Tag: Oscars

Short Film Review: The Old Man and the Sea

 

Aleksandr Petrov

In 1988, early in his career when still a student, animator Aleksandr Petrov was a director on “The Marathon,” a three-minute short made to commemorate Mickey Mouse’s 60th anniversary and presented to Roy E. Disney when the Disney company was first allowed to visit the Soviet Union. It consisted of black silhouettes on a white background, a level of visual simplicity abandoned in his subsequent shorts. These shorts played festivals and received awards, but Petrov got the biggest boost to his visibility in 2000 when he won an Academy Award for adapting the Hemingway novella The Old Man and the Sea.

I dislike Hollywood’s onanist festival as much as a person should, but the category of Best Animated Short Film has led me down such pleasant avenues I can’t dismiss the awards entirely. That’s how I found out about not only Petrov but also Bill Plympton and Adam Elliot, and could certainly discover more were I so inclined.

Ep. 257 – This week’s episode feature Dave’s interviews at The Real Side Radio; Movie Critic Christian Toto, purveyor at HollywoodInToto.com discusses the controversial Netflix film “Cuties”, Sam Elliott, Burt Reynolds, and the Oscars. At @22:43 Jon Gabriel, Editor in Chief at Ricochet.com discusses the “Harris-Biden Administration” and why Arizona may be big trouble for both President Trump and Senator Martha McSally. At @42:22 Billboard’s Top 40 pop recording artist Ricky Rebel discusses his viral video MAGA (YMCA parody played in full at the end of the interview), and his thoughts on the Lefts’ identity politics.

Phoenix at a Nadir

 

So, I’m at a diner last Sunday and the Oscars are on. But the sound was off. Which I considered Thomas Aquinas’ Sixth Proof of the Existence of God. So, as I glance up at the screen and the first award’s announced, Brad Pitt bounds onstage to grab it and I’m thinking “The man is 56. His hair’s gotta be getting a lifetime achievement award.” Actually, it was for best supporting actor, but either way, my not caring could’ve been measured in mega-tonnage till a waitress gets up and, much to my chagrin and over my internal screams of “C’mon, God, I’ll do anything you want if she just doesn’t–,” but it’s too late. She grabs the remote and doesn’t just flip on the sound, she turns it up to its “This is gonna ruin Richard’s night” level (for “Spinal Tap” fans, yes, that is higher than 11). Now, I’m in show business so I understand all the inner technical workings of how things go, but for the uninitiated, you know what happens when you turn the sound up on an awards show? Actors speak and you’re forced to listen to them!

Now, I’m not saying actors are dumb … just … lacking breadth. And … depth. But, to be fair, if you’re a world-class talent in anything, you’re probably focusing on that from a very early age and aren’t a walking library. My guess is as a teenager Serena Williams probably thought “Anna Karenina” was the Estonian qualifier she bageled the hell out of in Berlin last week.

So, I’m there in the diner and for the next four hours — did I mention it was a diner and bar — I watch all these actor folks “accept” for “whatever” while speechifying endlessly trying to convince everyone (and, no doubt, themselves) how engaged, woke, and socially conscious they were while not realizing that being crazy emotional about everything doesn’t prove you have more than a paper-thin intellect or something actually worth saying.

Say what you want about our intrepid podcasters but they are real stand up guys. For Toby, he’s fresh from his smash debut as a stand up comic, for James… well, he’s lucky just to be standing up, having spent the last couple of days battling what he’s sure is some Chinese bioweapon disease.

As for the rest of the show there’s Boris Johnson’s transformation from licentious hero to finger-wagging scold,  the UK’s new Internet regulator, and the BBC’s strangely impressive suicide strategy. And of course the Oscars… Have you oppressed a cow today?

ACF Asia #5: Parasite

 

Friends, here’s my conversation with Peter Paik on the big Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. We talk about the movie as a story of the conflict between liberalism and Korea’s older ways. We try to explain the new social and economic situation in South Korea, but also Bong’s interest in character study that reveals virtues and vices that reverse the judgments implied in the class analysis liberalism usually offers. This is not a story about wicked rich people, or systemic inequality, vs. innocent or virtuous poor people. It’s about the desire for self-mastery and the desire for comfort, or the difference between absorbing suffering and fleeing anxiety.

Writing on Oscar Movies

 

This was the year of Scorsese, even if only two people say so — the three-Oscar-winning writer-director-producer of the four-Oscar-winning Parasite, Bong Joon-ho — and me. Tarantino should have swept the Awards, but the Academy still desperately hopes that a sufficient number of sufficiently clever and sentimental auteurs will save cinema from the twin evils of Disney, perpetually snubbed, and Netflix, perpetually snubbed despite throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at winning a Best Picture Oscar.

