Monday, December 26, 2011

OFCS winners announced

1/2 UPDATE: Well, everything was coming up "Tree." So be it. Glad "A Separation" won anyway. The official release:

The Tree of Life, which led the Online Film Critics Society nominations with seven, was the big winner at the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards. The film took home the prize for Best Picture as well as trophies for Best Director (Terrence Malick), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Editing and Best Cinematography. No other film won more than one award.

The other three acting winners were Michael Fassbender winning Best Actor for his performance in Shame; Tilda Swinton's work in We Need to Talk About Kevin won the award for Best Actress; and Christopher Plummer received the Best Supporting Actor prize for his work in Beginners.

Best Picture:
The Tree of Life
Best Animated Feature:
Best Director:
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life
Best Lead Actor:
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Best Lead Actress:
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain - The Tree of Life
Best Original Screenplay:
Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
Best Editing:
The Tree of Life
Best Cinematography:
The Tree of Life
Best Film Not in the English Language:
A Separation
Best Documentary:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Special Awards (previously announced):
To Jessica Chastain, the breakout performer of the year
To Martin Scorsese in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation

"A Separation" and "Hugo," two of my favorites, get something extra under the tree this year, if not as much as "The Tree of Life" (pictured). But plenty of room under the branches in what I must say is a strong slate from my group.

Here's the official release:

"The Tree of Life", Terrence Malick's exploration of suburban family life in the 1950's, received seven nominations for the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society awards. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Malick), Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.

Joining "The Tree of Life" in Best Picture are Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist", Alexander Payne's "The Descendants", Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" and Martin Scorsese's "Hugo". Malick, Hazanavicius, Refn and Scorsese were joined in the Best Director race by "Melancholia" director Lars von Trier.

"Drive" was the second most nominated film picking up six mentions including the aforementioned Picture and Director as well as Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks), Best Adapted Screenplay, Editing and Cinematography. Brooks was nominated alongside John Hawkes in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Nick Nolte in "Warrior", Pitt and Christopher Plummer in "Beginners". In Best Supporting Actress, the nominees were Chastain, Melissa McCarthy for "Bridesmaids", Janet McTeer for "Albert Nobbs", Carey Mulligan for "Shame" and Shailene Woodley for "The Descendants".

Woodley and Mulligan's co-stars shared nominations in the Best Actor slate, George Clooney and Michael Fassbender respectively, who were nominated alongside Jean Dujardin in "The Artist", Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and Michael Shannon in "Take Shelter". The Best Actress category features Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia", Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady", Tilda Swinton in "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Michelle Williams for "My Week with Marilyn".

Each year, the OFCS also submits nominations for Special Achievement Awards, granted only by a majority vote of the membership. This year, the Online Film Critics have selected two individuals, Jessica Chastain and Martin Scorsese, to receive special citations.

Chastain's tremendous and quality-filled output this year has brought her instant acclaim and recognition marking one of the most stellar debuts in recent memory.

Scorsese has long been a champion of film preservation and with his love letter to the cinema this year, "Hugo", he continues to show his admiration for film history and the many pursuits to keeping those records alive."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York Theater News: Last of the year

The first half of the 2011-2012 Broadway season has ended, and it's been blah. Adding a little zing: the family melodrama Stick Fly and the intriguing revisal of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, with Jessie Mueller and Harry Connick, Jr.

Popdose: Stocking stuffers

Buy yourself a merry little Christmas and stock up on some current Blu-ray and DVD releases, ranging from a set of Sabu to some choice Seijun Suzuki weirdness via Criterion. And curl up with Jennifer Connelly at her most delectable, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Popdose: Saying Goodbye

In which Norma Eberhardt, Tura Satana, and Ken Russell are sent on their way. You're good if you know two of those.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Winter edition of Cineaste

It's online and on sale. Online: An exclusive Charlotte Rampling interview, MOD, DVD, Blu-ray and book reviews, and festival coverage. In the magazine: Olivier Assayas, Costa-Gavras, Kelly Reichardt, and more on "The Prospects of Political Cinema Today"; interviews with Asghar Farhadi (A Separation), David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method) and John Sayles (Amigo); and an update on manufactured-on-demand (MOD) discs by yours truly, plus my interview with Warner Archive honcho George Feltenstein. Worth the cover price of course, but why not subscribe and save?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Live Design: New plays

