December 6, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Now, you don’t think a blog called “Popcorn & Prejudice” would ignore this one, do you? “Death Comes to Pemberley,” a BBC miniseries based on P.D. James’s mystery novel (set six years after the events of “Pride and Prejudice,” and involving a mysterious murder), will air in the U.K. during the week after Christmas, and stateside on PBS Masterpiece sometime in 2014. The cast features Matthew Rhys (seen on American TV in “Brothers and Sisters”) as Mr. Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin (currently seen in “Philomena” as Judi Dench’s daughter, and also part of the cast of the excellent BBC “Bleak House”) as Elizabeth, and Mathew Goode (“Match Point,” “Brideshead Revisited” as George Wickham. Looks like good fun.
And with that, I’m taking a couple of days off. Enjoy these chilly days (and some good yearend movies), and I’ll be back Thursday.
December 5, 2013 at 12:31 PM
I’m seeing an awful lot of . . . well, it’s best characterized as horrified anticipation online today about “The Sound of Music Live!,” an event so super-exciting it apparently needs an exclamation point, airing tonight at 8pm on NBC. (By the way, no matter what that title says, it won’t be live on our coast.) I won’t be watching, because a) I don’t care that this is a live stage show of the stage version of “The Sound of Music” blah blah blah; I still don’t want anyone other than Julie Andrews to ever sing “The Lonely Goatherd,” thanks very much, and b) um, I have to be somewhere else tonight, otherwise I’d probably sneak a peek or two, despite point a). Anyway, this event is being produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose numerous credits include being executive producers of “Smash,” which gives me hope that at some point in this three-hour event, Anjelica Huston will show up and throw a drink in someone’s face. Maybe Rolf’s. Anybody planning on watching tonight?
Update: OK, I confess I just watched this video of the great Audra McDonald, who I like to think of as Cousin Audra (no, not really), being forced to sing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” on some outdoor stage on a very cold night. She looks like she’s freezing, but I will say that she, not surprisingly, really sings the hell out of that song, including those final notes that defeated Peggy Wood in the movie. (” . . . Till you find YOOOOUUUURRRR DREEEEAAAAAMMMM!”) So, OK, maybe that’s a reason to watch tonight.
December 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM
It’s that time in the calendar when a lot of us start thinking about our favorite movies of the year. (Me, I just yesterday went through my comprehensive list of everything I’ve seen this year and marked my very favorites with a star. 19 movies got stars, so my top ten list will require a little work . . .) David Ehrlich, of Film.com, has taken a creative approach and made this quite lovely montage of his 25 favorite movies of the year (plus some extras, in the prologue); whether or not you agree with his choices, it’s well worth a look.
December 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Interesting little behind-the-scenes piece today on “Gravity,” one of my favorite films this fall. Visual effects supervisor Tim Webber discusses how, after rejecting the idea of having the actors on wires against a green screen, his team created a “light box” — a giant cube made up of lighting panels that made it appear as if light was moving around the actors.
“It’s like a giant TV on the inside of the box,” Mr. Webber said. “So that gave the actors a sense of the environment around them.” If the scene involved Earth as the source of light, the actors would see a representation of the Earth inside the box.
Check out the pictures here.
December 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM
Narrowing down the finalists in the Best Documentary category, as with several other Oscar categories, is a two-step process: first a short list of 15 is announced, then narrowed down to five at the time of the nominations announcement on January 16. Today the Academy announced that list; here are the titles, along with notes on when/where you can see these movies:
“The Act of Killing” (in theaters last summer; DVD out January 7)
“The Armstrong Lie” (now playing at Sundance Cinemas)
“Blackfish” (currently available on DVD/streaming media)
“The Crash Reel” (opening in theaters this month; no Seattle date set yet)
“Cutie and the Boxer” (in theaters last summer; currently available on Amazon Instant Video)
“Dirty Wars” (currently available on DVD/streaming media)
“First Cousin Once Removed” (available on HBO GO)
“God Loves Uganda” (in theaters last month)
“Life According to Sam” (available at HBO On Demand)
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” (available on HBO GO)
“The Square” (coming Jan. 17 to Sundance Cinemas)
“Stories We Tell” (in theaters last summer, now on DVD/streaming)
“Tim’s Vermeer” (coming to Seattle March 7)
“20 Feet from Stardom” (in theaters last summer; DVD coming January 14)
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” (screening on HBO December 9, also available on HBO GO)
And now, a moment of silence for some of my favorite documentaries this year that didn’t make the cut: “56 Up,” “At Berkeley,” “Good Ol’ Freda,” “A Place at the Table,” “The Waiting Room,” “Deceptive Practices: Ricky Jay.” Any favorites you’d like to name? Of the six finalists I’ve seen (“The Armstrong Lie,” “Blackfish,” “Cutie and the Boxer,” “Stories We Tell,” “Tim’s Vermeer,” and “20 Feet from Stardom”), my vote would have to go to “Stories We Tell”; check it out, and see if you agree with me.
