Archive for the ‘quentin tarantino’ Tag
So it’s getting to that time in the year when various movie awards stuff needs tidying up. The BAFTA Film Awards take place tomorrow night, the Silver Surfer to the Oscars’ Galactus.
Let’s start with this race issue: my take on it is that it should have rung an alarm last year when our own academy (BAFTA) failed to recognise the excellent Selma and in particular our very own Brit David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, not to mention the director Ava DuVernay. I was on their case within minutes of the nominations announcement on Radio 5, both on my own SurrealThing Twitter account and in conversation with other friends&associates:
The total absence of Selma stuck out like a dark deed in …something very pure and white. A bag of cotton wool. A bowl of vanilla ice-cream. A cloud. The North Pole. Dulux Pure Brilliant White. “Their” (case) – I mean “our” – for the first time I felt embarrassment with regard to BAFTA. Actually the second time …but that’s another post. Today the Chief Executive of BAFTA was reported saying: “It would be inappropriate for me to say that we’ve done a better job than the Oscars. I admire their stance. They’ve said that they’re going to make changes. They know it isn’t good enough. I don’t want to gloat and say we’ve done better, because it could have gone the other way.” Memories can be short. Selma got 0 nominations at last year’s BAFTAs whilst it was a Best Motion Picture of the Year nominee at the Oscars a month later. The reason offered was: ““The film wasn’t delivered until the end of November and there were only three screenings before the voting started.” Well I remember not only going to one of the screenings but also getting a DVD Screener through the door in good time for Christmas, the intense viewing period for BAFTA voter members, and for the first round of voting.
I wrote about Selma here in Simple Pleasures a couple of weeks before the embarrassing nominations announcement.
Now, thanks to the complacency and inertia of the academies, we’re in the worst of all worlds – we don’t know whether sympathy votes are being cast or corrective behaviour taking place, so when, say, Idris Elba picked up the Best Actor award at last week’s Evening Standard Film Awards or at the Screen Actors Guild awards the week before we have no idea what that means. Exaggerated by the fact that his nomination at both the BAFTAs and SAG were in the Supporting Actor category.
Moving on, in retrospect I’m glad I was also pretty swift off the mark this year with The Big Short. An absolute masterpiece of writing, acting, directing and editing. Head and shoulders the stand-out film of the season. I went to an awards screening at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho which both actor Steve Carell and director Adam McKay attended.
In the Q&A that followed, I asked Adam McKay about the editing style and whether it had been envisioned from the off – it’s very striking and energising, as well as funny. I had a chat with Steve Carell in the bar after the event – a very warm and humble man. We talked a bit about the progression from The Wolf of Wall Street to The Big Short and about the source book for the movie. I also had a brief conversation with Adam McKay, likewise about the relationship to Scorsese’s terrific financial crash satire. Carell’s performance is outstanding – too subtle for the awards season but wonderful, with shades of Joe Pesci (Goodfellas).
This intimate gathering was a stark contrast to the BAFTA screening of The Force Awakens.
Not even the presence of a doddery Harrison Ford, fresh-faced Daisy Ridley, enthusiastic John Boyega and the wunderkind JJ Abrams could elevate Star Wars: The Force Awakens from being a just about entertaining enough 2 hours in the cinema to being much more than a pale shadow of its 1977 daddy (which I saw on release at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road and was as wowed by Dolby sound technology as anything else). The power of nostalgia is such that Pete Bradshaw (the other half of the Twitter convo above) gave it a 5* review in The Guardian! Daisy Ridley’s mum used to work at Channel 4 when my Other Half did and was shanghaied into one of the films I directed at the time. In the absence of Daisy with her C4 connections from any of the nominations lists, I really hope the film wins nothing other than technical prizes. Just to the right of JJ Abrams in the above photo – victims of the square format – is the British head of visual effects (whose name shamefully escapes me – another feather in the cap of the London Visual FX industry in the proud heritage of Framestore’s wonderful Gravity) and a hero of mine, Lawrence Kasdan, writer of the classic The Big Chill. This movie was not his finest hour.
But on a similar scale (the screening) and with another brilliant scriptwriter, a night at the Odeon Leicester Square watching The Hateful Eight in 70mm was a highlight of the season.
Quentin Tarantino, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins attended, QT his usual ebullient self, delighting in the 70mm projection in a premium auditorium, as well as the presence of Ennio Morricone in the audience. Him and the Maestro were sitting just along the row from me and shared a spectacular snowy screen experience, fabulously written, uniquely directed – wall to wall pleasure. With the added bonus of confronting race issues head on and including a decent complement of non-white faces!
