Autumn Movie Bites #2

Some bites to remind us that I have seen the movies and what I think about them.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Rupert Wyatt. USA. I start by saying that have seen the old movies, thus I know story; so my big surprise was to find that I liked the prequel, is a lot better than what I could ever imagined or expected. Loved the new apes, especially the protagonist with an amazingly expressive face that really transmitted feelings, truly fabulous how cinema technology has advanced and how good can be when is well-used. If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and watch if only just to pay attention to the great expression by the protagonist ape. Enjoy!!

What Women Want by Daming Chen. China. I’m crazy about Gong Li and will watch everything with her, but I have no idea why did she accepted to do this remake of the Hollywood movie with the same name. Much less because I did enjoyed original and gee, this remake was really awful and got me feeling embarrassed for Gong Li performance. If you love Gong Li please do not watch this movie. Sigh.

Margin Call by J. C. Chandor. USA. Nice entertaining drama about the financial crisis that seems will be explored from many points of view; this time telling about an investment bank that rushes to dump their positions before everything explodes and pushing fast-forward the crisis. Great cast with the likes of Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, and well, Demi Moore. Movie is starting to collect honors in this award season and yes, is well-deserved as film is a good representative of current American cinema that doesn’t target teenagers and doesn’t use special effects to fill movie duration. Enjoy!

The Help by Tate Taylor. USA, India, UAE. No, haven’t read the book and was expecting a not-easy-to-watch American period drama before civil rights were a possibility. To my surprise the story engage me to the point of making me very uncomfortable at moments as many things that are depicted in the movie are still true today between maids and their mistresses from many Latin American countries. Film is well done, so well that does generate emotions in viewers and I’m no exception, but great performances enhance story and movie in general, especially Viola Davis that I’m sure will get an Oscar nomination. Watch movie is entertaining and surely will make you laugh, shred a few tears, make you think a lot, and for some, wonder why no one has written a successful book about Latin America’s maid/mistress relationship. Enjoy!!!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Wayne Wang. China and USA. Film tells parallel stories between 19th century China and present day Shanghai with tales of two women joined by laotong, a biding vow and contract to be eternal friends and share each other lives communicating with a secret women’s language called nushu beautiful written on the folds between the spines of silken fans. Nice story isn’t? Unfortunately film does not match the greatness of the story and what could have become interesting, thrilling and engaging becomes banal, not interesting and focus less. If you skip movie won’t miss much, but I do suggest you read book by Lisa See. Enjoy.

Melancholia by Lars von Trier. Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany. Lars von Trier has said publicly that this is his most American-like (ie mainstream or commercial) movie ever and you have no idea how right he is as this film definitively is not the regular greatness von Trier imprints in his works. Maybe the cast helps too much to his Americanization, as the first part with Kirsten Dunst character story is really not-engaging and for me, dull. Thing change a bit in the second part when Charlotte Gainsbourg commands the story and the screen but by then you know the end is coming and effectively comes with a bang done more with light than with impact. I suppose that most honors will come because film is not as crude as for example The Antichrist, is a lot more easy to watch and one-dimensionally understandable. Sigh. All right because I really liked second part, let say is Enjoy! (I hope he goes back to do his remarkable movies that so goodly shock us).

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. USA. Let me get this out of the way I have seen Malick’s movies and yes there are some I don’t like (The New World) and some nobody liked but I did (Days of Heaven); so many like his latest and surprise, surprise I did not. Just let me share that can’t understand why to reproduce the big-bang for about 20 minutes (more or less) with images that look more belonging to Natgeo, Discovery or any of those cable TV channels than to a “serious” film. I literally forced myself to watch the complete movie, but boy that was really a very hard thing to do and do not suggest anyone to do it. Too hard-to-watch (ie boring) but got the Palm d’Or and praises from everyone, except me. Sigh.

