29 Apr 2011 @ 11:00 PM 

Friday Minute
Entr’acte |
April 29, 2011

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  Sidney Lumet is one of the quintessential New York directors.  All but one of his films below are primarily set in the New York metropolitan area.  Which one is not?

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Bye Bye Braverman (1968)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Garbo Talks (1984)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Prince of the City (1981)
Q&A (1990)
Serpico (1973)
That Kind of Woman (1959)
12 Angry Men (1957)

2.  Each of these nine films directed by Lumet received multiple nominations for Academy Awards.  Which received the most Oscar nods?

12 Angry Men (1957)
Serpico (1973)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Network (1976)
Equus (1977)
The Wiz (1978)
The Verdict (1982)
Running on Empty (1988)

3.  Six Oscars have been awarded for work in films directed by Lumet, four for acting and two for writing.  Pick the Academy Award winners from the list below.

Lauren Bacall (Best Supporting Actress), Murder on the Orient Express
Ingrid Bergman (Best Supporting Actress), Murder on the Orient Express
John Cazale (Best Supporting Actor), Dog Day Afternoon
Paddy Chayefsky (Original Screenplay), Network
Faye Dunaway (Best Actress), Network
Peter Finch (Best Actor), Network
Kelly Masterson (Original Screenplay), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Paul Newman (Best Actor), The Verdict
Al Pacino (Best Actor), Serpico
Frank Pierson (Original Screenplay), Dog Day Afternoon
Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress), Network
William Holden (Best Supporting Actor), Network

4.  Lumet directed several films adapted from plays.  Match the Lumet film with the playwright.

The Fugitive Kind (1959)
A View from the Bridge (1961)
Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962)
The Sea Gull (1968)
Child’s Play (1972)
Equus (1977)
Deathtrap (1982)

Anton Chekhov
Ira Levin
Robert Marasco
Arthur Miller
Eugene O’Neill
Peter Shaffer
Tennessee Williams

5.  Each of the actors below starred in multiple films directed by Lumet.  Which one appeared in more Lumet films than any of the others (excluding documentaries and television work)?

Martin Balsam
Sean Connery
Albert Finney
Henry Fonda
James Mason
Anthony Perkins

Answers here.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 01 Jan 2012 @ 07:04 AM

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 25 Mar 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Friday Minute
No. 230 | March 25, 2011

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2011

rock and roll hall of fame

Our theme this week
Performers inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011

Featured this week
(See Monday post for theme introduction and program note)
Monday         —   Alice Cooper
Tuesday         —   Dr. John
Wednesday    —   Darlene Love
Thursday        —   Neil Diamond

Tom Waits

tom waits

Waits is an American original.  Though never a huge commercial success, he’ll be remembered long after many of his more popular contemporaries are forgotten.  He’s a musician first, but he’s worth noting for his work in film as well.  He first had a hit with “Ol’ 55,” when the Eagles recorded it in 1974; his original is a song I can listen to a dozen times in a row and still want to hear again.  “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)” was nothing less than an anthem during my college years.  You had to love a guy who had the courage to mumble through his songs.  But most of all, there was a sense of feeling in his music that you couldn’t find anywhere else.  Francis Ford Coppola had him score One from the Heart, and the result is a work of beauty.  Waits continued working in film, often onscreen, and his performances in Down by Law and Short Cuts are, to my mind, especially memorable.  I can’t do justice to Waits in a short sketch like this, and I won’t try.  Suffice to say, he’s one of the greats.

Waits on film
One from the Heart
Rumble Fish (1983)
The Cotton Club (1984)
Down by Law (1986)
Dracula (1992)
Short Cuts (1993)
Night on Earth (1992)*
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
The Book of Eli (2010)

* Original score.
Contributed songs to soundtracks of many films (too many to mention, but Waits did much of the music for the 1992 Jeff Bridges film American Heart).

Final note on the Class of 2011
In addition to the five performers featured this week, three others were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:  Leon Russell (as a “sideman” and not a “performer,” which seems like an arbitrary distinction to me), and non-performers Jac Holzman (record exec) and Art Rupe (pioneer of indie labels).  Congrats to all!

Down by Law (1986)
Jim Jarmusch, director
Tom Waits, John Lurie

One from the Heart (1982)
“This One’s from the Heart”
Tom Waits, Crystal Gayle, with Teddy Edwards on tenor sax / Soundtrack


Waits was nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.  The story behind Waits and the film here.