Recent victorious auteurs include the insightful, but irresponsible enemy of liberalism Jordan Peele, the uninspired, sentimental Guillermo del Toro, his more insightful friend who’s absolutely clueless about the world we live in, Alejandro Inarritu — to say nothing of the other moralistic winners based on the hope that finally Hollywood will fix America’s race problems: Green Book, Moonlight, 12 years of slave…

Oscar Attendees Virtue Signaling to Each Other

 

Kyle Smith just published an outstanding article about last night’s Academy Awards.  This outstanding article included the following outstanding paragraph:

“Booksmart” star Kaitlyn Dever made, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “a sustainable fashion statement at the Oscars in a custom-made ethical gown by Louis Vuitton, featuring eco-responsible silk satin that was embroidered with Swarovski crystals and beads.” Whatever that is. Phoenix has been wearing the same tuxedo all Oscar season, because no sacrifice is beyond this man. The last role he played before the Joker was Jesus, and he is a method actor. Maybe he thinks he’s here to save us all.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that their increasingly absurd virtue signaling is not directed at us – their audience.  I think they’re virtue signaling to each other.

ACF Critic Series #24: Cold War

 

Back to Pawel Pawlikowski: @FlaggTaylor and I have a companion piece to Ida Cold War, a romantic tragedy, which features a couple escaping from and then returning to the Iron Curtain. Whereas Ida is about divine love, this is merely human love. In both cases, the Polish past and totalitarianism are the most important concerns of the story. A deeply affecting movie about national memory and personal memory with special attention to what art and love can and cannot do. A remarkable performance by Joanna Kulig. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography of Lukasz Zal (which earned him an Oscar nomination), as well as heartbreaking Polish folk songs.The movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes as well as the director prize — it was nominated for three big Oscars, too.

Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump’s nomination of Bill Barr to be attorney general and also sound off on Trump’s choice of Heather Nauert for UN ambassador and rumors that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly may soon resign.  They also fire back at liberals in New York pushing legislation requiring residents to have a million dollars in liability insurance before buying a gun – and that’s only part of the story.  And they groan as comedian Kevin Hart is forced to give up hosting the Oscars because he refused to apologize yet again for tweets he made a decade ago.

ACF#38: Unforgiven

 

Happy Fourth, everyone! After the celebrations, I recommend Unforgiven, the last Western, and the movie that first won Clint Eastwood the Oscar–two awards, Best Picture and Best Director, as well as a nomination for Best Actor. This is a very dark movie, but it is a very good movie. It is beautifully shot, but also sober. It is violent, but dignified. It’s a movie about what it takes to establish the equal human rights of all human beings, the human dignity we all sense in the fine words of the Declaration. It deals with the origin of law as we now know it in a sacred law that requires violence to put an end to violence, at least the chaotic violence of the Old West. It is also a reminder of the difference between law and order, which we tend to think of as identical or at least necessarily connected. But the movie shows order is perfectly compatible with treating some people as property, i.e., slavery.

Member Post

 

As Hollywood gathered Sunday night to adore itself, it was time for some housekeeping issues to be brought to the forefront. The Harvey Weinstein scandal was the loose thread that unraveled a corrupt culture that systematically objectified women and demanded sexual favors for advancement. Now that they were all together, it was time for some […]

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Oscars Ratings Fall to All-Time Low

 

I didn’t watch the Oscars last night. Apparently, most Americans joined me. The final ratings are in for the 2018 Academy Awards and it ain’t pretty.

Jimmy Kimmel earned appalling ratings when he hosted the event in 2017, but this year’s broadcast dropped 19 percent from that to a paltry 26.5 million viewers. This makes it the least-watched Oscars in history. The previous record-holder was in 2008; last night’s entry garnered 5 million fewer viewers than that bomb.

Trying to put a shine on it, The Hollywood Reporter said the bad ratings were no big deal since they were totes expected:

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Virginia Del. Nick Freitas, who is also running for U.S. Senate, for his powerful arguments in defense of the second amendment, pointing out the hypocrisy and real goals of the left, and doing so in a calm and measured manner.  They also roll their eyes as the Academy Awards telecast only addresses the sexual assault and harassment crises with vague euphemisms, as Hollywood pats itself on the back for changing without ever explaining what’s changed.  And they shudder yet again at revelations that all Broward deputies at the site of the Florida school shooting were ordered to stand down.

Member Post

 

Then again, I haven’t watched in ages. I stopped long ago when I realized two things. First, the Oscar show is about an endless stream of “thank-you”s from the winners. When an actress gets to thanking her makeup artist, or an actor the caterers, it’s time to stop. Where’s the get-them-off-the-stage hook when you need […]

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ACF#28 Roman J. Israel, Esq.

 

The Oscars are coming up and some of the movies in contention are both remarkable and obscure. My friend Carl Eric Scott and I offer you a conversation about the Dan Gilroy-Denzel Washington movie Roman J. Israel, Esq., a story about civil rights and the struggle for justice, dignity, and the human person in our times. Denzel was nominated for his remarkable role, which is itself the result of a remarkable process. Gilory, the writer-director, has said he wrote the script for Denzel and he trusted the actor to bring the character to life and fit him into the story, with great freedom to improvise and complete trust that the result would be memorable. This is the sort of movie the Oscars should reward and that audiences looking for stories made for adults should support.

