Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Towering Masterpiece "The Tourist" Given Its Due by HFPA

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Joining the ranks of such tours de force as "Bobby," "Nine" and of course Tom Shadyac's seminal "Patch Adams," the comedic spy thriller "The Tourist" was given the most prestigious and least ludicrous honor in the film industry this morning, garnering a Best Picture nomination from the Golden Globes.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association on Tuesday announced its selections of the best the film industry had to offer in 2010. While several high-profile films made the cut - among them "Black Swan," "Inception," "The King's Speech" and That One About Boner Pills and Parkinson's Disease - the one that seemed to leave all of them in the dust was "The Tourist," directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others"). As anyone who follows the film industry can attest, "The Tourist" was the defining film of an otherwise underwhelming year, and perhaps a generation as well. Deftly exemplifying the concerns of a world in tumult, the film was most definitely not savaged by critics and audiences alike, no matter what its 20 percent Tomatometer rating might suggest. In other words, rumors of it being a complete piece of shit have been greatly exaggerated.

One member of the HFPA put it another way: "Look," voting member Günther Henckel von Donnersmarck said, "if you combine ze Tomatometer ratings of 'Ze Tourist' und deine fellow Best Picture nominee 'Burlesque,' you almost have a Fresh rating. Look at it zat way, ja? Wir haben sehr sehr viel integrity."

Still, despite the self-evident qualities of "The Tourist" as both a great work of art and an entirely new way of looking at the medium, many philistines questioned its inclusion on the final slate of nominees. No one questioned the fact that it turned a mirror around on society and forced us to ask the most challenging questions about ourselves, our values, and of course our bodies; rather, it was the decision to designate the film a "comedy," rather than as the piercing human drama that it really is.

HFPA representatives scoffed at such criticism. Said voting member Sebastian Henckel von Donnersmarck: "We have ze highest possible standards here at ze HFPA. In 'Ze Tourist' we saw a film zat deserved to be placed alongside zat movie where Robin Williams played a psychopath who stole children's medicine und zen put on a fake red nose und made everyone laugh until zey all died of terminal diseases."

Added fellow voting member Matthias Henckel von Donnersmarck: "That movie was both a great drama and a hilarious comedy! Ich liebte es!"

There are those in the critical community who supported the film and no doubt are overjoyed at its inclusion in the year-end awards race. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said of "The Tourist": "It's a knockout! It'll have you begging for more! It's a whiz-bang action crackerjack! Wow! ****! Irresistible! You'll love it! Jaw-dropping! This is why we go to the movies! Spellbinding! It sneaks up and floors you! Dazzling! It's a dazzler! Wow!"

And Armond White of the New York Press effusively praised "The Tourist" thusly: "'Black Swan' sucks."

But the majority of bloggers and film critics can't see a timeless, ahead-of-its-time masterpiece like "The Tourist" for what it is and simply accept that it's getting exactly what it deserves, and so continue to pan the selection, pointing to so-called "more deserving" comedies and/or musicals such as "Greenberg," "Toy Story 3," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," "Please Give," "Date Night," "Tangled," "Tamara Drewe," "How to Train Your Dragon" or "pretty much any other movie that came out except that one with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp."

Many have claimed that the selection further de-legitimizes an award show that has a reputation for questionable selections and an over-emphasis on star power - "The Tourist," starring arguably the two biggest stars in the industry, being a classic case in point. Some might even wonder if anyone in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has even seen the fucking movie.

"Ja," said voting member Wolfgang Henckel von Donnersmarck, who wishes to remain anonymous. He added: "But OK, OK, ve admit ve never saw 'Bobby.' Es tut mir leid!"

The Golden Globe Awards will be presented sometime in January when you'll probably be busy doing something else and forget about them and then end up just looking for all the funniest Ricky Gervais bits on YouTube.

One prominent HFPA member, Maximilian Henckel von Donnersmarck, insisted that the association has nothing but the greatest artistic integrity in mind when putting together its nominations. "Wir haben nichts aber die grösste künstlerische Vollständigkeit im Verstand, wenn wir unsere Nennungen zusammenfügen," he said, adding, finally, "Können Sie mir sagen, wo der Bahnhof ist?"
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Monday, November 1, 2010

THE Tracklist for Sufjan Stevens's 'Utah'

Back in the glory days of The Salt Shaker magazine, the staff named Sufjan Stevens's Illinois the no. 1 album of 2005. In honor of the occasion, Brent Sallay got the scoop of the Century: the official track listing for Sufjan's Utah. Sure, Sufjan recently called his 50 States Project a joke and a gimmick. And having only covered Illinois and Michigan in the past seven years, he may not be on pace to finish this thing in the next century. But in honor of Sufjan's Salt Lake City show tonight at Kingsbury Hall, here is Brent Sallay's classic list:

Sufjan Stevens Says, "Utah— They Really Laid This Place Out Well"

1. To the Pioneers Who Settled in Magna by Accident

2. To the Five Polygamist Wives in Colorado City That I Saw Once at an Arby’s

3. The Great Salt Lake Divide, or “This Is the Place,” or “No, It Isn’t,” or “Yes, It Is,” or “Dude, Seriously,” or “If You Build It, They Will Come.”

4. Mormons in Danger!!

5. At the Point of Your Mountain, I Will Meet You, I Will Meet You

6. The Jordan River

7. To the Frail Old Lady Who Couldn’t Cross the Street Because All the Orange Flags Were on the Other Side

8. Steve Young, Move Back to Utah Please!!!

9. The Great TRAX Massacre of 2027— Which Will Have Occurred by the Time Sufjan Stevens Gets Around to Making This Album

10. Onward Olympic Soldiers!

11. A Five-Second Interlude That Pales in Comparison to the Experience of Actually Witnessing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Person, or “I Lost My Wallet at Temple Square, Can You Please Help Me Find It?” or “Missionaries, Look Elsewhere! I Have Already Found Jesus!”

12. Exclamation Points! Placed Incongruously Throughout !!! a Sent!ence That Is Already Suffic!iently Exclamatory! Without!!!!! Them (Sorry, that was a cheap shot.) (!)

13. President Bush Visits!

14. What a Kind Bunch of Lads at the Salt Shaker Magazine!

15. Democrats Attack!! Oh Me, O My!!

16. Lay Thy Head on My Pillow, Rocky Anderson, Cry Thy Tears on My Shoulder, Olene Walker, We Carry On and On Until That Great Millennial Day
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Go Gay: A Serious Academic Discussion in the Form of a Top-5 List

The great Buster Keaton, coming straight at you
and ready to pounce.

About a month ago, David Quin of the Free Ed Podcast began to populate his Twitter feed with a long list of men for whom he'd "go gay." We're talking about a long list. It might have been faster for him to name those who didn't make the list.

Anyhow, THE FUTURIST! and I concluded that we too should make top 5 "Go Gay" lists in Mr. Quin's honor. And after quite a bit of wishy-washy delay, our lists are here. There may be one or two differences in eligibility requirements, no doubt because we kept changing them (I had down that all the honorees would be from the cinematic arts, but THE FUTURIST! included an author), but both our lists are now live. Read THE FUTURISTS!'s here and read mine below.

The white stuff in his face came out
of that thing in his mouth.

Jean-Paul Belmondo
We all know that Belmondo has some impressive facial contortions up his sleeves, and I don't see how that couldn't come in handy in the bedroom. But that's not why he made the list. No, he made it for his assured presence, his ability to be suave one moment and silly the next, without ever losing his sexual aura.

The touch, the feel…

Joseph Cotten
Among the many men on Mr. Quin's list was any-era Orson Welles (despite THE FUTURIST!'S concerns that older Welles would crush Quin). But I'm oriented more toward Welles's friend and colleague at the Mercury and beyond. You can tell that Cotten knows how to treat a fellow. He'd make me feel safe, and I'd let him do whatever he wanted to me, trusting that I was in good hands.

Jessica Mathews: "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper with Joseph Cotten, especially when we have to work late alone together at night."

Me: "Get him a little drunk."

Jessica: "Maybe a lot."

"He may have starred in 'The Third Man' but he's the first man whose mouth I want to put my balls into" — TJ Fogelsanger

Speaking of which…

Keaton's pioneering of tea-bagging has
been woefully overlooked.

Buster Keaton
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to me for more than 38 seconds. Buster could stand erect while my facade fell down around him any time. There are a number of reasons for which to go gay for Buster, each of which would be a good enough reason on its own. He is a genius—both a master storyteller and innovative craftsman, and cinema IQ turns me on. And we all know how flexible he is. The man toured the country taking a licking on stage and was always back up and ready for more before you could shout for it. And there's no question he'll finish the job—if he can complete a take after breaking his neck, think what he can do while roughing it in the sack.