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  Name the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers starring in each of these concert and documentary films.

Dont Look Back (1967)
I’m Going to Tell You a Secret (2005)
Live at Red Rocks (1984)
Shine a Light (2008)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
This Is It (2009)

2.  Name four of the seven Rock and Roll Hall of Famers to date who have won an Oscar for original song or original score. 

3.  Well more than 100 movies have opened since the beginning of 2011.  Before this weekend, how many of those films have grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box office?

4.  The baseball season usually brings with it another baseball movie or two.  This year’s most anticipated film about the sport is Moneyball, the adaptation of the book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side), due to open in September.  The central character is Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s, who used computer analysis and sabermetrics to field a competitive team.  Who plays Billy Beane onscreen?

5.  Match each of the following Elizabeth Taylor movies with the role that she played.

Father of the Bride (1950)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Giant (1956)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
BUtterfield 8 (1960)

Kay Banks
Leslie Benedict
Catherine Holly
Maggie Pollitt
Angela Vickers
Gloria Wandrous

Answers here.

Quote of note
“The beauty of quitting is, now that I’ve quit, I can have one, ’cause I’ve quit.”
—Tom (Tom Waits), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)


 25 Feb 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Friday Minute
No. 220 | February 25, 2011

Oscar Perspective

Our theme this week

Films and filmmakers overlooked by Oscar…and a look ahead to this year’s awards

Featured this week
(See Monday post for theme introduction)
Monday         —   Actors Who Never Won an Oscar
Tuesday         —   Actresses Who Never Won an Oscar
Wednesday    —   Directors Who Never Won an Oscar
Thursday        —   Films That Didn’t Win a Single Oscar

UPDATE:  The Winners   —   Oscar 2010 Recap

Picks & Predictions for the 2010 Oscars

oscarcolin firthoscarnatalie portmanoscardavid fincheroscar

Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, David Fincher:  three who haven’t won an Oscar…yet.  You’ll find them smiling Sunday night.

The week so far has featured 140 actors, actresses, directors, and films that inexplicably never won an Academy Award.  Today we look ahead.  Guaranteed, somebody will win at the upcoming ceremony.  I don’t really know who the winners will be, but I can pretend, and that’s what I do below.  Read on for my picks (those who should win) and predictions (those who will win).  Good luck in your pool and enjoy the show.

Best Picture

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

The word around town is that The King’s Speech is the one.  I like to think the Academy may give people a surprise.  Last year (unlike some other years) it awarded the Best Picture Oscar to the picture that was best.  A novel idea.  Why not do it again?  It really is a clear choice, the way I see  it.  The Social Network is not just the best film of the year, it’s one of the great pictures of the millennium.  The King’s Speech is a fine movie, but in a few years it’ll seem like just another nice pic about the British royals, a family that’s been the subject of too many films already.  Fifty years from now The Social Network will still look brilliant.  Its future is a surer thing than Facebook’s, if you ask me.  What’s at stake on Sunday is not what people will think of the movie someday, but what they will think of the Academy.  Here’s hoping it does the right thing.

PICK:  The Social Network
PREDICTION:  The Social Network

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours

Both give first-rate performances, and I’d give the edge to Jesse Eisenberg, who creates a kind of character we haven’t seen before.  But Eisenberg would be the youngest Best Actor ever, and Colin Firth, at 50, is ripe for the recognition his career deserves.  It’s no contest.  “Speech!”

PICK:  Jesse Eisenberg
PREDICTION:  Colin Firth

Actress in Leading Role

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams gave a raw, brave, and deserving performance, but she’s a long shot here.  Natalie Portman was very good, and her role of artist-in-the-making should resonate with Oscar voters.  She’s the likely winner, but if Annette Bening were to have her name called, I’d be thrilled.

PICK:  Michelle Williams
PREDICTION:  Natalie Portman

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Christian Bale had a showy role, the kind that usually does well at Oscar time.  But there was nothing easy about his performance.  He’ll win, and he’ll deserve it.

PICK:  Christian Bale
PREDICTION:  Christian Bale

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Tatum O’Neal won an Oscar at 10, and Anna Paquin at 11, so it’s possible that 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld could bring home an Academy Award.  But more likely, one of the nominees from The Fighter will win.  I’m fond of Amy Adams’s performance, but Melissa Leo had a role that seemed aimed to get Oscar attention, and unless her self-financed campaign and complaints about ageism turn off voters, it probably will.

