By Daniel Barna - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Fun facts you need to know about the 2013 Academy Award contenders
This morning the months of speculation, predictions, and odds-making came to an end when this year’s Oscar host Seth MacFarlane was joined onstage by Emma Stone to announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards. As expected, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln led all films with 12 nominations, making it the early favourite for a Best Picture win. But Spielberg’s dominance was just about the only thing that went as imagined this morning: snubs and surprises abound. First fun fact: For the first time in history, all the nominees in a single acting category–best actor in a supporting role– have won before. Second fun fact: Emmannuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of The Southern Wild) become the oldest and youngest Best Actress nominees ever. Academy, your playfulness this year is much appreciated. Below, five more noteworthy things we noticed about the nominees. Now let the weeks of speculation, predictions, and odds-making begin!
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
Sometimes you want to close your eyes. Art is not always an easy ride, for one reason or another. In the aftermath of the Toronto International Film Festival, still feeling the retinal burn, we look around to see that suddenly it’s fall and three acclaimed films that lit up TIFF are now opening commercially—one American, two Canadian. Each comes with a challenge. The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a cult leader and Joaquin Phoenix as his tormented acolyte, is close to two-and-a-half hours long. Powered by the white-hot combustion of two great actors at the top of their game, it more than earns its length, but many viewers will come out of the theatre shaking their heads, asking “WTF was that?” Laurence Anyways, the third feature from 23-year-old Quebec wunderkind, is a epic tale of a relationship between and man and a woman that is tested when the man decides become a woman. It’s almost three hours long, and pushes our patience with a dazzling virtuosity that ventures into the red zone of auteur indulgence. Rebelle, a more modest drama from a Quebec director, is the story of a pregnant teenage African girl who has been forced to shoot her parents, endure rape, and become a child soldier. Not exactly a date movie. But most of the atrocities occur off camera, as the child’s harrowing odyssey becomes a journey out of horror into innocence—it’s far more palatable than it sounds. Rebelle is Canada’s official Oscar entry for best foreign language film, and it’s a worthy candidate.
All three films are audacious and highly original: these are movies we haven’t seen before. Some thoughts . . .
The Master, perhaps the most hotly anticipated movie at TIFF, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s first feature in five years. With his previous film, There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for his portrayal of ruthless oilman carving an empire out of the ground at the dawn of the 20th century. The Master bears some resemblance to it. It’s another period epic about an American megalomaniac with a streak of Citizen Kane, but in this case he’s selling snake oil rather than fossil fuel. And while There Will Be Blood is a melodrama that steams along with locomotive linearity, The Master is a digressive cruise that messes with our heads—the same way Lancaster Dodd, the cult leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, plays mind games with his impressionable protegé, Freddie Quell, a Second World War veteran played by Joaquin Phoenix. Personally, I wasn’t as fond of There Will Be Blood as most critics. I found it hard to overcome my allergy to Day-Lewis’s monstrously showy performance. Not that there’s anything modest about the powerhouse performances delivered by Hoffman and Phoenix in The Master, who enact what amounts to a gladiatorial duel between the ego and the id respectively. But their work is utterly convincing and mannerism-free. And unlike Day-Lewis, who put on a virtual one-man show (pace Paul Dano), this film offers a rare example of two bravura performances joined at the hip. I don’t know how they’ll handle the Oscar nominations. Phoenix has a slightly larger part, and anchors the story’s point of view, but these are two lead performances that can’t be separated—which is why they shared the best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.
The Master is a masterful character study. Phoenix plays a mentally unstable war vet who’s as dangerous and volatile as the homemade hootch that he spikes with gasoline. He’s seething with pent-up desire and unexplained frustration. Stuff happened during the war, and there’s girl who mattered somewhere in his past. After the war he becomes a portrait photographer in a department store, a job that ends badly when he flies into a rage and beats up a customer. Quell’s life changes in San Francisco when he wanders onto a ship bound for New York, a floating wedding party commanded by Dodd, whose daughter is getting married. The messianic founder of a movement that resembles Scientology, Dodd takes Quell under his wing, recognizing a human wreck that he can repair and make his own. He submits his recruit to a gruelling series of therapeutic interrogations, a ritual called “processing,” not unlike what Scientology calls “auditing.” Quell, the reckless skeptic, becomes an ardent acolyte, but he remains a loose cannon; there’s no telling what might set him off from one moment to the next. The two men develop a strange father-son bond laced with a homoerotic frisson. They’re not quite Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love, but they do get on the ground and wrestle.