Sometimes Ewan makes one pray for a gust of wind.
Or: 120-proof Scotch

Ewan McGregor
That smile. That grace. That gentle yet rugged presence. Look at the way Ewan's eyes light up as he sings "Your Song" in "Moulin Rouge!" and tell me you don't swoon. You can't do it, can you? The man is simply dreamy, in the most sexual sense of the word. (Would that be wet-dreamy?)

"I don't know what's under the kilt. I only know I want it in my ass." —TJ Fogelsanger

The hand slightly obscuring his face only
makes me want him more.

Mark Ruffalo
Ruffalo, say it aloud. The name rolls off the tongue, just as I'm sure the man himself rolls off the tongue. Studly and unassuming, Ruffalo is always impressive, and never worried about proving himself. That's right, folks, he doesn't need to compensate for anything.

"I hope people try to give me a lobotomy just so I can hang out with Mark Ruffalo all weekend." —Jessica Mathews
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Claude Chabrol: 1930-2010

Claude Chabrol was so in love with movies that he never stopped making them. During the periods in which most filmmakers take a break or linger in development hell, he made movies. They were sometimes produced in unflattering or compromised circumstances, but nevertheless they were Chabrol films that held his cynical outlook, simmering tensions and challenging resolutions.

Between 1958 and his death on Sept. 12, 2010, he made around 50 films, contributed shorts to a few compilations, and directed several television episodes. Few other filmmakers (Woody Allen comes to mind) managed to maintain such a long prolific streak. Perhaps that's why the 80 year old's death comes as such a surprise. It seemed like he'd go on forever.

Chabrol started his career, as many other great French New Wave directors did, writing for the landmark film journal Cahiers du cinema. The year before he released "Le beau Serge" (1958) oft-cited as the first film of the New Wave, he co-wrote a landmark study on Alfred Hitchcock with fellow director Éric Rohmer, who died earlier this year. (Jean-Luc Godard and Jaques Rivette are now the only Cahiers New Wave directors still living.) Many cite the book as the work that prompted people to think of Hitchcock as an artist and not merely an entertainer.

Le beau Serge

Indeed, the master of suspense was artist's most famous influence. But if Hitchcock's films often brought extreme danger to ordinary situations, Chabrol found the danger lurking in ordinary life. His first two films, "Le Beau Serge" and "Les cousins" both featured characters who despaired over the random imperfection that governs life. These people had dreams and plans, and they crash hard when they realize just how far away they are from their ideals.

Lurking in many of his films were sly commentaries on the social divide, best embodied by 1995's "La cérémonie," starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert as an illiterate maid and the potentially mad postal worker who befriends her, respectively. Jacqueline Bisset plays the upper-class woman of the house, who is very sympathetic to her lower-class employee, yet completely fails to understand her. Chabrol often let his stories slip more and more out of control until reaching a most astounding conclusion, and "La cérémonie" is the most jaw-dropping example of all.

La cérémonie

These descriptions all sound a bit somber, and don't suggest Chabrol's sharp, dark and subtle sense of humor. He'd include witty and droll gags and trust the audience to notice them without being hit over the head. For example, during a torture scene in "Rien ne va plus" ("The Swindle"), a gangster can be seen napping in the background, his slumber undisturbed by the screams of pain. A close-up would have broken the rhythm of the scene and played the joke too hard. Chabrol was far too classy and subtle for that.

Perhaps what's most amazing about Chabrol's films is the balance he struck—he could be funny, disturbing and touching all at once. He was the most stately and classically formal director of the Cahiers group, but his films could never be called typical. They blended new techniques with old ones, humor with violence, and bold structures with touching characters.

Le boucher

His greatest masterpiece, "Le boucher," is about a romance between a butcher and a school mistress in a small town that's become plagued by murders. The film is terrifying at moments, but Chabrol had such great empathy for his characters that what, in most hands, would have merely been an excellent thriller becomes something deeper and truly moving. Even the simple use of a song, played over a black, credit-less screen after the film's conclusion, is hard-hitting, first-class storytelling. Pure Chabrol.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SDP 28: The Fine Wine Keeps on Aging

The good news about Episode 28 of the The Same Dame Podcast is that we don't have any more four-month-old podcasts in the queue. (It was recorded May 15.) The bad news is that that's only because we didn't record any episodes for a couple months.

We did, however, debut the Art-House Choo Choo, sure to be a favorite feature in all future podcasts, and offer our first-ever TV series review, of David Simon's "Treme." And we know you've been waiting for our "Iron Man 2" review before you decide whether to see it. It's here! And what's this "Metropolis" movie everyone's been talking about?

Stay tuned for some exciting July-recorded material, including a regular show and a very special San Francisco Silent FIlm Festival report, due out by May 2011. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SFSFF 2010: A Festival There Was

The Shakedown

Having haunted, amused and moved its audience with established classics and unknown treasures, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival came to a close Sunday, July 18. I published my definitive recap in Moving Pictures Magazine, and you may or may not also be inclined to explore my first and second sets of rambling on this very blog. My interviews with various festival guests and attendees will be featured in an upcoming podcast soon. Until then, here are some final thoughts on a great weekend.

Brownlow (aka God)
At Saturday's screening of "The Strong Man," the festival honored Patrick Stanbury and Kevin Brownlow of England's Photoplay Productions, which provided the lovely, restored 35-mm print of Frank Capra's classic, starring Harry Langdon. Brownlow also introduced Henry King and Sam Taylor's "The Woman Disputed," a 1928 melodrama starring Norma Talmage as a woman saved from a life of prostitution and caught in a love triangle with the two men who saved her. Both Photoplay films were accompanied by England's own Stephen Horne, whom—and you may have picked up on this if you've been playing close attention—I adore. While my favorite Horne accompaniment of the festival remained "Rotaie," he was effective conveying both Langdon's gentle humor and the emotional turmoil of a woman scorned by a hypocritical society.

Brownlow, 72, has dedicated his life to preserving and advocating silent film. Fernando Peña, the Argentinean archivist who discovered the missing footage from "Metropolis," put it best during his introduction to "Metropolis." He simply said, "We would not be here if it weren't for Kevin Brownlow."

Brownlow would still be a forever-important cinema historian if he had quit in 1968 after writing the essential book The Parade's Gone By, which recorded first-hand accounts from filmmakers and actors who defined the silent era, before their stories were lost to time. He went on to direct a collection of definitive documentary series about the silent era, including studies of the Hollywood and European film industries and biographies of D.W. Griffith and the three best-known silent clowns.

He not only championed Abel Gance's "Napoleon," he devoted his life to the quest of compiling the most complete version of the film. I spoke with Stanbury told me that he no longer thinks it impossible for Photoplay's "Napoleon" restoration to screen in the United States. The film has been mired in rights issues—Francis Ford Coppola purchased the US rights to the film and in 1981 released an edited, sped-up version of the film; while Brownlow commissioned a score by Carl Davis that accompanied the full film at the time. He continued to add and upgrade footage, while the USA releases stagnated. Now, however, Stanbury thinks its possible to bring the current, most complete restoration to the USA. "We just need someone with a big checkbook," he said. "And I hope you're that person."

The 15th festival was the first that Brownlow attended, and he was especially impressed with the festival program. The text in the festival booklet is not your typical plot synopses, but meticulously researched essays about the films and the personalities behind them. Slideshows in the auditorium before each film augment the presentation further with archival photos and anecdotes. Individual writers take on each film, and no film gets neglected in favor of the big names.

The Big Guns
The big titles included Dziga Vertov's experimental Russian classic "Man with a Movie Camera." The Alloy Orchestra's score, based Vertov's notes on how he felt the film should be accompanied, is very well known and has been released on DVD. But it reached new, pounding heights as the film chugged toward its rapid-fire visual climax. Even comedian Ron Lynch ("Home Movies"), the usually deadpan voice of SFSFF, was still a bit stunned when he made his post-movie announcement.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra only accompanied one film this year, but it was a good one: G.W. Pabst's "Diary of a Lost Girl. The Orchestra used its usual blend of historically accurate, artistically dead-on cues to give voice to what may be Brooks's most emotionally moving performance.

Diary of a Lost Girl

The Musicians
Part of the joy of SFSFF is the many different types of accompaniment offered.

SFSFF's first ever panel discussion illustrated how different the approaches to silent film music can be. During the discussion, even Dennis James and Rodney Sauer of the Mont Alto Motion Picture orchestra had disagreements, and they were arguably the two most philosophically aligned musicians present. Throughout the discussion, James stood out as the firmest set in his opinions. His disagreement with Sauer was based around comments that most silent movies didn't have one uniform score, as accompanists compiled scores from their own libraries and only used the cue sheets for reference, rather than as a rule. Sure some films had scores commissioned for their premieres, but they usually didn't travel too far. But James countered that if a film has an existing score, it should indeed be used as accompaniment.