PICK:  Amy Adams
PREDICTION:  Melissa Leo


  • Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
  • David O. Russell, The Fighter
  • Tom Hopper, The King’s Speech
  • David Fincher, The Social Network
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, True Grit

The man who should win will win, and fittingly, for the best of his many good films.

PICK:  David Fincher
PREDICTION:  David Fincher

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • Mike Leigh, Another Year
  • Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, The Fighter
  • Christopher Nolan, Inception
  • Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
  • David Seidler, The King’s Speech

The story of David Seidler waiting decades for the Queen Mum to die before his film would be made it as touching as the story of the film itself.  If anybody deserves an award for The King’s Speech, he’s the one.

PICK:  David Seidler
PREDICTION:  David Seidler

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
  • Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
  • John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3
  • Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, True Grit
  • Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone

Voters may give Aaron Sorkin the Oscar for his brilliant dialogue, but his real achievement is an inventive story structure and compelling, complex characters.  The Social Network is a special film, and it all starts with Sorkin’s script.

PICK:  Aaron Sorkin
PREDICTION:  Aaron Sorkin

Animated Feature Film

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Illusionist
  • Toy Story 3

I’m a fan of The Illusionist but it will take more than magic for it to win.  Short of a miracle, the Oscar goes to Toy Story 3.

PICK:  The Illusionist
PREDICTION:  Toy Story 3

Documentary (Feature)

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Gasland
  • Inside Job
  • Restrepo
  • Waste Land

The crooks who run Wall Street got away with trillions and escaped justice.  The closest we’ll see to consolation in this world is an Oscar for Inside Job.

PICK:  Inside Job

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • Killing in the Name
  • Poster Girl
  • Strangers No More
  • Sun Come Up
  • The Warriors of Qiugang

Haven’t seen them so I’m just reading tea leaves.

PICK:  None
PREDICTION:  Killing in the Name

Foreign Language Film

  • Biutiful, Mexico
  • Dogtooth, Greece
  • In a Better World, Denmark
  • Incendies, Canada
  • Outside the Law, Algeria

Tea leaves again.

PICK:  None
PREDICTION:  In a Better World

Short Film (Animated)

  • Day & Night
  • The Gruffalo
  • Let’s Pollute
  • The Lost Thing
  • Madagascar, carnet de voyage

A competitive category, so I hear.  More tea leaves and a hunch.

PICK:  None
PREDICTION:  Madagascar, carnet de voyage

Short Film (Live Action)

  • The Confession
  • The Crush
  • God of Love
  • Na Wewe
  • Wish 143

If you’re the type who wagers on a horse because you like its name, you’re well equipped to bet on the Academy Award winner for the Short Film category.

PICK:  None

Art Direction

  • Alice In Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • True Grit

Tim Burton films have won in this category three times before (Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeny Todd).  Now it will be four.

PICK: Alice in Wonderland
PREDICTION:  Alice in Wonderland


  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

Nine-time nominee Roger Deakins is about to win his first Oscar.  Overdue and well deserved.

PICK:  True Grit

Costume Design

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • I Am Love
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Tempest
  • True Grit

Nine-time nominee (and three-time winner) Sandy Powell (The Tempest) is in the running but the Oscar this time goes to nine-time nominee (and soon-to-be-two-time winner) Jenny Beavans.  Royal period outfits rule.

PICK:  The King’s Speech
PREDICTION:  The King’s Speech

Film Editing

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network

We are living in a golden age of editing.  The Editors Guild’s Eddie Award for film drama went to The Social Network.  I won’t argue with that.

PICK:  Black Swan
PREDICTION:  The Social Network


  • Barney’s Version
  • The Way Back
  • The Wolfman

Rick Baker has twelve nominations and six wins.  Partner Dave Elsey has his second nomination.  Expect them to pick up Oscars seven and one, respectively.

PICK:  The Wolfman
PREDICTION:  The Wolfman

Music (Original Score)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deserve to win.  Will they?  Well, why not?

PICK:  The Social Network
PREDICTION:  The Social Network

Music (Original Song)

  • “Coming Home,” Country Strong
  • “I See the Light,” Tangled
  • “If I Rise,” 127 Hours
  • “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3

The A.R. Rahman / Dido theme song for 127 Hours is wonderful, and has an ethereal, magical touch, but animation tends to dominate this category.  FifteenTwenty(!)-time nominee Randy Newman may win his second Oscar.

