TELLURIDE — When Fox Searchlight's "Wild" landed Friday afternoon in Telluride, the Oscar fuse was instantly lit for star and producer Reese Witherspoon. But as our own Greg Ellwood noted in his review, after last year's "Dallas Buyers Club," director Jean-Marc Vallée seems almost destined to again be the unsung hero of a film that leaves audiences talking about the power of its performances and the efficiency of its economy.
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TELLURIDE — In August of 2005, the Palm Theater in Telluride was inaugurated with the world premiere of Bennett Miller's Oscar-winning biopic "Capote." Nine years later Miller was back for the North American bow of his latest film, "Foxcatcher," which screened to a packed audience eager to get a look at this dark and mysterious story.
VENICE - If you liked "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!," the "Wallace & Gromit" films, anything by Monty Python or just funny, witty movies in general, make sure you catch Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's "The Boxtrolls." Based on the book "Here Be Monsters" by Alan Snow, I can't remember the last time I saw a family animation so visually rich, tightly scripted and charmingly performed which was also built on a sound and progressive message. It's unlikely to become a cultural juggernaut on the level of something like "Frozen," but I think it is as enjoyable.
TELLURIDE — In recent years, Journalists have come under siege all across the world from governments trying to minimize their influence either through subtle or not-so subtle means. One of the more dramatic instances in recent memory was chronicled in Maziar Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me" which has been adapted into the new film "Rosewater." The film, with director Jon Stewart on hand, debuted Friday night at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival.
VENICE — The first scene in "The Humbling" ends with a once great veteran actor falling flat on his face. Well, quite.
“Do you believe that? Was that real for you?” Oh, Al Pacino. Playing a formerly great, now floundering actor like a needy lover, the scene begins with Simon Axler (Pacino) monologuing to himself in his dressing room. He's due on stage any moment to deliver Prospero's closing remarks in "The Tempest" ("We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep").
VENICE — Yesterday's Al Pacino vehicle here at Venice, "The Humbling," was a disappointment: this is not the Pacino you are looking for. Thank goodness, then, for "Manglehorn", where the sure directorial hands of David Gordon Green know exactly how to unlock latter day Pacino's strengths while reining in his worst excesses.
TELLURIDE — While press and patrons were hustling into gondolas and over to the Chuck Jones Cinema for the World Premiere of Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild," the 41st annual Telluride Film Festival was kicking off with a bang at an over-stuffed Werner Herzog Theater for the lead program of this year's schedule: a tribute to Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now." The ticket was so hot that well over a hundred pass holders were turned away at the door.
TELLURIDE — There are two reasons Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing references "The Enigma" in its title. The first is in reference to the Engima machine, the legendary secret code the Nazis used during World War II, which was solved by a secret UK military division lead by Turing. The second is Turing himself.
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," plus "The Simpsons Movie." To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]
Day 10 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon takes us from "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind" (mid-Season 19) through "Stealing First Base" (mid-Season 21).
It's a reasonably good day, both because it starts with a near-classic, but also because mid-morning will see the show transition into HD, which will finally end those conversations about FXX's cropping decisions and whether they've hindered the comedy thus far.
The shift to HD didn't reinvigorate "The Simpsons" back to its Season 4-ish peak, but it absolutely gave new juice to the storytelling, inspiring the show to take more visual risks -- the couch gags have never been better -- and to add more aesthetic depth. "The Simpsons" always had moments of beautiful animation, but they were usually wedged amidst plainer stuff. Since the HD transition, "The Simpsons" has been a consistently good-looking show.
If you're like a lot of the HitFix staff, you may have already stopped watching by this point, but that's a mistake and we have five episodes you should check out from Day 10. I also wrote up three episodes you can skip.
Check out our recommendations for Day 10 and chime in with your own favorites...
VENICE — Your enjoyment of dodgy comedy "She's Funny That Way" will depend hugely on your personal tolerance for coincidence as plot mechanic. How many coincidences need to occur before the characters might as well start saying "a wizard did it" by way of explaining the wherefores of the plot? What's your personal tipping point? Perhaps your answer will depend on genre. Even in sci-fi or fantasy, "a wizard did it" is still a pretty poor explanation unless the wizard has a satisfying motive. In a more realistic genre, the greater the number of coincidences, the greater the strain on audience credulity. The genre of farce, though broadly realistic (there are usually no wizards), is of course often borderline fantastical in terms of the believability of people's behavior and the frequency with which coincidence craps all over the characters' hopes and dreams. "She's Funny That Way" leans heavily on this creaky genre convention until it finally gives way and collapses.
