2011 BAM Award Nominations

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, January 4th.

Best Picture

The First Beautiful Thing
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo
In a Better World
Super 8
Terri
Toast
The Tree of Life
War Horse
Winter in Wartime

Best Director

J.J. Abrams Super 8
S.J. Clarkson Toast
Martin Koolhoven Winter in Wartime
Paolo Virzì The First Beautiful Thing
Martin Scorsese Hugo

Best Actress

Bérénice Bejo The Artist
Elizabeth Olsen Martha Marcy May Marlene
Carey Mulligan Drive
Micaela Ramazzotti The First Beautiful Thing
Jeong-hin Yin Poetry

Best Actor

Matt Damon We Bought a Zoo
Jean Dujardin The Artist
Wagner Moura Tropa de Elite 2
Brad Pitt The Tree of Life

David Rasch Olhos Azuis

Michael Shannon Take Shelter



Best Supporting Actress

Anjelica Huston 50/50


Claudia Pandolfi The First Beautiful Thing
Sarah Paulson Martha Marcy May Marlene
Stefania Sandrelli The First Beautiful Thing
Octavia Spencer The Help


Best Supporting Actor

Ben Kingsley Hugo

Christopher Plummer Beginners
John C. Reilly Terri
Alan Rickman Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Irandhir Santos Tropa de Elite 2

Best Cinematography

Larry Fong Super 8
Eduardo Serra Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Stephanie Anne Weber-Biron Heartbeats

Robert Richardson Hugo
Janusz Kaminski War Horse

Best Makeup


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Super 8

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Rammbock
Winter in Wartime

Most Overrated Picture

13 Assassins
Attack the Block
Certified Copy
Cold Fish
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
I Saw the Devil
Martha Marcy May Marlene

Melancholia
Trollhunter
Unknown

Worst Picture

11-11-11
Annelise: The Exorcist Tapes
Children of the Corn: Genesis
Creature
The Darkest Hour
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Final Destination 5
The Thing

The Three Musketeers
The Wrong Ferrari

Most Underrated Picture

Battle: Los Angeles
Bereavement
Fireflies in the Garden
The Hole
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Red State
The Sitter
The Ward
Toast
Winter in Wartime

Best Original Screenplay

J.J. Abrams Super 8


Michel Hazanavicius The Artist
Benjamin Hessler Rammbock
Stevan Mena Bereavement
Paolo Virzì and Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo The First Beautiful Thing

Best Adapted Screenplay

Marti Noxon and Tom Holland Fright Night
Steve Kloves and JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

John Logan and Brian Selznick Hugo
Lee Hall and Nigel Slater 
Toast

Mieke de Jong, Martin Koolhoven, Paul Jan Nelissen and Jan Terlouw Winter in Wartime

Best Editing

Job ter Berg Winter in Wartime
Mary Ann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey Super 8

Mark Day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Thelma Schoonmaker Hugo

Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber and Mark Yoshikawa The Tree of Life


Best Score



Stevan Mena Bereavement
Alexandre Desplat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Howard Shore Hugo
Michael Giacchino Super 8

Jónsi We Bought a Zoo

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo
Super 8


Real Steel


X-Men: First Class

Best Visual Effects

The Adventures of Tintin
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo

Super 8


Real Steel

Best Cast

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo
Super 8

Toast



War Horse


Best Youth Ensemble

Chinmai Chandrashuh, Vedant Desai, Devji Handa, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain, Ifran Khan, Aarav Khanna, Shriya Sharma and Sanath Menon Chillar Party
Ellie Darcey-Alden, Ariella Paradise, Benedict Clarke, Alfie McIlwain, Rohan Gotobed, Arthur Bowen, Daphne de Beisetgui, Will Dunn, Jade Gordon, Bertie Gilbert, Helena Barlow and Ryan Turner Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gulliver Mcgrath, Shaun Aylward and Ed Sanders Hugo
Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan and Hunter McCracken The Tree of Life
Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Elle Fanning Super 8

Best Performance by a Child Actress in a Leading Role

Elle Fanning Super 8
Bailee Madison Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Chloë Grace Moretz Hugo
AnnaSophia Robb Soul Surfer
Saoirse Ronan Hanna

Best Performance by a Child Actor in a Leading Role

Cayden Boyd Fireflies in the Garden
Asa Butterfield Hugo
Joel Courtney Super 8
Dakota Goyo Real Steel
William Jøhnk Nielsen In a Better World
Hunter McCracken The Tree of Life

Best Performance by a Child Actress in a Supporting Role


Landry Bender The Sitter

Celine Buckens War Horse
Olivia Crocicchia Terri
Elle Fanning We Bought a Zoo
Joey King Battle: Los Angeles

Best Performance by a Child Actor in a Supporting Role

Chase Ellison Fireflies in the Garden
Colin Ford We Bought a Zoo
Ryan Lee Super 8
Bill Milner X-Men: First Class
Bridger Zadina Terri

Best Art Direction

Anonymous

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Hugo

Winter in Wartime

X-Men: First Class

Best Costumes


Drive

Hugo

Super 8
Terri

Toast

Best Foreign Film

The First Beautiful Thing

In a Better World

Olhos Azuis

In Their Sleep
Incendies
Rammbock
A Screaming Man
The Skin I Live In
Tropa de Elite 2
Winter in Wartime

