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Those of you who have been assuming Michael Haneke's "Amour" is in an unassailable position for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shouldn't be feeling quite so confident after this morning's news of the newest entrant in the race.
The French submission is always awaited more keenly than most at this stage: with 37 nods to date, France is the most-nominated country in the category's history, even if they haven't actually taken the gold in 20 years. It's for this reason that, in any given year, the French entry tends to be regarded as a frontrunner by default -- whether they've chosen particularly wisely or not.
Their selection committee has made some daring choices in the past: think back to 2007, when they forsook what might have been a relatively easy nomination for "La Vie en Rose" to put forth the Iranian Revolution animation "Persepolis" instead. (They didn't even crack the January shortlist.) This year, however, they have put commerce ahead of art with a strictly strategic choice: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's feelgood box-office smash "The Intouchables."
When Warner Bros. shuffled "The Great Gatsby" on to 2013, there was an opportunity for another holiday bow on December 25 opposite "Django Unchained." I had been wondering if any of the big latter-year films were going to jump on it but it started to seem like everyone was comfortable, until today, when Universal announced that it would be pushing Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" two weeks to that date.
Meanwhile, one wonders whether the film could end up with the date all to itself (at least as far as films of this sort go). I keep wondering whether "Django Unchained," which was still shooting up until last month, will be ready in time. It surely has to be, given the revenue potential (and necessity) for The Weinstein Company. But with Quentin Tarantino working with a new editor -- Fred Raskin -- after the untimely passing of long-time collaborator Sally Menke, it might not be as fluid as usual. Of course, Raskin worked alongside Menke on the "Kill Bill" films, so he's not totally fresh, but you never can tell how these things will go.
The pre-release strategy for "The Master" was interesting. Unique, I guess is the word. The marketing side of this business is driven by the typical, but sometimes filmmakers chafe at having their work pitched in the usual ways. So you get someone like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson who says, "Nope, we're gonna do THIS."
As far as screenings have been concerned, Anderson has clearly been all about getting it to fans first. We broke the news last month about the film's first public screening following a special showing of "The Shining" in Santa Monica, and that tactic was employed multiple times thereafter with pop-ups in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc. And in most cases, fans were getting a look at the movie before the press.
Well, Anderson's love affair with his flock stretches even further than that and their connection with "The Master" might be deeper than they even realize. It turns out, Paul Thomas Anderson's fans may have had a significant hand in giving the film its title.
It's that time again, folks: fall TV is here.
This past Saturday night, I took my youngest son Allen to a birthday party thrown by one of the regular listeners of our podcast. I've gotten to know the guy a bit on Twitter, and we have a number of mutual friends. The party is now cemented in the memory of Allen as a highlight of his life because Brian, the host, is a collector of old stand-up arcade video games, and he had at least 30 of them turned on and ready to play. We spent the first half-hour or so trying them all out, and Allen played "Burger Time," "Tempest," "Q*Bert," and that great old school "Star Wars" game before he finally settled on his new favorite thing in the world, four player "Gauntlet."
While kids may not know some of the characters from the '80s video games immediately, I have a feeling "Wreck-It Ralph" is going to play to gamers of every age equally well. It seems to have been carefully constructed to not only illustrate the various ways gaming has evolved over the years, but to also work on a story level that doesn't require you to have any direct knowledge of games to understand what it is that Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) wants from his life.
Today, “The Voice” announced that Usher and Shakira will be taking the temporary place of CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera during the show’s next cycle. It’s a smart choice on the show’s part. Whereas the comings and goings of hosts on “American Idol” and “The X Factor” tend to overwhelm the show itself, building a deep roster of judges that can be mixed and matched each cycle seems like a smart way to not only keep the show fresh but also keep the coaches happy. If artists know they can drop in and out depending on their album/tour/celebrity status, wouldn’t they be more willing to sign on? Why buy a chair when you can rent one? With this move, “The Voice” turns into the X-Men of reality singing competitions, able to consistently change its lineup while keeping the core identity intact.
With that in mind, let’s kick off tonight’s running diary. As always, all times are EST. And no, I won’t make X-Men references all night. (Oh wait. I probably will.) As always, if the prepackaged sob story that accompanies a contestant is too dull, I reserve the right to come up with my own instead. Comic book writers re-con stuff all the time. Why can’t I?
I posted my review of NBC's "Revolution" over the weekend. Now it's your turn. (Or, it is for those of you who didn't already watch it online and comment in the initial review.) For those of you who just saw it, what did you think? Did this power-less world seem intriguing or boring to you? Do you want to know more about where all the electricity went? Did you feel this was a better post-Fring role for Giancarlo Esposito than his "Once Upon a Time" gig? Did you like the swordfight? Do any of the teenage characters do anything for you? And will you be watching again next week?
Have at it.
Rupert Wyatt might want to take a breath and rethink things before he officially leaves the director's chair on "Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes."
Wyatt is very talented, no doubt about it. His first film, "The Escapist," is stylish and full of good performances, and he managed to turn "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" into an unlikely hit even under enormous pressure from the studio. The Fox development system is hard to navigate even for filmmakers who have made dozens of movies, but for someone like Wyatt, especially on a franchise as overall important to a studio's long-term strategy as the "Apes" series is for Fox.
It's important to remember how many major missteps they made over the years trying to get the series off the ground again. There was Tim Burton's nigh-unwatchable attempt in 2001, and before that, over a decade of revolving-door development with directors like James Cameron and Oliver Stone taking a shot at the material. Considering the way the original film series essentially helped to create the modern movie franchise model, it was pretty much a given that Fox would want to eventually get back into the business of making the movies.
As I've said, I won't be writing reviews of every new fall series, but Dan and I did discuss "The Mob Doctor" at length on last week's podcast. The short version is that while I like Jordana Spiro in general, this is a combination of watered-down hospital drama and watered-down mob drama, and the combination not only doesn't make either half better, it makes both sillier. And even if I'd been more engaged by the pilot, the Spiro character's decision at the end felt so contrived and premise-sustaining that I likely would have bailed after that.
For those of you who watched tonight, what did you think? Were you just happy to have QB1 and Zeljko Ivanek back on TV, even in these roles? Did you prefer one half of the show to the other? Did you believe Spiro would make the decision she made? And will you watch again?
Have at it.