My own opinion is one of "whatever works." I love to see the historically accurate work of James and Mont Alto—it's a tradition that needs to be carried on by future generations. But I never hesitate to delve into the kind of stuff that purists cry fowl over. Ultimately, it comes down to connection. If music with more modern flavor helps an audience connect to a film in a way that they could never connect to a 1930s sound film, more power to the musicians. Anything that keeps the films living and breathing, and is made with careful attention to what's on screen, is fine by me.

The, Uh…Smaller Guns
Of the festival's lesser-known entries, "The Flying Ace" was the weakest. The 1926 film is most interesting as an example of a film with an all-black cast. And that cast is, in fact, absolutely charming. Unfortunately, it can't prop up writer/director Richard E. Norman detective story, which plays like a half-baked Encyclopedia Brown story. On top of the poorly structured non-story, Norman lacked any innovation or imagination to get around his low budget, making for some painfully rigid action.

Bu Wancang's 1931 film "The Spray of Plum Blossoms was a fun showcase of one of China's great stars, Lingyu Ruan. The Two Gentlemen of Verona-inspired plot flies off the rails and goes all Robin Hood in the third act, but remained highly entertaining. The film's best bit of humor comes when the new Robin Hood figures explains to his band of thieves the new principals they must live by. Everyone is down for taking from the rich and giving to the poor and all that, but he starts to lose them with the concept of not raping women.

The Spray of Plum Blossoms

While by nature a B boxing picture, William Wyler's second (and youngest surviving) non-Western film "The Shakedown" is a remarkably made, thoroughly entertaining tale of a man being reformed by a cute kid and a good woman. (Although I'm not sure how well-received a man who takes a young boy into his home would be in our modern world.) Pianist Donald Sosin offered his best accompaniment of the festival, quickly maneuvering through the movie's light-hearted flight and melodramatic overtures.

Even the most hard-core of silent film buffs hadn't seen the festival's closing film, "L'heureuse mort," a 1924 French film by Russian Immigrants, directed by Serge Nadejdine. But many were singing it's praises at the end of the festival. The amusing farce builds around the old concept that artists (in this case a playwright) become more appreciated after their death. I found the film well-made, but idiotic in its plotting, which would have worked better spread across a shorter timeline. To be honest, don't think I've ever seen a silent French comedy that completely wowed me. Maybe I just don't have the suspension of disbelief to enjoy the idiot plots that so many of the films rely on.

At the closing screening of L'heureuse mort," Leonard Maltin recalled the life of the late great film archivist and writer William K. Everson, whose eclectic programs often contained films that nobody had heard of. Yet despite their obscurity, they drew large crowds because people trusted Everson to show them fascinating films. He'd built that kind of relationship. Maltin said that the bodies that packed the Castro Theatre that night were evidence SFSFF had built a similar relationship with its loyal attendees. Most people in the theater hadn't heard of "L'heureuse mort." It's not a film school staple like "Metropolis"—it isn't on DVD and before the festival it didn't even have five votes on IMDb. No name directors or stars were promised. But the old movie palace still filled with eager movie lovers, ready for one more fix of dreamlike cinematography, virtuoso filmmaking and magical music that brings each frame to life as it flutters through the projector.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

SFSFF 2010: Diary of a Silent Film Junkie

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival continues to chug away, giving audiences so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that they hardly have time to update their damn blogs. I'll be publishing a more coherent festival overview for Moving Pictures Magazines, but here are some random tidbits about festival goings on.

The "Metropolis" restoration has been playing across the country for a couple months now. Hell, it's even played in Salt Lake City. And yet it packed the theater—many people were turned away. I myself thought I wouldn't really have seen the new version until SFSFF. Why watch it at some sterile screening with a recorded score when you could see a living, breathing version at the Castro Theatre? The oft-praised, oft-derided Alloy Orchestra played the new version of its score, a pouncing, driving piece that married with the image to create an enthralling experience, especially at the end of the second "Intermezzo" act, with its fever dream of debauchery and betrayal. Kino has decided to include the score as an alternative to the original score, and having seen the restoration with both options, I anticipate using the Alloy Orchestra track more often.

In less favorable Kino news, they've only been distributing the film digitally, and inexplicably this limitation was extended to SFSFF. Prints for other films were obtained from archives that never lend out prints, yet we couldn't see the restored "Metropolis" in its original format. Incredible. Fortunately Alloy still made the screening unforgettable.

The film screened Friday night, and the heroes of the evening were the Argentineans who discovered the nearly complete version of the film, Fernando Peña and Paula Félix-Didier from Buenos Aires. Much of the media coverage of the discovery and restoration didn't give them the credit they deserved, perhaps because it filtered through press releases by the F.W. Murnau Siftung in Germany, where the film was restored.

The discovery was no fluke—Peña first suspected that the national film archive had a print of the full film 20 years before he got his hands on it. He was refused access for years, until Félix-Didier took over that film museum and they finally examined the print and promptly confirmed that it was what he suspected.

It started when Peña spoke with a man who recalled holding his finger in the projector for an entire screening of "Metropolis," pressuring the gate to stop the image from flickering. "I held it for two and a half hours," the man told him.

"Are you sure it was that long? I don't think I've ever seen a version of 'Metropolis' that long" Peña asked him.

"Yes, I will never forget how my finger felt."

Peña then started researching. He discovered Argentina was the only country besides Germany that showed the original cut of the film, because the Argentinean distributor bought it soon after its completion. It appeared that a silent collector bought a print in the 1930s, and then left it to the country's public film archive after his death.

It's a bit overwhelming to consider the number of iconic cinema scenarios Fritz Lang crammed into "Metropolis." There are stunning futuristic skylines, a mad scientist bringing his invention to life in his laboratory, a suspenseful disaster escape, a slick and sinister badass henchman, a horrific chase through the catacombs, the list goes on. Of course these setups all existed in the silent era, but to see so many pop culture mainstays so skillfully produced in one movie is astonishing.

The festival opened Thursday night with John Ford's "The Iron Horse," an epic western about the building of the transcontinental railroad. It was a stately opener, with sweeping landscape photography, suspenseful chases and just enough political intrigue to add conflict to the story. In 1924, the period setting wasn't that distant, and Ford was able to create a very authentic, at times documentary-like feel. The film itself was a struggle to make, and the conditions its crew faced—sometimes in harsh snow—weren't that different for those endured in the mad quest to build the railroad. (They even had a brothel!) Accompanist Dennis James was in great form, boiling the film's drama and suspense along with the Castro Theatre's lovely built-in organ.

The party that followed in the building of sponsor McCroskey Mattress Company was full of light-hearted fun, including an old-timey band, a "Metropolis" photo booth and some slapstick stunts attempted by yours truly. ("They said it was OK to jump on the mattresses," James said).

At the party, Stephen Horne downplayed his upcoming performances. He told me he was a bit nervous about his upcoming performances, because none of the features he's accompanying, "Rotaie," "The Woman Disputed" and "The "Strong Man," lend themselves to the bold, bravura performances that have accompanied films like "Jujiro." "It's more like what I do back at home" (England), he said. "I hope people aren't expecting me to do it because it wouldn't be right for the films."

Of course, after all that, he completely killed in his performance of "Rotaie" the next evening. Horne has the ability to bring out the best in a film, to distill all its emotional twists and turns and help it float along with the audience. Playing flute, accordion and piano (sometimes simultaneously), he created an utterly unique soundscape. The film itself is a beautifully photographed expressionistic fable by Mario Camerini, about a poor, desperate couple in search of an escape from its problems. Camerini is largely known for his routine, unchallenging work throughout Italy's fascist regime, but in this film he's clearly inspired, injecting desperate foreboding into every shot and studying the divide between the classes.

The print came from an archive in Milan that doesn't lend it out very often. As with so many of the SFSFF selections, we were lucky to see it.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

SFSFF Celebrates 15 Years of Kicking Ass (Silently—gotta include a 'silent' joke)

The 15th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens tonight, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. There are plenty of great film festivals film that provide the rush of new discoveries, and there are other archival festivals that show rarer films than those on display this weekend. But there's something simply magical about watching a pristine print on the giant screen of the Castro Theatre, the city's gorgeous 1922 movie palace, with great live music (orchestral, organ, piano, etc.). The festival has left me with many great memories—the emotional rush of "The Man Who Laughs," Stephen Horne's gut-wrenching, draining score to "Jujiro," The sustained laugher of "Steamboat Bill, Jr.," accompanied by The Alloy Orchestra.

