A quick review of last night's "Shameless" coming up just as soon as I misspell my name on a loan application...
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Anthology movies are incredibly difficult to pull off, and when you add "anthology film" to "found footage," a genre buzzword that is starting to wear out its welcome thanks to countless awful examples, it sounded to me like "V/H/S" was about as big a risk as anything playing here this week.
Hats off, then, to the entire team of filmmakers who collaborated on what I would honestly call one of the scariest movies I've seen in recent memory. And unlike many anthology films, "V/H/S" works as a cohesive piece, which is even more surprising because at the Q&A tonight, it was apparent that the filmmakers did not compare notes on their individual segments. What works first and foremost is the aesthetic of the film. One of the things that drove me crazy about "The Pact" the other night is just how threadbare most of the ideas were. We live in a world full of technology and marvels that horror films almost seem to resist acknowledging. How many horror films have you seen that treat cell phones as little more than an inconvenience to be explained away? How many horror films rely on tropes that have been around since before you were born? While I love the genre, I often get frustrated at how few new ideas there are in horror, and how slow filmmakers often are to even try innovation.
PARK CITY - It took long enough, but the 2012 Sundance Film Festival finally produced a big winner. The feature debut of Colin Trevorrow, "Safety Not Guaranteed," premiered Sunday evening to a festival looking to embrace something (anything entertainingly good) and this new comedy absolutely fit the bill.
We're off to San Diego for another day of auditions. If you're still watching, that is. In other news, the New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Now, let's get to the really important stuff -- singing!
10:58 p.m. EST Today's auditions will be like no other… because they will take place on the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego. That's nice, I guess, although I'd think an aircraft carrier and its crew has more important work to do than hosting 10,000 people and a TV show.
This was a nice way to wake up.
Back in 2009, which was the first HitFix trip to Sundance, I enjoyed two of the movies we saw, "Humpday" and "The Freebie." This year, both creative teams are here in different combinations, and again, I think it's interesting work. In the case of "Black Rock," this is about as far away from Katie Aselton's first film as it could be.
"The Freebie" told the story of a married couple, played by Aselton and Dax Shepherd, who decide to give each other the night off from marriage, with no consequences, allowing their partner to sleep with anyone they want. There are, of course, ramifications to a choice like that, and the film did a nice job of showing how that fallout might land. This time, Aselton is working in a very different genre, one that she's not a fan of for the most part, and she had to develop a tight relationship with the two women who co-star both with and for her.
Day two of Sundance was really my first full day, starting around 7:00 AM and ending at about 2:30 the next morning. I did my best to capture images and moments and a few on-the-fly chats as I went, and hopefully this should give you some sense of things.
One of the things that's a little hard to fully convey, even in video, is the random nature of encounters up here. You'll be sitting in the Yarrow lobby writing and suddenly Mike Judge walks by, or you're walking out at the end of the movie and Malin Ackerman is in front of you, excitedly discussing the movie with her friends, or, as you'll see in this piece, you might even run into a director as he arrives at the festival, film literally in hand.
It was great to catch up with Don Coscarelli, who I got to know a little bit during the "Masters Of Horror" process, and I'm excited to see what he's done with David Wong's novel "John Dies At The End." It amazes me how filmmakers never really get over that nervousness about showing their film to an audience for the first time, and I spent some time talking to him about this movie, our experiences on "Masters," and just catching up in general. We'll have a more formal sit-down in a few days, but it was a great moment.
The other day, as I was working at the Yarrow Hotel, I ran into Chris Pizzello. Chris is an AP photographer, and we feature his work here on HitFix on a regular basis. I've been seeing his name go by for years now when I'm editing stories, but this was the first time I ended up actually running into any of the AP guys, and it was great to put face to name finally.
He was busy uploading some photos to the AP site, and as we started talking about the festival, he showed me a photo which seemed to have him almost giddy.
I can see why.
If you've been following the story of the West Memphis Three since the first "Paradise Lost" was released in 1996, then the photo that Pizzello took would have been unthinkable for most of the past fifteen years. Impossible. Absolutely absurd to even mention.
There are three reasons I've chosen the photo to your left to illustrate this post: 1) Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nominations for "Take Shelter" are two of the fragile limbs I've climbed out on in compiling my final predictions for Tuesday's Oscar nominations announcement (with Kris and Gerard's to follow tomorrow); 2) Michael Shannon's face, staring impassively but uncertainly into the ill-lit darkness, roughly represents where I am with said predictions; and 3) if you look closely, Jessica Chastain's in the background, and since she's in the background of approximately half the films I expect to be nominated by the Academy, it seemed appropriate.
This feels like a tenuous year for predictions, and not just because -- for the first time in Oscar history -- we have the added variable of not knowing how many films will be nominated for Best Picture. In most years, at least a couple of categories feel more or less locked in place ahead of this announcement: this time, we have several major categories where a pair or trio of frontrunners are so far ahead of the pack (Clooney-Dujardin-Pitt in Actor, Davis-Streep-Williams in Actress, Hazanavicius-Allen in Original Screenplay), that the remaining slots, having already acquired the status of mere formality, are vulnerable to surprises.