We can’t sign off for the long weekend without saluting the men and women who put the labor into Labor Day. There’s been no shortage of songs written about the drudgery of working 9-to-5, and below, here’s a list of the 15 finest songs (oops, that just reminded us that we didn’t include R.E.M.’s “Finest Worksong”) devoted to describing how we spend most of our lives. So clock out, grab a beer, salute your fellow worker, and enjoy.
And, if it’s not too much work, add your favorite song about work in the comments.
1. “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton (1980)
A deceptively upbeat melody and Parton’s sweet delivery run counter to the dark sentiment of such lyrics as “Barely getting by/It’s all takin’ and no givin’/they just use your mind/and they never give you credit.”
2. “She Works Hard For The Money,” Donna Summer
Few jobs are more grueling than waitressing: all the heavy lifting, being on your feet all day, working for tips. Summer captures it all on this disco hit about a lady who has spent 28 years slinging plates. You better treat her right.
3, “Working on the Highway,” Bruce Springsteen (1984)
Springsteen has built a career singing about the working man and on this exuberant tune from “Born In The USA,” he dreams of a better life than holding a red flag as part of a highway construction crew. Lyrically, it’s a downer (he ends up in prison), but the melody is so upbeat, most listeners never notice
4. “Working For a Living,” Huey Lewis & The News (1982)
We’re all just working for the man…
5. “Bang On The Drum All Day,” Todd Rundgren (1983)
This anti-work anthem still gets played by radio stations near and far at 5 p.m. on Friday
6. “Working For The Weekend,” Loverboy (1981)
Have truer words ever been spoken? Loverboy combine the weekend with the always alluring possibility of romance, even if it comes via a lazy rhyme: “You want a piece of my heart?/You better start at the start.” Red headband and leather pants optional. (This is the official video, skip to 2:24 to finally get to the song)
7. “Shiftwork,” Kenny Chesney and George Strait (2007)
A clever play on words: take out the “f” in “shiftwork” and you get the idea built around monotony of shiftwork, whether you’re working, as the song states, “Seven to three/Three to eleven/Eleven to seven.”
8. “Chain Gang,” Sam Cooke (1960)
Let’s face it, as bad as your job may be, it still probably doesn’t compare to working on the chain gang, picking up trash on some highway, yoked to some other prisoner. And yet, Cooke still sounds like the happiest angel in the world.
9. “Sixteen Tons,” Tennessee Ernie Ford (1955)
Pair this with Lee Dorsey’s “Working In The Coal Mine” and you can double down on the misery of working where “the sun didn’t shine.” Funny, yet trenchant, lyrics detail the inability to get ahead, so much so that heaven even seems out of reach because “I owe my soul to the company store.”
10. “Working Man,” Rush (1974)
Working leaves little time for any of life’s simple pleasure other than “a nice cold beer.” At least for Alex Lifeson, it gets you a very cool guitar solo.
11. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” Styx (1978)
Take your Styx hatred somewhere else, buddy. It’s one thing to not like “Mr Roboto,” but to not bow down to this working man’s anthem, sung by Tommy Shaw instead of usual Styx warbler Dennis DeYoung, is to prove that you’ve never even gotten so much as a paper cut at work.
12. “Taking’ Care of Business,” Bachman Turner Overdrive (1974)
This chugging ode pays homage to those who “get up every morning from your ‘larm’s clock warning” to trudge into the city like a clone, only to rinse and repeat the next day.
13. "Five O’Clock World,” The Vogues (1966)
Also used as the theme to The Drew Carrey Show, this joyous tune discards the doldrums of the working day for that magical moment when the whistle blows. Listen for the glorious production, if nothing else.
14. “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere,” Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett (2003)
Yes, yes it is…And that means it’s time to punch out and head to Margaritaville.
15. “Take This Job and Shove It,” Johnny Paycheck (1977)
This list ends, as it must, with country singer Paycheck’s biggest crossover hit because it’s a sentiment that everyone— no matter what kind of music you listen to or job you do — has wanted to tell his or her boss, but knows that unless they are the last words you plan to say as the door hits you on the way out, have to remain unsaid.