I first attended the festival in 2000, when it was a one-day event. And while I haven't made it every year since, I've happily monitored its growth, which has been remarkable. It's nearly quadrupled in duration, opening on a Thursday night and running through Sunday. There's a mini WInter festival now, too.

Both Horne and Alloy will be back this year. The Alloy Orchestra will debut the extended version of its "Metropolis" score (the band's first, although when they formed the movie was an hour shorter) to fit the newly restored version of Fritz Lang's masterpiece. Sadly "Metropolis" is the only film being projected digitally—thanks Kino. Alloy will perform its legendary accompaniment to Dziga Vertov's playful experimental classic "Man With a Movie Camera." Horne will take on "Rotaie," an expressionistic Italian film that will surely play to his strengths, as well as Frank Capra's "The Strong Man," starring Harry Langdon.

"The Strong Man" will also feature a tribute to Kevin Brownlow, a great writer, preservationist, documentarian and all-around advocate of cinema. Any award you can think to give him, he deserves.

Check out this preview by Brian Darr, the king of San Francisco movie-going. (His Twitter feed alone fills me with envy over San Francisco's reportory film scene. I ought to move!)
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SDP 27: Aged Like a Fine Wine

We're so thoughtful at The Same Dame Podcast. We could have released Episode 27 several months ago, back when we recorded it. But we know there's a Great Depression reboot going on, and funds are tight. So now that all the films we reviewed ("Kick Ass," "Date Night," "A Prophet" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") will be on DVD soon, it seems like a good time to post this episode. You're welcome!

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Cinema World Cup: England vs. Germany

England and Germany have announced their lineup for today's Cinema World Cup knockout round.


Bench: Crichton, Schlesinger, Park, R.W. Paul, L. Anderson, Gilliam, Boorman, Mackendrick, Ivory, Mitchell, Kenyon, Loach.

EMERGENCY UPDATE: Reserved yet devastating defensive midfielder Kubrick returns from injury! Powell drifts out wide as a defensive wing, Crichton sits, and Guy Ritchie no longer gets his WTF spot on the squad. The following text was written before knowledge of Kubrick's availability.

Not all of England's best have been represented, and many question the inclusion of the likes of forward Guy Ritchie while superior players like Paul Greengrass were left off. While Ritchie is certainly a weak overall player, his backers say that his audacious attacking play could prove pivotal if England go down and need a sub to add an unpredictable spark to the game. Also in question is the decision to play Chaplin as a lone striker. While he has an enviable five-man midfield behind him, many wonder if The Great Tramptator's ego and tendancy for theatrics will sink the team.

----------------Max Ophüls-----------------

Bench: Tykwer, Leni, Petzold, Ruttman, Schlöndorff, Ulmer, Wiene, Straub, Petersen, Reiniger, Fischinger, Veidt.

Germany would certainly welcome the clever playmaking of Austrian-born filmmaker Billy Wilder, who chose to play for his second adopted country instead. And despite his work in Germany, Austrian-American Josef Von Sternberg also capped for the USA. This is particularly unfortunate for Germany when you consider that England has two American-born players in its squad. Luckily, Germany have a formidable defense, with wingers Wenders and Murnau always ready to push up and help create chances. If they leave too much space, the last line of defense is goalkeeper Leni Riefenstahl, who's known to sacrifice herself and her future for the good of the team.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Last Cliffhanger: The End of LOST, Part I

Tuesday was the last day we will ever watch an episode of "LOST" and scream, "Holy shit, I can't wait for the next one!" ABC airs the final episode of "LOST" on Sunday and, barring an unexpected twist that there's a seventh season, that will be all Darlton wrote.

The art of the cliff-hanger ending involves suspense, audacity, mischief, mystery and, when you've mastered it as thoroughly as the "LOST" writers did, a giant question mark over what will happen next, how it will happen, how the story could even begin to sort itself out. Over its six seasons, "LOST" gave us some of the most enticing, brain-teasing, patience-testing conclusions in television history. Here are five of my favorite SHOW-ME-THE-NEXT-EPISODE-NOW "LOST" endings.

Jack Running Plays with Team Others ("Par Avion")
One of the great charms of "LOST" is that the writers are clearly having fun as they create, then subvert our expectations. We're invested in the characters, yes, but we're also watching for the fun of the ride. Few endings left me chuckling like that of season three's "Par Avion," in which Kate's insistence on returning to the Others' barracks to rescue Jack yields an unexpected result. Peering through the trees, she sees the notoriously stubborn leader in a game of football with Tom (aka Mr. Friendly) and a host of other Others. If that weren't odd enough, Jack's smiling and laughing! How the hell did that happen?

Not on the Plane ("Raised by Another")
The crazy French lady in the jungle had told Sayid that there were others on the island, but we didn't know how much stock to put in it because, you know, she was crazy. Then Hurley got the bright idea to complete a census and run it against Sawyer's flight manifest so that everyone would know who everyone is. But it turns out that this Ethan Rom fellow wasn't on the plane. Meanwhile, Claire thinks she's gone into labor and Charlie sent Ethan to get bring Dr. Jack back and deliver the baby. But Ethan returns all by himself, looking super-creepy in the rain. The others are real, and—for the first but not last time—they've got some kidnapping to do.

A Man Named Henry Gale ("Lockdown")
Sayid is the ultimate bad-ass, and his bad-assedness reached its pinnacle in season two. Blaming the Others for the death of Shannon, among other things, he was none to trusting of the prisoner in the hatch who claimed he landed on the island in a hot air balloon. In the epic "Lockdown," the man we now know to be Ben Linus, portrayed by the great Michael Emerson, at last convinces Locke that he is a trustworthy fellow named Henry Gale. Until Sayid shows up and delivers this awesome monologue: "We did find your balloon, Henry Gale, exactly how you described it. We also found the grave you described—your wife's grave. The grave you said you dug with your own bare hands. It was all there. Your whole story, your alibi, it was true. But still I did not believe it to be true. So I dug up that grave and found that there was not a woman inside. There was a man—a man named Henry Gale."

Which Way Are We Flashing? ("Through the Looking Glass")
"LOST's" trademark flashbacks had started to grow stale by the third season. We'd already familiarized ourselves with the main characters' hang-ups, and, with no commitment from ABC to let the series end in a timely fashion, head writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were obviously in no hurry to move the story along. Certain episodes were repetitive and the revelatory air had leaked out of the flashback's tires. Some people even suggested that the clumsily shot, scattered "Heroes" was going to surpass "LOST" in the hierarchy of serialized TV. But boy, did the end of the season prove them wrong. While "Heroes" meandered into a painfully routine ending that was only surprising for its lack of surprises, "LOST" geared up for a thrilling story arc that ended with an enticing shocker. We watched Jack bumble around drunk, bearded and thoroughly depressed in what we assumed was a flashback, even if his cell phone was suspiciously small. But holy shit! he's talking to Kate. They made it off the island? How? They have to go back? What? Hot damn.

The Fucking Nuclear Bomb Detonates ("The Incident")
Seriously, folks. No TV series has come closing to ending a season in as ballsy a manner the penultimate season of LOST concluded. Jack and company tried to execute Daniel Faraday's plan to erase their misery by detonating a nuclear bomb down the hatch in 1977, but darn, the bomb didn't go off and instead everyone was barraged with flying metal and general electromagnetic chaos, and Juliet fell to her doom. But wait, she's still alive down there, and she's gonna make that fucking bomb detonate if it's the last thing she does (and what are the odds it wouldn't be?). BOOM. Whiteness. Yes, the end logo is black-on-white instead of white-on-black. Could anything be wilder than that? Add in the episode's earlier revelation that long-living, now-dead Jacob visited several of our characters in the past and touched them in all the right places, and we've got to wonder what that touch did. Will time change, but they'll remember what happened in this timeline? Will the bomb transport them out of 1977? Or will the next season not flash back or forward, but sideways? SIDEWAYS! That's just silly. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

What are your favorites? That's what the comment section is for. (Well, that and sex-enhancing pill scams.)
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

William Lubtchansky: 1937-2010

William Lubtchansky looked through the lens of French cinema for four and a half decades. He died Tuesday, leaving a rich body of work that includes collaborations with such giants as Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Philippe Garrel and François Truffaut. Here are a few of his finest moments:

Garrel said this of he and Lubtchansky's sublime work in "Regular Lovers:"
William and I belong to the same generation, as does my editor, Françoise Collin. This film truly is a generational movie. We all identified strongly with this story. So we decided to exchange ideas often. And since we all have definitely reached the second half of our working lives, it depended very much on who was most awake at a given morning, and who liked to direct things. At our age we tend to group together more easily than we used to do. So in the film there are camera positions that are typically mine, and other framings that are more characteristic of William. We worked together like musicians, really: we had dialogues, like a jazz band that keeps improvising on what had been written. Whoever felt like playing, played first.

