Blu-ray Review: Antonia’s Line (1995)

Introduction

For this film I actually saw the supplemental feature and read the essay before viewing it . It’s not the typical way I go about things but I figured this would be a good way to slip into the film I really didn’t know much about. I’ve seen quite a bit of contemporary Benelux cinema but things not in this decade I’m nowhere near as versed in. It’s proven to be a good approach.

Supplemental Feature

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The supplemental feature is a rather interesting one. It’s a feature interview from a Dutch TV show wherein the director, Marleen Gorris, discusses the editing of a scene, well a part of a scene really. It’s a tremendous bit as she talks about the way she cut together a three-second snippet could’ve drastically changed the interpretation of a scene. It really is wonderful insight into the editing process for those who may be uninitiated as it underscores the persistent decision-making process it is.

There is some discussion of the grander scheme of things, including scoring which is always insightful.

Trailers

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1972, Film Movement Classics)

On these Film Movement Classics titles are typically other titles in their catalogue. That makes them most definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for new and intriguing titles.
Essay

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Par for the course, but still very much appreciated, is the inclusion of an essay on the film. This one is penned by Thelma Adams.

I’ve written quite a few times on the virtues of coming into a film a clean slate. However, that is not to say that a proper introduction that braces you for what is about to come can’t put you into the right frame of mind to appreciate a film. My favorite professor in film school set up films beautifully. Did I always love the film because of it? No, but I was able to find value and was ready to take it in.

Things discussed in the essay made me expect that I would come away from the film quite pleased: statements like “This film is more in school of Bergman, Fellini, and Lean,” and should be “savored like a rich port” and is told in picaresque and involves art, where “restrictive institutions interweave,” and features aspects of magical realism; furthermore, that it features WW II as a backdrop but not as the point of the film.

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Furthermore, there was the also the discussion of the F-word, meaning feminism. Here Adams bemoans Roger Ebert referring to the film as portraying a kind of “cheerful feminism” “God forbid, serious feminism,” she later laments. Even the pull-quote on back that the movie is “Sexy” seems to be underserving a truly great work.

However, the revelation was not immediate but gradual, and sudden, and all at once as I will explain below.
Film

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In the realm of film there is a a land beyond foreshadowing, shall we call them The Shadowlands in a lame attempt at a Merchant Ivory joke? No. OK, my point being there are some films that would rather lay all their cards on the table immediately an tell you: ultimately, this is about the journey rather than the final destination. This is a film about Antonia, as the original title suggests, and her friends, relatives and generations, as the English title suggests.

The film starts immediately with you acknowledging the fact that Antonia will die at the end of the story. It’s the vast majority of her life, the change in her, her provincial hometown, and her family, that you will be privy to in this tale. Not the overly-contrived twists of typical genre film but the expected and unexpected twists in life. As dour and artfully European as that may strike the American viewer, it’s an incontrovertibly rich, nuanced, funny and heartfelt film.

My initial reaction to it was that it’s quite nearly immaculate. I hate using terms such as that because I’m always wary of falling into the hype trap either as a viewer or setting one up as a reviewer. However, having viewed supplemental materials before the feature I was left in that defensive Show-me-something posture through much of film. Suddenly, nearly unnoticed, a corner is turned, invisibly the light of hope amidst despairs, laughter amidst tragedy, and life amidst death brims to overflowing from this film. The holy and profane walk hand in hand in symbiosis – it is life.

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This invisible touch is felt, much like the passage of time, which is never indicated through the use of titles but by images and events. It flows like a stream, like life, seemingly languid at some points, jettisoning to the horizon far too quickly at other points.

The film also employs revelatory, useful, restrained if obvious use of sub-plotting through the narrative to make ancillary points to the main themes.

The florid narration that one could come to expect too much of from the Continent is beautifully wrought and well earned in a gorgeous, smile-inducing surprise.

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As if this film needs more accolades it is indeed one of those Academy Award winners that quote, truly deserved it, unquote. It’s a film that’s so good that I find it nearly an affront to it to discuss the feminist merits of it in the context of a standard review. Watch it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s spectacular.