The Master is shaping up to be this year’s Tree of Life. Its story is far more straightforward and accessible, not to mention visceral, than the poetics of Terrence Malick. But like Malick’s epic, this is a movie that’s not afraid to baffle us. And it could have an equally polarizing effect, finding champions among film critics who embrace its double-black-diamond challenge, while leaving audiences scratching their heads. When I walked out of the theatre, I honestly didn’t know what to think. But the movie sits well in the imagination, burning on with a radioactive half-life. It’s mystery is the productive kind that pulls you back in. Like The Tree of Life, or Melancholia by Lars Von Trier, it’s a film I’m already dying to see again.
Laurence Anyways is a film I need to see again, though the prospect is less exciting. After screening it at Cannes last May, my memory of it has receded like a mirage, and couldn’t find three hours to spare during TIFF for a refresher course. This is what I remember: it’s full of brilliance, and could stand be a little less brilliant. With his third feature, Xavier Dolan has gone beyond proving he has talent to burn. Now he has to learn how to reign it in. After his semi-autobiographical tour de force, I Killed My Mother, and the impressionist watercolour of Heartbeats, with his third feature Dolan attacks a broader canvas with this sprawling portrait of a passionate relationship that runs into an impossible hurdle. What do you do when your boyfriend wants to become a woman? This is bold new ground for movie romance, something that Hollywood could turn into a godawful high-concept comedy. In Dolan’s hands, it makes for an intense yet credible drama, driven by a pair of superb performances.
A nuanced Melvil Poupaud plays Laurence, a university professor who gradually ventures out of the transsexual closet; a tempestuous Suzanne Clément co-stars as Fred, the love of his life, whose loyalty undergoes a test more daunting than mere infidelity. What has stuck with me, months after seeing the film, is that its tangential, looping narrative was more elaborate than necessary: it did not need to be so long. Most films that screen in competition in Cannes exceed two hours, so who can blame an aspiring young auteur for believing that anything less than that might disqualify him as a heavyweight contender. But it’s dangerous to make movies for festivals instead of audiences. When Dolan accepted the prize for best Canadian feature at TIFF, shaking with emotion, after apologizing to those who sat still for his film, he effusively thanked his producer and declared his love for her. But she would have done him, their movie and the audience a favour if she had not indulged his every desire. Before we vote our critics awards in December, I will give try to give Dolan the benefit of the doubt and see his movie a second time. But at this point I feel TIFF’s prize for best Canadian feature should have gone to Sarah Polley’s masterful docu-memoir Stories We Tell, or possibly Rebelle . . .
Rebelle (War Witch) is a powerful, compact, drama from another Montreal writer-director, Kim Nguyen, who spent a year bringing it to the screen. Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is a pregnant 14-year-old who tells her story to her unborn child in flashbacks, beginning with her abduction at age 12 by rebel forces, who invade her village and force her to kill her parents. Komona is put through a brutal boot camp in the jungle, trained as a child soldier, and intoxicated with a milky sap from a hallucinogenic plant. After her comrades are decimated in a battle with government troops, her miraculous survival convinces the rebel chief that Komona has powers of sorcery. Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga), the rebel leader, proclaims her his war witch. She, meanwhile, finds both an ally and a suitor in a fellow child soldier named Magician (Serge Kanyinda). Together they embark on a journey out of of the heart of darkness, and find some surprising moments of sweetness and light.
Nguyen shot the film entirely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he captures both beauty and authenticity in a landscape that he populates with ghosts. The director discovered his star, Mwanza, in the streets, a raw talent who won best actress prizes at the Berlin and TriBeCa film festivals. She’s a quietly forceful and convincing presence.
Ngyuen says he shot the movie “as though only the present moment was real. My actors were not allowed to read the screenplay before the shoot, and we shot the film in sequence. In this way, the actors never knew what was going to happen to their characters the next day.”