Best Documentary

Bill Cunningham New York
Buck

Life in a Day
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Senna

Best Song

“Chatte Batte” Chillar Party
“Exploded Diaper” Löded Diper Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
“I Want Candy” Cody Simpson Hop
“Born to be Somebody” Justin Bieber Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
“Pictures in My Head” The Muppets

“Let Me Take You to Rio (Blu’s Arrival)” Ester Dean & Carlinhos Brown Rio

The Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year

Andy Serkis

The Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

Steven Spielberg

Special Jury Prize(s)

The Confession

The Harry Potter Franchise

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5 Franchises That Should’ve Been

Some films that are made seem to be begging for more, in other incarnations of this topic people have tended to focus more on the tie-in and merchandising potential and less on story. In this list you will see five films I think were just begging to be continued, expanded upon and elaborated more greatly. What are some of your favorites?

5. The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

Mark McKinney and Dave Foley in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (Paramount)

Why this film received such a cold shoulder and is largely overlooked is beyond me. The Kids in the Hall probably could’ve made a slew of films with a colon and their troupe’s effort following it in the title. They could’ve become the 90s incarnation of Monty Python. This film is hugely overlooked and vastly underrated. The franchise here is not the Brain Candy concept but rather the troupe’s brand of comedy transposed onto the big screen. Perhaps in the economically affluent, blasé, Generation X 90s a droll, snide stab at pharmaceutical companies and anti-depressants was not the way to go but it is hilarious. If you haven’t yet checked out their one and only feature length film to date please do. They still do shows and have appearances in Canada and each member does individual projects but perhaps the harsher times will reawaken the need for KITH as a unit.

4. Explorers

River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke and Bobby Fite in Explorers (Paramount)

While many do like it and it’s fine by me but not great, Explorers seems like the kind of film that would be better after a second installment when characters are already established and you can go deeper. Kids who design and build their own space craft and use it to travel to outer space; if this concept was developed today it’s an absolute certainty that it would be intended to be a series. Keep in mind that the original starred both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix before they really hit it big with any project so it could definitely been continued as a star-vehicle and could be one anew. It’s just a wonder they haven’t tried again…yet.

3. Flight of the Navigator

Joey Cramer in Flight of the Navigator (Disney)

Again I think era might’ve had something to do with this concept not being followed up. If Disney was making Flight of the Navigator today and made a cent of profit it certainly would become a series. I just think here the film opens up a whole can of worms that could be revisited, not that it necessarily should. In the film David played by Joey Cramer travels through space and thus time and comes back still looking twelve eight years later. There are just so many possibilities other complications this could cause and other planets to visit. This film may soon be off the list as a remake is in development and has been for some time.

2. Stephen King Projects

Colm Feore in Storm of the Century (Walt Disney Television)

OK, allow me to explain this selection. It’s basically a tie because one would be a film and the other could be a film following a mini-series and the mini-series, lost art form as that is, is kind of in a no man’s land in terms of film.

The first King property I’m surprised never turned into a series was Silver Bullet. It is without question one of the most accurate and best interpretations of a King book put on screen. Due in no small part to the fact that King wrote the script himself. It’s like Cycle of the Werewolf was plastered on celluloid. It’s great and considering some of the other werewolf films that were popular in the 80s it’s even more surprising. The possibility of a follow up to that tale is definitely a tantalizing idea to think about but King doesn’t have it on his docket.

The second would be a sequel of some kind to Storm of the Century, King’s first mini-series. Without giving anything away for those who haven’t seen it the ending is not open but rife with possibilities and considering that Linoge is one of his best villains, on par with Randal Flagg, and to see power transition from him to his protégé would be something.

1. The House by the Cemetery

Silvia Collatina in The House by the Cemetery (Anchor Bay)

One of Lucio Fulci’s best works and one that screamed to be continued more so than any of the Zombie films which are terribly overrated. The House by the Cemetery features a great villain a cruel, twisted doctor who is undead, practically immortal and of course can’t really be defeated not that much resistance has been put up against him. The ending of the film is open and you really are left to wonder what happens with Bob next. If an American had made it with better known actors it likely would’ve been a series one that would’ve gotten ridiculously long after a time but might’ve been enjoyable still reminiscent of the original Halloween cycle.

Franchises Which Could Use a Reboot

While I am no proponent of the rebooting trend there comes a point where screaming protestations does become tiresome, when even the biggest purist has to sit back and say “You know what? If this is the trend it may as well serve some kind of a purpose.” To that end here is a list of 10 film series that should be rebooted for one reason or another.

Rex Harrison in Dr. Doolittle (20th Century Fox)

10. Dr. Doolittle – This is another example Eddie Murphy’s sad decline ruining an altogether fine film concept. The Doctor Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting are magical and if adapted at the very least faithfully if not slavishly could certainly still be a huge hit and there is no reason it can’t start up again. Considering that the original 1967 rendition with Rex Harrison is mostly an afterthought it’s about time the series as written was done properly – installment by installment if possible.