Beginners by Mike Mills. USA. Could you believe I watched this movie because Mélanie Laurent? Lol! It’s an entertaining movie thanks to very good performances by Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor as father and son. Film is a drama that tells about a man inability to keep a relationship surely due to what he saw his parents live, especially after her mother dies and his father recuperates the ‘joie de vivre’ when he tells everyone that he’s gay. It’s a complex story with many layers that I got them but somehow didn’t engaged me and watched from a comfortable distance, I was just an spectator of whatever was going on in the screen. Enjoy!!

Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Greece. Very crazy movie, so crazy that I love it! But know that is not for everyone not for the story, not for the performances, not for the style and not for the whole that to me feels not hot like Greece but very cold like Finland –somehow film made me think of Aki K. films-. There is nothing lesbian interest in this film as I thought, so watch film only if you like cold-expression-less performances in very complex layered stories. If you dare to watch film I bet you will enjoy it a lot more than you expect, obviously you have to like art/arthouse films too. Enjoy!!!

Le Gamin au Vélo (The Girl with a Bike) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Belgium, France and Italy. Typical and particular Dardenne brothers visual style, amazing storytelling technique/style, and excellent directorial style that makes something very simple into a true masterpiece that’s a pleasure to watch. Period. Both Cécile De France and Thomas Doret give impeccable performances. A must be seen film for all of us that love the work of great Dardenne brothers. Enjoy!!!

Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Russia. This movie has been killing me since the moment I finished watching and as days went by it has gotten worst. See, my spontaneous reaction when I saw the movie was: it’s an okay movie, Russia now looks/behaves like the rest of us… hmm, not good. Liked the visuals but believed they’re not as good as in Izgnanie or The Return. But since I like this director way beyond what I saw, I replayed movie in my mind and from that moment on movie is killing me. I know there are a lot of symbols and film explores the capitalist dichotomy of poor-rich, have-have not’s, plus the roles nouveaux riches play in their societies and I suppose that in Russia those that have money have not old money, but new money. Then started to read about movie and gee, almost each review, no matter the language, has slightly different story interpretations. I even read what Zvyaginstsev says about story and yes is slightly different. So my conclusion, is that movie story could have as many interpretations as people who see the movie, there is a very easy to understand story essence that deals with what I said above plus the morals of committing murder, but when you see story essence you know there is more and indeed people find more. One thing I’m sure if you enjoy great Russian films, this is must be seen for you. Big Enjoy!!!

جدایی نادر از سیمین Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation) by Asghar Farhadi. Iran. Excellent movie, for me as good as Farhadi previous two films, Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly; but this film has something new as story flawlessly travels several genres and engages us viewers not like spectators but like we are inside the movie and sometimes we side with Simin, then with Nader, the with Razieh, then with the judge, then with no one, then we are completely immersed inside the story and film. Fabulous! Until you see this brilliantly crafted very simple story you have no idea how seeing something so banal and common can become a masterpiece in the hands of a master filmmaker. Chapeau Mr. Farhadi. I don’t doubt that has huge possibilities of winning the Oscar and if so, will be well deserved, especially now that I know Pina is also competing in the documentary category. I strongly recommend this film as must be seen for all everyone that loves great world cinema. BIG ENJOY!!!

There are many more movies, but this is it for today. Cheers!

Autumn Movie Bites #1

Here are some bites about lesbian interest movies. Enjoy.

Circumstance by Maryam Keshavarz. France, USA, and Iran. Bit confused about film as found stays like in the middle not going in depth with something. As a genre film tells a known story –set in the Middle East too- with love scenes that are more sex scenes filmed from a male-point-of-view than with female eyes. Not the best lesbian interest film with similar theme that I have seen. Then as a political statement is not strong as there are other female centered stories that have more successfully shown how Middle Eastern cultures/traditions/religion converts women to almost non-existence within their society. Maybe if film had no lesbian interest content political message could have been developed more; likewise if had no political message then the lesbian interest story could have been developed more and more appropriately. Still, film is watchable. Enjoy.

You and I by Roland Joffé. Russia and USA. Not pleasant to watch thanks to a terrible script with absurd dialogues and lack of clear focus in a story that pretends to show youth decadence in contemporary Russia by telling the “falling in love” story of Janie (Shantel VanSanten) and Lana (Mischa Barton). If you skip movie you will be missing absolutely nothing. Sigh.