I have been to The Mountaintop (pictured)--and a few other Broadway and Off Broadway shows besides as the year in theater ebbs. Kind of drab, I have to say, after an exciting spring; here's hoping 12 brings it up a notch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Popdose: Hugo

Christopher Lee has something for Hugo (Asa Butterfield) as Martin Scorsese attempts a 3D family film. It won't bite you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Popdose: Criterions for Sale

The Barnes & Noble sale is on again...and off again tomorrow. Get 'em while you can.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Popdose: An Open Letter to Al Pacino

Don't hang up, Al. We need to talk about these movies of yours. The new ones, not Dog Day Afternoon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Popdose: Horrors

As Halloween ebbs a torrent of DVDs and Blu-rays to scream about. And a photo of my favorite lil ghost to go with it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New York Theater News: Sons of the Prophet

Can't quite figure out the rave reviews for this one, but at least it wasn't written by an actor or a screenwriter. Too much of that around.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Live Design: Man and Boy

Back to Broadway with Frank Langella, and a revival of Lemon Sky Off.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Popdose Interview: Max Allan Collins

A chat with the prolific co-author of The Consummata, his latest collaboration with Mickey Spillane--dead five years and still going strong.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Popdose: Double De Palma

Back to back posts? Indeed. And a double bill of Brian De Palma on Blu-ray. Say hello to these little friends!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Popdose: Notes on Current Movies

Yes, the time slipped away, again. Sigh. But I'm back, reviewing Moneyball, Drive (pictured), and The Debt for Popdose. And I never go away entirely, as you can see by checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Look for me there and say hello, won't you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cineaste: Fall issue interviews

The Fall issue is up, and there's plenty to browse, including the online portion of our incredible film preservation symposium. But if I may call your attention to two pieces: an interview with Guillermo del Toro and Guy Pearce about their new film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and another chat with the inimitable Malcolm McDowell. By me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Popdose: Problems with The Help

I'm not all smiles over the top-grossing adaptation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Popdose: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Bailee Madison is going to need a bigger flashlight to scare off unwelcome houseguests in a shivery remake, co-produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro. Look for my interview with him and star Guy Pearce on the Cineaste website, posting soon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Popdose: Sucker Punch on Blu-ray

Where I discuss the tight-skirted, zeppelin-flying babes of Zack Snyder's folly, and eventually critique the disc.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Popdose: Sondheim sounds off

"You can drive a person crazy..." So with the gang I look into what's driving the composer crazy about the revisal of Porgy and Bess that's coming our way this season.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cineaste: Bellflower

My review of a compelling, weird, lovable, nutso indie, opening Aug. 5.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark microsite

Live Design magazine is spinning a web on the web, telling the tale of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark from the design team's perspective via a specially created microsite brimming with my (ahem) "ace reportage." Take the plunge and have a look.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Popdose: Project Nim

No monkeying around, folks, regarding an eye-opening new documentary from Man on Wire's James Marsh.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Popdose: A Summer "Transformered"

Is a movie that's 90% awful still worth seeing? Yes, almost. Other, less awful movies are also considered.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"Animal Magnetism"

It'll be in the August issue of Live Design but you can read the first part of my article on the award-winning design of War Horse online.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hell's multiplex: the UA Court Street Stadium 12

Remember that Brooklyn Heights-set horror movie The Sentinel (1977), where the doorway to hell was located in a genteel brownstone? Hell has been relocated a few blocks, to the dreaded UA Court Street Stadium 12 multiplex, hated by discerning moviegoers. I know enough to avoid it (and most multiplexes) on weekends, but yesterday's noon jaunt to see the (eh) Super 8 was a nightmare of slowpoke ticket-taking and molasses-paced concession sales that made me 15 minutes late for the movie. Irritated I wound up in an argument with the theater's manager, who couldn't care less about consumer complaints and just wanted to refund my money and get me out of there. And so after a few choice words I left, never to return.

