, harrowing 2007 Arctic Tale, where you are introduced to walrus and polar bear families, following them over the first year of raising new babies. (YES THEY ARE BABIES, PEOPLE.) It isn’t till the end credits that the filmmakers admit that, yes, this was actually just a collection of several different animals, and the footage was just masterfully shaped into a story. But, it’s SO well done, and its super ecofriendly message is SO wonderfully pushy, that it’s difficult for me to fault them for some creative editing.
So this is a must-see, particularly if you need the type of good, cleansing cry that only an orphaned animal with big glassy eyes can bring. Tickets sold in the first week (April 20 through 26) benefit the Jane Goodall Institute, which is one of our favorite institutes. (Goodall is also the subject of an excellent 2010 documentary, Jane’s Journey, which features some captivating stories about raising a small child in Gombe around a bunch of sexually mature chimpanzees. Spoiler alert: The child doesn’t like it!)
ON OUR RADAR… The 68th Venice Film Festival is half-way over, the Telluride Film Festival finished yesterday and the Toronto International Film Festival is just getting ready to kick off on Thursday. So we have no shortage of reading material and fabulous photos of famous people looking their best as they walk the Red Carpet and then wing out to their next appearance. Exciting. And the films? Here’s just a quick and very personal run-down of five movies I’m getting seriously excited about:
1. Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” his first film since “Sideways,” is said to have “sucked all the air” (and love) in the screening room in Telluride. Perhaps predicting an Audience Favorite Win in Toronto??
2. Michael Fassbender’s performance in Steve McQueen’s “Shame” at Venice has reporters thinking he will take the prize for Best Actor. Lots of nudity, ladies.
3. ”The Artist”–a black and white favorite from Cannes — was equally loved at Telluride. Can’t wait.
4. David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method”– which showed in both Venice and Telluride– has audiences and critics widely debating its merits, particularly Keira Knightley’s possibly over-the-top performance as a mentally ill patient who loves spanking and sex. I’m excited to see this and make my own judgement! P.S. Great men in this flick: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel. Yum.
5. And finally….”Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”–will Gary Oldman finally get the Oscar he so richly deserves? Hope so and also hope this film lives up to the Alec Guinness masterpiece.
All in all, much to look forward to!
There is already buzz for David Cronenberg’s
upcoming “A Dangerous Method” and the cast looks exciting: Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung, Viggo Mortensen as Freud, and Keira Knightly as the attractive Russian patient they are both interested in. The film will premier at the Venice Film Festival which begins on August 31st. Sony Classics acquired the distribution rights to the film just this month and of course, it will be playing at Toronto, we assume. Oscar worthy performances are already being discussed. Can’t wait!
This Sunday’s broadcast of the 2011 Golden Globes has us pretty excited over here. Kudos to the Hollywood Foreign Press for bringing SML favorite Ricky Gervais back for a second year. Will he top last year’s hilarious Mel Gibson intro? (All the video of this is sadly gone, but you remember what he said: “I like a beer as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”) What will the dresses look like this year? Who will be drunk on stage? Who will get snubbed in the In Memoriam reel? It’s all very exciting. Let’s all meet back here next week to discuss the highs and lows, shall we?
PS: Be sure to tune into NBC’s always awful red carpet coverage 30 minutes before the show starts. Can’t wait to hear what hit song they’ve re-written to include movie and TV references this year! I’m going to guess something by the Black Eyed Peas.
Gofobo.com: The Full Scoop on Your New Best Friend, or Making Crappy Lives Sweeter One Free Movie at a Time
Movie fans on a budget will appreciate the service provided by the good people of Gofobo.com, a movie info site known mostly for providing free sneak previews of upcoming Hollywood fare. While some similar sites offer screenings in only a few select cities, or in one particular region, Gofobo is pretty much nationwide, so be sure to check regularly for screenings in your area. After a few months using the site fairly regularly, I have amassed some choice intel for you lucky, freewheelin’ hippies, so sit tight and take notes.
Once you create a free Gofobo account, check the SCREENINGS page for upcoming events in your town. Occasionally you will click on an upcoming screening and they will automatically allow you to reserve passes, EASY PEASY, but more often it will ask for an RSVP code to be entered for that particular screening. If you have that RSVP code (obtainable through radio/TV stations and pretty much any business giving them away as a promotion of some sort; TIP: a well-chosen Google Alert will help you discover some of these as they pop up), just enter it on that screening’s page, or on the home page. BOOM. Then you’re on that particular screening’s processing page, where you request either one or two passes. Next, you’ll download a PDF file which contains two separate printable passes, one saying your name and one saying GUEST OF your name (although they give you an option to only reserve one pass, good news for the sad, lonely bastards out there). You’ll need to print them out—HELLO, printer at work—and that’s pretty much it. Just be sure to show up at least an hour before show time (usually scheduled for 7pm, but with the occasional 10am or 9pm screening), because free movies draw people like crazy, and as with all sneak previews these shows are overbooked to ensure the fullest possible house. Also good to know: most screenings start seating a full 40-45 minutes before show time. Read more »
Stephin Merritt, and a little less so his band The Magnetic Fields, is one of those polarizing figures. You either love him or hate him (or a third category: never heard of him). He’s an unbelievably talented and prolific song writer, cranking out albums with The Magnetic Fields in addition to three other bands and at least two side projects at all times, including a 2009 staging of a not-for-kids musical based on the Neil Gaiman book Coraline (strangely not associated with the movie version of that book that came out the same year). His music and lyrics generally strike a lovely tone of sadly funny–unique, sweet without being sticky, and surreal but totally recognizable. My favorites of his songs live in the same part of my brain as the very best of Wes Anderson’s movies, if you get me. (It’s okay if you don’t; that doesn’t make much sense.) He tours with his band but is very open about pretty much hating playing live, due in equal parts to an ear condition that makes applause and loud music literally painful to him and to his generally prickly personality. I’ve seen him live a few times and have found him in turns to be dryly hilarious, self-deprecating, extremely entertaining, really boring, and rude to and dismissive of an audience that clearly loves him. I find him fasinating, and the documentary about him and the band that’s been floating around festivals since June ought to be really great. Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields hasn’t graced my city yet, but I’m keeping an eye out for it (maybe it will show up this year at STIFF?) and will report back as soon as possible. In the meantime, please enjoy these enticing clips.
