Hi ho! Hope everyone is safe and sound after this hurricane nonsense. I’m lucky enough that the extent of my inconvenience was about a 12-hour delay in leaving Cleveland. I’ll be whiling away a few days in the White Mountains before finally arriving back in Amherst on Thursday after an 8-month hiatus. Senior year shenanigans might make my posting rather infrequent again (not that I’ve posted as much this summer as I promised, but tough titties), so bear with me. I’ll be making my first early stab at Oscar predictions and updating a new Contenders list probably some time next week. Hopefully I can find the time to crank out a few more reviews before that, but we’ll see. In the meantime: trailers! Woooooo!
The Artist (beware, this trailer appears to give away most of the story)
“The Artist” made a big splash at Cannes, where its star Jean Dujardin took the Best Actor prize. On paper, “The Artist” might seem like the most unlikely Oscar contender ever: silent, black-and-white, and French? Yet, everyone says the film is a gorgeous, sentimental tribute to cinema’s past, with beautiful dance numbers, lush visuals, and that star-making turn from Dujardin in Valentino/Fairbanks mode. That’s right up the Academy’s wheelhouse, and with Harvey Weinstein driving the campaign, “The Artist” seems to have already moved from dark horse to strong contender. And regardless of its awards prospects, watching “The Artist” is by all accounts a delightful way to spend an evening. I’ll certainly be there.
I am still somewhat mystified by the shake-up in casting in bringing the award-winning Broadway play “God of Carnage” to the big screen; the stage version featured James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels, all of whom are also established film actors. Will Reilly, Winslet, Foster and Waltz have the same power? It certainly looks like a great actor’s showcase. The direction looks far more straightforward than Polanski’s usual, but he’s always been great at conveying claustrophobia, so there could still be some interesting material for him here.
Boo yah. After seeming to get a bump from the unexpected mainstream success of “True Grit” last winter, the Western took a nose dive with the universally ignored “Cowboys and Aliens” this summer. But “Blackthorn” has the frontier aficionado in me quite excited. The story is an interesting follow-up to the classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” proposing that the legendary bandit survived that shoot-out with the Bolivian military. I actually just finished reading Bruce Chatwin’s “In Patagonia,” which makes a fairly convincing case (in passing) that Cassidy was indeed never actually cornered, but continued to live out his days in the South American wilderness before eventually returning to the States. Neat to see this version of the tale brought to the screen, and with underrated cinematic bad-ass Sam Shepard as Cassidy.
Machine Gun Preacher
Marc Forster’s latest could be an awards play for Gerard Butler, or it could just be a bit of semi-important dramedy. Or just an excuse to look at Michelle Monaghan. Rawr.