Monday, 22 December 2014

SOUTHEASTERN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION CHOOSES THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


Another coup for The Grand Budapest HotelWes Anderson's comedy-drama has won its second Best Picture award of the season, and it's its second major critics group win too. The Southeastern Film Critics Association has chosen the film for not only its top award, but for its Original Screenplay and Ensemble awards also. That puts it ahead of closest competitors Birdman and Boyhood with this group as well. Here are all of the details:

Best Film
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Boyhood
3. Birdman
4. Whiplash
5. The Imitation Game
6. Gone Girl
7. Snowpiercer
8. Nightcrawler
9. Foxcatcher
10. The Theory of Everything

Best Director
1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
2. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Actor
1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
2. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Best Actress
1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
2. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Best Supporting Actor
1. J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
2. Edward Norton (Birdman)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
2. Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Best Original Screenplay
1. Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
2. Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
2. Nick Hornby (Wild)

Best Cinematography
1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
2. Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Ensemble
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Birdman

Best Animated Film
1. The LEGO Movie
2. Big Hero 6

Best Documentary
1. Life Itself
2. Citizenfour

Best Foreign Language Film
1. Force Majeure
2. Ida

The Gene Wyatt Award for the Film that Best Evokes the Spirit of the South
1. Selma
2. Cold in July

OBIT - BILLIE WHITELAW


An acclaimed actor and key figure in all fields of British dramatic arts, Billie Whitelaw has died, aged 82. Known for her work on stage and screen, both big and small, and also for her radio performances, the talented beauty will perhaps be best remembered for her collaborations with playwright Samuel Beckett. Alongside her celebrated interpretations of his works, she starred in films such as Gumshoe, Frenzy, The Omen, Maurice, The Krays, Quills and Hot Fuzz - her final role. Her career brought her awards from BAFTA and NSFC. Whitelaw passed on the 21st of December in a London nursing home. She is survived by her son, Matthew Muller.

REVIEW - CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (OLIVIER ASSAYAS)


An actor unravels as she prepares to abandon her youth and embrace her maturity, reassembling herself in the process, in Olivier Assayas' unintentionally (though appropriately) stagey Clouds of Sils Maria. Identity unspools and reconfigures itself as her environment, her acquaintances, her actions, resulting in a ripe, generous inquiry into the very nature of this figure, played by Juliette Binoche with an inspiring dedication. Assayas' inquiry is at once indefinite yet too neat and precise, the cinematic literacy he employs in exploring it at once varied yet trite. He communicates the answers to the questions he poses in analysis, specifically of the fictional dramatic text which Binoche's character is rehearsing, thus often drawing the answers back upon their origins in the banal connections he draws between fiction and reality. Clouds of Sils Maria is a literal, verbose film, but one that can't actually verbalise its own purpose, beyond serving as an examination into a mind and body on the tipping point between youth and old age, past and future - in short, the present. The gentle touch that Assayas uses in suggesting the effects of time on identity, and on our perception of life itself, is perfectly suited to its material - the film glides through its timeline like the Maloja Snake, sidling past momentous moments, in blissful naivety. Although his dialogue offers plenty for his actors to mull over and chew upon, Sils Maria is at its strongest when it operates primarily on a visual level, with Assayas' cumbersome, florid script gutting many scenes of their credibility. Binoche is the only actor to truly make her lines sound viable within the context of her character; she gives a forceful, indelible performance. Kristen Stewart's innate spontaneity as a performer jars with the over-rehearsed nature of her own lines, though she too does an effective job.

REVIEW - BEYOND THE LIGHTS (GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD)


There must be stronger scenarios on which to construct an honest, probing examination of female pleasure, of its origins, its qualities and the freedom that it can engender. Gina Prince-Bythewood's melodramatic music industry set-up is pure hokum - its aspirations are so noble that it can't even admit to its own hysteria - but it's an entertaining set-up, and a more fertile one than it appears on paper. Prince-Bythewood hits all the correct targets, if one conducts the simple task of examining what's driving her narrative, rather than just succumbing to its dramatic appeal, and supplies us handsomely with the aforementioned honesty and probing. She is attuned, most specifically, to the experiences of womanhood under duress, in periods of change and distress. Beyond the Lights offers a fascinating (although uniformly underdeveloped) array of intimate relationships - professional, personal, romantic, familial - and posits that only truth and love are capable of cleansing one's relationships of their harmful effects, or of purging one's life of those relationships altogether. See what I meant about hokum? It's easily digestible stuff, actually, only I wish it weren't so: cumulatively, all that Prince-Bythewood assembles in creating a vivid, thorough persona for her leading lady often feels defined by its position within her high-camp scenario, and it's wholly possible to interpret Beyond the Lights as no more than a throwaway glitzy romance. Any interpretation could identify the gauche inaccuracy with which the contemporary pop music industry is depicted; equally, any could identify the dazzling charisma of Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead role, and the vibrancy of Minnie Driver as her mother. Both actors hit a perfectly sweet spot between the complexities of the parts they could be playing and the sentimentality of the scenario those parts have been set within.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

ALAN RICKMAN'S A LITTLE CHAOS - TRAILER


Despite obvious awards potential on paper, Alan Rickman's first turn at directing, A Little Chaos, failed to ignite much interest upon premiering at TIFF earlier this year; a 2014 run was not pencilled into the schedule, and instead the film will reach American theatres on the 27th of March, British ones on the 17th of April next year. Here's the first trailer for the film - truthfully, I'm only posting it because it has Matthias Schoenaerts and Kate Winslet in it and that's quite enough reason for me.

