Usually, post-nomination Oscar talk is dominated by the frontrunners. Yet the film on everyone's lips yesterday wasn't either of the nomination hogs, "The Artist" or "Hugo," but one with no chance whatsoever of winning: "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" pulled off arguably the most surprising Best Picture nod of at least the last decade (even if Kris was one of the few pundits tuned into the possibility), and its buzz took a 180-degree turn. Tim Robey ruminates on how the film, in the space of a single minute, went from being this year's "The Lovely Bones" -- failed bait, both Academy-tailored and critically massacred -- to this year's, well, "The Reader," and wonders how Stephen Daldry keeps pulling off this unlikely trick, where similar prestige filmmakers like Sam Mendes keep missing the mark. [The Telegraph]
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PARK CITY -- Look closely at actor Paul Dano. You might see a little Sabbath in there.
The actor -- who also happens to be an active musician -- looked to artists like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Ozzy for his role as touring musician Joby in Sundance pick "For Ellen." Joby is more of a modern radio rock guy in a band still "making it," so Dano also listened to those brand of bands while driving around L.A.
"Not my cup of tea," he told me during our interview at the film festival. But, after driving the Strip, "I kinda got it."
"For Ellen" focuses its lens on the other side of the cutthroat industry, the quiet moments in homes with a daughter without a dad, when the money doesn't come in for support. It gently extrapolates on what happens when a rocker isn't rocking.
PARK CITY -- The fluidity and close-action shots of martial arts in "The Raid" can enable even the most pacifistic viewer to feel like they can fight. Some of the most impressive combat sequences were delivered by actors and martial artists who were slight in stature, or "ordinary" building dwellers shakily foisting automatic weaponry in their under-sculpted arms. Most of the Indonesian film is shot in a single building, in crappy apartments or littered hallways.
Director Gareth Evans' movie was shot with an extraordinarily small budget with exceptional result, so much so that Sony Pictures picked it up after it bowed at the Toronto Film Festival last year. Among the biggest revamps in time for the Sundance Film Festival was a brand new score, helmed by Linkin Park frontman Mike Shinoda and film composer Joseph Trapanese, who linked up with Daft Punk to complete the music to "Tron" just a couple years ago.
I didn't see the TIFF version, but from what I can tell from here, "The Raid" only benefits from these guys, due to the power of the audio and the added visibility of big-name artists.
Shinoda thought the pair-up was so good, Linkin Park may be absorbing a new member: he joked that Trapanese will be the "seventh guy in the band. We're gonna have dueling bass solos. It's like watching KISS, this guy."
Both of the musicians sat down with me during the festival this week, to discuss the pressure of trying to improve upon a film that was already beloved.
"It'd be difficult to handle this first score on my own," Shinoda said, explaining his inaugural endeavor into composing for what Trapanese called a "bold yet really classic action film."
There's nothing cheap about the sound of the film, and it's overall beefy and confrontational, with bubbling electronica during the quiet, creeping moments, and aggressively rock-like during the fight sequences. Evans' dark humor was met with playful musical themes, like thudding dance rhythms as bodies hit the floor or as faces met dry wall. Shinoda and Trapanese said they actively avoided trying to make it sound generically Asian or specifically Indonesian, but instead melded what they knew with what I'd describe as the apocalypse on a small scale.
"Linkin park music always has been a mashup of many different things we love that we listened to growing mixed with stuff that we made ourselves," Shinoda said, mentioning that the process here was the same. He'd like to work on scores again, but still has the band as his priority. "I still have to put Linkin Park as the number one thing in my life, but there are times that I can work at other things and as long as I know that I know I can give it one hundred percent of the energy that it needs to get done and it be great, then I'll be happy to work on something else."
Linkin Park is about to announce 2012 tour dates, and Shinoda says fans can expect the active rock band's fifth full-length album "mid-year." LP's last LP was 2010's critically praised "A Thousand Suns."
Check out the video above for more on the composing process, Shinoda's feelings on writing for film and more.
A quick review of last night's "Southland" coming up just as soon as I shoot an old lady with a bean bag...
I have a dream that someday American filmmakers will finally grow up and stop being so insanely conservative about dealing with all stripes of human sexuality on film.
When we still live in a culture where a movie as ultimately restrained as "Shame" gets slapped with an NC-17, it's obvious that, on an institutional level, we are prudes. It's ridiculous, too. How many films do we see each year about mayhem and murder and violence and war and all manner of human horrors? Those are all considered acceptable, and it almost feels like the more indulgent we are towards brutality, the more afraid we are to deal with sexuality in a mature manner. Yet which subject plays a larger ongoing role in the daily lives of more people?
With "The Surrogate," writer/director Ben Lewin has taken the true story of Mark O'Brien and crafted a smart, heartfelt story about the way a lifelong polio patient, crippled and twisted by the disease, finally begins to explore his own sexuality in his late 30s, with the help of a sexual surrogate. It is a fairly straightforward character drama distinguished by exceptional work from actor John Hawkes and strong supporting turns by William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, and Helen Hunt. It is also worth paying attention to the largely clear-eyed and sophisticated approach it takes to the subject matter, including some fairly frank scenes between Hawkes and Hunt that are impressive and even moving.
I ran an excerpt from my conversation with Sam Worthington not long after I sat down with him to discuss his new film "Man On The Ledge," and we ran that one bit because he was talking specifically about his next film, "Wrath Of The Titans."
We spoke far longer about "Man," though, and I find Worthington's evolution as a leading man very interesting. By the time most audiences saw him for the first time, he'd already been given several huge roles in "Avatar" and "Clash Of The Titans." That seems to be a newer phenomenon, when someone gets anointed a movie star before they've really been seen by audiences, and it doesn't always work.
In Worthington's case, I see exactly why he was cast in those big roles, and I can also see why some audiences just haven't warmed to him. He's not terribly interested in being a giant movie star, and I get the feeling that some of the attention has been difficult for Worthington. In every conversation we've had so far, it strikes me that he really wants to just get better at his craft, pushing himself whenever possible. In "Man On The Ledge," he's playing a normal guy, and he can't really hide behind giant CGI effects or a high concept.
There's going to come a point somewhere down the road, probably sooner than I would like, when my two sons start to ask me questions about drugs, and I'm going to have to make some hard choices about what to share with them about my various chemical indiscretions over the years.
One of the ways I'll make the conversation easier is through the use of specific films as examples of how things feel when you're altered. And now, after tonight's midnight screening at Sundance, I can add "John Dies At The End" to the list of films that I can use to illustrate how it feels when you have intentionally attempted to alter reality through the use of some sort of outside influence. Based on a novel by David Wong, one of the founding voices of Cracked.com, "John Dies At The End" tells the story of what happens when two friends are exposed to a profoundly bizarre drug that is nicknamed "Soy Sauce," which enables them to see an invisible world full of monsters and doorways to other dimensions and things too strange to describe.
Now that the nominations have been announced, it seems like a good time to go ahead and point you to our interviews with various individuals who woke up to good news this morning. This list is on-going as we still have things in the pipeline, so it will inevitably be added to throughout the rest of the month. Check out the list below and we'll update it as we go.