(From top to bottom: "Shoah," "Va Savoir," "The Creatures," "Nouvelle Vague," "Regular Lovers")
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SDP 26: Reboot Jeremy's Recently Released Kraken!

Episode 26 of The Same Dame Podcast (recorded 4/06/10) contains more movie reviews than we knew what to do with. "How to Train Your Dragon," "Greenberg," "Chloe," "Mother," "Green Zone," "Hot Tub Time Machine" and more. Plus, when did Hollywood start rebooting every franchise a couple years after its last movie? What the hell is going on?

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

George Lucas jizzed himself when he saw this commercial

Satire is a tricky beast. Brilliant satire is often misunderstood - sometimes (and certainly in this case) even by its own proprietor.

Case in point: the following 103 seconds of magnificence, which plays like the perfect argument against 3D. Pity no one told Samsung. I'm not sure whether to react with jeering mockery or sad disgust. Barthes would love this.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Top Ten List That Time Forgot: Chris Bellamy's 2009 Retrospective

I know, I know – we’re already 25 percent of the way into 2010! What the fuck, Bellamy? Well, unlike my esteemed colleague Mr. Mathews, who rushed right into naming his top films of the year in late February, I naturally felt that all these films needed to breathe a bit, needed to be absorbed into history, before I jotted them down on a list. Surely you must believe this had nothing whatsoever to do with procrastination or forgetfulness. Of course not! And so without further ado, the definitive, time-tested best films of 2009 (and hey, at least Jeremy got the top movie right):

1. You, the Living (Du Levande)
Directed by Roy Andersson

Allow me, if you will, to have my Geoffrey Gilmore moment. Picture me up on a stage, spotlight shining in my eyes, as I flex my masturbatory jowls. To begin: Once in a great while, something magical happens; a filmmaker comes along who ... well, who makes a film like “You, the Living.” A movie like this forces us to scoff at all those times, at one film festival or another, that we heard the typical bombast about someone’s “unique artistic voice.” In Andersson’s case, such a quality is self-evident. This, his second masterpiece of the decade following “Songs from the Second Floor,” explores the hilarity of grief and despair and the beauty of impending doom in a breathtaking style all his own. In its surreal, absurdist way, it somehow – amazingly, really – cuts to the anxieties of the human race. Fearful, desperate, self-absorbed, ruthless, fatalistic but, yes, even hopeful – and nothing if not profoundly human. In Andersson’s tragicomic vision of humanity, life can be the funniest thing you ever saw or the saddest thing you ever heard, even at the same time.

2. Inglourious Basterds
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

When Quentin Tarantino takes on World War II, he re-writes the rules for how to do a World War II movie. And when Quentin Tarantino re-writes the rules for World War II movies, that just might mean he re-writes World War II as a whole. Which is exactly what he did with “Inglourious Basterds,” an exhilarating genre cocktail about a charmingly sadistic S.S. sleuth, a band of gleefully unapologetic Nazi hunters, a German war hero, a vengeful Jewish gal and the grandest, most explosive movie premiere of all-time. It is virtuoso filmmaking at its funniest, ballsiest, most suspenseful and most playful. The man is a savant, and “Basterds” features some of the best filmmaking of his – or anyone’s – career. (And a landmark performance by Christoph Waltz doesn’t hurt, either.)

3. A Serious Man
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

If Kafka wrote the Book of Job, it might resemble something like “A Serious Man,” the Coen Brothers’ absurdist, allegorical masterpiece about one decent man trying to make sense of a world that has seemingly forsaken him. Imbued with the Coens’ pitch-perfect style and trademark wit, this is one of the finest films they’ve ever made – which is saying something. Do actions have consequences, as Larry (Michael Stuhlbarg) insists? Or, for that matter, inaction? Like Josef K., Larry – a collegiate physics professor – has seemingly done nothing, but everything seems to be going wrong for him, and neither family, clergy nor the passively sinister “serious man” Sy Abelman (“Let’s have a good talk”) can make sense of it. Then again, maybe the answer has been staring Larry right in the face all along: the uncertainty principle, proving that we can never really know what’s going on. Accept the mystery.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Directed by Wes Anderson

When a idiosyncratic, intensely personal film-geek darling like Wes Anderson suddenly decides to take the plunge into animation – old-fashioned stop motion, no less – and adapt a children’s book, we certainly stand up and take notice. But that doesn’t mean we expect a film quite as charming and perfect as “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which oddly enough may be his best work yet. Then again, his films have always had a storybook quality, so maybe it makes perfect sense after all. Anchored by a gorgeous and distinctive visual style (including the finest production design of 2009), the film makes a clever hybrid of heist movie, domestic comedy and Western, and Anderson ‘s palette doesn’t waste a single frame. The cinematic vocabulary he displays here (and challenges himself with) is eye-popping. Oh, and the film is funny as hell, too. I didn’t stop smiling for a second.

5. The White Ribbon
Directed by Michael Haneke

Speaking of challenging expectations, Michael Haneke does just that with “The White Ribbon,” which (like his masterpiece “Cache”) confronts, questions and subverts his audience’s assumptions about a series of strange happenings in a pre-World War I German village - a series of happenings that may not be as clear-cut as we’re inclined to think. The graceful strokes with which Haneke builds his almost unbearably suspenseful tale make the film at once subtle and confrontational. The film is a penetrating allegory of the way societies behave; the way societies are built. With it, Haneke proves that no one can deconstruct the way movies function quite the same way he can.

6. Lorna’s Silence

Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Simply put, the Dardenne Brothers aren’t interested in the same characters we see in other movies, and good for them. Their films are richer for it. Their characters typically exist on the fringes, in the background of where we at the movies are usually looking. They’re usually navigating an impossible moral or ethical crisis that may or may not have a solution, or a right answer. Such is the case with the title character in “Lorna’s Silence,” a fascinating portrait of a young woman trying to gain Belgian citizenship, but getting herself into a situation far more emotionally complicated than she could have expected. What is so beautiful about this and other Dardenne protagonists is that they constantly surprise us with their behavior, their emotions, their reactions; they constantly surprise themselves, and, we might assume, might even surprise the Dardennes, too.

7. Up
Directed by Pete Docter

All you need to know about the level of filmmaking that exists at Pixar is in a three-minute montage early in their latest classic, “Up.” In fact, all you need to know about a lot of things is captured in there. Tracking the entire arc of one couple’s lifetime together, it is a magnificently dense, poetic piece of filmmaking in and of itself. (During this sequence, the film geek in us can't help but be reminded of the visual language of great silent cinema and the style of Woody Allen.) If the entire rest of the movie had stunk, “Up” still would have been worth seeing just for those three minutes. Thankfully, the rest of the movie doesn’t stink – in fact, it’s tremendous fun, both a great adventure story and a great screwball-ish buddy comedy.

8. Goodbye Solo

Directed by Ramin Bahrani

A sublime portrait about two men at very different stages in life. There’s Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane, in the year’s best lead performance), the optimist who sees the very best of what life can be, the very best of what is possible in America. And then there’s William, who’s in a much darker place. While we never discover exactly why, what he’s seen out of life has taken him toward a very different path and a very different conclusion about the world. The uneasy relationship that forms in an otherwise innocuous cab ride is a rather brilliant balancing act, as writer-director Ramin Bahrani refuses to cheat; both characters are so true to their nature that the scenes between them – becoming closer in one scene, more distant in the next – have a certain quality that is almost heartbreaking in its honesty. And as if the rest of the film weren’t great enough already, the final sequence puts a stunning cap on it.

9. Where the Wild Things Are
Directed by Spike Jonze

Whaddya know? Of the ten best films of the year, two were based on children’s books and adapted by prominent indie directors. Go figure. See? “Children’s” movies don’t have to be dumbed-down after all! Spike Jonze certainly proves that with “Where the Wild Things Are,” one of the most honest films about childhood I’ve ever seen – primarily because it understands the complexity and inexplicability of childhood experience and refuses to simplify it to placate a certain audience. Instead, it expresses those complexities with a beautiful interpretation of a story most of us are so familiar with – not only from the book we read as kids, but from all the times when we were kids that we acted out and wanted to get away, even if we didn’t necessarily know why. There are a number of incredible sequences in “Where the Wild Things Are,” but my two favorite ones seem to encapsulate the film best – first, when Max tells a sad, piercing story about vampires to his mother (only mildly conscious of its subtext) while she secretly types it up for safekeeping; and a scene near the end, when Max leaves the island and shares a distant look with Carol (James Gandolfini) that says what words can’t. Now that’s a fucking kids’ movie.