December 3, 2013 at 9:05 AM
The movie-awards season has officially begun, with the IFP Gotham Awards announced last night and the New York Film Critics Circle voting today, announcing their winners as they choose them. (Why not just wait and send out one press release with the entire list? Well . . . you got me.) Most of the NYFCC awards are still to be announced, but one film has already turned up on both lists: Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station,” named best first film by the NYFCC and best breakthrough director (Coogler) and breakthrough actor (Michael B. Jordan) by the Gothams. None of this means much, particularly as in the next few weeks we’re about to be deluged by countless movie awards, but I wanted to draw a little attention to this because “Fruitvale Station” is a wonderful movie, and the kind that often gets forgotten by year’s end. The based-on-fact story about the last day of a young Bay Area man before he is killed by a transit official, “Fruitvale Station” was briefly in theaters last summer, and impressed me for the honesty of its acting (particularly Jordan and Octavia Spencer) and the confidence of the directing — you would never have guessed that Coogler had never made a feature before. A haunting film, and one which I remember well many months after seeing it — and that’s not true for most of the movies I see. Glad it’s being recognized. If you missed it in theaters and are intrigued, it’ll be out on DVD etc. next month.
December 2, 2013 at 10:12 AM
I’m sure everyone’s heard by now about the tragic death of actor Paul Walker this weekend in a fiery car crash in Santa Clarita County, California. (Details are still emerging, but it appears that Walker was a passenger in the 2005 Porsche Carrera, after attending a charity event.) Walker, who was 40, was on a break from shooting “Fast & Furious 7,” the latest entry in the franchise that made him a worldwide star. He leaves behind a teenage daughter and, based on the outpouring of emotion online since his death, many grieving friends.
The handsome Walker, a California native, had been working in movies and television since his teens, but first was noticed by movie audiences in the late 1990s, in a trio of films: “Pleasantville,” “She’s All That,” and “Varsity Blues.” Back in 1999, I interviewed Walker when he came to Seattle to promote “She’s All That,” a forgettable teen comedy in which Walker was charming in a supporting role. I remember his blue eyes and good looks — but more importantly, I remember how incredibly nice he was to an interviewer who was very new to her job and still figuring it out. There wasn’t a trace of movie-star attitude; quite the opposite, as I remember him writing down and giving me his personal email address. (I’d mentioned some article — I don’t remember what — and he asked if I would mind forwarding it to him.) It’s been many years and many, many actor interviews later; and I don’t think anybody else has ever given me their email address. Just a tiny anecdote, but perhaps a telling one. A good guy, gone too soon.
November 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM
As Thanksgiving weekend approaches (my turkey’s sitting in the fridge getting a dry brine, right this minute; curious if it will work), it’s become a P&P tradition to devote one post to things I’m thankful for — not family and friends (though they would of course top the list), but those within the movie realm. So, a big thank- you-for-existing to . . .
– Cinerama, which I visited just this week (caught “Catching Fire” there with my teenage niece), and whose big screen remains matchless. (The popcorn isn’t bad either.) And that means thanking owner Paul Allen, who in an age of disappearing single-screen cinemas has turned Cinerama into a gem.
– David McRae, about to celebrate his first year as operator of the Ark Lodge Cinemas; and every locally owned, independently run cinema in the area.
– All cinemas, independent or otherwise, that serve Coke products over Pepsi. (Yes, this list is highly personal; your mileage may vary.) And that don’t let the popcorn sit around too long.
– Parents who take their kids to the movies and teach them that seeing a movie on an enormous screen alongside other people requires good behavior — and is absolutely worth the extra trouble, because it’s way more fun than watching a movie on an iPad.
– Moviegoers who turn their cellphones off and let themselves get lost in what’s happening on screen (which is, if you let it, way more fun than texting).
– Cate Blanchett, because I have no idea how she does what she does, but it dazzles me every time. Particularly “Blue Jasmine.”
