17 January 2013

Featurette: Lincoln

A wonderful featurette on the making of Lincoln, one of this year's best films:

10 January 2013

Nominees: The SpyGlasses Full (2012)

Click to show full list

Best Live-Action Film (Feature-Length)
Holy Motors
The Master
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Supporting Actor
Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
Eddie Redmayne, Les Misérables

Best Supporting Actress
Isabelle Allen, Les Misérables
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Best Art Direction
Rick Carter & Jim Erickson, Lincoln
David Crank & Jack Fisk, The Master
Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Anna Karenina
David Gropman & Anna Pinnock, Life of Pi
Arthur Max, Prometheus

Best Cinematography
Greig Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty
Eric Gautier, On the Road
Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln
Mihai Malaimare, Jr.; The Master
Robert D. Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom

Best Costuming
Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey, & Richard Taylor; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Sharen Davis, Django Unchained
Paco Delgado, Les Misérables
Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln

Best Make-Up
Tina Earnshaw & Nina Fischer, Prometheus
Bernard Floch, Holy Motors
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater, & Tami Lane; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell, Les Misérables

Best Visual Effects
Cloud Atlas
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, & R. Christopher White; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, & Dan Sudick; Marvel's The Avengers
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, & Martin Hill; Prometheus
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, & Donald R. Elliott; Life of Pi

Best Original Score
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Jonny Greenwood, The Master
Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Ennio Morricone, Django Unchained
John Williams, Lincoln

Best Original Song
"100 Black Coffins" by Rick Ross, Django Unchained
"Pi's Lullaby" by Mychael Danna & Bombay Jayashri, Life of Pi
"Song of the Lonely Mountain" by Neil Finn, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
"Touch the Sky" by Julie Fowlis, Brave
"Who Were We?" by Kylie Minogue, Holy Motors

Best Sound Editing
Karen Baker & Per Hallberg, Skyfall
Christopher Boyes, Marvel's The Avengers
Paul N. J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty
Ann Scibelli, Prometheus
Wylie Stateman, Django Unchained

Best Sound Mixing
Ron Bartlett & Doug Hemphill, Prometheus
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill, & Drew Kunin; Life of Pi
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, & Ronald Judkins; Lincoln
Paul N. J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Editing
François Gédigier, On the Road
William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty
Leslie Jones & Peter McNulty, The Master
Michael Kahn, Lincoln
Tim Squyres, Life of Pi

Best Screenplay (Original)
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Leos Carax, Holy Motors
John Gatins, Flight
Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby

Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Animated Film (Feature-Length)
The Lorax

Best Animated Film (Short)

Best Documentary Film (Feature-Length or Short)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The Queen of Versailles

Best Foreign-Language Film (Live Action or Animated, Feature-Length or Short)
Amour (Love)
Holy Motors
L'Intouchables (The Untouchables)
A Royal Affair

02 January 2013

Article: "Pain and Nourishment: Kirin Kiki in Still Walking"

Michael Koresky of the Criterion Current presents a complimentary piece on the performance of Kiki Kirin, a 2009 Best Supporting Actress nominee from the Best Live-Action Film (Feature-Length) and Best Foreign-Language Film (Live Action or Animated, Feature-Length or Short) that year, 歩いても 歩いても (Still Walking).

01 January 2013

Review: Django Unchained

Genre: Comedy

Mr. Tarantino's Django Unchained is not, as many people would have it, a racially charged epithet against the progress made by proponents of abolition and equality among men but is rather, as it was written to be and as Inglourious Basterds (2009) was, a clever send-up of those who would speak up to protect the so-called sacrosanctity of the relevant topics in social and cultural discourse both polite and casual. As it is, the result is brilliant. Under Mr. Tarantino's glowing hand, the characters spring to life in a charming, mostly well-paced and even jaunty, literally and figuratively explosive, and cacklingly comical adventure into, cleverly, what is again the new old frontier. Mr. Waltz delivers a popping performance, in key locked tight with Mr. Tarantino's audiovision - audio vision, indeed, for music unsurprisingly figures as importantly and proudly as image in his cinematic work. To this end, Mr. Morricone's work is perfect. Not in any way neglecting to mention Mr. Jackson's tremendous [and though the expression be cliché] scene stealing performance or Mr. DiCaprio's own able acting, I must conclude by mentioning how the curious sound mixing and the slightly lumpy pacing in places defected the figure of the film. The bursts and shudders of the soundtrack veered unwittingly into erraticism, betraying the zany but ultimately controlled plan spiriting forward the action of the film, and the bowing out of the plot midstream - particularly when the protagonists are busy socially entangling themselves with Calvin Candie, Mr. DiCaprio's character - weighs down an otherwise lithe and quippy body. Yet, the film eventually rights itself and finishes with aplomb in a bang - for real.