10. The Brothers Bloom
Directed by Rian Johnson

The movie that I grew more and more love and admiration for the more I thought about it was Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom.” As much as I liked it when I first saw it, I had some issues. By the time I saw it again, those issues not only seemed less important, but in some cases all but disappeared. Johnson is one of the most exciting young filmmakers to come along in some time – mainly because what he does is actual fucking filmmaking. Here, he gets the absolute most detail and mileage out of every scene. Whether it’s the deliciously self-conscious introduction of Robbie Coltrane’s character, or Rachel Weisz’ wry explanation of how not to get conned (with the masterful depiction of a clever card trick), or a simple shot of a despondent Adrien Brody, rest assured Johnson will enliven it with humor, charm, beauty and anything and everything else that smacks of pure cinema.


- “Sugar,” Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s wonderful and surprising portrait of a Dominican minor leaguer
- “35 Shots of Rum,” Claire Denis’ startlingly intimate character study, one of those films that makes you feel like you’re in the midst of family
- “In the Loop,” Armando Ianucci’s hysterically profane and biting satirical comedy about the bureaucracy and politics of politics
- “The Informant!,” Steven Soderbergh’s corporate spy comedy-cum-disturbing character study, bolstered by Matt Damon's brilliant performance
- “The Headless Woman,” Lucrecia Martel’s haunting, oblique story of a woman stuck in a surreal, post-accident blur, featuring the best pre-credit sequence of the year
- “Police, Adjective,” Corneliu Porumboiu’s dryly absurdist take on life’s grey areas, and the black-and-white thinking inflicted upon them
- “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow’s stunningly visceral depiction of bomb defusers in Iraq
- “Hunger,” Steve McQueen’s (not that one!) fascinatingly multi-faceted film centering on famed Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands
- “Sita Sings the Blues,” Nina Paley’s impressive animated feature about an old folk tale and the differing ways we interpret stories and history
- “The Class,” Laurent Cantet’s verite-style drama about classroom politics in inner-city Paris
- “Moon,” Duncan Jones’ striking and ambitious sci-fi drama, featuring a fantastic Sam Rockwell in a devastating portrait of a man who comes face to face with his own irrelevance
- “An Education,” Lone Scherfig’s loving and complex story of a teenage girl (Carey Mulligan in an Oscar-worthy performance) learning the hard way
- “Star Trek,” J.J. Abrams’ reboot that – well, let’s skip with the formal pleasantries, shall we? – just flat out kicks ass
- “Summer Hours,” Olivier Assayas’ poetic study of childhood memories and family legacies
- “Bright Star,” Jane Campion’s return to form, the beautifully depicted coming-of-age of Fanny Brawne and her relationship with John Keats
- “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” David Yates’ delicate balancing act between the comedy of teenage emotion and the spectre of impending doom

ALSO WORTH CHECKING OUT: “Il divo,” “Tyson,” “Thirst,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” “Still Walking,” “District 9,” “Knowing,” “Mary and Max,” “Brüno,” “A Perfect Getaway,” “The Hangover,” “Funny People,” “Adventureland,” “Drag Me to Hell,” “Just Another Love Story,” “Crazy Heart,” “Up in the Air,” “Black Dynamite,” “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” “Capitalism: A Love Story,” “Food, Inc.,” “Che,” “Revanche,” “Tulpan,” “Sin Nombre,” “Coraline,” “Gomorrah,” “Ponyo,” “Broken Embraces,” “Me and Orson Welles,” “Humpday,” “State of Play,” “Whatever Works,” “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men” and 50 percent of “Away We Go.”


1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Chris Weitz)
2. Nine (Rob Marshall)
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Michael Bay)
4. Year One (Harold Ramis)
5. Death in Love (Boaz Yakin)
6. Angels & Demons (Ron Howard)
7. The Informers (Gregor Jordan)
8. The Merry Gentleman (Michael Keaton)
9. Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola)
10. Surrogates (Jonathan Mostow)

HONORABLE MENTION: The OTHER 50 percent of “Away We Go.”

DISQUALIFIED: The dozen or so blatantly terrible horror movies (mostly remakes) that all blended together in my memory. Fuck you, Rob Zombie.


- Two movies that dressed up like a “Taxi Driver” pastiche but didn’t have the fucking balls to follow through: “Observe and Report” and “Big Fan”

- Penis of the Year: Ken Jeong in “The Hangover” (Sorry, Dr. Manhattan)

- Clitoris of the Year: Charlotte Gainsbourg in “Antichrist”

- The biggest collection of gaping plot holes and flaws, within a single movie, in the history of gaping plot holes: “Terminator Salvation”

- The most insufferably whiny main character ever written by a once-prominent filmmaker: Vincent Gallo in “Tetro”

- The David Mamet on Steroids Award: Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in “In the Loop”

And finally...


Lead Actor

1. Souleymane Sy Savane, “Goodbye Solo”
2. Matt Damon, “The Informant!”
3. Algenis Perez Soto, “Sugar”
4. Sam Rockwell, “Moon”
t5. Michael Stuhlbarg, “A Serious Man”
t5. Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

Lead Actress

1. Maya Rudolph, “Away We Go”
2. Arta Dobroshi, “Lorna’s Silence”
3. Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
4. Maria Onetto, “The Headless Woman”
5. Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Supporting Actor

1. Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
2. Zach Galifianakis, “The Hangover”
3. Tom Waits, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
4. Fred Melamed, “A Serious Man”
t5. Peter Capaldi and Tom Hollander, “In the Loop”
t5. Timothy Olyphant, “A Perfect Getaway”

Supporting Actress

1. Rachel Weisz, “The Brothers Bloom”
2. Melanie Laurent, “Inglourious Basterds”
3. Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
4. Ok-bin Kim, “Thirst”
5. Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SDP 25: Twildo! And No More Oscars*!

Episode 25 is the last episode of The Same Dame Podcast that will include Oscar discussion for…oh, about a year. Recorded 3/11/10, the episode covers the most rushed Oscarcast ever, the three most important releases from the early year and a certain sex toy inspired by Chris's most beloved book and movie franchise.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast (via iTunes if you like) so you won't miss our next thrilling episode.
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

2009 Ends Tonight: Live-Blogging the Academy Awards

It's that special time again, to let the Oscars bore, surprise and/or entertain us. Jeremy Mathews, Chris Bellamy and Jessica Mathews are here to tell you what to think of what you're watching while you're watching it. Producer Adam Shankman promises that this will be a fast, entertaining ceremony with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as hosts. Let's see if he keeps that promise…

6:13 - Jeremy: Settled at my party and trying to decide whether I should stick with my original Cinematography and Live-Action Short picks.

6:18 - Chris: So apparently there's going to be some big surprise at the beginning of the show. I get this information from the fine journalist Ryan Seacrest.

6:20 - Chris: Shit yeah, Tina Fey!

6:24 - Jeremy: For the (non-gambling, of course) pool, I think I'm changing my cinematography prediction from Robert Richardson to Barry Ackroyd. Tempted to go for "Instead of Abracadabra" instead of "The Door" as well.

6:25 - Chris: Wait a sec. Did Sherri Shepherd really just say the Lautner kid was the most famous werewolf in motion picture history?

6:30 - Chris: See? This is the "American Idol"-style competition I was talking about.

6:31 - Jeremy: What the fuck is going on?

6:32 - Chris: Did the orchestra just screw up?

6:33 - Jeremy: Usually they light the audience reaction shots. I think I'm going "Abracadabra" on live-action short.

6:33 - Chris: uh-oh, James Cameron's pissed. NPH just made fun of his CGI.
Jeremy: He just stormed out of the Kodak.

6:34 - Jeremy: They want me to eat a salad with chopsticks here at the party. Not an easy task while live-blogging.

6:34 - Chris: This is a better number than Hugh's last year. Wow, it's almost like a great big gold crescent moon. If only Sean Penn were here...

6:36 - Chris: "Steve Martin is being a rude little pig!" says Baldwin.

6:37 - Jeremy: Martin and Baldwin funny so far. "That damn Helen Mirren."

6:38 - Chris: Yes, Baldwin and Martin are doing quite well. Great CAA joke.

6:40 - Jeremy: Nice—Baldwin looking at Cameron through 3D glasses.

6:40 - James Cameron: Do those 3D glasses make my huge cock look bigger?

6:42 - Jeremy: I'm liking the Hope-Crosby vibe these two have going.

6:43 - Chris: Jeez, these guys are killing it. It's already better than last year's show.

6:43 - Jessica: It's just like one big family at the Oscars.
Jeremy: There you are!

6:44 - Jeremy: Be Italian!