As a service to anyone who may have missed them, allow us to guide you to the full-length and teaser trailers for the Coen brothers’ Oscar-buzzy True Grit remake, due in theaters on Christmas Day. I think our levels of Coen devotion vary here at Serious Movie Lover, but I am an unabashed enthusiast of most of their vast catalog. If you subscribe to the “every other movie” theory of Coen-watching, they’re due for a serious-minded, large-scale, painstakingly detailed, HIGH QUALITY offering, and this looks like it will fit the bill. Reliable Oscar winners/nominees in leading roles, Roger Deakins in the cinematographer’s chair (Do they get their own chairs? If not, they really should. Everyone needs a place to sit!), and prestige source material, all present. I haven’t seen the 1969 original since watching it on TV with my dad about 20 years ago, but it was John Wayne’s sole Oscar win and therefore universally beloved from what I can tell. The trailers have me more excited for this one than anything else coming up in this last few months of the year that I’ve heard of so far. We’ll be watching to see if it can live up to my already ridiculously high expectations. See you in December, Coens!
Sarah: Kimberly! Finally our cries are answered! Roger Ebert announced his new movie review show this week, to begin airing on PBS in January. I am super sad to see that our pals A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips won’t be involved in this new version of the show. And I’ll admit that I don’t know much about either of the new hosts, Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell of NPR, except to say that I hardly ever agree with movie reviews I hear on NPR. Regular contributors Kim Morgan (wait, was she the be-pig-tailed object of your derision at Ebertfest this year?) and Omar Moore are also a mystery to me, and the bits I saw of them in the preview Ebert posted (linked above, take a look) don’t make me want to get to know them, exactly. Morgan’s special lesson about the historic value of The Third Man is especially off-putting, because I tend to resent this sort of “re-examination” of cultural objects that have already been widely accepted as really great. Like when Oprah told us all we should read Steinbeck. Should we, Oprah? What a totally edgy and unusual opinion to share! If only that author could somehow be incorporated into the curriculum of most high school literature courses! HOWEVER (all caps, getting back on track), I am still excited to watch this show based entirely on my trust in Mr. Ebert, National Treasure™. I wasn’t sure I’d like Richard Roeper or Phillips when they started hosting their versions of the show, and damn, if I didn’t enjoy both of them after a short adjustment period. Plus, disagreeing with the reviewers isn’t always a bad thing, as long as they have some insight to share. Most of all, the short clip in the preview of Ebert typing his review of a documentary I’ve never heard of, with his computer voice reading as he types, and giving it a thumbs up made me a little teary with joy. That segment alone will make this show worth tuning in for each week. This TV format of film reviewing has been sorely missed in my house since the sad last episode of Scotlips’ “At the Movies.” Can’t wait! You? Read more »
Kimberly: Sarah! I could not be more excited about the new Whit Stillman movie in the works, currently titled Damsels in Distress. Can you believe it’s been 12 years since The Last Days of Disco? Twenty since Metropolitan? That is unsettling, but I will try not to let the fast approach of my twilight years/osteopenia get me down. We could read the screenplay here for $10, but who pays for anything on the Internet? (Best of luck, New York Times.) I’ll see if I can find it on a shady Russian download site. After reviewing the casting call (for FREE), I think our man Chris Eigeman would be perfect for this part:
PROFESSOR RYAN Male, Caucasian, mid 40s and up, the teacher of a college course in “Flit Lit,” Professor Ryan lectures (rather defensively) on the literary career of Ronald Firbank.
“Rather defensively” is his specialty! Are you interested in entering a suspended animation chamber until this film’s release? We can go halvsies!
Sarah: Kimberly! Count me in! So excited that this seems to actually be happening, after the last few Stillman rumors turned out to be nothing. And, based on our thorough exploration of the internets, the material seems just right for our old friend. Readers unfamiliar with Mr. Stillman’s previous classics should take the time to Netflix them now in their (mostly) Criterion glory, so they can be all caught up when this one finally arrives. I recommend starting with Metropolitan and moving forward from there. We’ll be vigilantly monitoring developments in the meantime. Unless we’re in our suspended animation chamber, in which case you’re on your own.
We here at SML have a special place in our hearts for the fabulous Joan Rivers. It was after seeing her live show together one night that we sat in a bar and discussed starting a movie review blog together. And here we are! Joan: bringing people together for 40 years. So we are all anxiously awaiting the new documentary about a year in the life of the hardest working woman in show business. The movie was a big hit at Sundance, and there have been some great interviews floating around. A new trailer hit the interwebs this week, hinting that the movie will be as hilarious as we’d expect but also show the softer side of Joan that many people may not be aware of. Take a look!
Trailer: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work