The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor. Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely
The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing.
In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight
For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson).
Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.
Warner Home Video has finally done right by Orson Welles’ legendary Citizen Kane, released today on Blu-ray. Thanks to the studio’s digital wizards at Motion Picture Imaging (MPI), supervised by colorist Janet Wilson, and overseen by Ned Price, VP of mastering, Warner Bros. Technical Operations, the 70-year-old Kane has never looked better. The source for most of the picture was a 4K scan from a 1941 composite fine grain positive master that Price had uncovered a decade ago in Europe. This makes up for the inadvertent mistreatment on DVD, which was de-grained and printed too brightly.
Now Kane retains its chiaroscuro beauty and grain structure by the masterful Gregg Toland, and its innovative sights and sounds can be better appreciated in HD. Welles applied his training in theater and radio to the film experience in a fresh, exciting, and modern way with deep focus and triangular compositions with high ceilings (owing to John Ford) and overlapping dialogue.
But, first and foremost, Welles was a magician, and there are a lot of brilliant optical tricks and MPI has made sure we don’t see through the illusion. And while some have complained in recent years that the bloom may be off the Rosebud, the Blu-ray lets us see the textures in such finer detail that it’s like watching Kane in a whole new way.
David Cronenberg’s predictably polarizing A Dangerous Method (Nov. 23) managed to get under everyone’s skin at both Telluride and Venice this past weekend. This is right up Cronenberg’s cerebral alley with the intense rivalry between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) leading to the rise of psychoanalysis on the eve of World War I. And when you factor in the beautiful and unbalanced Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) who comes between them, you’ve got plenty of sexual repression to deal with As always, look for below-the-line Oscar potential from such Cronenberg regulars production designer James McATeer, cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, costume designer Denise Cronenberg, and composer Howard Shore.
Critics and journos are spilling over with praise for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (Nov. 23) at Telluride this weekend, which gives it lots of Oscar buzz. And I’m sure it isn’t merely the bucolic beauty of the surroundings or the fact that George Clooney was there with Payne (a critical darling since his last film, Sideways), flashing his movie star charisma like a polished Presidential contender at Iowa or New Hampshire. The Descendants has been earmarked for Oscar ever since it was announced. Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Clooney plays an indifferent real estate lawyer Matt King forced to reconnect with his two daughters and confront his demons after a boating accident puts his wife in a coma. And the Hawaiian setting serves as a volatile metaphor for all the pent up emotions (shot by Phedon Papamichael, who also worked on Sideways).
And the early returns suggest a funny, quirky, and reflective film about repression, change, responsibility. Just the kind of indie prestige film critics flock to and the Academy craves, especially in this 10th anniversary of 9/11. Yes, I believe that’s going to be the cultural undercurrent this season.
“Payne’s heartfelt comedy about a father and his two daughters facing the death of his comatose wife manages to sidestep the pitfalls of the weepie,” writes Anne Thompson. “Articulately narrated by Clooney’s Matt King, a sad sack real estate lawyer in Hawaiian shirts and kakis who considers himself ‘the back-up parent, the understudy,’ the movie is full of characters who are hiding deep emotion…”
“But The Descendants is about more than one’s own personal journey of self-discovery; it is about selflessness, and how most of us are really here not to polish our own knobs 24/7 but to look out for others, especially those we’re responsible for, those we’re leaving behind,” effuses Sasha Stone.
Can’t wait to see it myself and chime in with my personal observations and interview coverage.
Warrior (Sept. 9) has been cultivating great word of mouth as a stirring, brutal, Rocky-like boxing picture. And, given the success of last year’s The Fighter, might have Oscar potential. Directed by Gavin O’Connor (Pride and Glory, Miracle), the film concerns two estranged brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton), on a collision course with each other in the ring. The brothers have their own reasons for getting into the ring: Tommy’s a former wrestling champion, who enlists his father (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic, to help train him. By contrast, Brendan’s motivation is more desperate: he needs to become a fighter to pay for his daughter’s medical bills and to keep the bank from foreclosing on his house.
In this first clip, Tommy plans his return to the ring; in the second, Brendan argues with his wife (Jennifer Morrison) in the bathroom that he’s not going back to an impoverished life, despite the physical dangers of entering the ring. As they say, the sins of the father are visited on the sons. Dan Leigh is the production designer (Pride and Glory); Masanobu Takayanagi (Babel) the cinematographer; the editors are Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, and Aaron Marshall; and Mark Isham composed the score.
Bond 23, helmed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig in his third outing as 007, has been given permission to shoot in India, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The Indian government has cleared the way for shooting in Delhi and Goa and close to Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat. And, according to the The Times of India, a set piece is being planned for the famed Daryaganj bazaar and flea market Sarojini Nagar in Delhi. However, while permission has not yet been granted for a fight on the rails in North Goa, negotiations are still taking place with the Railway Ministry.
This marks the first time since Octopussy in ’83 that the Bond franchise has ventured to India. For instance, Roger Moore’s Bond is assisted through the bustling market of Udaipur with a young operative handy with a racket played by tennis star Vijay Amritraj.
The upcoming Bond movie, which offers our first fully-formed look at Craig’s 007, is scheduled to begin production in November, and will be shot digitally with the Arri Alexa by Roger Deakins — a franchise first– who collaborated with Mendes on Jarhead and Revolutionary Road. Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes are the super baddies, sparking speculation that perhaps they might be returning once again to the Fleming short story, Risico, for inspiration. It was previously tapped for For Your Eyes Only in its use of rivals to manipulate Bond. Naomie Harris is reported to introduce Moneypenny to the origin story. Steven Begg is the VFX supervisor and Tanq Anwar is presumed to be the editor.
The untitled Bond 23 will be released Nov. 9, 2012, in honor of the franchise’s 50th anniversary.