There's really only one thing to report out of today's big AMPAS conclave: the entire membership of the Academy will now be able to participate in the final vote for all 24 categories at the Oscars. And that wasn't even part of the business at hand, it was something the Board of Governors had decided upon, so they just went ahead and announced it in tandem.
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I am honestly surprised by just how omnipresent LEGO is in the daily play lives of my kids.
When I was young, LEGO was a make-your-own sort of thing. Sure, there were plenty of playsets, but they were still general things like "space" or "construction" or whatever. These days, LEGO is a licensing powerhouse, working with dozens of partners on videogames and toys and even movies.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord only have two credits so far as directors for feature films, but when "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" and "21 Jump Street" are the two films you've made, that's a pretty strong one-two punch. What those two films have in common is the way they took unlikely premises and spun them into very effective and sincere piece of entertainment. These are guys you can trust to take the difficult and figure it out, so maybe they're the perfect fit for Warner's upcoming gamble, "The LEGO Movie."
Right now, they're reaching out to you, the eventual audience for "The Lego Movie," and they're offering you a chance to have an impact on the film you'll eventually see in theaters. They're in the home stretch, and they want to make sure that anyone that might be interested has a chance to enter.
I suspect there are some people who simply aren't built to do press.
Winona Ryder has been, in every single interaction I've had with her over the last twenty three years, lovely each and every time. I spent a fair amount of time on the set of "Edward Scissorhands" when it shot in Tampa, and that was the early days of the tabloids being interested in her because of her co-star and then-boyfriend Johnny Depp. It was obvious back then that she loved the actual work in front of the camera and she loved the collaboration with Tim Burton and the other actors and she hated hated HATED the press and, in particular, photographers.
She has been far less visible in recent years, and part of that is just a natural reaction to the way the industry writes for women. Ryder's at an age that Hollywood doesn't know what to do with, and so there aren't a lot of things written that would interest her or that seem like the right fit for her.
Scott Cooper's slate of upcoming projects is about as impressive and varied as fellow Cooper Bradley's as of late. Three years removed from his debut film, "Crazy Heart" (which earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar for Best Actor), the writer/director is set to traverse the nation, from the streets of New York to Depression Era Central California, the Tidewater of Virginia to the blast furnaces of Pittsburgh.
The lyric video for Vampire Weekend's "Ya Hey" -- the latest song to arrive from new album "Modern Vampires of the City" -- is all popped champagne bottles and fountains of foam. But there's also protective bibs. And nobody drinking.
The New York band has never shied away from commenting, even sarcastically, at class and youth. Here, there's also the acknowledgement of "black" music influences (hear gospel? reggae?) blending with their brand of pop and rock as it pays homage to other clashes and melting pots, of the Motherland with the Fatherland, Judeo-Christian imagery mixing with Zionism and Rastafarianism, Desmond Dekker literally (literaturely?) getting mixed with the Rolling Stones.
It's a playful song, but singer Ezra Koenig has heavier things on his mind, seeming to condemn all the supposed "lovers" of the Divine -- even himself. He gets glimpses of God, and is unsatisfied that God himself isn't fazed by faithlessness.
So all that, together with the typically bourgoise act of squandering perfectly good champagne by spraying it or breaking its bottle? Well, at least rappers get sponsorship for it: the offenders are of all colors and, notably, ages. The visual backing to this lyrical video (even the hilarious extras in the background at 3:15) is about waste. Again, with class and youthful excess.
Now if only I liked the pitched vocal effects buttressing the chorus. There's a waste of a good melody.
"Modern Vampires of the City" will be out on May 7.
The Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" was picked up by CBS Films some time back and the course was set for a Cannes debut, which it will receive later this month. Oscar Isaac is on the rise and has the leading role, supported by the likes of Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund, among others. Bruno Delbonnel has filled in for the Coens' usual cinematographer, Roger Deakins (who has been nominated five times for Coen endeavors), and the trailer promises lush production value.
So…how will the film figure into the awards scheme later this year? We'll know in due time, but for the distributor's part, eyes are clearly on the circuit as it has just been announced the film will receive a December 6 limited release with plans to expand wider on December 20. That puts it right in the thick of it, though it's also a frame that didn't pan out so well for Paramount's period music drama "Not Fade Away" last year, financially speaking.
Seven Coen films have been recognized by the Academy to date. A brief history lesson...
Releasing an album in what's considered a traditional rock album cycle sometimes doesn't make sense. For the teeming numbers of lost or forgotten rock records -- decent, independently-released ones -- it doesn't work at all. Some projects are too special to fall into the 2-3 year, 2-tour support, single-video-radio-album-wash-repeat. Under the folkloric, ambiguous wisdom of "spend money to make money," there will expenditures without enough knowledge from the fans' part to see revenue at the end.
Kansas City band The Architects have created a "high-concept" soundtrack album and accompanying five-episode comic book "Border Wars," and found it high time they experimented with crowd-funding. After five studio album releases and high-visibility stints with My Chemical Romance, Flogging Molly and the Warped Tour, the Architects culled the opinions of their own fans to develop an Indiegogo model and self-sustaining execution that seemed realistic (and wouldn't make their base wretch).
"Doing more creative work more often makes a lot of sense to me with respect to sustainability," frontman Brandon Phillips told me in our email interview. "That way you are entering into an ongoing conversation with your fans or supporters instead of showing up for a booty call once a year."
This week, "Border Wars" reached its kick-off $10,000 goal. Interested parties can still preorder a hard copy of the comic and album... for half a day more. Below, Phillips gives his opinion on comics, on when it's NOT OK to crowd-fund and on where Justin Bieber's records are actually being made.
I'll admit that "Scandal" often loses me when it becomes a love letter to screwing around with a married man (I know there are many impassioned supporters of Fitzlivia, but just because he's POTUS doesn't make it okay). When they are "on" in their on-again-off-again Olivia and Fitz share many tortured, passionate moments, and the dialogue, while earnestly delivered, starts to sound like it's been ripped from a bad romance novel. But sometimes, I don't mind so much.
(Welcome to Cannes Check, your annual guide through the 20 films in Competition at next month's Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 15. Taking on a different selection every day, we'll be examining what they're about, who's involved and what their chances are of snagging an award from Steven Spielberg's jury. We're going through the list by director and in alphabetical order -- next up, James Gray with "The Immigrant.")
A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I stop thrusting at you...