– Robert Redford, for reminding us this year that he’s a great actor — with almost no words (“All Is Lost”).
– Nicole Holofcener, for making yet another perfect romantic comedy for grown-ups (“Enough Said”). Wouldn’t anybody else like to join her?
– Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Amy Aker, Veerle Baetens, Barkhad Abdi, Liam James, Onata Aprile, Dane DeHaan, and many more — for transforming from name-I-didn’t-recognize to star-I’ll-watch-for, in one mesmerizing performance this year. (Don’t recognize the names? Look them up; check out their movies — all are worth the trouble.)
– All those documentary filmmakers who know they’ll never get rich or famous, but just want to tell a good story. Among my favorites this year: “Stories We Tell,” “56 Up,” “At Berkeley,”"The Waiting Room,” “20 Feet From Stardom.”
- Alfonso Cuaron, for showing that it’s possible to make a gazillion dollars (well, OK, nearly $250 million and counting) with a non-sequel, non-superhero, non-silly adventure. Bravo, “Gravity.”
– Helena Bonham Carter, because she was born to play Miss Havisham, and finally did (in “Great Expectations”; briefly in theaters earlier this month).
– Every dress in “The Great Gatsby.” In my dreams, a trunkful of them arrives at my door, from a Mysterious Admirer.
– Alexander Payne, because his movies always make me laugh and make me cry. “Nebraska” did both.
– Emma Thompson, just because.
– Everyone who reads P&P, especially those who comment or email, or those who just read quietly. (That’s everyone, right?) May your Thanksgiving tables be bountiful, and may your moviegoing experiences this holiday season be filled with joy, laughter, and fabulous popcorn (if that’s your thing). See you next week!
November 26, 2013 at 1:38 PM
I’ve mentioned before that I always enjoy the Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable interviews with Oscar hopefuls, and this week’s is especially fun: six actresses, namely Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”), Amy Adams (“American Hustle”), Octavia Spencer (“Fruitvale Station”), Oprah Winfrey (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”), Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”). As you’d imagine, Thompson is the liveliest; here are a few of her best bits:
(On the best advice about acting that she’s gotten)
My godfather was a sort of writer, philosopher, gay man, extraordinary, and he was a director of theater, and he gave my mum a piece of advice. I think it applies to everything. He said, “Onstage, imagine you’ve got a fire burning in your dressing room.” There’s something going on elsewhere; it takes your mind off acting.
(Answering the question: “Are there roles you won’t play?”)
There was a patch of time when I was in my 30s and just started [being offered] a whole string of roles that basically involved saying to a man, “Please don’t go and do that brave thing. Don’t! No, no, no, no, no!” That’s a trope, the stock woman who says, “Don’t do the brave thing.” I said no to all of them. I’m so proud.
(In response to Adams saying that she’d like to do a Broadway musical)
I did a musical for 15 months, during which I had to be incredibly cheerful, and after six months I was clinically depressed. Seriously. You have no life. Literally, you just, you have the energy for the show. It’s singing, it’s dancing, neither of which I was properly trained in, so I was terrified anyway, and then you can’t go out, you can’t drink, you can’t …
And this exchange:
THOMPSON: Have you ever played someone you wanted to carry on being? I played an Argentinean, and I just didn’t want to be English ever again. (Laughter.)
WINFREY: You are the woman to have at a dinner party!
THOMPSON: You can hire me for a small fee.
But it’s all good fun — and quite thoughtful. Read the whole thing here.
November 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM
Just came from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (which I missed last week when I went out of town; my colleague Soren Andersen did a bang-up job reviewing). Good movie, great cast, serious tension — but let’s talk about those costumes, no? I could happily watch B-reel footage of Effie Trinket tottering around all afternoon, just for a better look at those ensembles. That butterfly dress — vintage Alexander McQueen — was killer; and that poodle-ish purple number with the Elizabethan ruff; and the wildly ruffled red dress with the matching shoes, as if a few ruffles fell off and parked on her feet . . . all a treat. Here’s an interview with costume designer Trish Summerville (who also designed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), in which she notes that Jennifer Lawrence needed a stool to tuck under the voluminous skirt of her wedding dress (so she could sit down between takes), that Johanna’s elegantly high-necked interview dress was made from cork (because she’s from the lumber district, natch), and that the beautiful shades-of-’Black-Swan’ wings attached to Katniss’s mockingjay dress were, alas, CGI.
Love Caesar’s purple hair, too.