6:44 -Chris: The Oscars are being pretty fuckin' Italian right now.

6:45 - Jessica: No roundtable actor kiss-ass this year, a step in the right direction.

6:45 - Chris: Hey, what a novel idea. Clips of movies! Movies that were nominated! What a novel concept!

6:46 - Chris: Still, though, Adrien Brody googled all these clips for the Academy. That was his job this year.

6:47 - Jeremy: (Stanley Tucci clip) I think that dude's a rapist.

6:48 - Jessica: Very long clips, you guys should be happy. If only they didn't give away entire movie. I guess if you haven't seen it's too late.

6:49 - Chris: Fuckin' A, Christoph Waltz.

6:50 - Jeremy: Intro to "The Blind Side" montage: "It's a true story." Hence the authentic art-direction of a crackhead woman's handsomely decorated home.

6:51 - Jeremy: Are they doing the nominees from worst to best?

6:51 - Chris: "You're changin' that boy's life!" "Nope, he's changin' mine." What great dialogue!

6:52 - Jessica: I now feel confident in my decision not to see "The Blind Side."

6:53 - Jessica: They didn't even show the best clip from the ad: "We want you to be part of our family" - "I thought I already was."

6:57 - Chris: Wow. A certain teleprompter operator is getting fired tonight.

6:58 - Jeremy: Nice to see Mr. Fox. "Hey, these are all cartoons!"

6:59 - Jeremy: Nice and funny into for animated feature, and a shocker of a winner!

6:59 - Jessica: I think clips from the real movie would be better except that I did like seeing the "Up" one.

7:01 - Chris: Star of Jeremy's most anticipated movie of 2010, "Dear John Letters to Juliet!"

7:01 - Jeremy: No songs = LAME-O.

7:02 - Jeremy: Ebert just asked on Twitter whether this means "Up" will win Best Picture and get a twofer. Uh…

7:03 - Chris: "Almost There" was my favorite number of Princess and the Frog, visually, but not my favorite of the songs.

7:04 - Jeremy: The song Chris thinks is called "Crazy Heart" wins! Three awards, three shockers.

7:05 - Chris: Jeez, Ebert. Yeah that's right - Best Animated Feature is always a harbinger for Best Picture.

7:05 - Jeremy: You have one second to give your speech. And…TIME'S UP!

7:05 - Jessica: Was that guy a time traveling James Cameron?

7:06 - Jeremy: They just said Tina Fey. Chris just creamed himself.

7:06 - Jessica: I miss the live songs, but I guess no songs is better than Beyonce singing them.

7:11 - Chris: Don't blame Beyonce, Jessica. It's not her fault! They made her do it!

7:12 - Jeremy: In case there was any doubt, Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. are awesome.

7:12 - Jessica: This is a good intro.

7:13 - Chris: Uh-oh, James Cameron is about to whip his penis out and storm out of the Kodak. They made CGI jokes.
Come on Quentin, come on Quentin

7:15 - Jeremy: Jesus, "The Hurt Locker?" Come on! That was the fourth-best screenplay nominated.


7:16 - Jeremy: Reitman already looks pissed, I guess because he wasn't nominated for Original Screenplay?

7:16 - Chris: What the fuck? Nothing against Mark Boal, but QT's script kicked his script's ass. Quentin seemed surprised.

7:18 - Jessica: Wow, they framed James Cameron behind catherine Bigelow, that's going to come in handy later.

7:20 - Jeremy: There are some John Hughes films that don't necessarily need clips.

7:21 - Jeremy: They got the band back together!

7:22 - Jessica: Good tribute.

7:22 - Chris: Well, that was a nice tribute, at least. Even if plenty of other people deserved separate memorials if Hughes gets one…

7:23 - Jeremy: Macaulay Culkin is like Peter Pan.

7:24 - Jessica: Those twilight kids just don't understand.

7:24 - Chris: ("Up" montage starts) Can't they just show the entire Married Life montage? I mean, no one's here with me at my apartment to see me cry, so I'm safe.

7:27 - Jeremy: Mulligan!!!!

7:27 - Chris: Oh god. If they show Zoe Saldana too much more, I'm not going to be able to make it. I'm just going to pass out.

7:29 - Jeremy: Hey, they're actually talking about short filmmaking instead of just rushing the winners on and off!

7:30 - Chris: Pretty cool that they're giving a little bit of time and attention.

7:31 - Chris: Whoa, Jason Reitman smiled! (Kinda.) Does he think Up in the Air is nominated for short film?

7:32 - Jeremy: HOLY SHIT! "Logorama?" No way I thought that was Academy material.

7:32 - Chris: Ouch. Well, Nick Park must be surprised.

7:33 - Jeremy: Well, after that, I hope my last minute live-action change proves correct.

7:33 - Jessica: Damn me for following your predictions on that one.

7:34 - Chris: Jeez. Surprises all around for the shorts. Did they save all the surprises for the categories no one cares about?

7:35 - Chris: Whoa, what the hell just happened. Did that bitch just pull a Kanye?

7:35 - Jessica: Another failure, I should find a better source for these shorts

7:35 - Jeremy: No one was predicting any of these.

7:36 - Jeremy: BOOOOO! "The New Tenants" wins Best Live-Action Short. Worst nominated movie! What the fuck?

7:37 - Chris: What the hell? By FAR the worst of the dramatic shorts.

7:38 - Chris: Awww, the poor little old dwarf wasn't allowed to talk.

7:38 - Chris: Ben Stiller comes on in full Avatar make-up. Well well well. Is this in protest for not allowing the Sasha Baron Cohen sketch?

7:39 - Chris: James Cameron is getting less amused by the second.

7:41 - Chris: "You can't make fun of my movie! It's the most popular movie in the world!!"

7:41 - Chris: Yeah! A correct prediction!

7:43 - Jeremy: Bridges introducing the Coen film—how lovely and appropriate.

7:44 - Chris: They better not show the ending in this montage.

7:44 - Chris: Is Joel not here tonight? I've only seen Ethan.
Jeremy: I dunno. Probably wouldn't be worth the effort to come if he had a conflict.

7:48 - Jessica: Well there goes my shot at the Oscar pool.

7:48 - Jeremy: Wait, "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" was adapted? Let's see Reitman and Turner fight!

7:48 - Chris: They're showing the fried chicken scene? Really?

7:50 - Jeremy: "Precious" upsets for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wow, I'm sucking it up.

7:50 - Chris: Cut to Jason Reitman looking pissed.

7:51 - Jessica: Jeez, this guy is sure making me feel guilty for not wanting him to win.

7:52 - Chris: Look at poor Reitman - now he knows his movie isn't getting anything.

7:53 - Chris: Shit yeah, Gordon Willis! Lauren Bacall rules. Still funny as hell.

7:54 - Chris: Hey Robin Williams! And he just made an appearance in our Oscar preview. He must be out of material!

7:56 - Chris: BOOOOO Nine!

7:56 - Jeremy: Any chance of a Sidibe upset after Best Adapted Screenplay?

7:58 - Chris: Yes, there's definitely a chance for that. In fact, that's the way I'm leaning right now.

7:58 - Jeremy: Go More Nique! Throw some shit!

7:59 - Jeremy: The Academy sticks to the script for Scariest Performance.

8:00 - Jeremy: "Thanks for making this about the performance instead of politics." In other words, "Fuuuuuuck you!"

8:00 - Chris: (Hattie McDaniel kicked more ass in her role, btw.)

8:02 - Jeremy: "We?" "You people?" They're talking about JEWS!!!

8:03 - Chris: Wow, a salute to horror films coming up? So the Academy can ignore virtually all of them except for "The Exorcist" and now they'll "honor" them?

8:03 - Jeremy: My non-super-movie-geek friend Nick just realized that "9," wasn't nominated for anything, and "Nine" is an entirely different movie.

8:07 - Jeremy: "Avatar" wins Art Direction. for bringing your '70s fantasy posters to life.

8:08 - Chris: Is that Tom Ford or David Paterson? Shit yeah Tom Waits!

8:10 - Chris: Sandy Powell wins for "The Young Victoria," Well you got that one, my good man - it was one ["Coco Before Chanel"] or the other.

8:10 - Jeremy: If I weren't doing so horribly, I'd gloat over beating Chris here.

8:11 - Jeremy: I was about to call Powell a bitch for bragging that "I already have two of these?" But then I realized she's pointing out that modern stuff never wins, only historic costume dramas, and that other films require costume design as well. So props.

8:11 - Chris: Wow, Sandy Powell says what we're all thinking. Right on, Sandy!

8:11 - Jessica: I finally picked most obvivous costume drama and was rewarded. I guess at least Powell acknowledge the oscars for costume design over look a lot of things.