Rod Serling to Narrate Remainder of American Experiment

 

Are things getting weirder? Brexit was only a mild shock: polls are often wrong, at least when conservative ideas prevail. Trump’s victory was a bigger surprise but again, polls, the echo chamber of the punditocracy, etc. But then there was the Super Bowl. And the Academy Awards. (Note to Meryl Streep: at least the Super Bowl stuck the landing.)

You don’t have to be a football fan to see that the 2017 Super Bowl was great entertainment. It was no She Devil, but still … Lady Gaga’s halftime performance was fantastic, although I didn’t appreciate her divisive “one-nation-under-God” rhetoric.

Taken individually, each of these events is remarkable. Collectively, it’s as if John Wayne removed a thorn from God’s paw or something.

“Loving,” or How to do Civil Rights Pictures Well

 

With this essay, I close my series on Oscar-nominated movies that should have won something. I take an un-romantic view of Hollywood, but I daresay I take beautification more seriously than most. It’s very hard for movies to compete with the kind of Disney/Marvel blockbuster that seems to have mesmerized the movie-going audience. It’s hard to argue with success in America. Organizing prestige a a kind of success that can at least occasionally withstand popularity is needful. It’s not working out as well as I would like, but it’s better than nothing. In 2016, this small, but influential side of movie-making gave us Loving, which I want to discuss today.

Americans have been treated to civil rights stories at the movies for almost a decade now. These are almost always prestige pictures, as opposed to popularity pictures. People who make them don’t really expect to make money by them–not that they would say no to wealth. This is one sign that morality still has a kind of purchase on the movie business. Of course, prestige is not an innocent pursuit, but what’s more important than suspecting people’s intentions now is trying to figure out what Americans might learn from these attempts to talk about justice and dignity. I think we’re broadly agreed that Americans need to pay more attention to history, but at the same time, that history is excessively revisionist these days. Possibly, the partisan character of the story-telling overcomes the all-American need for it. I think it’s true that the people who make these movies have not seen fit to make a great effort to address the American people as a whole, so there’s room for improvement.

Manliness Fails to Impress at the Oscars

 

How about cinema in the age of Trump? We do have some movies that try to explain what it means to men to lose their sense of dignity and what fierce pride this brings out of them. This manly attempt to reclaim a sense of dignity is important in politics as much as in society. After all, the recent gains of the GOP in every office in the land and Mr. Trump’s own victory have a lot to do with the desperate hope that there’s some future ahead for people who have been suffering in an economy that’s been bad for almost two decades. 2016 was not a year of American confidence or contentment—instead, a sense of betrayal that implies a sense of dignity led people to do something they had never done before. The party system, much shaken, now gives the look of restoration, but American society is not done shaking things up.

There’s more awareness of this in the press than in the movies. In 2016, the American press did start to pay attention to many neglected stories. It started covering the horrible suffering of the white working—or formerly working—class. The opioid and heroin crises got more coverage than previously. The shocking fact that white men in lower social classes are dying younger than they used to do, which is unknown to America, also became a part of public discussion. The terrible rate of suicides for men is still neglected, but that, too, might become part of public discussion.

Feminism Didn’t Arrive at the Oscars

 

I’ve been doing more than a little thinking about Oscar movies this year. It turns out I’ve seen quite a number of them and had something to say. Well, today the thing I want to talk about is Arrival, both shockingly and remarkably a feminist movie. It made nearly $100 million in America, so it’s made a splash, and then it was nominated in eight categories, only to leave with one measly technical award. Maybe it’s a complete bust and will soon be forgotten as most things are. I’m told it lacked the deep concern with human individuality of the big winners. But there is something to respect in its feminist outlook and so I’ll talk to you about that if you have the time.

These days, it seems like women are protagonists in science fiction stories. That’s a sign of the future, at least in the sense that men have been the protagonists up to now and there has to be some change for there to be a future. Arrival is the rare science-fiction story in which the woman protagonist is actually important because she is a woman. There are both obvious and subtle effects of this new-found womanhood: in the story on which the movie is based, the protagonist is male. Movies may be more progressive than books, I suppose.

The story is this: one day, aliens arrive unannounced in weird-looking ships suspended over various parts of the world, twelve in number, like the Apostles of Christ or the months of the year, depending on how you think about it. They are incommunicado. Men must make the effort to overcome their shock and reach out of their silent awareness that they are not, after all, alone. That’s what really scares us, I suppose, loneliness. The two protagonists are both quite lonely and, being man and woman, eventually learn to put two together. Don’t credit the aliens with teaching people how to make children too soon, however, because this story has a twist.