By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
With today’s announcement of the Oscar nominees, it came as no surprise that Steven Spielberg is back in the Academy’s good graces. Lincoln leads the pack with a landslide of 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Director and three acting nods. (Expect Spielberg’s smart, dignified epic to sweep many categories—and at least Best Picture, Best Actor for Daniel-Day Lewis and Best Adapted Screenplay for Tony Kushner.) But it was more surprising, and heartening, to see Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, based on the novel by Canadian Yann Martel, so amply rewarded with 11 nominations, including Original Score and Original Song for Canadian composer Michael Danna. Life of Pi is, in a sense, this year’s Hugo, a conjuring of old-fashioned movie magic through the lens of the latest 3D visual technology.
Somehow, however, the Academy failed to recognize the remarkable performance by Life of Pi‘s novice lead, Suraj Sharma, who carried the entire film. Yet it did anoint another novice, nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, making her the youngest Best Actress nominee in history for her bravura performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. This year’s designated Little Movie That Could, it received four nominations, including Best Director for Benh Zeitlin, a New Yorker making his feature-film debut with a magic realist fable set in the Louisiana flood-waters of Hurricane Katrina.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, April 13, 2012 at 6:59 PM - 0 Comments
There’s a glut of new releases out this week, in Toronto at least. And everywhere you look, it’s a madhouse—from the puerile slapstick of The Three Stooges to the adult anguish and adultery of Deep Blue Sea; from the diabolically haunted Cabin the Woods to the art-house hauntings of the outlaw hideout in Keyhole; from Willem Dafoe playing a hard-core mercenary in The Hunter to Bruce McDonald finding a soft landing for punk rock in Hard Core Logo 2. So many movies, so little time. Here are some impressions:
The Three Stooges. I didn’t much like these bozos when I watched them on TV as a kid, even though we all imitated them at school as a form of slapstick-sanctioned bullying. So I was dreading this retread by the Farrelly Brothers—Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest, who needs it. Well, surprise, surprise. The Three Stooges does not suck. It’s not great but it is amusing, oddly inoffensive—and sweet, something the original never tried to be. With a plot lifted from the Blues Brothers, the Stooges are trying to raise money to save an orphanage—their orphanage, where they’ve been raised by a bunch of nuns who include one very weird, hard-boiled sister played by Larry David, who acts more or less like the loudmouth in Curb Your Enthusiasm, but in a habit.
As a reverent homage to vintage slapstick, this movie is actually less vulgar than a lot of Farrelly brothers fare. It’s not The Artist but you do find yourself kind of admiring the choreography. A trio of relative unknowns, Will Sasso (Curly), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), flesh out the characters without straying from the template. And Moe’s serendipitous involvement with the cast of Jersey Shore is an inspired touch. This is, however, the 21st century. So during the closing credits the directors pop up to demonstrate how the stunts are done with rubber hammers and sound effects—and to tell the kids, don’t try this at home. All that and a PG rating. Continue…