Sour Sorriso (Sister Smile) by Roger Deutsch. Italy. This 2001 film is more a fictitious account of what infamous Belgian nun surely didn’t live; but not like the more recent version, clearly presents a woman that loved women. The problem is that the director to tell a 60’s set story used a 60’s cinema style that today makes story and film not easy-to-watch plus hard to be related to. Sigh.

80 Egunean (For 80 Days) by Jon Garaño and José María Goenaga. Spain. Film tells about “Axun and Maite meeting at secondary school during a repressive that never allowed their relationship to go beyond friendship” and when they meet 50 years after they can’t really become a couple as seems is too late. Not particularly liked message as I do believe that NEVER is too late, but how writers decided to end story makes message “more politically correct” but less human as we have to end up doing what others want and not what we really want. Film has very good production values and performances that will entertain you. Enjoy!!

Die Konkurrentin by Dagmar Hirtz. Germany. This 1997 German TV movie has a very nice love story between two women as only –I believe- German television can do SO good, which makes it absolutely must be seen for those that enjoy the genre and have seen before (great) German lesbian interest TV movies. The last is because whatever else happens in story (here is Business Corporation drama) is secondary to their typical seductive way of making their protagonists fall in love and have a happy ending. Still surprises me that German audiences were able to watch lesbian interest movies in that decade, when still today -40 years after- many countries TV will never show them. Enjoy!!

Break My Fall by Kanchi Wichmann. UK. Can’t deny that film has an interesting style that makes it look and feel quite realistic. For a 40,000 UK pounds production, have to say that film is really great. Story is raw and like in all stories about a relationship last days we will not see romantic moments; if performances are good then story will be felt a lot more and this is the case with this film. It’s a lesbian story about something that hasn’t been explored too much in the genre and suggest to many to watch it with no romance expectations and maybe you will enjoy it as much as I did. Enjoy!!

Como Esquecer (So Hard to Forget) by Malu de Martino. Brazil. Nope is not about how the relationship ends, but how the one that didn’t want to break up abandons herself into depression, how she starts to overcome not being with Antonia anymore and finally meets someone that allows her to give herself another chance to care for someone. Gee, sounds kind of sad BUT honestly is NOT as this Brazilian movie has all over the Brazilian “joie de vivre” more in style than in story, plus acceptable to good performances by good-looking cast makes the ride really easier. Can be entertaining if you have no expectations and just enjoy the ride. Enjoy!!

Leading Ladies by Daniel Beahm and Erika Randal Beahm. USA. My big mistake was that I had expectations about this movie, “dancing expectations” lol! Honestly is not a good movie and there is not much dancing; but if you enjoy typical American comedy style (which I don’t) maybe you will enjoy this “zany” comedy a lot more than me. Sigh.

Tomboy by Céline Sciamma. France. An entertaining film that surely is more mainstream than Sciamma’s previous Naissance des pieuvres, which I simply loved. As you can imagine was expecting a film more in the style of Naissance des pieuvres and definitively Tomboy is different; still is an engaging story about a girl that sees her moving into a new neighborhood as the opportunity to be more what she really feels like: a boy. Okay I should explain myself so I will not confuse anyone, this film is NOT mainstream, is arty; but if you compare both Sciamma’s films then you will see that her second is more commercial than her first thanks to the story mainly. Not your regular genre film, but worth watching. Enjoy!!

Kyss Mig (With Every Heartbeat) by Alexandra-Therese Keining. Sweden. Has this film a predictable story? Yes. Indeed is true, very predictable BUT film is highly enjoyable, so it’s not about the destination is about the trip. You have no idea how good your trip into the lives of Mia and Frida will be as performances by complete cast is quite good, cinematography is super, production values are high and director is so good that I’ll watch her future films for sure. I loved this movie and if you have the patience to enjoy a great ride to a predictable destination, then this film is definitively for you. Enjoy!!!

