War Witch star Rachel Mwanza is headed to Hollywood, and she's earned her close-up. On Wednesday, Tribeca Film announced that 16-year-old Mwanza has been granted a visa to travel to the United States to attend the Oscars and the Independent Spirit Awards this weekend, where War Witch is nominated, respectively, in the Best Foreign Language Film and Best International Film categories. And it's time for the American media pays as much attention to her as it did to Quvenzhané Wallis. more »
When I learned of the news that Pope Benedict XVI was going to become the first pope in six centuries to resign from office, I immediately thought, I wonder what Alex Gibney makes of this? His documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God details the integral role that Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, played in investigating the sex-abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church, and, given the ample space that the New York Times devoted to that subject in its report on the resignation, I was left with impression that, behind the scenes, the continuing controversy may have played a part in the Pope's decision to step down. more »
Here's a novel way to keep from getting worked up about your main Oscar rival: forget his name entirely. For Time magazine's Great Performances video feature on this year's Oscar nominees, Les Miserables co-stars and Oscar nominees Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman spend some time lauding their competition. Hathaway even praises the computer-generated tiger in Life of Pi. But watch what happens around the 2:09 when Jackman slyly raises the topic of Lincoln. more »
The biggest upset of this year’s Oscars took place weeks before the actual ceremony, when Zero Dark Thirty helmer Kathryn Bigelow was snubbed for a Best Director nod. Conventional wisdom holds that debates about torture and political bias in the Osama Bin Laden thanato-pic, which began weeks before the film’s release, derailed Bigelow’s chances at a second statuette. But the bigger story – one that’s hardly been told – is that Bigelow’s partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency during the production of ZDT inadvertently shined an unwelcome spotlight on the military-entertainment complex: the surprisingly close and definitely reciprocal relationship between Hollywood and the Pentagon. more »
Is Disney still suffering from Shrek envy? Over the last two days the blogosphere has generated unconfirmed reports that the House of Mouse is developing a Yoda movie, as part of its Star Wars franchise reboot, and that Marvel Studios, which is owned by Disney, is planning a standalone Hulk movie that would tie together The Avengers 2 and 3 movies. more »
Twenty years after John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, as Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, became arguably the most iconic hitman duo in contemporary cinema, it's hard to imagine any other actors tackling those roles — especially the Royale with Cheese conversation. But the new issue of Vanity Fair serves as a reminder that their Pulp Fiction parts almost went to other actors. more »
Two weeks after carrying home the big prizes from the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards, Argo firmly established its Oscar front-runner status with another one-two punch in the form of the PGA's Motion Picture Producer of the Year honor and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. And in a season of confusion and contradiction, that front-runner status gives Argo traction that none of its Best-Picture rivals have. more »
Now that Disney has announced that the Brad Bird /Damon Lindelof project originally known as 1952 will officially be called Tomorrowland (and that George Clooney will star), I simply must share my fever-dream theory that this movie could be about early space travel. more »
If you need an idea of how intensely competitive Oscar campaigning has become, look no further than Jennifer Lawrence's opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. Given the ridiculous media tempest that arose from Lawrence's First Wives Club "I beat Meryl Streep" reference at the Golden Globe Awards, I figured that the show's writers were going to address the issue in Lawrence's opening segment. And they did — in such a half-hearted way that it sounds like some negotiating went on to make sure that the Silver Linings Playbook star and Best Actress nominee didn't say anything that would hurt her chances to bring home a statuette. more »
While the rest of the world dissects the coming-out portion of Jodie Foster's Golden Globes speech, I'd like to focus on another potential bombshell the 50-year-old filmmaker appeared to have dropped while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement: The suggestion that she was somehow retiring from the business. more »
The news of Jurassic Park 4 probably sent a lot of you scrambling for your brain's groan button, and I can't blame you. Though the original film is an important milestone in special effects, and boasts the last decent score John Williams ever wrote*, it preserved Michael Crichton's dubious grasp of human nature and the book's b-movie philosophizing - and the less said about the sequels, the better (especially the second film, which seems to consist largely of references to classic monster movies).
After Lindsay Lohan's got busted for allegedly slugging another woman at a New York nightclub in November, I wrote her off as a lost cause, but Stephen Rodrick's fascinating New York Times piece about Paul Schrader's making of The Canyons with Lohan left me thinking that there's still a talented actress in that scandal-ravaged psyche worth saving. more »
Pacific Rim looks awesome and all, but let's talk about science for a second. Specifically, let's talk about the science, or lack thereof, behind completely awesome giant robots.
Guillermo Del Toro's upcoming sci-fi action pic is probably going to be as awesome as the trailers make it look, unless you're the kind of person who hates the sight of huge mecha fighting against equally huge monsters, in which case please show yourself out. How could you not love enormous robots punching out enormous monsters who lay waste to entire cities? Giant robots represents 90 percent of what we want the future to be like (the other 10 percent: flying cars, and a male birth control pill.) They're extremely cool looking, they transform, and for sheer shock factor they're impossible to beat.
We want them so badly, but could we have them in real life? Unfortunately, hell no. Not because of budgetary constraints, frustratingly missing confirmation of alien life, or the lack of a decent fuel source. There's a bigger problem facing these robots than any alien invasion: Physics.
Things had been quiet on the Fifty Shades of Grey movie front of late, as the hotly anticipated erotic fiction bestseller teased its way through development — that is, until screenwriter Kelly Marcel (Terra Nova, Saving Mr. Banks) spilled a tantalizing tidbit to The Sunday Times: "There is going to be a lot of sex in the film," she said. "It will be rated NC-17."
Remember a couple of days ago, when we saw what purported to be the perfect Batman, a composite photo created from all the actors who have played Batman onscreen (we assume he'd sound like Kevin Conroy)? Not to be outdone by the combination of multiple, independently wealthy superheroes, an enterprising person has done the same for Britain's top wetwork operative, James Bond. more »