With the roundly acclaimed "Before Midnight" playing out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival, Richard Linklater wasn't expecting to leave with any prizes, but he received one anyway before the film's European premiere last night, as he was honored with the Berlinale Camera, traditionally presented to "film personalities or institutions to which [the festival] feels particularly indebted and wishes to express its thanks." It's especially sweet that he should receive it in conjunction with this film, given that "Before Sunrise" won him the fest's Best Director prize way back in 1995. It also leads me to wonder how many other institutions will pick up the meme of acknowledging Linklater's long, diverse career this year, particularly if "Midnight" gathers the awards steam I suspect it will. [Berlinale]
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This week, Lisa puts on her happy neon pink bra (and under a sheer white shirt, natch), wiggles her nose, and convinces herself that if she thinks happy thoughts and pushes the booze with a side order of man meat, the very civilizing influence of Pimms and a proper British tea party will inspire the hate-spewing harpies on this show to lift their pinkies together over tea sandwiches and make nice. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah… no.
Yes, it's another Extravaganza O' Crazy, and Lisa is unlucky enough to have it all play out at her house. She should be glad that Beverly Hills housewives just bark squeakily at one another like Chihuahuas who've gotten into the Ritalin instead of tossing around tables. That's just a Jersey thing, I guess.
It doesn't surprise me that Jim Hill is the one who connected some pretty obvious dots on "Tomorrowland," the mysterious new Brad Bird film that was formerly known by its working title, "1952."
After all, if there's anyone out there who has written more about the business of Walt Disney over the years, I'm unaware of them. Hill's been doing this for years, and he knows more about the parks and the studio and their history than almost anyone. He has a deep abiding love of Disney's work, but he's also more than willing to be critical of the way the brand has been managed over the years.
In March of 2012, he wrote a piece about an interview with Ward Kimball, one of the legendary animators who helped define the studio. In that interview, Kimball talked about being approached by the U.S. Air Force which was looking for a Hollywood partner to help them produce a documentary that would help acclimate the United States to the idea that UFOs were real.
Viola Davis discusses her reimagined 'Beautiful Creatures' role and doing 'Ender's Game' simultaneously
Wow, in the first minute of montage setting up the show, there's A LOT of crying. A lot. And then there's Tierra, who just pretends to cry. Is it too much to ask that Sean send this lunatic packing this week? Given that Ben not only kept Courtney around until the end, he actually chose her, I no longer trust that any given Bachelor will wise up before he gives a crazy girl jewelry.
Charlie Brooker is one of those UK wonders who hasn't made the jump to American audiences yet, and that is a damn shame.
Wildly prolific, Brooker seems to produce about 600 hours of new television every year, shows like "How TV Ruined Your LIfe" and "Them From That Thing" and "10 O'Clock Live" and "Newswipe" and "Screenwipe" and the oh-so-fiendish "Dead Set," and he's the author of the blisteringly funny "Pedophilia" episode of the great "Brass Eye." Brooker is an astute media critic as well as a wicked wit, and that's a combination that I hoped would have made him much more famous on this side of the Atlantic as well.
He's got a good shot with a deal that was announced today, at least in terms of establishing a beachhead. Robert Downey Jr. has optioned one of the episodes of "Black Mirror," a show that Brooker created, and if it helps to get the original series (now in its second season) released here in the US, that would be tremendous. Each of the episodes of the anthology show deals with television as a social force, and Brooker really digs into the dark and horrible side of media consumption. The first episode, for example, "The National Anthem," looks at the moral dilemma that is created when one of the Royal Family is kidnapped and one demand is made: the Prime Minister has to pork a pig on television to get her back. No negotiations. No half-measures. No time to come up with a CGI option. Pig. Sex. TV. Go.
BERLIN - Some films, like "Gloria," enter Berlin with no profile and leave with their heads held high; others merely shuffle away quietly after a reasonably noisy arrival. David S. Rosenthal's drab backwoods thriller "A Single Shot," a rather surprising inclusion for the festival's more esoteric Forum sidebar, is in the latter group.
One of the few world premieres at the festival to boast a modicum of US star power -- well, to those for whom high-end character actors like Sam Rockwell and William H. Macy are stars, at any rate -- it's the kind of indistinct genre potboiler that might have seemed more at home in the lower reaches of the Sundance programme. Not that this overextended pulp is particularly flattered by the festival circuit to begin with: happened upon at the halfway mark on TV, preferably after a few beers, its identikit premise and logical stumbles may seem more comfortingly expected.
BERLIN - We're roughly at the midway point of the Berlin Film Festival, and should probably tell you how this year's Competition lineup is shaping up. The truth, however, is that I haven't seen enough of it to say, as my schedule for the last couple of days has kept me in the smaller, often more interesting, sections of the vast Berlin programme, meaning I've only seen about five of the films in the running for the Golden Bear.
The festival grapevine, however, suggests I haven't missed that much. Consensus has it that the Competition, with the exception of Ulrich Seidl's excellent "Paradise: Hope," got off to a bit of a slow start, and was only kicked into touch yesterday by Chilean entry "Gloria" -- which I resolved to see at this morning's public screening after hearing glowing reports from multiple trusted colleagues. Good news travels fast in Berlin: I arrived at the city's vast Friedrichpalast theater to find it improbably crowded for a freezing Monday morning.
It's funny to see people talking now about Pixar as if they've toppled in some way over the last few years. In the lead-up to "Cars 2," they seemed invincible, the golden hit-making machine that somehow managed to pull off quality every time while also making choices that kept racking up ginormous international box-office.
"Cars 2" seemed to shake some people's faith, though, and the general reaction to this summer's "Brave" seemed to be indifference among most people I spoke to. For the first time, the big brains at Pixar seemed human-scale, and there's been a subtle but genuine shift in the tenor of how people write about them. Gone is the reverence, and maybe that is, in the end, better for everyone.
After all, being on a pedestal is hard for anyone. It almost guarantees a fall at some point. The crushing weight of expectation can get into an artist's head, even a team as confident as the storytellers at Pixar, and the yips almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while. Because it is inevitable everyone eventually screws up, you end up waiting for that moment.
It's easy to see why Sam Fell and Chris Butler's "ParaNorman" from the LAIKA animation studio ended up reaping the most critical prizes throughout the film awards season. At a time when the issue of bullying is very much in the social dialogue, the film's themes resonate and elevate it from the ghetto of "mere entertainment" that animated feature films can often struggle to escape.
The idea of what would become "ParaNorman" first came to Butler 16 years ago. It was just the superficial spark of "how cool would it be to make a stop-motion zombie movie for kids?" But the more he mulled over the genre and why it had always been so compelling to him, the more he realized there was a thematic draw there.
"The zombie movies that worked best, and certainly my favorites, are the ones that have social commentary," Butler says, "that use zombies as a metaphor to say something about a human condition. And so it made sense to me that if I was going to do a zombie movie for kids that I should try and address an issue that affects kids. I think that was like a fundamental part of the movie right from the start. It's part of the fabric of it."
When Blake Shelton released new single “Sure Be Cool If You Did” late last year, it seemed sure that a new album was to follow. And, sure enough, on March 26, “The Voice” mentor will release “Based On A True Story.”
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