Mein Freund Aus Faro (To Faro) by Nana Neul. Germany. This 2008 film has been labeled as the German version of Boys Don’t Cry and indeed has a similar story but fortunately fictional To Faro does not have the violence of the real story. Tells about Melanie that meets Jenny and falls in love; but Jenny think she’s met Miguel from Faro, Portugal. Film is nothing special, entertaining but not much more. If you been delaying watching because of violence (as I did) be assure that there is none here, so go ahead and watch. Enjoy.

Luan qing chun (Beatiful Crazy) by Chi Y. Lee. Taiwan. Couldn’t enjoy film even when I tried harder (lol!), yes is arty but unfortunately not really interesting. Not much lesbian interest, just what seems like a few seconds. If you skip it, won’t be missing much. Sigh.

Albert Nobbs by Rodrigo García. UK and Ireland. Honestly I had no lesbian interest expectations for this movie as I’m familiar with main character story, so finding that perhaps the most digestible/funny character the movie has is the one played by Janet McTeer (Page) who happens to be lesbian and lives with her wife was most refreshing. Glenn Close really gets lost into her male character and does a great performance but character is truly lame -and definitively not lesbian at all- as Albert Nobbs is a woman trapped in a man cover that resigned herself to live a life of loneliness, that’s it until she meets Page as sees an opportunity to change her destiny. Unfortunately she does not look for love, she looks for convenience and pursues Helen (Mia Wasikowska) that definitively doesn’t need “convenience” at that moment. Maybe if Nobbs had seduced Helen then things would have been different, but obviously that will happen later when Page starts to seduce Helen. I believe that Close does really good her character but character is so unappealing and is so well-done that some are saying that her performance made the character one-dimensional, flat, pan faced, etc; but I do believe that’s the way it was supposed to be. Anyway this is a movie to watch not because has lesbian interest moments but because is a story of women that had to dress like men to be able to earn a living when for whatever reason, there was no man to take care of them. Enjoy!!!

2011 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Winners

Film critics all over the world give awards to what they consider the best of the best in many film categories; in America we know that there are many groups that will name their best and today we start with the New York Film Critics Circle –the so-called harbingers of the Oscar nominations- winners that were voted, counted and published via twitter today.

At their official site news are not up yet, but soon will be here. My source of information is the NYFCC twitter official account where all morning they have been tweeting winners and these are the results.

Best Feature Film: The Artist
Best First Feature: Margin Call

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Actress: Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain in Tree of Life, The Help, and Take Shelter

Best Actor: Brad Pitt in Moneyball and Tree of Life
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks in Drive

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Tree of Life
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorking for Moneyball

Best Nonfiction Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

Special Award to be given posthumously to filmmaker Raoul Ruiz.

Not much to say as for a change I agree with the above winners as even if haven’t seen The Artist absolutely is must be seen for me; Margin Call is a highly entertaining movie with great performances by a great cast and a not-too-new story told in a way that makes it exciting to watch; I’m speculating that Jessica Chastain will get an Oscar nod in the supporting category; last haven’t seen Moneyball but because story I imagine will be a highly “emotional” American entertaining movie and well, I know that this year Oscar could be between George, Leonardo or Brad (lol!) so I suppose is okay the Circle honors Pitt, still hope that great non-American actors get Oscar nods.

Can’t help but remind you all that last year Critics, Audiences, and Industry Peers didn’t matched in their selections as best of the best, so this year let’s see what happens. But I hope that critics are able to “close” the gap between them and audiences plus Industry members.

21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards Winners

Last night was the awards ceremony that was not entertaining at all, so much that I completely fall asleep before learning live the main winners (lol!); but here are the winners in *BLUE.

Have seen both top winners movies and honestly, both did not impressed me; at least Beginners is more entertaining than Malick's latest. Surely the positive note -for me- is Dee Rees winning big as Breakthrough Director.



The award season officially starts with the Gotham nominations that were announced today; this year the list probably will have one or two movies that will do well at Oscar thus not as last year when four of the five nominated for Best Feature made it to Best Film and/or other top Oscar award nominations.