10/10

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87th Annual Academy Awards

Introduction

It’s that time again. In this post I will be live-blogging my random thoughts on the ceremony. A good way to kick -off such a post is to include a hilarious parody I just saw today from Dan Schneider writer/producer of several Nickelodeon shows including Henry Danger, which provides the world and actors (Cooper Barnes and Jace Norman) for this parody. Enjoy!

Also, here are some of my pre-Red Carpet tweets in anticipation.

Red Carpet

Tuned in way late. I guess the annoying half-hour preshow that’s mandatory attendance has forced arrivals to start earlier.

I wish Josh had shaved, but oh well. Shall I do the whole couture angle?

Didn’t recognize either Faith Hill or Tim McGraw.

Benjamin Button isn’t the one that doesn’t age, that’s Dorian Gray.

I wonder if kids watching this now are having a “Who’s that?” moment seeing Melanie Griffith with Dakota Johnson, as many likely had when Tippi Hedren attended with Melanie?

“I’m Brigitta, she’s Louisa. She’s thirteen years old, and you’re smart! I’m ten, and I think your dress is the ugliest one I ever saw!” -Lady GaGa in The Sound of Music tribute.

I think I like that jacket Ansel. Always in favor of something a little different for men as we have less options.

Brilliantly articulated thoughts by Miles Teller. Great stuff. Fan now!

So is that William Moseley from Narnia in that new E! show that looks questionable?

Rosamund Pike is red that works, unlike some others on this broadcast.

Time for the time-wasting show.

Finally seeing more outfits now. Yellow and Gold making statements with Stone and Moretz.

Great to see Robin Roberts working the show.

Yay, the countdown is teasing us.

Ceremony

OK, have been absent due to guests and a problem-child dog.

Very cool that there was a Devo theme to some costumes in “Everything is Awesome” considering Mothersbaugh started there.

Niel Patrick Harris is having some great moments, not just the song but the obligatory “movies are great” speech also.

Unsurprising that Ida and J.K. Simmons won, but their speeches made up for the lack of surprise in who was awarded.

Lots of good selections to choose from in the Live Action shorts. I wish Boogaloo and Graham had gotten it though.

Awesome dedication to crisis center workers.

Didn’t get to see the Short Subject docs.

So all the Lifetime Awards were moved to the Governors Awards. Sad.

My post where many of those winners are listed.

So no Interstellar sound awards. So I got that portion right.

Patricia Arquette: great speech! We always need a statement.

So this is the year Disney gets Best Animated Short? Really?

YAY, for not How to Train Your Dragon 2. I do love Big Hero 6 though.

Good to see Octavia Spencer and Charlie Rowe at the Oscars. Cancellations happen to good actors too and I hope to see them in something again real soon.

“In A Million Ways to Die in the West I pooped in a hat.”

Birdman getting Cinematography is not surprise and well-earned. I just wish Black & White hasn’t had such a long drought.

Can the awkwardness Terence Howard had to offer be topped?

Predicting an Oscar moment is never a way to do things.

In case I’ve not stated it:

I LOVE THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

The Sound of Music (1965, 20th Century Fox)

Is wanting Desplat to have won for something else, too gripey? LOL.

Now it’s time to play “How late are they going to run, anyway?”

Birdman!

OK, I am extraordinarily pleased with this year’s screenwriting winners!

Graham Moore has the most emotional speech so far.

Was predicting a split between Boyhood and Birdman but maybe I had it the wrong way around?

Interesting that they bumped Best Director up in the order.

Amen, to Alejandro’s sentiments on art, competition and time.

Only recently discovered what two Academy Award nominated films (Mr. Turner and Still Alice) are about. Hope to see both soon.

Best Picture presenter is always a bit of a curveball.

Great closing quotes from Keaton and Iñárritu.

Goodnight  everybody!

Batman (1989, Warner Bros.)

Short Film Saturday: Helium

Far too often the Best Short Film nominees at the Oscars are all-too-quickly forgotten. Even here, when I see the films I write of them but rarely bring them back up on Saturdays. Here I wanted to rectify that. I loved Helium best in the Live Action block and it ended up winning. Here were my initial thoughts as posted on Oscar night:

So, so, so, so happy that Helium won. What a gorgeous film that made me cry in its 20 minute run time.

Here’s the film:

86th Annual Academy Awards

As has become tradition I will drop here my off-the-cuff thoughts on the ceremonies and the winners as they proceed. Enjoy.

