16 items from 2014
By Anjelica Oswald
Where feature filmmakers head into a project with a script and a plan, the path for documentarians is unpredictable. They follow real subjects and real issues often in real time — and sometimes for years at a time — and piece everything together as the footage comes along. Sometimes, things fall apart or the subject has to change, such as it with Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie (2013). Though different skill sets go into the distinct film forms, some documentary filmmakers choose to transition to narrative features and vice versa, such as Spike Lee, whose next release will be a documentary titled Go Brasil Go!.
Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman have made the jump from documentaries to feature films and have said that they intend on continuing to make both types of film. Epstein and Friedman won an Oscar for their first co-directed documentary, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt »
- Anjelica Oswald
Howdy ladies and gentleman For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to go ahead and take a look at a rather unique A-lister. Someone who vacillates between humongous Hollywood blockbusters and odd little independent films, always doing his own thing. The A-lister in question? None other than James Franco. He’s many things to many people, but he’s unquestionably a star. He’s given a few incredibly good performances, but he’s never a boring actor to watch. He’s easily one of Tinseltown’s most interesting actors to follow. Almost constantly engaging in some form of art, Franco is at his core, just that…an artist. He may be a bit of a weirdo to some, but he’s an A-lister regardless and deserves this tribute. Franco wasn’t always considered a “weird” star. He got his start basically as a heartthrob. He first came on to »
- Joey Magidson
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.
Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014.
“This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are:
- Michelle McCue
Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave were two of the 271 artists and industry leaders invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines nominations and winners at the annual Oscars. The entire list of Academy membership—which numbers about 6,000—isn’t public information so the annual invitation list is often the best indication of the artists involved in the prestigious awards process. It’s worth noting that invitations need to be accepted in order for artists to become members; some artists, like two-time Best Actor winner Sean Penn, have declined membership over the years. »
- Jeff Labrecque
Pop quiz: What do Chris Rock, Claire Denis, Eddie Vedder and Josh Hutcherson all have in common? Answer: They could all be Oscar voters very soon. The annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences invitation list always makes for interesting reading, shedding light on just how large and far-reaching the group's membership is -- or could be, depending on who accepts their invitations. This year, 271 individuals have been asked to join AMPAS, meaning every one of them could contribute to next year's Academy Awards balloting -- and it's as diverse a list as they've ever assembled. Think the Academy consists entirely of fusty retired white dudes? Not if recent Best Original Song nominee Pharrell Williams takes them up on their offer. Think it's all just a Hollywood insiders' game? Not if French arthouse titans Chantal Akerman and Olivier Assayas join the party. It's a list that subverts expectation at every turn. »
- Guy Lodge
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has invited 271 individuals to become members, with the list reflecting the org’s determination to bring more diversity to its ranks.
Every year, the list of invitations includes several recent Oscar nominees. That’s true this year as well, with letters going out Wednesday to a cross-section of people including 2013 contenders Barkhad Abdi, Lupita Nyong’o, Hayao Miyazaki, Pharrell Williams, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, plus such creatives as Megan Ellison, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Coogan, Jason Statham, William Chang Suk Ping, Joan Sobel, Tracey Seaward, Mads Mikkelsen and Chantal Akerman.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Variety Thursday, “This is a continuation of an initiative to bring in new voices. Filmmaking has gotten more diverse, and audiences have been responding. There are terrific filmmakers around the world at the top of their game and we want to recognize them and bring them into the Academy. »
- Tim Gray
Not all docu films that make the cut into the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Edit and Story Labs are fortunate enough to then land a coveted spot at the festival (recent examples include Roger Ross Williams’ God Loves Uganda and Tracy Draz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo’s Rich Hill) but some fresh air and supportive pounding from the Institute’s Advisors surely contributes to the realization of passion projects that are buckets filled in blood, sweat and tears. Among the press release mentions below, we’ll surely be discussing them in Park City setting in a January to too far off from now. Here are the selection of 20 Fellows representing eight documentary film projects to participate in the 2014 Documentary Edit and Story Labs, June 20-28 and July 4-12 at Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah.
Artists and projects selected for the June 20-28 Documentary Edit and Story Lab:
A Flickering »
- Eric Lavallee
Sundance Institute has unveiled the 20 fellows, and their eight documentary film projects, who will participate in this Summer's 2014 Documentary Edit and Story Labs. The labs run June 20-28, and July 4-12, at Sundance Resort in Utah. Based on Sundance's immersive Lab model launched by Robert Redford in 1981, each session of Documentary Edit and Story unites directors and editors with world-class doc filmmakers. Creative advisors in June include editors Jonathan Oppenheim ("The Oath") and Mary Lampson ("Harlan County USA"), and directors Jesse Moss (this year's breakout "The Overnighters") and Jon Else ("Sing Faster!"). In July, editors Kate Amen ("The Case Against 8") and Joe Bini ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"), and directors Ross McElwee ("Photographic Memory") and Rob Epstein ("Howl") are among those onboard as creative advisors. Artists and projects selected for the June 20-28 Documentary Edit and Story Lab: "A Flickering Truth" Director: Pietra Brettkelly Editor: Jacob »
- Ryan Lattanzio
With The Company, Coco Before Chanel, Howl, Ginger & Rosa, Devil’s Knot and American Hustle under his belt, and a role in J.C. Chandor’s upcoming A Most Violent Year, Alessandro Nivola is quickly becoming the go-to actor for directors working on period pieces. Now, he’s added another one to his busy schedule in the form of civil rights biopic Selma.
