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, October 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM - 0 Comments
If you go to the movies to get a rush of head-spinning complexity, you’re in luck this weekend. For puzzle fans, we’ve got intricate thrillers from opposite ends of the art/trash spectrum. Adapted from David Mitchell’s 2004 bestseller, Cloud Atlas presents a rare anomaly for a studio picture: it’s an experimental blockbuster. Directed by a trinity of genre stylists (Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer), this epic extravaganza boasts an all-star cast that includes four Oscar winners—Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon—who commute across a maze of six interlocking storylines spanning five centuries. This being Hallowe’en weekend, we also have the mandatory fright night sequel, Silent Hill: 3D Revelation, a beautifully art-directed yet barely comprehensible warehouse sale of horror clichés. For those who prefer simpler pleasures, the week’s new releases also include a surf drama (Chasing Mavericks) and a charming chamber piece about a man in an iron lung who hires a sex surrogate to cure his virginity (The Sessions).
An “un-filmable” book beckons filmmakers the way Everest beckons mountaineers. Cloud Atlas is one of those books. Tackling Mitchell’s novel required splitting the expedition between two teams: Tykwer directed the episodes set in 1849, 2144 and the post-apocalyptic 24th century; the Wachowski siblings directed those set in 1936, 1973 and 2012. Continue…