To read the press release please go here.

Best Feature
*Beginners, Mike Mills
The Descendants, Alexander Payne
Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt
Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols
*The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

Breakthrough Director
Mike Cahill for Another Earth
Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground
Evan Glodell for Bellflower
*Dee Rees for Pariah(lesbian interest)

Breakthrough Actor
*Felicity Jones in Like Crazy
Elizabeth Olsen in Marta Marcy May Marlene
Harmony Santana in Gun Hill Road (Gay/Trans interest)
Shailene Woodley in The Descendants
Jacob Wysocki in Terri

Best Ensemble Performance
The Descendants
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Take Shelter

Best Documentary
*Better This World, Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
Bill Cunningham New York, Richard Press
Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis
The Interrupters, Steve James
The Woodmans, C. Scott Willis

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Madeleine Olnek (lesbian interest)
Green, Sophia Takal
The Redemption of General Butt Naked, Eric Strauss
*Scenes of a Crime, Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock
Without, Mark Jackson (lesbian interest)

Nominees for the Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant
Jenny Deller for Future Weather
*Lucy Mulloy for Una Noche
Rola Nashef for Detroit Unleaded

Voting for the Audience award begins today, to vote -in round one to select the nominees- go here. The nominees will be announced on November 7th and voting second round will start then.

The awards ceremony will be held on Monday, November 28 where Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman, David Cronenberg and Tom Rothman will be presented with a career tribute.

It’s only the first nominations but I hope that this award season follow Gotham nominees trend that show nominees from diverse films as only four films have more than one nomination. Have seen a few of these movies and I’m not excited about them, let’s hope that one or two of the ones I’m missing could excite me as much as last year’s Winter’s Bone and Black Swan or like Frozen River and The Hurt Locker from previous years.

48th Golden Horse Awards Winners

Today the Academy had the awards ceremony and winners are in *RED.



Today the Academy, chaired by none other than Hou Hsiao-Hsien, announced the nominations for the yearly awards and here are for some categories.

Best Feature Film
Let the Bullets Fly, Wen Jiang, China and Hong Kong
Gang de qin (The Piano in A Factory), Zhang Meng and Jae-young Kwak, China
Return Ticket, Yung-Shing Teng, China and Taiwan
桃姐 Tao jie (A Simple Life), Ann Hui, Hong Kong
* 賽德克.巴萊 Saideke Balai (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale), Wei Te-Sheng, Taiwan

Best Director
Wei Te-sheg for Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
Jiang Wen for Let The Bullets Fly
*Ann Hui for A Simple Life
Zhang Meng for The Piano in a Factory

Best New Director
*Wuershan for The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman
Giddens for You Are the Apple of My Eye
Xu Haofeng for The Sword Identiy
Du Jia-yi for KORA

Best Leading Actress
Michelle Chen in You Are the Apple of My Eye
Shu Qi in A Beautiful Life
*Deanie IP in A Simple Life
Qin Hailu in The Piano in a Factory

Best Leading Actor
Eddie Peng in Jump!Ashin
Ge You in Let The Bullets Fly
*Andy Lau in A Simple Life
Wang Qian-yuan in The Piano in a Factory

The Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year
Hsiao-Tung Chen
Yang Li-chou
*Wong Wei-liu

To check nominees and winners in other categories go here. Awards ceremony will be held on November 26.

5th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Award Winners

Last night (i.e. very early morning for me) the Academy had their award ceremony that you can watch here.  The following are the winners.

Best Feature Film: جدایی نادر از سیمین Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation), Asghar Farhadi, Iran

Jury Grand Prize: Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

Achievement in Directing: Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Turkey
Best Performance by Actress: Nadezha Markina in Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia
Best Peformance by Actor: Wang Baoqiang for Hello! Shu Xian Sheng (Mr. Tree) by Jie Han, China

Best Children’s Feature Film: Buta by Ilgar Najaf, Azerbaijan
Best Animated Feature Film: Madangeul naon amtak (Leafie) by Oh Seonyun, Korea
Best Documentary Feature Film: Jag Var Värd 50 Lamm (I Was Worth 50 Sheep) by Nima Sarvestani, Sweden, Japan and USA

Best Screeplay: Denis Osokin for Ovsyanki (Silent Souls) by Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia
Achievement in Cinematography Award: Gökhan Tiryaki for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

UNESCO Award: Ivan Sen for Toomelah, Australia
FIAPF Award: Zhang Yimou

To check the announcement go here and to check nominees plus winners in all categories go here.