Between the resolute performance of his young discovery and the verité mix of magic and realism, Rebelle has obvious parallels to Beasts of the Southern Wild, starring six-year-old dynamo Quvenzhané Wallis. It’s an extraordinary year when two girls with no acting experience—an African American from Louisiana and an African from the Congo—end up starring as resilient wilderness survivors in two underdog films backed by Oscar campaigns.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM - 0 Comments
The juggernaut is winding down. Proof of that came as early as Tuesday when TIFF CEO Piers Handling made a Freudian slip while introducing the Inescapable gala saying, “We’re looking forward to the last two days of the festival.” Maybe he misspoke, or I misheard and he said “last few days.” Either way, there were still five days left to go. But TIFF peaks early. The studios fly in American journalists for press junkets on the opening weekend, and by Wednesday the crowds have thinned. The movies will continue to play until Sunday, but by now it’s time to take stock.
We’ve seen some strong films—and too many mediocre ones that had no business being at this festival, any festival, except to stick mid-level stars like Greg Kinnear on a red carpet. I won’t waste your time with them. But among the heavyweight American dramas, two movies, The Master and Cloud Atlas, loomed largest. And they present polar opposites of narrative bravado. Shot on the lush retro format of 70 mm film by Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master’s story of a Second World War veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the spell of a Scientology-like cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is an epic storm of emotion. Cloud Atlas, which splices and dices David Mitchell’s novel, is a Rubiks’s Cube of interlocking stories spanning a half dozen centuries and worlds. It’s a conceptual stunt, $100-million toy that recycles a blockbuster bin of genre tropes from films that range from The Matrix, Blade Runner, Avatar and The Lord of the Rings.
Powered by a raging duel of two terrifyingly good actors, The Master is all about character; Cloud Atlas is all about plot, an intricate gizmo of plot that’s constructed as a Transformer-like special effect. But here’s the crucial difference between the artistic ambitions of the two films: The Master examines the snake oil, shakes it up and spills it all around, leaving us disturbed and confused, infected with mystery and doubt; Cloud Atlas traffics in snake oil, drilling us with the same kind of ideological mantra about freedom, enslavement, and heroic consciousness that made movies like The Matrix and Inception much dumber than they pretended to be. Paul Thomas Anderson has made a movie about a bogus religion. The directing trio behind Cloud Atlas—Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski—have made a religious movie. I’m still thinking about The Master and am keen to see it again; once was enough for Cloud Atlas.
The so-called real world, meanwhile, held its own at TIFF in what turned out to be an exceptional festival for documentaries. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM - 0 Comments
Recovered memories from a lost weekend at the festival
Recovered memories from opening weekend at the Toronto International Flying Circus of Film. It’s like trying to recall a fever dream . . . Talking radical politics with Robert Redford as he eats potato chips . . . Watching hometown sweetheart Rachel McAdams vanish down the rabbit hole of Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, as she searches for her lost role in an Oklahoma field with Ben Affleck . . . Then seeing her as an executive femme fatale planting a kiss on Naomi Rapace in Brian De Palma’s passionless Passion . . . Interviewing Monty Python’s Terry Jones, and having to fill in the blanks when he doesn’t have the answers . . . watching Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix give an acting master class in The Master.
Sanity was last seen at 9 a.m. Saturday as I joined a packed press screening of The Master. Had to skip the Ryan Gosling movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, which was showing at the same time. Everyone Who’s Anyone in Hollywood wants an opening weekend slot at TIFF. The result is the scheduling equivalent to overlapping dialogue in an Altman film. I chose The Master because it was buzzed as the Second Coming of Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood). And sure enough, that day it wins awards for acting and direction in Venice—as well as the runner-up Silver Lion for best picture, only because the jury wasn’t allowed to give it two prizes plus the Golden Lion.