Red Carpet

I intended to cover more of the red carpet this year because I haven’t seen an awful lot of the nominated films, but I tuned in about 23 minutes later than I intended to.

As for the films, I typically get caught up in January and February, but have been focused on more new releases. As always, I have come to terms with the Oscars being more of a great show than about who wins for me, but I do still have some people I am rooting for.

With this year’s host not really being a controversial decision I anticipate I will discuss the “material” (such as it is) less.

I’m am extraordinarily bad at realizing people are related. Today’s example: Laura and Bruce Dern.

Amy Adams doing her hair as an homage to Vertigo is a decision I support.

Jennifer Lawrence is “winning” so far. Once Christian Dior was mentioned I realized it made sense. Amazing look.

Some good little segments in this pre-show like the Blue Jasmine costuming and My First Oscars.

Only 12 minute to the pointless thirty-minute pre-show that only delays the festivities!

The countdown clock is up. Everyone is pretty much there. You’re just being tortured at this point.

The good thing about the pre-show is that the nominees start to take over because it seems they just want to get things started.

I haven’t minded the selfie and pizza bits, but if the show is running even later than normal, then maybe, just a little.
A Fresh Prince cameraman is working the Oscars. One of the better tidbits we’ll learn.

The clock makes things go so much slower.

The Ceremony

It started. Nick Hoult is in the audience, the start is a good one.

New oldest nominees, which I was unaware of.

I like the stage and the fact that Captain Phillips and Philomena Lee are there.

That was the joke to end a monologue on. Amazing!

The Oscar clip is the main reason I don’t get Hanks being snubbed.

Jared Leto’s clip was the most convincing advertisement of Dallas Buyers Club yet.

The first political moment of the night didn’t take long, truthfully more important things are going on. Peace on earth all.

Random video segment of the night one: celebrates animation. It’s not like it’s under-appreciated.

“Happy” was the Despicable Me 2 song closest to earning a BAM nomination but missed the cut. It’s a tough category to crack.

Notable acknowledgement of the inclusion of hairstyling in the makeup category. It undeniably changed the process.

Three best picture nominees profiled at a time. Oh boy.

What is a “warm Kodak Theater welcome” exactly?

My take on the short films as a whole, and where to find them, can be seen here. I am glad Mr. Hublot got it, because Disney is a safe bet for the Feature category.

FROZEN! Called it.

Frozen (2013, Disney)

Picking Gravity for Visual Effects is so easy I did it.

Zac Efron, your intro is a musical chord from Hairspray please do more musicals.

So far the most exciting moments of the night have been around the short films. So, so, so, so happy that Helium won. What a gorgeous film that made me cry in its 20 minute run time.

At least The Great Beauty winning supplants Life is Beautiful as Italy’s most recent win.

Not many comments recently because, as per usual, almost nothing is a surprise.

The obligatory joke about the President of the Academy always gets me.

Bill Murray’s impromptu tribute to Harold Ramis wins tonight.

Lubezki won long ago in my book.

“Cuaron wrote, directed and edited the movie, let’s play music on him” The Oscars.

Pink is guaranteed to bring the house down at any award show she sings at. Always a good idea.

The only thing that can get Gravity is … The Great Gatsby of all things, in art categories.

Missed the intro for the 2nd random video tribute. This third one is heroes. OK.

Lost momentum towards the end, but there was little else to report really. Love McConaughey’s speech it was great. Blanchett’s was also a statement of a different kind.

The ceremony was saved from being a complete and utter bore because Gravity didn’t win Best Picture after nabbing most everything else. However, maybe that was foretold by the fact that it didn’t have a writing nomination.

Glad, Cuaron got to speak his entire piece when his turn came again.

Not the most memorable broadcast, but maybe more exposure to the crop will make it stand out. Dallas Buyers Club rose big time in my estimation.

Foreign language Film Issues 2013: A Simple Plan (Part 5 of 5)

A Simple Plan

I didn’t initially think of a plan to propose for this year, but a rather simple solution came to mind. I think that using the existing rule about qualifying American of English-language films with regards to running time and a one-week engagement in Los Angeles (maybe for this category they can even add New York) that the Academy can shortlist some outstanding foreign films that have already gotten US exposure, and thus, hedge their bets about having some further interest in the potential pool of nominees. That would be Phase One.