The nicer Cobble Hill Cinemas was glad to have me, and as it happened it was discount day, so I paid $3 less than I would have at UA...Hell. UA's slightly more convenient location has obliged me to patronize it these past six years, despite terrible reviews, cretinous, nachos-stuffed audiences to match the staff in intelligence and girth, and two smoky fires started by malfunctioning popcorn machines, or malfunctioning employees. Want proof of the decline of customer service, basic worker competency, and pride in one's profession? Look no further.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Popdose: A Blu-ray Superman set

I have it on DVD, but the new Blu-ray incarnation of the five-year-old "Superman Anthology" leaps past it in a single bound. Or something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weekend at BAMcinemaFest

Staycationing cinephiles in the vicinity of the five boroughs are advised to trek over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where the BAMcinemaFest begins tonight. Propelled by a favorable review in Film Comment I saw the opening film, the British-made Weekend, last week and it's a keeper, a finely wrought gay romance...well, that's limiting. Yes, it's about two men inching their way toward some sort of commitment beyond a one-night stand, and an audience (gay or straight) underserved by the usual cliche-ridden love stories has reason to cheer a more serious one, not that the film lacks humor (or heat). This one digs deeper, and while not a suspense picture per se it builds considerable tension of a kind as the tentative, sort-of out lifeguard Russell (Tom Cullen, below in frame) hooks up with Glen (Chris New), a garrulous, probing artist...on the last weekend before Glen is to leave for Portland for a two-year fellowship. Andrew Haigh's film suggests Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise but the stakes are in their own way more urgent; a subtle sub-theme of the movie is how England's baleful surveillance culture (represented by security cameras around Russell's housing estate) deforms lifestyles, presenting another hurdle for the two very different men to overcome. A stimulating and rewarding start to what promises to be an excellent festival, Weekend is slated for fall release, but the filmmakers are trekking to Brooklyn to screen it...and so might you to see it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tonys time, V. 2010-2011

A chipper telecast almost disguised the fact that this was the most predictable crop of winners in recent years, with a few personal disappointments (Bobby Cannavale can console himself with his Drama Desk, and I don't get the Norbert Leo Butz love this time) but few surprises in the lot, not even in the design categories (which were shoehorned in more gracefully than usual), not that I'm complaining about my War Horse peeps. Congrats to Nikki M. James for shaking up her category with her supporting win but even that was part of a Book of Mormon tide (which, to be fair, did not carry away its lead actors). The 2011-2012 Broadway season begins on Tuesday with the opening of the most anticipated musical of last season, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark...and let me just say that if you enjoyed the ballad on tonight's telecast, those sweet and simple moments are few and far between.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Summer issue of Cineaste, online and on sale

We warm up the season with a full slate of web offerings, including my own joint review of the MGM MODs The Black Sleep and Queen of Blood, and a terrific coffee table book, MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot. Great stuff in the magazine, too, including Godzilla. Who can refuse the Big G?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Live Design: End of 10

The 2009-2010 Broadway season, that is, with six new shows, in ascending order of quality. (Pictured is The Normal Heart). The 2010-2011 seaon begins June 14 with the opening, at last, of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which I see on Friday.

In other news I saw myself, sevreral times, at the Drama Desk Awards, which Ovation is televising in highly truncated but enjoyable form. Best times to watch for me: at the 46-minute mark, during the Newsical number about an hour in, and at the end under host Harvey Fierstein's credit. Closest I'll get to being a star.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Popdose: MODs (and Rockers)

Manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs bring John Lennon in Richard Lester's How I Won the War and Hold On! to light. Gotta love Herman's Hermits.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New York Theater News: Reviewing a revue

A tuneful Cy Coleman tribute, The Best is Yet to Come, now at 59E59 Theaters. David Burnham and an unmasked Howard McGillin are pictured.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Live from the Drama Desks

And there I was, at Table 1 (Table 1!) last night, in the presence of an august nominee who was a bit peeved not to win. But so it goes. Look for me when the show is telecast (with judicious edits, natch) on Ovation beginning June 4.

And the winners personal favorites were Bobby Cannavale, sensational in The Motherf**ker in the Hat (pictured), and 12-time nominee Derek McLane, finally winning for his ship-shape Anything Goes set design. "My son always asks why I don't win one," he remarked.