Asterix & Obelix (Clement)

9. Asterix et Obelix – One of two foreign entries on this list. While there are animated versions of this popular comic available ad nauseum there are only two live action films and one can clearly see why. The story came across as stale and lacking in whimsy. Gerard Depardieu who was one of the leading men in cinema once upon a time comes across as a charmless, fat oaf and not Obelix. The cast and director should be scrapped. It can be done in France or anywhere for that matter as long as it lives up to the magic these stories that travel through history are capable of and with that theme story possibilities are endless since the source material already provides many of them.

In light of the worldwide box-office success and aesthetic triumph of Tintin motion capture would be a wonderful place for this series to go.

Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (Dimension)

8. Children of the Corn – This is a series that has had a remake of the original. Now as it stands the original is fantastic. It is a quintessential 80s horror film and overall one of the better ones ever made simply due to its overall impact. Having said that the series of sequels that followed soon thereafter have watered down and bastardized the brand and the drop in quality from the original to the sequels is one of the most precipitous of any horror franchise ever (with few exceptions). For that reason I have placed the franchise on the list and it will be with a bit of curiosity that I will attend the remake to see if the franchise can be revitalized.

Zombie (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

7. Zombie – These are perhaps the films that Lucio Fulci, Italian giallo director, is best known for and it’s a mystery why. Slow-moving, sunlit and un-suspenseful when compared to Fulci’s best works. The occasional grossly unsettling make-up job is not enough to save any of the set-ups. These are a prime candidate for a relaunch. The island can be shot at night, or it could simply not be set on an island. Zombie films are all the rage for the time being find some other way to turn the genre on its ear under the zombie brand and it is sure to be a hit.

Jaws (Universal)

6. Jaws – Yes, Jaws is an absolute classic and should not be touched. There are reasons why the series is on the list. The series as a whole is very bad. Nothing that happened after Spielberg is any good and Hollywood has proven time and time again that absolutely nothing is sacred, not even Spielberg. A Poltergeist remake is in the works. So, theoretically, yes the Jaws series does belong here.

Samuel Costa in O Menino Maluquinho (Inter Filmes)

5. O Menino Maluquinho – This is the second foreign selection on this list and it is the film adaptation of the best-selling children’s book by Brazilian illustrator/author Ziraldo. The first film was absolutely wonderful and while not a literal adaptation it was most definitely one in spirit, which is the most important thing. There was a sequel which was good but not as good as the original as the cast was a little too old at this point to be believable in the story. However, with the character still popular in a daily comic strip it is easily a candidate for reboot. Brazilian audiences, especially younger ones are used to long series like Os Trapalhoes, and it would work perfectly if the kids were recast every few installments similar to the James Bond franchise.

4. Home Alone – This is another example of a series where it was the sequels failing the concept more so than the original. This is also one of those series where it’s one of the least necessary reboots but it’s the kind that makes you wonder why it hasn’t happened already, especially considering that it’s a John Hughes project Anyway, the second was regurgitation, the third was decent but weird in as much as it was just a continuation of the situation not characters or plot and the fourth was just painful.

Gremlins (Warner Bros.)

3. Gremlins – Yes, the first only was classic but they kind of dropped the ball. The sequel, though enjoyable, seemed like an afterthought and the time between the original and the follow-up could’ve contributed to its lack of success. It’s an idea that’s endlessly appealing and one of the best combinations of horror and comedy around while the film is an 80s classic there is no performance that’s irreplaceable so it’s surprising that studio executives haven’t jumped at the opportunity to jump-start this one.

Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Dana Barron in Vacation (Warner Bros.)

2. National Lampoon’s Vacation – The Vacation films weren’t ever really designed to end. They’re all so great each one more memorable than the last and just silly. I think it’s a series that could easily come back into play by just having Rusty or Audrey go on a trip with their kids and have Grandpa and Grandma (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) along for the ride (Seriously, what else are they doing? And they should be doing something). With the last film being in 1989 there is so much socially and about the world that can be mocked, parodied or lampooned that wasn’t even in the public consciousness back then that it’s about time. People still laugh at the old ones and they would laugh at new ones too.

Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (Paramount)

1. The Naked Gun – Yes, the 3rd film was called The Final Insult but those kinds of titles have been contradicted before. I think along with a new James Bond we should have new Frank Drebin pictures. This can be done in one of two ways one the old pulling the investigator out of retirement against his will ploy can be implemented or he could be unwillingly training his replacement. Either way good parody is a necessity and his were second to none and he should be leading, not making appearances in second rate attempts so the parents in the audience can have a good laugh.

Ideally, I’d have loved the late great Leslie Nielsen to have been involved but the fact of the matter remains that the parody film is fast becoming a lost art of the comedy genre and perhaps a classic vehicle is needed to revive it with the right people in place.

8 Out of Print Titles That Shouldn’t Be

These days it is very difficult to find anything which is out of print, which is a great thing, it is usually the diamonds in the rough which will inspire future generations. And the more of those which are readily available the more likely great art will be inspired in coming generations. More studios should be following suit with Warner Brothers and slowly rolling out their vaults and making almost anything and everything available to all. Below are films which good, bad and ugly are currently unavailable on either VHS or DVD, and that ought not be so. Many of them represent types and I’m sure you can find a handful of films similar to the titles I mention. Those suggestions are welcome and just as viable.

