I have just finished tossing away the discarded ballots and
finished eating the leftover donuts and can report the results of the Boston
Society of Film Critics voting for 2008.
Let’s just say it’s a bit eclectic, a bit of a smorgasbord, with
only three films getting more than one award (“Wall-E,” and “Slumdog
Millionaire” getting two, or maybe one and a half,given the tie for Best
Picture, and “Milk” getting three, or
maybe just two and a half, given the tie for Best Actor, and many of the top
runners (“Benjamin Button,” Frost/Nixon,” “Revolutionary Road,” “The Reader,” “Rachel Getting Married”) getting
Speaking of Oscar nominations, the canine half of “Wendy and Lucy”
has already reeled in a prize from Cannes,
the diamond studded collar given to the winner of the Palm Dog.
Which makes me wonder why the Academy doesn’t consider similar
awards for outstanding dog performances. Maybe call it the “Old Yeller” after
the inimitable scene stealer in the 1957 Disney classic.
The tradition of No Make-up = Best Actress goes back at
least to Kathy Bates in "Misery" (1990). If a movie star doesn’t have
her face all dolled up for the camera that’s got to mean she’s really digging
deep and giving a raw performance. This year offers a powerful slate of
un-made-up actresses and no doubt we’ll be seeing their names come Oscar time
on February 22.
Forget about Springtime -- these days it’s Yuletide for
Hitler and Germany.
The people at “Ad Age” aren’t alone in trying to figure out why the Third Reich is
such a popular Holiday theme this year (and in previous years, as with “Black
Book” and “The Good German,” but not to this extent) on
the big screen.
Explosions in space, fatalism and injustice, screwy flashbacks, sequels to "28 Days Later" and "Trainspotting," among other controversies. Man, this turned out to be a long interview.
PK: I'm struck by two images. At the beginning of “28 Days Later" you have London
completely abandoned. And at the beginning of this film you have series of
shots of Dharavi, which I guess is one of the most densely populated parts of
Meanwhile, the conversation with Danny Boyle, whose “Slumdog
Millionaire” now seems to be on every pundit’s Best Picture short list. But there also are
some, such as the ever reliable Armond White, who think the film is an
exploitative sop to liberal guilt. Here Boyle continues to sing the praises of
Mumbai, despite the poverty, corruption, crime, injustice and mutilated
children his film depicts.
There are two kinds of opportunism. Here's an example of the good kind.
Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” is a biopic starring Sean Penn as San Francisco
City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever elected to a public
office. He was gunned down on November 27, 1978, and so the film opens next week in part to
honor the 30th anniversary of that assassination.
Which Danny Boyle will show up for the interview promoting
his new movie “Slumdog Millionaire?” I’m wondering. Will he be diabolical,
sardonic and head-butting like his brilliant “Trainspotting?” Nihilistic,
mirthfully despairing and flesh-eating like his terrifying “28 Days Later?” Innocent
and romantic like his heroes in “A Life Less Ordinary” or
“Millions?” Or cowering, defiant and relating the story of his life with hilarity and
razzle dazzle like his hero being given the third degree by the cops in his new
So we seemed to be going great guns, with Kaufman even
tolerating my fey digression about Proust, until I asked a gauche question
about Michelle Williams. And then the “M” word. Then it all goes down the toilet. But it neded to be ask. Or maybe not --judge for yourself.
PK: And Cottard is also a character in Proust's "In Search of Lost Time."
More so than a lot of filmmakers, Charlie Kaufman really
cares what you think. I got a chance to interview him the day after his new film "Synecdoche New York" played at the Harvard Square Cinema the crowd there seemed to really love him when I saw him the next
morning sitting in a meeting room in the Ritz Carlton I thought he looked kind
of glum and full of doubt, kind of like the character Caden Cotard, played by
Philip Seymour Hoffman, who may be his onscreen persona.
President Obama. Let’s just ponder that for a while.
As I pointed out a couple of postings ago ,
all of this was foreshadowed by the switch in Hollywood’s undead preference from
zombies to vampires, which should be more than evident when “Twilight” sets
some box office records its opening weekend on November 21.
Should a white guy make films about black people? Should
independent filmmakers distribute their own movies? Will there be a “Ballast 2?”
PK: Did you show the finished film to the participants?
LH: Yeah, all the actors came up to Sundance, and a couple
of them came to Berlin,
and a few saw it in LA at the festival, a couple of them had been there before,
so, um, the Sundance experience was very transforming for everybody.
It's the Halloween
before Tuesday’s election, so the big question is -- how is the political situation reflected in horror
movies? And, specifically, those that deal with that fundamental source of
horror, the Undead.
There are basically two types of undead, zombies and
vampires (Frankenstein fits in uneasily somewhere), and I think it’s safe to
say that up until recently the zombie contingent has dominated the genre.
Wim Wenders’s great 1987 film “Wings of Desire” inspired
Lance Hammer to consider a career in moviemaking, but it took a stint at a studio
doing set design for blockbusters like “Batman and Robin” to convince him to
make films his way. His “Ballast” took
years to bring to the screen and involved spending several winters soaking up
the ambience of the Mississippi Delta where the film is set and casting
non-professional local people and devising a story with dialogue and events
that were true to the reality and people with whom he worked.
Speaking of repetition compulsion, the conflict in the Middle East shows no signs of a happy ending. The latest
major installment was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon
in 2006, a brutal campaign which ended with no clear winners but definite
losers -- the people of Lebanon.
Talented local filmmaker Jocelyn Ajami (“Queen of the Gypsies” ) visited the scenes of destruction with a group of American journalists,
scholars and politicians six weeks after the cessation of hostilities.