84th Academy Awards Documentary Features Shortlist

Recently the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process to select the five nominees. One hundred twenty-four films had originally qualified in the category.

These are the fifteen films that include extraordinary Pina by Wim Wenders that I hope will be chosen as a nominee in this category as well as in the foreign language category, which will increase its probabilities to win an extremely well-deserved Oscar.

Battle for Brooklyn, Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, USA
Bill Cunningham New York, Richard Press, USA (Yes, I’m very curious about this doc)
Buck, Cindy Meehl, USA
Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis, USA, UK, and Afghanistan
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman, USA and UK
Jane’s Journey, Lorenz Knauer, Germany and Tanzania
The Loving Story, Nancy Buirski, USA
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, USA
Pina, Wim Wenders, Germany, France and UK
Projected Nim, James Marsh, USA and UK (interesting, will watch)
Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert, USA
Sing Your Song, Susanne Rostock, USA
Undefeated, Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, USA
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, Martyn Burke, Canada
We Were Here, David Weissman and Bill Weber, USA

As we know nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 and the awards ceremony will be on Sunday, February 26. To check the press release go here.

XXVI Goya Awards News – Latin American Films

A total of eight (8) Latin American films will be screened from December 16 to 23 to define the five that will be nominated for a Goya Award. These are the films.

Artigas-La Redota (aka La Redota-Una Historia de Artigas), César Charlone, Uruguay
Boleto al Paraíso, Gerardo Chijona, Cuba
El Páramo, Jaime Osorio Márquez, Colombia
Las Malas Intenciones (The Bad Intentions), Rosario García-Montero, Peru
Miss Bala, Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico
Reverón, Diego Rísquez, Venezuela
Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away), Sebastián Borensztein
Violeta se fue a los Cielos (Violeta Went to Heaven), Andrés Wood

To check the official announcement go here.

2011 Lux Cinema Prize

The European Parliament’s annual film prize LUX was awarded in Strasbourg to the film Les neiges du Kilimandjaro (The Snows of Kilimanjaro) by Robert Guédiguian.

At the ceremony, the film's producer said on behalf of Robert Guédiguian: "The values of Europe are, for me, linked to the idea of the Republic - this Republic which Jean Jaurès, under whose auspices my film is placed, called a 'social Republic': liberty, equality and fraternity are qualities that Europe also owes it to itself to defend [....] Please do not abandon the poor people of Victor Hugo, a symbolic figurehead of both film and Europe, in the 'icy waters of egotistical calculation'."

To read announcement at prize site go here and to read press release go here.

2011 Premio Sur Winners

Winners are in *BLUE.Not long ago the Argentinean Academy announced the nominees for this year Premio Sur and here they are.

Best Film
Aballay, el Hombre Sin Miedo (Aballay, the Man without Fear), Fernando Spiner
El Estudiante (The Student), Santiago Mitre
Juan y Eva (Juan and Eva), Paula De Luque
*Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away), Sebastián Borensztein

Best First film
*El Estudiante (The Student), Santiago Mitre
El túnel de los huesos (Tunnel of Bones), Nacho Garassino
Fase 7 (Phase 7), Nicolás Goldbart
Vaquero (Cowboy), Juan Minujín

Best Director
Sebastián Borensztein for Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away)
Santiago Mitre for El Estudiante (The Student)
Carlos Sorín for El Gato Desaparece (The Cat Vanishes)
*Fernando Spiner for Aballay, el Hombre Sin Miedo (Aballay, the Man without Fear)