Another visceral white (environment) big screen Experience with a capital E was the BAFTA screening of The Revenant. Now Birdman is high up my list of Most Hated Movies, right up there with Shirley Valentine – in this case for being cold (not in the sub-zero sense) and over-calculating.
It was evident from the Q&A that Tom Hardy also found Alejandro G. Iñárritu irritating. This over-hyped director seemed to have spent more time fussing over camera set-ups and cheating angles than worrying whether his actors had a balding notion what was actually going on in the scene, who they were talking to (since they were placed at unnatural angles) or what was in shot. Despite the logistical and physical triumph of shooting where it was shot, the ambitious movie in my eyes was let down by misjudgment of pace and story especially towards the end. Nonetheless it was a visceral cinematic experience and for that deserves recognition (of the non-awards type, apart from…) I hope it brings DiCaprio his elusive Oscar – though it’s not my favourite of his performances, it’s still as brilliant as ever.
My favourite Leonardo DiCaprio performances:
- Arnie – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993 – aged 19)
- Jordan – The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
- Romeo – Romeo & Juliet (1996)
- Candie – Django Unchained (2012)
- Toby – This Boy’s Life (1993)
- Jack – Titanic (1997)
Dontcha just love the movies…
The Big Short
20,000 Days on Earth
The Wolf of Wall Street
Silver Linings Playbook
Midnight in Paris
Compared to the Best Picture Oscar:
2014 Birdman – one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, hated it
2013 12 Years a Slave – a worthy winner from Film4
2012 Argo – well done with a great turn from Alan Arkin
2011 The Artist – gimmicky but fun
2010 The King’s Speech – solid
2009 The Hurt Locker – admirably visceral
Compared to the Best Film BAFTA:
2014 Boyhood – a worthy winner for its innovation
2013 12 Years a Slave – proud that Brits & Film4 told this story to America
2012 Argo – with hindsight, Zero Dark Thirty may be the more enduring nominee
2011 The Artist – at least an imaginative choice for winner
2010 The King’s Speech – solid in a very British way
2009 The Hurt Locker – just not my cup of entertainment tea
This is an update to my Oscars 2013 post which set out how things would pan out if the world were a just or tasteful place…
So how just were things?
I was on the money for Best Actress (not an obvious one with Emanuelle Riva in contention) and Best Screenplay, both Original and Adapted. I also nailed Best Cinematography and Best Documentary.
I still back Silver Linings Playbook for Best Picture. Dave Sexton sums it up pretty well in tonight’s London Evening Standard: “Yet [Argo] is only moderately good, telling a story that has no long-lasting or deeply personal resonance for the viewer. It’s well made, quite exciting at the start and at the finish, and it has some funny lines. But it’s not a film you would want to see twice, I’d say.” I’ve now watched it twice and he’s right – it’s not a fulfilling experience second time round, largely due to its thriller nature. Ben Affleck’s performance looks better on second viewing and his direction very well pitched and restrained. But SLP has more substance in the long run, more legs and more emotional resonance.
Ang Lee as Best Director I can swallow as Life of Pi is a real handful to master and it is quite some spectacle, one of the first artistically successful 3D movies (I suspect even Kermode would agree on that front). I also embrace Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor as he clearly is one of the all-time greats, and he brings Abraham Lincoln fully to life. Christophe Waltz merits his second Best Supporting Actor gong – the way Django Unchained spins out of control after his demise indicates the importance of his performance, even if it gets a little mannered at points.
2012-13 was a really rich year for cinema in contrast to most of the last few years. I’m glad therefore that no movies dominated the Oscars, especially Lincoln and Les Miserables, the one too talky (my Twitter review: Overlong, overtext and over here) and the other too singy. It was a bit harsh on Zero Dark Thirty but all in all justice largely prevailed.