Nivola will play civil rights activist John Doar in the movie, which Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere, ABC’s Scandal) is directing for Paramount and Pathe. Though the film is being marketed as a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, it actually focuses on “the three attempts of black marchers to walk from Selma to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, in 1965 in order to gain voting rights. The first two times they were beaten back by police, and by the third time it had become a national crusade.”
- Isaac Feldberg
James Franco is to portray a former gay activist in a new film.
Watch James Franco admit flirty messages with 17-year-old
Glatze, a co-founder of Young Gay America magazine, left San Francisco after a health scare, converted to Christianity and renounced his homosexuality.
The film will be based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis's New York Times article 'My Ex-Gay Friend'.
Franco will shoot the film from July while continuing to star in the Broadway production of Of Mice and Men.
Given the eclectic nature of James Franco's projects, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to host a festival in Franco's honor, and it looks like the man himself plans to attend. New York's IFC Center will host FrancoFest, a retrospective celebrating the work of James Franco, from March 5-13, with Franco appearing at several screenings. The festival will showcase several of Franco's most notable performances ("127 Hours," "Howl," "Spring Breakers"), as well as a number of his efforts as a director ("As I Lay Dying," "The Broken Tower," "Sal"). Perhaps the most notable inclusion is Franco's Berlin and Sundance hit "Interior. Leather Bar.," which re-imagines the destroyed explicit scenes cut from William Friedkin's controversial thriller "Cruising." Friedkin's film will appear in concurrence with Franco's. Also scheduled to appear is Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho," which influenced the included films "My Own Private River" and "Idaho, »
- Max O'Connell
As jaunty as Jean Dujardin’s beret, but in a sincere, old-fashioned kind of way. It could almost have been rediscovered from the 1940s… I’m “biast” (pro): love Clooney as an actor and a filmmaker; love the cast
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I try to avoid hearing too much of other critics’ reactions to a film before I’ve seen it, but there was no avoiding the barrage of disappointment that came hurling over Twitter last week, as so many of my North American colleagues responded to The Monuments Men with a resounding “meh.” This was a disappointment to me, because I’d been so looking forward to this movie.
Well, now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know what the hell they’re all talking about, because this movie is fantastic. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
As we quickly approach the American release of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Rises, it’s time once more for Mousterpiece Cinema to wade into the past of Studio Ghibli. This week, Gabe and Josh focus their sights on Howl’s Moving Castle, with two special guests: Simon Howell of The Televerse and Andrew Daar of This Was TV. Both guests are huge Miyazaki buffs, and Josh is well-known for not being an ecstatic fan of every Miyazaki film. But. If you think you know where this conversation is going, trust us, you don’t. Unless you presume this conversation is heading down tangential avenues, talking about Jeff Daniels, Werner Herzog, and Poochie the rappin’ dog. In that case, you’re right. But still! Listen to the show, because you won’t know for sure until you hear it, not just read it in a description.
The post Mousterpiece Cinema, »
- Josh Spiegel
The 86th Academy Awards are just 30 days away! Still deciding on your favorites? Go Here for a list of the nominees.
The Academy has announced it will present a slate of public events leading up to the 86th Oscars where they’ll be celebrating this year’s nominees. If you’re in the Hollywood area (Feb 25 – March 1) and an Oscar fan, you wont want to miss these fantastic events!
Events at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills will focus on the films nominated for Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, and the Short Film categories.
Something new this year is the live concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles highlighting the nominated musical scores and songs.
The Oscar Week schedule is as follows:
Animated and Live Action Shorts
Tuesday, February 25, 7:30 p.m.
Hosted by actor Kevin Pollak. »
- Michelle McCue
What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream on Netflix, blinkbox, and BBC iPlayer.
streaming now, while it’s in cinemas
The Square: history firsthand, in progress, and unfinished; an invaluable record of revolutionary spirit, and of the lengths to which a threatened leadership will go to preserve itself [my review] [at Netflix]
new to stream
Donnie Darko: teenaged Jake Gyllenhaal versus satanic bunny Frank [my review] [at Netflix] Robot & Frank: thoroughly charming and cleverly original sci-fi comedy with a wonderful performance by Frank Langella [at Netflix] Step Brothers: wonderfully absurdist farce finally holds up endless male adolescence as a thing to be ridiculed, not celebrated [my review] [at Netflix]
streaming now, before it’s on dvd
Prisoners: a superb film that shifts from unvarnished depictions of terrible, tragic, mundane reality to almost unbearable suspense; an intense, uncomfortable, unforgettable cinematic experience [my review] [at blinkbox] Rush: a thoroughly magnificent film on every level, with astonishing performances »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Rabbit Bandini Productions
With movies like On The Road and Howl picking up A-listers to star in their high-brow book adaptations and poetry biopics, it’s starting to look more like film versions of literary fiction are no longer reserved solely for the basements of spectacle-wearing book buffs and college professor-types in leather-patched jackets.
Nowadays, even us low-brows can get a piece of the action – and it’s about time. This isn’t because the new literature-based films are any better than before, no; it’s because now they are finally getting the exposure they deserve, helped mostly by art-loving superstars like James Franco, who (love him or hate him) make it their business to do as many Howls as they do Spider-Mans. Yes: having to drag yourself through endless second-hand DVD shops to find a movie based on a William Faulkner novel could soon be a thing of the past. »
- Henri Pearson
16 items from 2014
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