The show itself was a far more opulent affair than in recent years, with welcome one-stop carousing and celebrating at the Hammerstein Ballroom and its Manhattan Center environs and actual musical performances. Not much eating, however, as nominee Colin Quinn rather devastatingly pointed out from the dais ("three ziti in a red sauce you call dinner?"), to catcalls from the staff. (It must be said that the red velvet cupcakes and brownies at the afterparty went down a treat.)

So, a good time was had by all, with the possible exception of a few nominees. Best gaffe went to presenter Christian Siriano, who referred to "The Mechanic of Venice," which then became a running gag. (And not a bad idea; Jason Statham, call your agent.) And I had nice chats with special award honoree Reed Birney and Book of Mormon nominee Andrew Rannells, who may not have won but comported himself with style and charm. I'm glad I voted for him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Popdose: Diabolique and I Saw the Devil

After too long an absence I return to Popdose with a pair of thrillers on Blu-ray, both guaranteed to make your heart leap into your mouth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 08, 2011

New York Theater News: Intelligent Homosexual's Guide

It takes almost as long to say the title of Tony Kushner's new play as it takes to see it. Is it worth the effort? Well, it's no Angels in America, but what is?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Mormon converts Tony

Tony nominators are believers, too, with 14 nominations going to The Book of Mormon and another 12 to the long-shuttered Scottsboro Boys musical. But it looks like Daniel Radcliffe will be sticking close to us Drama Desk voters--he didn't make Tony's cut (nor, alas, did the wonderful but woefully overlooked Aaron Tveit, star of Catch Me If You Can). On the other hand, the equally bygone Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (pictured) got a set design nod for Donyale Werle...were the nominators reading Live Design?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mormon, Porter excel at Drama Desks

The Book of Mormon and the revival of Anything Goes bowled over the Drama Desk nominations committee this year, with The Merchant of Venice taking play honors. I must catch up on a few shows before voting. The big night is May 23.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New York Theater News: High

Whatever you do, don't spend Easter with Kathleen Turner at the godawful High, which Lord have mercy is closing today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kaneto Shindo at BAM

In a year marked by too many passings it's nice to report that a great filmmaker, Japan's Kaneto Shindo, will turn 99 next Thursday and has a new film out. And it's even better to report that there's a chance to acquaint yourself with the work of this underacknowledged maverick. Beginning tonight the Brooklyn Academy of Music is hosting a retrospective of his work, which will then tour. I know him from his horror films Kuroneko and the especially the great Onibaba--it was the Criterion disc of that jolting 1964 film (which knocked my movie group for a loop in 1999) that got Benicio Del Toro interested in Shindo, and the actor is the patron of this festival.

A couple of weeks ago I spent the morning at BAM watching two of his films, 1952's Children of Hiroshima, a mournful but clear-eyed reminiscence of the atomic bombing (especially poignant in light of the recent tsunami and subsequent events) and 1960's The Naked Island, an unusual survival story focused on a family of four eking out an existence on a barren outcropping in the sea, filmed so observantly it was mistaken for a documentary by The New York Times. Both are thoroughly gripping; Island, a movie without dialogue, has a stall frame that chilled me to the bone. (Shindo's wife, Noboku Otowa, starred in many of his films, unforgettably in Onibaba and this one, pictured, where having to carry large buckets of water up steep, sunbaked hills many times must have tested the union). A most welcome series that, hot on the heels of BAM's "De Palma Suspense" retro, is making trips to Brooklyn a necessity for cinephiles.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Live Design: The "It's Showtime!" edition

"Six shows running at once!"--Max Bialystock, The Producers. Including the four-star, four-letter-word filled smash The Book of Mormon, pictured.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Popdose: Women on the Verge

Robin Wright may be The Conspirator in Robert Redford's new film, as Michelle Williams goes west in Meek's Cutoff.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Popdose: The Unsung Sidney Lumet

A look at some of the less familiar chapters from a career highlghted for me by 1975's Dog Day Afternoon.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Popdose: Insidious and more

No fooling--Insidious, from the makers of Saw, gets things bumping in the night. Plus, Hilary Swank is The Resident, and the phantasmagorical Santa Sangre, both on DVD.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011