Phase Two would, and could, operate in much the same way the foreign language submissions currently work. The US-released foreign films that could get shortlisted would likely encompass many of the nations that could benefit from additional submissions due to their history and high quality (France, Sweden, Germany, Japan, etc.) as well as those who may have multi-cultural populations and produce films in multiple languages (China, India, Belgium, Canada, etc.).

Essentially, this idea would be the smallest increase in eligible films of any I’d proposed. My first was the largest with a World-Cup-inspired merit system, the next also nearly doubled things. If a shortlist is, for the sake of argument 12 titles, this years submissions would be up to 88.

The Oscars do signify something, a much larger something to those whose eyes and ears are not glued to the process. I can’t argue that there isn’t prestige and that I don’t love the show. I have come to embrace the fact that Oscar winners are really about films easiest to build consensus around. Therefore, the committees, at least to some degree, operate correctly. What needs to be rectified is the fallacy that only one film per nation is worthy of Oscar consideration. The Oscars are the ultimate audience and judge so let them, add to the pot along with whatever films come their way via national committees.

The bottom line is that every year there’s a new facet I consider about the imperfections of the system. And, in fairness, based on what I’ve read, the Academy is working towards improvements on this category. I’m not sure that the entire membership voting on the winner is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s a change. More changes still need to be made, more things taken into consideration when pooling candidates as I think I’ve shown in a number of ways.

Foreign Language Film Issues 2013: Hollywood Rules (Part 4 of 5)

As has been the case in years past I will here look at some of the issues plaguing the Best Foreign Language Film nomination process at the Oscars. Since this year I am touching on a large array of interrelated topics I thought it best to post my thoughts in a series. To read the introductory post of the series go here.

This text picks up immediately where the last part left off.

Hollywood Rules

Oscar Envelope

It has been suggested that the Academy, or an offshoot thereof, should select the foreign films eligible. My newest suggestion will feature a compromise on that notion.

However, it is worthy of consideration of the fact that, no matter what amount of importance or disdain you view the Academy with, this is their awards. There was a time when the cinematic revolutions worldwide filled independently-owned movie theaters and had the college set watching and artsy-er breed of cinema, but times have changed. Therefore, taking a hard look at what the Academy is short-listing, and ultimately nominating and why, is something we and national committees should be doing. If the films being chosen with the Academy in mind is this just not cutting out the middle man? I’m not a fan of playing Devil’s advocate, which is what I was doing there, but I can’t find a lot of room to argue against it; save for the fact that I don’t care for it much and have an alternate idea, which will be presented in the final installment.

The Golden Globes, really?

Golden Globe Statue

If you follow critics and movie geeks on Twitter, or even if you just Google The Golden Globes and find some brutal op-eds on them you’ll see how dubious their nominating process is. This is excluding the fact that the membership is so small. Yet, even this much-maligned body accepts multiple nominations from nations, but the Oscars can’t?

Release

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The Academy this year disqualified Blue is the Warmest Color, which is a Palme d’Or winner and one of the most talked about foreign arthouse releases of the year solely on the basis of the fact that its release date IN FRANCE was too late.

One recent argument that has emerged is that a US release date should be a requirement. That has its pros and cons, but surely if a film has seen European festival dates and has already seen a US release that qualifies it, how can you disqualify it because of its domestic release date. It’s beyond counter-intuitive.

Eligibility for Oscars in Other Categories and Snubs

Central Station (1998, Sony Pictures Classics)

While on the topic of snubs that brings related topics this year. I’ve not yet seen the film, but have seen fairly universal raves and lauds for Lea Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in the aforementioned Blue is the Warmest Color. Due to the fact that the Academy has ruled said film ineligible for Best Foreign Language Film it is also ineligible for other categories.

Yes, there have been instances of foreign films being nominated for multiple awards: three instances jumping quickly to mind would be Amour (5), Central Station (2) and Fanny and Alexander (6) in all those cases those films were submitted as the foreign language selection for their respective nation, therefore, eligible in additional categories. Any snub this year can also write off any chance at nominations in ancillary categories.