Grade: A-.

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Genre: Drama

Ms. Bigelow bulwarks against cinema's ever effacing superfice with her own quasi-documentary brand of drama narrative filmmaking - a brand now manifest in a captivating Zero Dark Thirty. A purposefully naturalistic film, the piece is smartly edited and even better written, a vision of not simply the plan executed for apprehending and eliminating the terrorist Osama bin Laden but generally the effort expended in cultivating and asserting a political face over one's personal one. In this craft, the film mirrors truly Ms. Bigelow's own filmmaker's story and thus becomes itself a political face to a personal toil rich and sweaty and gritty and male (in the most loaded social sense of the word).
As her Galatea (of sorts), Ms. Chastain exuberates her dampened passions, frustrations and joys, in the thoroughness of her body. She affronts her surroundings across the spectrum in concert with the growth of her character in the film, until as a perfect last note the façade breaks and she cries to close the film. Her tears moisten the desert landscape that she inhabits, hoping for greenery where there is hardly cause to expect one. Like Galatea, she transforms.
The only serious critique I can lob at the film is, surprisingly, at its score's composer, Mr. Desplat, whose work for other films (see here for example) notably has been among my favorite musical compositions in memory. Here, however, there is none of his keen observation of rhythm and depth as there has been in the past; his notes and, indeed, his chosen motif miss the nature of the film and sound classical where they should sound spite and severe. I wanted a kind of Messrs. Reznor and Ross' bubbling spirit from The Social Network (2010) but I continually found a kind of Mr. Desplat's terpsichorean cues from Birth (2004). Would that the score had been as en pointe as was Mr. Morricone's for this year's Django Unchained, this work would approximate ultimate excellence.

Grade: A.

Review: Les Misérables

Genre: Drama (Musical)

It saddens me to have to write that summarily Mr. Hooper's new film may - far more than its predecessor, a technically apt portrait - be best characterized by the simplistic adjective "weak". Weak acting cum singing, weak writing, weak editing, and - above all - weak cinematography undermine what could have been an even more compelling film than The King's Speech (2010).
Now, perhaps the weak writing could be excused by weakness in the source material; perhaps, for example, Javert as a character could be proven by the original text to be a spare, unidimensional automaton by nature. (Whether he be truly I cannot say, for I have not read that original text. I can say:) Still, the rest of the listed weaknesses cannot be similarly excused. In fact, by contrast, all the other weaknesses hinge on the final one; the abominable cinematography of this film makes for such difficult story-telling that the spectating audience is almost entirely reliant on the snippets of the background behind the singing actors' faces for gaining any sense of the action's location and is entirely reliant on those faces for gaining all sense of the action's emotion and direction. As I've mentioned on this blog before [though at present I can't find the post for citation], it's just too hard for actors to carry thus, via such tight bust shots alone, a whole film successfully. Success in such acting is akin to success in neurosurgery; delicate, fine-grained articulations make all the difference. With such a heaping swath of tight framing, the likelihood that each needed articulation is executed smoothly is terribly low; the story is visually too closely told to have a realistic chance at being quite good. Therefore, expectedly, it falters. It trips over its own breaks in pacing, in tone, in coherence.... Even Ms. Hathaway, whose performance in this year's The Dark Knight Rises I lauded and whose performance in this film I had eagerly anticipated, only shoddily delivered.
But two actors really stood apart from the rest and made their soliloquys' scenes entrancing and powerful: Mr. Redmayne and Ms. Allen. Mr. Redmayne, playing the young buck Marius, infuses into his role the ripe honesty and fraternity that personify Marius' embodiment of the spirit of the Revolution. It is forward thinking, forward thrusting, and forthright, and it weeps as he does well for the fellow champions of the cause who have fallen for it at his side. Singing his unique song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," Mr. Redmayne is in full command of his character and evidences why he already has a Tony award. Ms. Allen, a much younger member of the cast, hums with the same accuracy and cohesion of person with place. Though only a girl, she is the frontispiece of not only the Revolution in spirit but also of the show in explicit visage. Thus, she must too carry in her bearing the resilience beneath weight that speaks to the hearts of the crowd, around both the French red, white, and blue and the English silver (screen). That she sweeps and trips with anything less is as a judgement unfair. These actors, plus only Mr. Delgado's costumes and Ms. Wetcott's make-up and somehow the magical coincidence of comedy within the "Master of the House" sequence, redeem in part this cinematic effort. Would that redemption held more.

Grade: C.