8. Serials (any serial)

The most idealistic choice, but seriously I don’t know how these can be expensive and someone should pick them up and distribute them on an On Demand basis because they’re like a cinematic drug; addictive. The serial is just classical storytelling at its best and it has inspired some of the best loved film series of the 20th centuries (think Star Wars and Indiana Jones). If you chop those down into 15 minute installments you get classic cliffhangers. Blake of Scotland Yard for the novice has absolutely everything you need, if you want the most inventive array of genres mixed together get The Phantom Empire.

7.Song of the South

Song of the South (Disney)


Here are facts regarding Song of the South: The controversy surrounding racism in this film is centered on two key points: first, the “happy slave” character. This, however, was cliché. The vitriol against the film really comes from the subplot of Bre’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. This was a direct adaptation of the original tale and literally about a baby made of tar. The film unintentionally put the term into the common vernacular as a racist slur. While I can’t defend many animators regarding many insensitive jokes in this era this one did seem rather innocuous. Due to one short scene an all around decent and wonderful film has been lost in time. Compounding it is that clips of the film have been used in Sing-A-Longs, characters from the film are at Disneyland and -World and everyone sings “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” It’s a bit hypocritical and a bit of a tease to let younger generations know this film exists and that they’re not allowed to see it. Disney should either bury it or put it out there, stop trying to have your cake and eat it too. Keep in mind that titles which are overtly racist like Birth of a Nation and Leni Reifenstahl’s propaganda films are readily available, so it’s not even as if the home video market is devoid of contentious subject matter so if one disagrees with this assessment of Song of the South rest assured it’s not readily available and if it were you needn’t buy it.

6. As Aventuras da Turma da Monica

As Aventuras da Turma da Mônica (Mauricio de Sousa)


This is the original animated feature which sews together vignettes starring Mauricio de Sousa’s seemingly endless cast of characters. It’s a wonder no studio has tried to introduce these characters to the States since his comics and cartoons are syndicated all over Latin America, Europe and Asia.

5.Ciske the Rat


Ciske the Rat (Concorde Films)

A staggering, realistic and disturbing portrayal of the birth of a juvenile delinquent in the most haunting and disturbing way possible where you can identify with it and almost want it to happen. A strong 1980s entry from the Netherlands.

4. Shark: Rosso nell’oceano

Shark: Rosso nell'oceano (Cinema Shares International Distribution)


This is a film I first and only saw on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and is one of the most memorable and hilarious episodes of that show. It truly is one of the grotesquely terrible films ever made. Case in point, it’s more like an octopus than a shark, not sure what the rationale behind the title was exactly. With or without any comic relief this film is painful.

3. Eu Sei Que Eu Vou Te Amar

Eu Sei Que Eu Vou Te Amar (Embrafilme)

Features Fernanda Torres in a role which won her Best Actress at Cannes in one of her first performances it is another compelling, complex and fascinating film by Arnaldo Jabor which takes place almost entirely within the confines of an apartment yet stays engagingly cinematic.

2. The Cellar


The Cellar (Hemdale Home Video)

Is a prime example of execution of a film and its plot heavily outweighing the importance of budget, production value and actor’s ability. The sum of the last three factors should not be enough to make a great horror movie but the cinematography, ingenious and practical effects work, score and editing make this movie happen.

1. They Shall Have Music


They Shall Have Music (United Artists)

I saw this during 31 Days of Oscar on TCM. It is a standard 1939 tear-jerker which makes it better than anything today in that regard. It’s a nice easy watch with a deservedly Academy-Award nominated score by Alfred Newman and great cinematography by Gregg Toland.

Tintin Finds Its Own Path

The Adventures of Tintin (Columbia/Paramount)

As the art of cinema develops alongside technology, so does the business of it. Methods of distribution and viewership are now more varied than ever, however, what some may not fully consider is that aside from method of viewing (streaming, MOD, DVD, etc.) theatrical releases also have found new paths. Now more than ever theatrical releases have tinkered with the formula. It used to be an unwritten rule that the rest of the world would have to wait for Hollywood films until America had seen it first. Now, for many reasons whether it be location or just the international viability of a given project, films are not only premiering overseas with increasing frequency but opening there well ahead of the US also.

Perhaps the best example of this is Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. I for one had always had a vague awareness of Hergé’s well-known creation but didn’t know much about him or the stories in which he lived. However, similar to my affinity to The Little Prince, which crosses not only various media but also three languages, I knew that it was a property more renowned abroad than in the US. Therefore, it’s perfectly logical that not only did Tintin debut overseas first but also opened there well in advance.

Tintin is, in fact, a cinematic rarity in as much as of this writing it already ranks #360 all-time in worldwide box-office with $239.1 Million and opens in the US tomorrow. Considering the fact that it opened in late October overseas and the ubiquity of social media below you will find some of the reactions I’ve gotten from overseas as I anxiously await the US release. The conversation started rather spontaneously when discussing some of my favorites of 2011 after that Twitter discussion I asked around and got more feedback:

Alex Terentjev, Russia

“What bout Tintin? I think this is the best film to share the evening with family…btw (By the way) I didn’t know anything bout Tintin before I’ve watched a movie, but u know this film is amazing…comedy elements mixed with criminal and interesting adventures and motion capture, as well, makes this movie really awesome…I even started to read Tintin comic books cuz of this movie.”

Patrick Gibson, England

Tintin, one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a long time! Such well thought out characters and beautiful animation!