[this is a work in progress]
1. Inglourious Basterds – because it reignited my excitement with cinema
2. The Hangover – because it afforded me a fine evening of laughter with the Enfants Terribles
3. A Serious Man – for the uncompromising ending and beautiful cinematography by my former boss Roger Deakins
4. Moon – for being intriguing and thought-provoking
5. District 9 – for realising an inventive concept well
6. An Education – for a supercharismatic central performance
7. Nowhere Boy – for fine performances all round
1. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) – couldn’t take my eyes off him
2. Sam Rockwell (Moon)
3. Christian McKay (Me & Orson Welles) – not an easy persona to capture
4. Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy)
5. Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll)
6. Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)
7. Adam Sandler (Funny People) – got papped behind him leaving BAFTA (that’s no way to live)
8. John Travolta (The Taking of Pelham 123)
1. Carey Mulligan (An Education) – old school screen charisma
2. Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy) – did a great, feisty Q&A for us at The Phoenix, East Finchley
3. Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey)
4. Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank)
1. Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) – captured the humour whilst retaining the character’s intrigue
2. Alfred Molina (An Education) – also a close second, helped pull off the ending with a pivotal moving scene
3. Ed Helms (The Hangover)
4. Thomas Sangster (Nowhere Boy) – striking screen presence
5. Peter Capaldi (In the Loop)
6. Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)
1. Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)
2. Claire Danes (Me & Orson Welles)
3. Rosamund Pike (An Education)
1. Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) – gets it on the strength of the opening scene alone
2. The Coen Brothers (A Serious Man)
3. Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
4. Todd Phillips (The Hangover)
5. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
6. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
7. Duncan Jones (Moon)
1. The Hangover
2. A Serious Man
3. District 9
4. Up in the Air
Gavin & Stacey
1. Hothouse Flowers – Community hall, Baltimore, West Cork
Bat for Lashes – The Roundhouse
Christy Moore – Festival Hall
Lisa Hannigan – Festival Hall
Blur – Hyde Park (The Enfants Terribles’ first gig)
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Empire Shepherd’s Bush
David Gray – The Roundhouse
Sea Sew – Lisa Hannigan
The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
1. Glass – Bat for Lashes
2. Say Hey – Michael Franti & Spearhead
The Great Lover – Jill Dawson
Dream – Jaume Plensa
Anish Kapoor – Royal Academy
August: Osage County (NT)
Prick Up Your Ears (The Comedy)
1. Ireland winning the 6 Nations
2. Spurs 9-1 victory over Wigan
1 Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France
A bravura opening sequence of some 25 minutes in near real-time a la Once Upon a Time in the West, part of the linkage of Westerns and War Films explored in Inglourious Basterds. Christoph Waltz rachets up the tension with his stand-out performance as the insidiously suave SS ‘Jew Hunter’ Colonel – as scene stealing as Ralph Fiennes’ Amon Goetz in Schindler’s List. The interrogation through chat is as good a dialogue as Tarantino has ever written.
As well as Austrian Waltz’s excellent performance which bagged him Best Actor at Cannes, Brad Pitt does a great – slightly cartoonish/Cormanesque yet highly compelling – turn as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, a no-nonsense Tennessee kickass (fellow native of Tarantino’s home state) playing the equivalent of the Lee Marvin role in The Dirty Dozen, pulling together the dirty Basterds to go kick some Kraut ass behind the lines in the run up to D-Day. He squeezes plenty of comedy out of the part, not least in his undercover I-talian.
Mélanie Laurent is also very charismatic as heroine Shoshanna, last survivor of a massacred Jewish family who takes refuge in Paris running a back-street cinema, resonant of wartime films like Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis. Inglourious Basterds is very much the lovechild of Sam Peckinpah and the French section of the International shelves of QT’s legendary video store. Laurent has a perfect deadened steeliness about her, an angel of death set to visit the Nazi basterds.
3 Bar room brawl
The second bravura talkie set-piece is a long sequence in a cellar bar culminating in a Mexican stand-off (worthy of John Woo). Like the opening scene, it is driven by interrogation through chat, the tension tautened to breaking point as a Gestapo uniform gets his terrier teeth into an undercover Englishman (played by Michael Fassbender, brought to prominence in FilmFour’s Hunger). The ebb and flow of tension is reminiscent of the Joe Pesci restaurant scene in Scorsese’s Goodfellas, with echoes of Hitch.
4 Putting out fire
As ever, Tarantino’s use of music is palpitating. The scene where the scarlet woman puts on her war paint to Bowie’s Cat People theme is a good reason in itself for the invention of Dolby. I’m going back to see Inglourious Basterds again just for that moment.
It’s a film which keeps you thinking after your initial somewhat bewildered exit from the movie theatre. It was good to see a bunch of Northern Irish teens having an animated discussion about the film as they sparked up outside the multiplex in Newry. I suspect this one will bear multiple viewing (probably more scene by scene than end to end, which says much about QT’s style of film-making) and like a blood red Burgundy get better with age.