Committee Submissions

O Palhaço (2011, Bananeia/Globo Filmes)

With all the case-studies discussed prior, and with most countries I’m sure; it’s a small body making the decision of which film to select. Whenever you’re dealing with a small body I get the feeling, even though I was offered no proof of it, that undue influences could affect outcomes. I’m not saying they haven’t; it’s possible. I think most people who watch film and know the mechanics understand that the “best” isn’t always sought out. Sometimes it’s the most commercial, sometimes the most “Oscar-friendly”, sometimes other factors can be seen as coming into play.

This series will conclude tomorrow with part 5.

Short Film Saturday: The Little Matchgirl (1996)

For a little more than 30 years, from the late 1920s to the early 1960s, you’d be hard pressed to find a year wherein the Academy didn’t nominate either Disney or Warner Brothers for Best Animated Short Film. Keeping that in mind, I decided instead to search out more latter-day Disney shorts that I may not yet have seen.

In this day and age the short film has to find new avenues to find audiences. Gone are the days of double-features and programs that were expected to include either and animated short or serial chapter and a newsreel. This short was included as a bonus feature on The Little Mermaid platinum edition DVD release, and is appropriately another Hans Christian Andersen tale.

The 85th Academy Awards

So to spare my friends And followers on social media I’ll be live blogging the Oscars here.

Thoughts may be more sporadic this year.

Red Carpet/Pre-Show

George Clooney is just naturally funny. Great stuff.

Audio issues. Yikes.

Once I heard Anne’s guess (about the mystery item) I knew she was right. That’s the first time she’ll win tonight.

Not sure it’s a gimmick that should stay, but an interesting wrinkle for this year.

Watched the countdown clock more than ever. That was an ordeal.

I wonder if Hugh Jackman gets tired of being referred to as Wolverine. He’s not actually Wolverine. He just plays him in the movies.

Didn’t see enough red carpet to pick a best dressed.

The Show

Love the profit joke and the Ben Affleck obviously.

Shatner!

Well, I expected sporadic updates just because I wanted to watch but that opening was spectacular!

Excellent speech by Waltz.

Got the first shot of Jack and the mandatory playing of the E.T.
theme in segment one.

Animated short was no surprise. I had a feeling it’d be nominated since I saw it.

Brave winning actually did surprise me. It was rather divisive and I was lukewarm on it. Animated films are deep right now, there were other viable winners, and better ones in my estimation.

Well, I expected those two to go to Pi. Miranda’s speech was memorable. The Rhythm and Hues comments by the VFX team had to come earlier. I expected them. Using the Jaws theme to play them off was just too funny.

Hair and Costume winners are always tough to figure. Very pleased with the results. Glad to see Anna Karenina get some love.

“Goldfinger” sounded amazing!

So the shorts just got announced. I didn’t see the short subject docs, but it was a good opportunity for an apropos stump speech.

As per usual, it would seem, my favorite live action short didn’t get the win. It makes Death of a Shadow even more marked in my mind. It’s a short I’ll remember.

Didn’t see any of the Feature Documentaries. Based on buzz I was expecting Sugar Man.

I know Affleck tried to pass it off as a joke, but he sounded kinda ticked off by the stupid Kardashian joke. I mean, I laughed, but I agree with MacFarlane, likely should’ve been dropped.

Had to wait 2 segments to update.

Thankfully, they had three musicals to draw upon for the past decade tribute. Musical theme plus Seth MacFarlane makes perfect sense, but musicals aren’t as prominent as they once were, clearly. They can still clearly work the Tatum-Theron dance was great at the start.

Obviously Les Mis would bring the house down. When you record live those songs live with you forever.

I don’t know the last time, if there ever was a tie, but that’s surely a historic moment. Glad that Skyfall, an action film took one of them. It’s a really well done work.

Argo owes much of its success to the edit. It moves along brilliantly. It’s not just about shot selection and cuts, but also pace. It’s a thriller at its core for all its other fenestrations, and it needed that edit to succeed.

Glad to hear “Skyfall” during the broadcast. Performing all the songs got too routine, but combining a Bond theme and allowing the song to be in the broadcast is definitely a highlight.

The Governors Award winners for this year is a varied field and a good one. Most notably to me is George Stevens, Jr. I was unaware he founded AFI. I staunchly support any organization that promotes and preserves film.

