Would you be surprised to learn that the Academy's goal of opening up the Oscars to a wider array of films with its expansion of the Best Picture field has hit a brick wall and that the complete obvious has, in fact, been the result? Mark Harris hit it out of the park yesterday with "The Christopher Nolan Effect," an analysis of how that simple rule change a few years ago has yielded, increasingly, the smallest assortment of Oscar nominated films in history. Key quote: "...there’s zero evidence that the expanded field has done anything but dilute the prestige of a nomination." The dilution has been my stance from the beginning but now there's data to back it up. Is it time for the Academy to do away with this dubious little experiment? [Grantland]
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Showtime, HBO, Starz deny their subscribers are fleeing
The three pay cable channels blasted a study claiming there was a 6% decline in their subscriber base. ""Showtime and every other premium network have increased both subscribers and penetrations over the last two years," says a Showtime spokesperson.
Mindy Kaling talks about last night's "Mindy Project" shocker
"You should rewind it a bunch or make a GIF of it," she says. PLUS: "Mindy" has fixed a lot of its issues this season, and ex-"Leverage" star Gina Bellman lobbying for a "Mindy" gig.
Jonah Hill drops F-bombs in "SNL" promos
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Amazon denies it is launching a live TV streaming service
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"Modern Family" gets Stephen Merchant to play the butler
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"Celebrity Big Brother" crew member caught flashing a "storyline" cue card
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David Lynch: "Twin Peaks" isn't coming back, but the blu-ray will have new bonus features
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FX teases "The Strain"
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A quick review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I arrange for somebody to clear my internet history...
A review of last night's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" coming up just as soon as we play Wife or Dog...
PARK CITY - What makes a great action filmmaker truly great?
Is it just the ability to orchestrate and shoot mayhem? If so, then David Ellis would have to be considered one of the greats simply for the highway crash sequence in "Final Destination 2," and pretty much every other scene he ever shot would negate that idea. And if pure mayhem is what makes you great overall, then the destruction of Chicago means that none of Michael Bay's weaknesses as a filmmaker matter, right?
There are a number of directors out there right now who deserve more credit than they get as action filmmakers. Isaac Florentine does fantastic work in conjunction with various great fight choreographers like Larnell Stovall and Tim Man and working with action stars like Scott Adkins, for example, and I love the films that Ernesto Diaz Espinoza made with Marko Zaror, who should be a gigantic star just based on his physical presence and both the fun and the elegance of the way he fights.
PARK CITY - Sex, death, neon lights, more sex, body-image statements undercut by the number of perfect torsos on display, new-wave pop, more sex... it looks an awful lot like we're in a Gregg Araki movie. And so we are, though for all those trash-ulous trademarks, "White Bird in a Blizzard" feels less like one than most.
A campily erotic coming-of-age murder-mystery tale -- a pretty conventional genre for Araki, the man behind "Mysterious Skin," "Kaboom" and a host of 90s queer curiosities -- this adaptation of Laura Kasischke's allegedly more stable novel promises some exciting variations to the enfant terrible's freaky formula, not least in its young female perspective. What we get is disappointing: a watered-down bad-taste exercise in which neither Araki's lurid affectations nor the source material's youthful angst do much to enhance each other.
PARK CITY, Utah - It's been days since I saw "Frank" at the Sundance Film Festival, and I'm still rolling it around on my tongue. Starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson, the film is indeed very musical, but also explores where creativity comes from, mediocrity versus merit in the medium, the mythologized connection between mental illness and genius, and the clash between laughable pretension and utter likeability.
All while Fassbender wears a giant papier-mâchée head, as its titular character.
"Frank's" director Lenny Abrahamson struck me as an intense music lover, and some of "Frank" and his misanthropic band's influences tended toward what he called the academic. Frank makes nods to Beatles lover Daniel Johnston, and exploratory groups from Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, and art collective The Residents.
The mask as a performance apparatus in the film acts as a mirror, to reflect on the audience's willingness to "go there" with its creator. Abrahamson wants those curious to be interested in what Frank is supposedly "hiding."
"It's sort of like 'The Wizard of Oz,'" he told me on the red carpet, the wish for the crowd to guess at what's behind the curtain. Hint: the big reveal isn't a mega-superstar singer for a famous Irish rock band.
"I gotta choose my words really carefully: Bono's wonderful, but he's not under the mask," Abrahamson conceded.
The music in the film can have it's drones and found sounds, it's rising and cresting melodies, jagged uneven rhythms next to a plodding keyboard line. At times, it sounded like Joy Division, then maybe a dash of The Fall or some Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Overall, I wish there were more completed songs presented, though the creation of the "idea of a song" seemed even more important to driving this film forward.
Well, I may get my wish anyway. Abrahamson said that "Frank" could yield a concert evening with the film's stars combining again, a la "Inside Llewyn Davis," so long as they can "make the schedule work." He also is planning to put together a soundtrack album release for "Frank," as apparently more material than could ever be crammed into the film still was conceived specifically for the project.
Watch the full interview above for more details on a potential release.
At this point, there are several familiar stages in the life-cycle of a new film by Quentin Tarantino. There's the part the general public is part of, involving the trailers, the press screenings, and the eventual release. But well before that, another cycle has become somewhat set in stone, starting with the moment that each screenplay leaks.
It happened on "Kill Bill." It happened on "Inglorious Basterds." And it happened on "Django Unchained" at a speed that seemed to shock even Tarantino.
Now word has broken that the cycle was accelerated to a point that has infuriated the filmmaker, and as a result, it appears that "The Hateful Eight" will no longer be his next film. Right now, fingers are being pointed, and I can't wait to see how this story unfolds because someone is going to end up being blamed for this film going down in flames before it even set a cast in stone.
PARK CITY - I'm not entirely sure when I first met Justin Simien. Actually, correct that. It was four and a half years ago ( found the E-mail introducing him as the new online publicist for Paramount Pictures from 2009). Having worked for the venerable studio one time myself, we immediately had a number of similar acquaintances both socially and professionally. And in my position I ended up talking to him about work related items usually once week. But, as we chatted about more interesting topics than say the latest publicity opportunities for "The Last Airbender" (you poor child) I quickly realized something about this young twentysomething: He was way too smart for the room and he wouldn't be there long. And within two years, he'd moved on to bigger and better things.
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I have curb appeal...