The winning streak continues this week. In fact, it's shaping up to be the best slate of opening films in recent memory.
Based on writer Beau Willimon's stage play Farragut North, Ides of March features Clooney, who co-wrote the screen adaption with partner Grant Heslov, as a “Howard Dean-type governor” who's trying to win the Democratic nomination for president.
Here's Ides' official synopsis, the contents of which are readily on display in the tension-laced trailer, which centers heavily on Ryan Gosling's campaign press secretary character:
Now that Sunday night’s Oscars are over, the Internet is full of catty stories and tweets parsing every last second of televised coverage, from Angelina Jolie’s exposed leg to Adam Sandler’s participation in a taped segment in which actors discussed why they love movies. (If he really loved movies, he’d stop making them, some have said.)
It’s both understandable and sad that the Oscars — and movie-award season in general — ends like this, with far more interest in the telecast’s trivia than in the movies that win awards. Arguably, the news value of this year’s show peaked before it even officially started, when Sacha Baron Cohen, in costume as “The Dictator” for an upcoming movie, spilled an urn of faux human ashes (ostensibly Kim Jong-il’s) on interviewer Ryan Seacrest.
It’s getting worse, too, now that the Internet and 200+-channel cable television have educated us ad nauseam to the nature and inner workings of the Oscar campaign season. We carefully learn how a film builds momentum by moving through all the secondary award ceremonies from critics groups and the Hollywood professional guilds and associations.
As a result, the Academy Awards themselves have become anticlimactic, which partially explains the media devotion to dissecting the telecast. And the attempts by the Motion Picture Academy to build false enthusiasm by allowing up to ten Best Picture nominees have been a disaster, since we all now know how to “read” the nominations to distinguish the real ones (they also have Best Director nods) from the padding. Not all that long ago, few outside Hollywood insiders even knew there was a well-orchestrated “campaign season,” much less how to follow and handicap it.
Convention wisdom, and you hear a lot of it these days, would be to revive the Oscar telecast by de-emphasizing the importance of the awards, themselves. Reduce the number given out on TV, especially the more esoteric or niche ones, in favor of increasing the glitz, spectacle, star power and big production numbers. Do like the Grammys have done, where classical, jazz, folk, blues, opera, international and more are rarely ever presented on the show.
But I think the Academy should go the other way and try to increase public awareness of the importance of Oscar nominations. But maybe not for the Big Four categories – Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress, which probably do suffer from overexposure by the time the telecast comes around (although The Artist, this year’s big winner, could use the help since many people have been scared off by the fact it’s a black-and-white silent film).
Click the jump for more on ways the Academy could draw more attention to deserving films such as A Separation, In Darkness, Footnote and Bullhead.
Terrence Malick's Tree of Life is coming. Or is it?
Like everything the acclaimed 68-year-old filmmaker does, Malick's latest — just his fifth film in 38 years — has gone through a mysterious gestation, changing release dates and distributors numerous times (it was originally slated for a Dec. 25, 2009, release) while simultaneously revealing little about its contents.
It looks like the wait is finally over: I received a package from its current distributor, Fox Searchlight, a few days ago that contained the film's poster and a brief, one-sheet press release announcing that Tree of Life will open in select theaters on May 27.
Kevin Smith's Red State premiered to mixed reviews and a small group of protesters at the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 22. But, even more than the film's provocative premise — which has been described as “a horror/comedy/satire about a Westboro Baptist Church-esque fundamentalist community that murders those it finds abominations in God's eyes (aka gay people)” — it was the veteran filmmaker's post-screening Q&A antics that drew the most attention.
The Room —a low-budget indie melodrama about a love triangle between a “successful banker,” his “beautiful blonde fiance” and his “independent best friend” written, directed and starring aspiring filmmaker Tommy Wiseau — has been called everything from the worst film ever made to the Citizen Kaneof bad movies. I've yet to experience it, but the film’s trailer brings to mind an overripe episode of Guiding Lightwith the production values and acting prowess of a late-night Cinemax C movie. (Curious side note: On the film's poster, Wiseau looks strikingly similar to Gene Simmons. Coincidence, or kismet?)
The Academy Awards didn’t suck. Yes, the 81st annual industry wank-fest had its share of indelible moments, none more affecting than the graceful speeches by the two Milk-related winners: screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and actor Sean Penn.
The antithesis to the bloated, big-budget commercial fare that dominates the summer multiplex, the annual 48 Hour Film Project has done exactly what its creators envisioned when they founded it in 2001: empower filmmakers of every stripe and experience level to get off their asses and create something from nothing.
The fall movie season gets a much-needed kick in the ass this week, as no fewer than a half-dozen worthwhile (or at least intriguing) films in a variety of genres hit movie houses.