8:12 - Chris: Uh, "Precious" was nominated for more than 4 Oscars, Charlize. What, did Adrien Brody google that for you?

8:18 - Jeremy: Whenever I get a prediction wrong, I'm gonna use Chris's excuse that it was either my prediction or the winner.

8:19 - Chris: "Twilight" shouldn't get recognized in any way, not even with presenters.

8:20 - Chris: Show Nosferatu fo god's sake. You've shown Saw, of all things!

8:21 - Chris: Shit yeah "Rosemary's Baby!"

8:21 - Chris: Finally on "Nosferatu."

8:22 - Chris: What the fuck? They just had "Twilight" in the horror movie tribute? Do they mean "horribly bad?"

8:23 - Jeremy: Great. I was finally gonna get around to watching "Rosemary's Baby" tomorrow, and now it's spoiled.

8:23 - Jessica: For a while I thought they were going to only show good horror movies.

8:23 - Jessica: Fucking "Silence of the Lambs" won best picture! Hello, do not include in montage if you claim horror hasn't been honored since "The Exorcist."

8:27 - Chris: Yeah Jess, good point. They JUST said the category hadn't gotten any awards since The Exoricist, only forgetting one of the most famous and popular BP winners ever. Stop talking, Paul!

8:28 - Jessica: Allowing myself to dream hurt locker could win Best Picture.

8:30 - Jessica: Techincal oscars are a plaque with a picture of an Oscar?

8:30 - Jeremy: My prediction count is at 7 at the moment, I believe. I've already missed more than I miss total each year, and I'm almost sure to lose Best Actress.

8:32 - Chris: You're also going to lose Best Foreign Film. Get your potato-sucking lips all puckered up, friend.

8:33 - Jeremy: We'll see. It would've been your prediction too, if I hadn't bullied you out of it. But congrats on getting them all correct so far—oh wait, nevermind.

8:36 - Chris: No cinematography clips? Ouch.

8:36 - Jess: No clips for cinematography, yeah that makes sense.

8:37 - Jeremy: Why would they show clips of CINEMATOGRAPHY!!!?! And it goes to "Avatar," the least worthy nominee. Hey, so much for "The Hurt Locker" sweep the two Sound awards and Screenplay suggested.

8:37 - Chris: Fuck "Avatar."

8:38 - Jeremy: These people weren't important enough to have their own memorial, like John Hughes.

8:38 - Chris: I sure hope multiple Asian people didn't die this year - the Academy won't be able to tell them apart!

8:39 - Chris: "Yeah Nights of Cabiria" and "La Dolce Vita!" Or was it "La Strada?" I turned my head.

8:46 - Jessica: Congrats to producers for not cutting away from the montage until almost the end.

8:47 - Chris: [Best Score introduction.] Well, the Oscar broadcast just hit a screeching halt.

8:48 - Jeremy: I like that they're playing the scores—but why do this and no Original songs? Not sure what is up with the choreography. Did they think they were dancing to hip-hop?

8:48 - Chris: Does one of the producers have a sibling who has a modern dance troupe? What other explanation could there be for this decision? No cinematography clips, but THIS??!!?!

8:48 - Jessica: Now this is going to make people watch the Oscars. Some scores weren't meant to be danced to.

8:49 - From Joe Beatty: This doesn't even look choreographed.

8:51 - Jeremy: My friend Nick: "Well, it would have been embarrassing to show clips of cinematography and then have 'Avatar' win."

8:52 - Chris: Nice pronunciation, J-Lo.

8:53 - Chris: Fuckin' A, Giacchino.

8:54 - Jessica: Hurray!

8:54 - Jeremy: A well-deserved win for Michael Giacchino for "Up." Also:

8:56 - Jeremy: Shock of the night, "Avatar" for Special Effects. In other news, the film is about learning to see the world in new ways.

8:54 - Jessica: Don't give whole movies away, my constructive criticism for next year.

9:00 - Jeremy: "happy town" promo: "Don't let the name fool you." Darn! I almost did!

9:02 - Chris: Hey, perfect timing! Best doc category, and I'm just about to start eating my dolphin-meat pizza! Monsanto dolphin-meat pizza!

9:05 - Jeremy: No, the director of "The Cove" can't speak!

9:05 - Chris: You know what would be powerful? Rick O'Barry jumping up on stage wearing a TV set shoving the bloody slaughter of dolphins in everyone's face! What a statement that would be.

9:06 - Jeremy: Boy, Tyler Perry is killing. Who let this bozo introduce editing? Or anything?

9:08 - Chris: Hmmm, editing. So is "THL" still the favorite? Certainly a good omen.

9:09 - Chris: Nothing says Oscar like Keanu Reeves.

9:09 - Jessica: Editing is pretty easy I guess, glad they didn't waste our time with clips.

9:10 - Jeremy: If you have to ask why Keanu Reeves was introducing "The Hurt Locker," well, you don't deserve to know.

9:11 - Chris: Yeah, editing doesn't need clips, either. As Jessica knows, editing usually takes only a few hours and doesn't require skill that can be demonstrated visually. All you really need to do is make the movie shorter

9:13 - Chris: Good point, Jer. So have you ever pointed your gun in the air and shouted 'AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!?'

9:15 - Jeremy: Best Foreign Language Film. I hope Chris will be happy about me bullying him into changing his prediction.

9:17 - Jeremy: Nope.

9:17 - Chris: No potato-sucking for Jeremy. Wait till next year!

9:19 - Jeremy: You know, "Avatar" kind of looks like a videogame.

9:22 - Chris: What the fuck? They just asked what was going to win BP - Avatar, The Blind Side or The Hurt Locker? OR, they said, is a surprise in store? Yeah, uh, I think The Blind Side would be a pretty huge fucking surprise.

9:24 - Chris: Best Actor is up. Oh god, not again.

9:27 - Chris: I can't believe they're doing this fucking retarded speech idea again.

9:27 - Jessica: I guess they chose people who know them instead of people who google them.

9:28 - Jeremy: Yeah, that's an improvement, I s'pose. Colin Firth looks kind of like Tim Robbins with his hand over his face. Robbins should have done him.

9:28 - Chris: Nah, I think Farrel should have done Firth. Come on, they're both named Colin F. I mean, that's a slam dunk.

9:29 - Jeremy: OK. Nice joke by Robbins.

9:31 - Jessica: Farrel wishes Jeremy Renner "Good luck." Good luck indeed.

9:32 - Jeremy: Gather, Kate, gather!

9:33 - Chris: Yeah, Lebowski! Standing O for ol' Jeffy. Nope, this wasn't a lock at all.

9:33 - Jeremy: It was a lock. Just not if ever there was one.

9:35 - Jeremy: Bridges is a real class act. The Dude abides.

9:38 - Jeremy: Everyone warmed up for a Best Actress shocker?

9:42 - Chris: Whoa! Whitaker is even more fierce and dangerous than he was as Idi Amin! Scary!!

9:42 - Jessica: Never thought "Hope Floats" would be mentioned at the Oscars.

9:43 - Chris: Yeah, I think Gabby's gonna pull the upset here.

9:44 - Chris: Are they going to keep ruining movies in this fucking ceremony?

9:45 - Jeremy: The moral of Sidibe's story, as told by Oprah? Skip school, kids!

9:48 - Jeremy: BOOOOORING!

9:48 - Chris: Dammit. Lame.

9:49 - Jeremy: Well at least Streep didn't in—Chris never would have let me hear the end of it. And Bullock becomes the first actress to win Best Actress Oscar and Worst Actress Razzie in the same year maybe?

9:52 - Chris: So, for Best Director of all things, they're letting Barbra Streisand present it? Did they fucking SEE Yentl or The Prince of Tides?

9:52 - Jeremy: As long as they've gone 81 years without honoring a woman or black man, why not go for an even 100?

9:54 - Jeremy: Hey look, Jason Reitman's dad likes him!

9:55 - Jeremy: Hey, There's no penis on that Best Director winner.

9:56 - Jeremy: Even Jason Reitman is happy.

9:58 - Jeremy: Best Picture and…whoa…Did Hanks just skip reading the nominees? "The Hurt Locker" wins.

9:59 - Chris: Well at least we got that one right. Even if they didn't remind us what the nominees were. Suck it James Cameron

9:59 - Jeremy: "It's 9:59, Tom. Just read the fucking winner!"

10:02 - Jeremy: Well, no surprises in the acting categories, but a few elsewhere. Plus "Avatar" failed to win very many, even if it did get cinematography. My last-minute changes were neither punished nor rewarded—because another film one in each section. D'oh!

10:05 - Chris: Nothing says 2010 Oscars like the score to Mary Poppins.
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