@lucylucesim, Ireland

Tintin was brilliant![…]The 3D was great but could’ve been better utilized.

@everyfilmin2011, England

So, after months of looking forward to a new Spielberg movie, one of my Twitter followers threw cold water on my mood by telling me it was boring. I must admit, I’m glad they did – because watching a movie with low expectation is always best. First off, I can happily report that there was far too much going on for it ever to be condemned as boring but it’s certainly not the standard of an animated Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I’d originally hoped…

The action, of course, comes thick and fast and computer animation really lets Spielberg’s imagination out of any normal constraints. Jamie Bell is the perfect voice for Tintin but the real revelation is Daniel Craig as the baddie. He hams it up like never before – talk about shaken and stirred! Of course, it goes without saying that Britain’s greatest chameleon actor, Andy Serkis, is unrecognisable and in top form as the captain…

My biggest bugbear is the 3D. It really doesn’t bring anything to the party and, once again, is just a giant rip-off. The sooner this gimmick dies off, the better. So, a Spielberg classic it isn’t but is Tintin worth a family outing. Yes, I should say so. Rating? 7/10

Here’s an excerpt from Screenings a great resource for those of you in the US who want a chance to see movies early and free:

It mainly mixed three of the original comic books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944), and of course, The Secret of the Unicorn (1943). While the precise motion-capture couldn’t compare to Hergé’s original execution of his characters, it delivered a new fascination for the current generation to enjoy. So don’t expect as much nostalgia but do expect a great viewing experience…

The script does a wonderful job introducing the audience to Tintin and the whole premise quickly. Even if you have no idea what the source material is about, you will get it within the first 10 minutes where you see the new animated Tintin get a caricature of himself which shows the original inked boy journalist […] By mixing many different plots in one, the filmmakers were able to explore more of the Tintin universe and splice together various story lines to keep the momentum and the pace quick. However, you never forgot the main story at hand…

The cast was as impressive as the men behind the scenes. The motion capture and voices were provided by the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and motion capture legend/guru Andy Serkis. With every mocap film, Weta Digital somehow tops itself and delivers a more seamless experience letting you forget your even watching an animated feature. It was a weird mix…even though it looked extremely lifelike, The Adventures of Tintin still had it’s [sic] cartoony feel…

The 3D was used well but again, not drastically enough. The best implementations were the particle effects that were unlike any other movie. They added a strong feeling of depth in their scenes that can’t be duplicated using 2D cameras. Even with the fast moving action scenes, the 3D didn’t get too crazy or give headaches so in the end it just made the visuals pop that much more. I would actually recommend watching this one in 3D because animated films do gain the most from the 3D technology…

The biggest win for this production, however, was a chaotic sequence which never seemed to end. It was very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones days where everything fell into place and the characters had to pull off stunts just at the nick of time. Of course, this is a lot easier to accomplish when every movement is animated by a computer rather than a stunt double. In the end though, the action scene came out so well that it makes you want to watch the entire film again just to watch that portion. If it was on DVD or DVR, you would instantly rewind it back to see again. The whole movie is ok up until that point but then Tintin blasts into full force and dazzles you with the unbelievable. It was really fun and that alone made the movie enjoyable for me. If you’re ready for a big dose of action adventure, The Adventures of Tintin is an amusement ride in the form of a movie and you should probably watch it because the sequel is already in the works.

Two other pre-certifications are first that it currently scores a 7.8 on 21,946 votes on the IMDb, it is “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes with 82% based on 67 Reviews and is at 67% on 11 reviews at Metacritic.

However, my open inquiries for a reaction from abroad to Tintin also garnered this surprise response from Simon Doyle who runs titinologist.org:

In 1983, when I was much younger, I watched an “interview”, broadcast on Janet Street-Porter’s “yoof TV” show Network7. Boy-reporter Tintin (we, the viewing public, were assured) was orbiting the Earth in Professor Calculus’s rocket, to bring amazing news to the world. Duly excited, I watched a 2D, somehow-electronically-but-rather-simply-animated Tintin inform the interviewer (and us) that none other than Steven Spielberg was in the process of bringing his globetrotting adventures to the screen!

Wow! If he could do for Tintin what he’d done with Indiana Jones–! I sat back, and waited…

…and waited…

…will it ever happen?…

…and waited…

…Great snakes! – A chap could start to lose hope…!

…and then…!

It’s 28-years later, and I am sitting in the viewing-theatre at BAFTA (BAFTA! The glittering heart of British cinema!), courtesy of the good folks at MediCinema, watching Thompson and Thomson introduce Steven Spielberg’s glorious new movie –

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn!

– and it proved well worth the wait!

If you want the devil’s advocate take there is a discussion link at the bottom of the review, however, if someone who has been as devoted fan for ages and has waited that long for a film version can come away that impressed it is most definitely worth my time. Moreover, the distribution path decision while might’ve seemed obvious to some has reaped rewards for the film as it opens with a bit more buzz stateside than it might otherwise.

Your Online Georges Méliès Film Festival

Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield in Hugo (Paramount)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Here’s another blog trying to prove how clever they are by linking to all the visual references in Hugo.” Wrong. Granted it’d be more painstaking to jot down the shots and match them to those in the film. However, the purpose of this post is a bit broader.