PICK:  “If I Rise”
PREDICTION:  “We Belong Together”

Sound Editing

  • Inception
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • True Grit
  • Unstoppable

Inception will dominate the technical categories and win here.

PICK:  Inception
PREDICTION:  Inception

Sound Mixing

  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • Salt
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

Inception will dominate the technical categories and win here.  Do I repeat myself?

PICK:  Inception
PREDICTION:  Inception

Visual Effects

  • Alice In Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2

Yes, I repeat myself.

PICK:  Inception
PREDICTION:  Inception

 127 Hours (2010)
Music Video
“If I Rise”
A.R. Rahman, music
Dido, Rollo, lyrics
Dido, A.R. Rahmah, performers

Quote of note
“Creation myths need a devil.”
—Marylin Delpy (Rashida Jones), The Social Network (2010)

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  Match each Oscar-nominated role for 2010 with the actor or actress who played the character.


  • Prince Albert / King George VI
  • Aron Ralston
  • Cindy
  • Janine “Smurf” Cody
  • Rooster Cogburn
  • Becca Corbett
  • James “Jem” Coughlin
  • Ree Dolly
  • Dicky Ecklund
  • Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon / Queen Elizabeth
  • Charlene Fleming
  • Lionel Logue
  • Nic
  • Paul
  • Mattie Ross
  • Nina Sayers
  • Teardrop
  • Uxbal
  • Alice Ward
  • Mark Zuckerberg


  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours
  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

2.  Which of this year’s acting nominees have won Oscars in the past?

3.  “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!”  That’s a line from Best Picture nominee True Grit spoken to Rooster Cogburn.  Is Pepper the name of the character or the name of the actor who says the line?

4.  Name that Oscar.  The only Oscar to win an Oscar was a two-time winner for original song:  “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” from Lady Be Good (1941), and “It Might as Well Be Spring,” from State Fair (1945).  What is Oscar’s full name?

5.  Several past movies have featured characters winning Academy Awards.  Name the actor or actress who plays the Oscar-winning performer.

In & Out (1997) — Cameron Drake is awarded the Best Actor prize for his portrayal of a gay soldier.  In his televised speech, he thanks his former high school teacher Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline), adding “…and he’s gay.”  It’s a surprise to Brackett’s family, friends, students, and fiancée.  Who plays Cameron Drake?

S1m0ne (2002) — Director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) loses the big star on his new film and is unable to find a replacement.  He uses a computer program to create a simulated actress named Simone.  The film is a success and Simone wins Best Actress.  Who plays Simone?

Tropic Thunder (2008) — A Vietnam vet’s memoir is adapted into a movie starring Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), and Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black).  A film taken from footage of the production called Tropical Blunder goes on to great success, winning Speedman the Best Actor prize.  Who plays Tugg Speedman?

Answers here.


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2011 @ 07:54 AM

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 28 Jan 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Friday Minute
No. 210 | January 28, 2011

Sundance by Decade

Our theme this week
Indie films of the Sundance Film Festival

Featured this week
(See Monday post for theme introduction)
Monday         —   Sundance in the 1980s
Wednesday    —   Sundance in the 1990s

Sundance in the 2000s


you can count on me

You Can Count on Me (2000)
2000 Sundance Festival (Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award)
Kenneth Lonergan, writer-director
Stephen Kazmierski, cinematographer
Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Jon Tenney, Rory Culkin

Kenneth Lonergan’s film centers on relationships within the Prescott family, primarily between Sammy and Terry, a single mom and her drifter brother, who arrives back in town for an extended visit.  It’s a wonderful examination of the push and pull of family ties and the trials of growing up.  Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo play the leads, with not a false moment between them.  It’s a small film, and in the best of ways, one with a big heart.


Memento (2000)
2001 Sundance Festival (Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award)
Christopher Nolan, director
Jonathan Nolan (story), Christopher Nolan (screenplay), writers
Wally Pfister, cinematographer
Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Thrillers tend to be plot-driven, and in the case of Memento, the plot is sliced in two and moving in different directions, one of them in reverse.  It’s a novel gimmick and deftly executed.  We see a few days in the life of Leonard Shelby, a man suffering amnesia but also lacking the ability to store new memories.  Makes it hard to tell friend from foe and to unravel the mystery of the revenge killing at the beginning of the film.

american splendor

American Splendor (2003)
2003 Sundance Festival (Grand Jury Prize:  Dramatic)
Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini, writer-directors
Based on a book and comics by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner
Terry Stacey, cinematographer
Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar

An autobiographical film about Harvey Pekar, the creator of a series of autobiographical comics about Harvey Pekar, the everyman hero who works as a clerk at a V.A. hospital.  Paul Giamatti play Pekar, and Pekar plays the Real Harvey.  As you can imagine, there’s a blend of fiction and reality, and it all works very nicely for great comic and dramatic effect.