The Master is, well, masterful. And amazing. There’s an Emperor’s New Clothes quality to the epic narrative, as if Captain Anderson is conjuring a cinematic feat no less cult-like than the Scientology-like religion created by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in the film. But the period visuals and the performances are immensely charismatic. Playing Dodd’s alcoholic acolyte, Joaquin Phoenix is so good it’s scary. After the actor’s meta exile as a bearded hip-hop prophet, he’s back in the game, yet his performance as a deranged veteran of the Second World War, his volatile peformance has the same train-wreck momentum that made us concerned for his sanity in I’m Still Here. Though this time, it’s in a good way. Together he and Hoffman are like contestants in an Ultimate Fighting match staged by the Actors’ Studio. As the guru wears down the disciple in bouts of intense psychodrama, Phoenix has a vein bulging from his forehead that looks like it might explode. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
So it turns out that I’m Still Here, Casey Affleck’s documentary about Joaquin Phoenix, is fake. That’s what Affleck has been telling interviewers. He says his documentary was staged, and that Joaquin’s two-year bout of self-annihilation was a sustained piece of method acting. Conspiracy theorists might wonder if Affleck’s revelation of the hoax is another hoax, a cover-up. But I think we can take Affleck at his word. Also, there are tip-offs in the film itself—notably in the fiction-style credits, which cite Hawaii as a location, even though the final scenes allegedly occur in Panama. But it makes you wonder. As mockumentaries are being passed off as real documentaries, along with the proliferation of fake news, dramatizations and staged reality TV, people may start to have trouble believing the real thing when they see it.
Armadillo is the real thing. This astonishing documentary from Denmark is one of two powerful films that I saw yesterday about the war in Afghanistan. The other was Essential Killing, an unadulterated drama from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski starring Vincent Gallo as a Taliban fighter who is captured, flown to a European country, then escapes. More on that later.
Armadillo was the first documentary ever programmed by the Critics Week section of the Cannes Film Festival, and won the section’s top prize. You can see why. There’s never been anything like it. Armadillo captures soldiers in the act violating the rules of engagement—and changes the rules of engagement for the combat documentary. A film crew led by director Janus Metz spends six months embedded with a contingent of Danish soldiers as they engage in combat with the Taliban. Metz shoots his film like a dramatic feature, a composition of characters in a landscape. He follows these young men from the moment they bid goodbye to their families in Denmark to their baptism of fire in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. They are new recruits, eager for a taste of combat. Much of the film unfolds as a waiting game. The Taliban are out there, an invisible presence less than a kilometre away, but maddeningly elusive. The soldiers try to befriend the local farmers, who are impeccably polite and gracious, but won’t divulge information for fear of getting their throats cut by the Taliban. Also, they don’t appreciate seeing their cows blown up and their fields destroyed by anti-Taliban forces. All the men have black beards; any of them could be the enemy.
With just sporadic bursts of combat, tension builds until a squad of volunteers are dispatched to ambush the Taliban. The soldiers blacken their faces. It’s the Big Game. The camera follows them into the thick of the firefight, just steps away from the Taliban fighters, who are holed up in a ditch. There is total chaos and confusion amid of bullets. Some of the Danish soldiers are wounded. Five Taliban are killed in a grenade attack. . . but not exactly. When the Danish soldiers come home, as jubilant as a victorious football team, they relive the action and talk about how the Taliban men were still moving when they finished them off with volleys of machine gun fire. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that this is a violation of the rules of war, until the news leaks out and there’s outrage back home. Even then, the soldiers see nothing wrong with what they’ve done. They talk frankly about the incident in front of the camera, which by now seems to be accepted as a loyal ally. The soldiers are not presented as villains, but as likable, ordinary young men. The film is about how they become hooked on the adrenaline of combat. It shows us—sadly, horrifcally—how war works.
Essential Killing begins in Afghanistan, with the U.S. capture of a nameless Taliban fighter (Vincent Gallo) in a desert canyon after he kills a couple of U.S. soldiers who were busy getting stoned. But this is not a war movie. It’s an escapist adventure on every level. Gallo’s character is captured, interrogated, then flown in shackles and orange overalls to an unnamed European country, where a fluke accident allows him to escape. The rest of the movie unfolds like a cross between The Fugitive and a wilderness survival tale. It takes place in cold and snowy realm that’s worlds removed from Afghanistan. Its hero is the quintessential brother from another planet. But he’s resourceful, and because he’s the hero we root for his survival, the politics notwithstanding. Gallo’s role is almost entirely silent. There are grunts and groans, but he doesn’t have a single word of dialogue. I found Essential Killing to be a welcome oasis from the mad traffic of TIFF, all the celebrity interviews and buzzed movies. Directed by Polish master Jerzy Skolimowski, it’s a gem of pure narrative filmmaking: a wordless vision of character struggling for his life in a beautifully austere landscape that’s as foreign to him as the moon. Yet unlike so much ghettoized art-house fare, there’s nothing challenging or difficult or about this film . It reminds us that art and entertainment on rare occasions can blissfully coexist.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, September 17, 2010 at 11:17 AM - 0 Comments
When I read about Joaquin Phoenix’s “performance” in I’m Still Here, the first thing that came to mind was that this is like a real-life Catch-22.