TEASER TRAILER FOR KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER


Best known for reaping a pair of surprise Spirit Award nominations last month, David Zellner's Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter reaches theatres next year on the 20th of February in the UK and the 13th of March in the US. That's after completing an extremely lengthy festival run which has lasted the entirety of 2014, having begun way back at Sundance in January. This is the first trailer for the Rinko Kikuchi starrer, which has garnered some very positive reviews from critics on the fest circuit.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

REVIEW - WINTER SLEEP (NURI BILGE CEYLAN)


If Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep leaves little opportunity for interpretation, it does not deny its viewer opportunities to derive from it a subjective experience. Should you choose, at almost any point, to allow for a lapse in focus, your understanding of his lengthy, largely hypothetical discussions, could be altered momentously. That's a flattering way of putting the fact that Winter Sleep is dense and draining, but such is the insight of Nuri and Ebru Ceylan's prose, and such is its pervasiveness through this long film that its artistic and philosophical merit are undeniable. Philosophically, in particular, Winter Sleep is a work of great significance - it is appropriate, then, that it should not operate as a work of show-stopping immediacy but as one whose value may only be discernible decades from now. Ceylan delves deep into the minds of his characters, deeper than necessary, perhaps, to dank little crevices therein, exposing thoughts and emotions that make for fascinating analysis, if one can surrender oneself to the process of gravely intellectual pontification for three hours (it takes that long, to be fair, and the intricate subtleties of Ceylan's filmmaking never let the pacing sag). They end up revealing a lot more about themselves than anyone else might ever care to know, and are considerably more interesting in so doing when revealing details about one another and refraining from excessive self-analysis, though we're never in doubt as to the reasons propelling their actions. The film may have benefitted from a sense of reason behind quite why they choose to burden themselves with these issues - it only makes sense from Ceylan's perspective, in the creation of a text whose purpose is to provide illumination on the rugged landscape of the mind, as complex and as foreboding as his beloved rural vistas, if a lot less equipped to embrace the viewer in what beauty they may uncover within.

GONE GIRL AND NIGHTCRAWLER REAP SURPRISE VICTORIES WITH NEVADA CRITICS


Nightcrawler seems to be the pace-setter for surprise success this awards season, not least because we've underestimated its chances so often. But it shares its unexpected victory at the Nevada Film Critics Society with another thriller, Gone GirlDavid Fincher's film defies the negative buzz to win the group's Best Film award - its first (and possibly last) this season. All the winners are below:

Best Film
Gone Girl

Best Director
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Best Actor
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Best Actress
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Best Supporting Actor
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Best Screenplay
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Best Cinematography
Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar)

Best Production Design
Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Visual Effects
Interstellar

Best Ensemble Cast
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Animated Movie
Big Hero 6

Best Documentary
Citizenfour

Best Youth Performance
Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood)

BIRDMAN AND BUDAPEST ARE GRAND WITH FLORIDA FILM CRITICS CIRCLE


Boyhood may have led the Florida Film Critics Circle nominations earlier this week, but it came up a little short with their awards yesterday. Birdman took the top award, Best Picture, while the day's biggest victor, concerning number of awards won, was The Grand Budapest Hotelwhich bagged three prizes. Winners and runners-up can be viewed right here:


Best Picture
1. Birdman
2. Boyhood

Best Director
1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)

Best Actor
1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
2. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Best Actress
1. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
2. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Best Supporting Actor
1. J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
2. Edward Norton (Birdman)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
2. Emma Stone (Birdman)

Best Original Screenplay
1. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
2. Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
2. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

Best Cinematography
1. Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar)
2. Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Art Direction / Production Design
1. Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
2. Nathan Crowley (Interstellar)

Best Visual Effects
1. Interstellar
2. Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Score
1. Mica Levi (Under the Skin)
2. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Gone Girl)

Best Ensemble
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Boyhood


Best Animated Film
1. The LEGO Movie
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Documentary
1. Life Itself
2. Citizenfour

Best Foreign-Language Film
1. The Raid 2
2. Force Majeure

Pauline Kael Breakout Award
1. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
2. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle / Beyond the Lights)

BIRDMAN WINS BIG WITH LAS VEGAS FILM CRITICS SOCIETY


The Las Vegas Film Critics Society has announced an extensive slate of awards winners for films of 2014. The group is perhaps marginally among the more prestigious of the critics' awards, and they've mirrored some of the other recently-announcing groups in shunning Boyhood in the top awards, showing Birdman plenty of love instead. Here are all of the details:

Best Picture
1. Birdman
2. Boyhood
3. Whiplash
4. Nightcrawler
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Wild
7. Selma
8. The Imitation Game
9. Snowpiercer
10. Under the Skin

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)

Best Actor
Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Best Supporting Actor
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Supporting Actress
Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Best Screenplay
Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)

Best Editing
James Herbert and Laura Jennings (Edge of Tomorrow)

Best Art Direction
Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Best Costume Design
Alexandra Byrne (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Best Score
Antonio Sanchez (Birdman)

Best Song
'I Love You All' (Frank)

Best Ensemble
Birdman

Best Animated Film
The LEGO Movie

Best Documentary
Citizenfour

Best Foreign Film
Ida

Best Action Film
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Comedy
Top Five

Best Family Film
The LEGO Movie

Best Horror / Sci-Fi Film
The Babadook

Breakout Filmmaker of the Year
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Best Youth in Film
Jaede Liberher (St. Vincent)

William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award
Bill Murray