Precious (2009)
2009 Sundance Festival (Grand Jury Prize:  Dramatic; Audience Award:  Dramatic; Special Jury Prize for Acting, Mo’Nique)
Lee Daniels, director
Geoffrey S. Fletcher, writer
Andrew Dunn, Darren Lew, cinematographers
Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz

Poor, obese, abused, and pregnant again, Precious Jones is an illiterate junior high student sent to an alternative school for a chance to change her life.  Miraculously, she does.  Nothing comes easy, though.  Hardly a pretty story, but an affecting one.

winter's bone

Winter’s Bone (2010)
2010 Sundance Festival (Grand Jury Prize:  Drama; Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award)
Debra Granik, director
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, writers
Michael McDonough, cinematographer
Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt

The search for the father is about the oldest story around.  Telemachus, meet Ree.  She’s a 17-year-old living in the dirt-poor hills of Missouri.  She has a sick mother, a couple of younger siblings to care for, and a father nowhere to be found.  Unless she finds him in a few days—dead or alive—her family will lose their home.  The hunt is on.  First-rate performances from Jennifer Lawrence as the fearless teen and John Hawkes as her uncle, Teardrop.  The film won awards at Sundance, wide critical acclaim during its run in theaters last summer, and this week, nominations for four Oscars, including picture, screenplay, and the two acting performances.

Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta, director, 2000)
The Tao of Steve (Jenniphr Goodman, cowriter-director; Special Jury Prize for Acting, Donal Logue, 2000)
American Psycho (Mary Harron, cowriter-director, 2000)
The Believer (Henry Bean, cowriter-director; Grand Jury Prize:  Dramatic, 2001)
Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, writer-director, 2001)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, cowriter-director, 2001)
In the Bedroom (Todd Field, cowriter-director; Special Jury Prize for Acting, Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, 2001)
L.I.E. (Michael Cuesta, cowriter-director, 2001)
Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass, writer-director, 2002: Audience Award:  Dramatic, 2002)
Personal Velocity:  Three Portraits (Rebecca Miller, writer-director; Grand Jury Prize, Cinematography Award, Ellen Kuras, 2002)
The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy, writer-director; Audience Award, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, Special Jury Prize for Acting, Patricia Clarkson, 2003)
Whale Rider (Niki Caro, writer-director; Audience Award, World Cinema, 2003)
Maria Full of Grace (Joshua Marston, writer-director; Audience Award:  Dramatic, 2004)
Garden State (Zach Braff, writer-director, 2004)
Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, cowriter-director, 2004)
The Woodsman (Nicole Kassell, cowriter-director, 2004)
The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles, director, 2004)
Hustle & Flow (Craig Brewer, writer-director; Audience Award:  Dramatic, 2005)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, writer-director; Dramatic Directing Award, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, 2005)
Junebug (Phil Morrison, director; Special Jury Prize for Acting, Amy Adams, 2005)
Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, cowriter-director, 2006)
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, directors, 2006)
Once (John Carney, writer-director; World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic, 2007)
Starting Out in the Evening (Andrew Wagner, cowriter-director, 2007)
Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, writer-director; Grand Jury Prize:  Dramatic, 2008)
In Bruges (Michael McDonough, writer-director, 2008)
An Education (Lone Sherfig, director; Audience Award, Cinematography, World Cinema, 2009)
Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, writer-director; Directing Award, Cinematography Award:  Dramatic, 2009)
Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, cowriter-director; Grand Jury Prize:  Drama; Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, 2010)
Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, writer-director; World Cinema Jury Prize:  Dramatic, 2010)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, cowriter-director, 2010)