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane then he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
So, applying a variant of that logic to the Phoenix situation:
- Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t really crazy; he just spent two years pretending to be crazy.
- However, only a crazy person would give up a thriving career and waste two years of his life pretending to be crazy.
- Therefore, Joaquin Phoenix is crazy because he was pretending to be crazy.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, September 10, 2010 at 9:29 PM - 0 Comments
It’s Day 2. And I’m already reeling. This afternoon I tried to interview Kat Dennings, who sat across from me in monumental heels and a scarlet dress with a plunging neckline and said that she, unlike the seductress she plays in Daydream Nation, would never dream of using her feminine wiles to get ahead. Moments later, in a hotel room down the hall, I watched a gregarious Javier Bardem spill his water bottle onto the table, almost drowning a tape recorder, as he talked about his role as a clairvoyant hustler dying of cancer in Biutiful. And those were the moments of relative sanity. In the past two days, I’ve seen lives monstrously shattered in one movie after another—from the self-mutilating ballerina played Natalie Portman in Black Swan to the trio of doomed innocents played by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go.
Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is a total trip, a giddy melodrama that plays like a pas de deux between All About Eve and The Red Shoes choreographed by David Cronenberg. Led by a sensational performance from Portman, it’s a glorious backstage tale of showbiz self-destruction. You could could say something similar about I’m Still Here, the utterly mystifying documentary about Joaquin Phoenix directed by his brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. But while Black Swan is exhilarating, the Phoenix movie is terribly sad, a voyeurist mudbath that makes you want to take a shower, with a loofa.
Ever since we saw Joaquin make a fool of himself on Letterman, we’ve been waiting for this film, hoping it might provide some answers. Is Joaquin’s career suicide the real thing, or is it a hoax? After seeing the film, I have to say that the verdict is still out. But among the critics arguing on the sidewalk in front of the theatre afterwards, the consensus was that what we saw was too ugly and harrowing to be a complete hoax. At best it might be a combination of verité documentary and twisted performance art. Even if it’s pure documentary, there’s still a large element of contrivance and set-up—as suggested by the closing credits, which resemble those of a fictional drama and proclaim that the film was produced and written by Affleck and Phoenix. Either way, phony or real, it’s like watching a snuff film of career suicide. It’s also a compelling portrait of celebrity as pathology. This is the cinematic equivalent the car wreck you can’t help slowing down to watch.
I’m Still Here is amusing for a while, in a sick way. Phoenix, ranting like a spoiled brat, pulls the plug on his acting career, saying his “artistic output thus far has been fraudulent.” He says he no longer wants to be “this dumb f–king puppet . . . My purpose on this earth is not to interpret somebody else’s words, it’s to express what’s inside of me.” And that, it seems, is a toxic cocktail of bile and dumb-assed revelation. He smokes joints, snorts lines, strews f-bombs as he berates his two long-suffering handlers, in a kind of S&M answer to celebrity entitlement. As Phoenix struggles to launch his hapless hip hop career, he courts Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, and the star is transformed into craven wannabe, while Combs looks on in deadpan consternation.
But what we’re hoping is a mockumentary morphs into a sad requiem as Phoenix, increasingly stoned and deluded, laments what he’s become: “I’m just going to be a f–king joke forever—I’ve f–ked my life!” I was inclined to believe him. And the scenes of vomiting and defecation seem all too real. As I mentioned to a colleague, paraphrasing This is Spinal Tap, “You can’t fake vomit.” Then again, as my colleague pointed out, you can. So now we wait for what happens next. Will Joaquin shave off the beard and say it was all a scam? Who knows? But if this was just play-acting, he’s taken the Method beyond the pale. If it’s really a hoax, and he comes out of it with his mind and career intact (fat chance), I suppose he deserves an Oscar nomination. That’s what we do at TIFF: everyone is part of a big scouting party for Oscar hopefuls. So far I’ve seen at least four surefire nominations: Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go, Hilary Swank in Conviction, Javier Bardem in Biutiful, and Natalie Portman in Black Swan—not to mention likely nods for Paul Giammati, Dustin Hoffman and Rosamund Pike in Barney’s Version As for Joaquin, his career suicide was a joke at last year’s Oscars, thanks to Ben Stiller in a ZZ Top beard. But now it looks like just another nasty showbiz accident. And to complete the circle, although the star of I’m Still Here does not appear to be here, one of the first “celebrities” to generate publicity at TIFF on opening day was a Joaquin lookalike.