I was pulling for Anna Karenina again, but Lincoln winning the newly re-named Production Design is fine with me. Lots of great sets throughout bring that world to life.

The In Memoriam was well-handled. I hadn’t thought ahead to it. Amazing surprise having Streisand come out and sing in honor of Hamlisch.

So I was off and they added one more performance, the Norah Jones song in Ted</em that I'd forgotten about. A little awkward to go from saying you saw two, here's video of two more and another live. I thought it a toss-up between Skyfall and Les Mis. Glad Skyfall took it though. It’s an intrinsic and quintessential Bond song.

Best Original Score not my favorite choice of the night. Coul’ve picked any of the other four in that one and I’d be happy.

I was pulling for Lincoln but fully expected Argo.

However, the highlight of the screenwriting tandem was Quentin getting it. Right before it was announced I pleaded “Come on, this is the one other thing it can get!” It was likely my favorite win tonight because I shouted with glee. I didn’t expect it to happen.

OK, weird footnote: Ang Lee has now won Best Director twice. Will he have that distinction with no Best Picture wins? Life of Pi won in categories I expected it to until recently. Is it a fourth front-running candidate for Best Picture?

Very cool that Jack came out for Best Picture. And as for Michelle Obama announcing and speaking via satellite, great message.

So it turns out that quirky footnote happened. Argo won as the tea leaves have been showing.

I think the closing song would’ve worked better if both were former nominees who didn’t win.

Conclusion

I expected many of the awards but it was a greatly entertaining show. Unlike last year where I gave it a pass, I was biased here, being a MacFarlane fan and he delivered. He even got to get his favorite Sound of Music gag in, which I think is great. Basically, the new paradigm should be, regardless of sensibility, treat it like it’s your only shot to host. He and the writers knowledgeably poked fun at Oscar trends and patterns and occasionally ruffled feathers. It was great fun, especially as the musical theme gave it that air of gaiety and celebration.

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The International Scene (Part 6 of 17)

One can never really analyze all of international film during a given decade given the enormous scope and the amount of films released worldwide in any 10-year period. Certain decades have cinematic movements within given cultures; the 1960s are perhaps the most notable with the nouvelle vague influencing all of Europe. However, the 1980s is the time when foreign films started to have staying power. The art houses would soon be cropping back up and Americans started to be more willing to watch foreign films than ever before, even in the 60s watching Fellini and Truffaut was a sect of counterculturalism that was not universal.

The Academy Awards have always been a promotional event. The press has added a great deal of importance to them and the public have followed it making it consistently one of the highest viewed television programs every year. Thus, when the Academy, whoever they are, starts nominating foreign films in categories usually reserved for American films one needs to take notice.


In 1983 Fanny and Alexander, what was said at the time to be Ingmar Bergman’s last film, received six Oscar nominations and walked home with four of them. Ironically, the categories in which Bergman should’ve been given the awards (Director and Screenplay) were the ones they didn’t win.

Later on La Historia oficial an Argentine film was nominated for best screenplay in 1985. In 1988 Marcello Mastroianni was nominated for Best Actor in Dark Eyes and the screenplay for Au Revoir les enfants and the director of My Life as a Dog, Lasse Hallström, were nominated while Babette’s Feast won Best Foreign Language Film. Also, amongst the nominees was a great piece of Norwegian folklore that has been handed down over the generations called Ofelas.


Max von Sydow received an academy award nomination for his performance in Pelle the Conqueror which was in 1989, for a 1987 release. This was a film which won the Palm d’Or in Cannes, and it is truly one of the best films to come out of any country during the 1980s. It takes place at the turn of the century when Lasse (Von Sydow) and Pelle (Pelle Hvenegaard) arrive in Denmark from Sweden to try and find work for themselves. We follow their trials and tribulations that make us as the audience feel more and more sympathy for the characters as the film progresses. Part tragedy and part triumph, this is a beautiful film that rightly put Bille August on the map.


Of course, we also get Giuseppe Tornatore who’s one of the most talented directors in the world right now coming out with his first hit Cinema Paradiso. In France there was the cinema du look but the emerging nation of the 1980s was Brazil. 