Long Night’s Journey Into Day (Deborah Hoffmann, Frances Reid, directors; Grand Jury Prize, 2000)
Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta, director; Directing Award, 2001)
Startup.com (Chris Hegedus, Jehane Noujaim, directors, 2001)
Capturing the Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki, director; Grand Jury Prize, 2003)
Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, director; Directing Award, 2004)
The Corporation (Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, directors; World Cinema Audience Award, 2004)
Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro, directors; Audience Award, Special Jury Award for Editing, 2005)
Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki, director; Grand Jury Prize, 2005)
The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza, director, 2005)
An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, director, 2006)
An Unreasonable Man (Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan, directors, 2006)
Wordplay (Patrick Creadon, director, 2006)
No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson, director, 2007)
Man on Wire (James Marsh, director; World Cinema Jury Prize, 2008)
I.O.U.S.A. (Patrick Creadon, director, 2008)
The Cove (Louie Psihoyos, director; Audience Award, 2009)
The September Issue (R.J. Cutter, director; Excellence in Cinematography Award, 2009)
Tyson (James Toback, director, 2009)
Waiting for “Superman” (Davis Guggenheim, director; Audience Award, Directing Award, 2010)
Joan Rivers:  A Piece of Work (Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, directors; Editing Award, 2010)
The Tillman Story (Amir Bar-Lev, director, 2010)
Restrepo (Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, directors; Grand Jury Prize, 2010)
GasLand (Josh Fox, director; Special Jury Prize; 2010)
Waste Land (Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim, directors; Audience Award, 2010)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, director, 2010)

The line between Hollywood movies and independent films has blurred over the years.  Independent once meant low-budget, with the focus on story and character, and production values a second thought.  Today, there’s nothing cheap about the best of indie films.  The budgets may be bigger than before, but still not big.  Technology has changed, though, and filmmakers can get a better bang for their buck.

The personal vision of a filmmaker remains the key defining trait of independent films.  Look at the number of writer-directors associated with the Sundance films highlighted this week.  The hyphenates dominate.  Contrast that with Hollywood product, increasingly more franchise-driven, where the writer, the director, and everyone down to the best boy is on a work-for-hire basis.

Once upon a time, the best an indie could hope for was a small audience, and maybe an award at Sundance.  Sex, Lies, and Videotape made big news in 1989 when it won a single nomination for an Academy Award.  Times have changed.  Of the Oscar nominations announced this week, fourteen went to films that came out of Sundance last year, including two Best Picture hopefuls, six acting nominees, and four of the five documentaries.

Next year’s Oscar winners may be playing this week in Park City.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see that be the pattern of the future.

Memento (2000)
Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano


American Splendor (2003)
Paul Giamatti, Judah Friedlander

Quote of note
:  Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank:  Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
—Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), Frank (James Duval), Donnie Darko (2001)

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  The name Sundance comes from Robert Redford’s character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  What was the real name of the outlaw known as the Sundance Kid?

Henry Brubaker
Hubbell Gardiner
Johnny Hooker
Harry Longabaugh
Robert LeRoy Parker

2.  Aside from documentary and short films, a couple of movies have won awards both at Sundance and on Oscar night.  The first was Hustle & Flow, which in 2005 won twice at the film festival (audience and cinematography awards) before winning an Oscar for original song (“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”).  What other film was a dual winner?

3.  Several documentary films have won both Sundance and Academy Awards.  Which of the following did not win both?

The Times of Harvey Milk
American Dream
When We Were Kings
Man on Wire
The Cove

4.  Jeff Bridges earned a Best Actor nomination this week for his performance as Rooster Cogburn in the remake of True Grit.  John Wayne won his only Academy Award, as Best Actor, playing Cogburn in the original 1969 western.  Several times before, two actors earned Best Actor nominations for playing the same character in different films.  Name the two actors who played each character below.

Cyrano de Bergerac,  Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
Henry Higgins, Pygmalion (1938), My Fair Lady (1964)
Henry V, Henry V (1944), Henry V (1989)
Henry VIII, The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Anne of the Thousand Years (1969)
Joe Pendleton, Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Mr. Chips, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
Norman Maine, A Star is Born (1937), A Star is Born (1954)
Richard Nixon, Nixon (1995), Frost/Nixon (2008)

5.  Only once has the same character been played by different actors in two Oscar-winning performances.  Name the role, the actors, and the films.

Answers here.