By Brian D. Johnson - Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
Everything about the famous actor’s bizarre performance last week points to a hoax
Is it a hoax, or has Joaquin Phoenix truly lost his mind? That question has been ricocheting around the blogosphere ever since a spaced-out Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman last week, masked by dark glasses and a bushy beard, and acting virtually catatonic. While Letterman tried to pry conversation out of him, Phoenix sat stone-faced or mumbled. He forgot the name of Gwyneth Paltrow, his co-star in the movie he was ostensibly promoting—Two Lovers, a small romance with no Canadian release. And he swore at bandleader Paul Shaffer for guffawing at the notion of him introducing a clip. Meanwhile, Phoenix stuck to his story that he’s quit acting to be a rap singer, and said he hoped to perform on the show. “That seems unlikely,” said Letterman. “We’ll keep you in our Rolodex.”
The 34-year-old actor—a two-time Oscar nominee for Gladiator and Walk the Line—first announced his bizarre career shift in October. Then, last month, he unveiled his “talent” as a rapper in Las Vegas, falling off the stage after three numbers. His shambolic performance was so preposterously bad, people assumed he was stoned, mentally ill—or perpetrating an elaborate hoax.
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, February 23, 2009 at 1:14 PM - 3 Comments
After live-blogging the Oscars last night, in a marathon of typing and tippling, this morning I hauled my ass off to the CBC bunker to do a radio post mortem with “Q” host Jian Ghomeshi and the Globe and Mail’s Johanna Schneller. And frankly, I was knocked out by the poetic punditry of Jian’s thoughtful introduction. You gotta love a morning broadcaster who can sit down after midnight and rap an Oscar wrap that rolls through the mood swings of a marathon night—and still finds time to rhyme “pristine” and “Joaquin.” Check out the podcast of the show, by clicking Q Oscar item. Meanwhile, here’s the text of Jian’s demi-rhymed oral deposition:
Hi there. Happy Monday.
It came. It happened. It was cut back and “redesigned.” It still lasted
about 4 hours.
Yes, kids, the Academy Awards happened last night and I’m not sure if
it was the fast food happily congealing in my belly…
but I quite enjoyed what transpired on the telly.
not . . . so bad.
Oh there were the inevitable ups and downs,
the intense fascination with gowns.
But Oscar lived up to some of the hype in strange ways.
Here are some quick observations:
Hugh Jackman—talented, self-deprecating, and lovingly pristine.
Ben Stiller—outrageously funny sending up Joaquin.
Penélope Cruze satisfying victory, and the same with Sean Penn.
And do we have to see a shot of John Mayer and Jennifer Anniston again?
John Legend was a bit out of tune.
Queen Latifah sounded noticably auto-tuned.
A R Rahman looked strangely hobitt-like when he crooned.
And Beyonce lip-synching her parts on the “live” Oscar broadcast—
Really Beyonce? Really? What a sad spectacle that was.
All the more satisfying to watch Hugh Jackman huff and puff through his
Beyonce doing karaoke.
We’ll take a radiant Anne Hathaway
singing live anyday. Eh? Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:33 AM - 13 Comments
Joaquin Phoenix’s appearance on David Letterman last night is already a classic what-the-hell-was-that moment, and it’s got people wondering if it’s real or just staged, Borat-like, for Casey Affleck’s film about Phoenix and his music career. There has already been speculation that the music career is just a hoax and the documentary is intended to be a comedy, and if so, this performance is just part of the gag. But it doesn’t really matter what he’s up to; if this clip is any evidence, the documentary will be a comedy of pain and awkwardness, whether intentionally or not.