I have linked to anything and everything I could find. Some are referenced in Hugo, some aren’t. What I really want to people to do is to take a few minutes and watch some of there. Some are quite short. However, I’ve also created this post using just one website.

The internet archive is a great resource for all kinds of material but especially films which have entered the public domain. You can stream and download all kinds of great movies for free.

If you enjoy these movies, as I suspect you will, in their more primitive degraded state then you can look to Flicker Alley who have released many great sets of Georges Méliès rediscovered and restored works on DVD.

Enjoy!

If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, look around: this is where they’re made.
-Ben Kingsley, Hugo

<a href="http://www.archive.org/details/Lauberge-ensorceletheBewitchedInn1897&quot; title="The Bewitched Inn (1897)”>

A Terrible Night (1896)

The Devil in a Convent (1899)

<a href='http://www.archive.org/details/Cinderella_601&#039;>Cinderella (1899)

Joan of Arc (1899) [TINTED; Third-Party Voice Over Added]

The Man with a Head in the Cabinet (circa 1900)

The One Man Orchestra (1900)

The Devil and the Statue (1901)

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

The Monster (1903)

The Infernal Cauldron

The Impossible Voyage (1904)

The Infernal Cakewalk (1903)

Frolics of Satan (1906) [TINTED]

The Palace of the Arabian Nights (1906)

The Eclipse (1907)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907)

Good Glue Sticks (1907)

The Devilish Tenant (1909) [TINTED]

Cinematic Battle of the Nutcrackers

Every year for the past 5 years Ovation TV has a Battle of the Nutcracker’s wherein they play 5 different versions (rotating some out annually) of the ballet based on Tchaikovsky’s most renowned work. While I definitely qualify myself as an enthusiast rather than a savant of dance, this is a piece I know well enough such that I find it interesting to watch the different versions and pick a favorite.

Now within the ballet there are many variations for while Tchaikovsky’s music is the standard each choreographer has their signature while it was Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov who originally choreographed it, it’s perhaps Balanchine’s that’s most well known.

What’s most interesting to me about this “competition” where the viewers are invited to vote for their favorites is that it gets me thinking about adaptation. One could do quite a lengthy case study on The Nutcracker alone. While there are many either “filmed ballets” or cinematic versions based on Tchaikovsky there are many based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Just the fact that you have these two available sources available to freely adapt makes this quite a notable story.

However, a narrative as flexible as this wouldn’t suffice for a post for one could argue that “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James and “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft are more malleable pieces of fiction based on the films they’ve spurned. What makes The Nutcracker a unique tale, is not only the fact that I personally would put it on a list of ‘The Great Stories’ meaning classic narratives I could watch re-interpreted any number of ways but also the fact that it does have two potential origins as a source material either in literature or in dance.

In honor of this great story and the novel idea by Ovation I thought it’d be good to have some suggested Nutcracker-related film viewing for the holiday season.

Here are perhaps the three most well-known (the ones I’ve seen) cinematic versions to get you started.

The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)

The Nutcracker in 3D (2009, Freestyle Releasing)

During its all too brief cinematic run it was referred to as The Nutcracker in 3D. Now with 3D being the cinematic boogeyman du jour home video is the way to check this film out. I won’t give too much away but this version is most definitely different and based on the story rather than the ballet. This allows the storytellers to have a lot of latitude and there are few if any safe decisions and this film will likely cause divisive reactions all around. Partially musical and very allegorical it’s a film that refuses to be ignored. It also features Elle Fanning (Super 8, We Bought a Zoo) and Charlie Rowe (Neverland).

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia (Disney)

If you’re one who prefers your references and adaptations a bit more oblique then you need look no further than Disney’s pet project Fantasia. Along with many numbers from The Nutcracker you will of course see interpretations of may other classical pieces. This film is definitely all about Tchaikovsky’s music rather than the ballet though there is dancing too as you may well know.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (1993)

Macaulay Culkin and Jessica Lynn Cohen in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Warner Bros.)

This was the first place I was able to complete viewing the complete story of The Nutcracker ballet. My first attempt to view it live at Lincoln Center was interrupted halfway through. There are a few things that are interesting about this film not the least of which is that you have within it an encapsulation of George Balanchine’s choreography. You also have the fine narration of Kevin Kline. However, of course, what most will note is that it features Macaulay Culkin in the lead. The only major alteration is that the choreography, which for the nephew/nutcracker is rather minimal is diminished further here. While some may not even know this film even exists you might be further surprised to learn that this film is really perhaps the biggest power play Kit Culkin, Macaulay’s father and perhaps the most notorious stage parent in modern times, ever pulled off. Macaulay’s participation in The Nutcracker was really a case of living vicariously through your child. Though he speaks of it earnestly now of his distaste for the project it really doesn’t translate very much on film. Furthermore, Kit tried to influence the final cut of the film removing said narration and when it wouldn’t happen Culkin didn’t publicize the film so it was another Nutcracker box office bomb.

The Ovation block certainly made me want to look for other versions on film and I hope you enjoy these as well as seeking out others.