 26 Nov 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Friday Minute
No. 196 | November 26, 2010

Out of Print

Our theme this week
Films about the newspaper biz

Featured this week (theme introduction)
Monday         —   Zodiac (2007)
Tuesday         —   All the President’s Men (1976)
Wednesday    —   His Girl Friday (1940)
Thursday        —   Ace in the Hole (1951)

Citizen Kane

citizen kane

The films featured so far this (extended) week have been stories about reporters—the quixotic, the historic, the wisecracking, and the cynical—with a couple of true-life stories, and a couple that are fictional.  Today we have a movie that’s in the category of fiction but is a thinly veiled tale of a real-life figure.  A film à clef, if you will.  The life of William Randolph Hearst, the publishing magnate who ruled the newspaper world for many years, was the inspiration for the story.  In the film he’s called Charles Foster Kane. 

The film, of course, is Citizen Kane.  You know all about it.  It’s the “greatest film ever”—a title that’s an honor but also a distraction.  The trouble with being “greatest film ever” is that expectations are raised.  Anyone watching the film has one eye on the screen and one eye on history.  The best ever, you say?  Prove it!  It might be simpler if we could enjoy the film for the pleasures it provides rather than argue about its ranking.

Citizen Kane is the story of a man—or better, the story of the search for a man—who himself is in search of something—with neither the search of the man nor for the man successful in grasping what is sought.  The narrative hook is “Rosebud,” Kane’s mysterious last word, and the search for Rosebud is an effective way to tell Kane’s story (despite the director’s comment below).  But when we see Kane’s boyhood sled burning in the flames in the film’s final scene, we know that’s just a hint—not the answer.  There was much more to him than that.  He remains a mystery.

Kane, essentially, is a modern-day Faust.  He is driven in ways neither he nor others fully understand.  Never satisfied with what he has, he yearns for more.  Despite his great fortune, Kane is a restless soul, always reaching for that elusive something beyond his grasp.  We all can relate to that to a degree.  Never quite satisfied, we all want more.  But Kane is no ordinary man.  Born to dismal circumstances, he was sold into wealth.  He amassed more money, fame, and power than most wealthy people could ever dream of.  Kane is Exhibit A in the case to prove Fitzgerald’s claim:  “Let me tell you about the very rich.  They are different from you and me.”  Kane is the man who can have anything—except that which will make him happy.

There is more to the film than I have the chance to get into here.  The Mercury Players, Gregg Toland’s camera work, the script by Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, Bernard Herrmann’s score.  The film was the work of an extraordinary team, and the story of its making and its enduring influence have been the subject of countless books and movies, and likely will be discussed for a long time to come.

Above all, the film is the work of Orson Welles.  He directed, wrote, and starred in the film, and when we think of Kane we think of Welles.  Like the role he played, he was bigger than life, and for all the wizardry that went into making the movie, it is Welles onscreen, in a tour de force performance, that gave life to Kane and untold pleasure to moviegoers across generations.

Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles, director
Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles, writers
Gregg Toland, photographer
Original Trailer


Interview with Orson Welles
Bernard Braden (CBC), interviewer
Paris, 1960
On “Rosebud”:  “I’m ashamed of Rosebud.  I think it’s a rather tawdry device.  It’s the thing I like least in Kane.”

Quote of note
“I don’t think there’s one word that can describe a man’s life.”
—Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), Citizen Kane (1941)

Final Friday Five, the monthly mini-quiz

1.  Sight & Sound, the monthly magazine of the British Film Institute, publishes once every decade what many consider to be the most definitive ranking of greatest movies ever.  Citizen Kane was #1 in the critics’ poll in 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, and 2002.  Citizen Kane tied for #13 in 1952, the year of the first Sight & Sound poll.  What movie was #1 in 1952?

The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1949)
Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916)
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)

2.  In 2002, Sight & Sound polled critics for the top films of the “past 25 years” (1978–2002).  Which of the following American movies made the top 10 list (11 films in all with a tie for #10)?  (Hint:  five made it, five did not.)

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
Sophie’s Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

3.  Orson Welles earned his only nomination for a Razzie Award (Worst Supporting Actor) in 1982 for Butterfly, with Pia Zadora (Zadora won a Razzie and a Golden Globe; Welles was also nominated for a Golden Globe).  Name the TV personality who won the Razzie as Worst Supporting Actor for Butterfly.

David Letterman
Pat Sajak
Ed McMahon
Johnny Carson
Howard Cosell

4.  Stephen King is first out of the gate announcing his Top 10 films of 2010.  What is King’s #1 film of the year?  (Keep in mind, it’s Stephen King.)

The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Jackass 3D
Let Me In
Green Zone

5.  List the Harry Potter films in order of release.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Answers here.


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 25 Nov 2010 @ 09:53 AM

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