Best Actress
*Moro Anghileri in Aballay, el Hombre Sin Miedo (Aballay, the Man without Fear)
Valeria Bertuccelli in Viudas (Widows), Marcos Carnevale
Graciela Borges in Viudas (Widows), Marcos Carnevale
Julieta Díaz in Juan y Eva (Juan and Eva)

Best Actor
Pablo Cedrón in Aballay, el Hombre Sin Miedo (Aballay, the Man without Fear)
*Ricardo Darín in Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away),
Rodrigo De La Serna in Revolución, el cruce de los Andes (aka San Martín: El cruce de Los Andes)
Estaban Lamothe in El Estudiante (The Student)
Osmar Nuñez in Juan Y Eva (Juan and Eva)

Not really curious about the Argentina submission to Oscar or many of this year nominations, but yes I looking forward to watch Ricardo Darin performance in Un Cuento Chino. To check nominees in all categories go here. Award ceremony will be in the middle of December.

2011 Outstanding Female Roles

About a year ago I listed 23 possible great female roles that had enough buzz to obtain an Oscar nomination and dared to make my very-early prediction (I had 4 right and 1 wrong!) so it’s time for me to review how kind or not 2011 was with female roles and play the guessing game for the Best Actress category.

Haven’t seen many of the movies that could have great performances by female actors but from the ones I have seen, I’m sure that Viola Davis is going to get a nod thanks to her outstanding performance in The Help. Even when European film industry is honoring Melancholia, I honestly doubt that American film industry will honor anything related to the film so doubt that Kirsten Dunst or Charlotte Gainsbourg could get a nod; I didn’t like Dunst performance or segment but I did enjoy a lot more Gainsbourg performance and segment but doubt that her great performance will be recognized as such in America.

From movies that haven’t seen, again this year Tilda Swinton pops-up with her role in We Need to Talk About Kevin –hope she gets it this year but 2011 is a year where there are other roles that now are being labeled “sure Oscar nod” like Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn, Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

With performances that have gathered industry buzz we have Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet in Carnage but American film industry is not an easy to forgive industry and doubt will honor anything related to Roman Polanski. Charlize Theron looks absolutely FANTASTIC in the upcoming Snow White movie but is her role in Young Adult (directed by Jason Reitman and with a Diablo Cody script) what could bring her an Oscar nomination in a role that has been described as “Theron finally gets to kill it and be beautiful”, which obviously refers to her Oscar winning performance in Monster.

In the lesser known movies that could get nods for their lead actress we have Felicity Jones in Like Crazy (saw movie is okay, she has a very good performance), Rachel Weisz in The Whistleblower (great performance in a so-so movie that could have been better with a different script), Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene –which I believe she could be the “surprise” nod (have to watch movie first), Abbie Cornish in W.E. (yep, Madonna’s film), one of my favorite young actress Carey Mulligan in Shame, that not sure if qualifies for lead or supporting and the same goes to Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method.

Another young actress that is gathering too-much buzz is Rooney Mara in THAT film (yes, the film/character that BELONGS TO Noomi Rapace!!!) oh gosh, I’m really torn with this as I know will watch Hollywood remake but I’m hoping is awful!!! (lol!) Anyway the industry keeps mentioning Mara as a possible contender, even when they haven’t seen but trailers from film, odd isn’t?

Maybe I should include Ellen Barkin in Another Happy Day and wonder if Michelle Yeoh in The Lady plus Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur can also be consider as contenders.

Nevertheless I have the feeling that there were less outstanding performances in 2011 than in 2010 and if we count the mentions we notice that this year there are 20 versus 23 last year so is about the same, but still have the perception that 2011 was not that good for female roles. Sigh.

If I have to guess the five nominees considering what I have seen plus the buzz index, they will look as follows.

Viola Davis in The Help
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn
Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene

I’m almost certain that Davis will be nominated and won’t be surprised at all if she’s the second African-American women to win an Oscar; she truly deserves it as she did an excellent performance in a complex, layered film. Won’t be surprised IF Streep is not nominated as critics are “destroying” film but claim that Streep saves movie.