The Titus Conundrum

Below you will find a paragraph which was prepared for the Best Films of the Decade

Anthony Hopkins in Titus (Fox Searchlight)

list:

9 Titus

This is the over-looked film of Julie Taymor’s cinematic career thus far and it was here debut. It was an emphatic statement of style and vision but it also combined with substance to reinvent Shakespeare’s most violent tale with verve and surrealistic panache. The ensemble, headed by Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange, is brilliant and not overly-stagey even dealing with such cumbersome dialogue. The film is visually stunning and engulfing.

All this is true. What’s further true is that Taymor adds a bit of surrealism to the tale not only with the hallucinogenic interludes that appear on occasion, once to try and convince us Titus is mad but also through the opening of the film. An opening which introduces us not only to the character of Lucius, played very aptly by Osheen Jones, but also to the mix of modern technology, furniture and settings that will be mixed into this film. We see a child epitomizing with action figures and ketchup the kind of over-the-top violence that will be the reality of this tale, a reality he is put into. A reality he is a mute witness to for approximately an hour of the nearly three that the film runs.

All that is well and good but some of you may be asking why this film didn’t make the final cut. It was based on a technicality. The technicality is this. Titus was released by Fox in New York and Los Angeles on December 25th, 1999 in order to qualify for that year’s Academy Awards. It was resoundingly ignored. It’s wide release to general consumption and an equally absent public audience was in January of 2000. Upon double-checking the release date on the IMDb app on an iPhone I proceeded to re-screen the film to confirm inclusion on the best of the decade list. It fit. Then before publishing a trip to the IMDb proper showed all release dates.

Based on the wide release date it was the best of the year in 2000 but due to its actual release date not on the best of the decade list. Therein lies the problem. The good films get sat on until the end of the year and those not able to attend special advance screenings are left with many a film in a no man’s land.

Recently, there had been a reticence on my part to allow films from the prior year entry into award consideration, which punished The Reader. While it seems difficult to consider Titus a film of the aughts because that is a much bigger threshold to tread over I will no longer be disqualifying end of year releases from consideration in the next year. It’s only fair. While Titus can be denied a place in this decade passed it will always be a standout of year 2000 to me.

The Perfect Subplot in The Sitter

Attention Dear Reader,

Prior to reading any further I feel it only fair to warn you that a narrative thread in the film The Sitter will be discussed in detail herein and not a portion of it will be left unspoiled. If you have yet to see this film please do so. If you have seen it let us begin…

Landry Bender, Jonah Hill, Max Records and Kevin Hernandez in The Sitter (20th Century Fox)

In the critical lambasting this film has received, that I noticed both via its Rotten Tomatoes score and the encapsulated consensus that the site offers, what is missing is an insight. Granted a majority of the issues that critics have with the film are questions of taste. This is true of many comedies. Perhaps nothing is more subjective. However, I will not seek in this space to convince you that the film is funny, though I did find it to be very funny. Some also call out the film for not being very original. I cannot claim that this film re-invents the wheel.

What this film does brilliantly, which I will argue with any and all comers, is fold in a completely unexpected subplot based on the fact that it’s a comedy and the type of comedy it is. The term fold in is picked specifically to borrow the cooking term. In that vernacular it has a much more homogenizing context, somehow, in film it seems like it applies to putting something other where it does not belong.

In The Sitter Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) is your typical slacker and atypical babysitter making it kind of a typical setup. A ne’er-do-well who in many ways has arrested development will see the truth of these children’s lives and connect with them in ways their parents cannot. Furthermore, these insights he has into their personalities and lives will better him.

The surprise comes in Slater’s subplot, it’s by far the most well-executed and most subtle of them all from start to finish. Slater, played with stunning adroitness by Max Records (whom you may know from his pitch-perfect performance as Max in Where the Wild Things Are) and countered beautifully by Jonah Hill’s usual potty-mouth with a heart of gold, not to sound snide but that’s how many of his characters can be pigeon-holed.

How does this all unfold?

We meet Slater as Noah does. He is arriving at the kids’ house and sees him in the living room lounging watching TV. The programming is a shirtless male gymnast set against a woodlands background. The thought that Slater is gay occurred vaguely to me but I dismissed it simply because the image on screen was so odd and because “that sort of thing just doesn’t happen in films of this kind.”

The second step in the progression of this subplot is the introduction, at the time as a literary ghost, of Slater’s best friend Clayton. He is merely identified as his best friend and someone who Slater is texting incessantly. Again no bells really sound at this revelation because two assumptions are made by me and likely the average audience member: One, kids text a lot and two, he’s getting responses.

The third step is where suspicions start being aroused. Slater isn’t getting responses and he’s distressed by that. However, the filmmakers deflect this for many by having it play into Slater’s myriad partially self-diagnosed manias. So we move on…

The fourth step is where it likely clicks for most audience members. In their wild night about New York Slater runs into Clayton (Alex Wolff) at a Bat Mitzvah. Slater catches him in a lie and with another friend. This creates the need for Clayton, prodded by his friend, to blow Slater off to his face and tell him he’s acting “weird.” Slater, of course, is devastated. Here is where I jumped the gun and finished the equation.

However, many times in a film you’ll know a certain event is going to happen and it’s how it unfolds that really matters. That is evidenced by this film.