Pixote, A Lei dos Mais Fraco (1982, HB Films)

While the film industry was beleaguered when the government cut off all funding for the arts during an economic crisis there were two big films that set the stage for the international success Brazil would enjoy in the 90s and 00s with films like O Quatrilho, Central Station and O Que e Isso Companheiro? (English title: Four Days in September), A Partilha and Bicho de Sete Cabeças. First, there was Pixote a powerful film about juvenile delinquents from the favelas of São Paulo, of which none were professional actors. It’s a gut-wrenching dramatic experience and an amazing piece of simulacrum; in a sense the Brazilian neo-realist film. The film is told in two parts: first, we see the minors and their struggles in the juvenile camp. Second, there’s a break and they escape and we see their life on the street. Hector Babenco, a naturalized Brazilian, struck home by portraying poverty and crime as well as bureaucratic corruption as it was never seen before in Brazil. It ever landed on many American top 10 lists.


Meanwhile, Arnaldo Jabor’s Eu Sei Que Eu Vou te Amar is a direct victim of the government’s cutting artistic funding and they had to work on practically no budget. This film demonstrates not only the power of editing but also of fine acting. There are only two actors in this film and they are great so much so that Fernanda Torres won Best Actress at Cannes in 1986. We meet the two main characters and they have a discussion and an argument about their relationship why they got divorced. There are flashbacks and a video monitor with the actors on them represents their inner-monologue. The dialogue in this film is fantastical. There’s a stream of poetry that come out through these inner-monologues that is just perfect and the arguments are intelligent and not just bickering. The film is absolutely riveting and is as the blurb describes “a psychological playground” that only suffers from the hallucinogenic end.


International cinema finally made its presence felt for good in the nation that influences the world. Whether negatively or positively most cinematic movements around the world are reactions to Hollywood, and the constant presence and acceptance of international cinema is a necessity to the vitality of American cinema.

2013 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animation

One thing I most definitely praise the Academy as well as the sponsors who help bring this showcase to being (DirecTV, AT&T and Shorts HD) is that they are bringing the Oscar nominated shorts to a wider audience, whereas before you were in the dark and few, if any of these shorts, had any life beyond the ceremonies. Not to mention the fact that they’re now being sold on iTunes too.

The animated slate screened first this year, and it’s an even stronger field than last year. Especially when you consider that none of the nominated films has any significant dialogue. One merely had a news broadcast on TV, which is of no consequence.

Fresh Guacamole

Fresh Guacamole (2012, PES)

This could well be the most creative of the nominees, but while there is abundant cleverness in the replacement of literal props with representative artifacts, its brevity and simplicity may be to its detriment considering the other nominees.

Adam and Dog

Adam and Dog (2011, Minkyu Lee)

This is a very well-drawn and interesting depiction of the first dog and the first man, which is very poignant.

Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels (2012, National Film and Television School)

Is perhaps the most moving of the selections. As opposed to a short like Reverso, which I featured on a short film Saturday, here you get a very literal metaphor for the unusual upside-downness of the world.

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare (2012, Gracie Films)

Here you have a nomination that hearkens back to yesteryear inasmuch as it is a notable lead from a popular stable of characters in this short tale. As you might expect from Matt Groening there is a lot of intelligence and humor in this short, but also a very cinematic sensibility.

Paperman

Paperman (2012, Disney)

Walt Disney Animation Studios is also nominated for this charming little short that they had play prior to the start of Wreck-It Ralph. It’s another coup for the studio pushing the company brand to greater heights. I likely have little pet peeves about each of these shorts, this one is the largest though.

Highly Commended Selections

To fill out the program there is usually a selection of Highly Commended shorts. This year’s crop isn’t as strong overall if memory serves.

The Gruffalo’s Child

The Gruffalo's Child (2012, E1 Entertainment)

I didn’t really care for the original, and like this one less so. As beautiful as the animation is, and as much as I appreciate the technique, the storytelling is too basic and stilted in its storybook predictability.

Dripped

Dripped (2011, ChezEddy)

It’s a creative idea that doesn’t feel quite as fully developed as the others.

Abiogenesis

Abiogenesis (2011, Fuzzy Realms Media)

Of the three selections, this is by far the best and presents the double-edged sword of including Highly Commended films because I honestly don’t understand how this film wasn’t nominated. It’s sheer brilliance.