Close has five nominations and no wins, this could be her sixth but not sure that could be translated into a win, still Academy members LOVE when good looking actresses do “not-good-looking” characters (remember Theron and Kidman?) so maybe there is a chance. Williams has two nominations and I’m almost certain that this will be her third (but have to see movie, which of course I’m “dying” to watch), this brilliant young actress will get her Oscar soon if she continues to choose her roles SO goodly as she has been doing. The last spot is the one that I’m always unsure and could go to Olsen, as well as Theron, any of the other women mentioned or a new “surprise” role that could appear before the award deadline.

If you ask about the Best Actor I believe that Brad, Leonardo, and George could make the list, BUT I hope that the winner will NOT be an American actor, has to be a European as last year, the two contenders are British Michael Fassbender in Shame and French Jean Dujardin in The Artist.


Thinking Notes of Today

I'm going public by admitting that I'm no fan of Martin Scorsese but do recognize him as one of the American contemporary master-filmmakers.  But as everything in life  -absolutes hardly exist- there are exceptions and the following letter absolutely is the exception that makes me "admire" Scorsese for being willing to make public what so many think about those countries where films with subtitles are not easily accepted.

The letter dated November 25, 1993 was published as a comment to an article in the New York Times on November 19, 1993. The letter date is important as was one week after Federico Fellini's dead.

Here is a copy and paste of the letter; if you wish to read it at the source I used please go here.

To the Editor:

“Excuse Me; I Must Have Missed Part of the Movie” (The Week in Review, 7 November) cites Federico Fellini as an example of a filmmaker whose style gets in the way of his storytelling and whose films, as a result, are not easily accessible to audiences. Broadening that argument, it includes other artists: Ingmar Bergman, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Cage, Alain Resnais and Andy Warhol.

It’s not the opinion I find distressing, but the underlying attitude toward artistic expression that is different, difficult or demanding. Was it necessary to publish this article only a few days after Fellini’s death? I feel it’s a dangerous attitude, limiting, intolerant. If this is the attitude toward Fellini, one of the old masters, and the most accessible at that, imagine what chance new foreign films and filmmakers have in this country.

It reminds me of a beer commercial that ran a while back. The commercial opened with a black and white parody of a foreign film—obviously a combination of Fellini and Bergman. Two young men are watching it, puzzled, in a video store, while a female companion seems more interested. A title comes up: “Why do foreign films have to be so foreign?” The solution is to ignore the foreign film and rent an action-adventure tape, filled with explosions, much to the chagrin of the woman.

It seems the commercial equates “negative” associations between women and foreign films: weakness, complexity, tedium. I like action-adventure films too. I also like movies that tell a story, but is the American way the only way of telling stories?

The issue here is not “film theory,” but cultural diversity and openness. Diversity guarantees our cultural survival. When the world is fragmenting into groups of intolerance, ignorance and hatred, film is a powerful tool to knowledge and understanding. To our shame, your article was cited at length by the European press.

The attitude that I’ve been describing celebrates ignorance. It also unfortunately confirms the worst fears of European filmmakers. Is this closedmindedness something we want to pass along to future generations?

If you accept the answer in the commercial, why not take it to its natural progression:
Why don’t they make movies like ours?
Why don’t they tell stories as we do?
Why don’t they dress as we do?
Why don’t they eat as we do?
Why don’t they talk as we do?
Why don’t they think as we do?
Why don’t they worship as we do?
Why don’t they look like us?
Ultimately, who will decide who “we” are?

—Martin Scorsese
[New York, 19 Nov 1993]

Also suggest to read the recent NYTimes article from April 29, 2011 "Eating Your Cultural Vegetables" that you will find here.

More than 15 years after the letter was written is impressive how the largest movie market in the world -when you count only money- has not opened to world movies. Won't elaborate but have to comment that one of the consequences I dislike the most is the doing of "remakes" that never are as good as the original ones. Sigh.

By the way the conversation about "Cultural Vegetables" has been going on since April 2011 and I'm just joining today.

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