What occurs in the 5th and penultimate step (The Sixth being Slater being at peace in the denouement) is just flat out brilliant. In a confrontation with his adopted brother, Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), Slater’s meds are thrown out the car window. He freaks out and makes Noah stop the car. He looks for them and shouts that he needs them because he has problems. As is the case with all the “Remedy Scenes” Noah doesn’t act out of character at all but wisely. It’s truly a tribute to Jonah Hill and his abilities that he can play a scene wherein his dialogue is flat-out blunt, button-pushing and confrontational but yet delivered sensitively and is precisely what is needed to get a desired reaction from his scene partner/opposite character.

Slater is told to his face he’s gay and in a film of this nature the magnitude of those two events alone is incredible. Firstly, the fact that another character recognizes it and points it out to him allows for the allusions to the It’s-not-a-choice aspect to be made naturally. Also, it allows the character in question to deny it before confirming it. The singular most moving moment in a film where anyone in their right mind would expect their to be none is when Slater, protesting too much, shrieks “I don’t wanna be a faggot!”

It’s also precisely this kind of scene that proves the point that I’d rather have society police language rather than the movies. The F-word in real life has become intolerable in the 21st century. That does not, however, mean that it’s been eradicated, which is precisely what makes it such a powerful choice here.

Not only that but you have in one short coming out scene, in a movie you’d never expect to see one in, the vocalization of so many truths about homosexuality and being closeted that it’s staggering.

Namely: No one wants to be gay, no one chooses to be gay, when one is closeted you almost want to be called out to relieve yourself of the burden, you and others around you think there’s something wrong with you, it’ll make your life more difficult, you’ll go through very hard times but it gets better and people get over it, coming out to your parents is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do and so on.

I belabor the point about the kind of film it is because these kind of talking points are typically that they’re reserved for so-called Gay Cinema. The only problem with Gay Cinema is specifically that, it’s too much of a niche. There’s a lot of preaching to the choir. Even a mainstream hit like Brokeback Mountain can’t carry this message as well because first it’s about homosexuality and moreover it’s about repression thereof and the gay characters don’t receive the liberation that Slater does in this film. So many of his fears are allayed that you do hope somewhere a conversation like this is really happening between a parent or guardian and a child.

The sensitivity with which David Gordon Green, Jonah Hill and Max Records convey this scene is to be applauded long and loud. Typically, films branded as important are so because of their overall theme or their impact on cinema as a whole. While I enjoy it, this film may end up on neither end of the spectrum in time but what ought not be overlooked in an age when many with a social conscious are flat out saying that “It’s OK to be gay” and “It gets better” and other well-meaning statements that can be construed as platitudes by some, it is vitally important that the youth of this country are shown clearly and irrevocably that these things are true.

Fiction does not diminish a truth but rather can echo and amplify it more so than anything else. The true importance of The Sitter then cannot be measured in either category listed above but the reason it has importance is that it perfectly, in a social and aesthetic sense, includes a message in a film made for mainstream consumption and for they all need to be congratulated.

Film Thought: Excuse Me, Did You Like The Movie?

Hayden Panettiere and Cayden Boyd in Fireflies in the Garden (Senator Entertainment Co.)

It happens far too often that I leave a movie theatre and am left shaking my head not at the film I just saw but rather at the chatter that I can overhear walking out of the auditorium. All too often I hear confusion at a rather simple film or mental constipation due to the fact that the film as somewhat more artistically rendered and opaque than the run-of-the-mill fare which makes up the bulk of our cinematic diet.

The example I’m about to cite is not meant to smack of regional elitism but rather to illustrate that all too often now little of what once drew us out to the movies is still what appeals to us about it. It seems to be more out of habit than for the aesthetic pleasure and a communal activity.

The tale is relatively simple: I was visiting an old friend in New York and amongst the activities we decided to engage in was to go to one Manhattan’s many theatres and see something we couldn’t find anywhere else.

The film in question was, the critically dismissed yet left me rather moved and affected on a few occasions, Fireflies in the Garden. As soon as the film was over someone came up to me and asked “Excuse me, did you like that movie?”

We exchanged a brief and cordial discourse about it. The gentleman asking and his screening partner differed in opinion. I allowed that I could see that specifically due to one of the casting decisions of a younger version of a character (what I didn’t mention was an unusual family structure within the narrative) but I told him I did like it.

That was all that was said. It was short and not too detailed but it’s an all too rare occurrence. This part of the communal aspect of moviegoing is virtually extinct it seems. Many will lament how etiquette, whether it be talking or being distracted by mobile devices and other faux pas are bigger problems but this is a side effect of the mentality that seems to be “This is just something to do” or put differently “I’m not here just to watch this film.”

I’m not saying that every screening should be like a post-screening bull session in film school or that all layouts be art house in nature with a cafe where you can sit down and debate the finer points of the narrative, however, a quick exchange wherein you say “Yeah, I did like it. I can see where you might have issues…” should not be so much of a shock.

I recently stated that that’s what I like about Twitter, you can go there and have a group of followers who have have seen that film and have their own insights into it. It’s a minor but not insignificant part of the moviegoing culture that ought not be ignored: there should be more stimulating conversation on the way out of an auditorium rather than inadvertent eavesdropping and muffled sighs.

I am all for taking the time to absorb a film, any film at all, however, some of them present questions and quandaries that should be discussed in a more open way and post-screening discourse should not be so endangered.